Sunday, June 30, 2013

Currently + Anniversary + Sale

This is a special Currently edition because it's my 
Anniversary!!!


I have been married to this wonderful man for SIX years! Yes, we were babies when we got married {23}. 
We have a fun pool day planned with great friends to celebrate.  Just hope the clouds go away! :)  



In honor of the "best decision I ever made" I'm throwing a sale!

And I just revamped four of my communication binders!
Hurry, hurry!  You only have till Midnight! :)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

TBT, Take-Home Bag + FREEBIE!

I am L.O.V.I.N.G. summer!!
I spent the last week here with family:


Lets just say it was GLORIOUS! Ha!
Now that I'm back and all relaxed and rejuvenated it was time to get busy and that I did.    

I spent the past several days working and finally finished this little number:


I am beyond excited about this packet.  I have been using take-home-bags in my classroom ever since I started teaching {five years ago}.  I was first introduced to these little babies by my interning teacher and her colleagues.  A few of the ones they used, I included {with their permission} just a little more updated!  This packet is the BIGGEST packet I've ever created, reaching 176 pages!!!  It is loaded with 19 wonderful take home bags {crazy part is, I'm still working on adding a few more to the packet}!
Here's what's inside:




Head on over to my store to check it out.  I will have it set at $10 today only!  Then, it will creep back up to $12 where it will stay {even when I add more to it}!!

Because I love you all so much I'm giving my Mystery Bag away as a freebie!

{click the image}



Now for why you really came. :)
I'm taking you back to February 2011 and a couple reading organization tips I 'borrowed' from fellow bloggers {while adding my own flare, of course}.  You'll even notice I referenced Michelle Oakes by using her original class website {it was before she had a blog}! love it! Enjoy

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Reading Organization

I have spent many hours browsing the web for ideas on how to revamp my classroom once I was reassigned to first grade.  I didn't want to spend a TON of money but knew that I was a little 'OCD' when it came to organization and coordination! :)  This is what I've come up with:
 Since my kiddos are in first grade now we no longer need those little cubbies, so I turned them into our class library!  I got all the baskets at the Dollar Tree (one of my all time favorite places to shop now).  They have really adorable stamps right now that are perfect for teachers! 
 I am a member of Thistlegirl DesignsDJ Inkers, and recently Scrappin' Doodles.  That is where I purchased all my graphics from!  I'm truly OBSESSED now!!  I got the idea to place corresponding stickers inside each book from Michelle over atFantastic First Grade! It's such a great visual and a great way for the kids to help keep the book nook nice and organized! 
 Above is a picture of my student's "book luggage."  This is used with our Daily Five.  I purchased the baskets from none other than the Dollar Tree and made the cute little luggage tag with a die-cut! Simple, easy, and cute!
Inside their book luggage are 'just right books,' some of their decodable books, a reading strategy bookmark, 'magic reading glasses (purchased from the Dollar Tree, lenses taken out), and an eyelighter. I've since placed a coaching sheet for when they are buddy reading.  After doing some blogging earlier I will be adding some more goodies to their book luggage!  I found some really great ideas from Brooke over at Primary Perspective.  Be sure to check it out if you are also using the Daily Five in your classroom!  Cute, cute stuff! 


Thursday, June 20, 2013

all good things must end

Have you heard the news?

There is going to be
NO MORE GOOGLE READER!

I am not particularly excited about this and that could simply be due to the fact that I do not like change.  When I have something 'down-pat' I like it to stay that way.  However, sadly, in this case I can not.

On July 1st Google Reader will be no more.
What does this mean for you?  Well, it's simple.  If you want to continue following all the hundreds thousands of blogs that you currently follow then you are going to need to do this:

Step 1: head over to Bloglovin.com

Step 2: 

Click on that blue button.  It will then prompt you to enter in YOUR blog address as well as some other information.

Step 3: Wait patiently.  Depending on how many blogs you follow this may take a minute.

Step 4: Add Bloglovin to your Bookmark Bar for quick access

What else does this mean for you fellow bloggers?
Well, all those years of watching your numbers grow like this:

will be no more. :(  
There is a widget you can add in it's place though.
If you notice on the top right section of my blog I have one Bloglovin widget.
It looks like this:

{I will be moving it to my "followers" section as of July 1st}

And/or you can add a widget that counts your followers!  This makes my heart a little happy.  I love watching my number of followers grow.  Makes me feel like I'm making some sort of impact in the world {good or bad...your choice}.

All that said.  Click below IMMEDIATELY or you will be one sad puppy come July 1st {that's 11 days away people}!!!




Saturday, June 8, 2013

Whole Brain Teaching


Kathleen from Growing Kinders just posted a great blog post on her beginning findings/journey into Whole Brain Teaching {WBT}.  I decided since I've been using components of this method for the past two years, I would share a little of what I do.

Kathleen is a step ahead of me.  She's reading the book. I, however, did not.  I did read every single thing written on their website and watched several videos on YouTube that showcase Whole Brain Teaching in action.  I must say though, I've already purchased the book and will be reading about it a little bit more this summer to {as Kathleen said} "dig a little deeper."  

