Instagram Baby!

Ok, raise your hand if you love Instagram as much as I do? I've been using Instagram all year as a way to show a little more of my personality to fellow bloggers and blog followers. The pictures posted there are mostly school pics, but I do throw in some family pics and other fun things- like today's picture! I don't get the chance to check blogs while I'm at school, but I can find a few minutes to look at Instagram! A big ol' thank you to the fine ladies at Apples and ABC's and What the Teachers Wants for hosting this linky par-tay.

I'll also be joining the weekly Instagram linky! 

If you don't have a blog, but you do have an Instagram account leave your Instagram name in the comments below and I'll come check you out!! 

Fractions and a freebie

Woohoo! It's FRIDAY! Fridays are wonderful in my room! We wrap up all that we've learned for the week and we have a little five minute dance par-tay at the end of the school day. The entire first grade lines up out in our hallway and we bust a move! 

This week was state testing week. My kiddos had a sub for two days while I administered the STAAR test. For those two days they also didn't have PE, Art, or Music, and the second day we had nasty weather so they had no recess. Needless to say, yesterday they were cray-cray. {dramatic pause} CRAY-CRAY! 

Well, we need to have a little fun and do something different so I'm trying my first ever scoot activity! How does it work? You put a card on each desk and spread the kids out. Students record their answers on the same number that is on their card. Ex: if a students has card 6 they record their answer on line #6. Students stay in their spot until you say "SCOOT!" Then they all move over one desk. We will be practicing the scoot part several times before we do the actual activity.

We've been learning about fractions for a little over a week so it was time for a new fraction activity anyway! If you decide to grab a copy I would love you to leave a comment, or for you to follow me on FB or Twitter!
Click on the picture to grab your copy
I had also pinned this super cute fraction activity from Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten! Go on and grab it and show her some love too!

Tell Me Something Good

If ever there was a time we needed to focus on good things it would be now. Last week was filled with so much sadness with the Boston Marathon bombing and the horrible explosion in West, Texas. I cannot understand such hatred. I don't understand how people can be purposefully cruel. But watching the video replays you see so many people running toward the explosion to help. There are so many radio announcements for ways to help West here in Austin. Farley posted about this shirt and my entire team and I purchased one. 100% of the proceeds go to the West, Texas Victim Relief Fund.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those in Boston and West. {Insert big puffy heart here}

I must admit I feel a little selfish being in my own personal funk last week and having a daily pity party over trivial things. (I was upset about my brand new washing machine leaking all over the floor, some electrical issues that caused all of the light bulbs to burn out in my new dining room light within about five minutes, and the fact that I have no idea where one of my favorite shirts is. ) Today I hope you'll link up with me and focus on all the good. 


Tell me at least one good thing from home and one good thing at school.

At Home:

I have multiple good things: A friend's three year old was in the hospital, but thankfully has been released and is doing very well!

I have a girls trip coming up this weekend. I need some time with my best girl friends! 

I really WILL have my own space for a desk in this house! Wahoo! And I really WILL make sure it has glitter paint! (Yes, really.) We have a funky closet upstairs and I loved the idea of putting a desk inside! I got that idea via Pinterest, of course.

At School:

My class is full of kids with the biggest hearts. We got a new student just two weeks ago. She is very shy, but my kids jumped right in and made her feel welcome. But last week she wasn't able to come to school because she broke her arm so badly. Unfortunately it's her writing hand that is in a cast. I was worried about how we would get things done and how I could make sure she was still able to do work and worries are gone because as soon as she walked in this morning another student stopped unpacking her own backpack to help our new student. As soon as she was seated a sweet boy from my class pulled his chair up next to hers to help her with her morning work. "You tell me what answer you want me to write, ok?" I did not ask my kids to do this. They are just THAT sweet and kind. All the time. I'm so blessed to have this group of students in my life! 

That whole incident this morning reminded me that there is more good than bad. People really are kind and have good hearts! 

I would love for you all to link up!

What Works Wednesday on Saturday

I'm linking up with my friend Gina in her What Works Wednesday linky party....a few days late. Today I'm going to share how I gather my level library books for my small groups without it taking up my entire planning period. 

At my school our leveled library is located in a room attached to the library. (*I'm thankful for all of the volunteers that help keep it tidy and organized!*) I used to take my list of group levels and write down each set of books that I picked up. Then I would haul my books back to my room and sort them out into groups. It really took my whole planning period. I knew there had to be a more efficient way to do things. After I thought about it I felt so foolish. Why was I making it so difficult for myself?! 

