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10.15.2012

Math Stations & Guided Math

So...this is pretty much my obsession right now. I am *dying* to incorporate these into my day!

I know as a First Grade teacher, I have a *very* strong focus on reading and writing. But, I am not an ELA-driven person (sadly...). I am a math-and-science kind of person. If I taught upper grades, that would be my forte, for sure.

But, since teaching departmentalized doesn't really bode well for First Grade (heh...can you imagine?!), I am making due and figuring it out.

We do Reading and Writing workshops every day. We started Guided Reading groups last week...and I am still trying to figure out the best way to make that work. I'm even ready to integrate the Daily 3 (we aren't "allowed" to do the entire 5...we don't "subscribe" to the official program...anyway...). We are ready to "Read to Someone", and now that we finally have our laptops we can do "Listen to Reading".

But, I'd really like to integrate Math Stations and possibly even some Guided Math time into my Math day. We don't have long...about 50 minutes. But I think that if I could at *least* get it in two or three times a week, my kiddos would really benefit from (and LOVE!) it.

So, I've been stalking around checking some ideas out, and think I have at least found some good starting points:

Jennifer at Rowdy in First Grade had shared her adaptation to Guided Math a while back. And, since I am working in basically the same time-frame, I really think that I can find a way to make it work for me.
Source
Kelli at Castles and Crayons recently shared how she organizes and uses her math work stations based on Debbie Diller's system. I really like her system for organizing her tubs...so cute! (I just hope my Walmart has tubs like those!) I also like her choices. I guess that makes me a fan of Debbie Diller, and I should perhaps pick up that book! hehe But I really like her set up.
Source
I have also been downloading a *ton* of games and activities to get me started from quite a few of your TpT stores. =) We use Investigations right now at my school, but I still have the old enVisions adoption as well...so I think I'm going to try to find a way to use that to fluff my tubs and stations, too!

I'm, like, stupid-excited about this. (Dorky, much??) All I need now is a weekend when I'm not doing anything else, so that I can dedicate two or three days to nothing but setting up math stations and guided groups.

Yeah, because that's going to happen! =) haha

If you have anything that you L.O.V.E., something that you'd like to share, would you mind? =)
(Hmmm...if only I knew how to set up a Linky or something? ... heh ... One thing at a time...)


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10.09.2012

Six weeks in...

and this is how I'm feeling...


Just keeping my head above water...

Of course, that is always better than this option...


I think I'm drowning
Can someone lend a hand?
Can someone save me?
Cause I don't think I can



Though, some days, it feels like that a bit too. 

Don't get me wrong...it's not *all* bad...but it is tough when you have NO structures, NO "go-to's", NO "last year" to fall back on. Being a new at anything is difficult for me...it's just a personality flaw. I like to know what I'm doing, I like to have a plan, and I like to know what's coming next. I don't feel like that at all right now. I can't even get organized, because I'm not sure WHAT I'm organizing. 

Boo.

I keep hearing: "Wait until mid-October." Things supposedly balance out and will get better. Man, I hope so. I am really struggling with my self-esteem as a new teacher. 

Of course, there are some extenuating circumstances at my school this year, outside of typical "hardships" of teaching at a Title I campus... Even my team is having days when they not only feel "new" again, but days when they question their own abilities...and there is over 50 years of teaching on my team! So, at times I think: Hey, if they feel overwhelmed too, then maybe it's not as bad as I think. And, other times, I think: Oh my God! If *they* are overwhelmed...imagine how *I* am feeling!

I know it will come. I know it will smooth out. I know I will get it. I know it because...I think I can, I think I can, I think I can... (Thanks, Classic Children's Literature.)

But, I'd be lying if I didn't say that a part of me is looking forward to NEXT year already...and being able to say YES! I'm doing that again! and NO WAY! That didn't even come close to working! or even I can't WAIT to give that a try now!

Okay...end of my "woe is me" first-year blues post. I promise that the next one won't be so "pity-party". =)

I hope that all of you are having VERY successful quarters! I can't believe the first one is almost over already! Guess it may be *next year* before I know it! heh =)


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8.05.2012

A Blog Hop and a Plug

Oh my! Two posts in a row...could this be a roll I'm on? haha

Anyway. So, on my slightly-regular stalking reading today, I stumbled upon a New Bloggers Blog Hop when checking out Jenny over at Owl Things First. It is actually being hosted by Janis at Grade Three is the Place For Me. If you don't already, I'd suggest you hop (hehe) on over and check them both out!

I've been having so much fun finding new bloggers to follow, and it feels so cool to have others follow me as well! (Thanks so much, you guys!!!) So, this is a great opportunity for other new bloggers to meet more people, and for experienced bloggers to help newbies like me out!

