Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Free Online Library For Beginning Readers

A Free Online Library for beginning readers!! Sounds too good to be true, right? I thought so too. So I decided to check it out for myself first. And sure enough, it's the real deal. Naturally my very first thought was... "MUST blog about this!!!" 

The library can be found at www.uniteforliteracy.com

It began right in my dear ol' state of Colorado. This is a quote from their page.

"Unite for Literacy is a Colorado-based social enterprise that employs a sponsorship business model that enables books in our library to remain free to everyone, forever. We unite with partners from the public, private, and civic sectors to create picture book abundance and support families to read with their children."

I found a little over ONE HUNDRED books targeted at beginning readers. (K-1st)

Every book can be narrated, in multiple languages. After you select a title you can change the narration language by clicking "narration". I thought this was an particularly awesome feature for our English Language Learners!

I picked this book about bees because I'm just about ready to launch our Insect unit. If you click where it says English with the audio button, this page will be read aloud. This was one of the books with slightly less repetitive text.

They have Fiction and Non- Fiction titles, but I was most impressed  by their large selection of Non-Fiction texts. Finding quality Non-Fiction text at an emergent level is no simple task. But the images in these books are stunning!

These are the type of images that even my reluctant readers would find highly engaging.  This book about Deserts had much more repetitive text. One sentence per page.

To read more about Unite For Literacy, visit their website: http://about.uniteforliteracy.com/ and from there you can explore their library for yourself. This site was shared with me by another first grade teacher at my district Tech Innovator meeting today, and I was all kinds of excited to share it with you guys!!  If you know of any other sites like this one, please comment and let me know so I can add it to my tool belt!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hooray Earth Day!!

 So there are two things I've come to share with you today. The first is that I posted a new unit, Earth Day {For The Common Core Classroom} in my store last week. 

 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle crown.

 Lots of fun activities are included for each day this week!

Also, 4 different close read passages with text based evidence questions.

Two versions of each text passage are included for easy differentiation.

See complete unit preview HERE 
It will be on S.A.L.E. tomorrow in honor of Earth Day!!

Second, because it's Monday, I wanted to share a funny blogger truth.  

We do not always get the perfect picture for the blog on the first try. Sometimes we don't even get them on the 15th. Enter artifacts b, c, and below as evidence.

...Not paying attention.

 The dog is literally attacking the hat on my head.

 Um..I think my camera had one too many adult beverages before I got home.

My husband tried to help too, but it just wasn't happening.

I finally grabbed the iPhone and said, "I'M GOING WITH A SELFIE!!!"

And that's what I went with. End of Story. :)

#truelifeimateacherblogger #marriedwithoutchildrenproblems #neverimaginedidpostsomanystupidpicturesofmyselfontheinternet

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Small Moment Writing

Today we worked on small moments in writing (narratives). So I thought I'd go ahead and write a smallish blog post about it. First, let me share a small moment with you.

The Day Technology Hated Me.
Mrs. Stewart came to school the first day after Spring Break. 
 She and the other teachers were told that the internet was down and the one
 and only copy machine in the building was broken. The Promethean Board
was also not working and nobody knew why. Mrs. Stewart did not have copies 
ready and prepped because she went to Texas two days before Spring Break. For 
a minute she thought she could be in trouble! Instead she dug out some new 
crayons and  jumped right into a writing lesson!

***Before I write any further I feel the need to tell you that days like today when I forget to take my real camera, everything looks like it's been photographed in a dungeon. My room only has two teeny tiny windows. So the lack of natural light makes it hard to get good pictures without a good camera.  I digress. Just know, I wish they were better for you!!***

Whenever we're working on small moment (aka- narrative) writing, I really do like for my kids to focus on their drawing first. The goal is for them to try and recall as many details as possible. We've had many conversations over the course of the year about how details make our pictures more colorful and our writing more interesting! That's why details is written in rainbow letters on the anchor chart below. I think that helps them reference in their mind why we want to include details.

For yesterday's impromptu review of small moment writing,  I drew my own detailed picture from a small moment during my Spring Break. (I know you're asking yourself, "Why didn't you become an art teacher..?" I kid. I kid. )

I showed the class my drawing and gave them a chance to talk with an elbow buddy about the details they noticed. After that, a few of them came up to record some of the things we all "spied" in the drawing. I told them I'd be sure to include the details they were pointing out in my writing. From there I asked if anyone thought they could make up a story about what was happening in the picture based on the things we observed. A few of them gave me their best spin! Loved it!!


Then I wrote my small moment in front of them. Anytime we do a shared writing, I focus on saying out loud the things I'm thinking as I write. Things lie... "Neon Splash Dash, I know that was the name of the race, so I better write that in capitals." "We ran to music, but I think it's important to share that the music was loud. Yes, I want to add that adjective in there." I think that was the part that I struggled with the most when I first started doing shared writing. Remembering to say what I was thinking out loud.

 My class actually knew I was going to Texas to do this race because I told them about it before I left. However, they we highly amused by some of the details I shared with them. When I was done we went back and looked for a good adjective in my writing and a volunteer came up to circle it. Then we decided I could probably add another adjective or two to my writing. After reading the revised story one of them asked me, "What did you do after the race when you were all covered in paint?" Someone inferred I took a shower. Someone else insured I jumped into a river since we were outside. Ha! I told them that what I did after the race would be an excellent detail to conclude my small moment with. Then I wrote it in with a blue marker to show the revision. They were quite happy for me and my chocolate milkshake!

Before I turned them loose to do their own small moment draw and write, I showed them the OTHER story I was thinking about sharing with them. Not the detailed small moment, just a quick retell of everything I did over break. After we read this story, I asked them which one they though was more interesting. All but one kiddo agreed that it was more interesting to hear lots of details about one thing I did than no details about a bunch of things.

Then I handed out some brand new crayon boxes - kind of a big deal! And they went to work. I was REALLY hoping my students would follow my lead and put lots of details into their drawings. They did not disappoint!! The following are three first grade samples of their drawings and first sloppy copy drafts. Yes there are mis-spellings, and letter reversals, etc. They didn't get a graphic organizer, or handwriting paper because the copier was down. This is all pre-conference, pre- editing, pre anything with the teacher. For this writing assignment, I wanted their focus to be on sharing details about their small moments. Not a rundown of everything they did over Spring Break. I'd say they did just that!!

On Spring Break I went to Jax to see the baby birds. The ducks had black spots. 
The turkey had nothing. I went with my brother and sister. We got to buy candy.

Over Spring Break I went to miniature golf and I went there with my best friend Rhazel. 
We also played arcade games. At the end we bought stuff with out tickets. I got 94 tickets.

I went to the park with my parents to do a picnic. We brought drinks and food. I drank apple juice and I ate a sandwich. 
{This kiddo spoke minimal English at the beginning of the year. SO PROUD!!}

My class will continue to practice their small moment writing this month in the writing center with the Narrative prompt cards from my April Common Core Writing Galore pack. 

This is how I Kept Calm and Forget The Technology Wasn't On!!! ;)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Break Reeewind

Hey ya'll!!! It's been a hot minute since I've stopped by over here. This was my Spring Break week and it felt like the perfect time to dive into a little Five For Friday action. Especially since I got to meet our sweet host, Kacey, this week for the first time in person!! I will now hear all of her future posts in her sweet southern accent. ;)

ONE: Neon Splash Bash.
My Spring Break started off with a bang when I flew to San Antonio to spend a long weekend with these sweet gals below!!! We flew in for the Neon Splash Dash, my first 5K.  Eat, Shop, Laugh, repeat. That was our time together in a nutshell! So grateful that blogging has brought so many new friends into my life over the past two years!!

(Back Row: Alisha, Elizabeth, Me, Deedee, Kacey. Front Row: Gladys, Hope, Krystal, Deanna, Cara, Regan, Amy.)  
 A trip highlight? We got to visit and change for the race in Reagan's classroom!!! You all know what a talent this lady has for classroom decor, and it is every bit as darling in person!

A picture in her famous class library was a must!!! And I was in *love* with the way she hangs my Flash Fluency cards on a rake in her garden theme classroom. Too cute!!

Loved hanging out with these ladies!! Can't wait to see many of them again in Vegas this summer! You can see a few more pictures from over on my Instagram. (@Fallingintofirst)

TWO: Bloggers At The Apple Store
One of my very BEST friends just started her own teaching blog, Sparkles in Second!! We taught together for three years and she is a 2nd grade guru. You need to go follow her and see what she's all about! Also, I'm kind of obsessed with her new custom blog design!!! So I suggested we leave our blogs up for people's viewing pleasure in the Apple Store. ;)

THREE: Ikea & The Container Store
We also hit up two of our all time favorite stores. I might have done a little damage.
But I've got big plans for this stuff. If not this year, than next!! Haha.

FOUR: Divergent. #heartbreakhotel
I read the entire series in about 3 days. Then I saw the movie. Now I am in a slight depression that it's over. This is the story of how I read every book series to date.

FIVE: What's Coming Up?
A reader sent me the sweetest e-mail this week asking, "What coming up next?" in my little TPT shop. I hate making promises I can't keep, but I thought I'd go ahead and share that I'm *hoping* to post these three units over the next few weeks. They should carry me through the end of the year!
 So that's it. Monday I'm back in the saddle for the final stretch. 8 weeks left. Say what!?
 I will be tuning it a little more on the regular as we work our way through!!


Go join the party!! TGIF!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mini Anchor Chart Stand

I'm SO stinkin' excited to share  my Mini Anchor Chart Stand with you today!! It's something I've been meaning to blog about for awhile. The second Bright Ideas Blog Hop felt like the perfect occasion! Read on to learn more about how I use it and directions for how to build one of your own.

I was inspired to figure out how to make this stand after coming across a blog post where a home school mom shared the normal sized PVC stand she created. I already have a large easel and pocket chart stand in my room, but it got my wheels turning about how I could create a mini version to use during small group instruction. About 70% of my direct instruction takes place in a workshop model with small groups, so I wanted an easy way to integrate the charts I create on the computer.

{Side note: if you like the Photosynthesis chart on display you can find it over on this post}

It can hold as many "mini charts" as I need.
Switching from teaching about Setting to teaching about Plants is easy!!

I didn't go into Lowe's knowing which pieces I was looking for. When I got there, I just started playing with different sized pieces trying to see what would fit together. I ended up spending a grand total of $7.32! The tape and the rings were items I already had on hand but together they cost about $5.00 at Target.

Lowe's Materials
 2 - 1 x 1/2 in. Side Outlet Elbow
2- 1/2 in Adapter (Slip x Thread)
2- 1/2 in Elbow (Slip)
1 - 1/2 inch PVC pipe {Cut into three 10" pieces}

Target Materials
Scotch Expressions Tape
Binder Rings 

The PVC pipe comes about 4 feet long and cost $1.47. I needed the pipe cut but didn't want to try my luck at home, so I asked for help. The first worker I asked wasn't sure if they cut the PVC tubes but another one assured him they do. He showed him where to find this fancy plastic cutter. So if need be you can show them this picture and let them know your friend Stephanie says, they can do it!! :)

 I used the tape to cover up the print on the PVC pipes. It's not really a necessary material but it's definitely my favorite detail!! The tape went on vertically. I layered one strip next to the other. You want to leave a little space on the ends, like the picture on the right, if not they won't fit as well into the end pieces. Screw the "Adapter" into the "Side Outlet Elbow. From there, the "Elbows" and the PVC pipe all slide right into place.

The stand sits nicely on the shelf behind our small group table.

I love my stand and I think you'd love one too!! Happy Creating!


Next on the hop is Elizabeth from Seconds At The Beach! She's sharing ideas for Bathroom Break Management. You can also browse by topic using the link ups below.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Seussical Shenanigans

Hello there! I feel like it's been a little while since I've stopped by to chit-chat with you all. It's that time of year where things get a little bit busy around these parts. You're teachers, so I know you all know exactly what I mean. And if you stumble upon this post and are not a teacher, just take our word on it!! :) But tonight I wanted to swing by and share a few of the fun Seussical Shenanigans taking place in our room for Read Across America week! It's a three day week for the kiddos. Four days for teachers since Thursday is blocked out for parent teacher conferences. But it's such a fun one to be a first or second graders.

Here are some pics of what's going down!!

One of our learning targets this week centers around character traits. I wanted to add a little extra excitement to the books we were going to be reading and working with this week.

I wrapped up these three new BIG Seuss books I was adding to the library and threw some numbers on them. For each day we were in school this week we opened up a "gift" from the Doc in honor of his birthday March 2nd. I enlisted some of our favorite characters to help deliver the goods.

{My husband is thinking..."You know you're married to a teacher blogger when..."}

Next I felt I needed to get into charecter myself. I can't decide if it's impressive or not that I was able to throw together this Cat In The Hat-ish outfit using all clothing that already existed in my wardrobe with the exception of the hat. Haha!! This was my Monday ensemble. The kids informed me that I couldn't be THE cat since, well, I'm a she. But they would call me Mrs. Cat. Works for me. 

I did a little shopping at Target this weekend. (Story. of. my. life.) This trip I walked out with a stash of brand spanking new hard cover books. They were ALL on sale for $5-!! The hubs didn't even question it. Haha! And these big pens that just kinda screamed for me to buy them. I pasted on the Thing 1 and Thing two labels from some old clipart.

Click HERE to download.

I was hoping to put together a whole pack to compliment our reading ventures. But then I got sick. Strep throat sick. I promise it aint pretty. So, the pack got put on hold. I figure there is always next year! For now, here is a quick freebie you can grab right from the blog. Add it to your bag of tricks!!

Tomorrow is Pajama Day. I'm hoping I can make it in for the final hurrah. I hate missing the special days at school just as much now as I did when I was a kid!! Thanks to a guest reader from our district on Monday we got all kinds of classroom goodies. So at least I know I've got a room full of happy campers! Happy Read Across America Week!!!