Saturday, December 29, 2012

 A New Classroom for a New Year

As I have posted before, our school has been undergoing major renovations. Two old buildings were torn down, a 3rd old building was taken down to the stone walls and completely transformed from a damp and drafty gym to 5 beautiful new classrooms. A new wing has been built to connect the old gym to the main building. The new wing is completed so everyone is moving into it so they can update the main building. I spent three of my winter break days packing up my room. I was going to move a few of my boxes that I didn't want to get squashed. Delaney went up with me and she ended up moving all of my boxes to the new room. She worked so hard all day. Anyway, school starts back on Friday, January 4. My principal will be at school on the 2nd and 3rd so we can try to get our new rooms together. This is what is facing me when I come back.
I think I have my work cut out for me. To make matters even worse, I have a 3-day workshop I have to go to Monday through Wednesday after coming back for one day. We will have all kinds of new procedures to go over. No one can say that teaching is ever boring. ; P
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Thursday, December 27, 2012

 12 in 12

I am finally linking up

12 favorite things!
12. Favorite movie you watched: This is really sad, but so far, I have only seen one movie this year. the only time I go to movies if when I'm taking my daughter to one. We went to see  Mirror, Mirror at the beginning of the year. We both loved it!
11. Favorite TV series: My daughter is always asking me why I like to watch people being murdered. haha I love crime dramas. My current favorite is Criminal Minds. I still watch reruns of Law and Order Criminal Intent. On a lighter note I also love Drop Dead Diva and Psych.
10. Favorite restaurant: I'm addicted to Mexican food. My favorite places to eat it are Chelinos and El Chico. My favorite fast food is Taco Bueno.
9. Favorite new thing you tried:
I started on TPT this year. I still have a lot to learn, but I've got a few ideas kicking around in my head for some products to make.
8. Favorite gift you got:
My daughter writes me little notes all of the time. these are just a few. She loves me more than cupcakes AND chocolate ice cream!

7. Favorite thing you pinned:
This is one of my pins that I am actually using in my classroom. I have a ton of card games for my class. These index card holders work perfect to hold the games. I made labels for each game so I can find the one I need quickly.
6. Favorite blog post:
My most popular post this year has been Finally a Freebie  It was my first attempt to share a freebie on my blog. I shared my vertical number line.
5. Best accomplishment: I was selected Teacher of the Year at my school.

4. Favorite picture:
I love this picture because Delaney has such a look of pure happiness on her face. She had gone down to the neighbors house to gather eggs from their chickens and they let her keep them. She came home and promptly made scrambled eggs at 2 in the afternoon.

I love this one because the photographer caught her pretty blue eyes to perfection.
3. Favorite memory:
This is my favorite memory from school. Last year I had several low readers that I was tutoring after school. One was a little girl, Mia,  that didn't know a single sight word except for "a" and "I" when I started the tutoring. Another was a little boy, Julius,  who was a lab student that also only knew "a" and "I". As time went on, Mia started picking up some of the sight words, but I was not having any success with Julius. We would play the same sight word card game over and over and over. One day when we were playing, Julius got the word "can". Mia said, "You know that one, Julius, you know that one. Listen, I CAN do it." Julius said, "Can?" Then later he got another word he didn't know, again Mia says, "You know that one Julius. Watch." She got up and walked across the room. He said, "Walk?" Mia said, "No, watch." She walked back across the room. Julius said, "Run?" Mia said, "No, it's go." What makes this memory so special was watching how Mia had started to see herself as a reader for the first time and she was determined to help Julius to find success too. 
2. Goal for 2013: Get healthy. Exercise, eat better and get some sleep.

