Powered by Blogger.

2018-19 Recap: Classroom Reveals

It's good to finally be back to my little blog :) I've been away a long time.

This past year has been quite different for us. My mother-in-law broke her hip in May (2018) so we moved for the summer an hour and a half north to be with her. I started school back at the same school I'd taught at for a very long time. As I began setting up my classroom, the opportunity came to switch roles and be a Literacy Specialist, working with small groups of kids K-3 on just reading. It was an opportunity for a change and a time to really focus on my skills teaching reading. I applied for the position but had to go ahead and set up my first grade classroom. I taught in it for 7 days. It was very strange setting up a classroom yet not planning on staying in it.

So 7 days into the school year I packed up and moved schools to be a Literacy Specialist. (More about that and what I learned in another post.)

When I arrived the room looked like this- I was horrified!

Do you see that duct tape on the carpet?! Needless to say, the room needed a serious and complete makeover! I had just created a classroom decor set, didn't use it since I was planning to switch schools, so her came the opportunity to decorate like I wanted to just on a smaller scale. I shared the room with the math coach. There wasn't a reason to use everything I made but these alphabet posters were perfect!

Here's how it turned out:

The colors were exactly what I wanted, my little space was roomy but cozy. The Let's Read banner helped show off my focus wall and the Learning Objective posters I created helped me and my kiddos keep focused.

Being a Literacy Specialist was such a fun thing to do! It was a HUGE change from the regular classroom. I'd also never taught 3rd grade either which was the primary group I worked with. 
But... I was driving 90 minutes each way to work every day. Over Christmas vacation, a position teaching K-1 came up in a different district close to my mother-in-law and my mom and brother too. My husband and I made the decision for me to apply for the job and to make our move permanent. The interview went well, I got the job, packed up my 2nd classroom in the 2018-19 school year and moved. Again.
Fate is a funny thing. I love my new school so much! We love living in the town we both grew up in. Again. After 23 years. It seems all the challenges led us to a change that was meant to be. You know that saying 
Well that seems to be very true in this situation. I'll be back soon to post some Small Group Reading Ideas & Strategies very soon. 
If you'd like to pick up the classroom decor set you saw in the pictures, just {CLICK HERE}.

Leave a comment below and let me know you stopped by!
Thanks for visiting!
Have a wonderful day!

2019 Alphabet Letter Exchange

I'm starting to get questions about whether I'm hosting the exchange again or not so it's time to answer some questions.

Yes, it is happening again BUT...
this has been a very different year for my husband and I. To make a very l-o-n-g story very short, we moved away from the town we'd lived in for the last 19 years and I had 3 different teaching positions at 3 different schools in 2 districts. I'll be teaching a K-1 combo next year (which I've been doing since January) and need to focus on that and figuring out how the beginning of the year works at my new school.

So... I am keeping this year's exchange VERY SMALL to make it less time-consuming and easier for me to manage. We'll have only 3 groups (78 teachers) instead of the normal 8-11 groups with 200-300 teachers. I realize this will leave a lot of you out who want to participate and I am SO VERY SORRY! It was either this or I thought about skipping this year. Next year life should be back to normal and the plan is to open the Exchange again as usual.

Tomorrow (July 5 at 9am California time) I will email everyone who participated last the link to sign up. Since there are so few spaces this year I hope you see the email and can sign up quickly. I expect it to fill up tomorrow.

That being said, unless you participated last year there will not be room in the Exchange this year. If you participated last year but don't get the email I apologize for that as well. I'll be working from my master list and may miss some of you of were added to spreadsheets, etc, etc. To anyone who does not get to participate,  I apologize but hope you will check back next year.

Alphabet Exchange 2018 is HERE!

The Alphabet Letter Exchange is back again! I'm a bit later than usual getting it started because my husband and I moved an hour and half from home at the end the of the school year to take of my mother-in-law for the summer. She broke her hip and recovery is slow. I am so excited to be finally getting this started! Registration will close at the end of July to give me time to put group lists together and that information out to you before the craziness of setting up my classroom begins. I may have to close registration early if groups are close to being full. Please follow my blog and social media to stay updated.

**Update as of September 2nd, I am establishing a waiting list for the project. If you are interested in participating, please email me at firstgradefoundme@gmail.com.  

If you've been part of this project in the past, we are doing things the same way except that I am asking teachers to be sure their letters are mailed in September and not to wait if their letter comes up later in their curriculum. I realize you may want to make it part of your letter of the week, but please make this exception and let's get our letters out in September.

If you're interested in the project, please read the info below before registering so that you know what the project is all about. A link to sign up is at the end of this post. Thanks in advance for your interest/participation!

