8.26.2013

New Old Math

Does that even make sense?  Well, for me it kind of does.  You see, we got a "new" math program this year.  Only, it's very similar to our "old" math program from last year.  You see, we use enVision by Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley.  We've used it going on 6 years now.  But this year, they got into the CCSS action.  And they changed things! 

Before, we had 20 topics that we were supposed to cover during the year.  With the new standards, we have 16.  Many of the lessons are the same as before, they are just in different spots.  And there are new lessons to help support, too.  We haven't started using it yet, because not all the parts have been delivered yet.  They are still at the publisher being "packaged".  Good thing we aren't teaching math! 

Anyway, with the new version of the math out, I had to start almost all over with my math journals.  And they have been some hot sellers this week!  I have updated the "old" Topic 3 journal questions to correlate with the "new" Topic 1 math lessons.  We start right out with addition.  Good-bye number review with the old program.  Luckily I created my own to use with my class.  We will start learning all about addition right after Labor Day.  For now, we will work on our numbers and build a stronger number sense base before starting addition. 

You can find the newest edition to the math journal family in my store.  I will be slowly working on updating all of them as the year goes on.  But for now, I started with the first one.  And, my district does things out of order (makes life more interesting, ya know?).  I will try to update in order as I go along.  Check out my store for the latest and greatestJust click here for Topic 1

Let me know if your math changed and how you are making a go of it.  Ours should be interesting, once all the pieces arrive!  Happy Monday!

8.25.2013

First Full Week Back

Looks like I only blog once a week!  I guess that's better than nothing!  Getting back into the routine has kicked my butt.  I am so tired.  I'm very tired today and I don't know why, really.  I should be well rested, but I was awake at 5am.  My body really needs to learn the difference between a weekday and a weekend day.  Things would go so much smoother that way! 

We've been in school for 8 hot days.  Each day has been over 100*.  Luckily the hottest has been 106*.  But either way, it's still hot.  And it will be icky the next couple days.  We might get some rain today thru Tuesday they say.  Awesome.  We need the rain, but not 100*!  My kids have been pretty good about the heat.  They come in all hot and sweaty and then complain later that they are cold.  At least the A/C is working well!  I'd rather be cold than hot in there! 

I got a new student on Tuesday who is soooo low.  And a behavior problem.  And I can't seem to get ahold of mom to save my life.  Lucky me.  As with every class I have had, the majority of the kids are below grade level.  I think it's sad that they are moved to the next grade level without being proficient.  I know we do that with the kids going to 2nd, but the ones who are really low, we retain or get tested for Special Ed.  Nothing was noted on the cards about the kids being super low or anything.  It's just frustrating that we have so much to cover as it is in first grade, but then we have to work harder to catch the kids up and get them ready for learning.  2 of my students were above grade level in reading.  4 were at a DRA 4 (they are supposed to be a 4 @ the end of Kinder and magically come in to 1st at a DRA 6) and the others were a 3 or lower.  The majority are a DRA 3, but I have 3 kids who couldn't pass a DRA 2.  And that's just following a pattern.  They are supposed to know 40/50 sight words.  My 3 lowest know anywhere from 2 words (a & I) to 8 words.  I am still finishing testing this week.  I just know I have my work cut out for me.  And it's frustrating because I want to really jump into learning the new CCSS myself and how best to teach my kids with them, but we are still doing abc's. 

Anyway, I will work with my kids as best I can and make sure they get what they need.  We will get 20 minutes of extra afternoon intervention, which is new to us.  We are going to do a 2 week bootcamp for the kids who need letters and sounds.  We will re-evaluate the kids then and then send a different group after that.  Fingers crossed that they can get it and start to catch up. 

Last week was a review week still.  I had planned another week of review, but the majority of the kids are ready to move on to the beginning reading stuff.  I mean very beginning, but more than just letter sounds.  We need to get into blending and segmenting and reading.  So we will start tomorrow with our first theme!  I'm excited to get into teaching and getting stuff done!  In the meantime, here's a look at some things we did this last week to review.