1. One Little Word:
Care. I need to to make sure I am taking care of my loved ones and my students, but I also need to make sure I am doing what I need to do to take care of me, my spiritual life, my health, etc... I will be a better mom, friend, teacher, etc... when I am remembering to take care of myself.
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

 Turkey in Disguise

Well I'm done ranting, at least for now. ; ) I have several things I want to share. The first is a little song my daughter wrote (words and music) about Thanksgiving. As you may or may not know, I am rather behind in technology, so when I taped her singing this on my phone, I didn't realize the video was going to be sideways. I never could figure out a way to rotate it. Yes! I fixed it on Facebook!

The district did allow us Monday and Tuesday for review. So I took the opportunity to finish their Turkey in Disguises. I didn't send it home because I wasn't sure if all of the children would have someone to help them. So last week they did a little brainstorming, made a sketch of what they were wanting to do and made a list of materials they would need. They also wrote a story about how their turkeys would escape. A lot of them seemed to totally forget everything they had planned when they saw feathers and sparkly pom poms. Oh well, they had fun making their creations. Some of them, I have no idea what they made, here are the pictures, maybe you can figure it out.
She made Spiderwoman.

He was making a peacock.


I'm not sure if you can see it clearly, this is a King Cobra. This little boy is very creative.

Some sort of feathered princess.

A soldier

He said this was Scorpion.

Ho Ho Ho, Santa Claus.

I think this is Superman with feathers for legs. haha They were just so excited when they saw those feathers.

Hmmm, Santa Bird??? I'm not sure.

She said it was Barbie. I love how she just slapped the fabric and felt on with out even trying to cut it!

He worked really hard on this, but I'm not sure what it is.

I think this one is Miss Viola Swamp. :)




This one is a cheerleader. Oops, she lost one of her pom poms.

I have one more picture to share. It is a follow up to my Mousetrap post. I think they must have scared the mouse from our room, I haven't seen it again. The morning after they set the "traps", my sneaky daughter went in and took one of the apples out of the "trap". All of the kids thought the mouse had eaten it during the night. They had to tell everyone as they came in. Ha! During journal writing this is what I got from one of my boys.
It says, "The mice eat poison food. They come out to eat food the mice got kill.
I love it this the best writing I have gotten from this boy!
Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

 Taking the Fun Out of Teaching and some Math Freebies

WARNING: The following post was written by a frustrated teacher. Proceed with caution.
When I read all of the blogs out there, I feel bad for my kids. My district has a curriculum guide we are supposed to be following and it doesn't leave much room for "fun stuff". I had to give a reading and math benchmark test last week, plus stay caught up with the curriculum guide. It left no room for anything Thanksgiving. We did make some Turkey in Disguises that I will share with you tomorrow.

Last year I would do little reading and math craftivities for morning work which let me fit in seasonal art. This year my state came up with a new grading system and our score was low. So now each teacher meets with our principal once a week to show her the mini assessments we've given, writing samples from the week, samples of the morning work aligned with low areas from the benchmark tests and samples of our academic vocabulary notebooks. 

We are using Core Knowledge (not to be confused with Common Core). It comes from the books What Your First Grader Needs to Know (there is one for every grade level). There is a guide set up telling us which units to teach each week. So for the last 3 weeks we were supposed to be teaching about the Incas and the Aztecs while everyone else is teaching Thanksgiving. In December, we are supposed to teach about December???? "That should make for some great plant experiments." the teacher said sarcastically.

I actually like Core Knowledge, but one of the frustrating things is we do not have literature to go along with it. I think there are some trade books, but there is just one copy. So I am using Treasures and while I am supposed to be teaching about the Incas and the Aztecs, we are reading The Fun Kid's Band, On My Way to School and Kate's Game. Of the 3 stories, one is realistic fiction and the other two are humorous stories. Do those stories sound like they would support learning about the Incas? I haven't even taught any of the Core Knowledge for probably over a month. Now during our meeting with the principal, we are supposed to telling her what we have been doing for Core Knowledge. Yikes! Hmmm.... let's see....cough, cough....nothing. I didn't realize it until this year that I am rather rebellious.

