Let's Talk Turkey

Hiya friends,

I'm FINALLY updating my blog. November has been a very busy month! First grade went on a field trip to the zoo. Best.day.ever. We went on a Friday, so the Houston Zoo was virtually empty. The weather was cool and breezy. Fall field trips are definately the way to go. The zoo recommends Wednesdays for field trips, but it is so packed you can hardly find a place to eat lunch. Trust me - plan your field trip on a Friday.

Somewhere between using picture clues and prior knowledge to make inferences and identifying attributes of 3D shapes we found time for turkeys! We made these table decorations for the Thanksgiving Luncheon using brown paper lunch bags and cut-outs of our hand prints.

The kiddos had a blast choosing Native American names and making these headbands. The kids traced pattern blocks to make a design on the headband. We used pattern blocks because we are currently working on 2D and 3D shapes. I gave my firsties their first feather for "free". Additional feathers could be earned for good behavior. Some of the kids had a band full of feathers for the feast.

We also made dyed noodle necklaces. One of the brillant teachers on my team taught me how to dye noodles! The necklaces turned out super cute, but I don't have a pic. Here are what the noodles looked like prior to being strung on yarn:

If you don't know how to dye noodles, it's super EASY and super FAST. They dry in about 10 minutes! I bought elbow and penne noodles. I don't recommend elbow noodles. Elbows are difficult for firsties to thread yarn through. Get any large noodle that resembles a tunnel. Penne worked great, but I know there are others. Dump some noodles into a gallon size baggie. Add about 2 tablespoons of alcohol and lots of food coloring. Shake the bag, roll the bag, pat the bag until all of the noodles are the desired color. Dump onto newspaper or paper towels to air dry. Done. So simple. Genius. I wish I had thought of it! If you use yarn you will need to wrap a piece of tape around one end so it will push through the noodle easily. Balloon ribbon or fishing line works great and is inexpensive. Making the necklaces was a favorite activity last week!

We also read some turkey poetry and made these paper plate turkeys to decorate the hallways.

We get this entire week off! Do you? Happy Thanksgiving!

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Apples, Pumpkins, & Dinorella

Hiya friends,

I know...I know...I'm a bad blogger. I've been soooo busy. Three days of jury duty, preparing for a birthday, plus everything that comes with having four children like jazz, gymastics, preparing for a driving test, laundry, laundry, more laundry...

But, at last,  here is a quick review of what we've been up to the past few weeks:

We learned all about making connections. Below is a description of how we made text-to-text connections:

We read multiple versions of Cinderella and added the connections we made to our anchor chart. I like writing the name of the student who made each connection on our chart because a) it makes them feel special, b) during review the next day I can identify who made the connection, c) I have documentation of some of the connections the students made, d) I can add the pic to my teacher web site and parents can see what their children came up with during class.  One of the kiddos' faves this particular week was Dinorella, so at the end of the week we did a little guided craftivity. We made Dinorella and wrote about a connection we made between Dinorella and Cinderella.

Our anchor chart (I can't make it rotate!)

My example of the Dinorella craftivity

Student work

Student work
 After we had learned about making text-to-text connections we worked on text-to-world connections. We activated our apple schema, revised our schema, and added new schema all week long.  We discussed how schema are like files in a filing cabinet, information we store away until we need it again, which is why there is a file folder on our anchor chart.

Our anchor chart
Student work
Student work
We had to do a little taste testing too!

Let me toss in a little science review too. The kiddos loved our pumpkin investigation. Their absolute favorite part was getting their hands all slimy while counting the pumpkin seeds!

Pumpkin investigation
Last week was bat week and this week is spider week. We are learning that good readers ask questions before, during, and after reading. I'll try to post a summary and some pics soon :-)

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A side of writing with my interactive reading, please!

Long time, no see. I've been having a blast in first grade, but I've been too busy to blog about it!

