Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Heart is in a Billion Pieces...

"Many people are wanting to know where they can send care packages and letters.  Here are a few addresses where you can send things to comfort the people affected by this senseless crime." @
Sandy Hook Vol. Fire and Rescue
18-20 Riverside Rd/Po Box 783
Sandy Hook, CT 06482
Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
77 Main Street
P.O. Box 344
Newtown, Ct. 06470
Newtown Police Department
3 Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470
Newtown Public Schools/Superintendent’s office:
3 Primrose Street
Newtown, CT 06470
Danbury Hospital Emergency Room Staff
24 Hospital Avenue
Danbury, CT 06810
You can also follow the R.I.P. Sandy Hook Elementary School Children Facebook page at:

Thursday, December 13, 2012


The big day has come and gone.

 And, yes, I do have documentation of this momentous event:

1. Breakfast with Mortie, the Tortoise. 
Mortie does not like that it gets dark at 5:30pm.
I can't say that I blame him. 
Mornings are the only times I get to hang out with him. 
Once it is dark, he goes to bed!

2. The date:
Proof that I took pictures on the correct day!
Not that you wouldn't believe me....

3. Opie the Elf is just hanging out doing his job.
Being cute and spying on little children.
Not creepy at all.

4. Morning Duty
Every Wednesday, I'm stuck watching this group.
Actually, they are pretty good. I've got it easy.
The 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders are on the hardcourt.
We need an invisible fence and shock collars to keep them contained.

5. Fundations, Unit 4 Test
Here's one of my firsties working hard on his test.
He has ASD and has been in self-contained classrooms since he was 3.
This is his first year in a gen-ed classroom and he has made SO much progress.
13/16 kids passed the test!
That is totally rad for this group (8 out of 16 have special needs!)

6. Kindergarten Reading Group
They L-O-V-E this Pete the Cat reader from Heidi Butkus!

7. Kindergarten Reading Group
She wanted me to take her picture so badly!
She was really proud of her work.

8. Terror in the classroom
Unfortunately, I have a new student who isn't quite ready for the classroom.
You can just guess what happened...

9. First Grade Reading Groups
Thank God, I've got my first graders back!
Love reading groups with these guys.
I could do it ALL day!

10. Rain, Rain Go Away!
We had to make do with inside recess.
My first graders LOVE to dance.
They beg to dance to Gangham Style and the Dougie.
We need a Talent Show with this group!

11. Hair Appointment
Oh man, did I need this appointment (and that glass of wine.)
My hair is so happy now!

12. Dessert First!
Scott and decided to be crazy and have dessert before our dinner.
We love Fro-Yo!

That's all folks.
It wasn't the best day, but it was a day.
Things happened.

Please check out Stacy's Linky Party.
12~12~12 is done!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gingerbread Man ELA 5 Day Lesson Plan

Hi-Ho, everybody!

Well, I had to look a few times, but I kept getting the same results...
Today is only Tuesday. 
I was SO wishing it may have been Thursday. It feels like a Thursday.
Oh, Calgon. Take me away! 

Luckily, there are many, many, many activities to teach during this time of year.
This week is our Gingerbread week and the kids are loving it.
There are so many gingerbread books to read and compare. With each read, the level of excitement rises. It has been fun, but "WOAH" these kiddos are fired up!

As my students are becoming "close" readers this year, I have decided to dig deep into one of our gingerbread stories, The Gingerbread Man. (had to go with the original)

As I mentioned in the last post, this is a 5 day lesson plan format using the same text. Each day, we spend about 20-30 minutes digging deep into the story.
The routine goes a little something like this:
 Monday - Read for Enjoyment
Tuesday - Analyze the text for Vocabulary Words
Wednesday - Text Coding
Thursday - Use the text for Writing Response
Friday - Use the text for Fluency Drill
*Remember - Questions, responses, and activities are all planned around using the text. Everything goes back to the text. Basically, forcing the kids to go back into the text.

Feel free to use this and let me know how it works out for you.


Tomorrow is kind of a big day, it's 12/12/12!
In honor of such a cool event, Stacy over at Simpson's Superstars is hosting a 12 on 12th Linky Party. Those interested in joining the party will be posting 12 random pictures from the 12th day of the month. Pretty easy and fun!

Click on the link to join Stacy's party tomorrow.

Have a THRILLING 12/12/12!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

ELA CCSS 5 Day Lessons

Hey, Hey, Hey! What, What, What!

I'm posting during the middle of a school week! I didn't think this was humanly possible.
And yet, here I am blogging and sharing with you some things I've whipped together lately.

