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?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teachers are HEROES!

Have you heard?!  Teachers are HEROES and Teachers Pay Teachers wants to celebrate us with a huge sale!!!

I love a good TPT sale.  It's a great time to snag those wish list items you've been stockpiling.

My entire TPT Store will be 20% off.  Use the promo code HEROES when you check out for an extra discount!

Happy Shopping!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Write On ~ Narrative Writing Practice

Writing is quite the ongoing journey in first grade.  It can be such a struggle for young learners.  Some of them cannot read many words, and then we expect them to write detailed narratives about their lives.  This is no small feat for our small learners.

Since September, we have spent a great deal of time writing personal narratives in writing workshop.  With the start of the new year, we are moving into other genres of writing like how-to's, opinion/persuasive pieces, and informative writing.

I want to make sure my firsties don't lose all their narrative writing skills as we move away from daily practice in narrative writing.  So I created a resource to help them practice their writing skills at home.

In my classroom, I send homework packets with my first graders.  Packets go home on Monday and are returned on Friday.  Usually I include math and phonics practice in my homework packets.  So why not add some writing into the mix?!

Write On! {Narrative Writing Through the Year} has over 40 writing prompts to choose from.  These can be used in class, or for homework practice.  I've included options for second pages with writing checklists, as well as a blank prompt.  There is even a parent letter if you choose to use these prompts as homework practice, like I do!

I'm so excited about this new resource!  I've already been using the prompts for a few weeks with my students and have been getting fantastic results.  It's such a great way for parents to see the process that their child goes through to write.  I'm looking forward to seeing their continued growth in writing.

If your kiddos need some additional practice in narrative writing, check it out...

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year, New Design

Notice anything different about my blog today?!

I'm so excited about my new blog design!  Megan over at A Bird in the Hand Designs did an AH-mazing job!  I absolutely love it.

A Bird in Hand Designs

(If you are reading this through your email you won't be able to see my awesome new design... so click on over to the web version!)

I chose Megan's "Build Your Blog" design option.  She made the process so easy.  It comes with a header, background, signature, grab button, and installation.  Then I was able to add on some extras!  So very affordable and it felt very customized.

After I selected my add-ons, Megan sent me templates to choose my color and design options from.  From there, she did her magic.

The process from start to finish was so quick... less than a week!

I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome and I hope you like it, too!