Sunday, January 1, 2012

1st Year Survival: Part 1

So after to talking to Jen Ayers, who is my co-worker, over at Best Practices 4 Teaching, she suggested that I blog about how to survive a first year of teaching, and boy do I have a lot to say about that!! I'm just thankful I made it to Christmas break lol. I hope you find this new series of posts insightful and absolutely amusing ha ha. Part 1 is about organization. I have discovered this simple truth, the hard way unfortunately: everything has its place and there is a place for everything. Can I get an Amen?! But being hired so quickly to the time of school starting, how did I have time to organize my room and every single, tiny thing in it? Well I didn't and little did I know that it would play a role in the success of my procedures and overall classroom management.

I will start with the pesty bucket of magnetic letters I inherited when I moved into my room. I didn't know what to do with them. I just figured that if the kids were using them to make words that they would just dig through the bucket and find the letters they need ha ha. Oh no!!!! Not with first graders. Some of my students felt my drift and did fine, others dumped the whole bucket out to find their letters; course that made the loudest commotion of all time while I was trying to do guided reading. Did I mention that I was being evaluated when this happened? Did I mention that the student who dumped them out also got in the bucket and started jumping on it? So here is my solution to make my word work/study station effective and prevent this from happening again:

Thanks to the book First Grade in Photographs by Scholastic, I went to Walmart to the automotive/tool section and bought this organizer for about $10 including tax (side note: whenever I see something that looks like it will work or even sound like it will work, I will try it!! This is key to survival!). It's actual purpose is to hold nuts and bolts, but us teachers know that it can be used to store letters of all kinds! So here is how I made what I saw in the book my own:

I bought a big bag of foam stickers to label each drawer with. You can buy these for $4.95 at Walmart. As you can see here, I am missing an A!!! In this ginormous, big pile of foam stickers, I could not find a lowercase A. Just my luck of course. But I will find a solution! Thank you Christmas break for giving me the opportunity to regain my sanity and focus on how I can make the last semester an effective and smooth one!

Please leave me any comments, thoughts, suggestions, amens, or horrifying evaluation stories from your first year!!

Shellie Rae

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Word Ladders!

I am obsessed with word ladders. As a first year teacher, I find that doing activities where students have to listen closely to follow directions in order to produce a result, like a word ladder or glyph, they become more conscientious when listening to Miss Gibson when she gives directions on other assignments ha. But I love how they help to build vocabulary while also focusing on phonetics. Here is an example of a word ladder from Create.Teach.Share,

Create Teach Share

Monday, December 26, 2011

I love Wikis!

So if you have never created or heard of a wikispace, you are truly missing out! Wikis are great for your computer center and easy for students to use. They are not stand alone websites but are practically the same. Since I teach first grade, my students are not able to create their own wiki for projects and presentations. However it is a great way to have students do meaningful, and purposeful online activities without you spending all your time loading a website on every computer. To give you an idea of what one looks like and how one is used by students, follow this link to see mine!

I have my wiki set as the homepage on each of my student computers as well as a shortcut on the desktop. So when they go to computer center, I tell them to click on the flower pot (which is the icon) and go to literacy computer center. When they click that link on the wiki it pulls up all the websites and activities I want to them to go to during the center. Some days I will have them go to my social studies page to watch videos or do interactive activities.

I am joining the blogging world!

Hello Fellow Teachers! I am a first year teacher in Chattanooga,TN, and I am completely overwhelmed! However, my life has been saved several times thanks to other teachers' blogs. As a new teacher, I have no files of activities to pull from and struggle to contribute in  common planning meetings with my first grade team. Once again, I go back to all these amazing blogs to find things to contribute. My team loves the things I find! My co-worker calls me the "blogging beauty." So I wanted to start my own blog and post the things I find that I feel will make an impact on student learning; hence the name of my blog: Teach to Impact. On the days I feel like I am sinking or  barely above water, I have to remember why I do what I do and that is to make a positive impact on student learning and their personal lives. I have not gotten to the point of creating my own units and activities, but there are some amazing teachers out there that do, and I want to promote their amazing talents! I hope that my blog and the things you find here will impact you in a positive way and motivate you to use these resources in your classroom! Happy blogging and don't forget to follow me!