Sunday, April 27, 2014

Career Day!

As I told you last week, this past Friday was our Career Day! I have had my classes write speeches about what they want to be when they grow up for a few years now, but this was the first time I found professionals from the community to come in to speak about the jobs my kids chose. 

We started the process three weeks ago by researching the jobs the STARS were interested in. I had them write down their top two choices for what they wanted to be and then I compiled the list. This worked much better than having them tell me out loud. When I did that last year, magically I had at least six kids wanting to do the same thing! :) 

Then we checked out career books from our school library and set out on a fact-finding mission. I wish I had thought to take pictures while they were researching! They really dug into their books. They used their facts to write rough drafts about the job they chose. Then we revised, edited, and published our writing in a Student Treasures book. If you've never made one with your class, the finished product is awesome. The process is stressful, especially when both of your own children get sick the week you need to send it back. But we finished it, I sent it off, and I'll post a pic of it when it comes back! I had planned for the kids to blog about their jobs, too, but the computer lab is being used for state testing. Hopefully I can get my hands on some laptops next week! 

Two weeks ago, I emailed all of my families with the list of jobs the class had chosen and asked if they knew anyone in those professions who would be willing to come in to speak to our class. Boy, did they come through! Between their connections and mine, I had thirteen speakers lined up, which covered 15 kids (a few chose the same job). 

For homework last week, the kids had to re-write or type their speeches on large index cards (to avoid the paper-blocking-face-while-giving-speech tendency), rehearse their speech, and bring in a few props. 

Friday was the big day, and I was a nervous wreck. I thought this would surely be the first and last Career Day in my room. I was stressed about whether I allowed enough time for each speaker, if everyone would show up, if the kids would be a respectful audience, and the list goes on. But by the time the first presenter was finished, I knew I had to make Career Day an annual event. 

I had each child give his or her speech before the adult counterpart, and they did a GREAT job! Some of my STARS had even practiced looking at the audience at different points during their speech. Let me tell you, I was one impressed teacher. I think all of the adults in attendance enjoyed the kids' speeches, too. One even offered one of the kids a job when she turns 18!

We had a grocer, a pet sitter, a vet tech, two dancers, a firefighter, and more! 

 I wish I had caught this child's reaction when the USI basketball player walked in. He was SO EXCITED, knew exactly who he was, and said, "You're the POINT GUARD!" Yup, I definitely have to do this again. :) If you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen the picture of the autographed posters he brought for every student in my class. So awesome!

I had some kids who chose jobs their parents do, which was really sweet (and also made my job of finding speakers easier). The boy below wants to be a wrestling coach just like his dad. :) 

We had experiments and demonstrations...

And I even joined the fun! 
By the way, fire gear is heavy.

It was such an amazing morning, but the fun didn't stop there! After all of the speakers had gone, we still had eight jobs remaining. For those, I found some very cool videos that included interviews and/or demonstrations of jobs. 

The first was from Nasa's website, and the rest were from YouTube
How did we survive before YouTube??

These boys wanted to be an astronaut, a baseball player, an archaeologist, a hunter, and a farmer, respectively. If anyone is interested in the specific links to the videos, just let me know! 

Career Day was a HUGE success and was a great experience for all of the STARS. 

I'm so grateful for my wonderful students and their parents, and I'm especially grateful for the professionals who took time out of their day to come speak to us. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

One of My Favorite Projects

I love the fourth grading period of first grade. It's the time of year when everything comes together. It's also the time when I break the monotony of my usual weekly reading fluency and comprehension homework and start assigning projects!

The first project of the grading period is the Magic Tree House Book Bag Report. My STARS are obsessed with the Magic Tree House series, so this is one homework assignment that they are excited to do!

*Now, this is in no way my idea. If your kids love Magic Tree House, and you haven't visited the Teacher section of their website, you are MISSING OUT! There are some fabulous resources on their site for FREE!*

I start by sending home the explanation sheet I created, a blank "My Magic Tree House Book Bag Report" sheet (can be found here), and a paper lunch bag. Here is the explanation I send home:

I send home weekly homework in a homework folder on Mondays, and it's due back on Fridays. For most of the school year, I send home a leveled reader or reading passage with comprehension questions for the kids to complete. This Book Bag project takes the place of three weeks of the leveled reading homework. Since there are always kids who can finish a book in a few nights, I offer an extra credit project for those "early finishers." 

