Category Archives: Classroom Organization

Classroom Organization. Everything from Teacher Organization, Classroom Design, labels, flexible seating, and organizing student materials. Here is where we find help in the “daily” activities of the classroom. Tips and Tricks help the classroom run efficiently and effectively.

On the Blog...Work Smarter not Harder

Surviving December by Working SMARTER not HARDER

I Love the MONTRA…   Work SMARTER, Not HARDER

Sometimes I find something ( or do something )

that I think…

“DUH!!!  WHY HAVEN’T I BEEN DOING THIS FOREVER???”

This is one of those things…

Here is SPELLING for the Whole YEAR  to help you WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER!

Spelling BUNDLE

Here is SPELLING for the WHOLE YEAR!

Kinder Spelling

I Am in KINDER…see me SPELL!

KINDER SPELLING

We use MUST DO’s & MAY DO’s for centers.

MUST DO’s & May Do’s

Must do's & May Dos

Must do’s & May Dos

 Work SMARTER, Not HARDER

Have you ever used

REPOSITIONAL VINYL LETTERS??

OMG!  I LOVE THEM!

I got mine…at STAPLES

http://www.staples.com/Cosco-098135-Vinyl-Letter-C-N-1-Helvetica-Black/product_712405

BEFORE…last 23 YEARS…

I would write the numbers & Content areas

EVERY WEEK..

 Work SMARTER NOT HARDER!

NOW…I can just add the words / skills

& the kids ALWAYS know where to look!

You can erase over the letters

AND

when you remove them..

NOT sticky ucky  GLUE stuff!

I use multiple sizes for interest…

MY NAME is GIGANTIC!

(Don’t ask me how to spell…MRS. McCARTY )

Love Love Love this!

Again…as we begin a NEW YEAR…
a great time to
WORK SMARTER…NOT HARDER!

Balanced Literacy – Week 1 of 8 – READ ALOUDS

How to Fit it ALL IN?

The Guided Reading COMMAND CENTER

FREE from me to YOU!

 

Happy Holidays from 1stgradefireworks

Wendy

Elf on the Shelf- FAIL!

I Failed at ELF ON THE SHELF!

I admit it…I failed..

I tried the ELF thing…FAILED!

I forgot to move it.

I didn’t want to spend the time moving it to who knows where.

My kiddos didn’t find it!

OH…exhausting!

I went to PINTEREST and saw ALL of these AMAZING ELF activities.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/53409945561232171/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/219761656796958212/

I GIVE UP! 

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/140526450852865539/

And so…I QUIT!  I am NOT  “ELFABLE!”  

Change..inevitable
THINK POSITIVE!

Change my mindset.  Change is good. Change is necessary!

So maybe I don’t ELF this year. Maybe I will “ELF” a different way. 

Maybe I focus on a DIFFERENT type of KINDNESS. I think I might look at…

Sharing ORNAMENTS!  Or presents, or smiles!  Or handshakes, or time. 

https://youtu.be/hqOOUJFv1n0
 
Maybe my “LESSON” to my students isn’t about THINGS…    

So I think I will focus on content.

I will share the GOODWILL of the ELF ideals,  through lesson content.

I hope my students’ families will give them the “warm fuzzies” they deserve. I do EVERY DAY. 

But for now, we will focus on learning.

Are YOU a HELPER ELF?

( BORING I KNOW…BUT NECESSARY!)

So…next in my list…MATH!

UGH! I know. HOW CAN THE ELF HELP US IN MATH?

THIS ELF IS NOT ON THE SHELF

1 more..1 less…10 more..10 less

So…to help with my “ELF FAILURE”

AND

to maximize my math time…

This ELF is NOT on the SHELF!
This Elf is NOT on the SHELF

This can be made into a booklet, used as math centers, individual practice, assessments…

ENDLESS possibilities!

It may NOT be as EXCITING as finding the ELF each day.

The ELVES are WORKING OVERTIME!

The Elves are Working OVERTIME!

The Elves are Working OVERTIME!

