Sunday, September 30, 2012

Calling All Ohio Teachers! Plus a little giveaway ;)

Ug, another late night.  I have GOT to start going to bed earlier.  But I guess it's who I am...

So those of you who live in Ohio (and other states if this applies) - let's talk about this 3rd grade reading guarantee.  Not that I want to, but I'm so stressed and perplexed about some of this crazy law.  So how many of you have been implementing this new reading intervention class (outside if Title I/Reading Recovery)?  Meaning it has to be taught by a classroom teacher and teaching the lowest kiddos.  Please tell me someone knows what I'm talking about?!?!?  If you don't, that will stress me out more.  :P  What I want to know is how your school is doing this.  We are implementing this extra reading intervention class K-2 (3rd and up departmentalize, so they have it covered in a different way).  What I'm struggling with is the lack of time I have to teach what I'm supposed to teach.  I have stressed, gotten angry, and cried over the ridiculouslessness (if that's a says it's not...oh well, it's SO a word to me! :P).  I can IMMEDIATELY feel my blood pressure rise when I think about this.  I need to let it go.  I just wish the state understood what they're doing to the kids who AREN'T low.  Between Title I pull-outs, speech, and now intervention, I have half an hour to teach math, half an hour to teach writing, and an hour and a half to teach reading/language arts.  Um, 2 1/2 hours?  Are you serious?  I struggle everyday.  Majorly.  Add in lunch, 2 recesses, and bathroom breaks, and out of the 6 hours we're at school, I get 2.5.  2.5.  2.5.  I'm MAJORLY bothered by that.  And I'm the teacher that's teaching 1st grade intervention, so there's that.  Not that I mind.  I like reading and I'd rather teach intervention than science/social studies any day...

How does your school do it?!?!?  Please, we need ideas.  We have done intervention the past few years, so that piece isn't new, but the scheduling and now the REQUIREMENT of it is really getting us.  In past years 1st grade has done it 3 days a week, not 5.  That really did help because Monday is the busiest day introducing lots of new concepts.  So that extra half hour was golden.

I truly apologize for venting, but this has been on my mind so much since the beginning of the year and I'm overwhelmed to the max on how to fit it in and teach it all.  I promise I love my job more than anything (sometimes too much), but as we all know there's a lot of stress involved!  Once I can figure out how to maneuver my schedule I'll be fine.  But I've rearranged it 3 times.  Ugggg.  I do reading groups/Daily 5 during Title I time, but you can't really introduce anything new while other kids are out of the room.  Between Speech, Title I, and Intervention, I lose an hour a day.  Ok...enough venting.  Just tell me what you do.  Please.  Pretty please?  :)

If you comment and leave your thoughts, please leave your e-mail address because I'm going to give away my October Math Centers to one lucky person!  Even if you have nothing to say because you have no idea what I'm talking about, I want to know that, too.  I need info from every realm.  And if you don't want a chance to win the centers but would still like to leave a comment, please do, just omit your e-mail address.  :)  I realize I could get comments from upper-elementary bloggy friends, and these centers are appropriate for K-2, so it might not do you any good.  :P

As a sidenote about the October Math Centers, I'm going to put them on sale for TOMORROW (10-1) ONLY!  You can pick them up for only $4!  :)  And if you just can't wait to see if you've won and you want to pick them up tonight, I'm having a 15% off sale've only got 25 more minutes, but you can snag them real quick!  :)

Thanks, guys!  :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fact and Fun Fridays

I have really taken a liking to math in the past year or so.  I was NOT good at math once I hit about 5th grade.  That's why I teach 1st.  ;)  Just kidding...kind of...

Every year I kind of change how I do math in my classroom.  As with everything else, so much to do, so little time!  I loved the idea of math centers and games and all of that fun stuff, but I just couldn't fit it in on a normal day.  We use Everyday Math in our district, so if you're familiar with it, you know that there's a lot, and there's not.  I have mixed feelings about EM...but that's a story for another day.  ;)

I don't like to introduce anything new on Friday.  At that point, our brains are fried and the last thing any of them can do is sit still and learn something brand new when they know the weekend starts in a matter of hours.  Plus, I assess like CRAZY on Fridays, so I need time to pull kids individually.  It's a nice little break to have a good time practicing skills in a laid-back sort of way.  :)

The idea of "Fact and Fun Friday" came into my head this summer.  I purchased Gumball Math to help my firsties with learning their math facts.  SO. PUMPED. about this program.  My kiddos already love it.  It's sooooo much more age-appropriate for them.  You should absolutely check it out.  So we do our fact practice the first part of our math block.  It doesn't take long at all.  We do a quick recap on adding and subtracting, might do some Around the World or quick fact practice together, then they take a 3-minute test to try and complete 50 problems.  That whole ordeal only takes about 5-10 minutes.

