Friday, September 27, 2013

Yesterday was: Thursday, Today is: Friday, Tomorrow will be: SATURDAY! Hallelujah!

Well, friends! Here we are at another Friday.... Can I get an amen?!
There were certainly some shouted out in our school at 3:00 today! It feels like this week was long across the board. But really, when my calendar board looks like below..I'm all smiles!
It's been a couple of weeks since I've written on this little blog of ours... I'm sure all you teachers can understand- the first year is just plain CRAZAYYYY! There's so much to think about, to do, to plan, to manage... my list gets longer by the minute (typical, I know) but I'm starting to get into a routine that I think both myself and my kids are really enjoying. This week we also had Open House. Now that that is over I feel like I can breath a little bit more easily!
All of that is really nothing I can complain about though because I really love my class. They're coming together so well and I really feel like we're working as a team now.

Just a little story about how awesome my kids are... The other day we were working in our groups (always working on social skills and friendships) and I noticed one group was getting a little chattier than the rest. I play pandora radio all day in my classroom- I call it quiet working music. I think it really creates a calming sense and feel in the room and my kids just love it. Now they even ask for it when Miss McBride forgets to press play. Anyway- my words are always the same... "If you can't hear the music, your voice is too loud". Well, this group's voices were too loud... but I kept hearing things like "Me too!" or "I know! Best ever!" or "That's my favorite".... I went over to the table to ask them to lower their voices and remind them to listen to the music and one of my sweet munchkins jumped out of her chair and gave me a hug saying "Miss McBride- sorry we're so loud... we're all talking about how you're the best teacher ever!" Welp... warm my heart right up sweet girl. Gosh I love them. And I love that they love school!
Today, I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for a good 'ol Five for Friday! 
Let's get right to it! This one is really gonna be random!
 It's officially fall. The leaves are changing, the air is cool and it's sweatshirt weather which just makes everything amazing. I love this time of year! And I love pumpkin everything. Sooooo it's a win win.  Read more about why I love it here!
Yesterday, we celebrated my momma's birthday! Happy birthday Mom! I love you!
Class Dojo is my new favorite thing. My kids LOVE it and I do too! They all went home the day I introduced it and made their own little avatars! I keep Class Dojo up on my SmartBoard all day. About a week ago, we had a discussion on positive and negative behaviors that I am either looking for or looking to avoid and we plugged those into the website. Now, whenever I see someone demonstrating one of those behaviors I can click on their little avatar and award points and my SmartBoard will make a little sound that all my kids just know to listen for. Obviously, my goal everyday is to highlight the positive behaviors in my class. I find that if I notice a negative behavior occurring, and I give a point to someone who is demonstrating a positive behavior, the child demonstrating the negative behavior checks themselves and turns it around. The picture above of the 98% donut was my class' record for today! So proud of them!! :) 
Last weekend, I went on the Youth Group's Fall Retreat. It was such a wonderful time and I loved being away for the weekend. The teens had a great time too. The funny thing is, my church shares the camp that weekend with another church from Boston. A woman from my school leaned over to me at assembly this morning and asked me if I happened to have been in New Hampshire last weekend at the exact camp that I was at! She was there as a part of the other church we were sharing the camp with! Such a small world! Pretty cool :)
This morning, right before school started, my friend Tom from Kenya called me! My heart just flipped around in my chest as I answered and heard his voice! AND! I got to speak with a bunch of the kids from Flying Kites- the organization that I was working with in Kenya. The boy in this picture is named Benson. I call him Benny and he just stole my heart. You can read all about why on my personal blog here! Anyway, it made my morning to talk to Tom and Benny, Lucy O and Mary! Really, I couldn't stop smiling. It made me yearn for Kenya even more than normal. But my heart is so full!
Last but not certainly least.... This week in Fundations we've been reviewing digraphs and blends and I just knew that our Sweet Tooth Crush set was beyond necessary for my classroom. I was so excited to use it and my kids just loved it! We typically share our stuff and explain that everything comes with a week of reinforcing activities but over the last two days, I had some good chunks of time in my schedule since Guided Reading groups haven't started yet and I couldn't wait to use this bundle of goodies for centers! I set up my room in 5 centers. It was perfect! To start, we all played Scoot! What a fun game. The kids loved it AND the OT teacher was in my room to observe- and she said my room was super OT friendly and she loved being in there. YES! And... when we had our Fundations assessment today, most all my kiddies got all their words right! Again, I'm so proud of my kids!

