Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lidia's Back-to-School Freebies (Swap and Hop)

Looking for me?  I'm not here.  I'm swappin' and hoppin' over at Going Nutty in Miss Squirrel's First Grade.  Please come see what I'm sharing about one of the things I love to put into my classroom library.  You can say hi to Miss Squirrels while you're there.
While I'm away, I've left my blog in the best of hands.  Please welcome Lidia, and thanks for making her feel at home.

Hello! My name is Lidia. I am the author of Kinder Alphabet and Kinder Latino. I am excited to be a guest blogger on this wonderful blog. I hope that you enjoy today's post.  I have a couple of resources to help you prepare for Back to School.

Lesson Plan Book:

The first thing that I think about is my lesson plan book. I need to get it organized and ready so that I can start adding my weekly lessons. If you have taught about 16 years, like I have, you might remember the huge, bulky lesson plan books. For many years, I had to use those big books. I had no other option. I am so glad that those are not around anymore. It was too hard taking work home and having to also carry that big thing around. I was happy when we finally got the letter size books.

Here is a picture of the two different sizes of lesson plan books so that you can see the big difference.

Even though the letter size books were easy to carry and a lot more convenient, they were not enough. We wanted a way to personalize our lesson plan templates. Wow! What a difference that made. We created our own template and typed in all the daily routines that always remained the same. That was such a time saver. So, needless to say, we began to use binders to store our lesson plans. And here is the best part of that story! Since teachers love to make things CUTE, I made this cover just for you. It's a binder cover for your lesson plan book. Just insert it in the binder sleeve. Do you like the colorful insect theme? Now, you can set your lesson plan book nicely on your desk or guided reading table. It is an attractive way to display your lesson plan book. Administrators and substitute teachers will also be able to locate your plans binder easily when they enter your classroom.

Click here to get your free copy:)

Transportation form:
Next, you need to have a couple of transportation items ready for that first day/week of school.  These will help you stay organized during dismissal time. You need to make sure that everyone gets home on time. There is nothing worse than getting that phone call from a parent who is wondering why their child did not arrive home.

Use this form to fill in important information. Then, place it in a clear sleeve and onto a clipboard. You can use a vis-a-vis marker to check the form of transportation. This is a good method in the first couple of weeks of school. You will find that students' form of transportation might change in those first days of school. It will be easy to wipe off the marker and check off the correct column. After the students have an established way to get home, you can pencil it in on the form itself. 
Click on the picture to get it.

Dismissal Name Tags
Finally, I wanted to include these dismissal name tags that will come in handy the first few weeks of school. It makes it simple to sort students into the different dismissal groups without having to ask them "How do you get home?" Many of our students do not know how they are supposed to go home until it becomes an established routine. I also place a set of these (with student names on them) in the substitute folder. 

Thank you for having me. I hope that you are able to use these resources to prepare for the the Back to School madness. I would love to see you over at my Kinder Alphabet blog some day:)

Lidia R. Barbosa from:

Thanks to Lidia for sharing her helpful ideas here on Forever in First!  If anyone is interested in visiting other wonderful blogs that are swapping today, you're in luck.  Take a look below. 

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Saturday Sayings: The Real World

(Click on the graphic for previous Saturday Sayings.)

Saturday has arrived early on my blog this week since I'm participating in a blog swap tomorrow.  Saturday Sayings are near and dear to my heart though, so I had to fit this in.

(I love this pic.)
That's what it says.  What does it mean?  To me it means that the learning that takes place at school, whether reading, writing, math, etc., should mirror the learning that takes place in real life.  As much as possible, they should be one and the same.  We could probably make a list of things we ask readers to do in the classroom that we would never expect them to do in real life.  How about this example?

"How many adult readers would choose to read if they had to take a multiple-choice test for every book they finished?"  Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer 131

(If you're interested in reading what one school is doing instead of computerized reading quizzes, a.k.a. AR, read Lori's post at Conversations in Literacy.  It's a good one!)

I'm just simply reminded that I need to keep a watchful eye on the kinds of things I ask of my readers, writers, and mathematicians.  I hope I can set up my classroom in a way that prepares them for lifetime thinking instead of only 12 years of school thinking.  Here's Regie's thought on the matter.

"Is this a practice that occurs in the real world?  If it's just a school thing, we need to question the practice."  Regie Routman, Teaching Essentials 39

I've got great news before you leave.  Tammy from First Grade at Storybook Cafe is joining me today for her own Saturday Sayings.  Ready to be inspired?  Head on over and enjoy her thoughts.  I'm on my way.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Their Authentic Audience

If you're like me, you're crossing your fingers in hopes that your little readers have books in their hands this summer.  That's not all I'm hoping for though.  Since writing goes hand in hand with reading, they really must find opportunities to use that skill too.  On the last day of school I sent home a little something to encourage them to pick up a pencil over the summer.  Read on to see.

Each little writer got a packet like this.

