Monday, November 11, 2013

Non-Fiction Text Feature Book, Non-Fiction All About Book, & GIVEAWAY

   Happy Veteran's Day friends!!  Thank you, Veterans, for your service to our country and for this fabulous day off from school!!  It's been sooooo nice to get some things done today. I've got laundry in the wash, cupcakes in the oven (I get to celebrate my sweet niece's 2nd birthday tonight with the fam!), did some major Christmas pinning on Pinterest (that was a SUPER productive 2 hours....NOT!), and some school work!
    Anyway, I've been meaning to blog about this FOR - EH- VAH, but as usual, blogging gets overtaken by that pesky thing called LIFE. :)  But anyway, my kiddos have been overtaken by some non-fiction lately!  Oh, and little side note.....what do you guys call non-fiction??  Do you call it non-fiction or informational text, or both??  And do you use the two terms interchangeably? I know that's random, but it's been bothering me because I see activities listed under both terms, and I know it's the same thing, but I never know which one is more appropriate to use or if it even matters!!  Goodness gracious..that was a bird-walking moment if I've ever seen one.  BUT...we've been reading non-fiction/informational text (there, I covered all my bases), we've been studying non-fiction text features, we've been writing non-fiction, and more!  The kids are loving it too.    I don't know about you all, but when I'm about to do a project with my kids, I have to have some kind of an organized template for how they will record/write down information or I just go crazy.  I know some teachers can just let their kids staple some paper together and write and glue random things on it, and I envy you.  But I just can't handle it.  It makes me batty...  I like uniformity.  I have control issues...I know this, and I'm working on it.  But in the meantime, making a template for my kid's projects keeps me sane. 
      We have done two projects lately with our non-fiction study. The first was a non-fiction text feature scavenger hunt type project where the kids went through Time for Kids magazines and other magazines and found examples of all the different text features we studied and made their own book.  This project was a blast!!!  It was incredibly messy and quite time consuming, but it was authentic work and worth the time and effort.  Click the picture above to find this great book on my TPT store!
It's only $1.00!!
Here are my sweet babies (no pun intended) with their AWESOME non-fiction text feature books!  They did such a great job!!

       The next non-fiction/informational text (this term thing is driving me crazy..) project we did was in writing.  Each student chose a topic that they wanted to research.  We gathered books, articles, etc on each students topic and they are creating "All-About" books on their topic.  Now this kind of thing is another type project that just throws me into a tizzy sometimes too.  Research projects are so meaningful and so much fun for the kids, but they can be utter chaos.... because every child is doing something different, and it can be hard to manage if there isn't organization....which is another reason why I've created an entire set of documents devoted to "All About" book organization!! 
This unit ties in seamlessly with the non-fiction text feature book project because it basically has the kids write a non-fiction book using a lot of the text features that they just learned about!  It has a planning form for students to brainstorm ideas about their topic for research, then a rough draft form that is organized so students can plan out the names of their headings for each section, their text, and their glossary, etc.  Finally, it has the actual book template where students can publish their own non-fiction "All About" book.  It has a cover page, table of contents, pages with places for headings, captions, labels, and photographs, as well as a glossary and all about the author page!  I love it!!  And I hope you do too!
    If you are in the middle of a non-fiction unit and would like these two units, I would LOVE to give them away, so the first 3 people who FOLLOW MY BLOG, FOLLOW MY TPT STORE (, and COMMENT ON THIS POST with your email will get these two units for FREE! Happy Veteran's Day!
     Love, Beth

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Math Station FREEBIE!

Click to download this FREEBIE!!!
         Happy Fall Ya'll!!  I can't believe it's already the end of October!  It's so crazy.  I feel like school just started...  But tomorrow will be a wake up call reminding me that we're already 1/4 of the way through the school year, because 1st 9 weeks report cards go home!  Yet another highlight of this week is going to be Halloween!  Although I'm SO not into all the creepy, scary, vampire & zombie stuff that has overtaken the month of October, I do love fall and the silly-fun side of Halloween..which is why I'm looking forward to doing some neat Fall/Halloween activities with my kids on Thursday.  I've been working for a couple of weeks on a Halloween math activity pack for my math stations that are based on the 2nd Grade Common Core standards.  I can't wait to use it with my kids this week!  I think they are going to have a blast! Anyway, for those of you who are needing a last minute fun and engaging activity to do with your kiddos on Halloween, here is a freebie for you! (Click on the picture to download).  If you like this freebie, check out my Spooktacular Halloween Common Core Math Activities Pack in my TP Store.                            Happy Halloween!!     Love, Beth