This year one of our campus goals is to write more, m o r e, MORE by incorporating writing in all subjects. I have a designated interactive writing & writer's workshop time, plus Daily Five has the Work on Writing component so I routinely get in writing multiple times during my reading/language arts block. On top of that, I've been getting in a little extra writing on Fridays during interactive reading time and a craftivity too :-) For example, a couple of weeks ago, during interactive reading, we focused on finding the problem and solution in all of our stories. We read The Three Little Pigs and The Big Bad Wolf is Good. On Friday, we wrote about Wolf's problem and solution and then made a Wolf craftivity to accompany our writing.

I'm pretty good at looking at an illustration and sketching out a pretty close likeness, so I draw a template and cut it out. Then, I trace it a few times and cut it out in stacks of 5-10. I think I only cut the wolf three times - my template and then two stacks of ten. Stacks of construction paper can be cut easily with heavy duty scissors. I precut all of the pieces to save time. Otherwise, we would use up an hour of our day cutting out all these pieces. No bueno!

This is what we wrote:
Problem: Wolf does not have any friends.
Solution: He decides to be kind, be useful, and do a noble deed.

In this case we used what we had already discussed and written on our anchor chart, so the kiddos just copied the sentences. But sometimes, I come up with a sentence starter and the students must complete the sentence on their own.

Next, using my document camera and a guided craftivity kinda method, I walk the class through the steps of drawing and glueing the pieces onto to the paper in the correct order. The kids looooove the craftivity, plus we get in a little extra writing too! I always make sure a student has completed the writing component before they start on the craftivity. If a student wastes time then the writing gets done, but not the craftivity. This is an incentive to stay on task.

This week we are working on text to text connections. We are reading several versions of Cinderella. You've got to see my Dinorella craftivity. Soooo cute! I'll take pics after we make them on Friday.

Have a great week,

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Peek at My Week

Hiya friends,

I've got two weeks of first grade behind me. Maybe in about thirty more weeks I'll feel like a "real" first grade teacher. Right now I still feel like a sixth grade teacher pretending to be an elementary school teacher.

If I could remember to document my days in pictures, I'd have lots of great images to share. But I get busy teaching and forget to play photographer. I did snap a pic of the David craftivity I made...probably my favorite from the first week of school.

I traced David's head from one of pages in the book to use as a stencil and just free-handed the other parts. I think it turned out super cute <3. Except that my version looks a little vampire-ish. Ha! First, we made an anchor chart called "Good Students". I drew a picture of David in the center and then added the kid's descriptions of what students do around the illustration. I have a pic, but I wrote the students name beside their comments so I'm not  sure about posting it here. After reading David Goes to School,  we compared what we discussed to David's behavior in the book. Then we decided collectively that if we could tell David something it would be, "David, Follow the rules!" So that's what the we wrote on the lined paper that we glued underneath our Davids. Here's a pic of how they turned out:

You can't read my bulletin board in this pic but it says "Mrs. Elvir's class...Mmmmmm, I'm loving it." The kids names are written on the french fries inside the medium fry containers McDonalds gave me. I saw something similar on Pinterest a while ago and wanted to replicate it for back to school.

Here's an abbreviated look at what we are doing this week:
Shared Reading - Look at picture clues to help identify words
Daily Five - We've been doing awesome at Read to Self, Read to Someone and Word Work. This week we will introduce Listen to Reading and Work on Writing. 
During word work we use Words Their Way. It involves sorting words and pictures. I need to white out the "g" on Wednesday and the smudges are where my one year old walked across my chart paper. 
Interactive Read Aloud - Identifying problems and solutions
Phonemic Awareness - First, middle, and last sounds 
Interactive Writing - Letter positions, spaghetti & meatball spaces, capitals at the beginning of sentences and correct punctuation at the end of sentences

Writer's Workshop - Why writers write, choosing a topic, what writers do when they're done, writing tools
Math - Telling time to the hour, addition & subtraction review
We are going to use the poem and many of the activities in Ashley Reed's Chloe the Clock pack (FREE).
We are going to play the Safety Sums game and Math Match-Up game from Readan Tunstall's B2S Math Centers($).

