Tuesday, July 24, 2012

20 followers and a Reading Response Sheets

I have 20 followers! Yippee!
This is a small achievement, but it definitely feels good! Thank you!

I think it is time to start training my body to fall asleep before midnight. I went to bed at 11.30 last night, and I was back up 30 minutes later! I tried again at 12.45am, and fell asleep. Our first school day is in 3 weeks.

I have been reading that many of you have already gone back to organize your classrooms. This totally stresses me out. You wonderful teachers NEED your summer breaks too!  I don't plan on going back to peek in yet, even thought I really would like to. I did see last week the cleaners on my end of the school, as we walked to the park. So I know it's clean, but I don't want to get sucked into work just yet!

Speaking of work, I was doing my best to create this Reading Response Book. I think it turned out pretty good, and I am slowly becoming a whiz at Word. I can see myself soon buying fonts and graphics as this becomes a new hobby.

Click here to view. 

Please leave feedback on this, and if you have any suggestions, I would gladly accept them! I take this opportunity as a learning experience. Also, I feel like I could have continued it past the 10 sheets, but stopped for now. If you have some ideas what could be added, I could tack on more sheets.

I'm off for a jog, because it's good for my health (I thinks that's the only excuse I can come up with to TRY and keep me motivated). Anyone else out there hate running? Blah...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop

YEAH! How fun is this? I am super excited about finding new bloggers out in blogland.
And really, who wouldn't be??

Thanks to Third Grade is the Place for Me for staring this fun linky.

Here are the questions that need to be answered:
    1.  what state you are in
    2.  your current teaching position
    3.  your teaching experience
    4.  when you started blogging
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

1. I currently live outside the United States, in Finland. 
2. I have been rotating from first to second. This autumn I start with a new group of firsties!!! I'm super excited!
3. This is going to my 6th year teaching at my current school. My first year I taught 6th, and then from there jumped to first and have loved lower elementary ever since!!
4. Last summer, in August, I started my blog to help document my teaching. I had been somewhat active. Mostly stalking than blogging myself. 
5. Please comment on other blogs. When doing a linky, I like to do as Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade said "Rule of Three". Look at the 2 in front of your link and then come back and look at the one behind yours...  and COMMENT on all three.

Join in the fun! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sweden Cruise and Reading Log

I've been trying to enjoy summer, so therefore I've been absent from here. We managed a cruise to Sweden for a few days. It was great and relaxing, even with the kids in tow.

Our Cruise Ship

Sweden is a beautiful old city. I could have stayed longer.
Leaving Sweden
Another cruise liner in front of us, leaving Sweden

Now I have been trying to put together some reading sheets for next years use.
I usually have students just use a log in the start of autumn. This helps them focus on the reading together at home for the first time. Students here don't start their school career until age 7. Plus, they are reading in two languages at home for homework, so it can be a bit overwhelming for busy families to find the time. I have first hand experience with this with my eldest! So start easy and build up from there.

Click here to view.

I know I will have some students that will be ready to read and write,  and I want to have some more detailed response sheets for them them. I am thinking of making a packet for them. That way they stay together and there are no floating papers on my desk. I'll be back with more.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reindeer in July!

If your just tuning in, I currently live in Finland.
Today we went to a local reindeer ranch. They had 9 adults and 2 calves. 
FYI: Reindeer live in Lapland in Scandanavia and the native Sami people heard them.
Luckily we didn't have to travel all the way up north (which takes a day by train).
This woman grew up in Lapland and moved south, and brought with her the reindeer. Only two of her current reindeer had been born outside of Lapland.

OMG! If you can't tell by the pictures, they were SUPER cute! Did you know that when you feed them, they only use their lips to grab the food?? I had a hard time NOT feeding them the whole time (and pushing my own kids out of the way), because it was just too CUTE. I can hardly bare it now, thinking back.
Oh and the antlers were fuzzy and warm, because they are growing 2cm (0.78in) A DAY during the summer! WOW!!

I am so excited still about the reindeer that I am thinking about doing a reindeer theme in my classroom. Hmmmm, wonder if it's possible? Anyone seen reindeer clip art that isn't Christmas related? Keep an eye out for me!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Reading Records

So I am reading Conferring with Readers, and I just finished up chapter 4.
(By the way, I am taking my sweet time reading this book. Anyone else having 
difficulties reading their books this summer? I will try to improve...)

