Sunday, July 31, 2011

O.R.E.O. Project

There are so many great blogs out there, and if you're like me, you have trouble keeping up with all of them.
Here is a project I plan on participating in this year.  It is the O.R.E.O. ( Our Really Exciting Online) Project. I found this thanks to:

Visit Sunny Days

Some details: is proud to present their THIRTEENTH year
of using the Oreo® cookie to extend Math, History,
Language Arts, Science, and more in your classroom!

This project is open to classrooms of any grade in any location!

Students will stack the original oreo® cookie and count
how manyoreos® they can stack before the oreos® tumble!

There will be worksheets, games, fun links, trivia, lesson ideas,
and more tobring fun & creative learning into their classroom!

This project opens for registration on September 2, 2011.
Project Dates are:
September 19 to October 7, 2011

If you would like to learn more, please visit O.R.E.O. 2011 .

FISH For Schools

Have you ever heard of the FISH Philosophy?
There are four basic principles of FISH that can be applied to every aspect of your life.  They are: 


Here is a power point I made after reading the book  few years ago.  The pictures didn't come out, but you'll get the idea!

FISH Power Point

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pet Peeves Linky Party

Alisha, over at The Bubbly Blonde, is hosting a linky party.
Here is the question: 

Here are some of mine:

1.  No name and date on the paper:
How many times do I have to tell you??!

2.  Whiny voices:
I will listen when you use your big girl/boy voice.

3.  Students breaking pencils on purpose!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bath & Body Giveaway

Head on over to


for a chance to win a gift certificate to

Back To School Giveaway

Funky First Grade Fun is having a back to school giveaway.  There will be FOUR WINNERS, so head on over and check it out!  The deadline to enter is Saturday, July 30th.

Funky First Grade Fun

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Book Whisperer Chapter 6

"Cutting The Teacher Strings"

My school is BIG on Accelerated Reader (AR)!  It is not mandatory for teachers to make the kids participate, but some teachers take grades on AR tests--which means the kids should probably take the test!  Many teachers, including me, encourage the students to take AR tests.  I always give my students the option to take AR tests on books we/they have read.  This past year, our librarian started an end of the year AR carnival. However many AR points the kids earned throughout the year, is how many tickets they get to use for different activities at the carnival.  The kids loved it!!

Here is Miller's view:  "These programs send a message to young readers that a book's value lies in how many points it is worth, and reduce comprehension to a series of low-level trivia bites gleaned from the book.  How does this sort of program prepare students for reading in the world outside of school?" 

The librarian challenges the students to read 100 books or chapters by the 100th day of school.  How do they "prove" they've read?  By filling out a reading log....of course!!  Just like AR, I do not make these mandatory, but if the kids want to go to the 100 book celebration, they've got to do it!

Here is Miller's view:  "...recorded time spent reading is no proof that students actually read much." 

"The log is a reward for students who have strong home support, but a punishment for those who don't."

"...the only way to make sure that your students are reading every day is to set aside time for it in class."

We, as teachers, need to let go of the control, and just let students READ!  Yes, we need to discuss, think critically, and write about books, but we need to let go a bit and let the kids READ!

"I want my students to learn what life readers know: reading is its own reward."

Back To School Prep

I finally got to work in my classroom yesterday...after I spent an hour talking with my new principal!  I am so excited for the new year, even with the changes that I know will happen.  The first change---Because of numbers, one of my first grade teachers will be moving up to 2nd grade. 

Here are some "before" photos of my classroom:

And now...out with the old frog curtains, and in with the new, colorful paisley ones!

I will be heading back to school today, so look for more photos soon!

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Year's Resolution Linky Party

I am so excited about this school year!  We have a new principal and I think she will bring some much needed positive energy and changes to our school.  I have some resolutions that I hope to stick to (unlike many of the diets I've tried!).  Here are some of my goals for the upcoming school year:

1.  Leave school by 5 the latest. 
I have a tendency to socialize-- which causes me to stay late because my work doesn't get done when it should!  Last year I would work 10-12 hours a day AND go in on Saturdays to work! 

2.  Keep my desk (and other areas) organized. 
I feel so flustered when I have piles of crap everywhere, so I need to file/put things away IMMEDIATELY or else throw them away!!

3.  Have FUN with my class and my grade level team! 
This seems like it should be easy to do, but last year was very stressful (did I mention we have a new principal?). 

4.  Be more positive. 
See #3.  I find that I let myself get sucked into a lot of negativity/drama that goes on around me.  I need to stop that!