I'll start from the beginning. This year my district has gotten on board the Common Core train. Full Speed Ahead! At my level, we have been strongly advised to dump our reading series (somewhat) and plan for more nonfiction texts. Like, A LOT more nonfiction texts.
We haven't had much training, so I was really at a loss with what direction I should teach these texts. I had heard that providing prior knowledge and building background knowledge before reading was now a HUGE no-no. I had heard that I needed to dig DEEP into the text. However, I really wasn't sure what to do with my littles.

Then, a few weeks ago, we had a good training session where they showed us what a week's worth of lessons should look like. Yippee! This is what I needed. Some direction. Just a little training, helps so much I tell ya!

I've made two week's plans based on the themes my partner and I have been teaching: the moon and reindeer. These lessons are about 20-30 minutes in length and I teach during my Shared Reading time before reading groups.

Feel free to download and use them in your class and let me know what you think.
I hope they aren't total crap!!!! Ha!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Currently - December

Happy December 1st my friends!

I know I have been a stinky blogger, but it's not my fault!
My schedule is a nightmare, and I never have any time to take pictures of the kiddos.

Plus, my kinder class has grown by 6 ESE students. So, we have 21 K's (11 ESE) and 18 First graders (8 ESE.) Oh boy, it's a labor intensive situation I can assure you. I mean gen-ed Kinders are so needy anyways.

Maybe next year, I'll get the handle on all of this. Maybe...

I am happy to return to do my Currently for the month. Yeah!
Thank you, Farley!

Don't forget to follow the rule of 3!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Is your TPT cart full yet?

Black Friday was CRAZY scary, but Cyber Monday is AWESOME! 
No more vultures out to trample you and no parking in the boonies...
Grab a comfy chair and log in for Cyber Monday. 
Move your wish list to your cart because TPT is having a sale!!
And so am I –
Hi again, It’s Jill,  Andi’s not so good at blogging sister.

My goal this year was to do a big ONE guest post a month.
August – took pics of Pete the Cat, my restyled brown and teal classroom,
posted zero, FAIL
September – more photos of a cute family lesson, having fun with brain breaks,
posted zero, FAIL
October – lost track of all photos, totally over whelmed with new (poorly written) report card and MARZANO, wanted to post a lot of waaa waaa stuff, posted zero (smart move),
November – made it through conferences, had my red hen in my class for a week (Little Red Hen) she was so good, even laid an egg each day for the kids to see and feel a warm fresh egg.

Oh my gosh, she is sooooo stinkin' cute. 
She was such a good sport, she loved recess. But alas, no post, FAIL
And then,
BEST Thanksgiving break in my 20 years of teaching - a WHOLE week!
I needed it desperately! 
I spent the first day creating my new science fair project into a TPT item – yay.

I now have 11 items in my little store :)
Had a great week doing family stuff, cooking 2 big 'ole Turkeys
and the family over for Dinner - Yum!
A side note of Thanksgiving: I am thankful Andi encouraged me to post a few of my ideas on TPT.  While the earnings are a small but pleasant bonus (and feeds my TPT addiction), the biggest reward is helping teachers and the nicest comments they leave.  No matter how my day is going, no matter how my evaluation process is going, I truly treasure my little emails that say someone has left a comment.  I realize you get points for leaving comments, but they still make a difference to me - Thanks! 

So, here, now I am finally doing a post! 
I loveeeee sales. 
I’m getting my cart ready as we speak – are you?
Enjoy ~ Jill :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Currently - November

Hi everybody!

Thank goodness for Farley's Currently or else I'd have nothing to share with y'all.
Just kidding, I actually do have things to share, just no time (or pictures) to do it in.

I could give you my long list of reasons why I haven't had a chance to blog, but the bottom line is that it is very difficult to document our hard work because there is so much craziness in my classroom all the live-long day. I could tell you all about it, but I'm afraid you might begin to cry and then feel compelled to drive to my little city in Florida to protest for me. I just couldn't live with that guilt, so I'll spare you this sad story.

I know "they" are trying to break experienced teachers by forcing us to do unbelievable things in the name of reform, but I'm going to try my very best to ride this out. I have faith that one day public educators will not be to blame for the problems of our country.

Anywho, October is finally behind us and I welcome the extra wild craziness of NoVeMBeR!

Here is my Currently:

Music was a difficult one for me to complete because there are so many great educational musicians out there. I chose this CD because it is so calming and fun.
You can find it {here.}

Don't forget to join the party!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Currently ~ October!

Hey y'all!