So, anyway... on the the

The rules are simple: just share a little bit about yourself!
(warning: I don't know what "a little bit" means...I tend to be wordy, but it's because I love to share...I'll get better, promise! hehe)
 1. what state you are in
 2. your current teaching position
 3. your teaching experience
 4. when you started blogging
 5. share a blogging tip / blogging resource

Here goes:
  1. I am currently living in the Great (albeit hot!) State of Texas. =) I have lived in the Austin area for nearly 9 years now. However, I grew up and spent the first 15 years of my life in Oklahoma. I love living here, but I miss my friends up "north". I also spent almost a year of my life in the suburbs of Chicago, while my husband was in the Marine Corps. Truth-be-told...I'd move back there in a heartbeat! I absolutely loved having seasons! The joke that I was told when I moved to Austin was that there are two seasons: Summer, and February. Turns out...it's not a joke! It's incredibly true! I had no asthma or allergies in Chicago (Austin is one of the allergy-capitals of the country!), and I loved that I could park at my Home Depot, hop on the Metro Rail, and take a relaxing train ride down into the b-e-a-utiful Downtown Chicago! *sigh* I love Austin too...but there was something about Chicago... 
  2. I am currently teaching First Grade. But, I am not just new to teacher-blogging...I'm new to being a teacher! Well, that's not entirely true... I was a Kindergarten Readiness/Pre-K teacher for 10 years. But, this is my first official public school teaching job! I am super-duper, geeked-out excited for it! Completely overwhelmed, absolutely! But, I'm not going to let that dampen my excitement... It's going to be a fan-TAB-ulous first year! My team rocks! And I can't wait to get into that classroom already! hehe
  3. Okay...I kinda double-dipped this question into the last one. But, here goes: I taught Kindergarten Readiness/Pre-K for about 10 years. I started immediately out of high school, because it was an awesome summer job (no weekends, and off by 6pm every night). Who knew that would be where I'd park my career for so long?! But, it blossomed into a real love for teaching...and for those cute little "light bulb" moments when a kid really gets it! I also interned and student taught in 3rd grade, so that was a full year. They were great. I loved the curriculum! Especially teaching multiplication and division! Math is kinda my thing. Then I did two long-term sub jobs in what is now my school last year--one in second and one in fourth. I liked them both, for different reasons. All of this had really made it hard to pinpoint my "ideal" grade...but I'm super excited to give first a shot! 
  4. I started this blog in February 2011. It's only just now getting going, though, since June...when I got my job! But, it's not my first blog. I have a personal (and neglected) blog that I started in March of 2010, on my birthday. I want to get started back up with that one, too. But, my first blog was a Xanga (holy-g...does anyone remember that?!) that I started in 2004. I was very diligent about that one for about 4 years...but it got hacked, and then I discovered Blogger and never went back. 
  5. The best, newest tip that I received, was actually shared with me by Sophia at How Cute Is This, from The Cutest Blog on the Block. It was how to add my signature to my blog, and get rid of that pesky, link-indicating box around it! You can find out how here.
Thanks for reading! I warned you I can be wordy. haha

Okay, lastly, I wanted to share with anyone who hasn't seen already, this ah-mazing MEGA GIVEAWAY from Jenn at Finally in First! She is celebrating 2,000 followers, and she and 23 of her favorite bloggers are giving away some fan-TAB-ulous items to 24 lucky winners!!! There is only one day left, so if you haven't done it yet, get over there and enter! 
Well, that is all for tonight! I can hear your eyes rejoicing. hehe


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8.03.2012

Catching up, and my first Link-up!

There is so much to catch up on, but I don't know where to start. I don't want this to be waaaay long! So, let's see if I can just wrap it all up in a nice, neat list. I like lists...I *love* lists. They are so handy, and such a great way to keep track of all kinds of stuffs. heh

Okay:

1) Move-in day did not go quite as I had planned. They seemed totally shocked that I was even there (I was the only one there) and hesitant to even let me in. Once we got that all cleared up, I was informed that I could bring stuff in, but that it had to be pushed up against the wall, stacked high, and I could not set anything up. Boo. But, apparently the nasty, Texas cricket epidemic has affected my school. It stinks, y'all. Like, way stinks. That many crickets in one place, and then combined with high summer temps and no air?? Holy cow. It was toxic. But, it's supposedly going to be all taken care of this week, and Monday we should be able to get started. Which, is great, since In-Service starts on the 20th, and school starts on the 27th. Cutting to the wire for a neurotic-perfectionist like me, now... =)

