Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Packing Up!

This week, I put a timer up on my Smart Board while we were packing up for the day. If every friend was sitting at their desk by the time the bell went off on the timer, they got 1 minute of chit chat time! You would have thought that little "prize" was equivalent to one million dollars.  #itsthelittlethings

My question for the week:  Do you have a "pack up" tip or trick you would like to share with everyone? Leave a comment below and then check out all the other great links for this week's Wordless Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday November 19th: Turkey Beginnings

We started to work on our our narrative turkey stories yesterday. I am loving the beginning of their stories so far! 
My question: What's your favorite type of writing to teach? Narratives, informative, or opinion pieces?

Link up below!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How I Stay Organized: Weekly Lesson Planning Tips & Tricks by Miss DeCarbo

Hello teacher friends! After a couple of my presentations this summer, I had a few teachers ask me: "How do you stay organized throughout the week?"  and "Do you do all of your lesson planning at home?"  I thought I would tackle these two questions with you through another big organizational blog post! 

Truth: I used to spend hours and hours lesson planning at home every night. Last year, I told myself, "No more!"  I knew that in the near future I would want to start a family and that these hours and hours I was spending each week on plans would not be possible - or healthy!  So I devised a "system" that worked for me. I would love to share it with you today!

(Disclosure: This may or may not work for you, since everyone's school is different and planning time varies across school districts.  I get 40 minutes of uninterrupted planning time four days a week - Tuesdays are data meeting days. I also get 20 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes after school when I don't have bus duty.  I try to make the most of every minute so I can spend my time at home for "non-school" activities.)

My Weekly "Schedule" for Lesson Planning


On Monday, I pull all of the activities, materials, printables, and assessments that I KNOW I'll need for next week - no matter what happens in my plans, we always, always use and need these items.  These include items such as:
-Daily 5 chart

I use this weekly checklist that I got from my sweet friend Ashley over at Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd. You can edit the checklist to include anything you want.  I list mine by things I need to copy each week, assessments, things to plan, and monthly to-dos.  In my district, we need to upload our plans to our district dropbox, so I also have a spot to remind myself to do this each week. I use this list every week when I'm planning so I never miss anything!

Tuesdays:  Tuesday is copying day.  I take my pile of printables and activities that I gathered on Monday, and I spend time with my BFF "The Copier" and copy all of my materials for the following week.  I like to do this EARLY in the week because then I'm not fighting for the copier on Fridays when everyone else is.  It also doesn't leave me panicking when things like this happen later in the week:

On Tuesdays, I also pull any content related activities that I want to use for next week.  I've spent a lot of time organizing my materials over the past couple years and it has REALLY paid off.  One thing I've loved doing is transferring to a binder system instead of filing cabinets.  It just makes more sense for me to grab a binder filled with resources instead of sifting through a pile of random papers.
These ah-dorable binder covers are from my sweet friend Haley O'Connor. You can find them in her TpT store by clicking HERE.

The binder system is also super nice if you are a teacher who likes to be a resource leader in your school. I LOVE being able to grab, for example, my science binder and have all of  my science units together. 

Wednesdays & Thursdays
Now that everything is copied and pulled, lesson planning is a breeze on Wednesdays and Thursdays.  I simply plug all of the activities we are doing into my plans - main subjects on Wednesday and I plan my small reading groups on Thursdays.  By Thursday after school, my plans are done! I print them off and save them into our district dropbox. 

They are not super detailed, but they work for me! 
**You can download the plans to get clickable links by clicking HERE or clicking on the pictures below to download them from Google Docs.  You must download in order for the links to work.**

Friday's are saved for "putting everything where it goes."  I also write my newsletter on Fridays so I can send it home on Monday. 

The piece of furniture below is falling apart. Literally. If you bump into it, it may crumble to the floor. It's also my FAVORITE thing in my room.  No, it's not pretty, but it keeps me super-organized.  It's a large table-like paper sorter that sits against the wall behind my desk. 

