The High & Low of January

I am linking up with Katie at Teacher to the Core.......she is doing a High/Low Linky. What a great way to take a look back at the month and put it all in perspective.

First...let's start with the low.....

I guess my first month of this new year hasn't been so bad. I had a hard time thinking of a low for this month. The one thing that has really been weighing heavy on my mind was a decision I had to make. Is it just me, or do you also think the decisions we have to make in the interests of our children are THE hardest to make? I have a harder time when it comes to them than I do for decisions in my own interests!

SO-- I have an 18 year old son. Senior in high school. He wants to go to Florida for Spring Break. With his friends. He's driving. My car. Do you see where this is going?

It is SO hard to say.......yep, that's baby can drive all the way to Florida from Indiana hauling his teenaged friends. On the highway. Where yahoos and idiots drive. It's probably a little harder for me to say that it's okay. You see, about 5 years ago, I was involved in a very serious car accident. I nearly died. On my way to Florida. I was hauling a car full of cheerleaders (my daughter among them) when we were hit by a drunk driver. On the way to Florida. Where my son wants me to give him permission to go. Boo.

Grrr. I have been agonizing over the decision for a few months, really. Trying to put it off, hoping that his friends' parents will fall through, they'll all bail, and the trip will be a no-go without me having to make a decision. That hasn't happened. Boo. I'll be honest. I'm afraid. I've been wrestling with this because I know what my dad would say: "He's 18 years old. He's old enough. You drove halfway across the country at the same age. You can't baby him forever. What happens happens." And I know that's all correct. Reasonable. But I'm afraid.

Tonight, I gave my son the go ahead. The plan isn't a trip to Florida anymore. Myrtle Beach is's closer, and not as far to drive, they've decided. So I've said okay. Okay. Boo. I feel like crap. Please keep me (& him) in your thoughts & prayers.

Now the high.

I honestly have to say that the high from this month has been getting back to blogging. It is so nice to be doing something that I enjoy! I love the community. It's like a great big, friendly support group. Got a penchant for fonts? There are a ton of people who share that passion! lol Got a thing for office supplies or classroom design? Matching plastic totes and bins? There are tons of people here who joyfully share that passion, too!

I feel like blogging has made me a better teacher. It certainly makes me think about my instruction in a different way. AND I find lots and lots of ideas and materials that support me in the classroom. Wow!! The resources and strategies you can find in the blogging community are just never-ending!
Thanks to all of you for sharing my high!

Techy Tuesday & a WINNER!

Have you heard of Dropbox? Have you tried out Dropbox? Oh. My. Goodness!! I just absolutely love, love, LOVE Dropbox!
After surviving the untimely death of my laptop......and the loss of ALL the files I had failed to back up, I got an external hard drive. I thought I loved the external hard drive because I could save everything to matter what computer I was using...home, computer.......etc. BUT the external hard drive suffered an even MORE untimely death.........along with all the files I once again had failed to back up. When my newest little purple plaid netbook started showing signs of illness, I thought I better find a way to back everything up NOW........before it fries too!
So-- I researched just a little bit and learned about Dropbox. It is absolutely FABULOUS!
For one thing, I was able to quickly upload ALL of my files from my ailing laptop.........shew!. All of my files are now safely stored securely online. I can access them from any computer.........just log into Dropbox and there they are!!

Image Source: Dropbox
But the absolute best thing is that you can install Dropbox on your computer AND on your phone! I've installed it on both my poor, ailing laptop and my school computer. Now I have a little Dropbox icon down on the bottom bar of my computer........all I have to do to access any of my files is to click on the little icon. A menu pops up on the screen and there it all is! I LOVE being able to access it all, edit it all, and save it all all in one place! And best of all.......I don't have to worry about losing my files anymore!! Woohoo!

AND-- you also can SHARE from Dropbox! The last couple of freebies I've shared have been shared right from my Dropbox. How cool is that?!?! You should really check out Dropbox and see what you think of all the features. Just click the Dropbox image to learn more.   I'm linking up with Technology Tailgate's Techie Tuesday Link Up AND Queen of the First Grade Jungle's Techy Teacher Tuesday. Make sure you stop by and check out more great techie ideas!

