Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One Word?

Now anyone who knows me, knows that just one word is nearly impossible for me in all situations. I'll give it my best! Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade is hosting an awesome My Truth Monday today - it's all about the one word to summarize your hopes for the new year. One word??? I think I can, I think I can. I think I can.

Less. Is. More.  

In 2014, I hope to talk less, and listen more; complain less, and be thankful more; ask for less, and give more; worry less, and contribute more; rush less, and cherish more; work less, and play more; analyze less, and love more.  That's it.  Thanks for making me think, Denise!

Hugs & Happy New Year,
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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Whooo's Getting a New Year's Make-Over?

I am! I am! I absolutely can not wait until February!
I know, it's not until February, but with all the options Megan's offering me, I'll need that long to decide on everything! She is more than wonderful, y'all - she's amazing, talented, helpful, and incredibly creative!

In other news, my classroom door (and hallway) that I blogged about here did win the overall school decorating contest! My students were so excited! You've never seen twelve prouder kiddos - of course they are all DYING to know what the prize is. I have no idea, since that was something our principal mentioned, via e-mail, that he'd do. Y'all, what if he forgot? I need some ideas before January 6th to be sure my hard little workers are rewarded for their super hard work on that project! After all, they took a poll on the theme, tabulated the votes with tallies, then graphed them. Then they read The Littlest Elf to make text-to-self  and text-to-text connections to go with their personalized elves. They learned about symmetry as they each made a symmetrical snowflake to add to the overall design. I hung it all either after school, or during planning periods, and had some help from a sweet mom who volunteers each week, too, so no instructional time was wasted! I love it that we have this contest annually, and that my students are SO into it every year, but mostly that I can work in several academic skills while they do their part to add to the decor. Amazingly, it all fit with second grade common core standards, and I'll bet not one student knew they were actually learning while they worked.

I hope you all had a wonderful Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and wish you a fabulous New Year!

With the new year, it's a clean slate - a new beginning, and a time to reset the classroom. I always begin with resolutions (have y'all seen that adorable commercial on TV where the little kid says he's making a New Year's Revolution?) for myself and my students. We talk about what we've done well, and what we can improve. Mr. Hughes has an adorable free resolution mobile that I'm excited to use this year. I love to use my New Year's Resolutions CCSS Unit, too. It turns out so cute with a party hat and horn! I always give the kids a party horn on our first day back, and they add it to their writing when it's completed. These are from last year:

It's also a great time to review the classroom expectations, procedures, and renew the students' enthusiasm for learning! We started what I call The Daily Five Plus One (math) just before Christmas Break, and my kiddos were really excited. I know they'll be ready to get going on more aspects of the six options they have for learning! Whatever your procedures are, be sure to review them on those first couple of days back.

Hugs and Happy New Year,
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Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Or, at least the most hectic! Tomorrow is my 13th wedding anniversary, and my sweet hubby took me on a fabulous second honeymoon to The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC this weekend. As we arrived, even the gatehouse looked like a gingerbread house, lit up with Christmas lights. We took the candlelight tour Friday evening, and the home absolutely glowed!

We had a delicious lunch at the Deer Park Saturday, then spent the afternoon shopping at Antler Hill Village, toured the vineyard and winery, and then had an amazing dinner at The Bistro last night. Today, before picking the girls up from Gramma, we went Christmas shopping together for them. And the hubs planned all of this all by himself!

I am SO happy I had my lesson plans finished on Friday, before I left school! And, thanks to Mrs. Wills, I have finally learned to make them look the way I want!!!
We'll be in the full Christmas swing this week, along with a full moon Monday! (YIKES!) We'll review all of our two-digit addition strategies, and have a test Tuesday. Then we'll spend some time graphing holiday-related data in math. We read How The Grinch Stole Christmas last week, and performed it as a readers' theater on stage in our cafeteria, during our holiday lunch. 
This week, we'll continue working with the Grinch, as we review adjectives, making connections, and character analysis. Don't forget, these activities are from www.firstgradewow.blogspot.com, and are FREE! We'll also read some of my favorites, like Fancy Nancy's Splendiferous Christmas and Welcome Comfort.

These are some lesser-read Christmas books, making them my faves. Fancy Nancy is always perfect for adding a few Amazing Adjectives to our anchor chart, and Welcome Comfort is the perfect story for introducing inference and making predictions, as it is the story of a boy, who gets teased by the other children, and is then taken under the custodian's wing. This kind custodian just happens to be you-know-who and heads to the North Pole each year. By the end of the story, kids are usually crying with sentiment, and can easily infer and predict that Welcome will be the next Santa.

You can get a FREE copy of my Amazing Adjectives Activity by clicking on Fancy Nancy above. Have an amazing last week before Christmas Break!

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Update on Our Week

Y'all, we finished our Christmas wall today and were able to do our text-to-selves craftivity with If You Take a Mouse to the Movies! I just have to brag on my kiddos - they did an awesome job on both of these projects! The "wall" is an annual tradition at my school. We have a door decorating contest, which includes the wall outside your door. Trouble is, the whole thing also has to be instructional, of course. I can do that! We read Brandi Dougherty's The Littlest Elf, which is about the cutest little elf you ever did see, last week. This poor little fella can't find a job at the North Pole, and feels all out of place no matter where he goes. We talked about how we sometimes feel like that little guy, because sometimes we're too little to help with jobs around the house or sometimes we feel left out (making text-to-self connections). I thought that was the end of a cute book and lesson...NOT!
I had it all planned out (in my own head) that it would be so cute to do the 12 Days of Christmas because I have 12 students, for my door and hallway display. My kids...had thoughts of their own. They came up with 11 ideas for the door. I let them vote. Rudolph won. I thought, "how boring," but I showed them a pin I had on Pinterest, and they loved it. A mom came in and helped hang the Rudolph and background while we were in MAP testing. Another teacher saw it from down the hall and said, "Really?" She, of course, had pinned the same exact Rudolph, and already had him on her door. I had no idea. Dilemma!

