Saturday, December 29, 2012

Best Books for Boys

One of my favorite bloggers, Courtney over at Swimming Into Second, is hosting a fantastic linky party. To participate, grab the button below, link up, and share some of the best books for boys in your classroom. I gotta tell ya, Courtney's idea for this link party came from a conference presentation that covered differences between boys and girls when it comes to reading levels and reading interests.

Below are some nonfiction books that my 1st grade boys tend to enjoy the most!

I teach bears during November in my Animals Get Ready for Winter unit. I believe there are more of these VS. books out there. I think I'll use some of my Scholastic coupons to purchase a few more.

*There are a series I believe of these nonfiction Dinosaurs books that are pop-outs! My boys love all of the books in my dinosaurs nonfiction book box more than the fiction book box, but the pop-outs are the most popular of all. I'm fairly sure these books are as old as I am, they came with the classroom. But they're definitely worth getting your hands on!

Onto most-loved fiction books....
Another pop-out that a student donated to my library my first year of teaching! Can't say most of my firsties really "read" this one, but it's a good one for reading the pictures (daily 5 strategy).

Another fun series!

Out of all the fiction books boys love, I'd say anything to do with pirates tends to be more popular. This book in particular is one that my boys have used year after year after year for their first book talk-they get to dress-up as a character from the story- can't blame 'em for wanting to be a pirate for the day!

Overall, I'd say that when my firsty boys visit my library or the school library, they tend to go for non-fiction books. Something to keep in mind as you begin/continue to build your classroom library. :)

Enjoy the last few days of 2012!!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook

Over the past couple of days, I've watched the rest of the world around me start to move on from the Sandy Hook tragedy with one thought on my mind: those students and that community will not be moving on as easily as we do. Instead of feeling merely blessed or thankful for all that my students and I share, I've felt some guilt. Guilt because well, I can't or couldn't find a way to make things better for these students, teachers, and community members.  Maybe I felt a bit helpless too...And then...I received an email from the mother of a former student of mine. I've copied it below. If you're like me and you want to do something, anything to support Sandy Hook Elementary and their local community in the smallest way you can KEEP READING & have fun making snowflakes!

Please note: The author of the following message happens to be friends with a teacher at the Middle School in Connecticut.

Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at their new school! Our neighboring town of Monroe has generously donated a building that will be able to keep all our Sandy Hook students together. Crews are currently busy delivering equipment, desks, chairs, supplies; however, the halls are bare. We want to create a warm, happy and cheerful environment for the students as they enter the new building. Make and send snowflakes to:
Connecticut PTSA

60 Connolly Parkway 

Building 12 Suite 103

Hamden, CT 06514 

To reach anyone at Sandy Hook PTA, email at

C'mon bloggy friends, let's share a little love with those that need it the most right now.  WE have the opportunity to create a new, safe, warm, comfortable learning environment for boys and girls that deserve nothing but the the best. Carpe diem!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 in 12

So 2012 is winding down, and I gotta say that for me, it's flown by! Can't say it was the best year, but I suppose it wasn't the worst.

12 favorite things! 

12. Favorite movie you watched:
Not a movie-watcher at all. In fact, I shouldn't say this in public but...I fell ASLEEP in Avengers 3D and during part of the new Batman movie. I did like the Batman movie (well the ending I was awake for). Note to Self: Going out to later movies on a Friday night during the school year isn't a good idea. I stayed awake during the new Madea movie. Guess I'll pick that one!

11. Favorite TV series:
Revenge! Love me some Emily Thorne!

10. Favorite restaurant:
Olive Garden? Can't beat their lunch specials that I got to enjoy oh so frequently during my first summer off since I was 15!

9. Favorite new thing you tried:
RUNNING! The Color Run in Philly was my first 5k and it was AH-MAZ-ING! 20,000 runners getting colored. Definitely doing it again. :)

8. Favorite gift you got:
Real Uggs for my birthday! I have chronic cold feet, so these things are like miracles to me. I could live in em, in fact I've fallen asleep in them before!

