Monday, August 27, 2012

Problems With David

I can always tell which books in my classroom are dearly loved.  They're the ones that have been through the most surgeries.  In other words, they're practically covered in tape.  The David books by David Shannon have certainly been put through a lot of love by my children.  As many teachers do, I use them during the first few days of school to help teach routines, procedures, and rules.  David is the perfect specimen for such discussions.  He seems to have his share of problems, and since my one rule is all about problems, it's perfect.  (Read here about that one rule.)  He's also the subject of our first art project, and he turns out awfully cute.

I can't take credit for the step-by-step directions.  I found them somewhere online several years ago.  Kudos to the teacher who thought up this idea though.  It's my birthday so you can have your own copy of the directions for free.  :)  Just click on the words.  

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Sayings: Slow Down to Speed Up

(Click here for more Saturday Sayings.)

For me, this time of the school year is the hardest.  (The blood curdling scream at the top someone's lungs let out in my classroom yesterday is proof of that, and I promise it wasn't me.)  More importantly though, it's the most crucial time of the year.  The remainder of the year hinges on what I do and don't do right now.  Debbie Miller's quote says it all.  Being deliberate and explicit about the smallest of details is so important.  If my kids don't know what I expect of them, come January they are certainly not to blame when things aren't going well.  It takes lots of time and energy to be deliberate though.  Rushing into too much curriculum too early without a deliberate foundation could sabotage everything.  "Slow down to speed up" is my mantra.  I believe I made that up, but it was definitely inspired by the following quotes.  (I'm not smart enough to make it up all on my own.)

"Slow down and be consistent."  Kathy Collins, Growing Readers 60

"Spending time on procedures and management in the beginning is, in fact, good teaching and a good time investment."  Kathy Collins, Growing Readers 65

"We move slowly to eventually move fast.  The payoff is enormous."  Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, The Daily 5 42

To move slowly now doesn't necessarily mean that by the end of the year we will have accomplished less.  In fact, I believe quite the opposite is true.  We'll be able to speed up and accomplish so much more because we'll have fewer management issues to fight with along the way, and those always tend to slow us down.  I'd rather purposefully slow down now than have to slow down later out of sheer desperation.

Slow down to speed up.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Business Cards 1st Grade Style

Today is the day the little ones arrived for their first day of first grade...something they'd been waiting for all their lives of course.  In honor of such a momentous occasion, each one took home personalized business cards as a sign that they had finally arrived.  They are now official first graders, which happens to be a very important job.  

(They're much cuter in person without the blurred out parts.)

Since there's only so much time for cutting such things at this time of year, they only got 10 cards each, but at least they're on cardstock for better durability.

The kids thought they were pretty special.  I'm fairly certain they'll enjoy sharing them with the special people in their lives, or possibly they'll just hoard them forever, which is also okay.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

One and Only Rule

I've been fussing over this daunting list of things to do before the children show up on Wednesday, not to mention all the things that really must find themselves done around my house.  You know the feeling.  I did manage to accomplish quite a few projects, minus the grocery shopping and trimming the hedges of many small villages.  (Sorry, only "The Three Amigos" fans will appreciate that one.)  I might have gotten to those things if I hadn't spent my Sunday afternoon and evening drawing, cutting, glueing, and Mod Podging this.
(The colors look better in person.)

Even though I could have spent my time doing a truckload of other things, I couldn't put this project down.  It's so important to my classroom, since it's my one and only rule.  (Read here if you'd like to know more about my rule.)  I've been on a signage kick this summer (see here), and I just couldn't resist revamping one more thing before school starts.  

Thanks Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for a summer of creativity.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Sayings: Inspire

(Click above to see more Saturday Sayings.)

I picked up my class list on Thursday.  I've already written down those 24 names about 5 times, with countless more to follow during the next 9 months.  I can't picture most of their faces, and I'm unfamiliar with their little personalities.  I don't even know what strengths or weaknesses to expect, but as the letters of their names find themselves coming from the various tools in hand, I feel the great privilege as well as the enormous responsibility of becoming their first grade teacher.  The voices of the parents in Regie's quote resound loudly in my heart.  

Yesterday my new principal gathered us together for the first time and posted this question on the wall: "What is the purpose of our school?"  My mind could have gone a million directions, but I instantly knew my answer.  
That's what I wrote, and that's even how I wrote it, font and all.  Today I choose to assume that my 24 little ones are all coming to me eager to read, write, and learn.  My purpose is to inspire them.  If I do, then I can only hope that in 9 months they'll return to their parents in the same condition or is it too much to hope for - in better condition.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Call Me Maybe


Here is my latest bit of classroom creativity.  I have lots of people to thank for this one.  Have you seen The Teacher Tipster's fake phone call video?  It's really quite genius.  Connie from Welcome to First Grade Room 5 posted it on her blog with a great idea for how she's going to use it in her classroom.  You should really check it out.
Then the tattling telephone from Katie and Sarah at K-1 Teaching Besties inspired me too.  Go ahead and take a look.

