Friday, June 29, 2012

Welcome Guest Blogger Susan from T.G.I.F.

Hiya everybody!

My name is Susan over at T.G.I.F. (Thank God it's First Grade!) and I was so excited when Stephanie invited me to guest blog for the day!!!

Ya know... when you're walking around.. and one student is drooling... another is nodding off in the corner.. and two others are clearly daydreamin' about who knows what 6 year olds day dream about. Recess and Phineas & Ferb?!? 

Well, I swear I am not the most BORING teacher of all time.. but even when I'm on my A-game my kiddos make it clear when their little brains need to be re-booted! So, I thought I would take some time to share my absolute favorite energizer!

Whenever my kids are looking sluggish I just casually walk over to the computer and go to this website:  It has tons and tons of theme songs to TV shows and movies.

I pick one of our theme songs and my students know exactly what to do!

Now here's the scoop:
  • Each song you choose will have a purpose. For instance, one song I chose is the James Bond theme song. When the students hear this song they immediately drop everything their doing and walk over to their {Secret Headquarters} where they meet their *Spy Partner.* Both the meeting spot and the partner will be the same EVERY TIME this song comes on. At their {Secret Headquarters} they sit criss-cross and very quietly quiz each other on how to spell word wall words. When the song is over (1 minute later) they quickly walk back to their seat and continue what they were working on before.
Sounds a bit re-donkulous, but it works like MAGIC!  The kids love every second of it.

When you are introducing this energizer the first thing you do is play the song and tell the kids to "mix-n-mingle" around the room. When the song comes to an end, they match up with the closest person to them and wherever they are standing is their new {Secret Headquarters} and that partner is their *Spy Partner* for the rest of the year. You tell them the activity you want them to do while they are there and then you practice, practice, practice!

 The first week I only introduce one song and they do this energizer about 3 times a day. Slowwwwly, you add in other songs/activities and the students are re-energized and ready to go! It is honestly my favorite little brain break and it is theirs too! It also gives you more partners to pair students up with throughout the day ("Meet up with your *Spy Partner* and answer the comprehension questions at the end of your story").

Here are some other fun songs/activities:
  • Song: James Bond, Meeting spot: {Secret Headquarters}, Partner: *Spy Partner* Activity: Quiz spelling or word wall words
  • Song: ABC3 - 3 Is The Magic Number Theme Song, Meeting spot: {The Bank}, Partner: *Accountant* Activity: Skip count by 2's, 5's, or 10's, Make 11 game with fingers, Quiz +/- facts
  • Song: Sid The Science Kid - You Look Different Theme Song, Meeting spot: {The Laboratory}, Partner: *Scientist* Activity: Act out life cycle steps of a butterfly (or bee, caterpillar, plant, etc.) without using words
  • Song: Phineas & Ferb theme song, Meeting spot: {The Stage}, Partner: *Rock star* Activity: Air guitar, disco dance moves, air drums (this one is purely fun)

    I am sure once you get on the site you could think of cute, creative ones - let me know if you do!!

    Now other times when they need to come down from their hyper-ness I always call on my go-to book: The ABCs of Yoga for Kids.
    The ABCs of Yoga for Kids
    I just turn the lights off... call on a few students to pick letters... and namaste.
    They love it and so do I.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my post and if you aren't already a follower, swing on by and see if you like what you read! I have some freebie Daily 5 Stamina posters a couple posts back for you!
    <3 Susan

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Welcome Guest Blogger Kate from Fresh & Fun First Grade

    Hello, everyone! My name is Kate and I am the author of Fresh & Fun First Grade.

     I just completed my 8th year of teaching, the 6th year in first grade. I have to honestly say that I love it more today than I did when I began. In school, I knew it was something I could do and be good at, but now it has grown into something that I truly love.

     I am so excited to be a guest blogger on Falling Into First! Stephanie is one of my favorite bloggers and I am thrilled to share a fun and easy activity that I do in my class almost every week.

