Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cha Cha Changes... Math Modules

Well it wouldn't be a new school year without new curriculum.  Am I right?!

This year our district will be using the EngageNY Math Modules.  These were created by teachers to meet the Common Core Standards.  They have a very sequential scope and seem to focus more on the WHY than the HOW of math.  They challenge students to think deeply and {gasp} WRITE about math!  

I'm still not quite sure how I feel about using the modules, since I absolutely fell in LOVE with Math Workshop over the past two years.  You can read more about my math workshop {HERE}.

The NYS Math Modules are whole-group and rather lengthy.  They take a full 60 minutes... and then some!  That's a lot to ask of six year olds, especially in the beginning of the year.

Despite my reservations, I am embracing the change.  In fact, I tested out Module 5 with my class this past spring.  This unit focused on geometry, fractions, and time.

I found that my students did gain a deeper understanding of geometry than I have previously taught in the past.  They were making great connections and encouraged to really explain their thinking.  It was TOUGH, but they persevered!  

So in preparation of using the modules full-force this year, I created vocabulary cards that align with the modules for First Grade.  I'm sure many of the cards can be used in Kindergarten and Second Grade as well.  I plan to update these as I go this year, as I am sure I'll come across more terms I'd like my firsties to know!

Check out my Math Vocabulary Cards.  They will be on SALE through Friday!!!

I'm sure I'll be posting more about the modules throughout the year.  And who knows... maybe I can even combine the modules AND my beloved math workshop!!!

Are any of you using the Math Modules in your district?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

You Oughta Know About... Labeling with Puffy Paint

Summer is in full swing and I am LOVING it!
My routine is non-existent and my calendar is packed with F.U.N!

This morning I'm joining Buzzing with Mrs. McClain for her You Oughta Know Blog Hop.

I think you oughta know about the fabulousness of labeling with puffy paint!
I hated labeling my cubbies each year with my class names.  The labels always peeled off and it was such a pain.  Then I got the idea to use puffy paint and stencils to permanently label my cubbies!

I put these numbers on my student cubbies FOUR years ago.
Not a scratch or peel anywhere to be found!

First I Scotch taped my stencil in place.  Then I painted a thick coat of puffy paint on with a sponge brush.  I left the stencil in place until the paint dried and then slowly peeled off the stencil.  I had to do my numbers in stages once I got to the teen numbers and beyond.  
So be sure to have other projects to do in your classroom so you aren't waiting around for paint to dry!  Also, if you try this on a very hot summer day, the results will not come out so well.  I had a teammate try this in the dead heat of summer and the paint didn't adhere to the wooden cubbies.

The finished product - and no more labeling cubbies every year!

And be sure to check out what else you oughta know about!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Currently

July has arrived!  And it's one of my favorite months!!!

Time to link up with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade...

Listening - Who doesn't love a little Full House?  And I'm sure I'm not the only one who wanted to be DJ Tanner in my youth.  Just sayin'.

Loving - Summer is here for good people.  And it sure took long enough!  School is OVER and I can sleep in, get in some good long runs, and swim to my heart's content.  I LOVE SUMMER!!!

Thinking - In two weeks I am presenting Singapore Math Strategies for the K-2 teachers in my district.  Luckily I have two amazing co-presenters!  We worked all day on our presentation, and we'll be back at it tomorrow.  It's tough to anticipate the timing and make sure we are engaging our learners.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the workshop goes smoothly!  

Wanting - I have been taking some golf lessons recently, and remembering how much I love this game.  My birthday is next week and I'm hoping for a new golf bag.  I really need something more girly than what I've got.  Do they make pink chevron golf bags?!

Needing - I need to get packing!  I'm heading home tomorrow for a week and a half.  My sister, brother-in-law, and my favorite nieces are flying in from Chicago.  I cannot WAIT to see them!  There is some serious snuggle time in my future.  And my sis and her hubby are headed out-of-town and leaving the girls with my parents and I.  As if we don't spoil them enough already?  It's PAR-TAY time!!!  But first, I need to pack my bags.  Packing is such a chore!

4th Plans - Nothing too crazy this 4th of July - just a picnic at my parents' house.

What are you Currently up to?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gone Campin'

We are STILL in school.  Can you believe it?!  I cannot.  But don't worry, summer is just around the corner.  Tomorrow is our last day with the kiddos, and Thursday is our last day for teachers.  Wahoo!!!

Last week we went camping... kind of!  Every year our first graders go to Camp Skeeter - a day of camping activities in school.  This is by far one of my favorite days of the year!  Our stations are run by our awesome parent volunteers and our classes rotate through the five different activities throughout the morning.  We enjoy a picnic lunch and read letters "mailed" to camp from our families.  We finish off the day with a camp-out in our classrooms and watch Parent Trap.  So much fun!

First, we visited the Snack Station.  We made S'Mores on a Stick.

This lil' guy was pretty excited to eat all this sugar at 9am!

Next, we visited the Nature Station.  We have a very talented grandparent volunteer who teaches us about life at the pond.  He even brings some special "friends" with him.  I'm rather squeamish around frogs, so it's ironic that this station is always set up in my room, haha!

