Wednesday, December 31

End of the Year Deals + FLASH FREEBIE!

Hello friends!

A group of teacher friends and I are holding some fabulous New Year's Eve deals! 

My "Ready, Set, Math" bundle is 40% off today, making a year's worth of math centers only $30!

We are also hosting giveaways of new products on our Facebook pages.  Click here to visit my page and enter to win my Winter Math Centers!  (Do NOT enter here...the picture above was for my FB page, and I'm just re-using it here.) :)

PLUS, we are doing some flash freebies!  I am in the process of creating Addition & Subtraction Fluency Sorts for Numbers 11-20, and I've listed the January set as a freebie for today only! 

Hope you & your family have a Happy New Year & a wonderful 2015! :)

Saturday, September 20

120 Chart Puzzles

Hello friends!

I hope the start of your year is going smoothly!  It's going to take my class a few weeks to get it yet, but I know we'll get there...I may just have a few less strands of hair! ;)

We did a great activity this week with 120 Chart Puzzles.  In the past, I've made all of the puzzles and had the kids put them together.  It took forever to cut the pieces, some of the pieces would get lost, or kids would mix them up.  This year, the lightbulb finally went off and I had the kids make the puzzles.  Not only was it more meaningful for them, but I didn't have to take a couple hours of precious time to make them myself!  I just printed 120 charts (from this freebie by Erica Bohrer) and let the kids do the rest!  Here is how we did it:

I put directions up on the Smartboard (along with visual clues) to help them remember the steps!

1. I had the kids color their chart all one color.  I also told them to pick a different color than the other kids at their table.

2. I modeled how to draw lines to make the puzzle pieces.  We talked about how to draw medium sized pieces, not too big and not teeny tiny.

3. They cut the pieces apart.  It was great cutting practice for some of them! :)

4. I am just so happy that I thought of this next part...I had the kids write their name on the back of every piece.  No more searching through bags and bags of puzzles to see if a piece is missing!

The kids LOVED putting together their puzzles!  I also wrote each kid's name on a baggie so we could save the puzzles for another day.  They are very motivating and a great way to help kids look for patterns on the number chart!

If you try this activity with your kiddos, I'd love to know how it goes! :)

Tuesday, September 2

September Currently

Oh man, September already....and time for the September "Currently"!

Listening:  I'm re-watching a mystery series on Netflix called "The Glades".  It makes for nice background noise as I'm working on the computer. :)

Loving:  I have really been into Vanilla Lattes lately.  I used to be all about Mochas, but I've moved on.  I should probably start ordering Pumpkin Spice Lattes while I can though!

Thinking:  I need to go to bed!  It was the first day of school today and it's 9pm...'nuff said.

Wanting AND Needing:  I'd love an extra set of hands for the rest of the week.  Just sayin'...

3 Trips:  I love this one!  Traveling is so much fun- I love seeing how people in other areas of the world live.  I would love to visit Africa, Australia, and Spain one day.

Want to know what other bloggers are up to?  Visit Farley's "September Currently" Linky to find out! :)

Thursday, August 21

Meet the Teacher: A Peek Into My Specialized Schedule

Sooo...I've been a bad blogger.  BUT, I've had a fabulous summer!  (#sorrynotsorry)  I went on vacation for 3 weeks to Northern California, and it was beautiful!!  I got to see the HUGE redwood trees and take pictures like this!

The redwood trees were awe inspring!  The largeness of them completely blew me away!

I also had the opportunity to go back to London (where I studied for a semester in college) and see things like this:

I went on a day trip that allowed to me go INSIDE Stonehenge...incredible!!

Big Ben & Parliament

The "London Eye" (aka big ferris wheel) that gives you awesome views of the city!

Does anyone recognize where I am?  YES, it's where they film Downton Abbey!!

After all that fun, I'm back now and linking up with Blog Hoppin' to show you my schedule.  It's different than most because our school is departmentalized (or "specialized" as we call it).  I specialize in math, which means that I teach it three times a day.  I really love it the first 2 times, as I feel like I have a perfect opportunity to make tweaks to the lesson and improve my craft without waiting a whole year, but I have to admit, it gets a little old the third time 'round.  That's when I tend to change things up or do silly things like talk in accents.  I have to keep both their interest AND mine by 3 in the afternoon!  With that said, here's what a typical day for me looks like...

Our mornings stay the same.  I teach math to my own kiddos, we have snack and take a break (hoping to get morning recess back this year!) and teach math to my co-workers class while my kids have Science, Social Studies, and Writer's Workshop.  If you want a more in-depth look at my Math Workshop, check out this post.