Surrounded with all this inspiration, I had to do something.  So I got myself a cheap thrift store phone and added "Call me" with Mod Podge.  I'm looking forward to using it to make some fake phone calls when something extraordinary has occurred in my room that I really must share.  It will also double for a tattling telephone that children can use when I'm not really available to listen to such things (which will be never).  I made up a list of people they might just want to call that I'll post next to the phone.

Click the picture for your own copy.  If you live in Idaho, this one's for you. 

Click the picture for your own copy, minus the BSU Broncos.

I've got a certain song stuck in my head now.  How about you?
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Cutting it Close

Unfortunately, my little teaching world is on hold to some extent right now.  I can't get into my classroom, because it's just now getting itself a good cleaning.  We are cutting it close, yes?  Since I can't do what must be done in that room of mine, I'm doing my best to prepare in other ways.  Here are a few Pinterest-inspired things I've enjoyed doing instead.  

My version

Pinterest version

 My version

Pinterest version

I'm pretty sure my new sign will turn into a classroom book.  Most everything seems to do that in my room.  The bathroom passes will replace the passes that my kids put on their desks when they head to the bathroom.  I'm not so comfortable sending my possessions to an elementary bathroom.  It's bad enough sending the children.  At least when they return, they can do something about those germs, just in case they didn't while they were away.  I also like putting passes on desks because my poor memory is less likely to forget where the children are.  Anyone else have this problem? 

Thanks once again to Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for letting me join her.

(Click on the Pinterest versions above if you want to see where they came from.  They certainly deserve the credit.)

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Sayings: Teacher Amnesia

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Anyone nodding their head out there?  This quote is totally not profound but doesn't it accurately put words to what we all think when the new batch of children arrives each year?

I have a love/hate relationship with starting all over again.  I love getting my hands on some new little thinkers.  I love the opportunity to put the good, the bad, and the ugly behind me. I love another chance to improve at what I do.  On the other hand, I hate (maybe dislike would be a better word) starting from scratch once again.

I arrive in August with a vision of my previous class still in my head from when I said goodbye in June.  They knew all my classroom routines and procedures.  They knew how to read with fluency and expression.  They knew how to write like an almost second grader.  They knew how to tackle difficult math problems.  This new crew shows up and they're cute and all, but they don't match up with that vision whatsoever.  We're back to square one.  Oh, but this is when I remind myself that one of the reasons I teach first grade is because they grow from kindergarteners into second graders right before my eyes.  It's like watching a miracle.  It's just a tad painful at the beginning.  

I might experience selective amnesia when it comes to September, but I'll definitely never forget what a miracle they are during the nine months we're together.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Scream So High

It's been kind of quiet on my little blog lately, because I've been hanging out in Seattle with my best friend.  My brain hasn't been thinking too much about school, so today I'm sharing a snippet of my fun.  Here's what happens if you climb to the snowfields on Mt. Rainier and take garbage bags along.  (I didn't know I could scream so high.)

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Saturday Sayings: My Bailiwick

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My parents spent a few weeks in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria back in June.  Whenever they're out of town for more than a week, I babysit the children.  You see, my dad has about 70 orchids which cannot be left alone for too long.  Even though I have not inherited my father's green thumb, he trusts me to take care of the finicky creatures.  Watching over orchids is not my bailiwick, but I know well enough that frequently uprooting them to check on their growth would not make them or my dad very happy and certainly wouldn't improve their growth.  I know this about my children too.  Good teachers are constantly in assessment mode, but they know how to do it without disturbing the nurturing environment that their littles need.  I cringe when I think of the programs that require teachers to spend an abundance of time assessing their students on a weekly basis.  I can almost hear the inward groans of the students as once again their roots are pulled up for another inspection.  I'm not insinuating that assessments are all evil.  I would simply concur with Lucy that the frequency and approach in which we analyze our students' growth is an important one to consider.  Watching over these little fragile seedlings is indeed my bailiwick.

bailiwick |ˈbāləˌwik|
noun Lawthe district or jurisdiction of a bailie or bailiff.• ( one's bailiwick) informal one's sphere of operations or particular area of interest you never give the presentationsthat's my bailiwick.ORIGIN late Middle English : from bailie wick .
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