7. Favorite thing you pinned:
This pin, inspired my Halloween costume "Little Miss Wonderful". I learned how to make my own tutu using tulle, so now I'm a pro. AND, I used the same tutu when we dressed up as book characters a few weeks ago at school. My tutu was pink, I was Angelina Ballerina. :)

6. Favorite blog post:
I love my 100 year old, 100th day of school post. Everytime I see my kiddos and I decked out like elderly folks, I get hysterical. I was super impressed with their creativity, attention to detail, and ability to get into character. I'll be giving that same assignment again soon as they 100th day draws near. 

5. Best accomplishment:
Getting tenure and my ESL Specialist all in ONE summer. No more New Teacher Induction Meetings, no more observing others during my prep time, no more quarterly observations that include mounds of paperwork. This is the first school year I've ever taught, in which I am not formally being observed and it's a nice change. 

4. Favorite picture:
*End of the Color Run! I'm all the way on the left!

3. Favorite memory:
Me and my girls at Young Alumni Reunion. Hadn't been back to college since I'd left almost 5 years ago! It was nice to be back on campus in all the familiar places. We even visited our freshmen dorms, and I saw my old, tiny, most favorite room/place to live everrrr. 

2. Goal for 2013:
"Work hard, play harder!" I need a little more me time, more opportunities to do and see and feel the things I've always dreamed of outside the world of teaching. I made the mistake of giving nearly every ounce of my being to my students my first couple years. I'm building in time for working out and eating breakfast, even if that means I'm leaving school on time some days. What doesn't get done today, WILL and CAN get done to tomorrow.

1. One Little Word:
Believe in yourself, Believe in your students, Believe in endless possibilities!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Transition Champion!

Ever have trouble with transitions??? Sometimes, moving your kiddos from the carpet to their desks or in between centers, can take ages longer than you planned it to. Shoes come untied, detours to friends' desks are taken, and all kinds of other bizarre things seem to happen as students are traveling from one point in the room to the other. I always tell college student this: Transitions is truly where your management shows and your instructional impact is maximized. Our schedule in 1st grade is soooo tight in my district, I just can't afford to lose precious minutes to transitioning. So what do you do? Well, in the past I've played "beat the timer" and used song clips....But this year, YES this year (my FOURTH year of teaching), I've found a method that is super cheap and super effective.

I call it the TRANSITION CHAMPION! My super awesome, older brother Aaron (who just turned 30-Happy Birthday buddy!) is a Special Olympics athlete and the light of my life. He's won dozens upon dozens of medals, which he sometimes gives to me. I hang one of his medals on my whiteboard using a magnet man. Anyways...all I do is simply watch, pick the best transition-er, give them the medal to wear, and they are declared THE TRANSITION CHAMPION! Until the next transition anyways... 

Aaron winning Gold last Spring! You can thank his sister for his super-cool shades. :)

Sample Medals Galore!

Sometimes, I forget to pick a champion and my firsties are on my case: "Miss White! Who's the transition champion???" I gotta tell ya, moving centers during the Daily 5 and just moving throughout the room during transition times is THE best it's ever been. Not that it was bad before, but you can always stand to improve right???? I highly suggest you find a fake medal of some sort to use, maybe even a ribbon, and try TRANSITION CHAMPION in your classroom!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Still No School

So Sandy made landfall last night at the Jersey shore at about 8:15pm. We had no school again today, and now we have a 2 hour delay tomorrow. In total, we've had 2 full days of school called off and a 2 hour delay. Insanity!  I JUST got my cable/internet/phone back about 30 min ago and my power back about 4 hours before that. Thankfully, I was only without power from midnight until about 2pm. To everyone who lives or has property at the jersey shore or in NYC, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Hang in there!

Check out some of my fav/most amazing pics of Sandy's destruction below!
Wawa in Avalon pre-landfall!