So, I got my brain in gear and thought to add more...enter the littlest elves (12 of them), symmetrical snowflakes (12 of them), a sleigh and Santa and the whole thing just grew and grew! I finally got it all hung up today, and it is stinkin' cute, ahem, at least that's what the other teachers tell me. I would never brag about it...I would tell you that every kid, I mean elf, looks exactly like each student in my class. Everyone who walks by instantly recognizes them! Here's how it all turned out...


Today, we read If You Take a Mouse to the Movies and practiced visualizing, on filmstrip graphic organizers, and made mice with text-to-self connections. These activities are from First Grade Wow. If you haven't checked out Nancy's blog, you simply MUST! She posts nearly every day, and all of her units are, get this, FREE!

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Here's a Peek at Our Week!

Hi, Sweet Friends! I'm sharing my plans for this week with you, and want to let you know that I'm having a 12 Days of Christmas SALE at my TpT Shop!

First, the plans:

We're pluggin' along on the two-digit addition concept. I thought my kids had place value down pat, but found that they didn't know it quite as well as I thought once we began to add. Now, through the addition activities we've done, their place value is SO much more concrete! In reading, I'm so happy to have added that little shared time, so we can do some whole group things! Otherwise, how would we ever do any holiday activities, learn any common skills, or have any time for the cuteness of second grade? Of course, it's all because my kiddos tested into three LLI groups, rather than the four I began with. I'm a little worried about next nine weeks...I test them every other day, but do benchmarks each nine weeks, so who knows where they'll all be after Christmas!

I do need to brag on them a little! They took the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) test last week in reading, and all but ONE improved their scores from fall! ONE is only 2 points away from her spring goal!!!Woot! Woot! We'll be doing math this week, and see how it goes. Our district gives the CCSS test, and did last year, too, even though we weren't fully integrated until this year. I'm happy we did, because it gave us all a glance at the lower grades' assessment. We've all seen the Smarter Balanced sample questions, but they begin at fourth grade, so it's a little hard for us to judge in the lower grades. 

Speaking of Smarter Balanced, I'll share a link with you that you can use to take practice tests yourself (or use for your kiddos) - I took the third grade one, and was pretty impressed with what is being asked of eight-year-olds. Lemme know what you think! Use this link in Google Chrome! Smarter Balanced Practice Test

Now, the SALE! I'm celebrating the 12 Days of School Before Christmas with a sale - 20% off selected items each day...some are best sellers, some are your faves, and some are new - check back often as items on sale will change!
Have a great week!

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Currently Can't Wait to SHOP til I DROP!

Oh, I just can't believe it's December! I just don't know where November went - it seems like Halloween was yesterday, and we only have 14 days of school left before Christmas break! How will I fit it all in? We have so much to do, and practically no time! I don't even have all the Thanksgiving Turkey letters put together yet, and all that has to come down tomorrow...

Well, I am excited to get going on our holiday plans. Sweet Anna Brantley shared the cutest Common Core Gingerbread True or False Math Freebie, and I added some two-digit cookies to hers to differentiate for my babies, so I have that cut out and ready to go tomorrow. We're also adding some holiday words to our word work station. I printed a few pictures with one letter on each, so that the pictures go together to spell a word. I made a little recording sheet for making words from the letters, so that my kiddos can use them as manipulatives to independently practice making 2-6 letter words and record them. I should post those...hmmm. It's been a while since I put anything on my Facebook Freebie page...We'll also be reading my fave, Auntie Claus, beginning tomorrow, and working with my Auntie Claus Common Core Unit.

That reminds me to share my visual plans with you. Go ahead and open the Google Docs version to click on the links.

Besides all that, I'm excited to link up with Farley for her December Currently. It's been months since I was on the ball enough to participate!
1. Even though no one but me is in the room, football is blaring, and has been all weekend!
2. My hubby and I have been going through a rough patch, which I know God put in our lives to bring us closer. Through friends, we found an incredible counselor, who is also an ordained minister, and have been seeing him for about six weeks. He has changed our lives! Our entire family functions better. Hubby and I communicate better. We are back IN LOVE, not just "love you, too" land. Our children behave better, and bless me, I am S-L-O-W-L-Y learning to use my mouth's filter! So, our 13th anniversary might be our luckiest ever!
3. So, part of the problem in number 2 is that we were all set to buy a house in September, all pre-approved, offer accepted, etc., when the hubs let me know he hadn't filed his income taxes in three years. WHAT??? Well, the house we currently live in is for sale, and our lease ends January 31st. Where we'll be? Who knows, but God always has a plan, and His plans are always better than those we can dream up, so I'm leaving it to Him.
4. You can relate, right?
5. Ever since I was a little girl, we've gone to my great aunt Chee-Chee's house on Christmas Eve. It's always been our family's biggest Christmas celebration/tradition. I adore her, her house, seeing all the great aunts and uncles, aunts and uncles, cousins, second cousins, new babies, old decorations, and all the excitement of the "big" 30 minute drive to and from her house to ours. We ALWAYS look for Rudolph on the way home.

Finally, if you've stayed with me this long, the shopping begins tomorrow:
Check out all your favorite sellers, and clear out those shopping carts and wish lists!

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