Here's what I do now:

My groups are leveled by color. I purchase the giant set of Post Its at the beginning of the school year from Costco and use them for everything! When I go to the leveled library I grab my sets of books for each group and stick a Post It on it for that group. I call my students up by their group color and write down the title of their book onto the Post It as I pass them out. I stick all of the Post Its inside one of my cupboards. If a book winds up on the floor I can easily look and see which group it came from. 

When it's time to pick up the books and return them to the leveled library I set the Post Its out on desks and students place their book in a stack. We put a rubber band around our books and put them back in our tub. The kids love that they can help out, and I love that my entire planning period isn't spent on gathering and sorting books. Be sure to check out the other blogs that have linked up what works for them! Have a great Saturday!

Peace, Love, and Wumbers?

No, that wasn't a typo. Wumbers is a real thing! At our last Scholastic Book Fair I saw this completely awesome book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I w8ed to buy the book and they were all sold by the time I went to buy it. {Sad face} Thank goodness for Amazon because y'all know how I just can't say no to a good book!

This book uses a combination of words and numbers to create wumbers! So clever! I did some digging into this book and there is a great teachers guide and some examples of illustrations from the story on the Wumblers Tumblr page. There is an adorable trailer for this book too.

Tomorrow is our Friday due to PD and it looks like we may get some serious rain all day so I'm planning on having my kids cr8 their own wumbers.

I have a couple of ideas for my kiddos. I want my students to cre8 a little cartoon with a speech bubble just like in the story that uses wumbers. I also thought I would allow them to cr8 wumbers to place around my bulletin board. This will be a challenge for some of my kids, but I love to encourage that higher level thinking. It's going to be 1derful!

For your kids that get stumped I have compiled a list of possible wumbers and added it to the freebie below. 

Click the picture below to snag your copy of the wumbers page.

There was a contest (that is long over) that asked students to come up with their own captions. You can still download the picture to use in your own class here.

*If you like this activity you make like this post with a class book activity based on the book 1+1=5 by David LaRochelle- it's one of my favorite books!

A Year Without a Prize Box

Over the past few years it has seemed to me that all my students want prizes for everything from  bringing back their homework to being the first student done with an activity. I, like many of my co-workers, gave prizes for good behavior when students filled up a behavior chart. I gave prizes when my students were well behaved for a sub too. I gave prizes for tidy desks. I gave prizes for students that were responsible about bringing back their homework. The list goes on...

I spent lots of money at the dollar store and the Target dollar section trying to buy prizes that my boys would like, and prizes that my girls would like. Parents were kind and sent in some prizes too. 

I just had one question: Why was I rewarding my kids for behavior that was an EXPECTATION? I realize our kids are far from being in the real world. But in the real world we don't get prizes for getting to work on time or remembering to shut down our computers. What message was I sending to my students by giving them prizes all of the time?

I made the decision about this time last year that I would have a year without a prize box. 
It has been my best year of teaching yet!

I knew if I started the year with no prize box then my students wouldn't be expecting prizes. I also knew that I had to get the parents on board too. At the beginning of the year when we had an open house/meet the teacher presentation I explained myself to my parents. I told my parents that

1) The pace of first grade is different from that of kindergarten. I also explained that there is a lot of information packed into each quarter. I passed out our nine weeks skills list and heard gasps among the parents. There was a lot to be learned in just nine weeks. 

2) I explained my thoughts on the prize box and how I didn't want to reward my class for behavior that was an expectation. I told my parents that I would reward the class for trying their best, working hard, getting along when there is a conflict, etc. But I would not use happy meal toys as my reward. 
My parents nodded their heads in agreement. 

3) I asked my parents to help their children be responsible because, I believe, first grade is a grade where good study habits and responsible behavior is learned. They cannot do it all on their own at first, but we can guide them. I begged, "Please don't pack your child's backpack. Remind them to pack up their backpack and ask them what is supposed to be in it. They will know my expectations because I make them very clear. Let's give them the chance to learn to be responsible." I gave similar instructions when it came to homework, returning library books, and brining a snack to school. Again, my parents nodded their heads in agreement.

*I have to say this is the very best group of parents I have ever had. They want their children to succeed. They recognize that their child is not just like the child that sits in the seat next to them. They get excited about their successes and encourage their children to do their best. They focus on their child's growth as a first grader, and not on whether they are a straight A student. They hold their children accountable for their actions and they support me 100%.  Best group of parents EVER!*


I talk often in my classroom about how we are a team. We are almost like a family. We may not always get along (some days we may not even like each other), but we can be more successful if we work together. I encourage them to help others, to pitch in, to help take care of our classroom. When a student is absent I don't even have to ask for a volunteer to do their class job. Someone just offers to do it. If a student is sick the other students at their table organize their desk and are ready to explain assignments to them as soon as they return. When a student is proud of themselves for hard work other students high-five and are just as proud. 