How does the project work?
1. Your class will be assigned a letter of the alphabet.  Print 26 of your letter (cardstock works well but is not required) and decorate them with something that starts with that letter. There are examples from past year on my blog firstgradefoundme.blogspot.com if you’d like to take a look. Have fun and get creative!
2. You'll need to mail 25 of the letters to the members of your group and you'll keep one. Each teacher is responsible for their own postage charges. At the end of the project you should have a complete, unique, student-made alphabet! It is your choice whether you mail the letter in a regular letter-size envelope or larger manila envelope.
In the event that you don’t receive all of your letters, which can happen unfortunately, some teachers have their own students make any missing letters. You might also email your group and find teachers who are willing to have their classes do another letter. But let’s make this the year EVERYONE gets a complete alphabet!
3. Also, please include a short letter about your class, school, and where you live. This is optional but is really fun for the receiving class.

Please email me if you wish to be on the waiting list for this year.
Also, you can follow me on social media so you don't miss any updates. Just click on the pretty little circles in the top right column of my blog so we can stay connected!
Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

2017 Alphabet Exchange is Almost Full

As of today we are very close to having 12 groups of 26. In order to have full groups I will change the sign up form to a wait list once the 12th group is full. If another 26 teachers sign up before Friday I will create another group. My original post said sign ups would be open this week but that they may close early in order to have the right number of teachers in each group. I apologize if you don't make it in this year, but I do always end up needing a few people from the wait list.
Thanks to everyone who has signed up this year. Letters will be flying all over North America before we know it!

The 2017 Alphabet Letter Exchange is Ready!

This will be the 7th Annual Alphabet Letter Exchange, can you believe it?! Some of you reading this may have participated in all or most of them, and some of you might not know what it is yet. But keep reading and maybe you'll want to join us...

This is a collaborative project for teachers from all over the US, Canada, and Mexico and is a fun way to introduce or review letters and sounds for our students. It was inspired by this book
which is one I love to read to my first graders at the start of the year! I'm sure you do to. If you are interested in participating in the project, please read the description below. Your class will be assigned a letter to decorate and mail to the other teachers in your group. Hopefully you'll end up with a completely unique alphabet at the end of the project. If you decide to participate after reading about the project, please fill out the form at the end of this post. You can check out pictures from past years by clicking {here}.

To all of you are joining the project again, thanks for your support and for allowing this project to continue! I am grateful.

Thanks for stopping by!

Here's how the project works:

1. Your class will be assigned a letter of the alphabet and put into a group with 25 other teachers. Each teacher would have their class decorate 26 of that letter. A template like the letter below will be provided. You'll print it on regular paper or card stock and have your class decorate it. Decorate it however you like, just have fun and get creative!
Some decorating tips: Decorate letters with something that starts with the sound of that letter. You can cut out the letter or leave it on the whole page- whatever works better for your letter design.
Mailing suggestions: Some teachers mail letters printed on card stock in manila envelopes. Some teachers have letters that can be folded and mailed in letter-size envelopes. It all depends on how your class decorates the letter and what you want to pay to mail.

2. You'll need to mail 25 of the letters to the members of your group and you'll keep one. Each teacher is responsible for their own postage charges. At the end of the project you should have a complete, unique, student-made alphabet!

3. You could also include a short letter about your class, school, and where you live. This is optional.

4. During the last week of July you should receive an email that includes your group spreadsheet. This will tell you what letter you've been assigned and who else is in your group. At that time, please double-check your address information, make any changes you need to, and highlight your information so others know for sure it is correct. Then start planning how you'll decorate your letter! 

5. The project will run from about September 1st-30th to give everyone time to get back to school, decorate, and mail their letters.

I'd love to have you participate! Just a little favor, though, please sign up only if you really intend to follow through with the project. It is heartbreaking to kids and teachers alike to end up with an incomplete alphabet. If you do want to participate, just click below and fill out the form!

**I have stopped taking sign ups for this year. Please check back around the first of July when we'll start it all up again! Thanks for popping by my blog. 

I plan to stop sign-ups on July 23, as I'll need to get group lists ready before I have to start setting up my classroom. But since I need exact groups of 26, sign-ups could end early. I will post all project updates here on my blog as well as on my social media (links at the top of my blog). I hope you'll follow along!

Just a couple more little things:
I'm planning to stop sign-ups before the end of July so I can get the group lists out to everyone. Also, I'll be in touch via email to give you any updates and send out the templates so please watch your emails for that information.

Alphabet Exchange Group Lists are Out!

A very quick post today... If you signed up for the Alphabet Exchange, you should have received an email from me, or several over the last 2 days (ha! ha!). If you didn't get an email with your group information and you think you should have, please email me ASAP. 