5.  Implement Literacy & Math Work Stations.

I could go on, but I'll stop for now!
Want to join the linky party?  Visit the Clutter Free Classroom.


Great Giveaways


Head over to First Grade Pandamonium for a great giveaway on a book club packet!


My Photo
Precious Perks is giving away FREE PERSONALIZED ITEMS with the help of Ashley from  The Polka Dot Patch!!!!

Sight Words/Word Wall/Spelling Practice

Here are a few chants/activities we do to practice sight/word wall/spelling words.

What Teachers Make

It's "Make A Difference Monday"!

Please remember that YOU make a difference!

Check out this link:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Book Whisperer Chapter 5

Walking the Walk

Once again, the title of this chapter sums it up!

"If we want our students to read and enjoy it for the rest of their lives, then we must show them what a reading life looks like."  I've got something to confess...I like to read.  I do.   BUT I don't read as much as I would like or as much as I should.  It's not my fault--I have to blame the blog world!  I am improving though because I am currently reading three books. 1.  Made To Crave   2.  The Help    and    3.  The Book Whisperer, of course!

I love how Miller ends the chapter:   "You cannot inspire others to do what you are not inspired to do yourself."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Bubbly Blonde Needs Help!

New blogger, Alisha, over at The Bubbly Blonde, needs our help!  Her husband bet her she couldn't reach 125 followers by Friday.  She is SO close!  If she makes it, he'll buy her the new camera she's been eyeballing.  Are you willing to help her out?

Monday, July 18, 2011

School Supply List

We used to be able to decide, as a grade level, what items we wanted on our school supply list.  That was great because we knew what we needed and what we would actually use.  A few years ago, my district decided to make things "easier" by changing that.  We now have one school supply list per grade level across the district.  We asked that a few things be removed/added, but the answer was no. is the 1st grade school supply list for the upcoming school year. 

How does this compare to what you ask your students/parents to bring to school?

Make a Difference Monday

It's Make a Difference Monday!
What have you been up to? 
How have you made a difference lately?
Has someone done something that brightened your day?
Tell me about it!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grammar Police

This is hilarious!  I think I am an honorary member of the Grammar Police.  Even when I text, I use complete sentences--spelling, grammar, AND punctuation! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Book Whisperer Reader's Notebooks

Discussion Ideas:

1) Have you used Reader's Notebooks in the past? If so what did you like about it?

I'm going to be honest here.  Last year I tried (kind of....a little bit....half-heartedly), but eventually just stopped because I didn't know what the heck I was doing.  Not a good excuse I know.  I think it could have been something great IF I had kept moving forward with them.

2) If you have not used Reader's Notebooks how do you plan to incorporate them this year into your reading program?
I really don't have it all planned out, but here's what I am far.  I teach 1st grade, so I will start off slowly and do a lot of modeling.  The beginning of the year may look something like this-- After doing a read aloud, we will talk/discuss/share ideas about the book and write them on chart paper.  Eventually, after lots of practice, the kids will each have their own notebook and write on their own. 

3) How will you schedule the Reader's Notebook due dates in order to be able to effectively read and respond authentically to all your students?
As I said, I'm still trying to work things out in my head (which can be very dangerous!), but I think I will pick the notebooks up once a week.  I want the kids to know that I think what they are writing is valuable, so I want to be sure and respond to their notebook entries. 

"Readers whispering back and forth about their reading experiences-this is how reading should look."  --Donalyn Miller

Want to share your thoughts on Reader's Notebooks?  Head on over!
Thinking of Teaching

Friday, July 15, 2011

WOW! 1000 Followers Giveaway


1. First name drawn (Grand Prize): A Mix and Match Template from Ladybug Teaching Resources, INCLUDING any offered extras. What is a Mix and Match Template? It is a new type of template that offers a great deal of choice and customization. Read (actually, watch) all about it here: Mix and Match Templates

2. Next 3 names drawn: Your choice of a Premade Template, INCLUDING any offered extras. You can see all Premade Templates here (there are two new ones!): Premade Templates

That's 4 winners, 4 different prizes! 
Sign  up now!

Great Giveaway ALERT!!

Head over to First Grade Owls for a chance to win a $25 Target Gift Card (who wouldn't love THAT!) AND an item fom Dee Dee Wills' TpT Store.

First Grade O.W.L.s

And The Winner Is....ME!

How cute is this bag??

I am so excited!!  I can't believe I am the winner of the  "All in One Organizer"  from   Go Fourth With Mrs. Owens

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!


Blog Mixer Linky Party

Oh the Places You'll Go with the blogs you know! Yearn to Learn is having a seek and find Blog Mixer Linky party. Let's have some fun spotlighting each other.