BUT…my students won’t be confused or saddened because they think the ELF doesn’t care.

They know I care. And that’s better than ANY ELF!

And so my friends, I admit it. I am an ELF on the Shelf failure. 

But…my student’s did REALLY WELL on their math assessments and we 

giggled, grinned, hugged, & gave high-fives all through the year.

Now…where did I leave that ELF?   🙂  

Elf on the Shelf taped to classroom clock.
HELP ME!

Holiday HELPERS for YOU! 🙂

Classroom Literacy

Data Collecting

Guided Reading

Leave me a comment…help me be an “ELF” convert. How do YOU use the “ELF”???   There must be a support group SOMEWHERE! 🙂  Happy Holidays!

 

What does READ AT HOME really look like?

I am a BLOG STALKER!
I admit it.
 
I am ALWAYS trying to find the BEST, FASTEST, & EASIEST ways
to make my classroom run smoother & more effective while being 
academically successful.
I want my students to continue to practice their reading & writing skills and strategies 
AT HOME!

BUT..What does Read at HOME really look like?

 
Aren’t we ALL?
 
So each year I try to “change” a few things for the better.
NO THROWING THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER!
 
(  For YOU youngin’s…  Don’t get rid of the good stuff while trying NEW stuff! )
 
So here is something “NEW” ( or New to ME )  that I am doing this year!
 
I am NOT ( Ugh…),
NOT  
choosing the Student’s TAKE HOME BOOKS each week.
( Let it go! Let it go!)
 
I LET THEM!
The power is in the CHOICE. 

I thought if I chose reading books that were ON their reading level

THEY would MAGICALLY fall in LOVE with READING!

NOT!
I have RAH ( Read AT Home ) envelopes…
Purchased at REALLY GREAT STUFF
BUT ANY envelope will do!
 
Each WEDNESDAY and FRIDAY they bring their RAH folder back.
I have them choose 2 books…YES…2 books to put in their folder.
( I place a pile 20 or so, of books at each level …
 
*disclaimer…right now I have 5 Guided Reading groups..I group their 
PILES of books by the Guided Reading group level…
 

So they really are taking home books at THEIR reading level.

Just a little teacher “nudge” in the right direction!

 
They choose two books, put them in their envelopes, and put them in their cubbies.
They keep them for 2 nights..hence bringing them back WED. & FRI. 
We change them for two NEW books … and here we go again!
 

Some nights I add a READING RESPONSE page to their homework.

USE ONE OF YOUR RAH BOOKS!

( Your choice!)

 
You can get my READING RESPONSE Packet HERE  
Some nights I have them do a page or two from my
Book Reports.
Accountability?
I do have a paper…lined…for parents to sign each night.
DO ALL OF THEM SIGN IT?
 NO!
If YOU take a horse to water…Can you FORCE it to drink it?
NO!
Let it go! Let it go!
So then what?
If you have a parent who won’t support reading at home…
 READ, READ, READ at school.
 
YOU may be the ONLY adult who reads with “THAT CHILD”..
We ALL have “that child”.
 
Don’t fight it!
Don’t PUNISH the child.
IF he/she could read it BY THEMSELVES…..THEY WOULD!
 
They can’t.
So
Let it go! Let it go!
BUT…
I do REWARD those who make the continued effort to read at home
EVERY NIGHT!
 
When they bring their envelopes back, I check the paper.
IF the parent HAS NOT SIGNED…I highlight in RED that date.
 
At the end of the MONTH,
I give a reward (and a SPECIAL BRAG TAG ) to those who have read
EVERY NIGHT!
 
I know…NOT fair for “that child”
Fair is NOT Always EQUAL!
 
I want my kiddos who 
DO THE WORK
to know…
I NOTICE!
 
And so my friends…
I keep stalking.
 
LOTS of great ideas out there in 
BLOGGY LAND.
 
And PINTEREST  LAND.
 
AND  INSTAGRAM LAND.
 
If you need some ideas..
 
 
 
 
Happy  Reading my Friends!
 
 
ME? Dress up for Halloween?