     I'm sure most if not all of you have played the game "I Have, Who Has" in your class. In fact, I even have one game I've created in my TPT store already. This version is a little different though. Our reading program involves our students learning a new set of sight words AND spelling words each week. It was becoming annoying creating a new set of cards every week to review these words even when I had a version of the cards I could modify on the computer. This is when I came up with what I currently do.

     First, I printed out a bunch of playing cards and folded them in half. Then I laminated them. After, I used a Vis-a-Vis or dry erase marker to write the words the students needed for that week. This method works well, but I always found that It was still difficult to flip the cards over without smudging the ink...a massive pet peeve of mine. Then I discovered the answer:

     I know what you are cards? Yup baseball cards! These plastic sleeves are durable enough for everyday use, yet easy to load at the top. Best of all...NO MORE SMUDGES! I purchased mine at a local comic book shop, but you can get them almost anywhere. I've seen them at Wal-Mart and sporting good stores. They even sell them on Ebay from time to time. Now when we play, it's so much easier and cleaner!

     One thing I forgot to mention, I always tell my kids to start with the owls flying in the air. It's a good way for them ( and me) to quickly see if everyone is ready to start the game. You can get my cute cards to use in your classroom. There is one copy of the cards so you can save ink at home and make copies at school (that's what I always do!) I think that you will find it just as useful in your classroom as I do in mine. Just click HERE to take you to the download.I hope that you have enjoyed reading my post today. If you are not a regular follower of my blog, I would love it if you would come join me. I love to share my thoughts, ideas, and teacher made products with anyone willing to listen! Talk to you soon!

    Welcome Guest Blogger Lauren from Teacher Mom of 3

     Greetings from PA!  This is Lauren from Teacher Mom of 3! 

     I am just so very thrilled that Stephanie asked me to guest blog today, and I can't wait to meet more bloggy friends!

    At the moment, I'm knee-deep in trying to finish my reader response and reading comprehension packet for kindergartners and first graders.  As a specialist and coach, I don't have my own class and I have to be ready to roll sometimes at a moment's notice with ideas and strategies to scaffold my little cuties' reading and literacy skills.  

    Last year was the first year my school used the Treasures reading program for K-2nd grade. I loved learning the program and helping teachers to implement it in their classroom.  Now that I have a year under my belt, I'm designing this packet to align with the reading comprehension strategies that are addressed in Treasures and in our curriculum.  I'm creating graphic organizers that I can use to support the students while trying to foster independence and internalization of the process for each strategy.

    So, I have returned to these two books to review, to refresh, and to find inspiration.  One of the many things I appreciate about these authors is that their texts are steeped in rich, current research.

    Yesterday  I spent time reading by the pool (ahhh... summer!).  I guess I'm a nerd, but I had The Daily 5 in my pool bag.  I'm trying to read along with the blog book study that Live Laugh Love Everyday in Kindergarten is hosting.  I have already learned so much from the book study!

    One message that jumped out at me today was that we need to teach with a sense of urgency and instill that urgency in our students.  Ten or so years ago when I was doing my clinical work for my reading specialist certification, my professor emphasized that we must  teach with a sense of urgency and that, indeed, every minute does count and every activity must be meaningful.  When you only have thirty minutes to work with a child or small group, it is imperative that you thoughtfully plan your instruction.  I know, I know, I'm "preaching to the choir"!

    In chapter two of Daily 5, the 2 Sisters state, "... we always teach why we do things.  Creating urgency in learning establishes a culture where every moment of learning and practicing counts for students and teachers" ( p.22).

    So, it is with a sense of urgency that I am creating this packet.  I want activities that are meaningful and that scaffold and help to practice strategic reading.