We are working on reviewing our numbers to 30.  This is from my packet to review the numbers.  It can be found in my TPT store!  The kids are really starting to understand their numbers and see the patterns with numbers.  We are learning tally marks, ten frames and even and odd.  We are doing 2 numbers a day.  We are still waiting for our curriculum to be sent to us.  We will be using the updated CCSS version for enVision Math.  Too bad they didn't have  their act together and have it all ready to ship before school started.  Anyway....
 
We reviewed our color words.  The kids had to make a rainbow and then label the color words.  Then they had to draw a picture of themselves.  One thing I noticed with this year's class is they can' draw a picture of themselves really.  These 2 were the best I could find.  Guess we need to work on that.  We did do a directed draw of Chrysanthemum and they turned out really well.  Pictures coming soon! 



We did a semi-free response math activity on Friday.  I can the students 2 dice.  They had to roll the dice, count the dots and that's how many fish they were given.  Then they had to fill in the paper with the correct answers.  They had to write the number, the number word, figure out if it was even or odd and then draw the number in tally marks. 

We read some books this week by Kevin Henkes.  We filled in the chart with the characters feelings in the beginning and how they changed at the end.  Some of the kids really have a good understanding of why things happen.  Hopefully they will catch on really quick with reading itself! 
 
Our new schedule is not in my brain yet.  I'm always running behind and feel my morning is very choppy.  There too much I'm trying to get done and it doesn't flow yet.  Hopefully it'll start making more sense soon.  Now that we will get into the "real" teaching, I'm hoping it starts to feel more comfortable to me.  We'll keep our fingers crossed for that! 
 
Well, I have a bazillion things to do for tomorrow.  I have spent my weekend so far having fun with my daughter.  Time to get serious about work!  Here's to another great week at school!   

8.18.2013

Beginning of the Year Recap

I survived our first week of school!  It was only 3 days, but it was 3 tiring days!  Throw in Back to School Night, a girl scout meeting and cleaning and you have one tired girl here!  But, it's Sunday and I am getting ready to tackle the week ahead!  I think I'm ready...or will be once I get lesson plans done. 

Our schedule has changed this year dramatically.  We start an hour earlier than we did last year.  We now start at 8am!  I have to wake up before the sun has come up!  It's awful!  But I made it this week with getting up early and it wasn't as bad as I expected.  But I was ready for bed by 9pm every night!  The good news with starting so early is we get out early.  We get out at 1:45.  1:45!  I can still work at school afterwards and be out of there by 3:00!  It's crazy!  But boy does the day go by fast.  We went from 3 recesses a day to 2.  It makes for a longer time in class, but we get a lot done.  Or we will once we get our routine established and things start running smoothly.  They aren't there, but they will get there soon...I hope!

I don't feel like we got a lot accomplished last week, but it was a start.  I forget how slow the kids work at the beginning of the year.  We did the little project below and it took almost 2 hours by the time it was all said and done.  Some of the kids were having trouble with cutting.  It was sad, really, but I wanted to see what they could do.  This project came from Cara's blog, so it's not mine, and I couldn't for the life of me find the link to the actual page. 
We read No David and David Goes to School.  Then we talked about how to be good students/kids in general and at school.  The kids had to write how they will be good students and follow the rules.  Again, this took 2 hours!  And 3 kids didn't finish.  Lord help me! 
 
We also started talking about names.  We graphed how many letters were in our names.  We will be working more with names this week and learning about vowels and consonants.  I'm anxious to see how that goes.  Here is our graph with our names.  I was surprised the kids didn't have a good idea about graphs.  I know what to work on now! 
 
This week will be spent reviewing letters, sounds, the kinder sight words and color words.  I think the kids have a good idea of their letters and sounds, so we will see how they do with their color words and sight words.  I'm hoping it's easy and fun and they know them already!  Fingers crossed!
 
