Saturday, September 29, 2012

 A Big Breakthrough!!!

This week has had its ups and downs. I'll start on a positive note with a big breakthrough.. I have a little boy in my class that is  pretty bright. I expect him to qualify as gifted, you know one of those kids who just comes up with great and unique observations. He wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up. When school first started , he was constantly falling out of his chair and disturbing the class. When it was time for journal writing, all he wanted to do was draw, his mom told me he hates to write.
The other day, he came up to show me a drawing of a snake, I gently reminded him again that he was supposed to be writing something to go with the picture. He came back with "I love snakes." I told him that was a great start, could he go back and tell me what kind of snake it was. He came back with, "My snake is a diamondback rattle snake." YES! So, I thought I see if it would work again, I asked him to go back and tell me what color it was and it;s size. It Worked!!! He came back with "The color is red. This snake can grow up to 100 feet long." Here it is:
So now, he is writing a book, I told him I would type it for him and let him draw the pictures and then I would make a copy of it for our classroom library. He said we needed to make 3 copies so he could give one to our principal.
Here is what he wrote the next day.
I wish the whole week had been like that, but one day, I'm telling you I had 5 or 6 kids that could not stay in their seat. What I mean by that is, they were falling out of their chair or turning the chair over as they fell and I'm not talking once, I mean like 4 to 5 times EACH. I was very frustrated by the end of the day so instead of journal writing, I gave all the kids a piece of paper and told them to write  a plan for their behavior for the next day. Reading them that evening certainly gave me a few chuckles.
I love this one!  "I will be good every day by listening to the teacher, not humming and not singing, but I will listen to the teacher."
And finally this one: "I will be good all day. I will not do anything wrong tomorrow."

At least they are learning a little bit from our phonics chart while they are falling out of their chairs. lol When school first started, I could not get them to write, now that is all they want to do. My principal told me when she used to teach 2nd grade, she would write back to them in their journal. I started doing it a couple of years ago, it can be a little time consuming, but it is worth it. I had some students who have never written anything in their journal taking the plunge this week. One more and I'm finished this little boy only knows a handful of sightwords, so it was exciting to see this.


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Saturday, September 22, 2012

 The Possibilities of a Skirt Hanger and some random pics

What a week! My kids had to take the DIBELS test and the first Math Benchmark all in one week. They also had their hardest spelling test to date. The good news all the kids were in "green" on DIBELS except for 2 and I feel pretty certain one of them will move on up with a little tutoring.

I'm not sure next week will be much better, although we do have an easier spelling list! We are giving the gifted test and we are also taking our first Treasures Unit (OCCT) test. I have so many issues with the unit tests. They throw things in the test that wasn't even taught. I really don't like Treasures in general. Last week, I was teaching possessive nouns, as I was making an anchor chart it hit me that they haven't even learned what a noun is!!! The workbook pages don't correlate to the test at all. I tell my principal that there is no way that the people who put our tests together could have EVER taught first grade...I'm pretty sure they don't have their own children either. And don't get me started on the order of their spelling tests....

OK, I'll get off my soapbox. I really was writing to share with you the wonderful uses for a kids skirt hanger. I started using them when I taught kindergarten. I had this thing that sort of looked like a mini chart stand. It was supposed to hold some tote bags with books in it. I re-purposed it to be a drying rack. I brought some of my daughters skirt hangers up and I would hang 2 pictures back to back on one clip and 2 back to back on the other clip of the hanger. Each hanger would have 4 pictures drying. Sorry, I don't have a picture.

Then I started using them to hang my song and poem posters I was making. I had a hook with a bunch on there and the kids would pick the one they wanted.

When I moved to first grade I wasn't using them too much. This year I got them out and started using them for my anchor charts. I would hang them from the top ledge of the chalkboard. Then yesterday, I had the idea to slide some thin wire under my highest row of tack strip and then attach it to the hanger. It's great because it isn't covering up my dry erase boards or word wall, etc...