We are going to use Katie King's Subtraction Mats (FREE) and play subtraction bump. 
Science - weather
Social Studies - Texas and U.S. pledge and flags

Anyway, my husband is trying to convince me to get up extra early to do P90X so I gotta get to bed!
Have a great week,

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{Back to School Recap} A comparison of first and sixth grades.

Dear friends,

Boy! I've been busy...but you understand. There's no tired like teacher tired the first week of school. I read that quote on Facebook or Pinterest and it's T.R.U.E.

I've spent two whole weeks as a first grade teacher and I love it it! There are, however, a few things I miss about sixth grade:

  • My former co-workers
  • Long conference periods
  • Fewer duties
  • Lunch that I actually sit down to eat
In middle school my conference period was typically an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes depending on the day's schedule. Now I'm down to 45 minutes. When I taught sixth grade, I had bus duty after school for one week out of every nine week grading period. Now I have lunch or recess duty daily and car rider duty every.single.day. This is a huge adjustment for a middle school transplant. The first week of school I think I ate standing up in my room while preparing something without fail five days in a row. This NEVER happened in middle school. Oh, and I think I will miss novels. We read some really good novels in sixth grade. 

My favorite things about first grade so far are...did I mention I L-O-V-E it...
  • Firsties love me...literally, I think,...the number of hug requests I get per day is phenominal.
  • The kiddos are excited to learn and they really WANT to impress me.
  • The books...books are incorporated into everything! Shared reading, guided reading, interactive read aloud, read-alouds, Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, etc.  
  •  Brain breaks. Have you ever seen a six year old attempt to dance along with The Backyardigans while singing "I Gotta Feeling"? Too cute. Or waddle like penguins around their desk? Cute some more. 
  • All the neat-o, sorta ridiculous things I get to say everyday. For my middle school buds, let me explain a couple of my faves.
"Peanut butter jelly time!" - When we come to the carpet, my kiddos are paired. One is peanut butter and the other is jelly. When it's time to turn and talk I say, "peanut butter jelly time!" 

"Class-Yes" - This is our attention getter. Students mimic my tone and the number of times I say "class" when they respond to me by saying "yes". I think it's particularly cute when they try to mimic my deep body builder voice and flex their biceps. 

I'll close with my two favorite quotes from the first week of school and I'll be back this weekend with pictures of a few lessons/activities from the first couple of weeks. I realize a post without pics is a bit of a bummer, but I'm worn out. 

(Looking at pics of me with my family)  
Firstie, "Mrs. Elvir, is that you?"
Me, "Yes, when I had longer, blonde hair."
Firstie, "And you were skinnier too."

(same student, different day)
Firstie, "Mrs. Elvir, Are you having a bad hair day?"
Me, "What are trying to tell me about my hair?"
Firstie, "Well, your hair is wiggly today."
I wore waves instead of straightening it. Ooops. 

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Classroom Tour 2013


I finally got my room done enough to share some pics. I have to put the finishing touches on it tomorrow before Back to School Bash. My fingers are crossed I can get everything done. It seems ever year, there is less and less time to work on my room and more time spent doing professional development.

You may recall my shock and horror when I saw my new room had two fake accordian walls. It's tough not having bulletin boards, but I'm trying to make it work :-) My room is T.I.N.Y. I don't know why it looks so spacious in these pictures. Ha!

I'm going to try REALLY HARD to remember to credit the resources you see around my room. Almost everything came from an edu-blog or TpT.

 LEFT: This is a view of the front of my room. You can't really see them, but on my board are hand signal cards from A Cupcake for the Teacher's Hand Signals & Voice Levels {Chevron Theme}. I also love the picture direction cards on my board, but I can't find where I got them. I suspect they may also be from A Cupcake for the Teacher.

RIGHT: This is my unfinished calendar area. I'm
going to move the months of the year to below the board to make room for some place value and time

LEFT: This is my guided reading table. I do not have chairs for it yet, but I may make some crate seats instead, I'm running out of time to make a table skirt for it. There are a few Cara Carrol items in this pic: reading strategy mini posters, schedule cards, and some items from her Chevron Classroom Decor Bundle.  The round labels on the baskets come from her Chalk One Up for Being Organized {The Ultimate Chalkboard Labeling Set}. I can't recall which blog I downloaded the vowel glue bottles from!!?? But I love them.