Friday, September 6, 2013

Short Vowel Word Work FREEBIE (Short e, o, & u)

     TGIF!!  How come four day weeks always seem longer?! Haha. I can't believe I am already done with week 3 of school!  My how time flies....  My 2nd graders are doing beautifully so far this year, and I am LOVING how much more independent they are than my little firsties last year.  I loved my first graders...but WOW...what a difference! The words, "Okay, now let's use our editor's marks to edit and revise our writing" would have never come out of my mouth during the first week of school.  It took us that long just to get procedures down.  So it's been a nice change, needless to say....though I do miss my wonderful first grade team members!
   Anyway, as any of you who have gone from teaching 1st Grade to 2nd Grade know, there are many overlaps with the standards and a lot of review, especially at the beginning of the year. So, while I have been able to use some of my same ideas as last year, I've had to tweak them to make them more 2nd Grade appropriate.  I've been working on revamping my Vowel Word Work packs, and I thought I'd share one of my activities as a FREEBIE!  My kids have enjoyed doing this fun write the room activity,
and it is more challenging than a traditional word sort because the kids aren't just sorting words that are already written.....they are having to look at pictures, think of the sounds, and write the words themselves.  Click one of the pictures to download! Enjoy!!

    Have a great weekend!!   - Beth

Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm O-FISH-ALLY in 2nd Grade! FREEBIE

      Our Meet the Teacher night is coming up soon, and I can't wait to meet my new 2nd Graders!  It is  going to be weird seeing bigger kids! Haha. The last 5 years, teaching 1st Grade, it has been so different because the kids are so tiny coming up from Kindergarten!  I know being in a new place and meeting new people is hard for some kiddos, so I wanted to give my new 2nd Graders (I can't call them "firsties" anymore....geez! What do you call 2nd graders?  Secondies?? That just doesn't sound right!! haha) a little treat from me to welcome them, so I made these little gift tags to put onto a bag of goldfish for a snack!  These tags actually have a page for 1st Graders too... so one page says "I'm O-FISH-ally in 1st Grade" and one says "I'm O-FISH-ally in 2nd Grade."  Click the picture to download!  Enjoy!!
            - Beth

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Clip Chart Behavior Management System with Monthly Calendars FREEBIE

**** 7-13-17 Update!! The NEW 2017-2018 Clip Chart Management System & Calendars are available on my TPT Store at the following link ****

Hey ya'll!!!  Summer is almost over.... :( Boo hoo....I can't believe the school year is about to begin!! It's so bittersweet.  I'm super excited to start a new school year (I LOVE new beginnings and a fresh start!) but also sad to give up my days of sleeping in and being on my own schedule.  I'm pretty sure my husband does not feel bad for me though....haha.  I think he'll be glad for me to start back so I can't be home spending money! ;) 

    Anyway, I don't know about all of you, but with the start of a new school year, one of the first things I want to have firmly in place is a behavior management system...and a good one at that!  I have tried several different systems over the past several years, and the one that I used this past school year seemed to work the best out of all the ones I've tried, so I am going to do it again!  I did some tweaking to the clip chart system I used last year, though, and changed "Outstanding" to "Outstanding LEADER" since my school does The Leader in Me and focuses on developing the 7 Habits and Leadership skills in our students.  I also made monthly behavior calendars to go along with the clip chart system to help me communicate behavior daily to parents.  This is going to be a change for me since before I was using a weekly behavior communication sheet.  I liked the weekly sheet because I had more room to write in notes/comments, giving parents more detailed information about good things their child did that day and more info about poor choices they may have made too so the parents had some info to follow up with the child at home.  But it truly was getting difficult and time consuming to write notes.  So I came up with a behavior code with numbers that correspond to different behaviors, so I can refer to the numbers to let parents know what specific behaviors their child struggled with (I always feel that is important so the parents have some info to address things at home effectively).   I think I am going to like the monthly calendars because they are going to be more manageable and less paper to have to copy each week.  They are also very self explanatory, so I hope parents will find them user friendly and communicative.
   Along with this management pack is a parent letter to explain the system, student award certificates for when the students reach "Outstanding Leader" and a "Outstanding Leader Hall of Fame" poster for students to retire their clips when they have reached Outstanding Leader 5 times.  The first 3 teachers to comment on this post and leave their email get this pack for FREE!!!  Or if you would like to purchase this behavior management pack, click on the picture to go to my TPT store.  It's only $1.99!!
    Does anyone use monthly calendars in their classrooms now?  I'd love to know what you think about them, how they work for you, and any tips you have!!
    Happy Teaching!!