I tell my students daily to be leaders. How can we be leaders? By being a good example in the hallways, in our classroom, at assemblies. They just love that they can be a leader for older students. I have no worries when I have a substitute. (It helps that I tell my students whenever possible that I'm going to be gone.) But they behave the same way with a substitute that they do with me. They behave responsibly because I expect it. 

All of this happens without prizes.
Does that mean I NEVER reward them? Of course not! I reward with activities like read-a-thons, art projects, books from my "secret teacher stash," or five minute dance parties.  Before Easter we did an activity from my For My Peeps pack and students made their own jellybean flavor. They had such a ball. They want to make a second flavor. I'll bring that out when they least expect it. They haven't missed toys. They haven't missed getting funky pencil sharpeners or plastic slinkys. NOT having a prize box has given us the opportunity to focus on what truly is important in the classroom. Instead of a prize I tell them how proud I am or how I appreciate their hard work. I write notes on my fancy stationery and notes on Post-Its- "I was really impressed with your reading today! Great job!"  That means more to them than a happy meal toy. Just think about it- when your boss compliments you doesn't it just make your day?

I'm certain I will never go back to the prize box- I've had too much success without it!

Holy Cow! A Moolah unit

Let's talk about moolah. Before teaching my class anything about money I ask my students to raise their hand if they've ever held coins. Last year every hand shot straight up. We flew through money and moved on to our next unit. This year...a few hands and crickets. {chirp, chirp} How can this be? Is it because so many of us rely on our debit and credit cards to pay for things? Do kids not have piggy banks for allowance?

So as we started learning about money a handful of students that were familiar with coins caught on quickly. In Texas first graders are only expected to be able to recognize coins, know the value of each coin, and be able to count pennies by twos, nickels by fives, and dimes by tens. They aren't expected to count groups of different coins until second grade. I took at look at the CCSS and coins aren't hit hard until second grade. (2.MD.C.8) 

In order to differentiate and keep my higher kids challenged I began teaching them how to add different coins together. They LOVED it!  Meanwhile, I still had several students struggling with identifying coins. So last weekend I went back to my money unit and started revamping the entire thing! I added many more activities for coin recognition, multiple activities for adding coins, and a few items for math stations! I'm so proud of how it turned out-41 pages of AWESOME!

(Y'all will have to forgive some of the collages. I've been playing around with Picasa and sometimes it's maddening. I know what I want to do but can't figure out how to make it happen!)

I have multiple activities for coin recognition. I made sure I included images of the front and the back of the coins. 

Mystery Coins math station! Each card in this center activity gives a clue about how a coin looks, its size in relationship to other coins, and its value. I know one of my students in particular will really enjoy this one.

I have lots of activities for the value of multiple coins. Some are easy and hit those first grade TEKS, and some are challenging and really make your kiddos think. There are also math journal prompts that work well during the weeks that you teach money or as an end of the year review.

Click on the picture above to add it to your TPT wish list. 

I want to give a few of the MOOLAH units away so we'll do a little Pin it to Win It!

Pin the above picture then leave the link to your pin in the comment section below. I'll pick three winners and announce the winners tomorrow!

TBA birthday bash!

Teaching Blog Addict is turning 2 years old! I can't believe it's been two years since I was given the opportunity to become an author on TBA. I've learned so much from my friends there and used so many of their ideas in my own classroom. It's truly been a blessing!

On Friday there will be TONS, seriously, TONS of wonderful freebies from TBA authors available to YOU! 

Be sure to take a minute to look around too. There are lots of wonderful posts on technology, other freebies, giveaways, grade level blogs, and more! I've cleared out space on my desktop and I'm praying I don't run out of space on Dropbox Friday afternoon! 


Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!

Here in Texas today was the first day of STAAR testing. That's the state test here in Texas. Every year I read Hooray for Diffendoofer Day to my students on the first day of testing! When I taught fourth grade I read it the day before the test. It's a Seuss book with a little help from a couple of other famous authors!

The whole story is about the students of Diffendoofer school (it's diffendooferous) who have to take a test. If they don't pass they have to go to dreary Flobbertown! 

"All the schools for miles and miles around
Must take a special test,
To see who's learning such and such-
To see which school's the best.
If our small school does not do well,
Then it will be torn down,
And you will have to go to school
In dreary Flobbertown."

{sounds familiar, doesn't it?}

In the end the kids pass the test with flying colors because they really knew everything! Their teachers had taught them everything they needed to know!

It has a positive message and for my first graders they were smiling and started talking to each other about how they knew their older brothers and sisters were going to do so well on the test!