Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Whooo Likes OWLS!

Creating a Welcoming Environment Around

the Common Core!

One of our favorite parts of being teachers is creating an environment that fosters learning. We have dreams of decorating our room and spend hours researching just the right products.

Ouch, Ouch, Ouch...the lovely entrance to our room and the dreaded hot glue gun. We're known around our school by the Fire Marshall. But, each year we beg to allow this. It is so welcoming and the kids love being associated with whatever theme we choose.  This year we are the Owl Room! If we could be hired out to decorate doors, we would be in 7th HEAVEN!

Our lockers!

Whoooo......whoooo.....whooo.....loves owls!!!! Us crazy girls.  We really like to make curtains to cover all our built in shelving.  We found the perfect fabric; however, not one store had the exact yardage that we needed.  We drove all over the Twin Cities to get enough to cover all our built in cabinets!  We're very glad we did!
Providing students with many books at their individual reading level is a very high priority in our room.  We bought this great shelving system at IKEA!  We love having white in our room.  It makes everything so much brighter!  The owls are pretty cute too!

Some school supplies we use more than others.  We always collect and share the supplies throughout the year. This year we have the supplies very accessible to students.  It has worked out great!
Rah, Rah, Rah.....I love these pom poms!  They add so much color to our room!
Having clear expectations is the only way to manage a classroom.  We have 3 Levels of Behavior at our school.  When students show level 3, they get to FLY HIGH on our clip chart!  We believe in praising students for working hard!

We have our Power Goals posted in our room so that all the students will know what the Target Skills are going to be and what we are going to do to get them there.  We post our goals all over the room.  We also feel it is extremely important to have vocabulary walls so that students can refer to them while working in their journal or at stations. 
 We love word work!  Here are some of the fun ways we provide our kids hands on learning.
Word Wall
Write-it, Hide-it, Show-it, Chant-it

Word Work
Digging deep into words.

Word Work Stations
Power Words, Vowel Patterns, R-Controlled
Kids Working on Decoding Words

Math Stations that Work!
Organizing Our Bundle Games
Each bucket has games and skills that we use to teach during Guided Reading and during Daily 5.  It is a great way to organize all the Action 100 resources that we use daily.  Don't forget to check out our bundles!
Daily Practice
Each day we have the students read all our Blends and Digraphs that we have posted in our room.  You can find these in our 2G Foundational Skills Bundle!

We hope you have enjoyed taking a closer look at our learning environment!  Life long learning for ALL!



Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Teacher Affects Eternity!

Yesterday while I was grieving the loss of so many children and teachers I found two blog entries that really inspired me.

First, was a prayer from Max Lucado called, “A Christmas Prayer.” It talked about all the darkness in the world and how we need Jesus to show us his light. For the full prayer, click on the link below.

Second, was a post from Melanie at www.schoolgirlstyle.com. Please read her post from Facebook:

My cousin, Turina Zimmer, is an elementary principal in Colorado. Unfortunately, her school experienced a horrible tragedy this year with the kidnapping of Jessica Ridgeway. This was her Facebook post this morning. I thought it was beautifully written. I am heading out to perform my deliberate act of kindness right now. Will you join me?
"I continue to be silent this morning regarding yesterday's horrific act against children and the school staff that loved them.  There are no words, only emotions.  So, I make my plea that I've made in the past when my school and my state experienced other tradegies...Please consider performing a deliberate act of kindeness this weekend.  It does'nt erase what's happened, but it helps.  It fills your heart, it restores others' faith, and it aids in healing.  Kindness and subsequent gratitude have real power." 
After reading this post, I knew I needed to do something to help restore my faith and show some gratitude for our profession.
A group of moms from the town I live in decided to take our children around to bring back the tradition of Christmas caroling.  We loaded up 9 vehicles with children of all ages.  We first went to a home of a young lady who recently was in a very horrific car accident.  Our children stood outside her bedroom and sang Christmas songs to her through her window. 
Next, we went to some of the most inspirational people in our lives.  Our teachers. 
We started off by visiting one of the most amazing teachers in town.  Her love for our children is evident in all she does. 
Hope for our Future!
After visiting a home from Christmas future, we began visiting homes of Christmas Past.  Our former teachers, the ones that taught us the importance of being great role models to our children.  The ones that taught us that you need to work hard.  Before our children began singing to these amazing teachers, each retired teacher was given a card that said:

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
~Henry Adams
Thank you for being an amazing teacher to our parents!
Merry Christmas
God’s Little Elves!

Our children then began singing songs of peace.  Here are some of the amazing teachers that touched our lives.  Thank you for helping us all become the people we are today.