               Love, Beth

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday Linky Party


         Well, I just got back from working in my classroom.  My BFF (that just sounded really high school.....whatever :)) and fellow blogger Katie came down today to help me set things up.  After 4 days of staring around the room wondering where to start, I figured in needed to call in back up!  And Katie is the ONLY person I could have who wouldn't get totally aggravated with how long it takes me to do stuff because she's just as OCD as I am.  I heart you Katie!!  Thank you for all your help today! 
     Anyway, I got home from school and saw Courtney over at Swimming in 2nd's Top 10 Linky Party and decided I had to join since I'm new to the 2nd grade family, so here goes!!  By the way...these are in no particular order!

1) My Silhouette Cameo

  My fab husband got me this for Christmas, and I LOVE IT!  It was a little pricey, but totally worth it.  I have made all kinds of cute things for my classroom, and my hands don't have carpel tunnel from cutting things out with scissors all the time!! :)  It is so much better than the Cricut, because you don't have to buy cartridges! It's all digital...

2) My Digital Clipart

   I LOVE making new resources for my classroom, so having great digital clip art, borders, fonts, etc is a MUST!  Some of my favorite digital clipart designers are MareeTrueLove, Print Candee, and KPM Doodles (all of their stores are on Etsy.)

                                       (Click this picture to go to Print Candee's Etsy Store.)

3) My Scotch Thermal Laminator
      Sometimes I just don't have time to wait for my stuff to get laminated at school (we aren't allowed to laminate our own stuff), so this is a LIFE SAVER!

4) My IKEA Shelves (no particular one...I have like 10)

    My classroom would be one sad place if it weren't for my FABULOUS IKEA shelves.  If I were to purchase stock in an product, it would be IKEA shelves.  I heart them!  Here are my two favorites... my classroom library shelves and my math manipulative organizers.

5) My Math Game Board Organizer (courtesy of The Container Store)

   This picture below only shows it with a few insets, but if you look carefully at the sides you can see the tiny slits for LOTS of inserts. I have about 15 different drawers in this thing that hold my math game boards for our Everyday Math Games.  It is the perfect solution because the space between each insert is really small so it holds a ton of different categories of stuff and doesn't take up a lot of space...
  6)  My Rotating Desk Organizre

      I have reserve supplies of lots of stuff like paperclips, rubber bands, staples, etc.  but when I just need one or two of something this is perfect!  It holds just a small amount of everything...pens, pencils, scissors, white out, rubber bands, staples, sticky notes, my calculator, a ruler, and MUCH MORE!  I just refill it every now and again.

7) My Hanging Reading Assessment Organizer
    This thing is large and in charge...but it works so well! After I finish a Dominie Reading Assesment with a child, I file it in the child's pocket, so I can easily see what level I did with them previously and if I have a RTI or IEP meeting on a child I can just grab their reading assessments and go.  Because it hangs on the wall, this works so much better than filing them in a file cabinet, because they are visible and accessible.

( I cannot find a picture of this to save my life and I don't have a picture of it in my classroom..oh well!)

8) My Lesson/Paper/Printables Organizer (Black Storage Cubes)

   I have all my printables that I need for each subject organized into these spacious black storage cubes with drawers!  It got them at Office Depot a couple of years ago.  I also keep Box Tops, Reading Awards, Weekly Readers/Time for Kids, etc. in them.  It keeps stuff organized and not visible to reduce clutter!


9) My Dymo Label Maker

    I makes labels....'nuff said.

10) My Hallway Chalkboard

    One of the teacher tasks I LOATHE ENTIRELY (anybody catch the Grinch reference here??) is cutting out letters with the di-cut machine in order to give my bulletin boards and/or student work displays a title.  It takes entirely too long, and it's a waste of time because right after you put it up you practically have to take it down a few weeks later.  I solved this problem this past school year by putting up my hallway chalkboard.  I just erase it and write a title for my next hallway display.  1 minute tops!! :) I LOVE it!!


