Monday, May 30, 2011

Word Wall Linky Party

Ms. M is having a word wall linky party.  Here is mine:

I don't have a picture of my word wall by itself.  However, you can get a pretty good idea of what it looks like to the left of this pic.  (Please excuse the "clutter" and the horrid library area- this pic is almost two years old!)

I obviously have an ocean theme in my classroom.  One of my favorite things is the ocean paper backdrop for the word wall, which can be found at any teacher supply store.  They also have different themes.  

I went to a workshop last year that had a session about word walls.  The presenter suggested having word families instead of the ABCs as the basis of the word wall.  Then have the students come up with ideas for each section and pick the top 3-5 to actually incorporate into the word wall.  This way, the students learn the "rule" for each family and can generalize it.  They won't be asking how to spell each individual word them come across.  I really liked the fact that the students had a say in what goes on the wall.  I think they will be more vested in this process, and I am going to give it a try next year!

What does YOUR word wall look like?  Join the linky party fun over at Ms. M's blog.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sharing your summer reading list- Blog Hop!

Hello Bloggers!
This post has two options.  First, you can just type in the name of a few books you are reading, and I will compile these into one big google doc.  Next, if you have a blog and want to play along, join the blog hop!  Type a post about your favorite professional literature or books that are on your "to read" list and join the party!

Blog Hop Note- This is different from a plain linky party!
Be sure to copy this code to YOUR post to join the blog hop- this should add the blog lineup to your post as well!  Copy this code and when you are editing your post, click "edit html" and then paste at the bottom of your post. <script src="" type="text/javascript" ></script>
Thanks for linking up- I can't wait to see what you are reading!  :)

Stay tuned for a video tour of the Daily 5 in my classroom!

My "teacher" reading list (some are re-reads that I need to brush up on) includes:

If you are interested in an online book study of Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller, click here for the schedule.  Also, you can preview the entire book online for free here.  I know I will be reading along!

I also can't wait to see your just for fun "poolside" reads.  I need some new ideas!

Since the movie is coming out soon, I will of course be re-reading the last Harry Potter book.  If you haven't read the Confessions of a Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella, go grab a copy now.  I re-read the entire set EVERY summer.  Did I mention I'm also taking my last two graduate school courses?  :)  So I think I will have a busy summer.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

School's out for summer! ...Now what?

Teachers- World Champion Tetris Players with real objects...
So the chicks have been relocated to a farm.  I couldn't believe how quickly they grew!  Their feathers came in really fast.  I miss them!  On the upside, our class fish are now hanging out in my living room.

At the end of the year, I have the kiddos bring in white t-shirts for us to paint.  I have a sea sponge set from Micheal's and an assortment of tempera paint.  I borrowed a large set of letter stamps from one of my Kindergarten buddies and had the students stamp out their names.  Last year I was much more controlling and helped each child paint theirs one at a time.  This year.... well it was a different story.  I had two volunteers come in to assist, but we put everything in the kid's hands.  Dry them on high heat to set the paint.   I didn't get a shot of them until the END of the day, and this is after we had been outside with water activities all morning.


I never did follow up with pictures from Mother's Day.  I got really busy with people coming in early and I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the final spread.  It was really pretty though!  Here is what I did capture:

I can't believe this year is over!  It has flown by.

What is on your summer reading list?  I have Barnes and Noble gift certificates, and I need to get some good stuff.  I'm open to teacher books or just fun pool side reads.  :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Math Workshop

I started math rotations after Christmas, and I LOVE the results so far! I'm still looking for more ways to improve it, and I would love to hear your ideas!

I start off with a whole group mini-lesson to introduce the skill we will be working on that day. This can be through a book, brainpopjr or study jams video, or demonstration. This is followed by working a few problems on the board with the book page proje

cted onto the screen. Students are very active in this part.

I administer a pre/post-test for each concept before we start. So a student could be in the highest group for addition and the lowest group for money. The groups are named after ocean animals to correspond with our classroom beach theme.

Here is how I break down my groups:

1. MEET WITH THE TEACHER- The low group starts here. I sit down on the floor and have the students spread out in a semi-circle around me. I have a white board and we work with manipulatives. Students spend the last few minutes doing independent work, and I can look over it and see if they are getting it or if they need more help.

2. GAMES- The middle group starts here. Games are simple and cheap! They range from dominoes, playing cards, addition bingo, spaghetti subtraction. Students also have whiteboards and velvet strips for erasers. They can use basic playing cards to create addition or subtraction facts. Whoever has the highest answer wins those cards. If they finish early, they can buddy read a math book.  I purchased the 50 math book bundle from Scholastic, and it has been amazing!

3. TECHNOLOGY- I have been saving ALL of my teaching money to build up the technology in our class for a while. We have: 4 (dinosaur) computers, an ipod touch (BEP $), and my iphone. I have an Ipad ordered and it should be here any time now. I had a Mobi Interwrite that was on loan this year from my sweet literacy coach. The students play on or Orchard Benchmarking Software.
Students play addition Jet Ski Racing on

The students beg to "play" math rotations. They are highly engaged and enjoying learning!

We are changing over to Envision Math next year.  I know my math games will also change.  I would love to hear what you are doing in math!

It's My BIRTHDAY! Grab a button! :)

Hey loves,
It's my birthday today!  As a special present to me, please add Teaching Happily Ever After to your sidebar, or pick up a button today!



