Saturday, June 30, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award...Woo hoo!

Thanks to Colleen at Totally Terrific in Texas! She gave me the "Versatile Blogger" award.

Here are the rules for this award:

1.  Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2.  Include a link to their site.
3.  Include the award image in your post.
4.  Give 7 random facts about yourself
5.  Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
6.  When nominating, include a link to their site.
7.  Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.

So 7 random facts...
1. I have a Shih Tzu named Lola who is the best (most spoiled) dog ever!
2. I live in Texas but have a ton of family in Alabama.
3. I'm a huge Longhorn fan. I went to UT and miss Austin terribly!
4. I'm going to have a baby boy in September, we are naming him Jackson.
5. "Jackson" is the name of the school where I met my husband.
6. I don't like bugs but I can't let anyone kill them. I beg my husband to just carefully take moths or flies outside...haha! He is patient with me.
7. I am slightly obsessed with all things teaching!

Here are my 15 nominations:
1. Courtney at Swimming into Second
Swimming into Second
2. Ginger at Ginger Snaps
Ginger Snaps
 The First Grade Diaries Etsy Shop
4. Lacie at Polka Dots and Pencils
Polka Dots and Pencils

5. Heather at Heather's Heart
Heather's heart

6. Kelley at Buggy for Second Grade
Buggy for 2nd Grade

7. Mrs. Saoud at Primary Graffiti
Primary Graffiti

8. Mrs. Larremore at Chalk Talk
Chalk Talk

9. Cynthia at Second Grade Pad
Welcome to 2nd Grade Pad

10. Marie at The Hands On Teacher
The Hands-On Teacher In First!

Friday, June 29, 2012

15% Off Sale!

I'm having a sale in my TPT store from 7 pm tonight until 7 pm tomorrow. Go by and checkout my products!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Word Work~ Short Vowels and Word Families

Last year was my first year in second grade. I remember looking at our scope and sequence, seeing short vowels and word families at the beginning of the year and thinking..."Really? We did this in kindergarten." So I reviewed it with my students, thinking it should be easy breezy...well for most of them, yes it was. For my struggling 4-5, not so much.

I found that with my struggling readers, the vowels were something I would have to work on consistently throughout the year. After reading Words Their Way, I realized why. They are in a completely different spelling stage than my other students. My most struggling readers fell in the "letter name-alphabetic" spelling stage, which means short vowels, word families and consonant blends are things they "use but confuse." Whereas most of my other second graders were in the "within word pattern" stage, ready for long vowel patterns, ambiguous vowels and r-influenced vowels.

This year I vow to take it slow and make sure I'm differentiating enough for my strugglers. I've been revamping my scope and sequence for word work and I've got my first 9 weeks planned out. To supplement my teaching, I've created a short vowel/word families unit to use during Daily 5 and small group. The cool thing about this unit is that it can be used in kindergarten at the end of the year or just with students who need a challenge. It can also be used in first grade. Check it out!

Smiles! :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Teaching and Motherhood...

I don't know if you all know, but I'm 7 months pregnant with my first child. He's due September 17th and my husband and I couldn't be more excited! :) I have been a little anxious lately, wondering how I can balance it all. I'm one of "those" teachers who gets to school early, stays late and clearly works on the weekends and summers. I don't really consider it "work" because I love what I do but it does take away time I could be spending with family or friends. I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about!

With that being said, our school starts July 25th and our first break is September 25th for two weeks. I'll be in my classroom, or should be, the whole first 9 weeks. I'm happy for that...I can setup expectations, get them started in Daily 5 and hopefully get them in a steady routine. I worry though about when I'm gone. I know my principal will find a fabulous long term sub for me but I just cannot help but worry about what will go on in the classroom when I'm not there. I'm rarely absent because I just think it's so much more work to be gone that it is to be there. I'm also a tad bit of a control freak...I have seen too many times how a not so with it sub can completely turn a classroom upside down.

My question for you teacher moms out there is: How involved were you when you went on maternity leave? How connected were you with your long term sub?

I know I'll have my handsful at home with my new baby boy but I also know how I am and will worry about my kids at school too. I'd love to hear any advice you have! Thanks for sharing!! :)


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Last year I used these bookmarks with my guided reading groups. Once we established goals, the students put their sticky note under the C,A,F or E and they filled out their bookmarks. We filled out the bookmarks together, first circling our goal and then using the CAFE menu  to find strategies we can use to meet that goal.

For example, my accuracy group would circle A-Accuracy and then I guided them through the strategies part. I reminded them not to write all the strategies down from the menu but to pick 2 or 3 that they actually use. "Flip the vowel" and "cross check" were some of these most popular strategies for my struggling decoders.

I freshened up my bookmarks with some colorful DJ inkers graphics and some graphics from The 3 AM teacher. I've also included some black and white bookmarks that you can run on cardstock.

I've had some trouble with google docs. If you cannot access the file, please let me know!


