Five for Friday (11/27/15)

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Happy first official day of the Christmas season! I love this time of year. We work really hard in our house (and in my classroom) to make sure the focus of the season is in giving to others and being kind, not on getting everything we want. It's hard but he payoff is so worth it.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and to kick off Black Friday, I'm having a sale on my store. (Cause the learning doesn't stop just cause Santa is on the horizon!)

While we were out shopping Tuesday, my littlest guy found some Darth Vader pjs complete with cape. At 40% we just had to get them. (He really has outgrown everything he owns.) I love that he'll still wear this stuff, even though he's getting big. 

While I was at school Monday and Tuesday, my own kids were off. So I gave them the box of Christmas decorations and they took care of everything. Total score for mom!

Tuesday, we FINALLY saw the Peanuts movie. It was the best movie ever! I have always loved Peanuts and that was a great way to start Thanksgiving break.

And now it's time for us to go Black Friday shopping. My mom and I are hitting the stores with my kids. All 5 kids. 3 teen girls and 2 slightly younger boys. Black Friday. And it's raining. Why are we doing this? Oh, yeah. Black Friday. It will be fine. It will be fun. And we'll have a movie night tonight. Happy shopping everyone!

Stop by Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday fun!

Five for Friday (11/20/15)

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Happy Friday! I wish I could say that I'm on Thanksgiving break already but we still have two days of school next week. :( If we have to be there though, we're going to have fun! Here's this week:

This week I started the Mindful Eating Challenge with Deedee from Mrs. Wills's Kindergarten and Rachelle from For Blogness Sake and What the Teacher Wants. It's not about loosing weight (though that could be a bonus!), it's about being mindful of what we eat over the holiday season. (Read: trying not to binge eat on every treat that is offered over the next month.) Check out the details on here and please consider joining us! I may not always meet my calorie goal for the day, but I am eating better. My jeans are already starting to feel loose!  #myhealthyholiday15

We've been working hard on communicating effectively in our class. They get along really well overall but when issues do arise, they're needing some tools to express themselves. So…we introduced an "I feel" anchor chart.

We practiced with simple things (positive and negative situations) like, "I feel happy when my mommy buys me ice cream because I really like ice cream. I wish I could have ice cream everyday!

Just after practicing, one of my littles came up to me crying about someone who had been critical of his picture he drew. I said, "Do you need to use an 'I feel' statement?" He turned to the rest of the class and said, "I feel sad when people make fun of my picture because I worked really hard on that and that's not nice. I wish people would be nice." And the WHOLE CLASS went, "Aww! We're sorry! We LOVE your drawing." And a whole class group hug happened. (Insert teacher tears here.)

We kicked off our weather unit this week with a few crafty things. We made an anchor chart of weather words and created a precipitation mobile.

Today, we made our thankful tree and talked a LOT about what we're thankful for. I love this activity because it always looks different each year.

And finally, we made our pilgrim people quilt thanks to Molly at Lucky to Be in First. The first year I did it, I had a girls' table and a boys' table and put out the pieces they would need. I was sure I counted right, but I must not have. It was a disaster. This year, I precut everything and put each students' pieces into individual snack bags. SO. MUCH. BETTER! And they turned out freakin' adorable!

Well, that's a wrap! Stop by Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday fun!

For the Love of Data

Hey, y'all! Has anyone ever told you you collect too much data on your kids? You can stop laughing now. :-p I take data on my kids all the time, but in order for my students to starting taking ownership of their own learning, I developed a "littles friendly" data binder


Personally, I think having my littles keep track of their progress is wonderful, and also slightly intimidating. I mean, I don't want to turn them off of school by drilling them with assessments and such, so I tried really hard to make it easy for student use. That's why the kids' title page looks like this: 

Once you teach your kiddos how to use it, they are so excited to track their progress. I'm using folders this year and it works just fine, but next year, I'm totally getting binders with pockets to keep more of their work in. 