The pier/amusement ride in Seaside Heights before and after. Yes, you've seen some of these rides on The Jersey Shore. Some of them have now become one with the sea. :(

Connecticut! Talk about high winds...

As for me and my family, I'm counting my blessings. We have a few downed tree limbs, 1 storm cover that blew away and broke into pieces, and 1 neighborhood Obama sign that blew away and has yet to be recovered. The eye of Sandy was supposed to pass right over us, but the hurricane actually turned into a tropical storm when it made landfall and so, it moved much quicker over us than they originally predicted. We are blessed! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Day!

So, I just got the call almost 2 hours ago...NO school tomorrow due to Hurricane Sandy. You know, living in PA I can't tell you when the last time was that we had school called off/out for a hurricane because it's NEVER happened before! Okay and seriously, people have been going crazy the last few days buying generators and all of the water and milk and eggs they can get. There are pictures of Wal-Mart and grocery stores with BARE shelves. Guess who decided not to shop (even though I need to anyways)??? ME! I mean, I've spent the past few days thinking..."this won't be so bad, a little rain won't hurt, people are silly!" Truthfully, I don't eat eggs/bread/milk daily and if we do lose power for a God awful amount of time, wouldn't that all go bad anyways? My thought process works like this: Wawa, Dunkin Donuts, or McDonald's WILL be open. Let's hope...

Now, let's move on from my lack of preparedness and pretend like everything is just peachy. :) So this year, I'm using a clip chart for my classroom management system. Yes, I've finally evolved from the traditional Green, Yellow, Red system. I always found this to be a bit negative...But, the clip chart has really changed the climate of the classroom because it just seems to really highlight the good choices that students are making. It took me a year to be brave enough to implement the system, because I thought it might be too complicated for parents and students. Last year, I piloted the clip chart with 2 boys that needed some personalized behavior plans and when it worked for them, I knew that it could work for everyone. Here's a pic of my clip chart (I grabbed it from another blogger, but I don't know who...eek, SORRY).

The original creator of this clip chart had red at the top and pink at the bottom. But since most of the students and parents in our school are used to red being associated with negative behaviors, I searched blogs until I found someone else who had a similar train of thought. You might be wondering why I have smiley faces or frowny ones to the left of the clip chart. There are faces that correlate with each color. Students draw them on a calendar at the end of the day to indicate where they finished their day. Parents must initial this calendar nightly.These smileys are quick and easy for the students to draw and it saves time from having to get out your crayons, find a certain color, color the calendar, etc.

My reward system this year is pretty simple too! Each time a student moves above green he/she earns a ticket. I have these simple reward tickets that I bought from Lakeshore in a cute box on my desk. Students just take a ticket and put it inside a zip-lock, labeled bag in their desk. (These baggies are kept inside pencil boxes). Students can "buy" things with their tickets. Above my clip chart is a simple sign that is titled:
 "What can I Buy?"
Lunch With Teacher.... 5 tickets
Switch My Seat........... 4 tickets
Homework Pass.......... 3 tickets
Job Choice.................. 2 tickets
Sticker......................... 1 ticket

Can I tell you that the MOST popular items are job choice and lunch with teacher! I schedule lunch with teacher about once weekly and on Mondays students can buy a classroom job for the week. They actually pay ME to WORK for ME. Sweet! And the best part of this system is that, there is no need for a prize bucket or Treasure box, which is saving me some money this year. All of my rewards cost me 0 dollars...gotta love saving money!

So, I'm super happy that I implemented the clip chart this year. My class loves it, it's working wonders, and 2 other teachers on my team have now adopted it! I love it because I can simply say "clip up" or "clip down" and I never really look too intently at the chart during the day because the students know that their choices move the clips. It's their responsibility to get their clip up by the end of the day. What's really neat though is to hear them setting goals for themselves on a daily and weekly basis. For many of them, green or "Ready To Learn" simply isn't good enough. We're setting high goals, awesome!

