Monday, May 4, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Sale

It's no surprise that Teachers Pay Teachers LOVES and appreciates teachers!

So for Teacher Appreciation Week they are throwing a huge sale!

All the items in my TPT Store will be 20% off.  You can get additional savings with the coupon code ThankYou at checkout.

Be sure to stock up on goodies for the end of the school year...

Or get a jump start on getting your room ready for next year!

Happy Shopping!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May Currently

Yay for May!  It has FINALLY stopped snowing in central NY.  No joke, it snowed more than once in April.  So not cool.

Time to link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for this month's Currently...

Listening - Gettin' my country on today with this week's episode of Nashville.

Loving - I'm loving the fact that I finished my 10 mile hill race STRONG today!  It was so hot, which really caused many of us to struggle.  After all, we've been training in the cold and wind for months.  Today was an usually bright and sunny day with temps in 70's.  That might not seem hot, but when you are trudging up a ginormous hill with no wind, the heat really does a number on you!  It was a slow go for me, and my mental game really took a beating halfway through the race.  But I finished with a smile and I'm proud of myself!  Shout out to my parents and aunt and uncle for making the drive up today to see me at the finish.  So awesome to have a cheering section as you cross that finish line!

Thinking - I'm thinking a lot about my sister this afternoon.  She is very near her due date for her 3rd baby.  It's so hard to be so far away from her at a time like this.  I wish I could be there to help her and my brother-in-law with my nieces and give her some much needed R&R.  This has been a tough pregnancy.  She's almost to the end and I can't wait to meet my new niece or nephew!

Wanting - I didn't sleep much last night before the race (shocker), so I could really use a nap right now.  Of course, it's almost dinner time so I don't think a nap will be helpful when I'm trying to go to sleep tonight!

Needing -  I am seriously in need of a bigger camera bag.  I just can't cram much more into my current bag.  Too much gear!  Time to shop...

Summer yes, hope, dream - Can you tell what's on my mind?!  LOTS of visits to Chicago.  Maybe I should just move in with my sister for the summer.  What do you think, sis?!

What are you Currently up to?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Writing Reviews in Style

My favorite writing workshop guru Susan Jones from T.G.I.F. has done it again.  She has made writing workshop the most fun time of the day!

We recently finished our Let's Write an Opinion! unit by none other than... Susan Jones.  We wrote opinions on our favorite seasons, and fruits versus vegetables.  Then we moved on to writing persuasive pieces.  We each wrote a letter to our principal trying to persuade her to see things "our way."  We asked for more recess time (of course), better food in the cafeteria, and even if we could bring our pets to school.

I thought we had a pretty good thing going.  Then Susan went and made life better.  She came out with a unit on Writing Reviews.  Say what?!!

Writing Reviews.

Well of course I just had to have it.

And I'm never letting it go.

We had a blast writing reviews that incorporated opinions and persuasion and just plain FUN!

First we warmed up our opinion writing skills with some taste testing.  We tested blueberries, Cheez-Its, and Oreo cookies.  Out of the three foods, we chose the best and the worst and wrote reasons to back up our opinions.

The Oreo cookies were the most popular.  Shocker!

Diving into the Cheez-Its...

After a few super fun prep activities, we took a look at some sample reviews provided in Susan's unit.  Then we wrote a review of McDonalds as a class.  We went through each step.  The modeling was such a great foundation for my kiddos.

I had each student write down what they wanted to review.  Then I paired up students who either picked the same exact thing to review, or picked something similar (like two smiliar restaurants).  Students brainstormed ideas together and completed their planning page.

When we actually wrote the reviews we, again, took it step-by-step.  First we all wrote our "catchy leads."  Then we all stated our opinions.  After that, we backed up our opinions with reasons.  Finally, we added our "persuasive ending."  Susan Jones has got this down to a science!

Here are some of our final products...

Friendly's - a kid classic!

Big Hero 6 was a popular movie to review in my classroom.  I love how this lil' reviewer gave it only four stars... because it was a bit scary.

This restaurant has crayons and free menus to color on.  What more could you ask for?!

After we completed our reviews, we just had to show off our skills to the upper grades.  We toured some 3rd and 4th grade classrooms to share our work.  My firsties were so proud of their hard work.  The classes we visited were pretty impressed.  The older students were so attentive and encouraging to my young writers.

If you love writing workshop and are looking for a home run, check out Writing Reviews by Susan Jones.  Your firsties will thank you!

(Like that persuasive ending?!  Happy Writing!)

Friday, April 3, 2015

April Currently

April.  Spring Break.  A week in Chicago.  No snow here.

Could it get any better than this?!

Time to link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for this month's Currently!

Listening - The girls are napping and so is my sister!  I just got back from a run and I'm enjoying the silence and catching up on my blog.

Loving - Our spring break included Thursday and Friday of this week, and all next week.  It's a long one and I'm loving it!  I arrived in Chicago very early yesterday morning.  So excited to have an extra long break with my nieces!!!

Thinking - I did not pack well for this trip, despite the ginormous suitcase I have filled.  I didn't bring a mid-weight jacket or too many clothes that match the weather here.  Ugh.  Oh well.  Guess I'll have to do a little shopping...

Wanting - I am ready for some new spring clothes!  My last Stitch Fix got me started with five awesome pieces, but of course I want more bright colors to kick off the season!  I wonder if they have any good places to shop in Chicago, haha ;-)

Needing - I am desperately in need of a new Spibelt.  The one I have does not fit my iPhone 6 very well.  Wondering if I should try something different.  I've heard good things about the Flipbelt, too.  Any runners want to weigh in on this one?!  Help!

