Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Year = New Fun!

I have to admit that when I think in terms of "years" I always think of August as the beginning of the year. It is just the teacher in me. January just seems to be right in the middle! This August has brought me a fun new year in first grade and I am so excited to spend the next 10 months with my 24 new friends! I started the year with 27, which was a bit too much for first grade. I hated to see three sweeties go when we hired a new teacher, but 24 is proving to be a nice number!!

I have been neglecting my blog lately, mainly due to school starting and finishing up summer class. I have been working on some new classroom management and classroom displays that I have posted up in my TpT store. The first one is a FREEBIE that I hope you all enjoy, it is a set of clock labels that go along with the pastel dot/owl theme.

Click the picture to download from google docs, 
or click here to visit my TpT store to download this freebie!

Since school has started, I have also created a new set of job posters that I am absolutely loving! I love to incorporate real world applications as much as possible into my classroom and these jobs are perfect for that. The jobs include a teacher's aide, nurse, electrician, housekeeper, custodian, meteorologist, sanitation monitor, librarian, mail carrier and messenger. I display the job posters with the "Handy Helpers" sign and use hand decals with the students' names to change the jobs out weekly. My kids love these and it really helps them to develop a sense of community in our classroom. Check them out in my TpT store!

Click here to check out these posters, along with the others!

Since I have been away from my blog for so long, I have several other things to update. The first are some before and after photos of some classroom projects. Here are some things I have been working on:

My Favorite Bookshelf: Before

My Favorite Bookshelf: After (Black Paint, Vinyl letters and Painted Polka Dots)!
I use this shelf to display books that are relevant to the curriculum and time of year.

{Ugly} Table with Wheels (consignment store find for $5): Before

{Not So Ugly} Table with Wheels: After...The fabric matches my bulletin boards!

Black Chair: Before

Black Chair: In Progress

Black Chair: Still in Progress, but now a "Star Reader" Chair
I still have some work to do, but this will be the chair that the "Star Reader of the Week"
Sits in throughout his/her rein!

This concludes the DIY before and after projects for now. I would also like to share my treat bags for open house, which turned out super cute! I used trail mix (which I thought coincided with the "Owl" theme) and added the tags "First Grade is a Hoot!" You can find these tags on my pinterest page or on the first post of my blog. 

Trail Mix and  a Pencil

One more thing to add and then it is off to bed for this tired lady! I have started the Daily 5 in my classroom and we are now on day seven and up to NINE minutes of Reading to Self and building stamina. I am incredibly proud of my kids and I can really tell that they are working so hard, even if they are not quite reading the words in the books they have chosen. We started off with a lesson to introduce the "IPICK" chart and how to choose "Good Fit" Books. I believe I am on my third or fourth time reading "The Daily 5" by The Sisters! I love it! I used the exact shoe lesson with my students and it seemed to really click. I also found a cute "IPICK" rap online that we have been doing. Here are some ideas that my students brainstormed (please excuse the really ugly "Purpose/Interest" poster, I haven't had a chance to make it pretty)!

My smart little ones came up with some great ideas and have done an excellent job selecting "Good Fit Books". They are allowed to check out books (5-7 at the most) in the morning and then the classroom library is closed for the remainder of the day.

The beginnings of book selections

We brainstormed ideas and have been building stamina daily. We have since moved onto "Work on Writing", but are continuing to do "Read to Self" daily. The students are doing so well with working independently and not asking for help. I can definitely see that setting a purpose and a sense of urgency are crucial for the Daily 5 process! I hope to post more pictures of our Daily 5 journey in the coming weeks!

Students hard at work on "Read to Self"

Students hard at work on "Read to Self"

"Read to Self"

*Coming Soon*....."Work on Writing" updates!!! STAY TUNED!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Getting There....

I used to think summer was the time to relax and not think, even for a second, about school. Well, things have definitely changed thanks to good ol' Pinterest! I have spent much more time than usual this summer working on things and "pinning" ideas for school. I have always made it a personal rule to not go up to school until after the 4th of July, but here it is the 8th of July and I am nearly finished with my room! I do have some finishing touches to add, as well as labeling/stuffing folders, getting things ready for open house and sending post cards to my new little first graders, but for the most part, I think I'm about finished!