It has 6 rows to it (I don't use the bottom row) and I've assigned each row a day of the week.  On Fridays, I plan out my papers for each day across the row.  The first column gets morning work. The second column gets math printables, etc, etc. ALL of my activities and papers for the week are placed in this paper sorter, making it super easy for me to know what's next and where things are! :)

On Friday's, my plans are put on my desk for the following week, a brand new checklist goes into my lesson plan binder for the following week (So I can pretend to be a hamster and start all over again!) ;)

 I also refuse to spend any of my personal time prepping the classroom for little things like moving lunch choices back and behavior clips back.  My kids that ride the bus all have a job to do at the end of the day, and they love it!

They move the clips back on our behavior chart.

They put lunch choices back so they are ready to go on Monday.

A couple of kids straighten up the library and straighten up desks at the end of the day. (Yes, they know which lines on the floor the desks are supposed to be lined up on. Can you say O-C-D teacher?!) :) 

There is even a job on Fridays for going into my paper sorter and setting out Monday's reading log for the week and Monday's morning work/homework.  = One less thing I have to worry about on Monday morning!  **And YES, my kids come in each morning and "pick up" their morning work on the blue bookshelves. TIP: Stop taking up your own time to put a paper on every desk each morning.  Your kids - even first graders and kinders - are fully capable of walking over and grabbing their morning work as part of their routine. :)

I have even taught my kids how to turn off the Smart Board at the end of the day and how to turn off my projector on my desk.  Kids NEED responsibility in the classroom - this is what makes a classroom transform from "my classroom" to OUR classroom. 

It also frees up precious time for YOU to enjoy your evenings and weekends! :)

I hope you found my weekly schedule for lesson planning and preparation helpful! I no longer spend hours of personal time on lesson planning at home each week.  My time doing school work at home is now spent on interventions for my kids and differentiating my activities to better meet my kids' needs. It has also made me a much, much happier and less-stressed teacher! :) 

From my classroom to yours-

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday November 12th

This week's question: Tell us something random about your morning routine on school days. Mine: I always stop and get coffee from Dunkin Donuts on my way to school! :) Regular coffee with a bit of cream - yum!

Link up with me below!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Owls and NYC!

Happy Sunday from New York City! I'm blogging from the airport, waiting to head back to Ohio for some sleep and school tomorrow morning!  I had a wonderful, FAST weekend in NYC with some of my teacher friends. We had so much fun! I'm going to share some highlights with you and then I can't wait to share the owl reports that my kids have been working on this week!

I l-o-v-e Rockafeller Center!  It's so fun to see the lights and watch the ice skating!

On Saturday, we visited The Empire State Building.  It was my first time to the 86th floor. The view was amazing!
My FAVORITE activity this weekend was seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall for their Christmas Spectacular Show! I danced all the way through college, so seeing the Rockettes is always a huge treat! The show was incredible and put me into the Christmas spirit already. :)
On Sunday, we visited Bryant Park for the Winter Village Shops.  There were over 125 specialty shops with so many unique gifts and items.  Soo fun!
I loved the title of this shop! ;)

No NYC trip is complete without a stop in Little Italy for dinner and a homemade cannoli. YUM! 
Another highlight of our trip - a stop by the TpT office in Soho! It was Saturday so the office was not open, but I couldn't make a trip to NYC without seeing where the magic happens. A super nice security man let me take a picture in front of the door. 
It was fun to see that our amazing online community has a spot "in real life" to call home!

Enough about my weekend - let's talk about owls!
We studied owls for a couple of weeks in science and reading - it's a favorite unit for my students! We even dissected owl pellets, but I'll save that blog post for another day. :)

After we agreed that we knew A LOT about owls, it was time to integrate our learning into an informational paper. Check out our amazing writing!

My students were so excited to write about their owls. They took their time and asked me if they could finish them after lunch so that "their handwriting was THE best!"

Here are three samples for you to see.  You know I like to keep it real, so there is a sample from an advanced writer, an on-target writer, and a below average writer.  I won't tell you which is which - but I think you'll find that for November of first grade, they are all AMAZING! I was so proud of them!

Since they clearly have the basic format of an informational paper down pat, we started to work on making our topic sentences and conclusion sentences more interesting.  We made two anchor charts: one for topic sentences and one for conclusion sentences. The charts are not complete yet, but we will write interesting sentences on the charts for the remainder of the year.  Our "interesting topic and conclusion" sentence charts will grow and grow!

