Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There are three good reasons to be a teacher...

June, July, and August. 
Ha! Just Kidding! However, as the summer comes to an end I'm sure we can all agree on that statement! Even though whoever said the quote lives in a dream world where summer break lasts for three months!

This is what I walked into Monday morning. Blah. 
Yep. Its been a long three days... and I am still not done. 
My glue gun and I are at war right now, and by the look of my hands... I think the glue gun is winning. 
Ms. Simoneaux - 0, Glue Gun - 1 

My goodies from Mardel came in yesterday! Thank the lord!
The border I bought... overboard, yes. Spent too much? Yes. 

Things that make me smile, even just for a while...
Really though, I passed these up last time due to my budget but this time around Mr. Sketch 18 pack was calling my name. Buy me, buy me! So I did just that.

 The Time Tracker for small groups...after four years of needing a timer, I finally got one. It is about time.

The following item I am not even sure what exactly it is or why I bought it. Ha. However, for five dollars I was hoping that it would be worth the purchase.
I haven't listened to the CD but I "think" it is something that could be used in the listening station. It also came with the books below.

I will be posting pictures of my classroom as tomorrow! 

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's all starting...

This is such a bitter sweet time of year... excited for the upcoming school year, sad to leave behind my summer social life. Ha.

Seriously though... look at my last few posts compared to the school year posts. The changes are coming... where the school hobby obsession takes over my life! This years goal: balance without killing myself trying to fit it ALL in! 

Now on to new teacher purchases (am I the only one that starts getting a lil' anxiety with all of the teacher purchases I make, ugh)While spending time away from home... the highlight of my day: Wal-Mart trip. Woo hoo. Anyways, while wandering around the Wal-Mart what did I find... the Scotch Thermal Laminator. It was the last one and I caved. I just... needed it. Right? Yep. In the cart it goes. Happy girl. 
  I also, stocked up on the necessities: new glue gun, card stock, post-its, scissors, binder, glue, posters... let the making of classroom decorations begin. 
 Also, remember I told you in a previous post that my BF bought my class some books while in NYC. These are the two books! They are adorable! Can't wait to read them to my kiddos! 

Now, on to the online shopping. This is where a problem can occur, am I right ladies? Its just a few clicks and done, new teacher stuff at your door in a week. I have had to make sure I am on a budget and I will not spend over. Fingers crossed. 

I found a lot of cute borders to go with my new rockstar room over at the website My new room will be filled with neon colors and zebra. I have been eyeing this rolling cart for OVER a year now. When I saw it was on sale. Click, in the cart. (Apparently, they were having a sale on Thursday... I'm not sure if this is a regular event or not but you cannot beat %20 off).
I also finally bought the Time Tracker I have been wanting. Most timers annoy me but I really like this one (saw it in ma girl Ms. Thomas' classroom). It's been on my wish-list so I clicked it and scored that too! 

Question: What all is on your Wish-List that you finally caved and bought?

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rocking Out in First Grade!

Hi, my name is Morgan and I have a problem with rearranging my classroom mulitple times during the year. IT NEVER FAILS.

This is basically how the weeks leading up to the first day of school look: 
1. I map out my room. I plan for every area that I need in my room and what I want on the walls.
2. I walk into my BLANK ALL WHITE room. (Thank you summer school for making me destroy everything I stressed over all year).
3. I start putting up the decor, I move furniture into the place I arranged for. Things do not fit appropriately, I move furniture again. Eventually I have the room how I want it! Yay. This takes days (which is the small amount of in between time from summer school to our first day). 
4. I am a happy teacher in my pretty room... waiting for my kiddos.

Then, BOOM... October hits. I dislike the "flow" of my room. 
5. My kids walk into a new room sometime around then. I like it now.
*This happened more then I would like to admit during the school year. Oops!