We are going to also venture into learning how to do centers.  I have a couple of new centers made for the kids to work on this week.  I haven't posted them yet, but I may get around to it later today.  Maybe.  The day is going by too fast for me.  I don't think the little nap helped get work done, either! 
I'll let you know when they are up and ready for you! 
 
I'll leave you with a look at my crazy schedule.  It's very different from last year and I haven't gotten my mind wrapped around it yet.  Once we get into our normal routine (switching for focus time), my day will go much smoother.  Until then, it'll still be a bit choppy.  And I just have to remember that it's only the first full week of school! 

Here's to another great week of school!  If you are starting, good luck!  If you are already in, have a great week!  And if you are still on vacation, enjoy it! 



8.14.2013

One day down...

I survived the first day back!  And oh my word!  I am exhausted!  I was ready for a nap at 2:30!  And Mother Nature decided today would be the perfect day for summer to arrive - it was 105 at dismissal time.  Awesome!  Sweaty, hot, tired teachers and crazy kids on super hot blacktop!  YES!  Perfect end to the day.  

All my kids showed up today.  One was dropped before school started today.  24 little firsties showed up at my line.  Some were scared, some were in tears, some were happy and some were uninterested in anything going on!  Meeting the parents, figuring out where the kids go and the chaos of the morning all make the start a bit crazy.  But we survived and got the parents out pretty quick to start the day.  

Our start time is an hour earlier than in the past and we are out over an hour earlier.  The school day is now shorter and man, it flew by today!  We hardly got anything done I had planned.  I always overplan, but I didn't get 1/4 of the stuff done.  Some of the kids are soooooooo slow!  Gotta work with them to get a little faster!  

And a little quieter!  The kids are quite chatty, but I blame their kinder teachers, really.  All the "chatty" kids come from two teachers who I feel let the kids get away with too much.  So when they come up to first grade, it's a shock for them and their parents.  They have to learn my style and end up moving their clips a lot before they come around to my way of thinking!  It's a process, but we eventually all seem to get where we need to be.  

Tomorrow is back to school night.  Time to get the parents on board with me and get them excited to help their child.  With that in mind, I've got stuff to do for tomorrow before I crash!  Here's to a great day tomorrow!  

8.13.2013

Goodbye Summer, Hello Classroom

It's official!  Summer is now over.  We have been back at work for 2 days.  The kids come in the morning.  Ready or not, it's GO time! 

I'm not feeling ready, but I will have to be in less than 12 hours.  I will start the year with 25 kids on my list (as of 30 minutes ago, anyway), which is the most I have had.  Ever!  I'm a little nervous about meeting the needs of so many.  But I will try my best. 

I am doing something different tomorrow for the first time in a very long time.  And I'm excited about it.  I'm trying to embrace the change to the CCSS and try new things.  Do away with the old and bring in the new.  Some things I will still do, but I am really going to try and do new things.  We'll see how it goes. 

Our start time is an hour earlier.  I could cry!  I can't take my daughter to school any more.  And I have to wake up before the sun even comes up.  That is just wrong!  On the bright side, we are out at 1:45.  That's so early!  I can stay at work til 3 and still be home before the sun goes down in January!  I can get used to this!

Here is my room in all it's glory.  It's pretty similar to last year with a couple changes.  Enjoy!
View from the door to the back.  My room is a portable, so it's long and narrow. 

View to the side.  Don't mind the mess on the table.  It's gone for now.  It's been relocated to behind my desk! 

My teacher board.  Boring right now.

Pillars of Character.  I got these from Oriental Trading.  We will really concentrate on these this year. 

My owl ten frames I made.  Too cute!  I'm hoping to get my kids to really understand numbers well! 

My little phonics skills cheat sheets.  I re-typed them onto the bright paper. 

My new banner.  It says "Welcome to First Grade"

Calendar/Poem/Read Aloud/Math Wall area

My neat posters from Target Dollar Spot! 

