Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A is for Apps!

Hi friends! Long time, no blog! If it helps, I have a good reason. Actually I have several, but the main one is that my little family MOVED! We've been in our new house for two weeks now, and it's finally starting to feel like home. 

If I can give you one piece of advice from my experience, don't move during the school year. 
Or if you have young kids. 
It's really not fun. 

Anyway, my favorite little girls and I went shopping this weekend, and we found this little gem at Hobby Lobby: 

If you follow me on Instagram (click here if you don't!), you saw this pic this weekend, and if you know me at all, you know that the donut is my favorite part! This sweet little ornament made me realize how long I've been neglecting this little blog of mine. I'll try not to let it happen again. :)

Now that I'm back, I'm ready to share some of the excitement that has been happening in my little corner of the first grade universe. 

I'm also linking up with Blog Hoppin' for their Week of Giving Thanks!

I'm a little late to the party (as usual), but I decided Wednesday (A) is a great day to share one of my new favorite apps. I'm thankful for anything that will engage my kiddos, and I've found several apps this year that do the trick! 

The app I'm thankful for this week is called Plickers

It provides a quick and ultra-engaging way to formatively assess your students. 

Plickers is fabulous, whether you have one iPad, are 1:1, or have only your smartphone in your arsenal. 

All you need is a printer and one device, and you're ready. No student devices necessary!

The first step is to go to the Plickers website or download the app and sign up for a FREE account. If you sign up on the website, you will also need to download the app before you can use it with your class. I have it on my iPhone. 

Then, you need to create your class. Plickers will assign each student a number. The numbers match the numbers on the cards.

You will print enough cards for your class (one per student) by clicking on the Cards link at the top of the page. There are two per page - paper saving bonus! Be sure to give your kids the numbered card that matches their number on your Plickers class list so your data will be accurate. 

Then you put in the questions you want. Since we've been learning about the First Thanksgiving, I used the questions from a quiz I found here. You select A, B, C, or D as the correct answer, and then the kids hold up their cards. Whichever letter is on top when they hold it is the answer that is recorded for them. You then click the photo button at the bottom and scan the room. Each child's name and his or her response will come up on your screen. 

You can tell immediately how many students have answered and who has answered correctly. 

When you have all of your responses, you tap the checkmark at the bottom, and all of your students' responses are automatically graphed for you. 

You can also go in and see the reports from all of the questions to gauge how well your students understand the concept. I was showing them the questions and answer choices on my Promethean board from the site listed above, so I didn't put in detailed questions and answer choices in the app. I just let it know which was the correct answer. 

So cool, right? My class LOVED this. And it was so easy to get started. 
There is a much more detailed tutorial on the Plickers website (click here) if you need it! 

I plan to use this many more times when we come back from Thanksgiving break! 

Which apps are you thankful for? 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Scare and Share Blog Hop

Aaaaaaahhhhh it's October! 
Here in Indiana that means leaves changing colors, temperatures becoming cooler, and time to get the boots and leggings out!

For my blogging buddies and me, that also means a little fun fall sharing with you!

I created this little "Fall Into a Good-Fit Book" writing freebie for you. It's perfect for opinions or proposals (depending on your standards) and will look fabulously festive on your fall bulletin board!

Click the picture to grab it!

We've also teamed up for a Dollar Sale because everyone loves a good sale!!

Here are the products I have on sale (Click on the pictures to take you directly to the products):

This is my favorite product and a best seller! If you follow me on Instagram (Click here to follow me), I just posted a picture of the Finish the Picture Writing Prompt we used this week! Love it!!

If your school is starting PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) or thinking about starting it, you should definitely check out my School-wide PBIS ROARS posters. They are ready-to-use posters to display school-wide positive expectations. Our students always know what is expected of them in all areas of our building.

And finally, another best seller in my store:

My First Grade Parts of Speech Pack is Common Core-aligned and includes everything you see here to teach nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, and conjunctions! Be sure to grab it while it's only $1!

Be sure to hop along to grab some more Fun Fall Freebies!! Next up is the fabulous Brittany Banister! Click on her blog button to snag her freebie!

And Check out all of the items included in the $1 sale! Happy shopping!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

From Candy Treats to GoNoodle Beats: How to Enhance Your Reward System!

If you’re like me, you’ve been a loyal GoNoodle user for a while now. You love it. Your kids love it. You’re even singing “Run Like a Kitty Kitty” while you fold the laundry.

But what if I told you you could take it a step further and even use it to enhance your classroom behavior system?!