Now, tell me I am not the only one with this problem! I think the issue is unlike with my own apartment (furnished by my father in the furniture business) I did not get to pick out the items in my classroom nor do I have the means to actually do that myself. Sadly, neither does my school. So I make do with what I have and I end up never pleased. Wamp wamp. This year however, I have decided to really make a room that I love. If I love it, then my students will love it based off of my pure enthusiasm about how much I love it! Last year I looked at a lot of blogs for inspiration of how I would like my room to be set up. I have never used a theme so I really wanted to pick something that would appeal to MY personality! I found Cara's pictures and I loved them. If you know me you know I am a fan of neon, sparkle, hollywood, fashion, etc. Her room screamed rockstar glamour! And here we are today... my new room will be a mix of hollywood/ rockstar, neon colors, and sparkle! I am now done mapping out my room, my walls, and fingers crossed this will happen once and stay that way. *Ms. Thomas it is YOUR job to keep me strong*

Also, tonight while I was checking out some of my fav bloggers, I saw Abby was doing a Rockstar room as well! This makes me happy! I saw her cute behavior management and I LOVE IT! Abby you are a true inspiration as well! I cannot wait to post pictures of my new room... and give you a glimpse into my teacher bffs room. We have a sliding door between our room, no big deal. 
That door= teacher heaven!

Question: How do you keep from rearranging your room during the year and What is your theme?

In other news, I am now back from NYC! Is it possible to be even busier over the summer? I am NEVER home! Always in another city! Below are some pictures from my trip! That city kicked my bottom back into shape... a certain someone I went with LOVED the subway, so I did at least 4 hours of stair master/ treadmill time (if not more). 

Cental Park Tour on the Pedi Cab... best idea my feet have ever known

  Dinner in NYC is fabulous.    

At the Carrie Bradshaw stoop. In love.

 Rockefeller Observation Deck

 Serendipity= Bliss.

 Please look at those stairs. That was one of THREE we did to get down to this subway. I died. Must. Work. Out!

 FAO Schwartz where my sweet boyfriend bought an Broadway and Subway children's book for my classroom. Sweet lil thing.

 Pipa's Tapas Dinner. Wonderful!

 Last night. Last subway. 

One happy child on the subway. 
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Deb and I... day 2

Guys... this is major stuff. I'm not sure if I will get out everything I want in one post without you giving up on the reading... so we shall see how this goes.

All of the information can be found in Making the Most of Small Groups by Debbie Diller. (Great book!)

Day 2 of the Debbie Diller conference focused on small groups! Thank you lord above! I already felt like I had a pretty good grasp on workstations after my trial (and errors) last year. So, this year I really wanted to focus on improving my small groups! This is crucial time that I get to spend with my students so I want it to be worth it! 

Debbie's tips for what to include in Guided Reading:
1. Before reading (approximately 5 minutes)

  • Introduce the book to the students (talk and make predictions).  Set the purpose! Be specific on what you are reading to find out/ looking for... students can record their answers on a sticky note! Debbie would include on different pages questions that the students could record their answers! Love it. 
  • Review the focus reading strategies (Tip: every guided reading should include the comprehension) The strategy you choose to focus on should have already been taught in whole group. 
  • Review vocabulary- High frequency words... have students ZOOM in on new words in order to build vocabulary. 
  • Phonemic awareness should not be included in the Guided Reading lesson. (This is where I will need to figure out how best to meet my students who do not have this skill, eek! Stay tuned how that goes)
2. During Reading... your job is to listen in and prompt as needed!
  • Your job is NOT to correct their mistakes... that is the student's job! This is so important to remember. 
  • Do not round robin... did you not HATE that part as a child. You sat their in class plotting out what you had to read, practicing in your head, not even paying attention to what the other's were reading. Enough said. 
  • Once you are comfortable with your small groups THEN you can begin taking notes. Last year I used a binder with the plastic dividers with pockets. I wrote each child's name on a library card. Depending one which group the student was in was where I placed the card. (If a student was in the yellow group they went into the sleeve of the yellow divider. Simple... and easy to keep up with. Once they are full... file them away. These are GREAT tools in order to see where your students are, keep track of progress, and they help you to accommodated your students needs. Tip: You can even store the leveled readers you are using in the pocket or an example shown she attached a cd pocket onto her divider and stored her notes in there!