Now, let me go ahead and say that I am in NO WAY an overachiever! I have a summer class starting tomorrow and it goes until after school starts, so I was really on a race against time with this class starting. I have also had my parents and my husband's parents offer to keep my two-year-old at their house for a few days, which leaves me with no excuse but to go up to school and work. I tried to take the lil' miss with me one day, but it was a nightmare! My unifix cubes, which were perfectly organized into rows of 10 by color, were in complete disarray; my counters, which were so nicely put in ziploc bags in groups of 20, were lined up in a "counter train" around my room; and I can't even speak about the situation with my books....let's just say the babysitting help was much needed and appreciated. As I type this, I have my little helper sitting on my lap telling me to "push 'd', push 'f''!"

This may be my last post for a little while as I tackle the demands of summer school. I am looking forward to graduating with my Master's in Literacy Education in May '13!! I am also really looking forward to meeting my new group of firsties as I try out some new teaching techniques and ideas. I am SUPER excited to try out the Daily 5 in my classroom and am happy to report that I am "Daily 5 Ready!" Check out my set-up!

I am so proud of the way this section of my classroom came out. The top row contains baskets for different word work materials such as magnetic letters, glitter letters, play-doh, stamps, scrabble tiles, etc. The bottom two rows are my students' book boxes (which my wonderful sister-in-law picked up for me from IKEA @ $1.99/5 pack!!!!!!) The book boxes will contain 5-7 "Just Right" books that the students will select themselves, a writing journal, strategy bookmark and a Daily 5 folder which will contain a weekly self reflection and checklist, as well as Work Work handouts to practice spelling and phonics skills. As each component of the Daily 5 is introduced, we will make a rough draft of the anchor chart and I will transfer the ideas to the posters (I just had to go ahead and hang them to get the full effect).

While doing my Master's in Literacy, I have learned a lot about reading strategies, which brings me to the Literacy CAFE that will be part of the Daily 5. Each time a strategy is taught, it will be posted under the appropriate CAFE heading. Student names will be placed beside the strategy in which they will be asked to focus on during the Daily 5 for the week. I have been searching for a way to manage my literacy block for the past four years of my teaching. I love that the Daily 5 is not a curriculum and does not take away from anything I am already doing in my classroom. This system is simply going to allow me to work in small groups with students and differentiate instruction to meet the needs of every student! I know that sounds like a whole lot of "blah, blah, blah", but I really mean it! I truly believe this is my answer to a question I have searched and searched and searched for: "How can I teach EACH student in my classroom how to read?" I look forward to sharing more on my experiences with the Daily 5!

I will leave with more pictures of my {almost} finished classroom. I still have about another day's worth of work, but I really think it is getting there!

Here is the "Work on Writing" area with the Word Wall right next door. After students finish their writing, they will use glasses (3-D glasses with the lenses taken out) to check that they have the "Writer's Eye."

Here is a closer look at the "Work on Writing" complete with the "Spotlight on GREAT Writing" frame that was a huge hit and motivator last year! Also, thanks to my crafty mom for the crate storage seats!

View from the Cubbies

View from the Door

Classroom Library and Star Reader Board

I used 2 Scrabble tile holders and hot glued tacks to the back to make a little shelf for the Star Reader's Favorite Book. The yellow book shelf is for seasonal and curriculum specific books. It will have "Back to School" books on it in a couple of weeks.
{Probably needs some fresh paint, too!}

Calendar Area

Guided Reading Area

Behavior Area

Whole Brain Teaching Rules and Hand Signals

Owl Theme Door

Well, I guess that's about it! I'm sure I will keep scouring the internet, teaching blogs and Pinterest for more inspiration. I hope everyone has a great rest of the summer!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Same Blog...A New Day!

Well, my first day of blogging was successful, but a bit discouraging. I will admit that I checked in way too many times to see if had any new followers or feedback. Thanks to Heather at "Heather's Heart", I have my first follower and comment! What a great feeling. Check out Heather's blog if you have a chance! I can't wait to explore it more myself!

Heather will be enjoying some cooperative group work cards and posters that I have created to make your life easier as a teacher! These cards and posters can be used at any grade level! Follow me and comment on my blog to snag your free set...only four left!

(Or better yet, follow me and comment to get it FREE!)