Do YOU Dress Up for Halloween?

I hate to wear hats when I dress up.

I don’t like things on my head.

I do enjoy a great laugh.

I want to participate with the group.

I am a TEAM PLAYER.

 

BUT… I don’t dress up for Halloween!

Screaming child

Sreaming Child

There!  I said it!

I am the “old teacher” who does NOT dress up for Halloween.

Old Granny

Old Granny

WHY?  I dunno.

Just never got “into it”.

The whole “make-up, costume, prop thing” just doesn’t appeal to me.

I don’t get the whole “dress up as someone else”, thing.

DON’T GET ME WRONG!

I love HALLOWEEN!

I dressed my kids up in HOMEMADE costumes AND store-bought costumes.

They were SO CUTE!

Teachers EVERYWHERE dress up and they are AMAZING!

I just can’t do it at school!

My kiddos are NOT allowed to wear costumes to school.

I will NOT, if they cannot.

I wouldn’t dress up, even if THEY could. Sorry, Not me!

Maybe I’ll dress up at home!

A cute T-SHIRT! YES!

Maybe.  Maybe not.

Maybe??

So for now… I will live in my “COSTUME”

vicariously through all of YOU on PINTEREST!

This post might help me…

My Fall Dilemma 

WOW! CUTE hat!… Maybe…  Gotta go…I think I found a HAT I LIke.

Stay tuned.  Check out my Instagram.

There may be a HALLOWEEN pic.

Maybe.  🙂

Do YOU “dress up” for Halloween?

Help me out…What do YOU dress up for on HALLOWEEN?

Leave me a comment. 🙂

Wendy

 

Fall Dilemma

My OCTOBER classroom DILEMMA!

 

So my October dilemma.

We have a two-week FALL vacation.

 

(NO COMPLAINING HERE!)

Celebrate!

WAHOO!!!

BUT…

We return on Oct. 14.

 MONDAY

21 days (exactly ) until…

YOU  KNOW  IT

THURSDAY, October 31, 2019

Trick or Treat Kids

Happy Halloween!

HALLOWEEN!

Parties,

CANDY,

Kids who can’t wait to get home ( highly DISTRACTABLE!)

(some schools…not mine….)

COSTUMES!

So … My October dilemma.

When we go back,

Do I put out HALLOWEEN themed centers?

Do I keep it OCTOBERish with Columbus, Halloween, Fall, Pumpkins, etc?

Do I just “touch” on the “HOLIDAY” stuff…and Promote the FALL  stuff?

Do I  add  THANKSGIVING?

Should I keep it ALL going until THANKSGIVING?

What to do?  What to do?????

Fall Leaves

FAll Leaves

BTW…   I  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE   FALL!

I love October!

My favorite season.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins

Starbuck's Pumpkins Spiced Latte

Starbuck’s Pumpkins Spiced Latte

YUMMY!

But…

CONTENT is EVERYTHING!

My students MUST take a BENCHMARK ASSESSMENT in December.

I want them to do well.

( I don’t think there will be a HALLOWEEN question on it.)

Unless it’s about 

HOW MANY CANDIES DID YOU EAT ALL TOGETHER?

So ..what to do?   What to do?

October INTEGRATE!

I must teach SCIENCE and SOCIAL STUDIES!

( Living things…life cycle…Plants/animals…Lifestyles Long Ago..)

So here is MY October plan:

Reading:

  • Nonfiction about pumpkins, apples, plants
  • Biographies about Christopher Columbus, Squanto
  • Fiction about Fall, Halloween, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving

I am checking my district curriculum

( yes, we have one )

for REQUIRED (Tested )  Skills & Strategies for this quarter.

As we delve into our reading…I make SURE to incorporate TESTED strategies.

 

Questioning? Sequencing? Retelling? Etc..etc…

Vocabulary?   Again…check NECESSARY vocabulary for success!

 

I spend A LOT of time on the necessary vocabulary. I have 10-12  English Language Learners.

 

They need visuals, modeling, & practice before they can “TAKE ON” the new information

.