View from the back to the front.  I hope it's ready!
 
 
Tomorrow will be here before I know it!  I need to go get a couple things done for tomorrow and then it's off to bed!  5 AM will be very early!  Here's to a great school year and a great bunch of kids!  

8.08.2013

Countdown begins...

...NOW!  There is less than one week until school starts!  6 days from today I will be done with the first day of school.  It's hard to believe that vacation time is over.  It feels like we just went on vacation.  But it's been 2 months.  I guess play time is over!  

I've been to my room a bit this week, but nothing major.  I will be busy on Monday and Tuesday to get everything ready.  I'm changing things up this year and I'm NOT dong what I have done in the past.  Te problem is, I'm not totally sure what I'm doing yet.  I have some ideas, but nothing planned out at all.  Starting to feel a little stress coming on!  Yikes!  

The first days are always a little strange.  Kids coming in and out, kids crying, the schedule just doesn't go according to plan.  That happened last year.  My day didn't go according to plan and it felt weird all day long.  I'm hoping this year I'd different and the day feels smoother.  As of today, I have 23 kids on my list.  That's way less than the 27 they said we'd have.  Our second grade team will have about 27 to start.  Lucky them!  I hope all my kids show up and we can start from day 1 learning and becoming a little classroom family.  

As I mentioned before, I'm changing things up this year.  We are starting Common Core, so that'll be new.  But I'm also wanting to try new things and not just do the same thing year after year.  Some of my beloved activities will not be done this year.  I'm sure I will miss them, but I don't want to be that teacher who only does the same things year after year.  We have some of those and I'm afraid of becoming that teacher!  So, I will step out of my comfort zone and try new things.  Lots of new things, in fact.  And all with the blessing of our principal and superintendent who say to really work on Common Core!  OK!  That's all I need to know!  A little more fun and a lot more learning will be happening this year!  And, on the plus side, my class seems relatively "high" which means they are mostly at grade level.  I hope it's true!  I am really wanting to be able to teach at a higher level and see all the light bulbs click on!  

Tomorrow will be a mommy daughter day before school starts.  I'm not going in tomorrow and figure everything can wait!  Happy early weekend!  

8.06.2013

Do as I say, not as I do

Oh my word!  I have been at "training" the last 2 days.  It was awful.  A complete waste of time.  I am very disappointed in it.  :(  Our district, in their attempts to get us to work together for the good of the kids and common core, had all the elementary grade level leads go to a training on PLC's.  I was all for the meeting and getting some good information.  I was on board and a little excited to go.  I was all ears to get some good insight to help me team work better together. 

I left knowing all about the schools the presenter has been a principal at.  I left knowing about how her staff(s) have all come around to her way of thinking and doing things.  I left knowing that the presenter likes to hear herself talk.  I left feeling frustrated and ready to scream.  My whole team felt that way.  IT WAS AWFUL! 

I don't really have any better insight into PLC's than before.  I did get a better understanding that it should be driven by data.  That's great.  But in first grade, we don't have a lot of concrete data that we can use.  We have a lot of subjective data we can use.  We have a lot of "my kids did really well with this" or "my kids didn't so hot on this", but no real data.  Um, OK.  We can work with it.  I understand that all members are supposed to buy in, and if they don't there should be consequences for them.  Um, OK.  And who will follow through on that?  I understand that we need to be more positive in our approach to everything.  Um, OK.  We can do that.  But the "training" left me feeling so negative.  IT WAS AWFUL! 

About 6 years ago, the district sent many teachers to Boston for the PLC training.  This was when PLC's were first becoming a thing.  Everyone was excited.  It was new and interesting.  But now we kinda know what we are doing and would have liked to know the next step.  I didn't go to Boston, so I didn't get the initial training.  I was really hoping to get a better understanding of the whole thing and how I can make it work with my grade level.  But I didn't.  I heard all about the presenters schools and how they do it.  But I don't know if I can apply her dictator methods to our grade level team.  Hmmm...I've got some thinking to do on this. 