We started using Everyday Math, which, so far,  I do not like. I know it is supposed to keep spiraling around, but so far, I feel like I have a lot of kids that just aren't getting it and I am constantly trying to reteach while EM is going on ahead and throwing out more. I personally don't think EM spends enough time on one topic before it goes to another topic. Any Everyday Math users out there? What's your opinion? I like to teach the topic thoroughly and then continue to revisit it the rest of the year.

OK, so if you have read all of my complaining, you deserve a reward. here are a couple of math freebies for you. The first one I used as an assessment for Tally Marks and Ten Frames.
Here is the link.
The next freebies is a little book for making tens. It goes along with the idea from Pinterest of using the Unifix cubes in 2 colors to show the different way ten is made. I added the hands to go along with the EM penny grab game. Note the first two pages have the page twice so only run 1/2 of what you need, page 3 and 4 you will need to run a full set.
I'm sorry each page is separate, the old program I use won't let me do more than one page at a time. I hope to get a new program soon. My kids loved this book.
Sorry for the rant,

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

 How To Cook A Turkey

This is a video of some of the cute Pre-K students at my school. There's a chance the video will be on the Today Show on Wednesday. How neat is that!
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Just a quick post to share a couple of pictures. Right before we went on Fall Break, my class was reading "Prairie Dog Home". We studied about their habitats. When we got back to school after the break, Isaiah brought a prairie dog home that he made. I just had to share a picture of it. I love that he chose to do this during his break.

 I don't know if anyone else does this or not, but we eat breakfast in the classroom everyday. The other day, one of my boys was so excited, he came up to me and said, "Look Ms. Dugan, I made an exclamation mark in my apple!" He was so proud I had to take his picture. ;P

We have had a very warm fall until this week. This week has sent the mice searching for a warm place. Today while my class was in art, I saw one scamper across the room. When the kids came back, I told them there was a mouse in the room because I didn't want them to be scared to death if it came out of hiding. Well that was all it took, my resident bug catcher decided he was going to catch it. It was so funny, he had a friend sticking a broomstick behind the bookcase and was waiting at the other end. Then I noticed all of my table top trashcans laying around the room. They had decided to set some traps. NOTE: Please over look my tacky looking floor. They pulled the tile up over the summer to get my room ready for renovations and so we're down to the bare concrete.

Here is a picture of their last traps they set. If you can't see it, it is one of the trashcans with a bug box in it and  an apple inside the bug box. I asked them how they were going to catch the mouse and they thought the mouse would start eating the apple and they could close the door on the bug box and catch the mouse. lol

These are the kind of things that make teaching such so special.
Hope you have a mouse-free day!
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

 A Tough Week to be a Kid

Wow, my students live such different lives than when I was growing up. When I was growing up my mom was a stay at home mom. She was that mom that was at every party, field trip, etc... She was always there for me.

Last Friday, one of my girls came to school and told me that her mom was in jail. I asked what happened. She said that the cops caught her driving without a seat belt.(obviously that's not why).  She is lucky that she gets to live with her grandma while her mom is away.

Friday after school, my principal told me that another one of my girls had been removed from her home by DHS and was living in an emergency shelter. She came to school Monday and said that DHS keeps thinking that her mom is hitting her and her siblings, but she's not. She is now staying with her grandma. Thankfully, she said she gets to go home tomorrow.

Monday I took one of my girls and her sisters home. They live in a big, low income apartment complex. They told me they are afraid to live there. :{ When the little girl came to school the next day, she told me that her mom had woke her and her sisters up in the middle of the night. The mom told them to get dressed. They were leaving because her boyfriend had tried to choke her.

Then yesterday, one of my boys, who I thought had been sick, came in at lunch time and informed me and the class that he is living in a shelter because his mom and dad got into trouble. He kept telling me that he missed his mom. He also told me loved me about 15 times.