 RIGHT: The left side of the room contains my classroom library and writing center. On the filing cabinet on the back wall I have my clip chart which was made by Lindsay of For the Love of First Grade. I didn't take a close up, but it's super cute chevron print and part of her Behavior to Hoot About {Clip Chart Discipline & Coupon Reward} system. 
LEFT: The mini bulletin boards are made out of Dollar Tree foam core presentation boards that I taped together, covered in fabric, then hot glued mounted to the accordian walls.  The yet-to-be-labeled primary colored bins are math manipulatives and soon-to-be math tubs.
RIGHT: This table will be my writing center. The only thing on it right now is markers and a basket of themed picture dictionary sheets from Kerri B's Writing Centers. But I'm gonna hook it up soon. The writer's eye stuff is more Cara Carrol.

 LEFT: My word wall cards are from the Moffat Girls' Bird Themed Word Wall (and more!).
RIGHT: The back wall. The blue pocket chart will have my Daily Five schedule. I really should take some up-close pictures! The cards are from Michelle Hudgeons at Smitten with First. I think I downloaded them directly from her blog, but I can't find the exact post. They are Dr. You-Know-Who themed, but they have chevron that ties in with my classroom theme. I have some Daily Five related posters being laminated that will hang back there too. The red pocket chart will be my jobs chart.  The cards in it are from A Cupcake for the Teacher's Jobs in the Classroom {Chevron Theme}.

I plan to be back next weekend with highlights from my first week of school.

'til then,

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Teacher Week: Let's Talk About Me!

It's Teacher Week! According to Blog Hoppin', "Each day this week is a different linky party with a 'hot teacher topic.'"

Today is:

1. I'm a mommy to four...yes, four, children. The age span between the oldest and the youngest is 15 years! Looong story.

The sweetie on the left is 15 months old. When she says, "cheese" her smile gets so big her eyes disappear. She gets that from her father. The doctor says she has very advanced speech with over 30 words and more everyday. Proud mommy. The lil beauty in the middle is three years old. She does ballet and gymastics. Yesterday at Target the girlies both got Hello Kitty hats which they are modeling. The pic on the right shows the size difference between the oldest and the youngest. He's 16. I'm not posting close-ups of the teenage boys. They would be mortified if they knew I mentioned them in my blog. The 14 year old can't stand it when we "Facebook him." Hehehe.

2. I'm married to Manuel. He's a financial advisor and an excellent husband and father. Except when I clean up after him. 

He would also threaten me with a firing squad if I posted his pic, so here's a pic of my wedding ring instead. I adore it. And, I'm totally disgusted by how hairy my fingers look in this pic. LOL

3. I kinda speak Spanish. Okay, I speak Spanglish. Sort of.

4. My family is very culturally diverse. It seems all of my sisters (3) are married to a man of a different ethnicity. The only unmarried sibling is my brother. I joke that if he marries an Asian women, we would have just about every inhabited continent covered.

5. I recently cut my hair off and had it dyed redish brown. I'd post a pic, but I try never to take selfies so I don't have one.

6. My secret singer crush is Selena Gomez. I really like her songs, but I feel like a 12 year old kid for saying it out loud :-)

7. I L.O.V.E. reality tv. Does that make me a bad person??? Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Tia & Tamera, Biggest Loser, Impractical Jokers...I think this means I wish I were a thin, funny, wealthy socialite, actress. No, I don't think, I know that's what this means!

8. I wish I owned a Buffalo Wild Wings. My fave flavors are Thai Curry and Mango Habanero. What's yours?

9. My two favorite movies of the summer thus far are: 2 Guns and We're the Millers. The part in We're the Millers where the boy sings TLC's "Waterfalls" is hilarious!

10. I'm going to be late linking tomorrow's Classroom Digs. Due to construction I just got into my room today. Tuesday and Wednesday I have trainings all day. Can't make it back to my digs til Thursday, but I'll finish up and take pics for sure.

Don't forget to link up!

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