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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crazy Week and Polarrific Day!

Well..... Can you tell I went back to work last Tuesday? After my five week break it was hard to wake up early. No more 3:00 am bed time for me. I was eager to see the kids, but not ready to say good bye to my beauty sleep.
The kids came back looking bigger, excited to see me (I think), and ready for round 3. 
Quarter three here we come!

Friday was crazy. We had some ugly frozen rain coming down, school dismissed 3 hours earlier. My front steps were perfect for ice skating.
Monday we did the same thing, but instead, we had a 3 hour delay. This time there was no ugly weather...we just like to go to school late :) A lock down drill in the middle of lunch (that was fun), and a long staff meeting at the end of the day. Can you say loooong day?

After creating the NonFiction Polar Bear Folders, I wanted to share with my kids more about these amazing animals. 

The question will I share all I read and learned about polar bears? 
So I came up with plan A, B and C, and we ended up doing this:

You can find it here
We used it in 4 different ways:
- Groups of 2-4 working together, reading the cards with the shortest sentences and creating a book with facts (half sheet).
- Groups of  2-4 working together. They got to read the longer sentences and created the bigger book version of facts.
- A group of 4 boys collected books from the library and gathered facts for their A-Z Polarrific fact book.
- All the materials are in a container and ready to be used during our daily five rotation called Read to Learn.

We finished them today. It was Pollarrific!

It is your turn to get a free copy. I have included 44 facts about Polar Bears in this product. I will send this product to two people who leave a comment including a Polarrific Fact about Polar Bears. I will let my students pick the two most interesting ones. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winner and D.C. Picture Overload

Back to business friends.

Our trip to D.C. was a grand success. The kids really enjoyed every minute of it. 318 pictures to prove it :) The drive was super easy. The kids were not so good on the way up...too tired from school.

We came back and I got sick. Fever, chills, fever, chills, repeat that for two whole days. I got out of bed to take a shower and finally to visit the doctor.

Went back to work today...three workdays. The kids return Tuesday and I cannot wait to see them. Really.

13 amazing products are coming to...
Katie, I will contact you in a few!  Congrats and thank you for celebrating with all of us!
I am so sorry for being late. 

Ready for pictures?

When you are married to a spent HOURS in a museum full of flight stuff. 

We are hoping to return soon and see more! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Product Swap with Second Grade Nest


I have to admit I was pretty jealous the last two times I had read bloggers where swapping products and learning about other amazing products out there.

Lucky me this time I got to 'meet' and use a product from Jessica @ Second Grade Nest
Two of my best mentors came from River Ridge Elementary (which is where I student taught). Jessica lives right down the street from my school. Small world, ha?
Second Grade Nest
I have to admit, it was very hard to decide which product to pick, but the one thing that helped me out was the Fun Friday idea. I do have Fun Friday every Friday afternoon for all my kiddos who complete their work. It is only a half an hour, but I promise you, they know Friday is coming and suddenly everything gets done. It works!

I got to use Jessica's Literacy Fun Friday. We have board games and other 'free' choices for Fun Friday, but this time, I used Jessica's product to check it out.

There are 12 books to choose from. Each book has an art project along with a piece of writing to complete.
You read the book, reflect, and do some art. Nice, ha?

I chose three to show you the awesomeness of having a productive Fun Friday :)

I divided the class into three groups. They read the corresponding book and created these...

Don't Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Where the Wild Things Are

So...if you need something productive for your Fun Fridays, you know where to go :)

Thanks Jessica!  I loved checking this out.

My product will be on sale for the weekend :)  You have to check out Jessica's blog to see what she has to say.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

On our way to D.C. and Giveaway Reminder

It is almost Friday!!!!  I bet you guys are happy to know Friday is just around the corner.

We contemplated going skiing once again. Instead we will be going here:
We are waiting for the kids to come home from school and begin driving. From what I read it is about a 4.5 hour drive from where we live.
I have not been to D.C. since 1995. I remember not understanding a thing back then!
This time I will get to read, teach my kids, and take a ton of pictures. My camera is packed and charged. The kids suitcases are almost ready- waiting on some undies :)

Please remember to enter here for the giveaway that ends on Sunday the 13th.

Let the fun begin!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Polar Folders...Nonfiction Text Features

Happy Monday friends! I know many of you went back to work today. I bet your kiddos were happy to see you.