Phonics?   Spelling?   Grammar? 

 Required phonics skills for this quarter.

 

What to use for  Spelling? 

BOTH!

 

  Required spelling skills AND  thematic vocabulary words. 

WHAT?      WHY?

Because…I want them to have some  INTRINSIC vocabulary to use easily in their…

 

WRITING!

 

Bear wrapped as mummy

Bear wrapped as MUMMY

I want MY Mummy!  🙂

Sorry…. couldn’t resist.

October Writing:

  • “How To”..grow..carve…etc… about pumpkins, apples, plants
  • “Informative”  about Christopher Columbus,   Squanto, Pilgrims
  • “Narrative”  about Fall, Halloween, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving
  • Thank You cards, Invitations, Lists, Etc.

Again…I am checking my district curriculum 

for REQUIRED (Tested )  Skills & Strategies for this quarter.

Whatever our REQUIRED writing prompt will be

( I already know mine  is INFORMATIVE)

We will practice, practice, practice!

 

I won’t skip the other genres.

 

Just FOCUS on the INFORMATIVE!

BUT wait!

 

I want crafts! I want CUTSIE! I want products! 

I Love October BOOKS!

And so…we will make CUTSIE lapbooks, paintings, charts, stories & crafts

 

 about???

Fall, Halloween, pumpkins, apples

, plants, Christopher Columbus, 

Squanto, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving

DON’T tell our FIRE MARSHALL.

I might HANG THINGS UP!

Definitely!

I won’t tell if YOU won’t tell.

MATH:

  • addition / subtraction
  • missing addends
  • place value
  • graphing
  • story problems

And October MATH??

Lots of Graphs, addition & subtractionproblem-solving, story problems

 

ALL ABOUT THEMES!

How many apples, pumpkin seeds, candies, turkeys, Indians, etc, etc.

(Math Journals are GREAT for this!)

and, yes..

I will need to keep it going until Thanksgiving.

 

And I will need to use EVERY MINUTE of EVERY DAY!

 

And yes… it will take planning, and prepping…

Bat craft

Bat craftivity

BATS! 

Black Cat watercolor

Black Cat Watercolor

Black  Cats

Pumpkin plants in garden

Pumpkin plant in the garden

Growing  Pumpkins

Crock Pot applesauce

Crock pot applesauce

Making APPLESAUCE!

Happy Birthday Johnny Appleseed!

And YES

I WILL LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!

You see…

FALL IS MY FAVORITE SEASON OF THE YEAR!

Don’t you just LOVE OCTOBER?

To those of you who hung in there to the bottom of this LONG POST…

A FREEBIE FOR YOU!

Happy FALL!

BOO BANG!

Boo Bang

Boo Bang FREEBIE!

UPDATE! Math Practice for the WHOLE YEAR!

Really?

For the WHOLE YEAR???

YEP! YEP!
Math Practice …Common Core Aligned
Daily skills for kiddos to practice!
My newest packet requires..
NO   LAMINATING!!!
Really?
I mean REALLY?    YES!

I Mean NO! NO  LAMINATING!

HOW? Tell me HOW?
 

First…Print  the  cards  on paper  or cardstock.

I choose…FLUORESCENT!
Pink, green, blue, orange , & yellow!
BRIGHT    BRIGHT   BRIGHT
I have Black walls  ( Wal Mart  Twin  Sheets!)
LOVE THEM!
Bright cards LOOK GREAT!
So how do I put them on the walls?

Sheet Protectors!

Cut them to size….
( I added tape to the bottom of some to make a “POCKET”)
and
VOILA!
To see the whole wall….
Close your eyes!  READY??
Love Love Love it!
Here is a preview!
And here is the best!
The kiddos use this printable
doing 4 sets a day, for 5 days 
AND THEN…
take the cards out of the pockets…place a new card in front…
AND DO IT AGAIN!

New card…same skill!

Here is the student printable:
YOU SEE?

Work Smarter….NOT HARDER!

