Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tag! You're It!

Barb at It’s About Time For Teachers and SweetP at Sweet P’sClass Notes tagged me to play Blog Recess! Sounds like fun! Rather than answer 20 questions (that’s another game, folks!), I decided to answer 10 questions – a combination of each of their questions. So here goes…

1.      What would you be doing if you weren’t teaching?
     Most likely, I’d be a photographer. I did that before I became a teacher and enjoyed it – I had a good ‘eye’ too. However, there’s nothing like teaching!
2.      What enrichment classes are available at your school?
     We rotate each trimester between P.E., Music, and Art. Every trimester someone new comes in and our kids get a “taste” of enrichment classes.
3.      How many students do you have?
     I have 25 students this year.
4.      Do you have an assistant?
    No! Never have, and likely, never will. California (where I teach) barely has a budget to pay TEACHERS, let alone an aide.
5.      What is the most useful staff development you’ve taken?
    Without a doubt, it’s the Thinking Map Training. We’re in year 2 and I just love it.
6.      What is the one thing you won’t eat – ever?
  Liver – I can’t stand it – I can’t even stand the smell. Oatmeal runs a close second, though. I’m a picky eater…
7.      Do you still have a landline?
     Yes –I have a cell phone, but I barely use it. (Isn’t that just awful?)
8.      What is the location of your best vacation ever?
    Hawaii was so beautiful! I’d love to go back there someday.
9.      Have you taught more or less than 20 years? How long have you been at your school?
    I’ve taught 26 years, all at the same school, mostly in First Grade, with some kindergarten, second grade, and lots of combination classes (k-1 and 1-2).
1.   How old is your car?
                         I have a 2 year old Camaro that is my pride and joy. Probably a mid-life crisis…ha ha!

So here are my questions. The rules are answer the 10 questions. Tag 10 people and come up with 10 new questions to ask them.  Tag!

1.      What book are you reading right now?
2.      Do you have a Kindle or Nook or do you still read “real” books?
3.      What t.v. shows do you just “have” to watch every week?
4.      What part of the country do you live in?
5.      Do you garden – or are you a Plant Killer?
6.      What is your favorite forbidden treat?
7.      What is your favorite color?
8.      Are you a cake person or a frosting person?
9.      Do you like to cook or would you prefer eating out?
10.   Do you have a school webpage in addition to your blog?

I’ve tagged:
1.      Finally in First
4.      The Bubbly Blonde
6.      The Science Diva
8.      First Grade Garden

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Task Cards

Do you use task cards in the classroom? I discovered them last year when I taught a combination class – they were invaluable! This year, teaching a straight first grade class, they STILL are invaluable. They really differentiate the curriculum in a huge way and it also offers the benefit of collaborative learning. My children were thrilled when I added a recording sheet to my task cards. They all write the name of the set they’re working on at the top and then they go to it. Card # 1’s answer is written in box 1, etc.

I’ve found a LOT of task cards on the internet but I’ve also designed some of my own to help my children learn or improve on a specific concept. For example, we’re (still) working hard on ten more/ten less/one more/ one less – I designed some cards and they’re a huge hit! (Nothing fancy – no cute graphics but BOY, do they love them!)

The best thing is, they all ASK if they can do task cards “when they’re finished” with their work or centers! I love it! I’m so pleased, because when we first started the year, it was like pulling teeth to get them to expand their learning beyond just the basics – this is a huge step! In fact, one of my kiddos found a set on less than-greater than and he went through the entire set! He is one of my low readers, and some of the cards required reading the words “less than” and “greater than”. He came up to me and said, “I know what this says!” Success!

We’ve been working hard on ten frames. I created a very small set (only 6 cards) on ten frame addition. I’m uploading with the hope that, as always, you’ll find them helpful. You’re actually getting these before my kiddos are: I’m taking them to my class tomorrow! Please let me know if they work for you! (Click on the link below the image. This is the first time I've figured out how to use Google Docs so I hope it's right!) 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Look! No Hands!

Oh, my gosh, I am STILL laughing! I have this little girl in my class who is majorly ADHD and has a huge personality to match her energy. She’s on medication, but honestly, it doesn’t make much of a difference at all. However, she’s a sweet little girl and I adore her – even though some days I feel like I’m pulling her down from the ceiling (kind of like a helium balloon!)

So, today, the children earned an extra recess. I’m using Kristen’s Angry Birds incentive and BOY! Does it work with this group! They earned this extra recess in less than a week – which got me thinking, “Hmmm….so you CAN do it if you choose!” Anyways, my girlfriend from the above paragraph was just BESIDE herself with glee at the prospect of another recess.

She came running up to me on the playground, grabbed my hands, and panted, “I just HAVE to show you something that I JUST DISCOVERED!”  I go with her, somewhat concerned, because our school has been known to have the occasional wildlife – like skunks – and with my little friend, she’d as like to go grab one and try to corner it!

OH, NO! She throws herself onto her head and does a headstand, her little legs pumping as hard as she can to keep upright. I applaud and she says, “Wait! There’s MORE!” She takes her hands down from the ground, extends them in the air and now, all four limbs are gyrating like a windmill and she’s giggling. She says to me delightedly, “Look, Mrs. M! No Hands!” The whole schoolyard just burst into laughter, enjoying her! Call her Helicopter Kid!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


It's time for Farley's April Currently! Hard to believe it's April already! Where's the time going? 
Thanks to everyone who gave me good advice on how to turn this into a picture file! It worked! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Exciting News!

Dear friends, I’m so excited! Our school was just told that we won the California Distinguished School award for academic excellence! This is quite an honor and we’re all thrilled!

I wish I could tell you that this award means we’ll get extra money for our school, but no – it’s just an award! However, we’ll get a cool flag to fly at our school and we can paint a graphic that tells everyone we’re a California Distinguished School. Seriously, we all worked hard – both the teachers and our families- so it’s a nice acknowledgement, especially because it seems like teachers are being ill-treated all over our country.   

Friday we present our Children’s Literature Festival presentation to our parents and the school at Flag Ceremony. They were unable to come to the Literature Festival and everyone wants to see it so – Take Two! We also have an Easter Egg Hunt just before that and a party to NOT celebrate Easter. I’m hoping (fingers crossed everyone!) that my kiddos can keep it together after the party in order to do the presentation. It should be an interesting afternoon…. Wish us luck! 

Also, be sure to stop by Finally in First! Jenn is having a 5 days - 5 giveaways to celebrate her (almost) spring break! :)