My own two also returned to school. My real vacation begins today!  I have a week and a half left and needless to say I am looking forward to working on my long to-do list. Hubby is home for a few days (hallelujah!) so I get to spend time with him and have him watch the kids while I do some fun things.

School related...

Before we left for winter break we worked on creating our Polar Folders.
It was time to learn about Text Features and I wanted to make something they could refer back to at any given time in an easy way. I want it accessible. It is easier to open a file folder, than trying to search inside a composition notebook.
I taught 13 text features. One a day. We learned a definition of the text feature, but more importantly, we talked about what we learned from each text feature. I wanted them not to ignore them! They do have so much to tell.
The kids picked their own nonfiction book, based on interest and reading level.
I taught a text feature. Students looked for that text feature in their book and using the booklet sheets they recorded what they learned from the text feature of the day (no pictures). It was so nice to see them make the connection between the text feature and their actual learning.
I created THIS for our Polar Folders. Text Features are something I will review once we get back, but the Polar Bear Edition was well received :)

I hope you love it!  All you need are file folders and THIS :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

From Homework to Homefun!

Hi! This is Dana from Fun in 1st Grade.  I am a guest blogger today for Tania.  I am so glad you stopped by-maybe you found it through the blog hop- there are guest bloggers ALL over the place today! 

If you aren’t familiar with my blog, let me start by telling you a little about myself.  I have been teaching for 11 years and blogging for less than one.  I teach 1st grade, but have taught everything from Pre-K through 2nd.  I am a HUGE fan of Whole Brain Teaching  and that’s what I want to talk to you about today. 

Whole Brain Teaching is just amazing.  It has changed my classroom for the good and I will never give it up.  I have written several posts about it {HERE}, so if you want more information, please check it out.  Now, as the title states, I am going to help you with the huge headache we call homework.  My daughter’s school calls it homefun… I have never seen a child have fun doing homework, until I started using the homework model from Whole Brain Teaching!  Seriously.  I’m not kidding.  My kids rush in the door every day to tell me about their homework experience the night before.  It’s pretty amazing to see and it makes my heart happy to hear them excited to work on skills at home. 

My team and I were tired of making all the extra copies that homework creates and we were also looking for a way to cut down on grading so. many. papers!  -Less grading, now I’ve got your attention, don’t I?!  Ok,  ok, I have built it up enough? Are you ready to hear all the juicy little WBT secrets? Ha!

WBT calls it the Universal Homework Model.  I call it Star Homework.  The beauty of WBT is that you can customize it to fit your needs and your classroom.  I first read about Star Homework over on Third Grade Thoughts.  This method allows the students to choose what they do for homework.  We all know students take more pride in their work when they have ownership- well this allows that.  Each night, our students can choose to practice math, vocabulary words, or spelling words.  For each task they complete, they earn a star for the class.  They can do 1, 2, or all 3 activities.  In addition to these tasks, we require 10 minutes of reading.  Students do not earn a star for reading, because, as I said, it’s required.  You can set the tasks to be anything you want.  If the majority of your students don’t have internet access, that’s ok, get creative.  Check out the WBT website for ideas!  The form below says for math practice.  This is a free website!  You just have to go in and set up your class.  Maybe you do IXL,  that works!  For spelling practice, our students can go to or practice their words aloud with someone.
Here is a look at what we use. As you can see, the parent circled and initialed the tasks that were completed.

Stephanie at 3rd Grade Thoughts was kind enough to post an editable version of this form, so all the thanks go to her!  Click {HERE} to go to her forms.
We also graph the number of stars throughout the week and on Friday, based on how many stars the class as a whole has earned, they receive some type of treat or special activity- whatever you choose!  WBT has many suggestions, including a great review game called Mind Soccer
 Here is a look at one of our weeks.

I have 225 boxes in my graph.  If every child does all 3 tasks EVERY night, they would all be colored.  Of course, that is not going to happen, but that’s ok!  We always talk about how it compared to the week before, if we went up or down.
I have only received positive comments from my parents about this method.  If you are getting tired of your current homework routine, I encourage you to give this a try! 


SOS... Giveaway Issue = Embarrasement

I decided to check the rafflecopter widget since I JUST noticed it is only showing one of the options I posted. After some hair pulling I was able to fix it.

Would you mind going back here and checking to see if you can earn some extra entries? 