    Today I am focusing on predicting. As I'm sure we all do before reading, I have students do a "picture walk" to get their brains ready to read.  When I teach older students I use the language of  "preview" or "text walk".  During a picture walk, students look at pictures of course, but also words and phrases that jump out at them.  With my four year olds and kinders, this also helps to reinforce Concepts About Print and parts of a book. They read the title, author, illustrator, and the back cover.  Inside the book they take a "walk" and think about the pictures.  Later, this is a great transition into one way to read a book:  reading the pictures, as explained in the Daily 5 book.

    After a picture walk, kids are ready to make a prediction about what they think the book will be about. I define predicting as making a smart guess.  I tell kids that they have to use their smart brains to use the clues in the story to make a guess as to what will happen in the story or what will happen next. I want predicting to be natural and not forced or mechanical.  I want students to internalize the strategy.  

    Below is a pic of how one of my first grade intervention students marked the text by making a "smart guess".

    Many kids have innate abilities to use comprehension strategies like predicting and questioning.  You see this with kids as young as two or three years old during lap reading. They will blurt out a question, or a prediction as you are reading aloud.  However, for the students I usually work with, this does not come naturally and they need explicit teaching.

    Predicting is complex.  One must take prior knowledge, the details/clues he/she notices and synthesize them together using inferencing.  One must also make connections and think ahead.  Predicting is an active reading strategy that leads to engaged readers.

    We talk and discuss a lot in my small group instruction.  I strongly believe and research supports how important oral language is in learning.  I teach these steps when predicting, whether it is before reading or during reading:

    * Think about what you know (setting, characters, title, pictures, schema/background knowledge)  These are your clues
    *Based on what you know, what are you thinking?  What will this story be about? What will happen next?  What will the solution to the problem be?  What will the character do next?  How will the story end?
    *Explain why you think this; how does what you know and your own thinking fit together?
    *Confirm your predictions.  Were you correct?

    I use anchor charts and mini-posters to help anchor the steps to students' learning.  We always talk first and even when I use a graphic organizer with the young ones, I use it as a visual.  I'll project it on my Mimio board and I'll record their ideas.  Or, I will draw pictures.  Or, we simply discuss and talk, as a natural conversation.

    When students are ready, I'll release them to start using their own graphic organizer where they can draw and write.  I'm a firm believer that those that do the most work learn the most.  So, I should not be the one doing most of the talking, drawing, or writing,  My little learners should be.

    You can grab the two predicting organizers that will be in my packet by clicking on the pictures below.  YAY!  Freebies!  The adorable borders are by:

    Graphics  From the Pond  

    Thank you, Stephanie for having me!  This was so much fun!
    Have a super-duper week!

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    WRITE This Way Giveaway Winners!!!

    Congratulations to Cecilia Bartram!! 

    You are the winner of all the products offered in my 100 Follower {WRITE} This Way Giveaway! 


    On Saturday when I got on the plane to come to NY I had 198 followers and by the time I landed there were 202 of you. 

    So, I did a second drawing to celebrate 200 Followers!

    Congratulations to Tammy Basset for being the 200 Follower Winner!!
    You will  be receiving my {Whooo's In Our Class writing and craftivity kit} and Lori's {My Writing Yearbook}

    Thanks again to everyone who entered :)

    I also want to give a BIG thank you to all the ladies who contributed their amazing products!!


    Erica Bohrers First Grade


    A Cupcake for the Teacher

    Teaching With Love and Laughter

    Guest bloggers will start tomorrow. Please be sure to show them some love :)

    Monday, June 25, 2012

    Reminder and Help Needed

    Greeting from New York!! 

    Just a reminder if you have 6 hours left to enter my 100 Follower Giveaway! If you haven't already click the button below to enter.

    Now for the HELP portion of this post. I would really like to make it where I can reply to individual comments that you leave me directly underneath as I have seen on many other blogs. So far my extensive google research on blog settings and How To's on html codes haven't worked. I found an html code that inserts a reply button next to each of your comments, but when I click it still just puts my comment on the very end of the comment trail. Does anyone know what I can do to fix this? I am going to contact my blog designer too to see if she can help but I thought I would also check with all of you!