In your link up, find the following:

1. A blogger who is a "New Kid on the Blog"
(Let's say someone who has blogged 2 months or less and has less than 200 followers)

2. Post a blogger in your same grade level

3. Post a blogger in a different grade level

4. It's all about the button. Find a cute blog button and post it.


1.  My New Kid Blogger is "2nd Grade Ponderings"    Check out Denise's blog at .

2.  I teach 1st grade and have found a TON of great blogs!  I will pick Swamp Frog First Grader because my class theme is the frogs too!


3.  I chose "Keep Calm and Teach On" as a blog from another grade level for two reasons.  Reason #1:  I love the blog title!  Reason #2:  Miss Sullard teaches/lives right down the road from me in the great, HOT, and DRY city of San Antonio!   Can anyone send some rain our way?  We need it BAD!!!  
Check out her blog at .

4.  There are so many cute blog buttons out here in blogland.....not that I have one--I'm still trying to figure that part out!  Here is a cute button I have found:

Little Literacy Learners

Button Giveaway

Head on over to the Sister Teachers for a chance to win one of two buttons for your blog.  I REALLY NEED ONE OF THESE, but I am willing to tell you about so I can be entered to win more than once!  Good luck (my fingers are crossed as I say that!)!!

Back To School Books Linky Party

Back to School Books-Linky Party

One of the books I use to talk about  rules is 17 Things I Am Not Allowed To Do Anymore.  We read it several times and discuss things we should not do at school, then each student writes and illustrates something they are not allowed to do at school.  Once I have all their responses, I make it into a class book that gets read over and over and over again!

Product Details

Another book the kids love is The Recess Queen.  It is about Mean Jean the Recess Queen who is a big bully on the playground...until a new student shows up. 

Product Details

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Book Whisperer Chapter 4

"Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading,
to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs,
is good for him."       Richard McKenna

How do you choose books to read?
You've heard not to judge a book by its cover, but I still do sometimes! 
When I am looking for a book to read, I look at the cover/title.  Does it look/sound interesting?  I also look at the author.  If I've read and enjoyed a book by them before, then I would be willing to try another one. 
Lately I've been asking friends what they are reading.  If they liked it enough to recommend it, then I might just give it a try! 

Have you read any good books lately?
I am hoping to borrow a copy of The Help.  I want to read the book before we see the movie next month.

One of the things Miller talked about in this chapter is that it is okay to stop reading a book if you do not enjoy it.  This is hard for me because I want to finish every book because maybe, just maybe, it will get better....if....I....just....keep....reading.  That doesn't always work!!

I wish I had known about "The Rights of the Reader" by Daniel Pennac before now.  One of the rights is "The right not to finish."  It would have saved me a lot of time and frustration.

Miller says, "My goal for all my students is for them to discover that they can be readers."  That should be the goal of every teacher, shouldn't it?  No matter what our kids come to us with, they can be readers.  Does that mean every kid will leave your room at the end of the year at or above grade level?  Of course not, but every child can be a reader!

Miller continues, "It is important to celebrate milestones with students and focus on their reading successes, not their failure to meet requirements, which only serves to discourage students."  Yes, yes, and yes!  It can be hard to do with all the focus on kids who are "below grade level", but we have to keep them motivated so they KEEP READING!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Great Giveaways!

Check out Little Literacy Learners for chances to win 2 great things:

The first is a full year membership to the Graphics Factory!

The second thing is a Hearing Individual Sounds in Words lesson pack!

You can enter until Thursday, July 14th at 10p EST.

Little Literacy Learners

Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Giveaway

Head on over to Queen of the First Grade Jungle for a giveaway! 

Three lucky winners will get one of these great books:

The deadline to enter is Monday, July 11th @ 10:00.  Good luck!

The Book Whisperer Chapter 3

"There's a Time and a Place"

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Donalyn Miller in chapter 3.

* "If I don't make time for them to read in school, why should they make time for it in their life?"

* "Time spent reading feeds more reading.  The more my students read, and grow into a community of readers, the more they want to read."

* "No single literacy activity have a more positive effect on students' comprehension, vocabulary knowledge, spelling, writing ability, and overall academic achievement than free voluntary reading."

* "Because reading has more impact on students' achievement than any other activity in school, setting time for reading must be the first activity we teachers write in our lesson plans, not the last.  It is said that we make time for what we value, and if we value reading, we must make  time for it."

* "No exercise gives more instructional bang for the buck than reading."

*  "The more time students spend reading each day, the more ingrained it becomes as a daily habit."