Friday, May 13, 2011

Best end of the year gift EVER; the chicks hatched; grad school update

Was anyone else distraught when blogger went down?!  :)  So here's what you missed:

-Today was career day.  Several parents from my class came to present.  Guess what one sweet couple got me as an end of the year/teacher appreciate gift?
Go on!  Guess!
....No, it's not a coffee mug filled with pencils.
.... Nope.  Not a candle.
Give up?...
A TV.   A flat screen tv.  With a built in DVD player.   Ohmyword.
Ahhhhhh I have a new TV!!!!!!!!!! WOOHHOOO!  It's a Sanyo 26' LCD flat screen TV did I mention it has a DVD Player?!!!  Not like for the classroom- for my house.  I'm still in shock.  We don't have cable at my house (we are kinda po' at my house!), so apparently the students went back and reported that I had no TV.   My old TV was a HUGE panasonic dinosaur with a little itty bitty screen.  :)  Needless to say, I'm ecstatic!
Isn't she pretty?

Ahem.  Ok.  :)  !!!  

Well, in other news....

There are chicks coming out of my ears.  They are everywhere!  We started with 14 eggs, and we currently have 10 baby chicks.  Two eggs are still in the incubators, two others didn't make it.

I was concerned they were going to be loud, but honestly, they spend most of the day sleeping.  The students have really enjoyed them, and now their little feathers are really starting to come in.  

Aren't they funny?  They remind me of the Pigeon books by Mo Willems.                                  
I love the Pigeon series.  I also had a student introduce me to Scaredy Squirrel last year and it has been a big hit in my room with lots of giggles.  They have similar humor to me.
So what's new with you lately?  How many days are left on your countdown?  I'm at 8!  I will miss this little group.  :)

PS- I have a 4.0 in grad school this semester!  :) I'm seriously considering applying for doctoral programs in the Spring.  I'm thinking about Vanderbilt, Trevecca, Lipscomb, & Union University.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program

Today a team from my school went to an all-day PD on Olweus (Pronounced: All-vay-us) Bullying Prevention Program.  Today focused on an overview of the program, tomorrow we are going back and creating a plan for school-wide implementation.  It was developed by a Norwegian researcher, Dr. Dan Olweus.
Header with Olweus logo, tagline, and Enewsletter box
The program centers around class meetings.  At the elementary level, the students sit in a circle and discussion bullying and other issues for 15-30 minutes a week.  There is a laid out program for the first nine weeks to help guide the meetings.  Each teacher is provided with a DVD modeling class meetings and a teacher guide.

Here is a visual of the "bullying circle" and a description of student roles.  It was interesting to act this out and then identify ourselves with the role that we took on in school.  I easily identified myself as a Defender, while I was surprised to see many colleagues in much more passive roles.

At the middle/high school level, it revolves around the same concept but gets more in-depth.  The class meetings run 30-45 minutes.

Another major part of the component that I liked was parent accountability and community involvement.  Our school is going to create behavior contracts that include lots of wording specifically targeting bullying.  Every parent will have to sign this as well as the students.  I think this will clearly lay out expectations of what bullying is and will save our administration a lot of headache in the long run.

I think this is a great program, and I am excited to get our class meetings started.  I am concerned about buy-in from the other teachers though- particularly in the tested areas.  I'm afraid they will view this as "one more thing to do".  I think 15 minutes a week is a pretty good trade off to head off bullying, decrease classroom disruptions and become more in tune with my students.  I like that it is a research based program with effective results.

Find out more for yourself at!

All information is copyrighted by Olweus- this post is simply to promote the program with other educators.

What does YOUR school do to handle bullies?  This program will work in conjunction with our PBIS program.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Last Day Of School: Hawaiian Luau

Need ideas for a party on the last day of school?
Our first grade team throws a Luau! We have 7 first grade teachers, and each teacher runs a different station. Students are at a station for 15-20 minutes, then a whistle is blown and they move to the next station in the circle.

Games include:
-Hula Hoop Contest
-Ocean Tattoos
-Pass The Pineapple (Similar to Hot Potato- the pineapple is plastic with rounded edges and it explodes with water after a few minutes)
There are two more I will have to remember and add later!

The parents bring in treats like fruit kabobs.  Here are some other Hawaiian themed treats from

Hawaiian Pizza on a Stick...think Hawaiian pizza, ham, cheese and pineapple and put them cubed on cocktail sticks.
Hawaiian Pizza Muffins... good old English muffins topped with your favourite tropical ingredients.
Huli Huli Chicken Drumsticks...a lovely traditional Hawaiian tropical pineapple marinade to sweeten up those boring old drumsticks
Fancy Fruit Kebabs...don't just thread chunks of fruit on a stick, how about cutting them into fun shapes with a cookie cutter first.
Pineapple & Coconut Fritters...basic pineapple fritters are yum just as they are, but why not add a few extra ingredients and make them yummier still.
Mango Chicken can't have a party without at least one kind of sandwich on the table and for a Hawaiian Luau what could be better than one with chopped mango and chicken inside.
Pani Popo...these sweet coconut buns are a traditional Samoan fare and are deliciously doughy, baked in a sticky coconut sauce and really easy to make.

Most students check out early if their parents are there, but you could play Disney's Lilo and Stitch for the ones that stick around.

What are YOU doing for the last day of school?  Leave a comment!  :)