What are your Top 10 Teaching Must Haves??

Have a blessed day!!   Love, Beth

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Consonant Blends Word Work Game....and Some News!

So....the past few days have been a little bit of an emotional roller coaster for me.  I just found out that I am changing grade levels this coming school year.  I am going to be in 2nd grade now.  I was a little shocked at first and a little sad, because I love my team and I love first grade...and I've worked SO hard to get really good at teaching 1st Grade Common Core.  But, on the flipside, I've started to think of lots of benefits of moving to 2nd too, and I'm trying to focus on all of those!! :)  I think I'm just a planner to a fault, and I feel behind already since this is something all new.  But here are the PROS I've come up with about teaching 2nd grade as opposed to 1st:

       1) They will already know HOW TO READ....since I did such a FAB job last year and all,
           you know?!!!   Haha. Yay!  (This may be my favorite reason!)

       2) I will get my kiddos at the beginning of the year where my firsties were at the END  
          of the, what a difference that is going to be!

       3) I might have some of the same cuties I taught last year!
       4) I will know exactly what my kids learned last year in 1st grade, so they can't ever say,
          "Mrs. So-and-So didn't teach us that last year!"  haha.

If any of you teach 2nd grade, I'd love to hear all your favorite things about it!!

   But, anyway, now that I'm moving to 2nd, I'm trying to finish up all my teaching resources that were more 1st grade oriented and get them posted on TPT so I can start making some 2nd grade things!!  So, I had been working on a Consonant Blends Game (they were one of my favorite things to teach in 1st), and it is finally done!  The game is in a puzzle format and is a lot of fun, so I hope your kiddos enjoy it!  Just click the picture to download at my TPT Store.  

   AND...for the first 3 friends that comment on this post and leave me your email, I will send it to you for free!!   Have a wonderful week!!

          Love, Beth

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fairy Tale vs. Fractured Fairy Tale Unit & FREEBIE

Once Upon a Time....
     Whew!!  My how this summer is flying by...and my how long it has been since I posted anything to this blog!  Sorry, friends... :)  Anyway, I have been working on this fairy tale unit FOREVER (meaning I started this TWO SCHOOL YEARS in 2011-2012), and I am just now finishing it up.  Sad, I know..  But all I can say is, perfection takes time.  I kind of like to start something, then teach the unit, then see what worked and what didn't...and then make changes as necessary.  It's a process... :)  But alas, it is done and I'm finally sharing it with you!!  This sounds weird, but I love this unit because it is NOT interdisciplinary!  So many fairy tale units I've seen have math activities where the kids measure beanstalks, or random science experiments, and they try to integrate other subject areas..which is fine.  But our math curriculum is really strict and we can't just not teach the curriculum and do "fairy tale" themed math activities instead.  So I like units that just focus on one subject at a time.  My fairy tale unit is an ELA fairy tale unit, meaning it has multiple reading response activities and writing activities, but NO math, social studies, or science. You're welcome. :)  Click the picture above to go to my TPT store.  Click the picture on the below for a Fairy Tale Story Map FREEBIE!!
      THE END...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Common Core Assessments

Common Core Assessments are back!! I had posted some assessments a few months ago on the blog, but I have decided to go back and create them by standard instead of unit. The summative assessments were long, and I needed more formative assessments to help guide my instruction throughout each unit. This has been more beneficial for me to determine what my students know throughout the unit, and I can see exactly where each child may need help :) I decided to share my first unit for FREE with all of you! Let me know what you think... I would love your feedback as I am working on the other units this summer. 

Oh...It's been raining ALL week here in Georgia. Feel free to send some sunshine down this way if any of you have some nice summer weather! Happy RAINY Sunday :)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Number Sense FREEBIE!

Schools OUT for the SUMMER!!!!! Yes... That song has been in my head all week :) Does anyone else start thinking about the next school year as soon as summer starts? Although I love trips to the lake and beach, I start planning activities for next year between vacations. 