Now available at 1stgradefireworks

Is reading MORE..really ENOUGH??

Consider this my DISCLAIMER…

I read. I read a LOT!

I am NOT A College Professor.

I do NOT have a MASTERS ( or above )

in ANYTHING!

Just a READING CERTIFICATE!

I teach reading!

I am just a teacher.

A first-grade teacher.

A Veteran (27yrs ), first-grade teacher, in a TITLE 1 SCHOOL!

I read!They read!

I have seen a LOT!

Done a LOT!

Hear me ROAR!!!!!

Ok. So again.

I am a teacher.

(Aren’t they cute????)

I have been through:

Whole Language

Environmental Print

Interactive Writing

Phonemic Awareness

Leveled Readers ( DRA, GSP, AR, Lexile)

Phonics

Words Their Way

HFW

Sight Words

High-Interest Reading Books

SIPPS

Read Naturally

Daily 5

And 

A MULTITUDE OF PUBLISHER’S CURRICULUM!

New sets every 7 years!

Having said this…1 thing most curriculum’s have in common :

READ!

READ A LOT!

And then…READ SOME MORE!

So …

My little sisters…

YES…both of my LITTLE SISTER’S are

PRIMARY TEACHERS!

We were discussing school.

( I know..we are NOT supposed to discuss SCHOOL during SUMMER VACATION!)

But…um…we were discussing school…

and we are trying to WRAP our minds around the

“READ..READ..READ more”

and they will

“GET IT!”

(way of thinking.)

Well, maybe

I  LOVE reading with kiddos!

See my post here about the GUIDED READING TABLE!

My concern is…

When I “release” them to read,

When I want them to become INDEPENDENT readers,

Where do they “learn” the skills to use when they “get stuck”?

Will they use strategies, when they don’t know what’s happening?

When a story isn’t making sense…do they keep reading?

If they keep reading…

Will it ALL come TOGETHER?

At a recent PD, my little sis said she understood the

READ, READ, READ philosophy.

Integrate science, social studies, math, technology

INTO  READING!

YES!

Writing and Reading COMPLIMENT and Coexist WITH  each other!

You can’t have one without the other!

THEY NEED EACH OTHER!

BUT…

-Me  SPEAKING-

There needs to be a BALANCE of:

Skills & Strategies

in conjunction with independent reading & writing!

THERE!

I said IT!

Reading & Writing SKILLS:

Letter Sounds

Blends

Vowels

Word Families

Chunks

Grammar

Punctuation

High-Frequency Words

Capitalization

Handwriting

and MORE!

Comprehension

Questioning

Summarizing

etc, etc, etc…

(I sound like my Education College Professors!)

I was listening!

ALL of these “lessons” MUST be taught

IN CONJUNCTION with

Reading & Writing!

Yes…To be a better reader…

YOU  MUST  READ!

BUT…to be a better reader who UNDERSTANDS…

You must have skills and strategies

to use

WHEN

you read and write!

NOW…CAUTION!!!

Unless you are teaching ADULTS in a COLLEGE CLASS…

A 40-minute LECTURE on diagramming sentences

IS NOT…I REPEAT..

NOT

the way to do it!

If you WANT to spend 40 minutes discussing grammar…

CHUNK IT!

Do 2-3 MINILESSONS over a few days…

Let it SINK IN!

Show  kiddos:

  What it looks like.

Where to find it.

How to use it.

Why we use it.

When to ask for help.

Kinder-Grade 1-Grade 2 teachers…

UNITE!

Mini-Lessons with a WORKSHOP!

Use SMALL Groups for STRATEGY & Skill Groups!

Let kiddos have a chance to PRACTICE what YOU have taught them!

Let it SINK IN!

And  Then..

LET  THEM  READ!

and

READ!

and

READ!

and then

WRITE…and write  some  more!

Skills, Strategies, Reading, Writing

They will become “BETTER”

..

and isn’t that what we ALL want to be?

BETTER!

Need some HELP?

Here are some “HELPERS” for YOU!