Here's a copy of the letter.  (My address is at the bottom, but I blurred it out for this post.  You never know who might read this!)

I also attached an envelope with my address.  (Yep, blurred it out too.)

Then I included three pieces of stationary which thankfully can be cheaply found at the Dollar Store.

The good news? I've heard from five of my writers so far.  I don't have pictures of all those letters, but here are two notes that one little guy has written.  

Writers are more motivated when they have a purpose and an authentic audience.  I love being their authentic audience!

(By the way, I received two letters this summer from past students who are in middle school.  You never know who might keep your address handy.)

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Sayings: Expect Nothing in Return

(More Saturday Sayings can be found if you click on the graphic.)

Have you read this?  I recently finished it, and it could easily supply me with enough quotes for about two year's worth of Saturday Sayings.  It was that good.
That's my pa.  Fishing or playing with his cell phone?
Here's a little moment of truth from my own teaching experience.  I shudder to think that I even did this.  During my first few years of teaching I had a chart on the wall with each child's name.  I kept track with tallies of the number of books they read at home.  Every time a child read 10 books, they got some kind of prize, which I doubt was anything special.  The whole things makes me cringe on so many levels.  What an embarrassment for the kids who didn't read much at home or at all for that matter.  Most of the time at my grade level, that's a parental issue anyway.  It's not the child's fault.  Most importantly, by "paying" them to read, I regret the message I was sending.  

"Rewarding reading with prizes cheapens it, and undermines students' chance to appreciate the experience of reading for the possibilities that it brings to their life."  Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer 151

This next thought might some day become its own Saturday Saying.  As much as possible, school reading and life reading should be one and the same, and how often is that not the case?  As an adult reader, no one rewards me after I read ten books.  My reward is so much greater than that, and that's what I've learned needs to take place with young readers.  Their reward should be found in the ways their hearts, minds, and lives connect with the books they read.  As with most things, I'm still learning how to get better at making this happen, but my goal is to grow readers who love reading so much that they'll do it forever and never expect anything in return, except simply that feeling of satisfaction they get from being readers.

(Disclaimer:  My school does participate in a few reading incentive programs, such as the Pizza Hut Book-It program, but I try to downplay it as much as possible.  "Hey guys.  I know you don't read so that you'll get pizza, but the people at Pizza Hut love to read.  They heard that you love to read too, so they'd love to celebrate being readers together" or something like that.)

It's very possible that you're reading this at the very moment I'm running 13.1 miles in Seattle.  Pray for my friend's feet.  They're both recovering from surgery, and they don't always play nice.  We're planning on enjoying ourselves regardless though.  :)

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Like You Too Much To Argue

When you think about it, the majority of kids do us big favors by doing what we ask of them.  When it comes right down to it, you can't make anyone do anything. In first grade, many kids haven't figured that out yet, so for the most part, they just play along.  Phew.  Oh, but there are those who have discovered their free will and sure enjoy pushing the limits by finding out if we teachers really mean what we say.  Take, for example, the arguers.  They've got it down to a science, and what happens when the teacher argues back?  They find themselves sucked into a battle they hadn't anticipated fighting, and once they're in, it's hard to get back out.  At that point, the child has pretty much won.  I know.  I've been there.

I've had some training that's given me a plethora of great tools for situations just like this.  Have you heard of Love and Logic?  I don't have time for details now, but maybe later.  


Love and Logic has the best one-liners around.  When a child argues, teachers typically argue back, ignore the child, or fumble for the right magical words to remedy the situation.  Here's what Love and Logic suggests:

This typically doesn't go on for too long actually.  Children don't like playing this game and usually give up.  If every time they argue they hear, "I like you too much to argue" they tend to argue less.  I hear it even works with family members, so try it out this summer (insert word "love") and make it your pat answer for every argument that comes your way.  It will save you a few battle wounds at home and at school!

...just a little something to look forward to.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Math Inventions Over at Casey's Place

Could I ask a big favor of you today?  Instead of hanging out here, could you visit me at Second Grade Math Maniac?  Casey's on vacation, so I'm guest blogging for her today.  Here's a little sneak peek of what I'll be talking about.  

I'd love for you to hear the story behind this picture.  I promise it's a good one.  I'm hoping it will inspire all math teachers out there.  See you at Casey's, and of course I'd love to know what you think.

(Oh, and while you're there, check out Casey's guest post from yesterday supplied by Jenny at Luckeyfrog's Lilypad.  I loved it.  Here's a pic to grab your interest.)

(Her guest post is called "Different Names for a Number.")