Now that I have implemented the Common Core standards for a year (and we are getting a new math series), I wanted to work on creating a unit and activities to build number sense. I feel like that is one area that many of the math series are week in, and I think building a strong foundation in number sense is so important. I am working on some activities with ten frames, hundreds charts, rekenreks, etc. I would like to hear about any activities you may use in your classroom with number sense.  I have included two freebies from my unit (which I am hoping to finish this week). ENJOY!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Write the Room Activity - Bossy R

  There is just something about Easter eggs that just make me happy!! Maybe it's because they are colorful and decorated, or maybe it's because when  I see them I think of Spring Break!!  Yep...I'm pretty sure it's the latter.....
  This year I'm a little extra excited because my hubby and I are going on a trip to the Grand Canyon!! Whoohooo!!!  I can't wait!  I just got a new camera so I can capture all of our wonderful memories.  But...we are still not done with school, so I decided to make some fun Easter themed activities to help my kiddos review the Bossy R words.  I LOVE teaching Bossy R!  I think it's because The Electric Company has an awesome video that my kids are mildly obsessed with that just helps them remember the sounds and spellings so well! If you haven't checked it out, you need to!  Here's my Bossy R Write the Room activity.  Just click on it to download from my TPT store!
  My kids did it today and loved it!!!   The first 3 commenters who tell me what they are doing for Spring Break get it for FREE!! Just send me your email.  Happy Easter!!   - Beth

  The Electric Company - Bossy R Video

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Phonics vs. Whole Language: What Brain Research.... and Common Sense Says