Check out ALL my reading & writing products!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/1stgradefireworks

HELPERS…How do YOU choose them?

I want my kiddos to

HELP!

I am NOT your MAMA.

I am NOT your Grandma,

AND

I AM NOT YOUR MAID!

🙂

We ALL work & play in our classroom.

If you work here,,,you are a part of our TEAM.

AND ALL Team members HELP!

So HOW to

“Share the JOBS?”

Make it a

CHOICE!

I don’t

CHOOSE

daily helpers.

I let them choose what they would like to do each day.

Here are my helpers:

I write their names on

  a  cardstock  strip .

I use a 12″ X 36″ pocket chart.

I have

2 Clean Up Crew members,

2 Ball Handlers ( for recesses ),

and

2 Tech Teachers ( pass out / collect ipads )

1 line leader,

1 door holder,

and 1 messenger.

9 helpers each day.

My NUMBER 1 RULE!

If you are NOT quiet and  in your seat when the

BELL  RINGS…..

YOU CANNOT BE A HELPER

THAT DAY!

( Don’t be Tardy…or NOISY!)

My kiddos LOVE it!

(I’m HERE & I’m QUIET!)

Hahahaha

and then…

I ask the next person on the card…

“_(susie)___ “,  would you like to be _( ball handler)_  or __(tech teacher)_”

( Go straight down the pocket chart…)

Until ALL the jobs are filled for the day!

They like having a CHOICE in their day!

and then…

I don’t have to do the JOBS!

And…I LOVE THAT!

Toby Keith and his Red Solo Cup...what does that have to do with PAINTING?

Toby Keith and watercolors..Hmmmm

Red Solo Cups…
Oh, How I LOVE my RED SOLO CUPS!

Um…I’m talking about in my classroom LADIES & GENTS!
What DID YOU THINK…Hmmmm??? 🙂
My kiddos had a problem with markers.
No lids, mixing up colors, etc…
I needed a 12 step intervention. 

  QUICK!

Enter…RED SOLO CUPS! 

( I hear the Toby Keith song in my head!)

What does that have to do with Markers?

Toby Keith and his Red Solo Cup…what does that have to do with Markers?

But… I need those Cups!

 

Here is our before… in a tub . 
ALL mixed up. YUCK!

 Enter my HERO!
RED SOLO CUP!
 RED SOLO CUP!
My firsties have become OCD about it!
ALL lids on! check
Colors separated! check
Markers standing tall! check
 
( RED SOLO CUP! RED SOLO CUP!
…sorry song stuck in my head!)
Thought I’d add some FIRSTIE LOVE TOO…
 
 
We never paint!
 Well, we haven’t until now.
So here is our gift to you!
 
EYE CANDY FOR GRADE 1 TEACHERS!
 
(Doesn’t take much to make us happy!) 
Enjoy!
Yes I am excited 5 days to go! The End of the Year is near!

5.5 days left…but who’s counting?

I admit it.

I AM TIRED!

I am counting the days until vacation.

I am counting the days until I don’t have to leave the house by 7:15 AM.

I am counting the days…until I can have coffee at 8:00AM.

Ah…I  Am  READY!

BUT…

My teacher BRAIN won’t 

STOP!

I want to start getting ready for

NEXT  YEAR!!!

I know…relax, breathe…ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!

I can’t STOP! I want to plan!

We are getting a new reading program next year.

CA JOURNEYS here we come!

And so…I have begun. counting.

I have begun to plan.

MY day, my month, my year!

I am starting my new projects today!

Here’s a PREVIEW!

Focus Wall

Focus Wall Printables

SPELLING for the YEAR!!!!

The BEST PART???

These Packets can be used with ANY program!

( Just because it follows CA Journeys…doesn’t mean it will ONLY work with 

that program!)

Here is the FREE Focus Wall Headers… 🙂

How about 

DAILY   PROOFREADING    PRACTICE??

More on the WAY!

 Keep checking back!

I’m counting on it!

All available HERE.

Now…Where is my beach chair? 🙂

Time to relax! 🙂

5.5 days to go…  🙂