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I am a first grade teacher who has rediscovered a love for firsties this year. I have taught pre-k, kindergarten, first grade and even second over the past 16 years. I have been married for 17 years to my wonderful husband and have been blessed with 2 very active boys.

Pre-K Back to School

Pre-K Back to School
Pre-K Back to School

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy
Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy
Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Phonics Games

Phonics Games
Phonics Games
   
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Graphics by: MareeTrueLove.
Widget by:Gabby Barba

Calendar Math for Primary Grades

Calendar Math for Primary Grades
Primary Calendar for the Year

Back to School Wishlist Sale-Day 1



I am so excited to join  in The Back to School Wish List Sale with this group of talented bloggers !  It amazes me that I have been blogging for a year and on TpT for less time than that!


A huge THANK YOU goes out to my bloggy friend Tamara Russell at Mrs. Russell's Room for organizing this sale.  Tamara is an amazing teacher who has embraced Common Core in her classroom and teaching practice.
One of my first products is still one of my best sellers and in the top 5 for wishlisted items in my store!  It was one of those items that was made out of a need in my classroom and stayed a favorite of the kids for the ENTIRE year!  You can click on the picture below to head on over to pick up this goodie today only for 20% off !


Thanks for stopping by.  Remember to visit tomorrow to check out Day 2 of my wishlist sale!
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Community Building


It amazes me that in the mist of budget cuts, common core, testing and increased accountability, good teachers continue to build community in our rooms and teach with rigor.

Creating a classroom community is my number one priority beginning on the first day of school.  Children need to feel love, accepted and safe everyday at school.  Until last year, I had an internal struggle with a class behavior system.  I had used a clip chart and colored cards in the past, but knew in my heart they were not for me.  (**There are things I likes and dislike about them and there are children who benefit from them; it was a personal choice.)

Then I read A Teeny Tiny Teacher's post about Gold Tags.  This is the most amazing, simplest classroom behavior management system I have found:)  I love it because anyone can easily adapt it and make it their own.   In a nutshell, students can earn gold tags and even lose them (GASP!) for good and bad choices, work, quiet line and the list goes on.  The one thing that stayed with me as a teacher and a parent was when a mom said to me it was so nice not to see a red box colored in daily for her child's "bad" behavior.  She said she knows her child was "challenging", and they are working on that, but there are lots of good qualities that she has felt in the past were overlooked.

Kristen has them trade their gold tags in on Friday for centers.  I am using Our Best Behavior Prize Pass Catalog from First Grade Fever.  This is a FREEBIE folks so head on over to her blog and check it out!!


My favorite community building activities this summer are from Michelle at Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera.  I {heart} her Happy Notes!  You can check them out on TpT HERE.



My second love  slight obsession is Michelle's Behavior Beads.  They can be used for good behavior, homework, reading incentives, math facts and the list goes on!  I have to say my new favorite is her Primary Beads.  You should head over to her store and check out all the different sets.




So what are you doing to build kids up?  I would love to hear about it:)

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How I Teach Phonics and Giveaways



There are probably as many ways to teach phonics as there are colors in the world!  Each teacher has his/her own philosophy, style, background and county mandates that mold how he/she teaches phonics.  No way is the best way and I have learned that  VARIETY in my instruction is what is best for my students and I.  So I am joining Melissa over at First Grade Smiles with her How to Teach Phonics Linky!

  

I have to say that I am NOT a worksheet teacher.  I structure my teaching with the gradual release model of I do- we do- you do.  There is whole group instruction, small group instruction and lots of independent practice.  Children learn by doing.  However, this said, there is a time for worksheets.  Some of my students have said they LOVE worksheets!  This is a huge reminder to me that all children learn differently and have different likes and dislikes.  My job is to make it all come together:)

Here are some pictures from my Daily 5 Word Work Centers that include skills and activities that have been introduced whole group, practiced in small group and then added to the Word Work Center for independent practice.

Word Sorts- introduce and distinguish different Phonics rules.  
Digraph Sort Qu and Wh is a FREEBIE in my TpT store:)


Phonics Games with a "Bang".  Play like you would play Bang where students read the word on the card and if they get it correct they keep it.  There are bonus cards in the mix like "Pop" Lose your cards. Syllable -le Bubble Reading is a must play in my room!