AND--- In other news................
Announcing the winner of the Easi-Speak USB Recorder Giveaway......

Look for an email on its way to you, Irene!

Easi Speak Giveaway Ends Soon!

Just a few short hours until my Easi Speak USB Recorder Giveaway ends! 
Make sure you get all the entries you can......this little baby is AWESOME!! 
We have already used it for so many things.......and there are probably just as many that we haven't tried out yet!
One of the things that I really appreciate about the Easi Speak is how easy it is to use. Just press the red button to record, press again to green to listen. Audio files can be uploaded to your computer and can then be sent to other teachers, parents, or even uploaded to your blog! Think of the possibilities!

Make sure you click on the image to find the rafflecopter so you can enter to win your own!

Pinspired-- Plans for Tutoring.....

I am so excited about a new endeavor that starts today. My school is beginning an after school tutoring program. From 3:00 to 4:00, I'll be tutoring a small group of my kiddos (& one from the classroom next door). I am SO excited about what this opportunity means for these kiddos! These are kiddos who just need that little extra push to put them over into confidently able to read and do math rather than a little bit weak in both and not sure of themselves.

For reading, I am going to focus on building fluency. One of the tools I'm going to use is Christina Bainbridge's Fry Phrases Fluency Packs. I think these will be a powerful way to help my kiddos build their fluency.

We're also going to be having tons of fun using the Easi-Speak to assist us in building fluency. My kiddos are just SO motivated when they get to use it. While one child is using the Easi-Speak, I'll be working with the others. Don't forget to enter my Easi Speak Giveaway!! You'll love it! Just click the image and enter on the Rafflecopter. Easy peasy!!

In math, I'm going to start by giving them some practice with 100s charts. Have you seen these 100 Chart Puzzles floating around on Pinterest? I found the original source at Mrs. T's First Grade Class. We're going to be using these tomorrow. On Day 2, I'm going to let them cut up their own 100s Chart to make their own puzzles which they'll trade with each other to solve. I think they're going to love taking the puzzles they made home to their families, too!

On Day 3, I'm going to have them make their own puzzles again, but add a digit in the hundreds place so that their puzzles are now from the 300s, 700s, etc. These kiddos are a bit iffy when the puzzle is 67, 68, 77, 78....
But they're blown out of the water when it's 567, 568, 577, 578. I'm hoping having them add the digit for the hundred is going to help them see that the pattern remains the same no matter the hundred  ( and then later thousand).

Do you have some PINSPIRED plans for this week? Link up to Learning in Wonderland's Pinspired Linky Party.

Fraction Freebies!

We've been working on fractions this week, and while my kiddos seem to be getting it (and are really enjoying learning about fractions), I've noticed that many of them are not comfortable referring to fractions in word form. Instead of saying three fourths, they'll say "three out of four"........or instead of five sixths, they'll say "five out of six". Technically, that is correct, but they need to learn to say one fourth, two sevenths, five eighths, etc.

I made a couple games to help them practice. The first game is an I Have Who Has. In this game, kiddos will need to identify the number and word forms as well as the model. The second game is a simple concentration game......matching the model to the word form. I'll be doing the I Have Who Has a couple times next week and adding the concentration game to our workstations for the week.

Just click on the pictures to download your copies from Dropbox.

Five for Friday!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching and sharing my 5 random things from this week......

Boy! Was it COLD this week! We were off Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and then we actually had a two hour delay on Tuesday for severe cold. It was something like -15 or -20 Tuesday morning.

Can I just say that I HATE 2 hour delay days? Sure......I love sleeping in, but the craziness of the day is JUST NOT WORTH IT! Our schedule is just all messed up, and the kids just can't deal with it. I felt like I got nothing constructive done all day!

I got to pick out $250 worth of math materials! I am going to be participating in a Teachers Helping Teachers project that my state DOE is doing in partnership with 2 state universities. Basically, they will be taping me teaching a math lesson. I'll be interviewed on tape before and after the lesson. I did a small pilot of this last year. This time, one of the universities is allowing each participating teacher $250 math materials......that WE get to choose!