I am very hopeful that our team can work really well together.  There are only 4 of us now.  The one who has caused us so much grief is now at a different grade level.  3 of us are very open and willing to work together, but we have one who is still resistant to change and doesn't want to share kids with anyone or take any kids.  But it's time we move past that.  We have to work for the betterment of the kids, rather than our own feelings.  I don't love sending my kids all over, but it's what's expected of me by my principal.  I do it, but I don't love it.  In fact, we weren't going to switch out our kids (except our EL's for their ELD instruction), but there is some new funding thing going on in my district and our site actually lost money and we lost our "award winning way" of doing Intervention.  Not too smart if you ask me.  But, no one asked me, so....

In 8 days, I will have a class of new kids.  I'm getting more excited to meet them and start the year.  I'm not really ready yet, but I have a week to be prepared for their bright, smiling faces.  I am trying hard to go into the year with a positive outlook and trying to think about things going smoothly.  I am hoping they do.  I can't handle another year like last year.  It was too hard and filled with too much drama.  I'd like a nice drama-free year where I can really experience Common Core and try some new things with my kids! 

8.02.2013

It's August?!?!?!?!?!

Holy Moses!  It's August!  What happened to July?  I have seen that on my blog posts and it is so true!  July seemed to fly right by.  So did June. And now, I am on countdown until the first day of school.  I may need to take a moment to shed a tear. 

Don't get me wrong.  I love my job.  I am just loving vacation a little more right now.  But I can't really complain.  I had a pretty great vacation.  It hasn't been so great now at the end, but we can't always have it all perfect.  When I think back, we spend 11 days in Vancouver and Alaska on our cruise.  Hubby and I had a weekend getaway to see a comedy show.  We spent some time camping and I had a road trip with my daughter.  I've been able to be lazy at home and enjoy some good books.  There are things I wish I would have done and places I would have gone, but I can still do those once school starts (just on the weekends).  All in all, it's been a good vacation.  The surgery and recovery were not what I was expecting, but there are hiccups in life like this all the time.  I'm just trying to roll with the punches! 

I have been in to my classroom this week.  I left it in pretty good shape.  My custodian helped me get my desks where I wanted them and I got rid of a table.  Shocking!  But it didn't fit with what I was doing with my room and it made it too cluttered.  I'd rather the kids be on the floor than standing around at tables (I don't have enough chairs, anyway!)  I have done little things to be ready for school and I can still do more this next week.  I always bring home way more than I get done anyway.  But I should get serious and actually do something that I brought home.  I see all the posts about everyone making cute stuff for their rooms.  I think, "I can do that!  I should do that!  I'll do that!"  And then I sit on the couch, grab my book and then before I know it, it's time to make dinner.  Oops!  Maybe it'll happen!  Maybe.

There are now less than 2 weeks before the kids come.  August 14 is D-Day.  I could have 24 show up.  Or more.  Or less.  Who knows.  Right now I have 24 on my roll, but that can all change.  I have one who was supposed to be placed somewhere else.  My friend has 26 on her list.  I'm glad I didn't get her list...it's going to be an interesting year.  And the others have 21 and 22.  So there isn't any sense of balance there, but who knows what they were thinking.  It'll be an interesting few days coming up!

Until then, I have the weekend to do whatever.  Clean house, work on school stuff, lounge around.  Monday and Tuesday will be devoted to PLC training (I'm not looking forward to that) and then the rest of the week will be spent between my classroom and getting my daughter to and from places.  Then vacation will be in books.  No more lazy days.  No more waking up at 8:30 and getting out of bed at 9.  No more staying up til 11 just because.  It'll be back to teacher time - up at 5 and asleep by 9...or 7:30 those first few weeks!  I guess I should enjoy it while it lasts.  It'll be August 11th before we know it! 

Happy TGIF!