*  "It is important to encourage young readers when they explore options for reading anywhere they can."

To summarize this chapter..... students need to read, read, READ, READ, READ, and READ some more!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Another Giveaway!

Target and Dollar Tree Gift Card Giveaway!!!!

One winner will receive a $10 gift card to Target while the second winner will receive a $10 gift card to the Dollar Tree
This giveaway will end one week from today on Thursday, July 14 at 8:00 pm : )

Wiggins World          Head on over to Wiggins World & check out the details!

Giveaway ALERT!!

Go Fourth With Mrs. Owens

Check out this blog for a chance to win a cute bag!!

The Details:  
The winner of this giveaway will receive an All-in-One Organizer bag with your choice of pattern and personalization!  The giveaway ends on Wednesday, July 13 at midnight.

Target Treasures

I saw all the cute things that my fellow bloggers have found at Target, so I had to check it out for myself.  That was my first mistake.  My second mistake was going to Target without my son.  I was there for at least 2 hours, and he would not have lasted that long!! 

Not everything was from the $1 section, but here are just some of the things I found:


Here's a better view of the shapes you get.

Money, People/Jobs, and Traffic Signs Cards
Post It notes-- We do a lot of plus/delta charts and consensograms.
Noetpads for "Write Around the Room",  spelling (?), and who knows what else!
Back to School books
Fancy Nancy books
Nat Geo books
100 Days Chart
Counting to 100 Days tree

Now I'm off to find a job to support my teaching habit!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Top 10

Go 4th! With Mrs. Owens is hosting a linky party!  The topic is the "Top Ten Things We Should Know About You".  Here are my top ten things, in no particular order:

10. I was in flags in high school, and I was awesome!
9.  I've taught at the same school for 11 years now.
8.  I am a single parent to a wonderful 9 year old son!
7.  I have ridden in the back of a police car.  Only my closest friends know the story behind this one!
6.  I moved a lot when I was younger.  I've lived in Wisconsin, Ohio, Spain, Louisiana, Germany, and Texas.
5.  One of the things I enjoy most in life is COFFEE!
4.  I play recreational volleyball.  I'm not the best, but it's fun!
3.  It took me about 8 years to get through college.
2.  I have 2 brothers and 1 sister, and we all live within 30 minutes of each other.
1.  I have become addicted to blogs and blogging!!!

Did someone say COFFEE?

Head over to Mrs. Stamp's Kindergarten to get yourself registered for a $10 Starbucks' gift card!  The drawing will be July 7th @ 10 am, so head over there now!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Book Whisperer Student Surveys

On my campus, the students go to the library during my conference time, so I am not with them to help/guide them in choosing books.  The librarian sets the guidelines for what books can be checked out.  The younger students are only allowed to check out 1-2 books, so I usually go check out a bunch of books to keep in the classroom for them to read as well.  Most of the time I pick out books based on what we are studying in Science or Social Studies. 

But...I've never done a student survey.  I've never taken the time to really dig deep and see what my students are interested in....for the purpose of guiding them toward books anyway.  That sounds really bad when I think about it!    That will change this school year.  I will have my students complete a survey so I can do a better job of encouraging the kids to read. 

"Their needs as readers, as people, call to me from the pages of those surveys, and I whisper back with books".  Donalyn Miller (page 46)

Check out Primary Inspired to see a survey geared toward the younger kiddos.

Find another survey @ Primary Graffiti.

Primary Graffiti

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Book Whisperer Chapter 2

"Everbody is a Reader"

The title of this chapter says it all!  Everybody is a reader, but we usually throw a label on our students telling what kind of a reader they are.  And to be honest...the labels can be kind of negative, so I love the labels that Miller uses:  Developing Readers (these are the ones who struggle), Dormant Readers (ones who CAN read when they HAVE to , but don't read on their own), and Underground Readers (these are the kids that come to us as avid readers). 

Page 23 had a lot of good things that I needed to hear:

"Choosing not to read is never discussed.  It is simply not an option."  LOVE IT!

"I must believe that my students are readers--so that they can believe it."  YEP!

"Providing students with the opportunity to choose their own books to read empowers and encourages them.  It strengthens their self confidence, rewards their interests, and promotes a positive attitude toward reading by valuing the reader and giving him or her a level of control.  Readers without power to make their own choices are unmotivated."  SO TRUE!

On page 37, Miller ends the chapter with, "Students must believe that they can read and that reading is worth learning how to do well.  We have to build a community that embraces every students and provides acceptance and encouragement no matter where students are on the reading curve."