In my classroom it looks like this: we usually take at least two brain breaks per day REGARDLESS OF BEHAVIOR – one in the morning and one in the afternoon because, as we all know, KIDS NEED TO MOVE! 

But recently I started letting a student who has been demonstrating my classroom expectations CHOOSE the brain break. People, you’d think I gave them $100.

I use ClassDojo to award my students points when they demonstrate positive behavior. These behaviors include working quietly, staying on task, helping others, participating, etc. When they earn a certain number of points, they get to choose a reward in class. The most popular reward is “Choose a Brain Break!” They live for that reward, and it costs me NOTHING.

I use the cards that I found on this post on the GoNoodle Blog: Brain Break Tickets.

My “Show & Tell” cards are wrinkled. The “Choose Your Seat for the Day” cards have kids names written all over them.

But my “Choose a Brain Break” cards are so popular they are disappearing. I’ve had to print more at least three times, and we’ve only been in school for seven weeks!! They LOVE them!

And the best part: no more running to the store at lunch because I forgot to pick up a bag of candy the night before. No more worrying about having a behavior reward everyone likes, won’t affect their allergies, or that fits in with my corporation’s health initiative.

The same applies for those of you who have a treasure box in your classroom. Save your time, money, and space, and try letting them choose a brain break instead.

Give your kids the gift of GoNoodle. And then let them CHOOSE. You’ll be glad you did.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Five for Friday!

I'm linking up again with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday! I'm a little late, but hey, I'm here. 

We are finally up and running with Daily Five! I still have to introduce Work on Writing (I didn't go in order this year), so I guess we were doing Daily Four this week, but they did an awesome job! 

A few years ago, I convinced my principal to buy a site license for TumbleBooks for us to use for Listen to Reading, and I'm so glad she did! My kids love it! If you're not familiar with the site, click on the link to check it out. The books are leveled, and the kids can access it from home, too. 

These Read to Someone pairs are making and confirming predictions (from Deanna Jump's Interactive Reading Notebook pack) and Tuning into Interesting Words (from the CD included with The Cafe Book

Engagement. LOVE it. 

 Just like everyone else on the planet I think, we spent some time on apples this week. They got to taste red, yellow, and green apples. They chose their favorite and wrote an opinion about why that was their favorite. And then we painted some apples to accompany the writing. 

We broke out the math mat this week, too, to learn about the 100 chart to reinforce place value concepts and prep for comparing numbers next week. We stepped on numbers that were 10 more, 10 less, 1 more, and 1 less than a given number. Who needs hands-on when you can have feet-on? :) 

On Thursday, my PBIS team and I led a faculty meeting/PD to refresh everyone on our school-wide and classroom expectations and acknowledge them for all of their hard work. We have had A LOT of changes this year, and we all know how hard that can be. Part of our PD was on using GoNoodle brain breaks to help with behavior, and I was so grateful that the fabulous GoNoodle folks donated some goodies for my staff. Thank you, GoNoodle!!

My final thought for the week…my kids love Wonderopolis! If you've never tried it, check it out. I use it most often for morning work. There is a "Wonder of the Day" that always asks a question. I have my kids answer the question in their writing notebooks and draw a picture to go with it. The best part is that you can "explore wonders" and choose the one that is most relevant to your class. Then we watch the video and read about the answer. They like listening to the automated voice! It's an awesome way to build in a little curiosity and creativity into your day! 

Hope you all have a great week! :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Currently!

Today is the first day of September, so I'm linking up with Farley at 


Here's a peek at what I'm up to right now: 

Listening: My four year old LOVES books, and she's recently started "reading" them. This makes my teacher heart cup runneth over to see her use the pictures (and what she remembers) to tell the story. 

Loving: I don't really know who came up with this whole five days of work and two days off schedule, but I'm not a fan. Four and three seems like a MUCH better balance. I love being at home with my babies! 

Thinking: My plans for the next four days are definitely not done. We have a new evaluation tool in my district this year, which will be tied to our pay, so my lesson plans have become a lot more detailed. I started using this year to plan lessons, and I love it, but it takes me FOREVER to plan. 

Wanting: We were under a heat advisory for a week. Temps in the 90's but felt like 105 with humidity like you wouldn't believe. It felt like bus duty on the Equator. We had to have indoor recess every day, and the air conditioning went out at least twice. Not fun. I'm really hoping September brings cooler temps our way! 