You know, I just l-o-v-e fall. The football, the festivals, and the family gatherings aplenty, all happen during this wonderful season. However, there is one eensy-weensy thing I don't like about fall. The weather. 

While others are enjoying the changing colors of leaves and the joys of throwing on a cute jacket and boots, we get to try out stronger strengths of deodorant and pile on heaps of hair spray or gel to keep the frizz at bay. 
{Not to mention our nightly prayers for no hurricanes to visit us.}

I mean, does it really have to be 90 degrees outside? We are melting.
I'd be thrilled with 80 degrees. Just not 90 (with Florida humidity, too.)

I can't complain, too much, though. I love all of the other seasons. I DO live in paradise.

Anyway, we've been having lots of fun in our classroom the past few weeks.

I started pulling reading groups with both the Firsties and K kids.

Kindergarten reading groups are SO much fun. They just love sitting with me ALL to themselves.

Also, my teamie, Kelly, and I spent two weeks on our Apple unit because we had so many activities for just one week. We culminated the unit with Sarah Cooley's Apple Tasting Party. What a blast! I'll share more about that later.

~~~~~~Now onto something FUN!~~~~~

It is the beginning of the month, which means it is time for Farley's famous CURRENTLY Linky Party!

Here is mine for October:

I'll just explain some of my topics:

*Loving - Cara featured one of my anchor charts on her fabulous blog, The First Grade Parade! Words cannot express how excited and honored I feel about this. I could die happy now! Also, (and this is not nearly as exciting) I bought a new pair of purple cords and I love them SO much. They are cute and comfy. Perfect teacher pants!

*Thinking - Lesson planning has never taken me so long to do before this year. The CCSS and teaching K and 1 are both a huge undertaking. Our leadership team has strongly advised us to NOT use our Reading Series. Which would have been manageable, if I was only teaching one grade. But teaching two grades and pretty much inventing my own curriculum, including all of the advised RIGOR, has been very time consuming!

*Needing - Our district remade the report cards to reflect the CCSS and it is not teacher or parent friendly. I have NO IDEA how I am going to explain it to my parents. I don't even understand why they picked some topics and not others. I'm very frustrated with it totally. You should see it. Blech!

*Book - Inside a House That is Haunted, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. This is a fun book to read aloud and to listen to the audio version. 

Also, everyone loves Tedd Arnold's illustrations.

Well, that's it for now, but I'll be back...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Groovy Fonts!

So, let's just ignore the fact that I haven't blogged since the beginning of the month.

I am still here and I've made it to Day 26 of school.
I think these 26 days have aged me at least three years, but I am still alive and teaching.

The aneurism and/or heart attack hasn't happened.

These are all positives. I'm taking what I can get.

Also, apparently, most of the bloggers that I adore and stalk all have wonderful, magnificent, precious classes. 
Now, I don't know EXACTLY where y'all teach, but I think I need to move there.

There was a teacher at my school (she retired last year) who, every year, would say, "I have the BEST class!" 

I used to be sooo jealous of her and her wonderful classes. Then, I looked at the students in her class. I had taught some of them or had heard about them. And let's just say, some of them didn't have "best behavior" reputations. I got to thinking, how is it possible for her to have the BEST class with kids I know aren't angels?

It's all perspective. She didn't have the BEST cookie-cutter class in the school; she just had a great attitude.

I think of her and her wonderful spirit every beginning of the year when I'm feeling like a crummy teacher who has the most difficult class.

I'm a realist, so I won't flat-out say I have the most wonderfully behaved class in the nation.

However, they are really funny and we laugh a lot. I never know what will happen next with these 33 kiddos.

Having said that, my biggest struggles this year aren't really the kids.
It is that I am teaching 2 grade levels (and inclusion) with pretty much no curriculum or support.

And that is the reason I haven't had the desire to blog. I am exhausted from planning lessons, finding texts, and learning as much as I can about kindergartners, autism and other disabilities.

Recently, I am kinda sorta getting myself into a somewhat normal routine. 
I have been able to read a few blogs here and there, and occasionally I'll take a peek at the lovely pins found on Pinterest.

Today I saw a pin, that led me to a site, that I believe some of you may have read or already heard about. (Click here to go to the website.)

I guess there is an app for the iPad that allows the user to create fonts?!

Well, the above linked website houses all of the created/shared fonts.
I was in Free Font Heaven!

Below are some of my favorites that I downloaded. 
The names of the fonts are listed under each phrase.

I am pretty sure the Rowdy, Maddening, and Gingersnap fonts are from fellow bloggers, but I am not positive.

Nevertheless, they are awesome, and I can't wait to use them!
It's the little things...

P.S. My new CHRISTMAS Pete the Cat book came today. It is SO cute!
