Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Month of Firsts

This month has been full of firsts for "The Accidental Teacher".  For the first time tonight I am making spaghetti squash!  I love spaghetti squash and have eaten it in many forms, however I have never attempted to make it myself.  That ends tonight!

It also occurred to me as I was using a sledge hammer to cut my squash into halves, that this month has been full of firsts. Here they are in no particular order:

My daughter Maddie turned 10 - the first of my daughters to hit double digits! Along with turning ten, Maddie hosted her first sleepover at our house.

This year was the first time we went to a new pumpkin patch.  We go to the same one every year and we LOVE it, however it was closed on the Sunday we tried to go.  So we ventured out into Southwest Washington and found a new place. It had the best pumpkins (although that could have been because it was under the power lines!)

We did go back to our favorite place, where for the first time I had a friend take pictures of my children.  She is so talented!

I know it is a LOT of pictures, but aren't they fabulous!

I also had the privilege of being on the design team to help revise our district common math assessment so that it aligns with the common core state standards.  If you had met me 3-4 years ago and asked me about keeping "data"; I would have laughed at you and said, "No, I don't keep data.  It's only one moment our of one part of a child's life and does not reflect the whole child."

Not anymore.  I have been reborn into a data queen.  For the first time I love data.  Not literally of course, however I have learned how to use it effectively to help me see the learner better.  I have learned how to take my anecdotal notes from conferring during workshop and combine that with the checklists I love AND align all of that to the standards.  I did not do this alone, I had the fabulous help of my first grade team.  Together we came up with a common data format so that when we look at student work in our PLC, we have the same data charts.  Now we are comparing apples to apples in stead of apples to oranges to pears to bananas! We created one for each of the writing units we are teaching this year.  Here is the one for Personal Narratives:

This is also the first time I've ever contemplated doing something else with my life.  I have been a classroom teacher for 13 years and have been working with children in some capacity (swim lessons, baby-sitting, day camp, etc) since I was 12.  I am on several teams and committees this year where I get to design professional development and staff development and plan curriculum.  I am really enjoying it.  It has me thinking that I want to try out something new.  Something different.  I know every teacher goes through this.  And maybe this is a mid-life crisis.  I am closer to 40 than 30.  But the possibility of something else is a little exciting!

One last first ~ This is the first year I have raked leaves.  I usually leave them on the ground, but this year I raked.  I also had a helper!

Monday, October 1, 2012

One Month In & Lakeshore Learning Surprise

Good Morning to everyone out there!  Happy Monday!

I am officially one month into my school year and so far so good. I looped up with most of my class from kindergarten so we have our routines and procedures down cold. I also went from 27 students to 20 so that helps make our day much smoother.

One of my goals for this year is help my students become independent thinkers.  I use the workshop model in all content areas which means my students have a lot of time they are working independently or in small groups.  This is fabulous until a group gets finished with their task and are wondering what to do next.

This is where the internet comes in handy.  There are SOOOO many fantastic resources out there for teachers and here are a few I use in my classroom. One if our favs is the Froggy Hearts Addition game from Swamp Frog First Graders.
Another great activity for students to work on when they are finished is building with pattern blocks.
Our newest favorite activity came over the summer.  I was contacted by Lakeshore Learning (one of my most favorite places to go shopping for all things teaching) and they asked if I would be interested in using one of their newer products in my classroom.  Of course I said YES! I few days later it arrived!

 Last year, our favorite math unit was our geometry unit.  I wanted to keep up their learning about shapes so I got an activity my students could play independently when they finish their math task.   The Roll and Build at My Seat Geometry game was a great way to to sustain their learning about 2-D and 3-D shapes and build independent practice.  

The activity comes with a laminated card with very clear directions, a large foam dice with shape pictures that are easy to read and pieces for building shapes.  I only had to explain the directions once and my students were off and building.

We spent the few days before learning about what it looks like to have effective math partnerships.
I will absolutely be getting more of these activities for my classroom.  They are easy to store, easy to use and align to the first grade CCSS. You can grab a few yourself for 25% off
Enjoy 25% off from Lakeshore: