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!!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Resources That Keep Me Afloat

"Just keep swimming...just keep swimming..." There is something about February that really knows how to rock a teacher's world. Or really, it's a combination of somethings. I mean state testing, benchmark testing, parent teacher conferences..the list goes on an on.

I'm Teaming up with the Owl-Ways Be Inspired gals to show you some of the resources I grab for week after week. The ones that help keep my head above water. Why are we talking about this today? You may have heard the word on the street...and I'm happy to confirm the rumors are TRUE!! TPT is 3 MILLION teachers STRONG!!!! And naturally, celebrating the milestone with a huge site wide sale!! Which means, now is the time to stock up on everything you need to help make your teaching life feel a little more smooth sailing til May! ;)

My Common Core Writing Galore packs pretty much save my butt every month when it comes to keeping things happy and engaging at the writing center.

{I recently bundled them here but I also have each individual month}

The last time I took action shots of these was December. So keepin' it real, those are the ones I'm going to share. Each card addresses a required C.C.S. Writing Types for 1st-3rd.

 I keep all of the cards in this basket. When my kids are at the writing center they pick a prompt they like and haven't worked on yet and write about it in their journal. There are 24 prompts in each pack.

 I love that I can set them out at the start of the month and know that my writing center is taken care of for the whole month. Also, I like that I can guide my kids to practicing the type of writing they need to learn to do, but still give them choice about what they're writing.

These two are also FAVES of mine for this upcoming Spring!

{Science Units: Plants, Weather, and Matter}

{Spring Flash Fluency}

The next items on my list comes from my uber talented friend 

Tracy always puts the most creative spin on everything she makes! She created this genius thing, otherwise known as Buddy Binders. I started using them after Christmas Break and found them perfect for early finishers. I snapped a few shots of how I've set this one up.


I house each game inside one of these laminated manila folders. The smaller tub inside holds all the materials needed for the games. When my kids finish their work a little early OR they get done with their "must do centers" during stations, they can pick a game to play from the tub. If it's an independent work time, they know they need to pick a game to play by themselves.

{This gal took this to the carpet to work on after she finished her morning work.}

During station time, they can buddy up! 

{These two "buddied" but still wanted their own boards, haha!}

It's such easy prep on my end because they're used again and again. At the end of the week I give one of my kids the very special job of washing all our boards with the *Magic Sponge Eraser* which helps with some of the marker build up on the laminated pages. 

Also, here is a quick Instagram of us reading Tracy's Thanksgiving e-book. She includes an audio with her voice in all of her holiday e-books. The look on my kid's faces when I told them I knew the author was priceless. Keep an eye out, I hear she has an Earth Day book in the works!


 My sweet friend Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle


 I started using these Busy Teacher packs last year when Katie was still teaching first grade. Luckily, she continued to make them for second. They make perfect follow up activities, homework, and sub plans! I dug through the archives to find some "action shots".

Small Group Instruction: Working on a skill together at the teacher table.

Sub Plans: When I blogged about my Sub Tub, a BT reading response was in the mix.

 Whew. Lots of pictures. I hope they helped show how these items. If you made it to the end, I want to give you a chance to win an item of your choice from my store! Leave a comment telling me a resource you'd love to have from my store! I'll randomly pick and announce a winner on Friday. Don't worry if you want to snag that item while it's on SALE Thursday-- you just get to pick something else!  

My entire store will be 20% this Thursday & Friday for the big sale!

More stores are linked up on Blog Hoppin