Communicating with families is quite important! Here are some fun and easy ways I make sure families are keeping in touch!

One way is through sending out this magnetic business card with all of your contact information. I usually give these out on open house day!

I order these through VISTA PRINT! You can usually find a coupon deal and get a set of 25 for like 6 bucks! There are lots of designs to choose from and have a education theme.

Here are some examples I have made in the past:

Another great way to communicate is through the REMIND app. This is a free app that parents and families can download. It will automatically send text messages from you to their phones. You're phone number is kept private. There is a new feature now where you can send individual parents a text and they can respond back. You can moderate the hours you would like to send or receive these messages as well. I love the photo feature. Many times I can send parents a photo of something we did as a class, or I can take a photo of an important newsletter that parents can get access to now via their phone. It also tells you who views the picture as well.

How do you communicate with your families!?

Reading Workshop

There are many different ways teachers can utilize their reader's workshop time. Over the years, I have developed and changed the way I carry out my independent and partner reading time. After a mini-lesson, I have the students read independently next to their reading partner. While this is happening, I am running a guided reading group or conferencing. After they have been reading, I then instruct them to partner share with their reading partners. This is an important time that they have to be instructed and guided through. From there, I developed the reading toolkit binder. This binder  holds all of the things the partnership of students need to carry out a meaningful, independent share time. In first grade you encourage reading behaviors where they post-it note their thinking.  Over time, you may want to carry out book talks where they can engage in these conversations without the post-it note prompts. (At least that is the long term goal hehe).

Here you can see the binder opened up. Each partnerships have their own binder. Not every student. I placed a zip-loc bag lined with duct tape down the side for durability as it acts as a makeshift pouch. Much cheaper than buying a pencil pouch. Inside this pouch is everything that the students may need for their reading time; pencils, post-it's and even questions on a binder ring which they can ask each other during share time. I laminate all the pages and hole punch the sides. The page you see above is the page to remind them of the types of comments they can create as they are reading their books. They have the options of writing their responses on the post-it or using just the symbol (depending on their level). 

After they mark their pages with their sticky note thinking, they add the post-its as they share them on the sticky note sharing templates. This way I can check the binders to see what kind of thinking is going on during their independent time.

It also includes prompts as well. 

Other sticky note sharing:

I usually have my lower readers with my highest readers in order to engage them in meaningful conversations. Perhaps a student did not know the meaning of a word and would like to find out what it means or they were unable to read a word. The students can figure out how they can help each other.

I also have a picture prompt in each binder and they use a small sticky note to move as they complete each phase of their sharing time.

they share their thinking they can ask  each other questions on the binder ring and then practice sight words from their sight word list.

If you would like to try this in your own classroom visit my Teachers Pay Teachers for access to all of the items listed above!



Have you ever used Plickers? Plickers is a fun way to assess your students without the use of an ipad!

Download the app on your android or iphone. This let's you create multiple choice questions and students can answer using a paper "plicker" instead of those expensive clickers!

Plickers from Nadine Gilkison

Plickers from Nadine Gilkison

Add caption

These cards are free and printable and the plickers website.

Here's my class in action!

Try it out!


Technology Tidbit!

It's amazing how many apps there are for our students nowadays. One of the apps that I find to be most helpful as a classroom teacher is the app Educreations. The best part is that it is free! Basically this is an interactive whiteboard for students which you can add clipart, photos and record voice.

How can you use this app?

There are so many ways to use this. 

1.) You can record yourself teaching a lesson. Maybe you thought the math lesson was super hard and when students go home, they may not be able to complete the assignment. You can give parents access to your special educreations class code and parents and students can review the lessons you record. Here's an example of a video I made to review for the math test.

2.) Students can create their own lessons. What I love is students can create their own account and link up to their class page and create their own slideshow videos. It is a great way to access how much they actually grasped from the lesson, a great tool for assessment. 

Below is a video from a student who made her own video at home after learning about addition.

3.) If you think you are going to be absent you can even record a video to play and the substitute could access the video with simple login directions.