In the afternoons, our schedule varies depending on when we have our "special" (gym, music, art), but
that's when I teach my 3rd math class (while my kids go to reading), and we have our Language Workshop.  It used to be called phonics, but there was a big literacy training in my district this summer (while I was in California, so I'm feeling a little out of the loop on it) and since we are focusing more on vocabulary this year, we are calling it Language Workshop.  So, as soon as I get in the loop, I hope to share more about what that looks like. :)

If you are already back to school, I hope you are having a FANTASTIC start to your year.  If you are like me and soaking up the last rays of summer...ENJOY them!!

Thursday, July 31

Can it be possible???  July is nearly over???
I have teamed up with 40 fabulous stores for...

This is a FABULOUS 4 day event that is full of sweet deals, savings and 4 amazing giveaways!
Here's a peek at what you are being treated to...

Each day a new 'deal' will be posted by the 40 participating stores! 
Be sure to visit their Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest accounts to find the daily deals and codes you will use in the TPT search engine to find the sweet deals!
(you can also find the codes on the pictures at the bottom of this post)

In addition, you can find the links to all the participating stores well as 4 rafflecopters!
That is right...4 rafflecopters!
Each rafflecopter is for a $50 TPT gift certificate!
Think of all the wonderful resources you could score with that...and just in time for Back To School!

Please visit each rafflecopter and enter! 
Each one will generate a winner- and yes- you can win more than 1!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here is a clickable list of all the participating stores!
Be sure to come by and visit our social media sites each day for these reminder posts:

 Enjoy the deals, samples and good luck on the giveaway!
And most importantly, we all send our best wishes for a successful school year!

Thursday, June 19

Diggin' Into Next Year: Behavior Management

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by my blog recently!  I hope you are getting as many ideas from this linky as I am.  There are some awesome teacher bloggers participating!

So, I'm going to be honest...I've been procrastinating on writing this post.  It's hard to think about dealing with behavior when I'm sitting out on my patio drinking a cup of coffee!  Haha!

Before I go into my behavior system, I want to share some background info.  My school specializes (or "departmentalizes") by subject, so I teach all the 1st grade math, while another teacher does reading, and a third one does science and writing.  I see about 60 students a day for math, while my students travel to different classrooms for reading and science/writing.  We all teach phonics to our homeroom.  It can be hard to keep track of everyone's behavior in every class...especially those tricky ones who try and get away with things!  (I'm sure you don't have any kids like that in your class though, right?) ;)  With that said, I really like our current behavior management system because it lets me see how each kid behaved in each classroom.

This picture is from last year...sorry for the cellphone quality!

I don't have a fancy name for it...I call it the "stick system".  I explained it more in detail in this post, but basically, each kid gets a cup (or a library pocket, like I used this year), and they can earn a stick for each section of the day by showing positive behavior.  I like it because it lets me see who had a problem in a certain class, since my kiddos aren't with me all day.

For whole group behavior management, I use a marble jar.  Oh, the mighty marble jar!!  My kids can earn up to 3 marbles in each class, and it usually takes about a month to fill the jar up with 100 marbles (the magic number).  I will sometimes add a few more or take a few out after school, depending on how many the other classes have and when I want the reward to happen.  It always seems to work out that the 3 first grade classes get 100 marbles around the same time (weird, right?).

When we reach 100 marbles, I have the kids submit their ideas for our reward and we vote on it.  You always have those kids who want outlandish things like a "class trip to the water park", but you learn to not call on them choose kids selectively when taking ideas.  Then, as a nerdy math teacher, I make my students organize the votes by making a graph.  The graph is just a simple table in Word, but it works.

Our marble jar is not quite as magical as this one, but it's close.  {Thank you Google Images for this picture!}

Overall, I really like this system and the accountability it can provide.  I will say, though, that it can be hard having so many people involved in the system, as what determines "no stick behavior" may vary a little by classroom.  It's hard for me to deal with hearing something a child did in another class and then still seeing a stick in their cup.  I wanna be like:

I've also had it happen where a kid needs a reminder or two in each room...not enough to lose their stick, but still annoying...and then they still have all their sticks at the end of the day.  So, the system isn't perfect, but I think it's a good one for the situation we have.  I think it would be easier to implement in schools where the kids don't travel.

One more thing before I sign off....First Grade Kate now has a Facebook page!!  I am currently holding a giveaway for a $25 gift certificate to TPT!  (PS- just accidentally typed $245 by'd like that, wouldn't you?)  There's also a Fan Freebie waiting for you.  So, come on over and join the fun! :)

Sunday, June 8

The Good, The Bad, and The Wonderful of Math Workshop

It's time for Round 2 of Laura's "Diggin' Into Next Year" linky party!  This week's topic is Math Workshop.  I titled this post, "The Good, The Bad, and The Wonderful" of Math Workshop because I really don't think there's an "ugly" to it...I <3 Math Workshop!!

This year was my 2nd year doing math workshop, and while there are still wrinkles to be ironed out and things I want to tweak, I really think it's benefited my kids and had a big impact on student achievement.  Here's a little bit about how I ran it this year...

