Sunday, April 6, 2014

Learning Lessons with Molly Lou!

Hi all! Loooooong time, no update. I've got Sweeney Todd rehearsals pretty much every day of the week at this point. Free time is few and far between. As we get closer to the show opening, I'll share some pictures... It's gonna be pretty epic.

ANYWHO, I wanted to share some things we've been doing lately!

I'm sure many of you know my good friend Molly Lou Melon. She's a peach. Love her.

Anyways, my principal told me he was going to do a formal observation during reading. I do reading group, ten minute mini-lesson, reading group, ten minute mini-lesson, etc. So he said he'd come for one mini-lesson and one reading group. I read them Molly Lou Melon the day before then when he came, we focused on Common Core standard RL.1.2 (Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson). So, we went back through the story to try and figure out what Molly Lou learned about herself. I was getting "so-so" responses such as "she learned to stand tall and sing loud" and then out of the blue, one of my BOYS goes "she learned to believe in herself." *BOOM!* I could not have said it better myself. I love those moments when they REALLY bring it when you're being observed. After figuring out the lesson she learned, I really wanted to focus on details from the text that helped us realize what she learned...

Again, it was going well, then one of my little ladies said "the letter that Molly wrote to her Grandma at the end said 'you were right.'" *DING DING!*

This week in Reading Street we read Peter's Chair, which I LOVE. I wanted to take this skill and have the students review the story, looking for the lesson that Peter learned, as well as what details in the text lead them to realizing that. I had them work in pairs using a graphic organizer from this Common Core graphic organizer pack. If you don't already have it, get it. It's been a lifesaver. Lyndsey from A Year of Many Firsts, if you're reading, this pack is amazing.

I hope you're enjoying the sunshine wherever you are... It's a little chilly in PA right now, but sipping coffee with the heat on while seeing the sunshine is making me THINK it's almost summer. I'll take it.
post signature

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lesson Planning Made Easy!

Hey, all! I just posted on The Collaboration Connection about how I do my lesson plans. I've tried MANY different ways of planning, but I think I finally found what works best for me! Check it out :-)

Collaboration Connection

Happy Monday! I hope the weather where you are is as nice as the weather in Central PA! It's gorgeous today!!
post signature

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Guest Post from MRS. First Grade: Recording Your Own Audiobooks!

Mrs. First Grade recording Green Eggs and Ham
Hello, all! This is Mrs. First Grade (that's right, I'm the lucky gal who gets to hang out with Mr. First Grade every day), dropping by to show you how to create your own audiobooks for free! As a songwriter who frequently records demo tracks at home, I've had the opportunity to play with multiple programs that can record audio, but I want to show you a method that's easy, intuitive, and works with the built-in microphone on your computer.

The first time I tried this method was when I took a graduate class on new media and literacies. I had to create a sample book talk on The Lovely Bones that included two voices and music, and it worked like a charm! Here's how to make your own.

How to Record Your Own Audiobooks

First, go to the Audacity website and download the program-- it's free and doesn't take up much space on your hard drive.

Then, follow the instructions to download the LAME MP3 encoder, which allows you to export your Audiobooks as MP3 files-- which you can easily open on any computer, tablet, or phone!

Once you've finished those two easy steps, you're ready to start recording! Watch my screencast below to get a glimpse into how it works. I take you through the whole process, from beginning to exporting.

It really is as simple as it seems! I hope you decide to give it a try-- your students will go nuts for these recordings (especially if your spouse helps you record some books-- I felt like a celebrity when Andrew's students listened to mine!). It's easy to keep your listening centers up to date with the books you really want them to listen to, not just the ones that are on sale for 99 cents!

Drop a line in the comments section if you have questions, and we'll do our best to help you troubleshoot any issues you might run into. Happy recording!

~Mrs. First Grade

Cori is an eleventh grade English teacher who works with economically and socially disadvantaged students. She is pursuing her masters in English education and enjoys spending her rare moments of free time with the two men in her life-- her husband, Andrew, and their adorable dog, Charlie.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mentor Sentences!

Hello friends! We had a faculty meeting about teaching grammar the other day... Our director of elementary education shared with us the idea of using a mentor text or sentence to teach grammar. I was like a kid in a candy shop. She said something along the lines of "these ideas are great for grades 2-5..." Womp womp. My heart sank. But then I started thinking. Obviously, at the beginning of the year, it would be very difficult to do this, as we are JUST introducing parts of speech. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my little firsties were ready for something like this.