EGGS-plain Your Name - My sister was the one who came up with my blog name, Fun and Fearless in First.  We were brainstorming names and couldn't quite think of anything just right.  On my 12 hour drive home from that Chicago visit my sister texted me, "How about Fun and Fearless in First?"  It was perfect!

What are you Currently up to?!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Essential Book Organization - BookBuddy Pro App

I found a new organization app that I am LOVING!  It's the BookBuddy Pro app.

A few years ago I found a book organization app that I loved.  And over the past six months I've noticed that it just wasn't behaving like it used to.  It wouldn't allow me to add more books and it kept freezing.  Then I did some research and realized that the app no longer works with the current updates to my iPhone.  In fact, the app isn't even available in the App Store anymore.

So the search began for a new app to organize and keep track of my read aloud books.  I love having all my books stored in my iPhone.  It makes it so much easier to plan at home when I can just look up a book on my phone instead of searching through my books at school.  If I'm teaching about main idea, I can just search my app for the books I use to teach that skill.  Another bonus is that I know which books I already have.  Ever buy a duplicate because you didn't remember you had the book begin with?  Not anymore!  Just check your phone and you'll know if you already own it!

After reading a ton of reviews about the countless apps out there to catalog your books, I found BookBuddy Pro!  It is so much more amazing than my last app (which shall remain nameless).  Totally worth the $4.99 I paid for it.  Money well spent.

This is how I organize my read aloud books at school.  Using a file cabinet is super convenient and I can easily see what I have.  I have folders for months, holidays, character education, mentor texts, life lessons, and folders for my favorite authors.  Now all I needed to do was scan in my books and get organizing!  (This part takes a little while but it is so worth it!)

Here is a screen shot of what it looks like when you open up the BookBuddy Pro app.  See how you can keep track of who you loan books out to?!  Very cool.

Here's a quick shot of a few of my books.  I love that the pictures come up.  To add your books, you can scan the barcode on the back.  An awesome feature is that you can scan multiple barcodes so you just hit one after another, after another and you don't have keep hitting "add book."  It makes the initial inputting of your books so much quicker!

Almost all my books were already in the BookBuddy Pro system.  There were a few that I had to add manually, but most just popped right up after scanning the barcode.

There are different ways you can sort your books to view them.

I like to sort my books by "Physical Location" which is where I put what folder my books are stored in within the file cabinet.  It's great to be able to see all the Christmas books I have, or all the Kevin Henkes books I have.

I also "Tag" my books with a specific teaching skill or skills that I might use the book for.  Throughout the year I tag more books as I read them, identifying other skills I might reread the book for.  It's so easy to customize the app to meet your specific needs.

When you click on a book title you can get all the information about that book.  You can see that this book is stored in the folder "Life Lesson" in my file cabinet and that I like to use it when I teach about making connections.

Those Shoes is one of my all time favorite books.  It's stored in my "Mentor Text" folder in my file cabinet.  I use it when I teach about character traits, making connections, and predicting.

This app has saved me so much time when I plan.  If you're looking for a way to keep your books organized, I highly suggest you check this app out!  Happy organizing!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Not Your Average How-To

Every year we learn about "how-to" writing.  We write pieces such as "How to Make a PBJ Sandwich" or "How to Brush Your Teeth" or "How to Build a Snowman."

This year we took our how-to writing to the next level.

We used our knowledge of step-by-step direction writing to program a robot!

Our district has two robots that were purchased mainly for high school students to learn programming.  We were fortunate enough to be the very first elementary classroom to get a chance to work with the robot!

When I announced that we would be having a special visitor that day, my kiddos NEVER expected this guy!

My firsties were so excited when the robot started moving and talking!

Mr. Z showed us how to program the robot.  The software is not exactly designed for six and seven year olds, so I was a bit apprehensive that they wouldn't be able to figure it out.  I was so wrong!!!
They were able to program the robot to stand, walk, and even spell.  They had to be sure to pay close attention to each step, so that the robot could follow their directions.  Just like in our how-to writing, if they left a step out, the robot would not do what they wanted it to.

Look at that concentration!  They were all so engaged and excited.  I was so impressed with how they worked together, took turns with the computer, and shared ideas.

The robot showing off his dance moves!

We can't wait to invite our robot back again!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Currently

March couldn't come soon enough.  PLEASE tell me that March will bring more mild weather to central New York.  PLEASE!!!

Time to link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for this month's Currently...

Listening - I can't believe I've never seen the movie G.I. Jane!  I happened upon it on Lifetime.  Demi Moore is a rockstar.  Just saying.

Loving - This winter I treated myself to a garage at my apartment building.  I couldn't have picked a better winter.  I am grateful everyday for it!  I am so spoiled... I even open the garage door from my apartment window and remote start my car so it is extra toasty when I get into it!

Thinking - In two weeks I start training for the Mountain Goat.  It's a 10 mile hill race.  I have NOT been running at all these past two months.  I have been working out hard, but just not running.  I have two weeks to "train" for my training group.  I think I'm in trouble!

Wanting - I know, I know, everyone is wanting a break from the cold.  It's just endless!  I am hopeful March will bring some more mild weather.  Right?!!

Needing - I really need to get to Wegmans.  I skipped my grocery trip today because, of course, it was snowing, and I didn't feel like going out in the cold.  Perhaps I'll go tomorrow.  Or the next day, haha.

Spring Break Plans - It's hard to think about spring break because we are just coming off of our February break!  My spring break isn't until the first week in April but I'm already excited to get back to Chicago to see my beautiful nieces!

What are you Currently up to?