Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Favorite Read Aloud Printable, a thank you and a giveaway for my followers!

I've combined several of my read aloud journals, comprehension questions and other activities into one easy to read document for you.  I keep this in a binder with several other ideas for read alouds along with sample journals.

Favorite Read Alouds

A brief but BIG thank you ~
Today we had our 168 day of school.  Only 12 days left. I want to say thanks to so many of you teaching blogging geniuses out there.  Your ideas have helped me get through these last final weeks of  school and inspired me to come up with some new end of the year ideas. Also thanks to my followers who take the time to check in with me from time to time, leave thoughtful comments and help keep me going.  With the school year coming to an end I can take more time to share with you the running & eating part of my life.  IN fact I went for a nice short run today and according to RunKeeper I set a new monthly record for mileage.  Yeah me!

To show my thanks I would love to treat my followers to a $10 gift card of your choice.  It may be to Trader Joes to pick up some yummy spinach and artichoke dip (in the freezer section, SO DELISH) or to REI to pick up a new pair of Injini socks (Mr. M just turned me onto these, LOVE them!) or to Amazon.com where you can buy some summer reading, maybe a guilty pleasure movie?

To enter just leave a comment letting me know you are a follower and post this contest on your blog to share with others, leaving a separate comment.  I will choose a winner the last day of school (for me) June 16th. Good luck!

It's Tuesday, you know what that means . . . yet another top ten list. My Favorite Read Alouds for First Grade!

          One thing about my teaching that has never changed in the 12+ years I've been a teacher is my love for fiction and a good read aloud. I think most of you teachers and parents out there would agree that there is no substitute for an amazing piece of literature.  (I just wish they would stop making them into movies!!)  My school year is still 13 days away from being finished and I have been swamped the past two weeks with end of the year testing.  That is finished (insert sigh of relief) and now I can focus on enjoying these last few precious weeks with my students. During our weeks of testing (DRA, CMA, writing assessment, etc ) we always ended each day with our read aloud.  Currently we are finishing up The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Di Camillo.  It had me thinking about some of my favorite go to read alouds.  This is my first year reading Despereaux to first graders.  I normally would wait until second, but this class chose it as they wanted to compare Despereaux with Ralph (from The Mouse and the Motorcycle) Here are my favorite read alouds of all time.  This week it was difficult to choose only 10 as there are SOOOOO many wonderful pieces of literature.  Following my list is a printable with some activities I use in my classroom.  During each read aloud my students and I also learn about the author of each book and make journals to accompany our story and capture our thinking about the book.

1. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

2. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet

3.Elmer and the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet
4.The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannet
5. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

6. Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary

7. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

8. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

9. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

10.Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith

What are your favorite read alouds?

Stay tuned, shortly I will post my journal ideas!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Tuesday . . Top Ten Songs about Teaching/School/Students

I know many of you are singing the Last Day Blues (or boogie) so I put together my favorite songs about school and teachers and students.  Maybe later in the week I will post some educational things, but I'm knee deep in end of year testing right now.

So with out further ado; in no particular order here are my Top Ten favorite songs:

1. Walk This Way by Run DMC & Aerosmith

2. Hot for Teacher by Van Halen (actually tried to have this played at my wedding when Mr. M and I entered the room, the DJ didn't have it!)

3. Don't Stand so Close to Me by The Police

4. School's Out by Alice Cooper

5. Rock n Roll High School by The Ramones

6. Popular by Nada Surf

7. Me & Julio Down by the School Yard by Paul Simon

8. ABC by Jackson 5

9. Jeremy by Pearl Jam

10. Principal's Office by Young MC

I think if my team and I had a theme song it would be .  . . the theme song to the A-Team!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's a sunny day today!!!!

Living in the northwest for more than half of my life I'm used to rainy, gray days.  However this season seemed worse than normal.  BUT the sun finally came out today AND is supposed to stay out for 3 days.  It's amazing what a difference a little sunshine can make.

We started out the day with a walk and ride event.  All students who could walked and rode their bikes to school to help promote healthy living.  The turnout was amazing.  There's something to starting out your day was a brisk walk in the sun.  Did I mention it's sunny?!