Why isn't Christmas tomorrow?????

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

CurRenTly - SePteMbeR!

Happy September, folks!

I'm taking a break from hours and hours of tedious school stuff to participate in one of my favorite Linky Parties - CurRenTly!

From the looks of my Currently, I am chin deep in school work and stress!

First of all, why is it that my air conditioning in my car works fine during the winter and spring, but blows hot air during the summer and fall? What a pain in the butt!

Also, if the CCSS have been around for a while now, why is it that we are so unprepared?
Thank goodness, for you all and your TPT stores because I am struggling.

My favorites are pretty easy ones:  1) I couldn't live without my laptop.  {Good news - I'm finally caught up with my Google Reader. PTL!}
2) My cats are always around to make me feel loved and are pretty entertaining.
3) Candy - and lots of it please. My chocolate fever is at an all time high.

Please join Farley's party and don't forget to follow the rule of three.

169 days until Summer Vacation!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Back to School

Hello strangers!
Boy, have I missed you all.

So, ya'll know better than anyone how crazy busy the first few weeks of school can be.

Well, pile that back to school busyness on top of a new grade level, new standards, new daily requirements, NO curriculum, AND no training for all of this and you have one VETERAN teacher in survival mode.

Needless to say, I just haven't had any spare time to blog, read blogs, and enjoy the loveliness that is the bloggy community.

 I am super excited for this three day weekend. I need time to breathe!
It's a heart attack or an aneurism. One of them is bound to happen. I kid. (not really,ha!)

The first ten days of school have come and gone and we have been very productive.

I am a reading teacher for 1st graders and Kindergartners now.

 I have my Kinders in the morning for an hour and forty five minutes, and I have my Firsties for homeroom and in the afternoon for two hours.

This means my Reading Workshop time needs to be balanced and time on task is imperative.

The powers that be expect a well-oiled machine by now, but for me, right now it's all about the basics. Rules, routines, social skills, and learning how to be a student and a friend. 
All of this is super important in any classroom, but I feel it to be especially important for our class because a third of the students are special needs kids. Tolerance, acceptance, and patience, three things we are all working on!

Already, I have had to be very stern with some of my students who haven't been as kind and patient to my special needs students. I am hoping this behavior is curbed now and not something I have to address all year long. Anyone have any good ideas, lessons, or links on this topic?

My kinders are so stinkin' cute. They are little sponges and pick up on every little thing (at least, some of them do...) that I do. So, I have amped up my dramatic side for these guys and they eat it up! I feel like Mrs. Frizzle.

As you may know, I have been using the Daily 5 management system with my first graders for many years now and I just love it.

This year is no different, except, I am trying it with my kindergartners, too. 

My first graders are up to 10 minutes on Read to Self and Work on Writing and the kinders are up to 4 minutes on just Read to Self. It's a work in progress, folks.

Here are a few pictures of our practice time:


They LOVE Pete the Cat!

On a side note: 

I am so thrilled to have purchased Kim Adsit's Unit 1 for Readers Workshop.

I really had no clue what to do with the kinders. I wasn't sure what was too easy, too hard, or too soon. Her unit is helping me gage where my k's are and how to help them learn how to be life long Book Lovers. I am sooooo thankful for this unit!
On the job training, I tell ya!

Not too much to share for now, but I'm working on it.

I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!
Go Gators!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wait Cards for Easy Transitions

Oh summer, why don't you last forever?
Just when I was getting used to my carefree schedule, I'm back to work. 

This is my 13th year teaching and EVERY year I feel nervous, anxious, and slightly depressed about back to school. We had Orientation tonight and about half of my class came to meet their new teacher. I wish it had been more, but half is better than a third. As always, I had many of my former students come by, too {which I LOVE!}

Along with my new role of being the reading teacher for K's and 1's, my partner and I are also the inclusion teachers. This is very new to me, too. I've had learning disabled students before but never the title. No training either, so I will be learning the tricks of the trade along the way {which seems to be the case with everything in education right now - sink or swim.}

Our wonderful OT therapist gave me this great idea for my littles who don't finish their work in a timely manner and need to transition. It's called the "WAIT" card. You tell them that it is time for (whatever) and they need to leave their work for later. You lay the "WAIT" card on top of their work, and it is a visual reminder to help them move on.

Apparently, this is a management tip the Self-Contained classrooms use all the time successfully with their students. I am all about management tips, so I whipped up some "Wait" cards for my team teacher and myself.