I set up my centers as follows:
1) I Have Who Has
2) Board Game
3) Word Sort
4) Word Search and Ladder Page (copied back to back)
5) Read and Illustrate and Word Shapes (copied back to back)

I spread out my centers around the room and put a rotating list on the smart board of how they should move. When the kids heard the bell, we switched. It took us 2 days to get through all the centers because it was our first time doing it. Everything takes longer the first time- all that explanation and modeling that's SO vital just takes up a good chunk of the lesson. The kids had so much fun over the last two day and I did too!

Grab your set in our store! It's so worth it!
What an awesome (but long) week! I just love being a teacher. I love the struggles and the challenges that lead to new understanding and ah-ha moments and today I realized I love love love Friday hugs before dismissal.

Happy Weekend Everyone! The weather here in New England is supposed to be beautiful! Enjoy :)
And just because I'm obsessed with both Fall and Melonheadz....  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five for Friday and Big Birthday SALE!

Happy Friday, everyone!  We hope you had a great week!  I LOVE this time of year!  Settling into the school routine, still feeling that back to school energy and starting to notice the bright colored leaves make this girl very happy!  Plus, it's my "birthday weekend" so I am planning to celebrate and have some fun with my family!  Being the only girl in the house has its positives!
I'm excited to be joining Doodle Bugs Teaching again for her weekly Five for Friday linky party.  I love reading these linked up posts every week because they highlight school ideas as well as everyday life!
I had a great start to the week.  On Sunday my family had a chance to go apple picking.  The apples are AMAZING this year!!  Logan couldn't wait  to take a bite right away!  Delicious!  I'm going to try to squeeze-in time to make one of my favorite fall desserts, Apple Dumplings!  I love Trisha Yearwood's recipe from the Food Network.  It's super easy to make and delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!  I'm drooling just thinking about it! 

Picture of Apple Dumplings Recipe

I was able to find some colorful baskets at the Dollar Store (SCORE) to finish organizing my books in the Reading Room.  I am very fortunate to have an eclectic assortment of titles to meet my student's needs and interests.  When I started the position four years ago, I decided to organize the books by guided reading level.  This makes it easy for me and my colleagues to quickly find appropriately leveled books for students.  Since every minute is precious during the school day, I think it's critical that I always provide my struggling readers with books they are able to read with success.  However, I also try to promote motivation by giving them choice in what they read.  Now that the books are arranged by level, I can offer them several baskets to choose from and still ensure their success.  How do you arrange your classroom library?  Leveled?  Genres?  Authors?
A second project that I was able to finish was a Story Retell poster based on a blog post from The First Grade Parade.   Cara explains how she uses sticky notes to record her student's thoughts while they retell a book.  This makes it nice to be able to reuse the poster again and again.  I made a mini-version of her anchor charts and put on a ring for my Reading Tutors to use during small groups.  These would also work great for students to use after "Read to Self" activities.  If you visit Cara's blog, all the resources are available as a free download.
In time for the start of football season, our new produce "Punted, Tackled, and Blocked" reinforces the three sounds of suffix-ed.  The bundle includes 3 different games and a week of reinforcing student activities.  I can't wait to put this together for my kiddos!  GO PATS!!

Finally, to celebrate my birthday, everything in our TpT store is 20% off this Friday and Saturday!  LET'S PARTY!

We hope you have a fun-filled weekend, friends!!  Talk again soon!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

FLASH FREEBIE & Stacy's Five for Friday Fun!

Happy Friday Everyone!  I don't know about you, but I am EXHAUSTED after this busy week.  After easing into the new school year, this was our first full week back.  Wow!  I'm pooped!  It didn't help that we had Curriculum Night on Tuesday and a few days of unseasonably 90 degree days up here in New England.  Unfortunately, schools are not air conditioned so the poor students and teachers at my school were rag dolls by the end of the day.  However, things are looking good for the weekend with cooler temps to enjoy some fun family time (i.e. running my boys to football games and soccer practice).

Today we are linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly Five for Friday linky party.  I'm so excited to show you some projects that I've been working on in the Reading Room this week!

 I was thrilled to add this adorable welcome sign from JD's Rockin' Readers to my door.  It perfectly coordinates with my jungle themed room and it's a FREEBIE on TpT!  I love the way it complements the bunting banner that Colleen made for me last year.

