Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Almost There!

Okay, I finally feel like I’m getting close to being ready!!  I have my letters up and my desk in order.  I have looked at the basal reading series and the math workbooks.  I even have a tentative schedule!!!  Today was a long day of meetings, but it was good to have some idea of what to expect.  Overall a school is a school, but here are few of the differences between my school here and my school in the states:
1.  There are no set school wide checkpoint assessments (DRA, IMI, etc.)  There is MAP testing, but otherwise assessments are set by individual teachers and grade levels.
2.  All grades are in one school – I’m talking Preschool through 12th grade.
3.  All teachers have 3 preps almost every day.  My kids get 2 specials most days, in addition to French in order to make this happen.  They go to library twice a week, PE twice a week, Music twice a week, computers once a week and Art once a week.  But these are not always at the same set time each day.
4.  The kids are not allowed into your classroom until you come and pick them up from the holding area, so all kids enter the room at the same time (unless they are late).

I am sure there are many other differences, but these are just the few that stand out for me.  Anyways, here are some of the newer pictures of my progress:
Here are my desks.  Each one sits 2 kids and I have 10 sets, so I can seat 20 kids.  I am only supposed to have 17, but I’ve been told that number can fluctuate as we go.  The blank wall behind these desks is going to be my Word Wall, and the white board to the right of it is going to be my center rotation schedule.  (Ignore the guided reading table that is covered in papers already!)

Here is my alphabet wall.  I am SO happy with how this looks, all bright and colorful.  It is right next to our morning meeting area, so we can do our phonics chant with it each morning.  BTW – if you click on the picture, you will find the link to download these!

Tomorrow I am going to finish putting together my posters for Number Aerobics, and I’ll upload it here as a FREEBIE!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pictures of the Progress

Okay, so the day after I posted pictures for Where it Goes Down Wednesday, I was told I was moving to a different, smaller room.  Here are some pictures of my NEW room.  It is not ready by any means, and I just found out that these tables are being switched out for desks, but anyways, here is what I have.

Large Meeting area and classroom library – the display shelf is empty on purpose.  It is my “Warm Reading” shelf which will be filled with the books we read at read aloud and shared reading.

Isn’t this tree great?  I didn’t make it, the room’s previous owner did, but I love it.  I goes well with our Dr. Seuss theme.  I’m going to make a sign that goes next to it and says “Welcome to the Jungle of Nool”.  The other picture shows my big seat to use for read aloud, and the sign in area.

These tables are going to be switched out tomorrow for desks, but everything else is staying.  My whiteboard is not too large, but it will work Smile.

More pictures to come over the course of the week.  I was able to get the pieces of my word wall printed and the gentleman who does our laminating has it, so as soon as I get it back and get some tape (yes basic supplies have been lacking in this transition period) I will get it up and get pictures up.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Free for All Friday

Today is  the last day of  Blog Hoppin’s Teacher Week, and she saved the best for last!!  Today everyone who participates will have a freebie listed, oooh la la.  I am actually listing many, many freebies, as this list will include everything that you can find FREE at my TPT store.  However, the first freebie is the easiest download, because I actually took the time to upload it into Google Reader, lol! 
This is one of the self-correcting puzzles that I have been making for this year.  I am super excited about these puzzles because it is a center that I don’t have to do anything for, or collect anything from.  I tend to get bogged down in making copies of worksheets for my kids, and then figuring out what to do with those worksheets after the kids have completed them.  Anyone else do this????  So, this year, I am trying to make sure that every center is either 1.  Part of a journal that the kids work on for a long period of time OR 2. Hands on with no paper required, like these self correcting puzzles, and the word family file folder games I made earlier.  So, here is the Google Doc Version of the Self-Correcting Puzzle on Number Words.  See the bottom of this post for the TPT download – also FREE.

Here are links to all my other FREE products, at my TPT store.  I am offering an additional $2 of FREE products from my TPT store to anyone who RATES an item (that’s $2 per product – so it could add up!).  This offer is good for the rest of August, so if you rate an item, leave me a comment with your e-mail and what items you would like, or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving your e-mail – you can e-mail me at




I hope you guys enjoy all the FREEBIES.  I have to go change classrooms today (yes I know I just set up the 1st classroom yesterday, lol!), so I am saving all the other FREEBIE posts for when I get home, kind of a treat for all my hard work!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where it’s at Wednesday (post on Thursday)

Sorry this post is a day late – I didn’t get the keys to my classroom until yesterday, and didn’t actually get to work in there until today.  I am teaching in what used to be a Kindergarten classroom, so I’m weeding out what might be too little for my Big Kid First Graders.  Anyways, here is a look at the before and middle of my classroom (It’s far from done).

Check out all this primary furniture!!  For a new to primary person, this was interesting to see.  But look at that BIG blank wall, perfect for my wordwall!!!


There really aren’t any hallways in my school, all doors lead outside – mine leads to the Kindergarten play area and to the bathroom (yellow doors straight through the windows).  I am super excited to be so close to the bathrooms, because I LOATHE stopping learning to take the class on bathroom breaks.


Excuse the silly kids getting in my picture – they were actually big helpers.  Do you notice the strings attached to my lights, ready and set to hang from?  One good thing about Morocco – no fire codes, lol!  Now, check out the one and only computer in my room.  For those of you who don’t know – I am a super techie, so this is the hardest part of my transition – going to only one computer.  Plus, it is right now situated up on my big teacher desk, and not accessible to the kids.  I am trying to figure out how to change that.

Okay – Progress, not completeness, but progress:
My son is posing in our “library”/meeting area.  I was psyched to unearth a whiteboard easel – perfect for morning message.  If you can’t see closely, those are all Dr. Seuss books on top of my bookshelves.  Dr. Seuss is going to be as close as I get to a “theme” this year.  I love his books, and think they are perfect for first grade.

