Monday, May 28, 2012

All the Pretty Horses

Howdy Folks!

 I only have four more days of school left with the kiddos, and I am so excited to put this year behind me. I'll miss my students, but this paperwork has been a beast to handle. 
I am ready for a break!

Here's what we have been up to lately.

{I mean other than the four "daily routine killing" days where I was being observed for various reasons. Don't mind helping out, but such an inconvenience!}

We've been learning about Horsies!

I swear, Abby could create a unit about Bird Poop and I would buy it in a heart beat. 

For this reason, I felt compelled to purchase Abby's Derby Days unit.

I don't live in Kentucky. I don't even like horses. I bought it anyway.

Genius, I tell you!

We have loved learning about horses.
Many of my students have been living around horses but never knew anything about them. This was an awakening for them.

Since receiving the SMART Board, I've been trying to learn how to use the Notebook software. Luckily, I can convert pdf files to work with the Notebook software.

Here are a few examples of how we used it with Abby's unit.

So much fun, and I'm not wasting any paper!

KWL Chart

Rather than have the kids come up with the words on their own, I decided to mix it up a bit for the SMART Board. 

I created word cards for the kids manipulate and place in the correct spots for this tree map.

Then, I created more word cards for the Horse Labeling.
We practiced this together a few times before I had the kids create their own Horse Label pictures. Actually, they still want to do this during down times. 

They enjoy moving the cards and then locking the card in place.
You show them how to do something one time and they NEVER forget about it.
Now, I have to go back and unlock everything they've locked up! 
Rookie mistake...

Here's one my student's horsey labeling craft. 
It came out really good!
I must admit, I was a little worried the horses would look like mutants.

I took it a step further and had them write about what they learned about horses during our trip to the computer lab last week using Kidspiration software. 
Some of them even completed their assignment within the thirty minute lab time!
They are becoming such proficient typers!

Kidspiration software

That's it for tonight! 
Not much, but I really wanted to give a shout out for those awesome unit. 
Thanks Abby!

Here's hoping I survive this week!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oh, Tell it Again

Can I tell you how much I LOVE retelling?
It's true.  I do. Really, I do!
And so do my kids. They do. Really, they do!

Now, that we have our Retelling Ribbons. It's a breeze to retell.

I remember reading about Retelling Ropes from Kelli at Castles and Crayons. Then, I saw Cara's too cute recreations at the First Grade Parade. Which perked me up a bit. Still, I was too busy to get off my tush and try it out.

A couple of weeks ago, I completed the reading series and had some time to think about the skills and strategies I wanted to cover with all of this glorious available teaching time. 

This week, I've been using the mentor text, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, to teach finding the main idea of a story.
This is such a great story and I just knew it was time to retell it. 

I found Nancy's blog, First Grade Wow. {Thanks to Pinterest.}
Check it out, she has some fabulous ideas. 

Is there talented teachers everywhere or what?!?

She has a super cute anchor chart and printables for teaching retelling and making your own rope. 
I only had ribbon, so ours is called the Retelling Ribbon.
The alliteration is still there - no harm, no foul.

We've had such a blast retelling. They even adore writing their retelling.
Could it get any better?

I was thinking if I had started this sooner, it would have been great as homework or to add to their journals during Work on Writing time of Daily 5.

Anchor Chart

They are so used to me taking pictures
that they all want to be included.
My resident class clown did a very good retell of the story.
Today, I had them pick a fiction story on their own and practice retelling in groups.
I love to see happy engaged students.

Can I tell you how much I'll miss my girls?
Looking good, right? I think so!
BIG THANKS to Kelli, Cara, and Nancy for getting my tired booty into this awesome new-to-me reading strategy!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Another One Bites the Dust

Oh, 2011- 2012 school year, where have you gone?
It seems like Christmas just happened.

I can't believe I only have 12 more days of school left!

Actually, the gray hairs on my head beg to differ.

Now, I won't say that this years' class has been the "best ever" and I'm crying as I type this just thinking about them graduating on to second grade because then I'd be a darn liar.
To be honest, {some of} them have been a challenge - a real challenge - and still are.