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Common Core Short and Sweet (Freebies)

If you're not becoming good friends with Common Core yet, don't worry.  Sooner or later you're bound to meet up.  I think one of the biggest challenges is simply becoming familiar and comfortable with it.  So far I've seen it in several different formats.  They're all useful in their own right.  Amanda from Teaching Maddeness shared another format that I thought would be handy as well.  She created a document with only her 2nd grade standards for each strand.  It's short and sweet and easy to keep in her lesson plan binder for quick reference.  There will be times when more information is nice to have, but I can see the benefit of something like this as well.  I was so inspired that I whipped  them up for first grade too.  (Okay, so it took more than a little whipping.)  Please help yourself to them.  Click on each picture for your own copy.  I apologize for the small font, but I wanted to keep it to as few pages as possible.  (My 40 year-old eyes aren't complaining...yet.)
ELA: Literature, Informational Text,  Foundational Skills

ELA: Writing, Speaking & Listening, Language

Math: Operations & Algebraic Thinking, Numbers & Operations, Measurement & Data, Geometry

Thanks Amanda for the inspiration!  If you teach 2nd, she'd love to share her documents with you.  She has also included some additional organizational guides she keeps with her lesson plans that you might be interested in as well.  Head on over and see.

(If you're interested in reading my "deep" thoughts about learning and living with something new like Common Core, go here.)

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Sayings: Expecting Ambiguity

(Click above for more Saturday Sayings.)

I spent three days this week getting myself educated more about the Common Core.  It's quite a big project for one little brain to take on, as some of you know too well.  I found myself being reminded of something I heard a wise professor say ten years ago when I was getting my Masters.  I could only remember a small portion, but would you believe I still have those notes?  (You never know when these things will come in handy.)  This is what I had jotted down.

"Willingness to live with vagueness."  That's the part that's been hanging around my brain this week.  Even though my understanding of the Common Core is much improved, I'm still dealing with vagueness.  That feeling can either be handled with stress or with the knowledge that this is simply part of being a learner.  Ambiguity is not necessarily the enemy.  I've learned over the years when diving into something new, to allow myself the right to not understand everything about it right off the bat.  It takes time to conquer change.  Sometimes it even lingers months into the process.  Expect some possible feelings of foolishness and a desire for lots of dialogue and questioning.  If so, according to Bahruth, it proves that learning is taking place.  

In essence, we're practicing what we expect of our students, but oddly enough, my notes say that most children do these three things rather naturally.  Maybe we can take a tip from them.  Embrace the ambiguity instead of letting it heighten our stress levels.  Whether it's the Common Core, Daily 5 (I've seen lots of posts about this lately), a new way of teaching math, experimenting with writing workshop, or whatever new content we're taking on, let's not be surprised when vagueness shows up.  Instead we can expect it, recognize it, don't let it slow us down, and know that it won't stick around forever.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Exciting? No. Practical? A Resounding Yes!

This little post is for those of you who enjoy purging your classroom of unwanted items.  Oddly enough, it's also for those of you who have closets full of stuff you can't seem to part with.  The next time a set of headphones decides to quit working, you could throw them away or even push them to the back of a closet.  Instead, cut off the chord and put them to use with your kids who enjoy a little less noise.  (Some kids like to wear them simply for the sake of wearing them.  Works for me!)  My kids love to put them on throughout the day, especially during Daily 5.  They read with them.  They write with them.  They make words with them.  I wish I had pictures of the kids to prove it, but you'll have to take my word for it.  This is all I've got. 

I've got about 10.  They hang like this for easy access.

Are you imagining where all those broken headphones are stashed?  It's time to get them out.  Or if you don't have any, grab your neighbor's before they toss them.  Now they can serve a much-needed purpose!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Corner on Character

I got a sweet request recently to be a guest for Barbara at The Corner on Character.  If you have not visited with her, this will be a special treat.  I invite you to head over there to see what encouraging educational thoughts she's posting.  I'd love for you to see my post too, of course.  I'm sharing my favorite picture book ever about Wodney Wat and Camilla Capybara.  They help my kids figure out who they want to be in life.  Come see what I mean!

(Her blog is a click away.)

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Here's to the Moms and Dads

I spent most of the year with 25 first graders.  (I started with a whopping 27!) A teacher to student ratio of 1:25 is a bit daunting.  I was greatly outnumbered, and there's only so much of me to go around.  Thankfully I had several moms and even a dad who volunteered in the classroom, working with kids who needed that extra one-on-one.  It's hard to adequately thank them for being my hands extended.  This post is about my thanks to them.  In light of all they did, it wasn't much, but I hope they knew how much they were appreciated.

First I wrote each of them a personal note.  There's something a little extra special about handwritten notes to people who deserve lots of thanks.

They each received a magnet of our crazy class picture too.

Thanks to Snapfish for the magnets by the way.

Then I got busy in my kitchen, which doesn't happen very often.  The inside of my oven is evidence.  Would you believe it's never needed cleaning?

My dad's the real baker in the family, but I can seriously pull these off.  They're so easy to make.  I've yet to mess them up. 

Not only are they easy cheesy to make, they're amazingly delicious.  Volunteers or no volunteers, you should make yourself a batch.  Let me know what you think!

(Click on the recipe for your own copy.)

And here's to the moms and dads who bless and bless and bless everytime they walk into my classroom.
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