   In the midst of Common Core and recent reading textbook adoptions, I have found myself getting a little perturbed with some of the schools of thought out there in education-land about what is and is not effective reading instruction, and after coming across an article or two online over the last few weeks that pertained to reading, I felt to write a post about my thoughts (or the thoughts of scientists and researchers with many more degrees than I have). 
    Let me begin by saying that I have been teaching 1st Grade for 5 years...and in those 5 years I have taught at 3 differnet schools in 3 different school districts that taught 3 very different reading curriculums.  I have witnessed and been involved in numerous conversations with other teachers about reading instruction, and I'm still amazed at the fact that some teachers still completely renounce the purpose and effectiveness of phonemic awareness and phonics instruction with young children. I myself am a very good speller and have a very good ability to quickly analyze words, break sounds apart, and I constantly find myself noticing similarities and differences among words on the basis of sounds, spellings, vowel patterns, inflectional endings, etc.  I was taught phonics. My husband, on the contrary, is a very intelligent man and is wonderful at a lot of things...but he is a terrible speller sometimes has difficulties spelling words.  And guess how he was taught in school...NOT with phonics!  Go figure....  He was never taught the building blocks of language and to this day he struggles with it. 
   I, being the data-driven educator I am, am not easily persuaded by the opinions of others or the overzealous marketing strategies of textbook companies with hidden agendas.  I always go back to what is researched based...and not JUST research-based...BRAIN RESEARCH BASED, in addition to what I see working in my classroom after being able to implement a variety of approaches.  In the last 10-15 years, medical science has bridged over it's influence into education in an incredible giving us as educators insight into how the brain digests the reading process.  Reading, unlike eating, drinking, and reproducing, for example, is not an innate task.  We were born knowing how to do many things, but reading is not one of them.  And since human beings have had the "need to read," we have been teaching the reading process in a multitude of ways...many of which are absolute bogus, or ineffective at best.
    So..for those of you who need a refresher...  The whole language approach basically teaches children to look at words like a Chinese character, as a whole entity.  Words are taught to be recognized on sight and memorized. In contrast, the phonics-based approach teaches children to break down words into their individual parts - the alphabetic letters and their corresponding sound relationships (phonemes).  So, to give you a commonly known quote to help you create a mental picture of the opposition of these two reading approaches, here goes:  Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day (WHOLE LANGUAGE).  Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime (PHONICS). If you can only read the words you have been taught, basically you are screwed when you come to an unknown word in a text, but if you know the building blocks of language and can use letter-sound relationships to sound out a word, you can read anything. 
     In the article, "Battle Lines Drawn in Common Core Standards: Whole Language vs. Phonics," Donna Gardner states, "the whole language teaching method emphasizes "pre-reading strategies" because students who have not been taught phonemic awareness/ decoding skills (phonics) cannot sound out words well enough to free up their brains to comprehend the text."  Basically, when we put so much emphasis on students being given information up front about a story (ex: names of the characters, setting of the story, etc), letting them take a detailed "picture walk," and then encouraging them to use the picture to help them guess at what the words on the picture might be, we basically eliminate the need for them to actually read the words on the page.  Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with taking a "picture walk" just to kind of get a feel for what a story is going to be about, but if a child cannot look at a word and gain meaning from the word itself without having to use the picture as a cue, then the child is not actually reading.  Some would shoot back with, "Well, reading is a meaning making process and the picture is part of the meaning of the story." And to that I would say, "Yes...reading IS a meaning making process. But the meaning, at the end of the day, should be derived from the text. Yes, picture books are the primary form of literature in K-2. But after that, all the way until adulthood, most children will be reading chapter books, newspapers, magazine articles, etc. which do not have the picture support that picture books do.  Therefore, we need to teach them how to decode text and derive meaning from the written word."
    Another big argument I hear from people who don't understand phonics is that "not all words can be sounded out."  But the examples given of "non-soundoutable" words (yes, I know that is not a word), actually support phonics instruction instead of renounces it.  For example, I've heard people say, "Well you can sound out words like ship, because you don't say "suh - huh - ih - puh!"  Um....yes....I know that... because a child who knows phonics knows that the letters S & H do not say "suh - huh" when found side by side.  They say "shhh." What people don't understand is that yes, if you only teach the alphabet letters A-Z, no you can't "sound out" words.  But phonics is not just teaching kids the alphabet.  It's teaching kids the letter sound relationships of not just single letters but letters that work together such as blends (gl, cl, dr, pr, sw, sn, sm, etc), digraphs (sh, th, ch, wh, ph), vowel digraphs (ee, ea, ai, ay, ow, oa, ou, oi, oy, aw, au, etc.), r-controlled vowels (ar, er, ir, or, ur) and word endings like (s, es, ing, ed, ies, -y, etc).  If you teach kids all of these differnet building blocks, they can "sound out" pretty much any word you give them....and yes, I said "sound out."  I am 26 years old, so I am by no means from the "old school" of thought. I was even instructed in college to teach using "balanced literacy" which doesn't really push phonics that heavily, so I wasn't coerced by my professors to love phonics.  I just get so tired of people saying that telling a child to "sound out" a word is wrong.  That is exactly what kids have to do to decode words efficiently.  It is not harmful to tell a child to "sound out" a word. 
   For instance, if you know phonics rules, you know that the word couch is spelled exactly like it sounds:  CUH - OW- CH.  A phonics student who has been taught vowel digraphs (ou & ow) and digraphs (ch) knows exactly how to sound out that word.  No child who truly has an understanding of phonics would sound out couch as "cuh - ahh- uhh - cuh - huh," saying the sound of each individual letter.  He or she would know that OU and CH are grouped and have their own unique sound when paired together.  
    Another argument is that curriculums which feature reading books or decodable readers that only feature sounds and spellings the kids have learned do not expose them to "authentic literature." Well, you're doesn't....but only for about 6-8 months until all the sounds and spellings have been introduced.... and then the world of literature is at their fingertips!!   What a small price to pay to give children a strong foundation in phonics and phonenic awareness, which will prepare them to read any word in any selection of "authentic literature."   Not to mention..... no child should be suffering from a lack of authentic literature anway, regardless of the whether they are being taught with whole language or phonics, because we as educators have a responsibility to do read alouds and expose our kids to other literature that is separate from the reading textbook or big book..... which would be authentic literature.  The reason for exposing students to literature (for the purpose of shared or independent reading) which features only the sounds and spellings they have learned is to help them to become confident with what they have learned and master reading words with those sounds/spellings before moving on to others which would cause them pointless frustration.  Once short vowels, long vowels, blends, digraphs, vowel digraphs, r-controlled vowels, words endings, etc have all been introduced (which can happen between August and about March of a child's first grade year) then he or she has all the building blocks he or she needs to read from that point forward.  So children are not missing out on authentic literature through a phonics based approach, and if they are, it is for so short a period of time that it doesn't matter.... The pros far outweigh the cons.  It is like any other subject area. Why would you give a child a test on counting money and telling time if you have not taught money and time yet?  You wouldn't!  So why would you give a child a book to read with a ton of long vowel words when they have not learned long vowels yet?  It only makes sense to give children literature which features the skills they have learned.  This does not mean that children cannot be exposed to literature through read alouds which feature skills they have not learned yet, but it does not make sense for a text in which a child is expected to read independently or even with teacher support to feature multiple sounds/spellings that are unfamiliar to the child. 
    All of the above arguments seem common sense to me, but none of that matters when you pull brain research into the matter.  I worked at an ITI (now HET) school for 2 years that was completely devoted to putting into pratice brain-researched based teaching and learning practices, and guess what kind of reading curriculum we had??  A phonics-based one.  But google it yourself - there is article after article describing experiments done with the brain and all of them firmly support a phonic based approach as the most effective and brain-friendly approach to reading instruction.  
   A dyslexia study done at Yale University found that readers who were readily able to sound out words and break apart words into sounds had multiple areas of the brain that were lit up during MRI scans, meaning that multiple areas of the brain were functioning at the same time in order to perform the task.  Readers who were not able to sound out words or break apart words into individual sounds had much less blood flow to the areas of the brain that  petain to language and in some cases, very little brain activity at all.  So... in other words... the brain learns to read one sound at a time, and when it doesn't, it is thrown for a loop in a sense (info from  Fascinating...
    As another side note.... I have grown more and more upset about the apparent lack of concern for spelling now-a-days.  We used to have spelling tests every week, and I'm a great speller.  I put a lot of emphasis on correct spelling in my classroom, but many schools and districts have literally outlawed spelling tests.  Why is this?  I feel like this is one other wonderful reason phonics is so important because not only does it teach children all the differnet patterns and relationships of letters with which to read, but it simultaneously teaches them all of those same ways with which to SPELL.  Now of course "beecus" for "because" or "beyooteeful" for "beautiful" is perfectly acceptable in 1st Grade right now as long as the content is there, but if I was a 2nd or 3rd  grade teacher, I would be expecting correct spelling gosh darn it! :)