In this chapter it discusses checking student reading levels. Most of the information in the chapter, I felt I already did in my own style. Running records are normal routines for most classrooms. We all have our own style of keeping them, I'm sure.

Something I did take note of in the book was that don't only check for accuracy during reading records.

1) the first 100-200 words you check for accuracy
2) the next 100 words, check for fluency: just listen and check for punctuation pauses and intonation
(Aren't I already doing this while doing the running record? I suppose stopping 
and just listening for fluency, and not marking accuracy couldn't hurt. I most 
definitely tell students if they don't pause between periods, but I can't 
say I have supported intonation differences between
 narration and dialog. Note to self!)
3) student must then recap what has been read to show reading comprehension

I only have 5 (45min) lessons a week with my kiddos for English. Talk about organizing and figuring out what is essential!! At times it can be daunting to meet with each student, but it really is essential.

Post It notes
Don't you just love them?
This book also has some really good ideas on how to keep students engaged in their independent reading time in class. One idea I really love is using Post It notes. Students use Post Its to write down any ideas that come to their mind as they are reading. They then stick them into the book and can share them at the appropriate time given. Great! What kid wouldn't love to use Post It notes???

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Handing out Awards!

Okay, I have taken this role very seriously, and have been working hard to find some great blogs that deserve these awards.
Before I can hand them out, I have to give you the info about the rules and tell about myself. Yeah!

Thank you again for nominating me Linda and Lilian for the following awards:

Rules for "The Versatile Blogger" Award:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their site.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
6. When nominating, include a link to their site.
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.

Rules for "The One Lovely Blog" Award:
1. Follow the person who gave you the award.
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award.
3. Share the love! Pass the award onto 15 new bloggers!

And now for the 7 random facts about me:

1. I love romance novels (swoon here).
2. I don't want to get a pet, even though the rest of my lovely family asks me weekly (including the hubby). 
3. I love to eat all sorts of food, but celery is down right the WORST vegetable ever. Blah!
4. I love book stores and libraries! I am saddened by the fact that this world is moving towards electronic reading devices and some libraries are closing. 
5. I have a very sensitive sniffer, and my hubby finds me sniffing all sorts of things and laughs at me. 
6. I love to play games with my family. Cards and board games are great! Currently we have been playing Skipbo, Rumikub and Canasta this summer.
7. I love to collect scarfs, and wear them too!


1. Tales of a Teacherista 
2. Teacher Bits and Bobs
3. Enjoy Teaching English
4. A Series of First Grade Events
5. Dandelions and Dragonflies
6. Fun in K/1
7. Sarah's First Grade Snipits
8. Made for First Grade
9. Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade
10. Mrs. Minton's Kindergarten
11. A Year of Many "Firsts"
12. Rowdy in First Grade
13. First Grade with Miss Snowden
14. That's So Second Grade!
15. Mrs. Dwyer's A+ Firsties

Thanks for being such lovely blogs! 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Awards and 4 on 4th

HOLY MOLY.... I have been given another award! Oh, how sweet is this???? (VERY!)

This big puffy heart "Thank You" goes out to Linda at Kinder Doodles for the Versatile Blogger award and again the One Lovely Blog award . I have got some serious homework, looking for more lovely blogs! Someone out in blog land will be receiving awards in the near future.

Today I got together with some other American's to celebrate our 4th of July today. No fireworks here, but good food and conversation is always a win!

And speaking of the 4th, I stumbled onto 4 on the Fourth from Ms. M's Blog. The idea behind this linky it to share 4 things your going to try for the first time in your class this coming school year. This inspired me right away, and I quickly knew of 4 new things I am going to try. You still have 3 days to join in the fun!

1) Flexible start for first grade: We have an new city initiative called Flexible Start. The basic idea is that you and your coworker/s must teach ALL of the new first graders coming to school for the first 5 weeks together.
The idea is that we must cooperate together and we get to work in smaller groups getting to know all the first graders, before we split them into their own class groups after the 5 week period.
This will be my first year trying it out, and it really sounds neat! 

2) Jolly Phonics: I have ordered the Jolly Phonics materials to teach in first grade this year. I had a chance in the spring to visit another English school which was using these materials. I am excited to get started and teaching the alphabet!