The Reading Tutors and I have been knee-deep in DIBELS testing this week.  As a school, I am responsible for administering this assessment to all students Grades K-2 and select students in Grades 3-5 three times per year.  In addition to the DIBELS, all students are given the Fountas and Pinnell in the fall so my school is in a beginning of the year assessment frenzy!  At our monthly grade-level data meetings that begin in a couple of weeks, we take into account all of this data as well as MCAS results (state testing) to determine which students will continue or start working with me.  It's a big responsibility but I enjoy being the school's "Data Keeper". 
Despite being busy, I was able to find some time to clean, purge, and reorganize my room.  One of my projects was setting up a new bulletin board using our Which Tools Will You Use fix-up strategies bundle.  One thing that I struggle with in my room is the small amount of wall space we have for displaying instructional materials.  This bulletin board is thankfully next to my guided reading table but I have two other tables that the Reading Tutors use for groups that do not have space nearby.  To solve that problem, I also put the decoding strategies on small task cards so my tutors can refer to them during small group instruction.   
Last weekend was Massachusetts Resident Day at one of my all-time favorite places to visit this time of year...the Southwick Zoo!  It is a privately run zoo that has the most amazing variety of animals I've ever seen.  If you ever are visiting in Massachusetts, I'd definitely recommend a trip to see their animals!  Here are a few pictures of our trip!!

A very important tip when visiting any zoo!

Mom! What is that awful smell??

 My little buddy feeding the deer at the Deer Forest. So cool!!
 Colleen and I were jumping with excitement when we reached over 100 followers on our Facebook page this week!!  To commemorate this milestone and thank everyone on the TpT forum who helped us reach our goal, we will be having a FLASH FREEBIE until midnight EST tonight!  Sweet Tooth Crush has been our top seller since we started our TpT store two months ago.  Grab it while you can for FREE!
Have an awesome weekend, friends!!  TGIF!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First Week of School and Fall Favorites

Hi, friends!
Today I'm here to share with you about my first 3 days of school and also to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for their Five for Friday linky party!  Let's get right to it!

The last three days flew by and I am wiped!  Wednesday was the first day of school. Not only was it the first day of school, it was my first day teaching! Honestly, by the end I couldn't even believe it happened. I had one of those moments when I was dropping my class off at gym where I suddenly realized that this was in fact real life and that I really was experiencing my day as Miss McBride on my own! 
Whew! Like a lot of first year teachers, I went home on Wednesday completely unsure of just about everything! Did I do a good job? Did my kids enjoy it? Just tons of questions floating through my head. I think that's good though- it caused me to be self reflective and I thought about a lot and changed some things even before the kids walked in the door on Thursday.

And let me tell you... yesterday and today were amazing. I just loved it. I felt like my class was really getting it and the routines and procedures we were working through were coming together. And ya know what was really amazing? I could literally see my class coming together as a team and community before my very eyes. I saw new friendships bloom, pairs work cooperatively, leaders step up... everything- it was wonderful!

AND.... at the end of the day yesterday I ran into a parent in the hall who told me that her son came home on the first day raving about how awesome his class was and how much he loved the first day of school. Oh my heavens my heart just about flipped upside down (and over and over again) in my chest. For someone who felt like a whirlwind on day 1, that was the best thing I could have heard.
Bottom line? :: I just adore my kiddos- and it's only day three!! :)

Also, My parents sent me flowers to school yesterday! How stinkin' precious is that?!?!  Pretty dang precious if you ask me!
Thanks, Mom and Dad!
 And now for the linky! 
I'm absolutely loving that it's starting to feel like fall. It does officially mean that summer is coming to a close but it is also the season for some of my very favorite things.
Here are my top Five for Friday fall favorites....
1. Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
I have one word to describe these.... magical

2. Scarf Season. 
I have a scarf obsession. I just love them. My very favorites (which I will be able to start wearing really soon) are from Njabini Apparel. Njabini is the name of the place in Kenya that I lived while I was there. Their mission is "to enable poor families living in Kenya to increase their income and achieve their dreams." How beautiful is that?!!!? 
Photo Credit: Brandon Jones // Sweet Hannah modeling some beautiful Njabini scarves :)
This is my sister and I last year at the JDRF walk in Boston- obv wearing my Njabini scarf

3. The foliage. 
I just love love love when the leaves change. I also love hiking up mountains in the Adirondacks to see views like this one! Stunning!

4. Apple Picking
What a fun activity apple picking is! I just love it! Then I have fresh apples for so long that I can bring along with me whenever or bake scrumptious treats with! Mmmm- apple crisp is one of my favs! 
My sweet friend, Lizzie and I apple picking!

5. Giving thanks
A friend and I have made it a daily occurrence to look for 5 things every day that are blessings that we are thankful for. It's been such a cool and rich experience to intentionally think of the things each day that are blessings that we all too often brush past and don't acknowledge. I've loved making this a daily practice but with the season of fall comes Thanksgiving which makes us all think about what we're thankful for... and that's something I just love every single year. 
AND... it's Friday, everyone!!
....which I think will always always always make this teacher's heart smile!