In celebration of my first follower I would like to provide a FREEBIE (because isn't any excuse a good excuse to give something away)!! Last week I made a version of the Erica Bohrer's  "Birthday" poster that everyone has seen on Pinterest. I am back and forth between school and home right now, so I don't have my poster on hand to post a picture, but here is Erica's adorable inspiration:

So cute!! I made my own month labels and you can find them here (click the picture for download):

I have asked Nikki at MelonHeadz Illustrating to create a series of illustrations to go with my "Handy Helper" job descriptions for the jobs I have in my classroom. I really think these could use some sprucing up and Nikki's illustrations are just what they need. Seriously, she is AMAZING! I can't wait to see how they turn out! Stay tuned for that update!

Well, I'm off to get caught up on some episodes of the fourth season of "Breaking Bad" with Mr. Clark before the fifth season comes out in July. I will leave with one more free download and hope that you will leave me some feedback if you snag it! 

Who's Out Sign to Hang Above Dry Erase Board for 
Students to Sign when Leaving the Room

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Here We Go...AGAIN!!

Two posts in one day...this blog just got SERIOUS!

I don't have any followers yet, but I'm crossing my fingers that I may have one (or five) by the morning. It took me a few days to sell a product on TpT (aka-A Teacher's Best Friend) and when I finally did, I completely freaked out in my living room! It was a great feeling to sell a product and make a whoppin' 30 cents!!! So far I'm up to $1.20 and saving every penny. I think I will have a similar reaction when I get my first follower...or my first comment.

So here comes the bribery technique...I just put a new item up for sale on TpT. It is an awesome set of community helper cooperative group work cards and posters that will undoubtedly make your classroom management a piece of cake during group work time! I can even suggest that you number the cards to indicate the order students go in so you don't have the "He/she always goes first..." issue. I will give the first five people who comment with their favorite group work strategy a free set! Who doesn't love FREE stuff!?!

Here is a preview of what you can win, just follow me and comment with your e-mail address and favorite group work strategy:

I use the "KISSES" guidelines to award a golden group for outstanding group work. We always review these rules before beginning a group task and the group who best follows them is awarded a trophy on their table for the day as well as a special treat! The kids go wild for this and I always add that the golden group includes listening while others are presenting.

Thanks for visiting Mrs. Clark's Fabulous First Grade! Stay tuned....

Here We Go!

Well, after hours spent on other talented teachers' blogs, I have decided to take the plunge and start my own blogging adventure. The main reason is because I have been creating several things for my classroom and would like to share these. I also need a place to organize everything and I think this may be the perfect way to start!

I have started reading the Daily 5 book by The Sisters, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. It is awesome! I have seen the Daily 5 all over Pinterest and blogs so I decided to see what all of the fuss was about. After reading and taking notes over half the book over the past day, I am sold and ready to put this literacy framework into action at the beginning of next year! I have also purchased The Sisters' other book "The Reading CAFE" and can't wait to get started on that one! As a result of my discovery of the Daily 5, I have been busy making signs for students to place clothespins on to identify their choice for the day (I will post a picture when these are finished) as well as some labels for Book Boxes, in which students will keep 5-7 "Good Fit" books, a Daily 5 folder (for self reflection) and their writing journal (for "Work on Writing" time). I have struggled in the past with small group literacy instruction, but it is something that I have thought about every day of my teaching career! I really think the Daily 5 and Reading CAFE will be the answer I have been searching for. I can't wait to get started!

(click each book to go to the official website)

Here are some cute Book Box labels, along with my "First Grade is a HOOT" tags that I plan to attach to a bag of trail mix (NO NUTS!!) for an Open House gift to my students. I will post a picture of the finished project later! :)

I am planning to do an owl theme in my classroom this year. I am really excited about "Owl the Possibilities!" I made some cute little owl tags to hang outside my room that I am planning to put pictures of my students on. These can be used for anything (name tags, cubbie labels, supply labels, etc.) Enjoy!

Ok, one more! I am going to start a "Password" system in my room this year. Each day, a different sight word will be written on the poster and displayed by the door. If a student needs to go to the restroom during class, get a drink of water, etc. he/she will need to read the password first. I had thought about doing this last year and after seeing some "Password" creations on Pinterest, I decided to create my own. Here ya go!

I guess that is all for now. I would love some feedback if you download any of the items I have posted! Thanks for reading! Stay tuned....