If you think you would like to participate but haven't signed up already, I am forming a wait list. Click on the button on my sidebar and fill out the form to get on it. If the list gets to 26 more teachers, I'll be happy to open up another group.

So far we're 234 teachers from 37 states and 3 different countries who teach preschool thru 2nd grade. Thanks everyone! I can't wait to start getting letters!

8 Books That Changed Everything for Me

Welcome to the newly redesigned First Grade Found Me! Barbara from Grade ONEderful Designs worked so hard to give me this newer, more modern look and I couldn't be happier. She's amazing! If you're looking for a redesign or someone to help you get a blog started, I highly recommend contacting Barb.

Over the last few years I've read some fabulous books about teaching. Before that I didn't do much professional reading. That sounds bad, I know. But if I was going to read I thought I'd read books I enjoyed like Sue Grafton mysteries or Janet Evanovich books. However, I'd fallen into a slump, affected by the attitudes of some around me and the professional pressures we were all under. I started my blog, met other inspiring teachers, started reading professional books, and everything changed! These are 8 of the books that changed me and what happens in my classroom every day.

I read this book one summer afternoon while driving with my husband as he made his wine deliveries to his client's tasting rooms. We would talk as he drove and as soon as he'd stop I'd get this book out and read. Even with the stops and starts I finished the book in a few hours. It's an easy read and an inspiring one. I thought of all those times I'd tried so hard to get a student to finish work, took away a recess (yes, I feel terrible about that now), etc. This book completely changed that.

How it helped me: Daily 5 forever changed how I managed independent workers when I pulled reading groups. No more am I searching through books for worksheets to copy, trying hard to find easier/harder versions of them for the kids who couldn't do the work or for those who needed more of a challenge. Then when it came time for reading groups, I'd pass out the 3 papers, go over how to do them all, and expect my students to work quietly and independently. Which worked- for the most part. But now my kiddos have engaging activities to do that allow them some choice in how to accomplish them. My problems with unfinished work are all in the past!

How it helped me: This book absolutely changed everything for me! Thank you, Ron Clark! My attitude and everything about my classroom changed. It inspired me to return to the teacher I had been. I like to think my classroom is a bright, energetic place for engaged learners who have a teacher willing to support and encourage them the best ways she can. If you're looking for something inspirational, and dare I say life changing, then read this. And seeing Ron Clark speak in person is an unforgettable experience too!

How it helped me: Reading this gave me a way to have my students do something engaging with math while I pull a math intervention group. I set up my math block so that I do intervention first (I suppose that's PREvention, actually). The students who meet with me "play" with their manipulatives while I get the others off to their stations. Then I do a mini lesson on the math we'll be doing that day. We do the same thing I'll be doing with the whole class but this way I can easily see what their doing and help them with whatever is getting them stuck. If there's a worksheet, then we do a few of those problems together. When we're doing the whole class lesson I look at these kiddos and see them smile and nod because they know they "get it." And this way I'm not helping them after they've had the chance to do plenty of the math the wrong way.

How it is helping me: What technology can do for student motivation, not mention learning, is amazing! A HyperDoc is basically a document with links to websites, Google Docs, videos, etc that allow students to learn in an innovative way, respond to their learning and show their learning in new and different ways. This book is helping me see how I can create HyperDocs for a variety of purposes. It's easy to read and understand and is full of QR codes that give you template to make life even easier. Lisa Highfill, one of the authors, has website with tons of HyperDocs for lots of grade levels. You can find it HERE.

How it helped me: This wonderful read emphasizes the reasons to give students a choice in what they read. It further inspired me to give my students plenty of (structured) choice in their books for Daily 5. I thought about how many times I would have liked more choice in what we read in English class...

How it helped me: This book was full of reminders and good tips that have kept me on track to enjoy teaching. I participated in a book study about this book last summer (Chapter One starts HERE). In fact I've got to get my postcards ordered so that I can mail them out to m students each week- one of Angela's great ideas! Angela Watson has a website HERE and you can follow here on social media to learn more about ways to enjoy teaching and help yourself get more done in less time.

How it helps me: It's reminded me again to let the little things go, to make sure I put my students first, and to work as hard as I can to be positive. It's an easy, enjoyable read too! (That seems to be a trend in my choices, doesn't it?)

How it helped me: I'd often felt that I needed to improve my writing instruction. The background information, ideas, and examples for how to conduct writer's workshop and writing conferences in this book gave me the courage to try Writer's Workshop. Now that I have, writing has improved in my classroom and my students are much more engaged and motivated to write.

What are some of your favorite professional books?

Back to Top