Then the kids pair up to do centers!  I have started creating my own monthly math centers that are Common Core based.  I pull the standards, come up with a quick game/activity, print, laminate, and put them in labeled drawers.  I put velcro on the back of my labels, that way I can easily change them out each month.

The first Friday we spend time going over how to play each game or what to do for each activity.  I made assessment sheets for each one to hold them accountable.  They turn them in when they're done and I do a quick check to see how they did.

Let's just say they LOVED IT.  They were really into it and had a blast.  I can't wait for Fun and Fact Friday this coming week!

If you're interested in my monthly math centers, check out my TpT store.  They are based on Kindergarten and First Grade standards, but I know that it would've worked great in my 2nd grade classroom last year, especially if you have a lower 2nd grade math class.  The September Centers are up and for sale!  I'm getting ready to start the October math centers tonight, so they should be up in the next week or so.

September Math Centers
Here are the kiddos picking out their centers.  I pull sticks to determine the order of how they get to pick.

I have GOT to start remembering my camera!  The iPhone is nice, but the quality of pics just isn't great...oh well..c'est la vie...

Off to paint our laundry room!  Enjoy the weekend, friends!  :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Focus Wall and a Freebie!

Hey bloggy friends!  Long time, no see!  Let me tell you, getting into the groove of this year has been C-R-A-Z-Y!  After 3 weeks of gathering baseline data from a boatload of assessments (Metropolitan, Reading Street Baseline Test, Fluency checks, 18-page math assessment, Houghton-Mifflin word checks, and AIMSWeb), I think I'm finally ready to roll and get this year started!  Baseline data is so important (like, uber-important!), but I'm SO glad when it's all over and I get to actually TEACH!  I feel like I know so much about my students now and know where to go.

By the way, I was going to update my blog one night a couple weeks ago, but right as I sat down to start (literally...not joking...) my dog bit me!!!!  She's a chiweenie and the sweetest thing ever.  I think between my 15-month-old, moving into a new home, and me going back to work, the poor thing was depressed and lashed out.  It was my fault because she guarding a toy and I went in behind her (big no-no) and tried to grab it.  She bit my forearm.  It bruised immediately and she gave me a nice little puncture wound that bled for 4 hours.  The next day I made a trip to Urgent Care to get a tetanus shot and get it cleaned up.  Fun stuff.  The health department came to our home last week to check on her and she's in the clear!  :)  Soooo....there's been my last 2 weeks....on top of starting school!  :P

I wanted to share a couple pictures of my focus wall this year.  This is the first year I've done one.  I put up our spelling words, vocabulary words, high-frequency words (in addition to on our word wall), amazing words, reading comprehension skill, and reading strategy skill.  It's SO helpful to have those things in plain view for the students to reference.  I purposely do NOT have the actual comprehension skill answered on my posters because I like the students to come to those conclusions on their own or through discussion, instead of seeing it on a poster already given to them.  For example, for 3rd grade, the main idea of "Penguin Chick" is that penguins do a lot to take care of their young.  I won't put that on my "Main Idea" poster.  Instead, I'll give another example that's completely clear of the story.  Then they can see an example and apply it to what their reading.  I hope that makes sense.  So if you're one who uses my Reading Street packets and ever wondered why I do that, there's your answer.  :)

Ok, here are some pics.  I honestly don't have a lot of bulletin boards, so I have to squeeze stuff in all over the place.  :P  This is actually a blackboard/marker board that I covered with material.  My pocket chart and Job Jar have large magnets on the back, so they just stick right up there.  I hot-glued vinyl sleeve pockets for my Focus Wall posters.  Each week I can just slide the new papers in and out!  It's so much better than using sticky-tack every week.  So much quicker!

Here's a close-up of my posters.

This is a great pocket chart I got from Really Good Stuff.  It's magnetic and the perfect size!

Last, but not least, I created a little freebie for you!  I made these to include in one of my 3rd grade Reading Street packets and thought I'd share them.  :)  They're Character Profiles.  I made a boy and girl one, so enjoy!  :)  Just click on them to download and print.

Have a GREAT week!  :) :) :)