Monday, June 25, 2012

200 Follower Give Away!

Check out Tonya's Treats for Teachers, she's having a fabulous give away. Being new to the blog word, I loved how she asked us how blogging has helped us be better teachers. It was so funny that she asked that because I was just talking with my husband about how I can see I've already gotten so much inspiration and creative ideas for my classroom based on what I've read and seen from other teachers' blogs. I also feel like blogging makes me more creative with things I create because I know there is an audience out there that's truly interested in what I have to share...and of course, if I'm going to share, it better be good! :) Congrats Tonya!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Texas Teachers!

So as I've been blog hopping I've read a lot about "common core standards." I had no idea what these were, looked it up and figured out that basically every other state has adopted the same standards except for Texas. Well, I thought it was a little funny because of course Texas would be one of the only ones to not do what everyone else is doing. We like to think we're still our own country I guess... :)

Anyways, I loved some of the common core standards cards I saw online. Really cute graphics and great for goal setting with your students. This aligns perfectly with what I've been reading in The Leader in Me. This year I plan on having one student be the "goal keeper." His or her job is to read aloud our learning goals for the day. I thought it would be easy and organized to just write the number of the standard (in Texas we call them TEKS) and let the student find the card, put it up and read it during morning meeting. That way it gives them leadership in the classroom, direction for the day and some accountability for their learning.

The only problem with this idea was...I don't have the cards made! Luckily, I've been inspired by many fabulous teachers so I had the drive to create my own now, instead of waiting until the last minute and creating a few at a time. I just finished working on the reading set. I'll make cards for math, writing, science and social studies as well. I created two sets for reading: one with just the text and border and the other with the text, border and a cute ocean graphic.

If you're a Texas teacher, check them out! I'm in second but if you need a different grade level, let me know and I can make them and post at a later date.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award!

Thank you Amy at Where Seconds Count for giving me my first blog award! I feel very honored and excited it! I'm very new to the bloggy world but I've already gotten so many great ideas and I just cannot wait to get in my room and share everything on my blog.

Once you receive the award, you must follow 3 rules:
1. Follow the person that gave you the award

2. Link back to the person that gave you the award

3.Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers

So to follow the rules I've already started following Amy, I've added a link to her website, now I'm sharing my list of 15 fabulous blogs! Here it goes:

1. Colleen at Totally Terrific in Texas, shout out to fellow Texas teachers! :)


3. Lisa at Fourth and Ten


Made In The Shade In Second Grade

Ms. Fiorini's Stadium

6. April at Grade School Giggles

7. Mary at Sharing Kindergarten

Sharing Kindergarten
8. Tammy at Live, Love, Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten

9. Debra at Mrs. McDaniel's 2nd Grade
 Mrs. McDaniel’s Second Grade Super Stars

10. Terri at The Creative Apple

11. Lesson Plan SOS Teachers at Lesson Plan SOS

12. Lindsey at The Teacher Wife

13. Fredia at Frogs in First

Frogs in First

14. Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files

Ladybug's teacher files

15. Jen Runde's Room

Runde's Room

Friday, June 22, 2012

Just in time for the Olympics!

I just finished working on my Magic Tree House novel unit. I picked "#16 Hour of the Olympics" knowing that the kids will be very interested in the Olympic games coming up. I'll probably use this unit as a whole class read aloud when we go back to school in July, but it can easily be done in literature circles or any other small groups you use in your classroom. Check it out at my TPT store! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Under Construction!

After immersing myself in blogland, I realized I wanted my blog to be a little more unique than I originally laid it out to be. I also wanted one that would allow me to take it with me through grade levels (I have one of those principals who likes to move people). Sooo, with that in mind you'll notice a new title and address. Soon you will see a new blog template...I'm on the search, if you have any pointers let me know!

Either way, I'm excited about it and hope you'll like the change! Keep reading and I'll be posting again soon. Happy Wednesday! :)


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Falling Into First 100 Follower Giveaway!

Falling into First is celebrating 100 followers with a fabulous giveaway! Check it out and link up! :)

Favorite Blogs!

Fun in the Sun with Ten Frames!

I'm super excited because my "Fun in the Sun with Ten Frames" unit is complete. Now I'm ready to go with back to school, beach themed math stations. I started my blog after school was out this year, so I don't have any pictures to show you of my classroom, but I do a beach theme and I love it! I think it sends a relaxed, calming vibe to the kids...and me!

Check out my ten frame math stations:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Freebie!

Happy Monday!

I'm linking up with Classroom Freebies to offer a fabulous freebie. I'm working on a fun with ten frames math packet for the beginning of the school year. The ten frames and activities are all beach themed. You'll find a set of color and black and white crab and seashell ten frames for students to use. I use them a lot at the beginning of second grade to help my students build number sense.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sooo I checked our science scope and sequence and magnets is the first unit up after science safety. Since it is one thousand degress outside and I'm 7 months pregnant, sitting in the AC creating resources for magnets sounds way more fun than sweating up a storm outside! ;)

I came up with some hands on, easy to implement activities and ideas for my second graders. The activities can easily be modified for 3rd or 1st. I've also created vocabulary work and an assessment. I'm not gonna lie, pretty excited I'll be good to go when we do this in August! :)

Check out a preview at my TPT store:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thoughts on the first few chapters of Words Their Way...