2) I didn't get to go to all the Professional Developments that I wanted to go to this week. In fact, I made it to none this week. Last week, we went to a Flip Flippen training, Capturing Kids' Hearts. It was pretty amazing. The training itself was almost more like a three-day therapy session than it was a training. The theory is, "if you have a kid's heart, you have his head." It deals a lot with developing relationships within the classroom, and developing a safe, trusting environment to create a self-maintaing classroom. I really learned a lot from it: creating and using social contracts, using management signs (hand signals) within the classroom, and how to handle disruptive and disrespectful behavior in a way that actually decreases the behaviors overall. Best part? I was able to share that I learned the "Three Questions" technique (What are you doing? What are you supposed to be doing? What are you going to do about it?) in my Classroom Management class...and I even, SUCCESSFULLY use it with my own son! =) Score one for the new teacher. haha

3) Today, I had my first meet-up with another Teacher-Blogger, Jennifer, over at Rowdy in First Grade. So much fun! I guess there aren't many of us here in the Central Texas area...and if you're out there, speak up! =) We talked about all sorts of things: classroom set up and decoration, experience, neurotic tendencies in the classroom (haha)... It was great. I can't wait until the opportunity to get together again. And, she was so sweet with my son, who can't wait to hang out with her again, either. He's (almost) five, and she let him use her phone to take this photo of us:
  Please ignore the double chin, haha. Apparently, I pull my head back when I take photos. Nice. And, he cut off the top of my head, so I look strangely bald...and you can't see my cute bangs-twist. =) But, if you don't follow Jennifer, you should. She's awesome! 

Okay, I'm going to end with a CURRENTLY from Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade! This is the first time I've done this...but I see everyone else doing it during my stalking reading-up times. I thought it may be fun to partake! There is a rule for sharing, though: the "Rule of 3". If you share, you are supposed to read and comment on the two link-ups before you, and the one after you. It's all about spreading the love! 


As you can tell, I'm pretty excited to finally have my own room...and even more excited to get IN said room. 

Busy week next week, though: 
Monday = staycay to Schlitterbahn with the family, Tuesday = doctor appointment and *hopefully* time in the classroom, Wednesday & Thursday = more hopeful-time in the classroom, and Friday & Saturday = family in town and getting things ready for Sunday's party.

Okay, I think that's long enough. Thanks for sticking around, if you did. And, thanks to my new readers and followers! It's so awesome to be a part of such an amazing network of teachers! Hopefully, my next few posts will include pictures of things as they progress in the classroom!

Now it's your turn to link-up!

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7.22.2012

It's Move-In Day!!

I am so, so, so excited! I know I've not been a very active summer blogger, but I can thank my absolutely horrid summer job for that one. That was a horrible experience, that I hope I don't have to repeat again.

But that is over now, and tomorrow is a big day:

It's MOVE-IN day!!!

At least, it is for me. To be honest, I don't even know if anyone else is going to be there. But, I got with our Head Custodian last month, and tomorrow is the day she gave me. My husband will be so excited to finally get our dining room/office back, and have all my junk teaching treasures out of the house forever in my very own classroom, finally.

So far, I've been a CraigsList maniac, trying to get things from other teachers, and things that would work that others just don't want anymore. I got some great bookcases, a 30-cubbie shelf (that will hold plastic shoe-box supply boxes perfectly) and a ton of books! I even got a Director's chair that I will decorate for an "Author's Chair", and a padded folding chair that I am going to reupholster (thanks to an amazing idea by another classmate and fellow first grade teacher) to be an awesome "Birthday Chair".

I wanted to paint my bookshelves too...but it just didn't happen. I know I can't spray paint at school, but perhaps some good, old-fashioned brush painting before the year begins can happen. If not, they aren't too ugly, so it can always happen next year. But, the chairs I know I still have time to do.

The only other major thing to do is going to be to print off all my posters, hang-ables, etc. I designed my own themed stuff because I had something very specific in mind. I was able to find a little bit that matched, but not as much as I wanted. So, I just did it all (in PowerPoint) myself.

I'll have more info on it all later, as I finish up on things. I have a couple of graduation gift cards left that I plan on using as I'm ordering some border and such online. The last few things that I simply can't make. I can't wait to start posting pictures, though! I can't wait to participate in everyone's beginning of the year stuff!!! Can you tell I'm excited by all the exclamation points?!!?!!?!!

haha

Well, I suppose break time is over--I am in the process of getting all my small items packed up, organized and set up and ready to go. But, I'll leave anyone who's here with my "before" pictures of my classroom. I took these last month when I went to meet up with my Asst. Principal...before they cleaned the carpets and waxed the floors. I can't wait to see what the "after" looks like!!