I have learned to type once, check twice and triple check the rafflecopter before posting. I am so embarrassed right now. Please forgive me for being so technology incompetent.  

I smell a new giveaway soon to make it up to you :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

One Sharp Winner and a Time Capsule (Freebie)

Thanks to all of you who entered my Sharp Pencil Giveaway.  Visit Classroom Friendly Supplies and show Troy some love by purchasing a red, black, green or blue sharpener.  You will love it!

Jaime P. gets to take one home :) 

I made a  Time Capsule recording sheet for my students. I will be using it once we go back to school on January 22. Don't hate me. You get long summers. I get 3 weeks off.

Maybe you can use it and love it? I'd love a comment :) 
 Download here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Celebrating 2013 Giveaway

I know you will forgive me for posting twice. I had to post about this giveaway.

These amazing ladies agreed to share one of their products with you. I hope you have a chance to meet new friends.

Please follow these links to follow their blogs and TPT stores:

1) Primary Junction: Blog, TPT store, and a product for you!

2) Second Grade Math Maniac: Blog, TPT store, and product for you!

3) Castles and Crayons: Blog, TPT store, and product for you!

4) Swimming into Second: Blog, TPT store, and product for you!

5) Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera: Blog, TPT store, and your choice of product from her store.

6) The Hive: Blog, TPT store, and a product for you!

7) Little Miss Organized: Blog, TPT store, and your choice of product from her store.

8) Second Grade Perks: Blog, TPT store, and product for you!

9) The Second Grade Surprise: Blog, TPT store, and your choice of product from her store.

10) Soaring Through Second: Blog, TPT store, and product for you!

11) Hello Mrs. Sykes: Blog, TPT store, and product for you!

12) Second Grade Nest: Blog, TPT store, and product for you!

13) My Second Sense: Blog, TPT store, and your choice of product from my store.

We will be checking that you are a follower of our blogs and TPT stores before choosing a winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

January Currently and Short Vacation.

Happy 2013 friends! I hope you had  a fantastic day surrounded by family and friends. Farley's Currently is here. Time to meet new friends :)

Further explanation anyone?

Listening: I love turning the TV off and let my kids play with all the junk toys they have. Imagination at its best!

Loving: I found my maid of honor, AKA high school BFF via Facebook.  I could hardly believe it!  She has not changed a bit. She did say I was a bit overweight. (ouch!). We 'talked' for about 3 hours. She is living in Mexico with her cute husband and three precious boys. She was my Christmas present.

Thinking: I am surrounded by fabulous people. I need to make an effort to be more social. There are so many wonderful people in this world.

Wanting: There had been a lot of bad news from friends and friend's family members  I wish health for all of you and those you love.

Needing: My fridge is empty. I must get off this couch and go grocery shopping. Today.

OLW: Priorities. I must learn to prioritize what is most important.  My job has taken much of my time and my family is beginning to resent my job :(

Hubby had two days off so we decided to go to Fort Lauderdale. We had very limited time, so beach and warm weather was all we were looking for.
The weather was not exactly beach weather, but the kids were happy. The second day we wore jackets all day, it was windy! Thank goodness our hotel had a pool with amazing warm water. We could cross the street, hit the beach and run back into the warm pool.
We came back yesterday. Hubby had to go back to work and the kids and I ended up flying to Boston and getting stuck there for five hours. Thankfully we made it home around 10:45 pm.
I had the biggest headache. The kids behaved so well, I felt like a big whinny baby.

Some things I noticed:
* FLL's beach + cruise ships have created a new idea for our future family vacation.
* People forget to clean after themselves (and their kids) in the airplane.
* Cute guys with great bodies = gay. Darn it!!!
* Children who kick your seat for almost two hours should not sit by themselves.
* ipad, ipod, iphones + Battleship and Chess = new way to bond as a family.
* Some adults do not know how to hold a fork properly.
* Caribbean shrimp is one delicious dish!
* Whoever said that being married to a pilot is great...I need to have a personal talk with you.
* Seeing your husband in uniform reminds you how hot he truly is :)
* Dunkin' Donuts runs out of chocolate sprinkle donuts way too early.
* I must loose weight. My bathing suit was suffering.
****  2 0  1 3 is here and I am ready for something new! Not sure what that is yet though.

LASTLY: Last day to enter my One Sharp Pencil Giveaway.

Wishing you the best!