I started off hanging anchor charts around the room this way. It's not bad, they are very easy to move around.

This shows how I attached it to the tack strip.
I love it, it doesn't cover up so much of my dry erase board!

Over the summer, I had made one of those cute Hall Pass signs. I didn't have any place to hang it except for one hook that was really too high. The other day, the hook fell off of the wall. I had a hanger with a poster on it on the end of my big teacher's easel. I just slipped the ribbon of my hall pass sign over the top of the hanger and now I've got kid friendly spot for it to hang!

My teaching partner had a cute idea that I copied. She used binder clips to hang books up as a display in her library. I loved having some books on display for the kids, but when my kids would take the book down, the clip would also disappear. Yesterday after school while I was attaching my hangers to the tack strip, it hit me that the hanger would be easier for the kids to take the books off and put them back on.
This is using the binder clips.

The hangers will be so much more user friendly, especially for 1st grade!

BTW:  I like the kids hangers better than the ones that my clothes come on. They are much more durable if they happen to fall.

I also have a few random pictures. This is the cabinet I am using for the kids to store their "just right" books. It only has 18 cubbies so I am using the magazine holders for the rest of the class.


I re-purposed my coin and straw charts for the calendar. My children aren't tested on straws, but they are tested on Base10 Blocks. So we keep track of how many days in school using the blocks. I just put a little bit of Velcro on the back of the blocks. I may take the extra blocks out of the straw holder and do the straws too. 

At the beginning of the year we read David Goes to School and made these cute No David craftivities that I got from, well as soon as I can find where I got it from, I'll give them the credit. My kids absolutely loved doing this!
We made the Chrysanthemum glyphs from DeAnne @ First Grade and Fabulous
The kids liked making them and it was an easy project for them to understand at the beginning of the year. 

Have a great weekend!

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

 On a Positive Note....

Wow, I can't believe I haven't posted in over a month. I have started to post several times, but I felt like it was such a negative post that I didn't continue. Things in general are looking better so maybe this one won't be too much of a downer.

I read Teeny Tiny Teacher's blog talking about how much she loved her class and that she didn't want to see them go. I wish I could say the same, well I do have a couple of sweeties that I would love to keep another year, but I have a few stinkers who are really upsetting the apple cart in my room.

On a positive note, these students are much farther along with their sight words than my class last year. I am embarrassed to even say this, but I retained 5 students last year (one went on to 2nd because they are testing her for special ed). One was a parent request and 2 of them were the youngest in my class and weren't ready. I thought the other student had a learning disability and then after a lot of tutoring I realized that he had missed out on all of his phonemic awareness skills.

When school first began, I felt like I was in the practice session for some kind of new percussion band. All day, it tapping fingers, crayons and pencils in their desks, on their desks. on their crayon boxes and on their chairs. I have never had a class so enthralled with having a desk.  Without thinking it through, I turned all of the desks around so they would be more like tables. I regretted it the moment I walked out of the school because I didn't have any sort of  system to store their "stuff". So the next evening I turned it all back around.

I was in need of an attitude adjustment, I was totally focusing on the negative. I got out some chart paper and told the kids I was going to make a different kind of  anchor chart and then I wrote...

Great Things About My Class
1. They don't eat the erasers off  the pencils. (only teachers can appreciate that as being great )
2. They like going over their phonics chart.
3. They are helpful.
4. They say I'm sorry.
5. They keep our room clean.
6. They like to read.
7. They put their name on their papers.
8. They help their friends.
9. They are quiet during tests.
10. They know a lot of sight words.

There were actually more, but I won't bore you. I told the kids that once I started doing it, I kept coming up with more things. It really did help me to have a better outlook. It is hanging in the class and if I start to get negative again, I'll add more to the list.

BTW Any Everyday Math users out there? Please tell me it gets better, I have trouble getting through a whole lesson.


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