WBT is an excellent classroom management tool with learning approaches that tap into the way your brain learns best.  The different 'tools' used keep all students actively engaged in learning by keeping them 'on their toes' and anticipating what's next.  The idea of using WBT, for me, was to create a fun and positive learning environment that was stress-free and centered around my students.  That happens to be the concept behind WBT!

Here are some of the different techniques I use in my classroom.
On the WBT website you will find some of this information under the 1st steps tab.

Five Classroom Rules

If you are like the majority of classroom teacher's out there, you usually have your classroom rules posted on a wall somewhere in your classroom.  You either go over them the first week of school or create them with your kiddos the first week of school, but then rarely refer to them for the rest of the year.  WBT's concept is to recite these rules daily so that they are constantly running your student's brains, making them more effective.  
How it works in my classroom:
I start each and every morning {even if I have a sub} with our rules.  On Monday's I recite them.  Every other day I select a "friend" {I use this term to refer to my sweet little kinders} who has shown great behavior {follows the rules} to recite them.  Since everyone wants to be the rule person for the day, they all are eager to follow the rules!!  I use several other whole brain techniques to recite them.  This is how it sounds:
Student: "mirror"  {keep reading to learn more about that} student holds up hand.
Class: "mirror" - students raise hand {like giving an oath} 
Student: "Rule 1" - holds up one finger
Class: "Rule 1"
Student: "Listen when the teacher is talking" - makes a talking mouth with hand
Class: repeats and makes hand motion
Student: "Rule 2" - holds up two fingers
Class: "Rule 2" - holds up two fingers
Student: "Follow directions quickly" - makes an 'ocean wave' motion with their hand
Class: repeats
Student: "Rule 3" - holds up three fingers 
"Keep your hands and feet to yourself" -crosses arms one at a time
Student: "Rule 4" -holds up four fingers
"Raise your hand to speak or stand" - raises hand to shoulder level, makes talking hand, then points finger up {to represent the 'getting up and standing' - they do this motion as we say that particular part}
Student: "Rule 5" - holds up five fingers
"Be safe, be kind, be honest" {I have my kiddos say the first part, class repeats, then the second, class repeats, then the third, class repeats.  They also hold up one finger at a time to represent the three important rules within Rule 5}.
After they do that I chime in and say "And the most important rule of all?" Class recites "Keep your dear teacher happy" {we point to smiling face and tilt our heads side to side}.
To keep this part more interesting for them, we sometimes use silly voices when reciting our rules. :)

To read the rules provided by WBT click HERE.
To see it in action, as well as what "mirroring" is {not my class} click HERE.


Mirror

"Mirror" is simply when students mimic gestures that you do to engage them during a lesson.  The concept behind "mirroring" is this: "As student's imitate your motions, their motor cortex, the brain's most reliable memory area, is automatically engaged." 
Here is an excellent video on mirroring in a first grade classroom.


Attention Getter: Class-Yes

This is my all time favorite WBT technique.  I use it ALL.THE.TIME.
Instead of saying "Class" though, I say "Friends."

This is super simple and greatly effective.  Often times getting the kiddos to quiet down and get settled can be a daunting task {it was definitely for me in my beginning years}.  This method is simple.  To grab your students attention you simple say "Friends" {or "class:} and they all reply "Yes."
Simple right.  But this is the part that's important.
Students have to repeat this simple word however I say it.
For instance I might say
"Ooooohhhhh Friends" in a deep voice and they must repeat it the same exact way when saying "Oooooohhhhh Yes."  I change up my voice each and every time.  What kid doesn't love using a silly voice?  It's so positive too.  Not once has a kiddo not repeated 'yes' back to me without a smile and/or giggle.

Here's the scientific reasoning as to why this simple technique is so effective:

"The neo-cortex, the part of your brain behind your forehead, controls, among other things, decision making.  Think of the neo-cortex as an executive, organizing other brain areas for complex tasks.  When the teacher says, "Class!" and students respond "Yes!," you have, in effect focused your students' neo-cortices on what you're going to say next.  In other words, their brain's executives are ready to take directions from your brain's executive."

Pretty cool, huh?

Teach-Ok

This technique is a class favorite. I mean, what kiddo doesn't love to be the "teacher."  This technique allows you to fully engage, simultaneously, in all four learning modes - seeing, saying, hearing, and doing.  How great, right?
I am not even going to waste time typing how it works.  Just watch this incredible video of a first grade class {I've posted this before}:


Are you hooked now?
I highly recommend going to YouTube and searching this method.  It is so fantastic in so many grade levels.  These videos are what had me convinced that I needed to begin teaching this way immediately!

These are just the components that I use frequently, if not daily, in my classroom.  There is so much more to WBT though.  I highly recommend joining in on this journey with Kathleen and purchasing the book for yourself. 
I can't wait to learn so more techniques to begin implementing this next school year.  What I've already been doing has definitely made my life so much more easier.  

"Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn" Ben Franklin {{love}}