Thursday, July 24, 2014

Diggin' into Next Year!

I'm linking up with the fabulous Laura Graham, from Where the Magic Happens

 Laura coordinated this wonderful series where teachers dig into next year.  I had great plans to participate all summer, but then life happened!  I actually enjoyed my summer vacation and had lots of fun with my girls! I have gotten so many fantastic ideas through this linky.  I'm joining in now for one of my favorite topics:  

Phonics and Word Study!

Phonics and Word Study!

When my little first graders begin the year, they are at such different places!  Some are reading chapter books and others are still working on letter names and sounds! I'm sure you probably find the same thing with your kiddos.  But one thing all children have in comon is they like to have fun!  Well, don't you?   Would you rather do a worksheet or play a game?  I think the kids feel the same way!  That's why I use games to reinforce the concepts I teach in class.    This is especially true with word work and phonics!

I love the way our first grade team introduces and reinforces learning the sight words.  We've had great results and it's easy to organize!  The students feel and are successful.  At the beginning of the year we assess all students' sight word vocabulary. We can differentiate to meet the needs of all students.  

After assessing, each student receives a sight word list that is appropriate for them.  This list is kept in their reading baskets.  A paper copy is sent home for additional practice.  Then Word Work activities provide reinforcement.  

Each week we introduce 5 sight words to our students.  We don't use the sight words from the Language Arts Program.  We're lucky to work at a school where we can make those kind of decisions! We use the Dolch High Frequency Word list (Download this freebie) and introduce the words in order! This way we know that our students are learning to read the words that appear most frequently in print! Isn't that what we want!  

In addition to sight words, we introduce a spelling pattern each week.  For this, we do follow the Language Arts Program (Harcourt).  We adopted this program many years ago and we find the order in which it introduces the spelling patterns works better than programs we've used in the past. 

In my class, I also have my students practice reading nonsense words!  This helps  kids with fluency and building their confidence.  But how do I do all of this and keep all of my kids engaged and learning at their own level?   Games!  

Games! I teach my students how to play certain games at the beginning of the year when we are learning our new routines.   The games are simple variations of UNO, Go Fish, and Memory Match. After the students understand how to play the games, the only thing I have to do is change the words and theme.   The kids always feel like the game is different, but really it's just "fresh"!  For example, when we are studying penguins, the word work game will be "Go Fish", "Arctic Freeze" or "Tacky Uno".  When we study rainforests, the spelling game will be "Rainforest Uno" or "Save the Rainforest".   The games "look" different, but the students are still practicing sight words or spelling patterns!

These games work well during our "Working with Words" portion of our Daily 5! 

Last year, our team of First Grade Teachers implemented the Daily 5!  Well, we did our best!  We modified it to meet our students' needs and we thought we did a pretty good job!  Then we read the 2nd edition of the Daily 5!  Guess what!  Most of the modifications we had made, are discussed in the book!  I love that "the sisters" are teachers and are reflective and willing to change!  That's what we do everyday in our profession:   adapt, accommodate and differentiate!

This year I plan to continue using the Daily 5 model (I'm looking so forward to it!)  and implement the changes discussed in the 2nd edition! I'm so excited for the year because now I have one year of Daily 5 under my teaching belt.  I know that I would need to restructure the model for this year and after reading the 2nd edition, I feel empowered to do just that!  

I love the way our first grade team introduces and reinforces learning the sight words.  We've had great results and it's easy to organize!  The students feel and are successful.  So I won't change a thing in that department! 

I hope you'll check out some of our games and see if your students enjoy reinforcing concepts through play!  

Beginning of the year Assessments

I'M ALSO GETTING SO EXCITED FOR OUR DIGGIN' IN GRAND GIVEAWAY; TPT SALE COMING UP IN AUGUST! Mark your calendars and follow my posts to stay updated! We will be giving away over $300 dollars in AMAZING PRIZES to many of our followers!!

Thanks for reading!  Don't forget to head over to Where the Magic Happens and check out the other bloggers participating in this Blog Hop! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Howdy Partner!

Well, if y'all are just tuning in you may have noticed a few changes to the ole Blog!  So, it's not perfect, but I'm really proud of it...because I did it on my own.  I had to muddle my way through Photoshop (which I am NOT real comfortable with) and tweak a few things with Powerpoint.  Then I had to fiddle around with blogger and facebook to determine sizes (which still aren't perfect) and WALA....this is the result!

Why the big change?  Well, we like to switch things up in our classrooms each year so why not have the blog theme coordinate?  And we thought it would be fun!  And, seriously, who can resist those adorable cowgirl frogs!