I've always had a lot of foster children in my class, and I have had a couple of kids removed from their home. I can say with certainty that I have never had so many disturbing events happen to my class in one year, let alone one week. It has been amazing to me that the children have adapted to their situations so easily. I don't think this is the first time for this type of thing to happen to them. :{
It is very frustrating to watch my poor children going through these situations because of decisions that their parents are making.
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Saturday, November 3, 2012

 Great News For Me and a Trip to the Zoo

I got some fantastic news yesterday! The projector for my Smartboard is getting replaced on Tuesday!!! I have been living without my Smartboard and document camera for a couple of months and it has not been fun! I didn't have an overhead projector to write use, so I have been having to write everything on the board and my dry erase board is really a piece of shower board that is getting worn out . It's almost impossible to erase anything that has been there any amount of time.

We are moving into the new wing of our building during Winter break. I thought I wasn't going to get my Smartboard back until then, so I'm really excited that I won't have to wait that long.

Speaking of the new building, it is so pretty! The color scheme is a little different than what you usually think of for a grade school. The walls are light gray in the classrooms and darker gray in the halls. There is off-white tile and the accent tiles are orange, dark purple, lime green and berry red. The shelving and cabinets will be the accent colors with dark gray counter tops. I hope my turquoise and hot pink doesn't clash too much. Once we have moved out of our current building, they are going to go in and update it, eventually I'll be moving back into that part of the building.

Our zoo trip before fall break got cancelled due to rain. We rescheduled it for Oct. 31. They are always so crazy that day, that is seemed like a good idea. The weather was absolutely gorgeous!

How do you do field trips? In the past, parents would come and I would split the kids up between the adults. Then our district started having the parents do background checks if they wanted to volunteer in the school or go on field trips. They could go on the field trip, but they couldn't take any extra students. Now they are supposed to take some sort of class too. I had two parents that were qualified as volunteers, but they weren't able to go. Three students didn't go on the trip (parent choice). Of the 19 left, one parent took her child and wandered the zoo by themselves. The other 4 adults chose to stay with the rest of the class. I also had my daughter and one of her friends with us since her class was at the zoo the same day.

This was the first time I have had to take all of the kids with me. My kids were so wild, you would have thought they had been locked in chains for the past month.  They were yelling and screaming. They were starving by 10:00, I did make them wait until 11 to eat. Now when I say wild, they weren't knocking people down or running away from the group, they were just....overly excited.  It was an exhausting day! I do think I may have an idea for next time, if I have them all with me, go to the playground and wear them out for 20 minutes, then start through the zoo.

Earlier in the month we had participated in the International Walk to School Day. The county health department gave each class something different for participating. First grade was given those little nylon backpacks. I wrote the kids' names on the back and then saved them for the trip. Each child carried his own lunch so we could stop when we wanted to and not have to go back to the front to get them. It worked out perfect! The empty backpacks fit in their pocket so I didn't have to carry anything. Here's a couple of pictures from the walk. 

It was nice, there were students, teachers, parents and members of the community. We also participate in a "Walking School Bus" once a month
Last night, Delaney and I went to Target. she had a little of money to spend. She was trying to decide between Taylor Swift's Red cd or Dorothy's ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz (Halloween clearance). I'm glad my nine year old still acts young enough to choose the ruby slippers. ; D

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

 She Really is Fabulous!!!

I just wanted to take a moment to give a shout out to DeAnne @
First Grade and Fabulous. She was one of the first bloggers to give me some encouragement when I first started out. She and I have never met, but we have several things in common:
1. We both teach first grade.
2. We both have to have the pleasure of using Treasures for reading.
3. She likes to make sweets, I love to eat them! ha
4. We both have a passion for teaching.

Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment and tell you about some terrific Halloween Centers she has on TPT. (I'll probably be using them even after Halloween...they are that good!)


These can all be found in her Spook-Tacular Centers for Halloween. Click the link below to get to her TPT store.

She also has the cutest Halloween story that follows the pattern of Brown Bear, Brown Bear. It has a color copy for you to read to the class and blackline master with 2 on a page to save ink and paper. Thank You!