    Finally, I'm in the process of lining up some guest bloggers for you all while I'm out of town so be on the look out!!

    I will be back tomorrow to announce the winner!! :)

    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Wowie Wow Wow!!

     Wowie Wow Wow!!! (Channeling my inner Junie B. Jones at the moment) So many of you have entered my 100 Followers Write This Way Giveaway and I couldn't be happier about all the new bloggy friends who are now following!!:)

    Yesterday I spent half of my day cleaning my house & doing laundry because I want it all done before I leave on Saturday for a two week trip to the East Coast. I'm originally from New York so I am getting to visit friends and family I haven't seen in a long time, be the maid of honor in my best friend's wedding, and spend a few days with my sister in law and nephew in Vermont.

    {I Love Summer!!}

    I spent the other half of my day at school going over lots and lots of new curriculum, with my new teaching partner, and our new principal. There is a lot of NEW happening in my teaching world this year! So I'm very grateful to have you all along for the ride to share all of the newness with.

    Are you going through any big changes next year? 

     I want to quickly share a quote I found that pretty much sums up how I feel about everyday life in 1st grade. 

    Disney gets it

    This is also kind of my mantra for this year.

     I think I am going to frame this one and hang it in my classroom.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    100 Follower Giveaway WRITE This Way!!

    Guess who did the happy dance this weekend? THIS GIRL-- because my blog  reached 100 Fabulous Followers!!

    I started my blog in May near the very end of my school year  and I have been loving every minute of it!! 

    To Celebrate I am having a 100 Follower WRITE This Way Giveaway!! Writing is the area I am personally most focused on for next year, so I contacted some of my bloggy friends and favorites to see if they would help me in creating a giveaway full of amazing writing resources for K-2 classrooms. And WOW did these girls come through!! Below you will find everything you could possibly need to teach writing this year with success and flair!

                 One lucky person will win the following...

      Rachelle's {Journals Through The Year}

                         Lyndsey's {Writers Workshop Megapack}

                 Lori's {My Writing Yearbook}

                     Erica's {Thematic File Folder Word Walls}

                   Teri's {Writing Center Starter Kit Printables}


                                     My newest TPT item-- {Whooo's In Our Class Writing & Craftivity Kit}

    Use The Rafflecopter below to enter. The giveaway ends Tuesday, June 26th.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Also, I also wanted to let you know I've added some new buttons to my sidebar.

    ::Falling Into First's Facebook Page is brand new and waiting to be LIKED::

    And a Subscribe by E-mail Option. Thanks to follower Anna for reminding me about this feature :)

    Good Luck to All Entering the Giveaway!!!

    Saturday, June 16, 2012

    Calling All Visual Learners -- Freebies!!

    I am still away on vaca so I haven't had time to create a new freebie to share. BUT,  I still wanted to share some with you in honor of International Blog Hopping Day!! So I am linking up some freebies below that first debuted on this guest blog spot in June.

     {Follow the yellow brick road back to Kreative in Kinder where you will find freebie and link ups galore!!}

    Click HERE to grab my Illustration Rubric  and How To Draw a Person freebies pictured below. Follow the link below back to my original post on Lacey's blog to read more about how I use them!

    Happy Hopping :)

    Wanna learn more about why I made these and how I plan to use them in my classroom next year? Well I've been wanting to tell you about it all week!! So I am-- over at my friend Lacey's blog {Wild About Teaching} where I'm guest blogging today!

    This is my first time being a guest blogger so I hope you will all head over and check it out- I'd love to hear what you think :)

    You will also find a new freebie waiting for you.

    wild about teaching! 

    If you don't already know Lacey then you really need to check out her awesome blog. Let her know I sent you!