There are pages for just about everything. Just pick and choose what you want your kid's to keep track of. Start small if you need to, but start! There are pages for monitoring a skill, like sight words...

…graphing their progress for most skills...

…and setting learning goals for every skill. Teacher example pages are included in every section, just in case. 

The reading level section is filled in on the kindergarten data binder, but the 1st grade binder has an optional blank reading level column since there is such a huge range in reading levels in 1st grade.

Students can also keep track of their fluency, spelling practice, and writing skills.

This is what a student spelling tracker looks like in my classroom: 

This year's class gets so excited to track their spelling progress and they LOVE to watch their graphs go up. And if they don't do as well on a spelling test, they can easily see the effects of not practicing. 

There's also a section for math skills. Students can monitor their counting skills, number recognition, shape identification, and coin identification.

The 1st grade binder has six 2D shapes and six 3D shapes to identify, while the kindergarten binder has four of each.

Also included in both are coin and color identification, and a math skills checklist specific to each grade level.

As we finish a fluency check, spelling test, sight word assessment, etc., I have them fill in that part of their data notebook right away. It basically becomes part of our small group time every couple of weeks or so. 

For math, we preview the unit together, discuss the skills we'll be working on, and set goals for that unit. That way our objective is always present in our minds as we work on that skill set. In the middle of the unit, do a quick check-in to monitor their progress in meeting the goal, and then assess everyone's progress in the end. 

During social skills meetings, we work on what to do if we don't meet our goals. We're not just finished and moving on. We keep trying until we meet it, even if it means adjusting our end date and/ or strategies. 

Can we have more than one goal per subject at a time? ABSOLUTELY! Your students may be working on counting by 5's and 10's at the same time. And certainly there should be more than one goal for reading. 

Like I said earlier, if student data binders make you nervous (they won't be perfect and that's okay!) start small. I did! Begin where you're comfortable. Once you and your class has mastered tracking progress on one skill, add another. You'll find that teaching them to self-monitor the next skill will be so much faster and more efficient than learning how to do the first one. 

If you have any questions about how to implement or best utilize student data binders in your classroom, just ask me! And be sure to pick up your own today! :) 

Five for Friday the 13th!


 It's Friday the 13th! Am I scared? Oh no! It's Friday and that means time to be awesome!

I woke up to an email from Class Dojo. I've been selected as the school Class Dojo Mentor. How cool is that?! Apparently I use it enough to get their attention and more than anyone else in the school.

On Tuesday, we had to have a little problem solving class meeting. They "forgot" how to be quiet during reading centers and were extremely distractible. SO…we made a circle, we identified the problems, and I stepped away. I told them I wanted them to brainstorm ways to solve this issue. They decided to tackle the voice level issue first.

Every time we get in line, the kids "catch a bubble" to get quiet. I make a big production about "blowing" bubbles to them. Sometimes they're even flavored bubbles or sparkly. During this conversation about voice level, one of my littles says, "Sometimes you just have to blow your own bubble!"

Anyway, their ideas for solving this issue were amazing. They facilitated their own discussion without me, stayed on topic, and let each other take turns talking. And they're only in 1st grade! {Insert proud teacher moment here.}

I have student leaders run the calendar each morning. They are so eager to do it each day that it became a contest to get to the calendar first. (i.e. people were getting run over) SO… I made a sign up sheet. Each student had a chance to sign up for a day to lead. No more running each other over first thing in the morning. So far, it's been magical. (BTW, this cute calendar printout is from

We started our Thanksgiving unit yesterday, and today we made our Mayflower books. The mast is made out of straws from the Target dollar spot and the book is the Dr. Jean Thanksgiving story retell. I thought they came out pretty cute, don't you?

And we ended the week with a turkey directed drawing from First Grade Blue Skies. Aren't they adorable?!

We sure do have some colorful turkeys in our classroom!

That's my week. Stop by DoodleBugs Teaching for more Five for Friday fun! How was your week?

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