4.) For students who also struggle with generating ideas for writing or students who have a hard time organizing their thoughts, this app can be very helpful. One student who was struggling remembering what to write used this app and was able to listen back to his voice on headphones and playback parts that he needed to remember. His thoughts were a lot faster then his writing ability. This helped him work at his pace. He went from from nothing on a page to a full story. 

What other ways can you use this app for!? Let me know all of your ideas!

Wonder Wednesday!

Last year I was inspired by Kristen Ziemke and her book she co-wrote, Comprehension and Technology.  I highly recommend this book because it addresses great ideas to engage students in learning through the use of technology. One of the ideas from the book that I have transferred into my classroom is Wonder Wednesdays. This is a fun way to get students to think and engage themselves in meaningful conversations.

We start off by using our Wonder Wednesday Notebooks. I also included a label with prompts to help the children organize their thinking. 

Every Wednesday we open up the Wonderopolis website. Every day the website adds new wonders.
I start off differently every time. Sometimes I may leave it open ended and ask the children what are they wondering. They will write it on a post-it and partner share there questions. Other times I may start off by showing them the wonder of the day question and ask them if they are wondering anything else. I also start off by showing them a picture from the gallery of wonders and have them generate questions just by looking at the picture and then we will study the site and try to find the answers to our questions. The site also allows video access to enhance the learning experience. Every wonder has a video that correlates to the wonder. Sometimes this generates more learning and wondering! 

Sorry it is sideways!

It's my goal that if the children have unanswered questions that eventually they will independently be able to access the answers to the questions. Maybe when we go to the library we may try to find a book that may answer my questions. Or maybe I can find the answer on the internet. Allow the children to generate their own ideas on where they can access their wonders. I strongly suggest implementing this in your classroom to get your students to engage in higher level thinking that will transcend into all other areas of learning! Next step is introducing a wonder wall! We will then choose a wonder each week to send to Wonderopolis where we wait to get our wonder answered! Pictures to come......

Click Below for Free Wonder Wednesday Notebook Labels (use Avery 15264)

Wonder Wednesday Notebook Cover

Wonder Wednesday Notebook Label (Inside)

And we're off!

Hope everyone is having a great school year! 

Setting up your classroom is the first important step in getting your classroom ready for your children. Creating an environment that is safe and fun is important. Here are some pictures of my classroom (please excuse some of the scattered things around, it was still a work in progress)!

I used fabric to cover my bulletin boards. 

The tree was inspired by Deanna Jump. I used vinyl tablecloths to cover the tables. Easy to clean! 

The closet maid bins hold our library books. Red is fiction, blue is non-fiction.

Our word wall and writing center. In this corner is also our "cozy corner" for fun reading and any student that may need a break throughout the day.
We are diving into our writer's workshop unit. We have begun our small moment unit and we have been encouraging those to "catch a small moment." This unit helps the children focus on writing about one topic rather than drifting to multiple topics. We have been using our jungle hats to wear when we catch those moments. 

If you would like to have these printables to make your own hat, head over to to First Grade Wow for it and other super fun ideas to implement in your small moment unit!

Stay tuned next time for what we do on "Wonder Wednesday!" 
A fun way to get in all those common core critical thinking skills!

Have fun Teaching!

Group Work!

So in my search for a good summer read, I stumbled upon Kristen Ziemke's Website  She is one of the coauthors of Connecting Comprehension and Technology.

This book has a wealth of information for including technology into your literacy program. While it's pricey, I highly recommend it. It will be your go-to book for incorporating new ideas into your teaching. It even has QR codes where you can just click and it will take you to direct videos to demonstrate what the authors are implying. 

So this is definitely my summer read! But back to Kristen's website, I was connected to her twitter feed, which they emphasize in the book that twitter can be used for education and engaging students in conversations about literature and math. But for now, I was browsing through her pictures in her twitter feed and stumbled upon this video.

I was inspired by the group work that the children were in and how it worked so well with the younger students. So I decided to try it out as one of my introductory lessons for insects and it was a success! The children worked together and gathered information for our insect unit.

Here's some samples:


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