The front of my room has been broken a little into centers, and I have put the appropriate materials where they belong, but of course no decoration has occurred.  I am not sure if the kitchen is staying, but for right now it separates out my centers.  The boxes on the windowsill belong to another teacher – they aren’t mine.  Smile

I still have boxes up on my terrace to go to my classroom, and plenty of work to do, but I think I did pretty well for my 1st day!

3 for Thursday

Today’s assignment from Blog Hoppin is our top 3 favorites: font, blog and online resources – so here goes!

My favorite fonts are:


Both are from Kevin and Amanda.

My favorite blog is:

Her teaching philosophy is no muss, no fuss, just like mine

My favorite teaching resource is:

Virtual Manipulatives

They are my best resource when teaching math.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Math Journal Done!

I still haven’t been able to get into my classroom, but I am plugging away at home.  I took my intermediate math journal and re-vamped it for primary.  I think it will work beautifully for 1st grade!  I am not putting it on my TPT store yet though, because I want to include problem solving prompts and teacher directions.  It does have a place for your kids to write or glue the problem (I may leave it in Word so people can type in the problems like I do – what do you think?), reminders on how to plan your thinking, a place to work out the problem and a place to explain your thinking.  Plus, I added a rubric so I can give my kids feedback every day!  I love using journals as a way to give my kids honest feedback every day and let them see the growth they make over the course of a year.  But, here is a sneak peek!

Don’t forget I also have journals for reading, writing and science!  In fact, you can win my Primary Narrative Writing Journal at the contest run by the Organized Classroom Blog.  Hurry and enter before Friday, August 26th! 

Hopefully I will be in my classroom soon and can get going (and take some pictures for my readers!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Win Teacher Resources

The Organized Classroom Blog is having a MAJOR contest.  There are TONS of items you can enter to win.  One of the items just happens to be my Primary primarywjWriting Journal for Narrative Writing.  This writing journal, just one of many I offer at my TPT store, gives you a step by step way to teach writing.  Each week students work on one writing prompt, taking it through the writing steps of brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing and conferencing.  Then, at the end of the 9 weeks, students choose a prize piece to publish.  There is also a rubric to go along with each writing prompt.  I can’t wait to use this with my 1st graders this year!  If you would like to enter to win this Primary Writing Journal for FREE – just click here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reading Journal

I am very excited about moving to First Grade, but have realized that some of my Third Grade materials are not going to be appropriate.  I had this grand plan to take my intermediate rj1materials and make them appropriate for primary, but I kept putting it off to work on these Word Family materials that I have so fallen in love with! 

However, the calendar has informed me that the school year is starting sooner, rather than later, so I decided I had to stop rj2my massive Word Family frenzy (or at least pause it for a second) and remember what I need to start the year.  So, I started with my Read Aloud Journal, created with 3rd and 4th graders in mind.  I have tweaked it and made it what I want for my 1st graders.  I think it will work so much better, and I am getting so excited about teaching my little ones about reading!!  Click on the pictures to find a link to the Primary Version of my Reading Journal  If you are the 1st person to buy and rate it – I’ll give you $20 of my products FREE!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Double FREEBIE Offer

Do you like free stuff? Here's a double freebie for you. If you rate one of my FREE items at TPT, I will send you any other item ($2 or less) for FREE. That means you will get the initial free item FREE - PLUS another item for FREE. After you rate, just post a comment here with the item you would like and your email and I'll send it right to you! This offer will be valid for the entire month of August!  Click on the links below to find my free products – you get one free item for each review, so that’s up to 16 freebies total!!!




Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Watching everyone on the “blogosphere” set up their classrooms has made me so jealous.  My school doesn’t start until September, and due to construction, I can’t even get in to look at or set up my classroom.  So, I decided I was going to finish my Word Family Kit instead, so that I would have something all set and ready to go before I walk into my classroom.  Of course, I bit off more ush1than I could chew – as usual – and picked 41 word families to work with!  I don’t know if I am going to get to them all with my students, but I’m sure going to try.  I also decided that since I know that my population this year is 95% EFL (this will be my first year teaching at an American School in Morocco, where most of my students will speak Arabic and French, but not English), that the Word Family Kit needed to be heavy in visuals. 

So, I have officially finished the first piece – the File Folder Games.  Although this doesn’t sound like much, these games hold the graphics that go with each Word Family.  I am going to use these same visuals in the Word Wall cards, the student created books, and the power point presentations, in an effort to build consistency for my students and help them build an understanding of what these words mean.  I am so glad to have these games finished and be ready to move on to the next step.  Tomorrow I will post the remaining Word Family File Folder Games on my TPT store, as well as posting the entire group at a reduced price!  They are $0.99 each, or $10 for all 41!  Right now, it is very LATE here in Casablanca, and I am headed to bed!

Word Wall

Teaching first grade for the 1st time, I have been asking for advice from first grade teachers – and sightwordcardspreviewthe key word I got was “Word Wall”:  build it, use it, teach from it.  So, I have been hard at work creating stuff for a beautiful word wall (since I can’t get into my room to build it yet).  I have made Word Wall Labels with graphicsnumber that coordinate with my Alphabet Cards.  I have made sight word cards.  I have made color word cards with beautiful color (FREE on TPT).  I have made number word cards with the numeral on them (FREE on TPT).  Now I am finishing up word cards for each word in each word family I will be using, with a graphic that colorshelps my EFL students learn the meanings of the words.  I have even created a template that I am going to use on the first day of school to add student names to the word wall (with pictures of students taken on my webcam).  I am a little word wall crazy!!  I just hope that I will have a big enough wall to create this word wall.  How do you get creative with your word wall?