Read and Nonsense Word Sort- Students read words that follow a specific phonics skill and decide if this is a real or nonsense word.  It takes decoding to the next level- does it make sense?
Boat Race is a fun race of words to read your cards, sort them correctly and be the first one to have no cards left!  Sorry about the blurry picture!  



One of my go to's this year for our new reading series is Wonders:  A Supplemental Unit {Grade One-Unit 1.  It includes 5 games like the ones above for each week.  Short vowels a, i and o and well as blends with l, r and s are included.  I love that I will be ready to go for the first month.  Even if you are not using wonders- the unit is worth the purchase for the five phonics games.

   

Lisa from Learning is Something to Treasure is having a giveaway for her newest set!  Making Words is a favorite activity during small group time, but my resources pale in comparison to this fabulous unit!  Everything you could possibly need:)  Two people will win this unit!




I am also giving away 2 of my Wonders Supplemental Units {Grade 1-Unit 1} to the first 2 people who leave a comment that they would like it AND include an email! 



Don't forget that my Birthday Giveaway ends today!  I hope you have had a chance to join in.
You have until midnight tonight!


Heading off to scrapbook tonight with dear friends who are coming up from Miami to visit!
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First Grade Blogger


Do you ever wonder where the other bloggers are for your grade level?  As I love to follow so many bloggers, sometimes I am just looking for a first grade blog to get grade appropriate ideas from!  You can head on over and link up by grade level.   There is a tab on the top of her blog called Blogs by Grade.

 First Grade Blogger

I added myself to the first grade tab.  You can grab the button above and add it to your side bar so others know what grade you teach.  This is especially helpful if your blog name is not grade specific (like mine) or if you change grade levels.

I am so excited that I found Caffeine and Lesson Plans blog and this amazing link up.  Mandy has lots of wonderful ideas on her blog that you can check out while you are there.

Caffeine and Lesson Plans 

While you are here, please remember to check out my giveaway if you have not already done so! You can join in the birthday celebration through Friday night!  I love reading all the feed back about how you organize your pictures and Project Life!

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Project Life Giveaway


I am celebrating my birthday this Friday and am so thankful for the gift of life.  Eleven years ago my Godson (who was a year old at the time) was diagnosed with cancer.  After a year of treatments and many, many prayers, he beat the cancer.  I learned many very important lessons during that time and one was to CELEBRATE LIFE!  So instead of complaining I am getting old, or maybe even NOT telling the truth about my age (gasp!), I made a decision to embrace life, to celebrate each day and to be very, very thankful for all God has given me.

Graphics and Fonts by Hello Jen Jones, Graphics from the Pond and KPM Doodles

I have one Dear Lizzy Mini Kit + Blush Mini Album combo Project Life kit to giveaway!  

If you have not heard of Project Life, you can read about it HERE. You can also check out Becky Higgins HERE.  In a nutshell, Project Life is a way to showcase your family's photographs without a lot of fluff. You slip in the pictures, jot down a note or two and BAM! you are done!
http://www.beckyhiggins.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/PL_Mini_Kit_DL_EC.jpg
The Dear Lizzy Kit is sold out, but do not fear:)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So remember to celebrate each and everyday! 
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Morning Work Ramblings


I don't know about you, but I always struggle with morning work.  We have 20 minutes that the kids come into the room upon arrival/breakfast before the bell rings.  I struggle with what to do during this time as some kids might not walk into the room until a minute before the bell rings.

Last year, I was able to get in 4 rotations of Daily 5 so the fifth one was done during this time.  It was always the last center from the day before so it was like a bonus:)  It made the kids want to get to class so they didn't miss a Daily 5 Center! 

I have contemplated the idea of Morning Work.  I love the spiral review that this offers.  My concerns are 2 fold.  1- We have paper/copy issues occasionally and 2- When do my late arrivals have time to finish it?

There are so many fabulous Morning Work units available.  I keep coming back to it...

Jodi Southard has a fabulous morning work pack available and she just bundled all the months.  I love that the language and math are both on the same page.  She offers a fluency page that can be copied on the back side.  The fluency page would be a nice resource for reading groups, read to self, read to partner or another resource to read at home.  I also love that the morning work has been differentiated, and the pages look similar so the kids won't notice.  You can read more about it over at Fun in First.


I have also used Kelley Dolling's Morning Work in the past.  I used it on the overhead as a group review and even as an introduction to a new skill at times.  For this reason, I liked that the language arts and math were two different packs.  I only printed one and used it on the document camera. The kids loved to share the pen and come up to lead the activity:)  You can check out her post about it over at Teacher Idea Factory.