My math workshop is broken down into a few main components:  our whole group mini-lesson, application time, and then something at the end to review or share.  My mini-lesson follows our district's pacing guide, and I really try to keep it short and student focused.  By that, I mean that I'll present a problem or two and ask the students to solve them, talk about them, and defend their answers.  If we have any new math vocabulary, I put it up right next to the Smartboard.  The math vocab cards are from Anna Brantley's TPT store, and they are absolutely fabulous!

I do some direct instruction as well, but I've found that the most powerful lessons have come when students are able to tell me (and their peers) about their strategies and their peers have a chance to respond.

Next comes "application time".  I have my students select an activity to do from their "menus".  I've found that menus are a great way to differentiate, allow for student choice, and to keep track of where everyone is during this time!  Here's a menu after it's been used for the week...I have them cross off where they go each day so they (and I) keep track of what they still need to do.

A rolley cart is great for keeping track of math folders for 3 classes!

As you can see from the menu above, my students have "Must Do" activities and "Choice" activities.  They start off at a must do each day, and that usually takes them about 15-20 minutes.  When they're done with that, they can pick a choice activity to do.  I like this setup because if a kid isn't working hard, it will take them longer to complete their must do and they have less time at a choice activity.  (On the other side of that coin, I or my aide check any work they turn in to make sure they didn't rush through something in order to go to choice.  If it's not best work, they re-do it.  It only takes 1 or 2 doing that before the whole class realizes that rushing isn't a good idea.) :)

One must do is coming to me for Guided Math.  I have them all scheduled to come once or twice during the week, but I've purposely not booked the whole math block with guided groups because I want time to work with students outside of the guided math table as well.  I have the schedule posted on the wall so they know when it's their turn to visit me.  (All the names are covered for privacy reasons.)

I have the kids grouped by ability (and represented with a picture) for guided math groups, but the groups are flexible (is "flexible grouping" a buzzword in anyone else's district?!  geesh with all the terms!) and change frequently.  Everything else is grouped heterogeneously so kids have a chance to learn from everyone, not just kids in their own ability group.  A book that's been really helpful for me is Dr. Nicki Newton's "Guided Math in Action" book.

Other "must do" activities are folder work (a sheet of paper/pencil work...I just call it folder work because that's what I heard another teacher in my building call it!), iPads, and my aide's table.  The activities at my aide's table vary from week to week, but may include introducing a math game, completing a problem solving or math journal activity, or reviewing topics from previous units.

I see 60 kids a day, so to stay organized while keeping the work differentiated, I label the drawers with student names.  That way I can put different work in different drawers, and students know which one they need to complete.
I don't have a fancy place to keep my iPads...this green tub works well for the five I have.  I really like this sign ($1 from Ikea) to remind students of the rules at our iPad center.
Finally, to help the kids remember our rules and routines, I created this large bulletin board in our classroom where I post all things Math Workshop related.

Here are a few close ups of what's on the board...
Click the photo to grab your own copy of this chart!
Click the photo to grab your own copy of this chart!  (PS- The "stick check" is our grade level's behavior management might just have to cut that part off if you choose to use this poster in your room!) :)
Click the photo to grab your own copy of this chart!

**I couldn't find a copy of this sign to sorry!** :(

Next year, I would like to incorporate (even) more problem solving and writing about math into my Math Workshop.  I did some this year, but I think I can improve in this area.  I would also like to differentiate my math game area a bit more so that students are getting more practice with something that's "just right" for them, but I'm still mulling over ways to do that.  Whether this happens or not, I definitely want to do more teaching around how to pick a "just right" math game.

Most things are staying the same...I think. :)  I might get some crazy, hair-brained idea over the summer that I just *have* to try, but overall, I really like how my Math Workshop runs.  One thing that comes to mind, however, is organizing my iPad apps a bit more.  Right now they are all in one "Math" folder, but I would like to break them up by strand or ability level.  We'll see...

Here are some of my students' favorite apps in my "Math" folder.

If the signs on my bulletin board will be helpful for you, please feel free to grab them by clicking on the photos.  (Note:  The voice level chart and the "looks like, sounds like, feels like" are in the same document.)

Also, I try not to focus a lot on my "products" (I hate that word) or my TPT store, but I have created several math centers and other math related products that are available in my TPT store.  If you are so inclined, you can click here to check them out!
Math fact fluency sorts for the entire year!
Materials to help your students make their own number anchor charts!

 One final note on Math Workshop...if you are hesitant to jump in, please please please take some time this summer to research it, blog stalk it, Pinterest it, etc.  I was very nervous to have all the small groups and use the menus at first, but with careful setup and management, I can say that it really has transformed my math instruction.  I'm able to better differentiate for the needs of my kids and really get to know them as mathematicians, which is something I couldn't say when I taught math whole group.  If you have any questions or comments about Math Workshop, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below or email me at firstgradekate {at} gmail {dot} com.

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