In Daily 5 last week, one little girl wrote about "first grade life." Her topic sentence: I will give you different kinds of information about first grade. I thought that was a pretty great sentence for a seven year old! :)  As your students become comfortable with the basic format of writing, it makes it easier for them to be confident to take more risks. 

We are almost ready to board the plane back to Ohio, so I will wish you all a wonderful new school week!  I'll be back on Wednesday for another Wordless Wednesday linky party! 

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: November 5th - Everyday Math

My district is searching for a new math program to adopt.  Over the next month, I am going to pilot the Everyday Math series with my first graders.  I haven't used a math program in a couple of years so I have mixed opinions!

My question for you this week:  Do you or have you used the new Everyday Math series?  Pros/Cons?  If you don't, what program does your district use and what do you like/not like about it?

Link up below or browse everyone else's pictures this week! :)

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Currently (Late to the Party) and Photo Updates!

I haven't blogged since Wednesday?! I usually do not go this long.  Last week slipped away from me.  There were these things called report cards.  And then this other night called Parent-Teacher Conferences.  After that day came this holiday called Halloween - with a Halloween party.  The day after conferences. THE DAY AFTER people.  I pretty much slept my whole weekend away, and I know that you all understand. :) 

Listening:  I LOVE fireplaces. I love the warmth and coziness they bring to a house and the crackling sound!
Loving: I'm going to NYC for the weekend with some teacher friends in my old district. I.can't.wait! I decided to add a little pizzazz to my nails as I got ready for the Big Apple!
Aren't they fun?!

Thinking: WOW are the next two months b-u-s-y!  In addition to the usual at school, I'm prepping for my first SDE presentation next month - EEK!!  I'm also working on a couple other professional development workshops I am giving and will shortly be getting things ready for my last formal observation.  On top of that, I know you are all wanting the Math No Prep Edition and I can promise I will be trying to work on that as soon and as fast as possible! Hang in there with me friends - I'm hoping this crazy time passes soon! :)

Wanting: to knock some of these projects out so that they are DONE. :)

Needing: I have some really bad pain that forms in my fingers and hands lately - it can sometimes make it painful for me to work on the computer (not a good thing for a blogger!).  I've been trying some different remedies and practices to see what is causing it and what makes it feel better. Some days I feel great and other days, it just plain old hurts! 

Reading: I'm reading Brain-Based Learning by Eric Jensen. It's wonderful! I'm not even halfway through with it and I've already learned so much about how our kids learn, strategies for instruction, and ideas for further differentiation.  I've always been an advocate for teachers to read professional books on their own.  Our career is always-changing and it's up to us to keep on top of things for our kids. :) 

Now, let's talk about what we've been up to in first grade!
On Friday, we practiced counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. My top math group counted by 3's and filled in this blank dry-erase hundreds chart.  Without my help, they saw a really neat pattern! This little girl realized that her numbers were making diagonal lines.  In the diagonals, the ones place was decreasing, while the tens place was increasing! Pretty cool for a first grader!

 It's all about retelling and identifying the main idea in small groups this month.  During this small group reading lesson, my kiddos wrote the events of the book on sticky notes as they read.  Then, they sequenced the events as they retold the story!

A new month = new math games! Last week, we learned our new Math by Myself games using my November Write On/Wipe Off Math Games & Centers pack.  
They LOVE this Number Puzzle game!
Find it by clicking on the picture below, or clicking HERE.

 My kids LOVE this little math game I made called Turkey Hunt!
It's a fast-paced strategy game that requires students to think ahead about their partner's next move.  You can find it on my Facebook page for FREE!!!
This is a Fan Freebie this month.  To download, you must visit my Facebook page and click on the pink FREEBIE button on the left side of the page. :)

Follow me on Facebook HERE or click the Facebook Button to the right of my blog!

Before I go, I wanted to share a little November Bundle pack I created to help you make your November planning a breeze! This little bundle contains a reading, math, and writing pack in it! Find it in my TpT store HERE or click on the picture below!

Thank you so much for catching up with me! I'll be back Wednesday with another Wordless Wednesday! :)