     Here is a list of articles I found just tonight that prove that phonics is the most effective method of reading instruction.  Not to mention there are a ton of other books and research articles on the same topic that can be found as well.... see for yourself. 

    I'd love to know all the other teachers thoughts out there!  Do all you teachers who teach K-2 teach phonics?  Do you teach kids how to segment, blend, and "sound out" words?  What are your thoughts on the whole phonics vs. whole language debate? 

     Can't wait to hear from you all!!  - Beth

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Common Core Valentine's Activities for 1st Grade

  I just recently finished my Common Core Valentine's Math & Literacy pack!  It is packed full with interactive independent activites to practice literacy skills and even more math skills, which I am using this week for Valentine math stations.  All of these activities only require dice or other math manipulatives you probably already have in your classroom!  I know my firsties need LOTS of practice with those tougher common core standards, so you'll be sure to find activities that cover the following Common Core standard skills....
  And the best thing is you don't have to prep or laminate anything!!  So if you need a last minute fun and purposeful set of activities for your kids, then this is for you!  I hope your kids enjoy these as much as mine are!  Click the picture to go to my TPT store...

ON SALE UNTIL 2/15/13!!!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Super Bowl Super Sale!!

    In honor of Super Bowl Sunday tomorrow, I, along with many other teacher sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers am throwing a SUPER SALE!!  ALL of my products in my TPT store are 28% off (20% off from me and 18% off from TPT!). Click the poster to go to my TPT store or click on a unit below to purchase. I hope you find lots of goodies!!  Happy shopping and good luck to your Super Bowl team!!  Is it sad that I don't even know who is playing??  Confession:  I just go for the food and the commericals....yeah...that's pretty much it.  :) 


The 100th Day of School... is OVER :(

        All the hype over the 100th Day of School, and now it's over..I'm sad!  It was crazy...and loud... and a little stressful...but boy did we have fun!  We started our the day with our 100th Day hat making.  They turned out great!  Then we started our morning meeting and our100th Day item collection guessing activity.  Each child brought in 100 items in a Ziploc baggie (which is then put inside a paper bag to keep it secret). The kids wrote 3 clues about their items and read them to the class  and we all took turns guessing the mystery items!   From there, we starting working on our 100 Days of Fun in 1st Grade Pack (pictured on the table beside the hats), and then it was time for our grade level rotations!!  I did Froot Loop necklaces.  Every year I say I won't do it again next year because it's so darn messy!  There's always crushed Froot Loops all over the poor custodians.  But it's just so fun I convince myself to do it again every year!!   This year I brought my custodian some cookies in the morning so she wouldn't be mad at the end of the day when she had to clean up Froot Loop dust! :)  After that we did our 100 cup stacking race. I bought 5 sets of those little white bathroom cups at Wal-mart for like $1.80, I split the kids up into groups, and we had a race to see who coulds stack them the fastest!  We also had a 100th day snack with lots of yummy goodies!!  We ended the day with my favorite...portraits of ourselves when we are 100 years old.  They turned out especially cute this year.  I just LOVE them!!  80 more days to go til summer!! :)

I had measured the kids heads in advance, so I was able to have the hats sitting on the kids tables when they came in Friday morning.  So all they had to do was add their 100 stickers. That saved us a TON of time!!!