For happy hour today (click on happy hour for my previous post about why I call it happy hour) we did two math/art projects.  The first was a glyph about what we want to be when we grow up.  The second was a project I found over at Primary Inspired for the Fact Family Flowers.  My students LOVED this.  It was a wonderful project because it was so easy to differentiate for those students that needed a challenge (they did multiplication/division fact families) and those that needed more support (I gave them their numbers)  Of course we had to decorate our room to reflect the bright, sunny day we had.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's Tuesday . . . another top ten list. A Night at the Movies!

My hubs and I got out for a night at the movies.  This is a rarity given we have two girls and the fact that we are on a tight budget since Mr. M went back to school.  Thank goodness for $5 movie night at Regal.  SO my Top Ten list is my ten favorite movies about teaching/school/education.  Some are inspirational.  Some are funny and some are a guilty pleasure.

In no particular order. . . . here are 10 fabulous movies about teaching/teacher/education. . . .

1. School of Rock - Jack Black, kids rocking out,  need I say more?

2. Lean on Me - Morgan Freeman was so fantastic in this movie

3.Freedom Writers - although I am not a huge fan of Hilary Swank, the message behind this movie was amazing.

4. Stand and Deliver

5. Animal House - filmed in Eugene, Oregon!  Toga! Toga! Toga!

6. Waiting for Superman - this documentary was so thought provoking.  I'm not sure I agreed with everything in the movie, but it absolutely gave me reason to pause and reflect on my own teaching philosophy

7. Dead Poets Society - my first movie crush - Ethan Hawke, XOXO

8. The Breakfast Club - "Don't mess with the bull, or you'll get the horns."

9. Ferris Bueller's Day Off - I always loved his best friend, Cameron Frye

10.Race to Nowhere - If you  have not seen this documentary I highly recommend it.  It's about the emphasis on standardized testing and how education is not "one size fits all."

I wonder if they made a movie about my team what it would be like.  If they made it today, it would definitely be closer to Animal House!

Monday, May 16, 2011

My First Giveaway Post

I recently discovered a new blog about running and teaching and being a mother.  Sound familair?  Please check out and follow Amanda at Runninghood.  She's a former teacher, a mom, and a distance runner.  All of which make her fabulous!  She is holding a very exciting giveaway right now for a SIGNED copy of Kara Goucher's book Running for Women. 
 Make sure you check out her blog and the giveaway!

One More Month

I know that most of my peeps out there in blog world are getting ready to wrap up their year.  I'm enjoying reading all of the blogs that say 8 more days, 9 more days, 2 more weeks.  I have 22 more days, one more month (not that I'm counting or anything).   I've planned out my last month and although I'm very much looking forward to summer;  I'm also a little sad to see this particular class move on. There is just something about them that I cannot describe.  On the first day of school I was talking with my principal and she asked how my day was and how the class was.  I turned to her and said, "I love them!"  She looked at me like I had something growing out of my ears.  Then a few weeks later she came up to me and said she got it.  There was something special about this particular class.

For the last month of school I'm pulling out all the stops.  Getting out all of my classic end of year tales and trying a few new ones.  One of my favorites is Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl.

I've put together a few activities to go along with the story.  Enjoy!
Junie B Jones is a Graduation Girl

A few of my other favorite end of the year books are:

What books do you read when you get close to the last day?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's Another Tuesday Top Ten List! Expert Top Ten List That is . . .

For this week's top ten I decided to focus on my students.  We are working on our expert reports in nonfiction writing.  As any awesome author will tell you, the writing process begins by brainstorming and an author always writes about what they know.  Today we started our expert reports with a list about the things we KNOW a lot about.  This brainstorm is from a student who has really blossomed this year. Today was such an wonderful day for him because he worked independently for the first time all day long.   He was really proud of himself and he should be!

His list of ten things he knows a lot about what one of my favorites.  I do so enjoy a first grader's perspective on the world.

Ten Things I KNOW a Lot About

My personal favorite is #7 - eating lunch!

Monday, May 9, 2011

One Little E-mail can Change the World

Ok, I'm being a little dramatic (you know I like my drama) but I was having an awful day and one e-mail completely turned it around.