Needing: I think my baby redhead may have an ear infection again. But of course, it's Labor Day, so her pediatrician's office is closed. I thought the After Hours clinic was open tonight, but it was actually open during the day, so by the time I called, they were booked. And all of the Urgent Care centers have two hour waits. It would be more torturous to make my baby girl wait in a germ-infested room for two hours than to just treat her at home until I can get her into her doctor in the morning. Darn back to school germs! 

3 Trips: I need a teleporter. I HATE traveling. It takes forever, and something always goes wrong. On the way back from Vegas this summer, I set off the scanner thing, and the TSA employee yelled, "I NEED A FEMALE SUPERVISOR!" You'd think they'd have walkie talkies or something, but nope. After waiting an eternity for a female supervisor to show up, I was escorted to a private room for a lovely pat down. Not the way I like to start my day. I love visiting new places and actually being on vacation, but getting there sucks. So who knows if I'll ever actually GO to these places, but I'd love to see them eventually. 

Hope you all have had a fabulous long weekend!!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Beat the Heat with a $1 Sale!!

In case you are not living in the midwest right now, it's HOT. 

As in indoorrecesseverydayduetoheatadvisory HOT. 

To beat the heat and reward everyone for surviving the sweat, I've teamed up with some blogging buds to bring you another fabulous $1 sale! 

Here are the products I've marked down to just $1 (discounted 50% or MORE)!!

First up is my BEST SELLER: Finish the Picture Writing Prompts

I gave my new group of STARS this one last week, and I love what they came up with! 

In case you're not fluent in First Grade-ese, I'll translate: "Mrs. Number had a tiny brain. It was filled with mischief. Her new class was coming into the room. 'Who's ready to do some ring fighting?' she said. 'I am!' said the class. She said, 'I mean learning!'" 

"One day I planted a seed in my garden, and I watered it, and I waited a couple weeks, and it grew big and beautiful. And I picked it, and I put it in a vase, and it smelled good in my house." 

"There was once a mother bird flying onto her nest. The baby bird was in the nest. The egg hatched that the baby bird was in. The mother bird taught the bird how to fly. The end. I love birds."


One little picture starter, so many stories!

This packet can be used with almost any grade level and includes several different versions of lined paper. Encourage your kids to be CREATIVE!!

Click the picture below to get it for just $1 today and tomorrow only! 

Next up are some fabulous Back to School packs for you!
Click the pictures to check them out!

 My kiddos LOVED these activities! The "I'm a Star" posters are hanging up in our room and make an awesome display!

 These activities are perfect to use as a quick assessment, morning work, to make a class book, or just to give you a few minutes to put some supplies away! Why wait till May to do a zoo theme when it's probably fresh in your kids' brains from summer fun? 

And finally, if you use National Geographic's Reach for Reading series, you have a star theme, or just want some cute headers, here is your Word Wall for the YEAR! 

Happy three-day weekend SHOPPING!! 

Check out all of the fabulous products below marked down to just $1 for two days! :) 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Five For Friday!

It's FRIDAY!!!

I just finished my third week of the school year. Looking back now, it seems like it's gone by quickly, but the days have felt very LONG. Especially with this midwest heat wave. 

Heat advisory + Indoor recess + Roofers constantly hammering + AC going out = One grumpy teacher and wound up kids! 

But we made it and actually managed to get a lot accomplished! 

Here's a snippet of my week: 

I started the week with a big change! 

I got nine inches of hair cut off and am sending it to Children with Hair Loss. I love my new short 'do! 

On Tuesday, we started our BLOGS! 

I am long overdue for a full-blown KidBlog post. I'll get it together soon! 

For now, just know that using KidBlog with my first graders was one of the best teaching decisions I've ever made! 

On Wednesday, one of my all-time favorite parents brought in caterpillars for us (and the other three first grade classes) on HER birthday! 

This never gets old. It is AMAZING watching these creatures transform. 

I also started #geniushour during our enrichment period last week. I let the kids brainstorm ideas for what they were interested in/wanted to learn more about, and then the research was on! This is also something that needs a post all of its own, but here is a shot of one of their presentations this week. This group's passion for Minecraft was infectious!  

This just made me smile this week: 

I'd totally "plik" all of you, too! :) 

And finally, today was the day I got to introduce my class to…

wait for it…

Our school's brand new iPad cart!!! 
{Insert singing angels here}

I'm beyond excited about it, and I'm sure you can imagine the squeals from my very eager kids! 

This cart has to be shared between 18 classrooms, but I'm hoping to be able to use them at least once a week! Send your favorite apps my way! 

Happy three-day weekend!! Give your brain a break! :)