Alright back to preparing for Sandy and by preparing, I mean charging my macbook, kindle fire, and cell phone to the max...and downloading a few good kindle books. Stay tuned for hurricane updates!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Reasonable Commute?

Okay blogger friends,
I need some serious advice! I'm considering relocating to more an upbeat, young area mainly because I've lived in my district for well, 4 school years now, and I'm just not a fan of living where I teach. The grocery stores, restaurants, and malls are packed with current students, former students, relatives, etc. The longer I teacher, the worse it gets... I've come to the conclusion that this just isn't for me. This experience has made me understand just a smidgen anyways, of what it might be like to be a celebrity because whenever I'm spotted it's like front page news. What I'd give to go to the store in my sweats....

So, here's what I'm HOUR commute. I've done this before during student teaching. I know plenty of people in America do this every day. But, how feasible is it really? Do any of you commute 40 minutes or more? Feel free to share all experiences,  tips, and advice! 

In other news I always sing a little song I got from a Kindergarten teacher in my building to remind students to put their names on papers it goes like this:

The first thing you do is put your name on your paper,
name on your paper, name on your paper,
The first thing you do is put your name on your paper,
so we know whose it is, THE END!

**This year we added a 2nd verse**

The second thing you do is put your date on your paper,
date on your paper, date on your paper, 
The second thing you do is put your date on your paper,
so we know what date IT IS!

**Then last week, my kiddos kept going and made up a WHOLE new, 3rd verse**

The last thing you do is wait for directions,
wait for directions, wait for directions, 
The last thing you do is wait for directions,
so you know what to do, THE END!

You  know, I love their creativity and I'm keeping their lyrics. Looks like this year is shapin up to be a good one. :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Currently October and a Fire Freebie

I'm linking up with Farley once again for her Currently linky party-my fav! I missed September due to all the back to school craziness, so I've literally been stalking Farley for the past 4 days hoping and waiting for the Currently October to be posted. Yes, I know I have things to do like laundry and dishes, but I don't like those kinds of things. It's much more fun to search, wait for, and participate in linky parties. :)

The Ugly Pumpkin

My favvv book is The Ugly Pumpkin. I actually found it last year after Abby over at The Inspired Apple blogged about it. It's about an ugly pumpkin that no one buys during October, so he goes out on his own searching for a place to fit in, and eventually learns that he's a squash and fits in much better at the Thanksgiving table. Heartwarming, cute, thought-provoking, just can't get enough of it and I can't wait to read it again this year!

In other news, in honor of National Fire Prevention week click HERE for a freebie! 

This is a template titled "My Fire Story" and includes the sentence starters First, Then, Next, After that, Then, and Last. I have an old, old picturing (sequencing) activity that I probably grabbed from a Mailbox Teacher's Helper catalog that I use in conjunction with this writing template. The  pictures depict a firefighter responding to a fire alarm, getting dressed, leaving the station, putting out a fire, etc. We cut them out, sequence them correctly, and then write one sentence to match each picture.  In the end we have our first FULL 1st grade story. Great way to introduce transition words and get 'em using 'em early on! I'd post the Mailbox handout, but I think that might violate copyright eek! Anyways, you can use the story template to write just about any fire story you'd like. It's simple, sweet, and straight forward. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Jewel of An Author

Hello bloggy friends!
I owe all of you a sincere apology for not having yet posted pics of my bulletin boards. My luck with cameras and SD cards this year is God awful. First the grade level SD card was missing, then the camera, then the SD card with all of my pics on, what can you do? Guess I need to really invest a new personal camera....sigh!