Mrs.and Mrs. Zimmerman

Mr. Zimmerman taught with kindness and humor.  Mrs. Zimmerman tried to teach me to bake and sew.  I never quite got the baking down, but I can still sew!

Vim Vigor Vitality
Mrs. Walker

I think this is the lady I got my drive from.  She was the most organized woman I know.  She always gave 150% to all the students in her class. She wasn’t only my PE teacher, she was also my coach.  She taught me that working hard is what will get you far and pushed us all, but I didn't realize what an important mentor she was until I became an adult.  Thank you for being the teacher that knew I could achieve great things!

Mrs. Schroeder

Mrs. Schroeder was the first teacher that didn’t put me in the corner for talking all the time.   She encouraged her students and believed that we could all do great things.  She was caring, supportive and made a difference in all our lives.

Thank you Melanie for encouraging all of us to perform a  deliberate act of KINDNESS for the people that cared about us the most. 
Our Teachers!


Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Foundational Skills in the Making!

Lights, Camera, ACTION….Oil that is ACTION 100 that is!  No, No, No, we aren’t the Beverly Hillbillies even though that theme song is going through our head right now.  But we are three teachers that are in love with our new response to intervention.  Have you heard of 100 Book Challenge or Action 100? The framework was built around The Common Core Standards, so yes; our kids have to know this great stuff.  The American Reading Company http://www.americanreading.com/about-us/our-mission/ is one of the best shifts our districts have made.  It allows our students to gain confidence in reading and become proficient readers.  It holds all teachers accountable for teaching the foundational skills students need to master in order to move on to the next level.  It involves the home.  Students have to read at home and if they don’t……they won’t be on school pace.  With all the school wide celebrations, kids want to be on pace.  YES, we love this part!  American Reading Core also provides parents with everything students need to be successful.  BOOKS, BOOKS, and more BOOKS!  Students are choosing and taking home multiple copies of books at their own reading level. 

Can you tell we are strong believers of this reading program?  However, back in September when we were all busy getting our classrooms put together we were always thinking one step ahead and mastering one step behind.  ALL three of us like things organized and we want to know what we are doing and where we are going.  However, the training for Action 100 begins slow so you are able to understand each piece well.  Since that isn’t part of any of our DNA, we dove headfirst into a sea of knowledge that we must admit, we soon felt like we were sinking.  But “together” we supported each other (filled up our inboxes each night) and began piecing things together and we started to see the great success from our students to the point where we could finally breathe.   Yes, that song from Faith Hill just popped into our head.  But it is true! 

It started with a vision of how we wanted our student conferencing to look and how Guided Reading would change as we know it.  We wouldn’t be having students all sitting around our table, reading the same book, discussing the same question.  WEIRD, I know…but we would be pulling kids to focus on key foundational skills and comprehension skills that they must master if they want to move through the color levels.  After deciding that we wanted to have supplemental assessments that fit hand in hand with this we began our collaboration.  Many times we had a brain freeze that hurt just as bad from learning as eating ice cream really really fast!   It was collaborating ideas back and forth amongst us that made our minds at ease.  When we could finally say, assessments check, we moved on to creating list of words we wanted our students to master.  This led directly into games and fun activities that would help us in our classroom to teach the skills each child would need to move on to the next color level. 

That leads us on to….drum roll please………our first complete bundle!  It has everything to make your life manageable in the classroom.  It has supplemental assessments, activities, games, and organizers that help you stay focused during student conferencing.  We are now sailing….not sinking!  We want to give you a sneak peak of what the rave/ hype is all about.  Take a look and head over to a TPT store to help make your life simpler and keep checking back for more bundles!
 Click on the image below to check out this fabulous bundle!
1G Supplemental Bundle


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Welcome to our blog!

We are so excited to get started on this journey together.

We are three teachers from Minnesota that love to teach, gab, and learn together.  We have been collaborating together for 6 years and decided to start a blog since we believe in working smarter not harder.  We truly are examples of our motto:  "Teamwork:  Simply stated: it is less me and more we."  (Author unknown)

We teach 1st and 2nd grade in different buildings in different towns.  Our friendship began via email.  (See...I told you we were good at gabbing.)  Once we started sharing our educational materials together, we also started sharing many late nights with Diet Coke - often just over email.  This has continued to grow throughout the years.  This year, we really needed each other as we implemented Action 100 in our classrooms.  (Thank goodness for good friends, collaboration, and Diet Coke.)

Currently, Kate and Jolene are "livin' the life" of part-time teachers.  They job-share at the first grade level and enjoy the opportunity to volunteer in their children's classrooms on their days off. 

Kik is a 2nd grade teacher who doesn't like to talk about herself so this is the only personal info you will get about her on this blog.  :)

Check back often.  We have a lot to talk about and inspirational ideas to share.