Writing is NOT my strong suit.  I love to write... but I don't love teaching it.  Our district uses the Lucy Calkins Units of Study.  I like how Lucy teaches personal narratives.  It's clear.  It teaches independence in writing.  My firsties have made a tremendous amount of growth in their narrative writing this year.

The rest of the units however... well, they leave something to be desired.  My first graders seem to need more concrete teaching than what Lucy has to offer.  Anyone else feel that way?!

This year I decided to veer from the books (GASP) and try some different approaches to writing how-to's, persuasive, and informative writing that meets the Common Core Standards.

Susan Moran over at T.G.I.F. to the rescue!  She is AH-mazing.  She is also my new writing workshop guru... though she may not know it yet, haha.  She has some seriously awesome writing units in her TPT store.  I have them ALL.  They make teaching writing SO much more fun and engaging!

Yesterday, we began our Opinion unit in writing workshop thanks to Susan!

We started by learning about facts and opinions yesterday.

Today we began working on forming our own opinions and giving reasons to back them up.  We played the game "Would You Rather?"  I had my kiddos face their writing partner and discuss each "Would You Rather" card that I read to them from Susan's writing unit.  So simple, right?

They had to be sure to give one or two reasons for their opinion.  We had a BLAST!  They had so much fun and I was really enjoying hearing their reasoning.  This is a PERFECT way to get them ready to begin the writing portion tomorrow.

Many of the kids were very thoughtful with their answers and reasoning.  And some of their answers just plain made me laugh!  Here are some of the highlights from the day:

  • Would you rather read a book or write a story?  "I would rather read a book, because I'm not a big fan of writing."  (Me neither buddy, me neither!)
  • Would you rather be stung by a bee or bit by a spider?  "I would rather be stung by a bee, because some spiders are poisonous and could really hurt me."  
  • Would you rather have a lot of money or a lot of friends?  "I would rather have a lot of money, so I could give it to the poor."  (Aw, bless her heart.)
  • Would you rather be the president for a day, or be a rock star for a day?  "I would rather be a rock star so I could pimp out."  (Bet your mother would love to know that one, haha!)
  • Would you rather go camping or go to the movies?  "I would rather go camping because I get to spend time with my family, sleep in an RV, and look at the stars."  

Be sure to check out Susan's blog post or her TPT Store for more info.  You won't be disappointed!  I know I'm not... I'm starting to change my own opinion about writing!!!
What a great week we had learning about Martin Luther King Jr.!  I was so impressed with the deep thoughts that came out of my little firsties!

We started the week by reading Martin's Big Words.  This book was recommended on a lot of blogs, and it was well worth the purchase.  It is very primary-friendly.

Then, of course, we watched a BrainPop Jr. about MLK.  Anyone else a fan of Annie and Moby?!  We LOVE them.  We consider them close friends of ours!

After we read the book, we completed our "was / had / wanted" organizer.  
(I am so vain... I don't like my handwriting on the Smart board, so I changed it to text before posting this pic, haha.) 
Click HERE to check out Erin's free mini-unit, including this organizer.

To conclude the week, we wrote about our own Big Dreams for our world.  
(Click HERE to check out  Lyndsey's freebie from her MLK unit.)  

Some dreams were so thoughtful... and others just plain made me laugh... can you guess which one?!?
For everyone to have food.
Everyone to have friends.
Everyone to have fun.
No bullies.

People start using compost.
That people don't get cancer.
That people stop using more gas.
That the Earth is healthy.

Nobody getting on the naughty list.
Nobody hitting each other.
Don't say bad words.
Don't tease.

My dream is for no one to be a bully.
My dream is for no one to litter.
My dream is for people to stand up for one another.
My dream is for everyone to forgive people.

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King!
Ohmigosh!  I am SO EXCITED to share my Groundhog Day Literacy and Math Mini-Unit!!!  This is my first try at a theme unit, and I'm so proud of how it came out.  I cannot stop grinning about these cute groundhogs!  I also cannot wait for my firsties to have a day of Groundhog fun!  Is it too early to celebrate Groundhog Day tomorrow?!!

Here's what I've included in this pack:

Shadow Prediction Tally Chart & Bar Graph

LOVE these kinds of graphic organizers!

My kiddos always surprise me with the words they come up with!

Just. For. Fun!

The unit also includes an "I would not..." writing prompt.

Twelve compound words to match.

There are three player card versions and number calling cards included.

Check it out in my TpT Store.  It will be on sale for the next 24 hours!

Want to snag a copy for FREE?  I'll give it to the first two blog followers who leave me a comment.  Are you hoping for six more weeks of winter or an early spring?!  (Don't forget to leave your email address.)
I'm so excited to share some new TpT products with you tonight!

Thus far, most of my products have been for classroom management (Morning Meeting, Daily Schedule, Job Chart, etc.).  However, since implementing Math Workshop this year, I have been purchasing more math centers to use during "Math with the Teacher" and "Math with a Buddy."  (You can read more about my Math Workshop in this blog post).  