Last week, I read Bear Snores On as a read aloud and the kids loved it. Since we use Reading Street, we've been talking about changes and how animals do different things in the winter.

*Click the picture to find this book on Scholastic*

This week, Reading Street was focusing on adjectives, and while I never use the grammar worksheets every once in a while, I decided that I wanted to beef up my grammar instruction a bit. I chose the first sentence of the book as my mentor sentence:

"In a cave in the woods,
in his deep, dark lair,
through the long, cold winter
sleeps a great brown bear."

I chose to do this in guided reading groups this week, as I was TOTALLY unsure how my students would respond, and I sort of wanted to be able to compare their reactions based on their reading levels. After I read the sentence to them, I asked the students WHY they thought I had chosen this sentence... I was blown away.

One of these was from my below-level reading group... I won't tell which one! They blew me away. By the end, they were practically BEGGING me to tell them WHY I'd chosen this as a mentor sentence. After we talked about how adjectives make a sentence more descriptive, I had the students complete this little worksheet.

I had the students first circle the nouns in the sentences. After that, we talked about different adjectives that could be used to describe those nouns. They rocked it. Made my day.

Do you use mentor sentences to teach language arts?
post signature

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New products for the big sale!

ARE YOU CRAZY PUMPED FOR THE GIANT TPT SALE!? My cart is a little too full at this point... Oops! My store is set at an extra 20% off on top of the regular sale... Enjoy!

Just in time for the mega sale, I've added 2 new products!

March Morning Work is done! I worked REAAAAALLY hard to have it done for the sale!

AND, since March was the last month that I needed to do, I also posted a MEGA BUNDLE! It's a combination of ALL my morning work pages... 245 in all!

Stay tuned for a new post soon! I've been using mentor sentences in reading groups to teach adjectives this week... My kiddos responded really well, and I was super happy :-)
post signature

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Blog, Big Giveaway!

WOW! Our new collaborative blog, Collaboration Connection, is up and running and there's a giant giveaway that you won't want to miss!! There's actually 3 separate raffles that you can enter! I'm giving away a free copy of my Rainbow of Kids clipart set. You won't believe all the awesome stuff up for grabs!!!! Go check it out :-)

ALSO, I'm starting March morning work tonight -- anything your first graders have been struggling with that you'd like to see included?
post signature

Monday, February 17, 2014


We weren't supposed to have school today, but it ended up being a snow make-up day... and it was also the 100th day... and we exchanged Valentine's since we had a snow day on our party.

I'm surprised I'm still alive. But, I did manage to take some pictures! Check out some of the things we did today :-)

SO. I've officially seen the ways of the Daily 5 and I have no intention of ever stopping... until the next big thing comes along. I LOVE that it lends itself so well to fun little activities like these. At word work today, I put out a page that had my firsties list 100 words. I was SO surprised at how creative they were! I fully expected them to use the word wall and their spelling lists, but they went around and collected calendar words and words from posters and my heart went a-flutter.

Instead of guided reading today, I had them write about life would be like if they were 100 years old... Some personal favorites included "I'll play bingo and eat soft food since I won't have teeth" as well as "if my children are old enough they can take care of me."  They're a hoot and a half.  I also put out a list at work on writing that had them list things they'd love to have 100 of and things they'd hate to have 100 of. One of my kiddos just got stitches on his forehead from falling on the ice, so he said he'd hate to have 100 stitches... priceless.

AND, since today was also our Valentine's Day celebration, and since I love to utilize every moment of the day to the max, I had my aide's reading group squeeze in a little candy heart math.  These pages are from my Spread The Love Valentine's Day Activities pack, which is still for sale for the next few days.

I also came up with this simple (totally last minute) Valentine for my kiddos... Dollar tree pencils 12 for a buck?! Done. Bargain shopper.

And with all the things that were going on today, I literally forgot to tell them about President's Day. I could kick myself. Guess what we're talking about TOMORROW!

P.S. I added the 100th day of school activities as a freebie in my store... It won't be a freebie for long, because it's a pack I've been dreaming up in my head and plan on adding to very soon!!
post signature