I agonized over my choices.....I was so afraid that after sending in my order, I'd see something and think, "Rats! I should have ordered THAT!!" I can't wait until it comes in, and I'll tell you all about it. For right now, I'll give you this little sneak peek:

We started FRACTIONS this week. There are so many fun things you can do with's one of my favorite math concepts to teach. So far, I've just scratched the surface, but I've already overhead several of my kiddos say, "Fractions are fun!". Warms my heart, I tell you!

We wrote a song (which is sung to the tune of "I Feel Pretty") together about fractions on Wednesday. I noticed that my little kiddos actually already knew the tune. Surprised, I asked one of my boys how he knew it. I had to chuckle when I learned they knew it from the diaper commercial! haha
Snag a copy by clicking on the image of the song. (My first time sharing through Dropbox, too! Let me know how it goes!).

I reviewed Learning Resources' Easi-Speak USB Recorder and tried out Rafflecopter for the first time to host a giveaway for an Easi-Speak! We actually used our Easi Speak to record our Fractions Song today. So easy and so fun!
I'm not kidding.....this is such a powerful tool for the classroom! Make sure you get in on the giveaway!
Just click the picture below & enter on the rafflecopter (which turned out to be super simple, by the way!).

Easi-Speak USB Recorder Review & Giveaway!!

I was SO excited when I Learning Resources contacted me to review the Easi-Speak USB Recorder!! Wow! What a super cool thing to have as a tool in my classroom!

My kiddos were just about as excited as I was, too. They have really enjoyed using it. There are TONS of things you can use the Easi-Speak for, but what I like most about it is the MOTIVATION factor! Let me tell you, even my most reluctant reader is anxious to have a turn using it! I mean, come on! It's an awesomely cool little microphone...that really records your voice! I mean, come on! That's just too cool for school!
Plus-- as teacher, it kinda lets me clone myself! haha! I can sorta listen to more than one kiddo read at the same time!
  • Super easy to button records!
  • 4 hours of audio storage
  • Charges on a computer via USB-- No Batteries Needed!
  • Headphone jack for individual listening. 
  • Downloads audio files to computer
  • Audio files can be shared via email with parents, other teachers, etc., or even uploaded to classroom websites!

Here are some of the ways I've already used it in my classroom:
  • Recording independent reading
  • Recording partner reading--- it's kind of like interviewing!
  • Small groups recorded their readers' theater
 Pretty soon, we'll be working on our Famous Americans report, & I'm planning to have the kiddos record their written reports then upload them online along with pics of their Pocket People.

I know there are TONS more ways that the Easi-Speak can be used in the classroom.......I'm hoping you'll share some of your ideas. 

Here's the super-cool part where I tell you that Learning Resources also would like to giveaway one of these sweet little gadgets to one of you! Woohoo! How awesome is that?!

 Just enter right here on the little rafflecopter doo-hickey......

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

It's All About Timing

I came across another linky that Falling Into First is hosting...all about daily schedules. I agree with Falling Into First......I really like looking at other teachers' schedules. Always looking for ways to tweak mine & make it work better for us! I feel like we have a fairly short school day & it's hard to get it all in......I'm always wishing I had another 20-30 minutes! Don't we all?!?
Here's my schedule

8:00-8:15 - Students arrive, get their agendas ready for Agenda Math  and read from their book baskets. 

8:20  -  Agenda Math 

8:25-9:00 - Reading Workshop - during this time, I conference with individual students, and work with a small group for 20 minutes each day.

9:00-9:15 - Word Study/Phonics 

9:15-9:50 - Workstations - we do 2 rotations each day. Kiddos who are not working with me, the ESL teacher, or our Instructional Aide may choose a task for their workstation.

9:50-10:10 - Vocabulary - I've been using Melissa McMurray's (F is for First Grade) Vocabulary Pack with LOTS of success! I love that it also incorporates read alouds. My kiddos love it, & the words stick!

10:10-10:40 - Writing Workshop

10:40-10:50 - Calendar Math

10:50-11:35 - Recess and Lunch

11:40-11:50 - Handwriting and RR Break

11:50-12:00 - Everyday Math - Mental Math & Reflexes

12:00-12:30 - Science/Social Studies/Health - This depends on what we're working on. We just finished learning about health, wellness, and germs and are currently learning all about MLK.

