About Me

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back to School! Common Core 120 Activities and Freebie


I am finding it hard to believe that we are about to enter our third week of school already! I wonder if everyone else is as excited and frazzled as I am. 

I am curious to know how other teachers viewed their second year of teaching. At the end of last year, I knew I was the most heartless first-year teacher on the planet because I was cheerful as I bundled my little blossomed flowers off to their summer vacations. It turns out that I wasn't as heartless as I thought...after the first day of school  two weeks ago I cried my eyes out seeing last year's babies in second grade. Many of them I had also taught during part of their kindergarten year.

That being said, I am really excited about learning new things with my new group! This year, most of my kiddos are new to me, and I have had to lay the ground rules while establishing a new relationship. This is proving to be a little bit more challenging than I anticipated....I hate to feel like "mean teacher."This is how I feel sometimes....

New challenges to learn from everyday! :) 

In other news, our school spends the first two weeks of first grade reviewing kindergarten skills. Because of the switch to Common Core, our first graders have to be able to write to 120 instead of 100. This means that our old materials are a little out of date. 

I decided to exercise a little creativity. First, I took a few of my 3,000,000,000 unifix cubes and some brightly colored stickers, and made number line "puzzles". I used them for small group/centers and they worked really well!

Next I scoured the web for a BLANK template so that my students could practice writing 1-120, and was absolutely unsuccessful. So I made up my own! I hope that somebody else finds this helpful! Just click the link to view and download.

Hope your year goes well!

Signing out,



Friday, June 29, 2012

Pinterest and Adjective Word Clouds

 I think that for teachers, summer has a number of titles. For many of us, we could refer to these wonderful months as "Pinterest Season!" I don't know about you, but I have spent the last month organizing and cramming as many ideas for next year as possible. I'm so excited to have one central location where I can store and organize all of these goodies!

  Along the way, I have picked up many amusing or useful ideas. For example, did you know that spritzing a mixture of warm vinegar and dish soap on your tub will erase stains that two years of elbow grease and abrasive cleaning materials wouldn't fade? It's true!

I also find time to laugh:

  Some mischievous part of me things that this guy would make a great substitute teacher....

But I digress. 
There is one Pinterest idea that I was able to try before the end of the school year, and absolutely LOVED for my kids. There are SO many different ways that you can use this, and the great thing is--it can be used for pretty much any grade.

 I got the idea from the awesome teaching blog Confessions of a Teaching Junkie when I was looking for a supplement to my adjectives lesson. I just slightly modified it to fit my needs.

First we read this adorable book by Brian Cleary:

Then with a little bit of help, the kids filled out a sheet that I made for them. This is the one I used:

The kids only needed a little encouragement. One or two had to redo their sheet after writing "nice" for every student. The students were instructed not to write an adjective more than three times on the sheet. I also made sure that they knew we were writing "friendly" adjectives. After a little bit of revision, they came out with some super ideas. 

I did allow some flexibility. One little sweetheart came up to me and said that one of her friends reminded her of "sunshine". After discussion, I let her keep it!

I kept these precious papers and used them to surprise the kids with an end of the year gift. They turned out so cute!

These were so easy to make! The website I used is tagul.com. It is a website which generates "Word Clouds" of different shapes and content. I just printed them and bought frames at the Dollar Store.

The kids were so cute when I handed them out. At first they didn't know quite what to make of them (one of my girls asked "Why didn't you bring suckers instead, Mrs. Johnson? As Charlie Brown would say after spending two hours on this project, 'Good Grief!'). But by the end of the day, the frames were their new favorite possession. They compared each others' adjectives and discussed the words excitedly. Score! 

I will definitely be using these next year during our adjectives unit! You can make all sorts of cool things like this:

I hope you can use this idea! I would love to hear if anyone has another awesome idea for student gifts! Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think! 

Signing out

Monday, June 25, 2012

Classroom Tour

 Today I am going to give you a fun little tour of my classroom. Last August thanks to budget negotiations, I wasn't actually "officially" informed that I was hired until the third day of school (yikes!). Needless to say, there was a little bit of wing and a prayer scrambling for this perfectionist who wanted her room to be fun and inviting. As a brand new college graduate, my head was stuffed with lesson plans and Bloom's Taxonomy.....and a little lacking in decorating experience. Thankfully, I have some awesome fellow teachers at my school who offered lots of assistance.

The first big challenge for me was picking a theme. I wandered through my local Schoolbox and found some adorable bulletin board star borders. One thing followed another and I wound up with a Hollywood Star themed room. It's not extravagant, but it's adorable and it made me happy. These pictures were taken at the beginning of the year. By May I will admit it was slightly less tidy and the walls were much more crammed with fun things! Here are a few of my favorite parts:

We started out the year in pods.

My hall display wall!

 I use clothespins with the students' names and lunch numbers for the first few weeks of school. They stop by the "concession stand" to retrieve their clip and pin it to their shirt. It helps speed up the lunch line...and hey, when you have a twenty-five minute lunch, streamlining processes is a must!

You can get these adorable plastic popcorn boxes at the Dollar Store! I use the boxes for fresh and broken pencils. Works like a charm.

. My word wall, pre-words. It gets so full by the end of the year, that the t's start sneaking in under s, r, u, AND v....

And one of my favorite little touches, my red curtain over the tv. We don't have Promethean Boards in our first grade yet, so this is where the action happens. This simple little curtain took about sixteen million failures and quite a lot of string and prayers to make it stay in a cute arrangement. I love it! 

 I hope you enjoyed the tour! Today's agenda? Moving all of this cute stuff into a new classroom two doors down. Wish me luck!

Signing out,


Friday, June 22, 2012

Howdy neighbors!

Howdy neighbors! 

   For those of you who have ever added inconsequential items to a task list just so you could immediately cross them off in satisfaction (admit it....if you're a girl you've done it at least once), starting this blog is for me one of those items that never seems to be crossed off my lists. Instead, it gets dutifully copied onto fresh "to do" lists until I start to wonder why I bother. Today I finally get to cross it off for the first time and hope it sticks!

I am currently going into my second year of teaching first grade at a little public school in the hills of Tennessee, and I absolutely LOVE it. The little kiddos know just how to tug on my heartstrings, and I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to work with them. 

This is hopefully going to be the place where I get to store my ramblings, ideas, stories, and creations as I teach in my first grade classroom. My goals are as follows: 

1) Network with other teachers and see what treasures they have to share.

2) Refine my technological skills and do some sharing of my own.

3) Insert random stories and pictures ..... Because let's face it, as a teacher there are some memories that you just don't want to forget......like my little boy who spent three serious minutes describing in perfect detail his questionable bowel movement, but was mortified when I asked him to speak a little louder than a whisper because "there are GIRLS in here."  Or the little girl who wrote in response to one daily journal prompt, "The only wild animal that I have seen is a man." Most of the time the kids are blissfully oblivious to why their teacher giggles so much!

I will conclude this first blog post with one final anecdote...possibly the sweetest thing I have been told by a student and the reason I am a teacher.

One day towards the end of this past school year, two of my more struggling students did a super job on their assignments at the end of a good day, and I was happily making a big deal out of it. I dramatically told the kids, 'I have such a SMART class. I'm so proud of you guys...how did I get so lucky?? Where did all of these smart kids come from?!"

One of my shy little girls answered me, "I know why, Mrs. Johnson. It's because of you."

I have the best job in the world.

Signing out,