So now, the ever talented Reagan Tunstall has come up with the Rise and Shine Binder where similar activities are done daily with... ARE YOU READY???... dry erase markers!! You need to go check it out now over at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits. There are several language arts and math activities to choose from:)


I would love to hear what you do for morning work!  Is there time for everyone to be accountable?  Do tell:)

I will be back tomorrow with a birthday giveaway! 
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Reflective Journal Writing {and a freebie}



Writing is used through the curriculum on a daily basis.  I have to admit the majority of journal writing has been used during my Daily 5 block.  A mini lesson is done daily and my firsties are able to practice/apply it during their Work on Writing rotation.  Now don't get me wrong, this doesn't always happen!  There is lots of reteaching and conferencing happening too:)

I attended the first part of a Write Track Training today and was asked to think about if we use Metacognitive Journal Writing.  Going back to the meaning of metacognition-the reflection of what we know about a particular topic and delving deeper into what we want to learn, I have to say I don't use it consistently in journal writing or across all content areas.

Simple sentence starters such as I know... and I don't know... can be a powerful tool to assess the student's prior knowledge or even to evaluate the student's understanding of concepts taught.   In my county, we use a "ticket out" for each lesson as a quick assessment for the lesson.  Metacognitive journal entries would be the perfect tie in to writing across the curriculum. 

This lends itself well to science and social studies, but I am thinking about math as well.  I am thinking about students reflecting not only on lessons/concepts taught, but also as a reflection to problems they get wrong on a test.  Imagine how powerful it will be to reteach and have students reflect on what they did incorrectly and what needs to be done next time.  It is much too easy to hand back tests to go home and not reteach the material with misconceptions.  I know personally, I tend to reteach the concepts, but I think miss the importance of the students' taking ownership of their mistakes and then their learning. 



You can check out my recent unit called Reflective Journal Writing Across the Curriculum on Teachers Pay Teachers.  This is a freebie to get you started thinking about written ways for students to reflect and respond.  I would love to hear what you think about this!

I would love to give a shout out to my friend Tamara over at Mrs. Russell's Class as she celebrates on year of blogging fun.  She is having giveaways on her blog and her Facebook page.  My Jellyfish Fun unit is included in her giveaway today so head on over and check it out!


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Graphics Shout Out


A year ago, I started a new adventure with blogging and Teachers Pay Teachers.  Being new at it, my graphics collection was limited pretty non-existent!  I was lucky enough to find Mel and Graphics from the Pond. 
Graphics From the Pond

It was at the same time that she started a new venture of her Premium Club. She send us a file a day (Monday through Friday) that included a graphics set, paper or even borders!  You can head on over and read her post about her journey.

Mel is such a sweet lady and went above and beyond for this club.  This club might not have been what she had envisioned, but I can tell you that she has earned many repeat customers here.  If you have not checked out her store lately, you should head on over and check it out by clicking on the link below. 

 
As the Premium club has come to a close, I am joining Tania over at Mrs. Poultney's Ponderings in a linky that thanks Mel for a job well done and showcase a favorite product from the club.  Thanks Tania for such a sweet sentiment:)
 
 
I have lots of products I used Mel's graphics in, but have decided to showcase
 
 
 
It is funny how things happen, but I threw this together on a Sunday night to use in my word work center on Monday.  My kids LOVED it and it was a favorite game in the classroom the ENTIRE year. My kids weren't alone as it also became a favorite at my TpT store! 

 I will pick a winner on Wednesday night to win Syllable -le Bubble Reading. Just leave a comment about a favorite class product from TpT (yours or someone else's) and include your email address:)
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Happy 4th of July


Hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July!  I know I am a little late posting, but many TpT sellers are having sales for the holiday, so I am joining in the fun!  EVERYTHING in my store is 20% off through Sunday.  I would love you to click on the sale picture below and check it out.


I am also participating in a 250 follower giveaway with Jessica over at Tales of a First Grade Teacher.  You can check it out by clicking on the picture below:)

Graphics by Emeto Designs www.scrapbookgraphics.com

I am returning to Florida on Saturday after being on vacation for 3 weeks.  It was fun visiting family in Rhode Island and Maryland, but we are ready to be back.  I have a list of things to work on for back to school so you will be hearing from me soon! 
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