So, yesterday morning I was flipping through channels and on CNN, I saw that Jewel (country music singer and mother extraordinaire), is now a children's book author. Her book That's What I'd Do is all about the love she has for her son and includes rhyming and rhythm, because she figured that through her book she could begin to teach her son those skills---that's one awesome mom I'll say! The book has also been turned into a song and the CD of the song comes with the book. I got to hear a snippet of the book/song and it seemed quite lovely. Definitely something to look into for all the bloggy/teacher moms out there.  I'm always amazed when I see celebrities crossing into the children's lit world! You can read more about it HERE !

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Okay, so I missed posting yesterday for the week long Open House linky party, but it was my birthday and I was allowed to cry or not post on my blog if I wanted to, right??? Anyways, click HERE to get a copy of my parent volunteer sign up sheet. I pass this form out at Meet The Teacher night every year as a means of enlisting parent volunteers.

Onto what I'm really supposed to be posting today...bulletin board pics...about camera is still stinking royally and I'm refusing to post icky pics.

Open House Week

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday...Classroom Photos

Open House Week

I apologize in advance for the poor quality of the following photos...I'm not sure what's up with my camera lately. Maybe I should invest in a new one, this Kodak is about 6-7 years old. Ehhhh...

Outside my door! It's a tradition in our school to make a display with all student names outside of our doors. They stay up all year and match the building/school theme. For our construction theme this year I did "Miss White's Might Minions...Build a bright future." I made a unique minion for each student using an online minion maker and voila!

Facing the front of the room. My calendar board is on the right and my soon to be bucket filler board on the left. Hanging from the ceiling is my projector, and although you can't see it, I have a SOLO! It's like a smartboard that doesn't need the physical smartboard. My whiteboard actually gets turned into an interactive surface. Love my Epson SOLO. :)

Facing the back of the room. I have my CAFE board on the right and KIDSTRUCTION (great work board) on the left. In the middle is my Word Wall. I got the kids holding letters from Lakeshore and they happen to match my calendar decor. I also have 4 desktops this year! In the middle is my library. On the left is my small groups table that my aide works at. 

"Many Hands Make Light Work"-Job chart and student mailboxes.

Coat hooks and Part 2 of the library. My seasonal boxes are up these shelves. I take them down and add them to my regular library as the seasons/units of study change. Down really low by the coat hooks is my "little table." I took the legs off of a table last year and usually this is where you can find laptops...figured the closer they are to the ground, the better. The "little table" this year might also turn into the writing center.

Close up of my seasonal books and coat hooks.

Center Charts close up. I actually put the charts on or below the students' eye level this year. This should make choosing centers (Daily 5) a bit easier for them physically. I always try to make my group names stick with the theme. Construction was tough, but I enlarged some mini-accents that I bought for lunch count and now I have 4 animal themed/construction groups!

Close up of my library in the back of the room and my 3 year old goldfish Spike!

I think this is the AC unit, but this year I'm using it for my Fancy Nancy (vocabulary) words. Everything should be centered, but I think the custodians may have moved it over when opening/working on the unit. Oops! 

Clip chart! New this year and I'm loving it.

Okay, you can see the SOLO in this pic. It's right between "R" and "S" and kind of looks like an arm. I plug a cord into my USB slot and my regular whiteboard becomes interactive AND no big, bulky Smartboard/Promethean board to worry about. 

My desk/work area. Students do lunch count on the front of my desk with magnetic pieces. We have FIVE choices this year, that's about FOUR too many! You can also see my Star of the Week board. Students make posters that I hang here. 

Calendar, easel, comfy pink chair..

View from the door when you walk in. I have windows this year! For 3 years I was in the 1 window room. I lost my bathroom, but got a ton of windows. Fair trade I'd say :) My fav feature of my school is our loooong countertops. This year I have extra storage space, never thought I'd say that!

First week pics...I broke out the watercolors early. We wrote "In first grade, I want to learn..."

We have bulletin boards that line the top of our ceilings. Since I need a ladder to change everything I put up there, they're not really practical. Here, I have my turtle months of the year and my Horton poster, he just makes me smile. :)

 Come back for close ups of my bulletin boards tomorrow!