They LOVED putting 100 stickers all over their hats...and I LOVED cleaning out my sticker drawer of stickers I will never use.... :)  That was a "Think Win-Win" situation for those of you who teach The 7 Habits! haha. 

The kids went around in a rotation and got 10 of each item to make a snack of 100 items!!  We used CHEX, CHOCOLATE CHIPS, MARSHMALLOWS, CINNAMON TOAST CRUNCH, CHEEZ-ITS, M&M's, CRAISINS, PEANUTS, GOLDFISH, & POPCORN.


I had seen some other people use SOLO cups for cup stacking, but my kids are so little they wouldn't be able to reach the top of the tower!  I thought the little white cups would be better, and they were!!  They had a blast!

We did it!!!

I just LOVE this display!!  They turned out so cute!  As I was putting this up and thinking of a title for the display, I thought it would be cool to figure out in what year my kids would be 100.  So I did the math... and then after I did it, I wish I hadn't!  My 6 year olds will be 100 in the year 2106!!  Geez...... not not cool.

Monday, January 21, 2013

100th Day SMARTBoard Activities

  I wanted to post this separate from my other 100th day plans so anyone searching for 100th Day Smartboard activities would be able to find the post easier.  But for those of you still searching for a fun activity to do in your own classroom with your kids or need something quick and easy to do as a 100th Day rotation, these interactive SMARTBoard activities are TONS of fun and are educational too!!  Hope they help you!!

         "Give the Dog a Bone" is a fun and interactive game that has kids use their understanding of the numbers and patterns on the Number Grid to find the given number. 
              "Splat Square" is an interactive number grid that "splats" different color paint on each
number whenever you click on it.  This can be used to practice counting to 100 by 
10's, 5's, 2's, etc. or for a "number hunt" type game.

                     "Ghost Blasters" is a game where you have to "blast" the ghosts that have multiples of ten.  It times you to see how long it takes you to get to 100.  This could be played in teams with your class (can we say BOYS vs GIRLS?!) to see who can get to 100 in the least amount of time!


Love, Beth

100th Day of School Fun in 1st Grade!

      So...after the holidays, usually the 100th Day of School always sneaks up on me!!  But this year I made it a point to make sure that I planned ahead and got all my ideas together so I wouldn't be so stressed!  Our 100th Day is coming up on February 1st, so not too much longer!  I've been working on a 100th Day little work booklet for my firsties with some ELA & Math activities that they can work on througout the day and in between our rotations.  If you are interested, you can download the booklet from my TPT store by clicking the picture below.

      I've also been finding some super cute ideas on Pinterest and on other blogs, so I thought I'd share some of the best ideas I've seen.... thanks to all of these ladies for being so creative and giving me such great ideas!!

          I did these 100 Year Old Portraits with my kids last year and they loved them!!  This is a picture of a few of my kids' portraits from last year.  I got this idea from Deanna Jump's blog, Mrs. Jump's Class.  So cute!  I can't wait to do them again this year!

    I've seen this activity several differnet places, but how fun is this activity from Joyful Learning in KC!?  100 Red Solo Cups turns into a good half hour of tower building fun.  Red solo cup...I'll fill you up.... (with fun of course...wink wink)... let's have a party!! Let's have a party!!

     I LOVE these hats!!!  These hats are from First Grade is a Treat.  I can't wait to do these! My kids are going to love the sticker fun!!!

    We have 6 teachers on my 1st grade team, and every year we do a rotation of different activities in each class.  So far my team's plan for our 100th day rotations are as follows:

                1) 100th Day Necklaces (stringing cereal onto curling ribbon)
                2) Building with 100 Legos
                3) 100th Day Gumball Machines (with paint dots)
                4) Doing exercises in sets of 100
                5) 100th Day Smartboard Activities
                6) 100th Day Pictures

     I will follow up with pictures later!!!!   Happy 100th day for all of you who have already celebrated!
         - Beth