After that, we visited the Face Painting Station.  We leave some easy-to-paint designs for our parent volunteers.

This year we had quite a treat - a photo booth!  One of our families owns a photography studio, and they generously donated their time and props to create a photo booth for us.

After our faces were decked out, we went to our Sing-Along Station.  One of our 2nd grade teachers has a very talented son that has come the past two years.  He played some camp favorites and also took a few requests.  We love Mr. Matt!!!

Finally, we visited the Craft Station to make our campfire hats.  I absolutely love hats!  They are so stinkin' cute and so much fun to make.

Another successful year at Camp Skeeter!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Donors Choose Goodies

I was recently fortunate enough to get a Donors Choose project funded.  This is the second project I have gotten funded this year.  Donors Choose is absolutely AH-mazing!  If you haven't already tried it, I highly suggest you check it out.

When I set the project up, Donors Choose was offering matching funds for the first week that my project was live.  I was able to take advantage of this and cut the cost of my project in HALF!  I started out by sending a letter home to families.  

I also posted my project on my Fun and Fearless in First Facebook page.

I got some immediate response from both of those actions.  

Then I utilized Remind 101 to continue to get the word out.  By sending out two texts through the app, I was able to update parents about exactly how much money remained to get the projected funded.  I included the link to the project, and again, there was immediate response.  My project was funded in LESS THAN A WEEK! 

I am so grateful for the generosity of my donors!  Their support and quick response was outstanding. And within two weeks of my project getting funded, I had my materials!

For this project, I got a class set of these fantastic whiteboard paddles from Learning Resources.  They will be so helpful when we are learning about number sense and math facts within 20.  They have a ten frame on one side, and a double ten frame on the other side.  They even come with magnetic red/yellow counters.  How cool is that?

I also received this primary easel.  These babies are EXPENSIVE!  I could never afford to buy one myself.  Even though I am lucky enough to have a Smart board, I still find that I need something to hold and create anchor charts on.  You should have seen the curious eyes in my classroom as the custodian wheeled this gem in!  They all want a chance to come up and play teacher to show what they know! 

Summer is a great time to develop your Donors Choose project ideas so you are ready for the next school year.  Sharing your project at your school's beginning of the year open house is a great way to get support.

Thank you Donors Choose and all my supportive families!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Currently

It's JUNE!!!

So excited that this month has arrived!  June is always a busy month, but all good stuff.  So many of you are already off on summer vacation, but I teach until the end of this month so there is still a lot to do.

First on the June to-do list... link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for this month's Currently!

Listening - Nothing beats the quiet during nap time.  This has been a BUSY weekend!  And as soon as nap time is over, it's off to the pool, wahoo!

Loving - Any time I can get to Chicago I am happy.  This weekend we are celebrating my niece's 3rd birthday.  Yesterday we had her party at a bounce house place right here in the city.  It was so much fun - and the adults got their bounce on, too!

Thinking - We got a peek at our class lists for next year, so of course my mind is already gearing up for my next batch of firsties.  I always spend a good amount of time in the summer preparing for the next school year.  I'm hoping to streamline some of the to-do items and feel ready a little sooner this year.

Wanting - I'm so jealous of all the teacher bloggers on summer vacay already!  I know my time will come... and they will be jealous when I'm still sitting by the pool in August while they return to work, haha!

Needing - It's the end-of-the-year crunch time and it always seems as though there are a billion things to do before my class walks out the door on June 25th.  I always have a running to-do list, but this year shockingly seems less stressful, which is nice.  I've even started a few of the items on my list, like the end-of-year slideshow (go me!).  I know I'll get the rest done eventually, too.

Summer Bucket List - There are certainly more than three items on my agenda for summer, woot woot! One of my dearest friends from high school is having her second baby this summer.  I have yet to make it to her house in Atlanta, even though she's lived there for years.  This will be the summer I get there!  I also plan to enjoy the sun LOTS this summer... boating, golfing, pool days, and perhaps even a little camping.  I also want to maintain a good running schedule.  Training starts in August for the fall half-marathon, and I don't want to slack off prior!

What are you currently up to?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Quick and Easy Goodbye Gift

Looking for a quick and easy goodbye gift?  Look no further!

This spring I had a fantastic practicum student in my classroom twice a week.  She was eager to learn and so helpful in our class.  She really jumped right in and wasn't afraid to work with both small and large groups.  I knew I wanted to give her a memorable thank you gift.

My bestie found this idea on Pinterest (of course!).  I followed the link to to download the {FREE} tree template.  I put the tree picture on a PowerPoint slide and then added the text.  It's so easy to customize it to say whatever you'd like!  I made sure to print on card stock (two copies ~ in case I messed up the first one!).  Be sure that you leave some room around the edges if you plan to put it in a frame.  I had to cut my page down a little to make it fit in my 8x10 frame.

I used just a little bit of tempura paint.  I ALWAYS have baby wipes on hand when doing any sort of craft project!  

I painted one thumb yellow and one thumb green and guided my kids in placing their thumbprints on the tree.  I added their names with a very thin Sharpie marker.

The finished product!  
I just LOVE how it came out.

Who do you need to thank for helping your students grow?