Our schoolwide theme this coming year is "Got Grit?" This is based on the many TED talks and educational articles.  Research has shown that students who learn to persevere, fall and get back up, make mistakes and keep trying are more successful in college and life!  All those researchers should have just ask a teacher!

Here is a short YouTube video that explains this concept briefly.  I am still becoming comfortable with the concept.

Here is another link if you are interested in more:

So how does this go with our new blog design?  Well the school wide theme is "Got Grit?" so our classroom / grade level them is "True Grit!".  We are incorporating the western theme (minus the Duke and any weapons).  Since I am  a Native Texan, I am eating this theme up!  Käri is getting into it as well!  We are both on the look out for some fancy cowboy boots to wear this year (more on thematic dressing later).

Please leave a comment...what do you think of the new design?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

You Oughta Know Blog Hop!

I'm linking up with some great teacher/bloggers to share some tips that we each feel like every teacher "Oughta know"!   I'm so excited to be a part of this blog hop and have a great EASY tip for you!

Here goes...So you know all of those little things we need to "remember to remind" our parents and students about every day?  Well, I don't know about you, but I ALWAYS forget!   Have you ever felt like this?

I used to feel like this!  

Well, last year I discovered the COOLEST app EVER!  I'm not kidding!  I was a little leary of using it last year, but I've taken the Technology Bull by the horns and by golly...I am going to be techy!  This little app is FREE and has made my life as a teacher easier!

Maybe you've already heard of it....

Remind 101 (I think they changed the name to just Remind) is great!  This little app allows you to "REMIND" parents about important events at school (plays, spirit days, field trips, homework projects, etc.) in a user friendly format.  

Your phone number is not shared with the parents and their number is not shared with you!  They simply join your group and then you have access to send out a mass reminder!  
This was my last message of the year!  

I really did forget to tell the kiddos that we would have pajama day the day after open house!  They were thrilled!  Maybe forgetting sometimes is a good idea!?

I don't send them often, so when the parents get one they really do READ them!
Now, if your little kiddos are like mine, no matter how many times I model how to use a glue stick and how to replace the lid, we end up with "dead" glue sticks!  This was my favorite reminder that I sent out to the parents!  When they came to pick up their kiddos that afternoon, 3 parents arrived with bags of glue sticks!  I was set for a long while!  

Last year at Back to School Night, I gave all of my parents the sign up information and most of the parents were signed up before they left my room that night!  So now it's your turn!  Click on the picture and make an account.  It's free!  Do it now so you can become familar with all the features and get your "code" to have for Back to School Night!    
Click on this picture and sign up!  You'll be so happy you did!

I just had to throw in this picture so you can sing or hum this little tune to "remind yourself" to download this app!

Now hop on to another blogger and get another great tip of something that You Oughta Know!  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Five for Friday! and Happy Fourth!

First of all...HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!  I love celebrating this holiday every year in Texas!  I can't wait to watch some fireworks tonight!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching this week for her Five for Friday!

This was my last week of my Texas Vacation.  :(  It's always hard to say goodbye to my Texas Family.  So I thought I'd make this Five for Friday a little Texas Vacation Recap!  
The very first week I was "home", we had a small memorial service for my mother who passed away 2 1/2 years ago.  It was nice to be together and remember my mother in this way. 

 This is the beautiful stone my father had made in her memory at the church.  So sweet!

 The next week we dropped off my youngest daughter at the Bela Karolyi Gymnastics Camp in New Waverly, Texas.  Look at this smile!  She had a blast, improved her skills and pulled a muscle :( but she bounced back like a trooper!  What a great experience!
This is her....constant motion!

After we picked up Carly from camp, we went out for Sushi at Shogun's in Conroe!  Yum!

Next we had a baby shower for my brother and his girlfriend.  I'm going to be an aunt again!  Baby J is due in August, so my sister and I held a fun shower for the happy expectant couple!  Look at my brother trying to put a balloon under his shirt for one our silly games.  He didn't succeed!  He is a big tough guy on the outside, but a softie on the inside.  

My brother made this!  That's right, my brother...the Harley-Davidson-Riding-Tough-Guy!  

I made the punch but the duckies just wouldn't stay upright!  LOL!

This is the adorable mural my brother picked out for the baby...and...

don't ya love the monkey!  

We took a great roadtrip to Louisiana to visit my father's old stomping grounds!  I am obsessed with alligators now!  I took so many videos and pictures!

Don't they look terrified?!

Me and my daddy!

 And we just had lots of fun!  I love Texas and my family!

 My sister and Nicole!

 Pinot's Palette! We all painted Texas Bluebonnets!

Well, that was a long Friday post!  And's back to California and then quickly heading to VEGAS!  I can't wait for the I Teach 1st Conference!