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    FLASH SALE- iDad {Father's Day Craftivity}

    Father's Day is this Sunday! If you're still in school or just looking for a cute gift for your little ones to give Dad this weekend then you should check out my iDad {Father's Day Craftivity} in my TPT Shop. It's gotten a lot of really positive feedback which I so appreciate!!  And tonight only you can get it for just $1.00! This FLASH SALE is on until I wake up tomorrow morning -- happy shopping :)

     Click HERE to view this product

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    Tips to Organize Your Workspace

    Hey all!! In my last post I shared my workspace make over and as promised I am back to share some of my organizational tips that can be built into any work space. 

    Specifically, two drawer units and three trays above.

     I like using the 3 drawer containers to separate stuff into categories as apposed to tying to organize 1 large desk drawer to accommodate everything.  (I'm not thrilled with the clarity of these pictures so I apologize in advanced) The drawers are labeled from top to bottom as follows:

    Supplies: Adult scissors, staples, white out, 1 box of crayons (sometime the teacher needs to color too) and other miscellaneous supplies.

     Forms & Stickers: Bags of stickers, birthday certificates, home work passes, bus passes, etc.

     Swag: My swag drawer is my favorite drawer because it's the home for all my little personal items :)

    These are typical swag drawer contents. Candy is a must. I usually have a bag of chocolate but it's summer so I've got Starbursts instead. Delsyum and tissues are not a staple but they're still in here from my last week of school when I was all kinds of sick. I also usually keep a bag of Halls cough drops & some Tylenol in here too but I need to restock. iPhone, classroom keys, and glasses go in here daily. 

    Next there is the Take to The Office tray and the First Aid Center.

    Take to the Office: Any notes that come in that day that need to go to the office, box tops, lunch money. Then if it's all in one place and my messenger or I bring the try with all of its contents down to the office in the morning. It's also not uncommon for one of my firsties to fish something out of their backpack that they were supposed to give me in the morning when we're packing up at the end of the day. When that happens it goes right in this tray so it's ready for the following morning. 

    First Aid Center: I forgot to take a close up picture of the label but the small writing underneath the title label says *Nurse Passes * Band aids* Tooth envelopes* Anytime we send a kid to my school they have to bring a school wide pass we used filled out by the teacher so I keep them in here. I also have a sandwich baggies filled band aids.Finally, I CAN'T BELIEVE I DIDN'T TAKE A PICTURE. I keep tooth envelopes which are just the tiny manila envelopes with a tooth sticker on them. When a kid loses a tooth we just put it in the envelop, write their name on the front and put it in their take home binder.  (I will upload a picture tomorrow)The kid's know that I keep these things here which is also really helpful when they are needed and I have a sub.

    My second set of drawers is labeled as follows...

    Extended Learning - This is what our school calls our small group RTI time for literacy. Anything I am using for my lessons that week goes in this drawer.

    Data to upload- This is where I keep progress monitoring papers that needs to be filed in each student's binder. (Notice it's full...I need to get better about filing as we go)

    Meeting Notes: I keep a binder here that goes with me to every meeting that I take notes in. I also keep all handouts from meetings in here.

    And last but not least, there is my Put Away & File tray. Anything that finds it's way to my desk that needs to go back to it's "home" goes here. Usually it's lesson plans or copies that need to go back to their correct file folder or binder. Sometimes it's are supplies that need to go back in the arts and crafts shelf. This was how it looked on the last day of school though. There is a bag of extra sharpened pencils, plastic spoons, a koosh ball that we use during phonemic awareness, and chocolate syrup from the ice cream sandwich sundaes we made the last full day of school. All of these things need to be put away. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the day, I don't usually have time to put these things away. But I usually have enough time to throw them in this tray until I can get to them  so that they're not scattered all over my desk.

    So those are a few ways I organize my space. I really like the 3 drawer units because you can label them whatever you want to fit your needs. I will be back through out the summer to show you some other ways that I {{try}} and stay organized around my room. Yes, emphasis on the word {{try}} because organization is and area that I am constantly struggling to maintain!!

    This is one of my most popular blog posts from last summer so I thought I would like it up and come join Cara for the #throwbackthrusday fun!! :)