After 3 years of teaching kindergarten, I really thought I had it! I knew what to expect and where my kids were going. Small group planning was easy and fun, I felt like my kids were getting what they needed and I wasn't having to stay 4 hours extra after the bell rang.

Well this year I was moved to second grade. I heard so many teachers tell me that second grade was the best and that I would love it! Well I do! I still love kinder, but second is pretty great. The only frustrating part about moving to second grade was that I felt like I was starting over in many aspects. I'm sure every teacher has felt that way at one point in their career.

I spent a lot of time last summer looking at second grade teacher blogs and websites, trying to get a feel for what second grade teachers taught. I reread professional books with a different perspective. I really tried to prepare myself. However, nothing can prepare you 100% until you are just THERE.

After my first year in second grade, I'm so excited to start out my next year. Just because I feel like I know where I'm going and I have a much bigger box of tools to get me there. I tried with all my heart to dig into Words Their Way at the beginning of last year, but I was just so overwhelmed that I could only manage to skim.

This summer, I've read the first few chapters and I'm loving it. It really makes a lot of sense. Words Their Way is pretty much telling me to do what I normally do with kids during guided reading and guided math...teach them on their instructional level. It sounds so simple but with the words block, it can get fuzzy.

This year I had differentiated spelling celebrations (we call our tests "celebrations) and I definately worked on words during my small group. However, I think I can do much better next year. Right now I'm reading about the spelling assessment I'm going to give my students and how to level them into 3 word study groups. The nice thing about Words Their Way is that it isn't just another thing I have to do in my day. It suggests that you connect the word study with what you're doing during guided reading. Sounds very managable. But I think many teachers will agree, sometimes we just run out of time!

I'm going to keep reading until I have a well thought out action plan of how this will run in my classroom. Bottom line: word study should be differentiated and should happen every day for every student, regardless of the skill level. (This is why I love Daily Five!) Words Their Way is just another tool to help me identify the gaps and help the kids fill them in. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Freebie from my "Character is Key" mega pack!

The beginning of the year is a prime time for discussing and teaching key virtues: cooperation, respect, trustworthiness, etc. At our school, we call them "The Keys to the Castle." I've created a back to school packet that has everything you'll need for teaching these key virtues in your classroom. I just took some activities from the packet and created a freebie.

I don't know about you, but I love to play team building games with my kids. We have a morning meeting every morning and often we'll play a short partner game or a quick, fun community building activity. Knowing that many children are shy or apprehensive about pairing up with others (especially the first 6 weeks of school), I've created some cards to help keep pairing up organized and anxiety free. These cards are in the freebie.

I also heard a great idea from a colleague about using blank clocks as a way to pair up kids. Not only do the clocks make pairing up simple, but it includes 12 different possible pairings. This way you don't have the same kids with the same kids over and over and over! However, the clock system still keeps children feeling like they had a voice in the matter. These clocks are included in my freebie as well. Check it out at my TPT store:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Reading Linkys!

I'm joining my first linkys, pretty exciting..I know! They are from Mrs. Bainbridge's and Mrs. Stanford's classes. In addition to beginning my blogging career, tutoring, and entering my third trimester with baby Jackson, I'm also doing a little reading. Currently I'm reading a book called The Leader in Me by Stephen Covey. Our school is implementing the 7 habits for staff and students. So far, I love it! There are so many problem solving and leadership skills taught in this program, I'm so excited.

I'm also looking at the revised addition of Words their Way by Donald Bear. Word study is a focus for me next year. I noticed that many of my second graders came in with many gaps in phonics and spelling. I want to be ready to go next year!

Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction [Book]                   The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time [Book]

Mrs. Stanford's Class

New Mini Unit for Science

If you're anything like me, the beginning of the year is an exciting but hectic time. To make things a little easier, I just finished creating my back to school science unit. I like to spend time with my students discussing what science is, what scientists do and how we can be safe during science investigations. This mini unit has six detailed lesson plans that you can try out in your classroom, including a hands on investigation to get the year started off. Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store to see a preview!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Back to School Icebreaker

Like many other inspired teachers, I've been putting a lot of thought into how I want to start out the next school year. After spending 3 years in kindergarten, I was really starting to think, "Hey, I got this!" And then when I least expected it, I was asked to move to 2nd. I was a little apprehensive at first, just because I could never imagine myself as anything but a kindergarten teacher, but it turned out really well. I absolutely love 2nd grade!

I'm excited that this year I'll get to go in knowing where I'm headed. That always makes things so much easier. I just finished creating an icebreaker activity for my kids to do in July. (Remember, I teach year round?) Take a look and enjoy!