But, they all have good hearts, despite their challenges, and I will miss them.

Anywho, I am linking up with Amber at Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher for her Another One Bites the Dust Linky Party.


1. Getting a SMART Board

I wasn't even going to apply for the grant. 
Our district had 10 oldish SMART Boards that they were going to award to teachers who best completed the grant application. Since I had just won the grant last year for the class set of iPod Touches, I felt awkward applying for this grant. However, the day before the grant was due, my mom talked me into applying.

I waited about two months before I heard the news that I had been chosen for the board.

I LOVE it! I am soooooo glad that I listened to my mama!

2. Busch Gardens Teacher Night

Another event I won.
Our state's DOE was awarding 200 teachers a chance to spend 24 hours in the park.
Actually, I didn't win at first. Someone rejected their spot, and I was on the wait list.

It was an incredible experience. The animals, the rides, the teachers - so cool.
I met some teachers from districts in my state that I hadn't even heard of!
Good times, for sure.

3. My Team
Just think of the A-Team as my grade level team!
I wish I had a picture of the ladies on my grade level.

My team has been really awesome this year.
No drama! 
It was so nice to have a team that just got along with each other, helped out when we needed it, and worked together when the time called for it.
Since I've been grade level chair for a while now, I've seen a lot over the years. Every year my team has changed and grown. We have seven teachers on our team! It just isn't easy to manage a group so big. We have one of our members retiring this year and I am going to miss her a TON.



1. The Lost Weekends

Every year, I talk about spending less time in my classroom.
Every year, I add a little more time spent in the classroom {typically on Sundays.}

What the heck?!?!?

I wish I could get all of my school work completed in a timely manner.
I'd like to have more of a life during the school year.
Will it ever happen?

2. Anger Management

Like I had mentioned before, I have some very challenging students in my classroom this year. For the most part, I have dealt with it well, but there have been some days where I wasn't as nice as I should have been. And there have been a lot of days, where my little guy was sent out of my room. I feel bad about that, but he just couldn't control himself and I needed to teach my other 17 students without the constant disruptions.
I am hoping for some relief next year - PLEASE!
A person can only take so much before breaking.

3. Losing My Freedom

Slowly, our district has been moving to more and more scripted programs. It is really difficult to find the extra time to teach anything outside of the pacing guides. As much as I have learned a lot from these new programs, I still feel like my kids are losing out on the important social/developmental/fine motor activities that I used to have time for.
I have two days a week, where I am not allowed to go to recess, so I try to do the fun lessons then. It hasn't been easy. I feel for these kids. 
School isn't the same as it used to be...

There's my list for better or worse.
Link up with Amber and join the party!

Now, I need to start thinking about what to do during the summer....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hulk Papers and Some Fascinating News

Update: I entered the docs again and this time I changed one of the settings. I think if you click on the little black square with the arrow on the top right corner of the document, it will open up a new window and let you download the pdf.
{At least, I hope it will!}

I want to thank everyone who commented on my post yesterday. 
We really had a great time with those Hulk hands. 
I promised to give you the paperwork and dimensions for the lesson and anchor chart, so I hope I am doing this correctly.

You see Google docs doesn't like me for some reason. Therefore, I went to Scribd.
Scribd liked me a lot and we became good friends. But there is one problem: 
If you don't share on Scribd and you just want to take from Scribd, then you must pay a fee to Scribd.

I didn't realize that little speed bump. 
Since I like to share my stuff for free, that really bugged me.

So now, I am going back to Google docs and pray I don't screw this up like a moron.
*If I do mess it up, please just e-mail me and I'll send it to you!

*For the Anger Management Anchor Chart:

For the Writing Piece:

For the Craft:

There it is {I hope it's right!}

Now I'd really like to know how y'all can just click on the image and it will take you to Google docs to download. 
Where was Blogging 101 when I went to college?
We were still using floppy disks back then!

Now on to some pretty sweet news:

I've been nominated to put a pony keg on my blog.