For the past three weeks, my STARS have been reading, drawing, and rehearsing, and today was the big day!! This was our first big opportunity to show off our Speaking and Listening skills, not to mention comprehension!! I absolutely love watching these presentations. I emphasized rehearsing, and they ALL listened and did SO WELL! I was one proud teacher today! 

Here are a few of the completed bags: 

For this project, they are supposed to draw four pictures of events from the story that will help them retell the plot. Then they add objects to the inside of the bag that relate to the story and will also aid in their retelling. I had a few STARS who wanted to tell us every. last. detail. of their book, bless their hearts, but most of them stuck to a few details from the beginning, middle, and end and did a wonderful job incorporating their pictures and objects. 

Here is an example of a completed "My Magic Tree House Book Bag Report" and the rubric I created using RubiStar:

Here is an example of an extension project for extra credit: 

He made a diorama of the tsunami from his book heading straight for the main characters, Jack and Annie. So awesome! 

One thing I will change for next year is to assign presentations on two different days. I forgot how long they take! Book Bag presentations took almost 2 1/2 hours today. Of course we didn't do them all at once, but even with them spread throughout the day, I still had several who were struggling to be good audience members. Overall, though, it was a great day! 

Next up on the project list is a Career Day speech! Look for that post next week! I'm even MORE excited for that one! 

I hope you all have a blessed Easter weekend! :) 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Liebster Award

Welcome to all of my new followers from the Blogger Meet Up Blog Hop! Congratulations to the winner, Angie Henry! I hope you enjoy all of your amazing prizes!! 

I'm writing today because Brittany from Nifty in First Grade nominated me for the 

This award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers as a way to welcome them to the blogosphere! So nice! 

As a nominee, my job is to answer Brittany's questions and share 11 random facts about myself before nominating five other new bloggers! 

Here are Brittany's questions and my answers:

1. What grade do you teach? What grades have you taught? How long have you been teaching? 

I currently teach first grade and LOVE IT! This is my seventh year of teaching, and the only other grade I have taught is Kindergarten. I am licensed to teach up to ninth grade in Language Arts and Reading, but I'll stick with first for as long as I can! 

2. Which book do you read to your class every year without fail? 

I always start the year off with First Day Jitters by by Julie Danneberg, and Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is never far behind! My first graders have also been really into the Magic Tree House series

3. If you weren't a teacher, what would you be doing? 

It's a good thing I couldn't answer this question in 2007…otherwise I probably wouldn't still be teaching! My first year of teaching was an absolute disaster! But, I stuck with it, and I can't imagine doing anything else. Since I have two beautiful little girls now, I would definitely be a stay-at-home Mom if I weren't a teacher. I'd also love to be a children's book author!

4. What is one thing you're just dying to buy for your classroom? 

This one is easy…I want some Boogie Boards! They were given away at the Indiana Blogger Meet Up, and they look awesome! And now that I see that Amazon has them for $19.99, I may need to go ahead and just buy one to try out!

5. What's your non-teaching guilty pleasure? 

Um, I have a little bit of a TV obsession. My favorite shows are Friends (re-runs are on daily, and I may or may not be able to quote pretty much every episode), Grey's Anatomy, Glee, Chicago Fire, Parenthood, and Modern Family, and reality shoes like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, The Bachelor/Bachelorette, The Voice, and even Teen Mom on occasion. I'm sure I'm leaving some out. Whew, that's a little embarrassing! 

6. What is your favorite book that is not teaching related? 

My favorite book that I've read for pleasure recently (bed rest) was Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. Read it!

7. What is one thing on your bucket list? 

I want to meet Keith Urban or Justin Timberlake in person. I would die one happy woman. 

8. What is your favorite restaurant? 

I can't pick one! I love Biaggi's, Bonefish, Olive Garden, Jason's Deli, and some local favorites like El Patron, G.D. Ritzy's, and Lic's. I'm definitely not a cook, and I love going out to eat!

9. Who would play you in a movie about your life? 

Blake Lively or Reese Witherspoon. I loved Gossip Girl, and Sweet Home Alabama is one of my favorite movies!!