I also have a high-functioning group this year, and have been needing more literacy centers to use during small group reading.  Monday through Thursday we work on our decoding and comprehension skills using our A-Z Readers (LOVE that website).  Friday is reserved for game day, where I get to sneak in more word work.  We often use centers to practice short/long vowels, digraphs, parts of speech, contractions, sight words, compound words, etc.  The kids love it, and I love it.  Win win!  BUT, I've been running short on quality activities for them.  

So after Christmas, I hit up the Boxing Day sale over at Scrappin Doodles for some cute clipart, and the sale at Sonya DeHart Design for some digital papers.  I thought I'd try my hand at creating some of my own math and literacy centers to use in my classroom.  

I also just began using PowerPoint to make my classroom materials.  

JUST began using PowerPoint you say?!  I know, I know, I've been living in the dark ages.  But it's not my fault.  I've had a long love affair with PrintShop.  We'd been together for a long time.  We were comfortable.  I mean, sweatpants-on-the-couch-and-ice-cream-for-dinner comfortable.  But it was time for a break-up.  My file sizes were way too large using PrintShop, and I was tired of merging my pages together.  Plus, PowerPoint is SO. MUCH. EASIER!!!  Shout out to Mrs. Reed at Flying into First Grade for showing me the light and all the PowerPoint goodness!  

We are working on place value in math right now, so I created a Place Value Top-It game.  My kiddos are LOVING this one!  I'm not sure if it is because it is new, or because I told them I made it myself, but they are hooked.  

CLICK HERE to check out my Place Value Top-It!

I also created a Penguin Contractions literacy center, which I blogged about last weekend during the guest blog hop.  My goal is to create several more winter literacy centers, and bundle them together.  I snagged some adorable winter clipart from Scrappin Doodles that I can't wait to use!  

CLICK HERE to check out my Penguin Contractions.  

This week I was lucky enough to win this AMAZING Groundhog Day graphics set from the always awesome Ashley Hughes.  

Guess who will be working on a Groundhog's Day mini-unit this weekend?!!
I'm participating in the New Year, New Ideas, New Possibilities blog hop, from Primary Possibilities.

I will not be posting on my own blog today, but will be guest posting over at Adventures in Teaching.  Here you will be reading a post from Christina Murphy at Krazy in Love with Kindergarten.  So without further ado, here's Christina...

This is my first blog hop and I'm learning sooo much!  Thank you Stephanie, Stephany, and Kathi for setting this whole thing up.

I started my blog Krazy In Love With Kindergarten for my coworker and I to try and showcase some items for our TpT Store and it's slowly turning into something else.  I just started posting pictures of our classroom activities because I'm just starting to remember to take them!  I couldn't tell you how many great moments I've had in my teaching career and forgot or just didn't think about taking pictures... story of my life!

Our guest blog post could be about any topic we wanted so I went through my pictures (the ones I DID remember to take) and found two projects I'm very proud of, one project being the one I'm MOST proud of.

Proud Project #1:  Creating Rules
I have NEVER let any of my students help me create classroom rules... ever, until last school year.  I had a copy of Responsive Classroom's Rules in School for the last 10 years or so and I when I read it the first time, I wasn't quite ready to really absorb the information.  My school district gave us some great positive behavior support (PBS) training in June of 2011 and I knew I had the Rules in School book on my shelf and I pulled it back out.  It was the best thing I've ever done.  I was scared, nervous and hesitant to even think about creating classroom rules with my students but I did and it was like nothing I had ever done before.  During the second week of school that year I took my Rules in School book, placed it on the carpet beside me and read word for word what the author/teacher said to her students to get the discussion started about creating our own rules.  It all starts with brainstorming our Hopes and Dreams for the upcoming school year...
These are some of the pictures my students drew to represent their Hopes and Dreams for Kindergarten that year.  I swear, they came up with the learning ones one their own!
Next we talked about how we can make our Hopes and Dreams come true with rules and exactly what rules we would need...
These are the rules we created, in these pictures they're already published so I skipped a couple steps but I think you get the drift.
We also drew pictures for these rules...
and here's what the entire project ended up looking like...
I'm using this project in this post because it's never too late to create rules... even if it's January!  I just had my current students draw new pictures for our rules we created this school year... they need a refresher, so I'm going to take down the pictures we created in September and put up our new ones as a reminder of what they said we needed to do to achieve our Hopes and Dreams.

Omg... I made this activity for our store, not really thinking about my current students.  I decided to try it out.  I hid the elves in places that really couldn't be seen unless you looked for them...
After I read the story, I told my students we had elves but they had names already, they just had to find them.  I gave each student a clipboard and recording sheet and turned them loose...
All I know is, I could've hid these elves for days and my students would have LOVED finding them.  I am so glad I tried this activity out with my class because I made two adjustments to my activity... I added elves with just letters for those students who aren't as confident with reading the words and I added blank elves for words a teacher may have introduced but wasn't already pre made in the pack.  I know Christmas has come and gone but come on over to our TpT Store and check it out!

Well I hope you enjoyed my proud projects!!  Be sure to check out our blog...
Krazy In Love With Kindergarten or our TpT Store.  I hope everyone has a great beginning to 2013!!


Next, head over to Adventures in Teaching to read my guest blog post!

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