The last on has all kinds of literacy activities, such as plurals, is it a statement or a question, etc...
Caught Up in Literacy Centers So sorry this is blurry, click the link to see a good copy.

Anyway, I know it is a little late in the season, but as I said I'll probably use them after Halloween. Check out her store she has lots of really great items!


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Friday, October 19, 2012

 b & d Letter Reversals Freebie

The other day in class I was talking to the kids about paying attention to make sure they are not writing their bs and ds backwards. I was trying to draw the picture of the bed with the b & d as the legs. Well, I'm not much of an artist and it wasn't turning out that great, plus I have a couple that are very low that probably couldn't spell bed.
So there I was right in the middle of something that wasn't going well. All of the sudden, I had another thought that I hoped might help. I just wrote b c d on the board and I gave the b & d an eye (profile) and a mouth. Then I told them if they have the 2 letters going the right way then b and d are looking at each other..."b can "c" d and d can "c" b. they seemed to get it. I am having them write it at the top of their spelling tests to help them out. I made a poster and it is free in my TPT store if you are interested, here is the link.

Letter Reversal Poster - b and d

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

 Scarecrows, Prairie Dogs, and a Freebie

I am now getting to enjoy my Fall Break! It actually started on Monday, but I taught intersession. I had 7 of my students. We had a good time reading pumpkin and scarecrow stories.

The focus story was the favorite "The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything". Making Learning Fun had their own version of the story for me to print for the kids. You can find it here:
 They also had a version of the "The Little Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves" that went perfectly with my scarecrow theme, here's the link. If you aren't familiar with this sight, check it out, most of it is geared towards kindergarten, but there are things on there for first grade.

They also have the finger play "Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate" to color, cut and paste. As we were working on it, I decided to have the kids each take a part to put on a little performance for the principal. So we quickly made some pumpkins to hold in front of their face and then we trimmed the 5 little pumpkin page and glued it to the back side of the pumpkin so they could read it.

I was just going to have the kids stand and do the finger play, but then as they were practicing, I had the thought to have them use their chairs as the fence. So they were on their knees holding the pumpkins up to the back of the chair. My creative daughter, who had to tag along with me to intersession, started singing the finger play to the tune of 5 little monkeys sitting in a tree, the words worked perfectly. We ended up reading the finger play with my daughter and one student as narrators and then all of them singing it. Here is a picture of the pumpkins waiting for the principal (they were hiding). lol

Here is a video of the kids singing the song, sorry, it's not very good quality. Yes there are more than 5 pumpkins, my daughter had to get in on the act. haha

Last week in Treasures we were reading "A Prairie Dog Home". I had found to use a styrofoam cup to make a hole for a groundhog to pop out of it so I decided it would also work for prairie dogs. I found a picture of some prairie dogs and then cut it down so only one with a baby was showing. I put four on a page. Here's the link for the puppet pattern.
The kids colored them , cut them out and glued them on a large tongue depressor. I then gave then a 16 oz styrofoam cup with a slit cut in the bottom. They used some green tissue paper that some pears had been wrapped in to cover the cup. Here is what it looked like.
I also had collected a couple of boxes. I turned them on their sides and cut some circles in them just a little smaller than the top of the cup. The kids took turns dropping their prairie dog burrows into the holes and they put their hand in the box opening at the back and they could raise and lower the prairie dogs. Then one of them used a fox puppet and tried to catch a prairie dog. They had a great time. This was kind of spur of the moment, I did cover the front with some green paper, next year, I'll have it ready and try to make it look a little more realistic.
I really enjoyed my first full day of Fall Break and I didn't even leave the house. I filed a bunch of papers that had been piling up into the right units. I also did some laundry doesn't that sound like fun??? Next week, we are going to Texas to see my new nephew. I hope to get caught up on grading and ahead on lesson plans....a girl can have her dreams can't she?
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