 As you walk in the door, this is directly in front. Nice fire-escape, right? 
The funny thing? I have not seen a ladder on the other side. So...then what? =)
 My one...and only...white board. *le sigh* 
I don't know how I want to handle that...
 Some built-in shelving, and two shelves that either come with the room, or the
previous teacher left me. I'm not sure which. 
Oh, and the right side of my GIANT "bulletin board" wall. 
 Perhaps the GIANT "bulletin board" wall will make up some for the ONE white board?
And my drop-screen for my projector. It's...soo...high...
 This? This is all my stuff pushed into the furthest corner for cleaning.
See that lamp there? On the left? That is the ONLY thing in the room right
now that is actually mine. hehe Another teacher gave it to me at the end of 
the year (while I was long-term subbing, but had accepted the job from the Principal).
 Like my pretty purple counter tops? Yeah, me neither.
I'm thinking...Contact Paper? Anyone have any thoughts or experience with that?
Just one last shot of the room as you are standing in the doorway. 
I thought about asking about painting that wall...but I'm not sure what 
color I would do. My "theme" is a black background with MULTI-colors...

But, anyway...there it is...

How many weeks do you have left before school starts? I have exactly six weeks, tomorrow! Four and a half until In-Service! Yipes!

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6.19.2012

Classroom Library

I know, I know...already a bad blogger. *slap on the wrist*

But, I have good excuses: my summer job requires WAY more of me than I would have liked, I've been trying to find a time to get up to my school and in my classroom, and I've been trolling the internet for ideas and cheap finds. (side note: How much do you just *love* CraigsList?! Holy-schmoley!)

But, now I'm starting to just go on ahead and get kicking on getting stuff prepped even if I'm not in yet. I bought a 30-cubby shelf unit that will be awesome for organizing materials and/or manipulatives all nice and neat in those little plastic shoebox organizers. Ohhh! I get so excited just thinking about it!

Which, got me thinking: LABELS! I am going to need so many labels! I wanted to find a theme that wouldn't be too hard to get going with, too difficult for me to make on my own, and too expensive to find matching "stuffs" for. So, I decided on colored circles/dots. I have even already started! Yay!

I don't know what you all make your beautiful items in, but I have used PowerPoint so far and it's not too bad.

I made student numbered book box labels (because I won a "door prize" at the Professional Development that I went to, which was 20 of those cardboard magazine boxes from Ikea.) and am working on supply labels for my awesome little cubbies/shoeboxes.

Then, I was thinking: LIBRARY! I am still working on finding some shelving for my classroom library, as well as baskets. (Oh...the baskets, man, just that search *alone* is cause for it's own post...sheesh!) And then I thought: organizing?

So, I want to ask, to my fantastic followers (thanks, again, you guys!) and anyone else you can gouge info from:

How do *YOU* organize your library? Alphabetically? Leveled? (which, of course, begs the question: how do you label??)

I would love to hear from *anyone*! If I knew how to make a Linky Party, I'd maybe even consider getting it started that way. I'm dying to know what works for you!

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6.05.2012

All kinds of "official"

Wow!

It's been a good week. I'm feeling all kinds of "official" this week. =)

I finally got the "official" call from my district's HR department, and set up my new-hire orientation. I have "officially" been offered, and accepted, the position to be an "official" first grade teacher. Yay!

Also, I successfully complete my first "official" summer teaching professional development workshop. I am working on a blog for it...it was about setting up Reading and Writing Workshop. It was, however, geared more toward teachers who have set it up in their rooms before, but are looking for ways to make it more efficient, effective, etc. Also, we have adopted some new elements and kicked out some old procedures beginning next year, so we they had to learn how to change things. It was different for me, because I am just starting out. Good info, though.

And, this week I feel as though I have become an "official" blogger! I have my first (non-family) followers! Yay! Thank you guys so much for coming over and checking me out! I am honored to be a part of the teaching blogosphere that I have stalked followed so closely for the past year or so.

=)

Now, the fun begins. I am on the prowl for some good teacher sales...retiring teachers, teachers switching grade levels, or teachers who are just purging junk treasures from their rooms that they no longer need. I have added a Craig's List addiction to my Pinterest addiction and my blog stalking following addiction.

Oh! and Teachers Pay Teachers, too!!! I have a wish list that, were I to cash it in all at once, would probably be about a month's salary (that I don't have yet!)!! You guys have some of the most amazing abilities when it comes to creating posters, worksheets, units, lessons, teacher aids....etc. I hope to, soon, be able to add my own store to the game and provide others with my own creations.

It's just amazing to finally be part of this teaching family..."officially". =)

Hopefully I'll get into my classroom soon and can start taking "before" pictures and getting some of my pinspirations and inspirations flowing!

(attempt #2 at a signature graphic...??)
(Okay, seriously...how to I make the black box around it disappear? It's not there in editing??)
(Thank you so much to Sophia at How Cute is This! for finding the post at The Cutest Blog on the Block to help me get rid of that pesky little box!)