Click on the picture to download the file!

I could have used these with my perfectionists!

Well, I have to make this post brief because we are curriculum mapping tomorrow, and I need to study up! Due to our switch to the Common Core standards, we are moving away from the reading series and bringing on that informational text. But what? and when? Those are the questions!

Happy Thursday!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Made It

I am so sad. This was my last care-free weekend... AND I took total advantage of it. 

The husband and I spent a lot of time together. We spent so much time together, he'll be happy that I am back to school this week!

I really hope this isn't my last Monday Made It for a while, but I am afraid it might be.
I've been hearing some nasty rumors about new curriculum requirements this year.
Requirements that will likely eat-up most of my free time. Boo!

Venting Alert--->WHY do we pay money hand over fist to publishing companies, if I have to spend my hours supplementing???<---Sorry, I needed to let that out.

Anyway, I'm just a little nervous about the expectations that are surrounded by Common Core. I've been to two workshops regarding Common Core already, and they were NOT helpful at all. They just reminded me of how much more work I'm going to have to do.
We shall see...

Enough of that boring stuff and on to my "Made It's"

1) First, I found a bunch of really cool stuff to spruce up my classroom. I spent a lot of time printing, cutting, laminating, and cutting again, but it was well worth it!
My pile of laminating to cut.
After about three hours, all of it was cut and organized. Ya!
 Here's a list of what is what:
*Binder Covers from the WONDERFUL Rachelle at What the Teacher Wants. They are editable, so I was able to make covers for everything! Yee-haw
*Welcome Pennant from Vickie at Mrs. Plant's Press. It's free and totally cute! Love it!
*CAFE headers for my bulletin board from Rachel at The Tattooed Teacher. I don't have a Wizard of Oz theme but these are so darlin' I couldn't pass them up. Plus, The Wizard of Oz is on the list of Exemplar Texts, that makes it totally relevant. :)
*Visual Directions cue cards for my little guys from Tiffani at Time 4 Kindergarten. These will be good to refer to while they are working.
*Fabulous Firsties Mega Word Work cards - Mrs. Mabe has created a fantastic set of Word Work cards. These will be great for myself and my part-time aid (if I actually get one - Lord help me!) who will be working with my inclusion students. Thanks!
*Abby's Ready to Read unit is fabulous for beginning of the year activities that will carry over throughout the year.
*Writing Station Starter Kit from Teri at A Cupcake For the Teacher. I was so happy to pick this up. It is perfect for independent writing time.

I put together my Writing Station board, and I am so pleased with how it turned out.
I hope my kiddos like it as much as I do!

I hung my Welcome Pennant above my Daily 5 I-Charts.
I've redone my I-Charts so they will be ready for me to fill in with my students responses.

We will complete the   I-charts on large chart paper, and then I'll convert the responses over to these smaller charts. We'll refer to these charts throughout the year. {Especially around the holidays!}

My new CAFE headers

The Visual Directions Cue Cards

Since I will be the reading teacher for a class of Kinders and Firsties, I will need two sets of Daily 5 pocket charts for our three daily rounds. When I first started the Daily 5 about six years ago, I had purchased the Target Dollar Spot pocket charts and used these choice cards. This system works really well for me, so I went out to Target and got some more charts. I hung them under my first set of charts and learned that they are made much smaller then my old charts! Oh no, my cards won't fit. Nothing is easy!
I had to make a new set of smaller cards.
First three rows are the smaller set for my Kinders and the last three rows are the normal sized cards for my Firsties. Click on the picture to pick up the smaller set of cards. 

Also, I had a request for a smaller sized 'Brainstorm Vocabulary' poster printable to fit on a file folder and here it is...

Click on the picture to get the document.
The first part is the large poster board version and the second part is the file folder version.
You'll need to use wittle Post-its.

My sister, Jill, has been very busy, too. She redid her classroom theme and has been working hard at hunting down anything in teal and brown.

She made an adorable frame for pictures.
(Please excuse the cell phone pictures, I had to steal these from her texts to me!)
interchangeable labels for our special days
our wonderful SEVENTH grade model, Molly
She made me a frame, too. I'm so lucky :)

We have also added Kristin's Quiet Creature. I think he looks like a llama.

Can I tell you how much I'm loving TPT's sale? 
I love it this much <------------------------------------------------------------------------>!

My wishlist has gotten a lot smaller with my new purchases. Yippers!

I may not have my own TPT store to promote for the sale, but Jill does. :)
She has some awesome science fair projects available for super cheap.

Here's a link to her store. Click {HERE}

Please go and check out everyone else's Made It"s while you still have time!

Thanks again, Tara!

Y'all have a great week!