I have a student who I absolutely adore.  I know as teachers we say we care about all our students, and I do.  But I also know that some students affect us more than others.  So I have this student.  He is challenging and difficult and I can't figure him out.  He seems to have more bad days than good lately. Yet he has this special place in my heart.  My students love him and embrace him also.  His behavior has become so unstable that his parents chose to keep him out of school for while they figure out the best way to help him.  When I got the e-mail that he would not be returning to school for sometime I cried. I cried because I knew what a difficult decision this was for his family. I cried because my heart went out to this little boy who doesn't understand what's going on.  I even cried the next morning when I went into my classroom and saw his desk.  But I knew this was best for him.  He also has the most wonderful and supportive family who asked for the work he was going to miss while he was out.

I gathered all the materials and made him a folder.  The students will be completing their first take home writing project.  It's a report on the insect of their choice.  I sent home all the papers and by Friday the students need to choose an insect and let me know what it will be. 

Tonight I got an e-mail from my friend telling me what insect he chose. I've been thinking about this little guy since last week. When I opened my e-mail and there it was, my frown turned upside down.  I really was having the worst day.  My students were not themselves today.  I spent more time teaching classroom expectations that teaching curriculum. All that faded away when I saw the e-mail telling me that we wanted to write about lady bugs.  I will now go to sleep with a smile knowing that whatever sorrows may come, one note or message can really make a difference.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Top Ten List . . . (a day late)

I like to post my top ten list on Tuesday, but I'm a day late.  Better late than not at all, I suppose.  I had a really hard time thinking about what I could post as my top ten list.  I thought I could do the ten best things about my Mom (too obvious)  I LOVE my mom, and with Mother's Day coming up it would have been perfect, but I wanted to do something different.  Then I thought about a top ten list about kindergarten since we had our kindergarten open house today.  Didn't want to do that either (although kindy round-up was a huge success and I had so much fun!) Then when I was cleaning the kitchen tonight my oldest daughter came in to ask for dessert.  For her, dessert is a cheese stick and I thought, "BINGO!! I'll write about my daughters!"

So without further ado, here is Ten Things I LOVE About my Daughters: (in no particular order)

1. I love that to Maddie dessert is a cheese stick or a cup of goldfish crackers

2.  I love watching Lola run.  My Mom says she has a Joe Cockeresque quality when she runs.  Total carefree abandon!

3. I love that my girls enjoy being outside more than being inside.

4. I love that they love each other.

5. I love that when Lola gets mad she starts stomping her feet and throwing everything in site.  I know I will not love this later, but when a 20 month old does it, it's cute!

6. I love that Maddie is figuring out who she is as a person, and who she wants to be. 

7. I love that both of my girls are not afraid to express their opinions.  I know this will be one I may not love later, but at this moment I love it.

8.  I love that they both still love to snuggle with me, even my oldest one still loves a good cuddle.

9.  I love that Maddie is a mini me and Lola is a mini Mr. M.
10.  I love them, for the little people they are right now and for the adults they will become.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Insect Q & A Books, Test Prep & a Chrysalis . . . Oh My!

This week has been SOOOO crazy busy!  It's only Tuesday! We've had several projects going on in my classroom and I feel like we are never going to finish them.  The end of the year is looming (32 more days) and I'm having panic attacks.  Did I teach everything I needed to?  Will my students be ready for second grade?  Are they all reading on grade level?  Can they add?  AAHHHH!

When I look back on what we have accomplished I feel much better.  Here are a few projects we have been working on.  Our 3-5 graders are taking the MSP (our state mandated test) this week and as a moral booster each K-2 class is buddies with a 3-5 class to offer them support during this stressful time.  Our class is buddies with a fourth grade class.  We started be writing them some encouraging messages and tying them to a water bottle.  We call them  A Message on a Bottle.

We also made test survival kits filled with gum, peppermints, pencils, erasers & Hugs!  (the chocolate kind)

Here is a copy of the labels I used. I printed them out on mailing labels, the larger ones with 10 to a sheet, and my students signed their name at the bottom. 
Test Taking Survival Kit Labels

Here our the insect Question & Answer books we have been working SOOO hard on. We are  going to have our author's celebration on Friday with dirt cups (topped with worms of course)

And finally there was great excitement in the room as our caterpillars built their chrysalis and are getting ready to turn into butterflies.  That along with our mealworms turning from larva to pupa is cause for celebration (and students who are having a hard time focusing on their writing, wouldn't you if there were LIVE bugs changing in your room)

I also want to say THANKS to all the wonderful teachers I have taught along side, who have taught me and who have inspired me. I AM a better teacher and person because you have been in my life.  

Stay tuned for a top ten list coming soon!