Accelerated Degree Programs

I looked up the post I wrote that got me nominated and it was the one where I was whining about my compulsion to cut Box Tops to perfection. Hahaha!

I guess we get props for keeping it real!

Now, there are a ton of other wonderful blogs to vote for and I believe you should vote for the one you think really deserves the pony keg prize. If it happens to me, then you are the best person in the whole wide world and I'm not just saying that because I want to win. You will really be my bestest friend ever!

Voting begins on May 14

Thanks AGAIN!

Monday, May 7, 2012


Last week we completed the Reading Series. Hooray!
Now, I can actually pick and choose what we read in class.
Oh joy of joys -- Freedom!

Today we read the story, When Sophie Gets Angry - Really, Really Angry....
I like this story because it covers many topics.
Imagery - Author's Purpose - Cause and Effect - Feelings

When I thought about the lessons I wanted to do with this book, a lightbulb turned on in my head:


The Hulk has major problems dealing with his anger just like our main character, Sophie.

Since the Avengers just came out and you know the kids go ga-ga for super heroes, I pulled out my Hulk Hands {Yes, I own a pair - They are almost 10 years old!}

I came out with those things on and the kiddos were hooked!

First, I read the story aloud, stopping at certain parts of the book to let the kids get with their "thinking partners" and discuss questions I had about the story.

Let them talk during a story???
During this time of year -- Oh ya, I'm not fighting with their summer-itis!

They were totally engaged. 
Which makes me worry that my students have anger issues ....

Afterwards, we completed our Anger Management Anchor Chart.
I read them a way to handle anger and they added it to the chart. Then, they had to decide if it was a good way (thumbs up) or a bad way (thumbs down) to handle anger.

Sorry, it is so difficult to read. The chart says:
"Everyone gets angry sometimes. It is how
we handle the anger that is important."

Completed Chart
Later in the day, we wrote about times when we were angry.

I was inspired by Cara Carroll's "No David" Inferencing craftivity.

 I told them to write about what made them angry, how they handled their anger, and what calmed them down. Then, they added Hulk heads to their writing.
Love their Hulk heads - So angry!

I think their pieces are some of the best this year
{strong - voice, organization, word choice; weak - conventions!}

Sorry, crummy pictures!
I'm running out of places to hang their work!
At the end of the day, they were begging me to let them play with the Hulk hands.

I caved and let them have a little fun.
No one was harmed during play time. They were just hamming it up for my camera.

I love her face as she is watching!
I'll add the anchor chart phrases & hands, writing paper, and dimensions to the Hulk heads on a post tomorrow.
I left it at school. 
Bad Teacher!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Currently ~ May

Happy May! 
Normally, I'm all jazzed about May, but DANG it is CrAzY busy! 
I just hope I make it to June...

I choked on the Pageant title. I don't watch them, so I'm clueless to it all.

I just want:
World Peace!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Four Groovy Buttons

It came!
Yesterday, I came home from my school's Open House well after 8:30pm to find my new Pete book waiting for me.
My poor husband had to listen to it not once, but twice!
Luckily, he liked it too. He even chuckled at the ending.
You just can't help but love Pete.

So, I had to put those eggs on hold again {What's another day?} and have some fun with my blue, four-legged feline.

Rhonda Baldacchino of the blog Classroom Fun has created a great little graph, reading response, and craft to go along with the book. You can get it from TPT by clicking {here.} 

My students love to collect data and complete graphs so this was a big hit.

First, I began by reading the new book. The littles loved it!
We also listened to it from the Harper Collins website. {Click Here}
Then, I read the other two stories (as a review AND because I have a new student who hadn't had a chance to hear me read them aloud yet.)

After the stories, I had the students come to me one by one (because this group is easily swayed by their peers) and quietly tell me which book was their favorite.

I revealed the results and we completed our graph.

Then, we completed a response to the story.
Their responses were pretty cute.
"Pete the cat buttons fall off his shirt. Then, he don't have a problem. Then, he don't cry."

Last, we made our Pete craft. Lots of paper pieces, scissors, and glue, Oh My! 

Hooray for Pete!

Now back to those eggs...