3. After Reading
  • Part 1: talk about what they read, check for comprehension!
  • Part 2L Strategies: whatever streagies you are focusing on review now and then remind them to use it throughout the day :)
  • Teacher reflection: Debbie believes it is important to jot down a note as the students are leaving the table, something you do not want to forget. 
4. Running Records
  • Use a familiar book to the students, however it cannot be something the child has memorized
  • Debbie did a running record on ONE student before she began her small group lesson.
  • She modified the running record. This means that she did not do a running record to get a Guided Reading Level... she still taught during the running record. However, she used it more as an INSTRUCTIONAL tool. 
** I mentioned early about the post it notes when setting a purpose... they can also be used to mark a page you would like the students to stop on. In her example she had the students read to that post it note and make an inference on that page (the purpose was already set earlier). Be sure to MODEL how students should record their responses (this is a great way to incorporate writing). 

Just remember...Every child learns to read for someone else! 
It is our job's as teachers to help each child accomplish this goal! I wanted read for my dad. 
(He'd kill me if he knew I put a picture of him up, but I love this picture. Typical dad look ha)
He read to me EVERY single night, the classic children's stories. I would memorize the story and I remember how excited he was when I would read the page! *Smiles* There began my obsession reading. I wanted my dad to have that look of being proud on his face, and I loved that time with my dad before I went to bed. I remember when he signed me up for the Dr. Seuss books that came in the mail. I could not wait until we got a new book to read together. Those memories last forever. Who was the person you learned to read for? 

Well, I hope you made it to the end and it was worth the reading!

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Part 1: Debbie Diller Conference (Finally)

I know, I know... again long overdue. I am just no longer making promises on a time frame so I can stop having to apologize ha! 

Anyways, I wanted to share some insight with you from the Debbie Diller conference. (That was oh, in June! oops)
First, my teacher bestie and I met the Debbie. She was adorable. I just wanted to squeeze her! Don't worry, I refrained. 

The first day of the conference dealt with Math and Literacy Workstations. Day two focused on small groups. 

Important things I loved/ learned from The Debbie (Day 1 of the Conference)...

#1. She introduce the book Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt. She read the story to us and explained how she had a discussion with her students about "jumping into the unknown". She used the example towards teachers starting workstations. However, I think I am going to use this same concept at the beginning of the school year. I love to build a family community in my classroom and I think telling the students who are scared about first grade how great the "jumping into the unknown" can be will be a great way to start that! Check out ma girl's blog for a cute activity she created to go with it.
PS Ffi, go ahead and send me my free copy! Thanks ha
Click the link below for her activity!

#2, Try pairing students by level so the higher kids do not have to do all of the work. I know... I kind of gasped at this when I first thought of two of my lower babies together. But then I had this a-ha moment...
 put in the workstations things that your lower students can be successful with and then differentiate in order to reach your high students. Debbie suggested putting a baggie or box at workstations with a colored dot. Each group knows which dot of supplies is for them.  For example in math workstations maybe have a baggie for lower students with smaller numbers and the higher can work with larger numbers. Simple right? Same activity, just modified to meet individual students needs. 

#3. You can actually write on your small group table using DRY ERASE markers... who knew? This will make it a lot easier for me instead of having to pass out the dry erase boards. 

#4. Debbie introduced ideas for the Creation Station. I have never used this station but I thought it could be something new for me this year. She had students work on How-To Books (after modeling how to make them many times). Her examples from the classroom were adorable! Students were so creative with ideas on how to make various things. She also suggested using a date-stamp when adding to the their books! 

#5. If you have a large classroom remember that you can always reproduce the same station twice! Two listening stations, two big book, etc. This will eliminate the problem of having to create 14 different stations around the room! Also, remember that stations can be portable. Place them in a large plastic bin with a lid and voila, portable station! 

#6. Drink Stirries for small pointers. Duh right? Cheap... easy... done. 

6. Number Roll or Wonder Woman Belt... great idea for math when using concepts such as count on, count back, one more/ one less or two more/ two less.

And then at the end of our day... Ffion FORCED me into Lakeshore Learning.  Just look at that happy lil' kid smile.

I will be posting about day 2 (small groups) in the future... remember I cannot make anymore promises ha. Just kidding! I'm in the middle of no where right now, so it looks like I'll have a lot of time to post it tomorrow!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Sorry I am a little late on posting the winner... we stayed at the beach longer than expected. Not that I am complaining! 

Anyways, using the true random number generator the winner of the $20.00 gift certificate was #18:

Mrs. D, please email me as soon as possible so I can get your contact information and the Lakeshore gift-card to you :)! 

Thank you to all of you who entered the giveaway and follow me! I am BEYOND grateful! 
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