10. What's one thing you could eat every day? 

If someone could make them calorie-free and still taste amazing, I could without a doubt eat donuts every day. 

11. What inspired you to start blogging? 

I have thought about it for years, and I actually reserved this blog name two years ago, but it took me over a year to actually post anything! I have admired so many teacher bloggers for so long and wanted to be a part of their world. And I have to say, blogging and meeting other bloggers has been so inspiring and motivating! I'm so glad I joined the party! 

Next up: 11 random facts about me: 
  • I married my high school sweetheart. 
  • I think pets are weird. 
  • I'm a freak about grammar and spelling. I edit everything.
  • I can clap with one hand. 
  • I broke my nose in fifth grade when my knees hit my nose on vault during gymnastics practice.
  • I love Zumba. 
  • My dad took me skydiving for my 18th birthday. 
  • I studied abroad in the UK one summer in college. 
  • I could kiss my babies 1,000 times a day, and it would never be enough. 
  • I work well under pressure. Too well. If I don't have a deadline, it won't get done. 
  • I'm going to Vegas this summer!!
Now that you know a little bit more about me, I would love for my nominees to answer the same questions and tell us 11 random facts about themselves!

Here are the rules:
1. Link back to my blog as the one who nominated you.
2. Nominate five blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions I posted.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Contact your nominees to let them know they have been nominated.

Sew Much Music
Mrs. Banister's Kindergarten Kids

Thanks, Brittany! This was fun!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Blogger Meet Up Blog Hoppin' Giveaway!!

Thank you for joining me on this Blog Hop!!
As promised, here is YOUR chance to benefit from our amazing blogger meet up! 

One great part of the blogger meet up was a "teacher tool swap." Each attendee was asked to wrap up his or her favorite "teacher tool" to give to another teacher at the meet up. We played a fun little pass the gift game, and then took turns opening our surprises! 

The tool I received was this pack of Frixion Pens! They are awesome! 
This was me awkwardly modeling them at the meet up. :) 

Thought I better take a pic of what these babies can do to give you a better idea. If you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen this pic, but seriously I'm in love! 
I actually said, "Wow" out loud at my desk yesterday morning when I saw how well they erased! 

Every teacher at the meet up also received a door prize (or "humpback whale," if you will), and I was SO excited about my prize! 

I won a CLASS PACK of Crayola Dry Erase Crayons!! Who doesn't love Crayola?

They are perfect for those times when you don't want what you've written to accidentally rub off if someone's sleeve hits the board. I used them to write vocab words for a chapter one of my small groups was reading. 

No accidentally rubbing those words off! But they do wipe completely clean when you're ready. Perfect!

I learned so much in a few hours at this meet up, and I, along with all of my blogging buddies, want to share a few of these tips with you! 

First, I learned I needed to be more "social," so I joined the club that is Instagram, and it really is as fun as they say! Plus, most of the teacher bloggers you already know and love are on there.

 I didn't see the purpose before because Facebook already includes pictures, but the pictures on Instagram are way more fun! And the best part is your newsfeed doesn't get bombarded with political rants, mug shots, and game notifications! Awesome! 

Along those same lines, I learned about some fabulous photo editing sites/apps to use when posting photos to Instagram or a blog (or just for fun). 
I've been obsessed with using Phonto lately for Instagram photos like this one: 

(Yes, donuts are therapeutic.)

Other fab sites/apps I learned about include PicMonkey and A Beautiful Mess.
So much fun!
Bottom line: no more boring pics from this girl! 

My third and final piece of wisdom is great for any of you who are just starting out with blogging like me, or maybe you've been blogging forever but never knew how to add the link to your blog when commenting on others' posts.
Surprisingly, it's really easy!

I Teach. What's Your Superpower? has created several pages of tutorials for new bloggers, and this was one of them! 

You just insert your blog title in this HTML code (replace mine with yours): 
<a href="">First Grade STARS</a>
Then copy, paste, and voila! A clickable link to your blog that you can add to your comments!

And now for the BEST PART!

One very lucky person who follows the hop all the way to the end and completes the Rafflecopter will win ALL of these prizes and MORE!

So keep on hoppin' by clicking the button below to hear from the next fabulous blogger!

Primary Possibilities