12:30-1:40 - Math Workshop. We use Everyday Math. I generally do a min-lesson, & then we move through stations: either working with me, independent work at their seats, or workstation choices. 

1:40-2:25 - Specials

2:35 Dismissal

As I said.....I am constantly looking for ways to squeeze more time out of my day. I am really excited to be able to take a look at other teachers' daily schedules and can't wait to check out all the link ups! Click on over and check them out! 

Don't forget to click for your chance to win a TABLET!! One entry per day!!

It's a Juggling Act! Linky Party!

Katie over at Little Warriors is hosting a Linky....all about juggling what life throws at you. In consideration of my recent post about my mom, I thought this is certainly a topic that is apropos for me right now! While I am certainly not by any means an expert on how to keep all the balls up in the air...I can offer you some the ideas that are keeping me sane at the moment.

We're all trying to keep it all up in the air: job, family, blogging, and don't forget taking care of OURSELVES! As teachers, I think it's true that we are often the type of people who care for others first and ourselves last. It's SO important though...and SO easy to forget!

So-- here are the balls that I try to keep up in the air:
Family - I have 4 children...3 grown & married (or soon to be!), & a senior in high school. I have 2 adorable and funny granddaughters who are 2 years old. I have a busy, busy household! I also am helping care for my mom.
School - Oh. My. Goodness. I can't tell you how much I LOVE my job! 

As I was trying to juggle everything, I kind of dropped a ball...I forgot to take care of myself. When you forget to take care of YOU, everything seems to feel like it's all starting to fall apart. Whether it is or it isn't.

SO-- here's what is keeping me sane at the moment.
I created a chart that indicates who is 'on call' with my mom (it's blurred just to protect privacy). When I realized that I had dropped the ball on myself...I thought why not add that into the chart? So, I've added in time that I can blog (LOVE it!), take in a movie, or just hang out!

I'm sure that that probably seems a tad anal, but it really has given me a sense of freedom. Now, my work time, or my 'on-call' time doesn't seem as overwhelming as it did!

So-- I guess my tip is to make sure you carve out that time for yourself. Write it down. Put it on your calendar. Plan for it. 

Stop by Little Warriors & find out how others juggle it all. I've already read some great tips and looking forward to learning some more!!

Pinspired Linky! & Giveaways

Who doesn't love a linky? And one that is paired up with another just right up my alley! Mrs. Sheehan over at Learning in Wonderland is hosting a terrific up ideas that you are planning to do this week....classroom or personal related.

We will begin a fractions unit this week, & I have been busily pinning away some awesomely cute fraction lesson ideas & activities. Here are a few that I found that we'll be doing this week:

My Book of Fractions & Fractionpillars 

I had to do quite a bit of clicking to come up with the original source for this one... 
Over at The First Grade Parade, Cara has an awesome My Book of Fractions. We'll start working on this on Tuesday & continue adding through the week. 

I also love her Fractionpillar craftivity. So cute! This is on taps for Thursday. Click the pic to follow over to Cara's wonderful blog to find these terrific activities. She also has a link to a cool SmarBoard activity to introduce fractions.

Mama Mia Pizzeria!

This is just so stinkin' cute!! I just love it & can't wait for my littles to do this this week! This comes from Jennifer over at Delighted in Second. We'll  probably do these yummy little pizzas on Friday.

Want to make those cutie-patootie chef hats? Cara has a quick little how to/tutorial over at The First Grade Parade. We are SO making these...just TOO cute! Can't wait to post the picks of my kiddos a tthe end of the week!

Really looking forward to math this week! Is it just me, or do fractions make you think FOOD?! 
It's going to be a great week!

Click on over to Learning in Wonderland to read about what everyone else is being PINSPIRED by this week!

AND -- you've got to check out these giveaways!

 My sweet friend Cindy at Primary Reading Party is having a HUGE giveaway!

Click over & visit Mrs. Fultz's Corner (or don't.....I'd like to win this one!)

AND -- Congrats to Mrs. Leeby who is celebrating 200 followers!