3) Core Statements: Well I don't have to do this, but I want to touch on it this year for sure. I will post for the students the standards for some lessons this year. I think often we don't give the students enough information about what their role it at school. I hope this gives the first graders some concrete ideas about their daily learning.

4) Character development: I have ordered from Scholastic the Build a Caring Classroom kit. It comes with 6 books, poster and teacher book. I think those first graders need some guidance in the early years to help them grow and deal with life situations in a positive way.

I will surely blog about these in the autumn.

One last note for today:

I like Farley's rule of 3. I am going to apply this rule to other linky parties. I just think it is super nice to write comments to others!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Award and working with nails

Wow! I woke up this morning, and there was a message from Lilian at Me Teach Good. She has given me the One Lovely Blog Award. How awesome is that?? Thanks Lilian!

I now need to find 15 bloggers to give the award to as well. I'll be on the look out for some Lovely Blogs.

Today I picked up the book Life of Pi. I am half way through another novel, that just isn't keeping me interested. I might start Life of Pi tomorrow. Hmmm....

 I took some courses this June for technical work, art and PE for the lower grades. Remember? I have to teach PE as well.

This was one of the projects we made in the technical workshop:

 Here is another idea made by another teacher at the course:

Here are the details of this project:

Materials needed -
- 2x4 wood pieces
- finishing nails
- hammer
- color pencils
- tempura paint (watered down)
- string or wire
- glue
- saw (optional)

1) Using 2x4 pieces of wood (mine was about 8in. long), come up with a design that you can  draw right onto the wood piece. Here are two ideas shown. Another idea is a sail boat, and using the nails for either the base of the boat or the sail. In the course, we had to saw our own piece of wood. If you have a shop room, maybe you could do this.

2) Color with colored pencils and paint. When painting, we watered down the tempura paint. On my windmill, the blue background is watered down blue paint. The rest was colored with color pencils.

3) When the drawing part is complete, then decide how many nails you will need for the section of your project. Hammer away! Don't hammer all the way down, or you won't be able to wrap your string/wire properly around them.

4) Weave your string or wire around the nails. On the windmill, I first weaved the string only on the outline of the blades. Unfortunately, I felt that it didn't give the 3D effect I wanted. So then I undid it and weaved so that the string intersected through the blades. This made it pop out more. I changed the color from red to orange and then back to red. When adding more string just tie on a new piece of string, and then glue down the ends that might be flying away.

5) Done!

This is an excellent project to allow little one to try out working with wood, hammer and nails.  The animal cage idea would maybe be the easiest and fun for lower grade children.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Day in my Shoes Linky Party

Today I am linking up with Ingles 360 to celebrate A Day in My Shoes. Click below to join in the fun! *Update* This is brought to you by TBA. Go check it out to find more ways to share your ideas!
Happy International Blog Hopping Day!

Ruby Red Slippers

These summer days sure are lazy and finally starting to warm up. I don't need to wear wool socks every morning/evening (I'm always cold). Tomorrow I am suppose to pick up from the library 3 more novels to read. But I haven't found time to finish the one I am reading now (and the blogging doesn't help :P).

Here is a snip it of                         A Day in My Shoes

In the autumn, I am feeling fresh and get up at 6.00. By spring, I'm barely up before 7.00. Between getting myself ready, I have to get our children ready too.

7.30-8.00 - Walk to school, about 5 minutes walk. Drop off kids and go to class. Get a few things ready for the day. Or if hubby takes the kids, then I leave by 7.00 to get some things done at school.

8.30 - 13.30 or 14.30 - So basically the school system is different over here. There is no 8.00 to 15.00 schedule for the students. It is more like a high school schedule with different number of lessons each day.
Over here students are only allowed to attend school for 24 lessons a week in lower elementary (each lesson is 45 minutes), plus lunch and two recess breaks. Some days they start at 9.20, and some days end at 12.00 for them. They might only go to school for 3 lessons and lunch (8.30-12.00).
My days are then broken down depending on which lessons we have that day. And by the way, I am required to teach everything including PE and music. Luckily they hired another lower grade teacher that had music as a major and I have never had to teach music! Phew....that could have been a disaster!!
Craziest thing I can't get use to is that WE ONLY HAVE 3 LESSONS OF MATH A WEEK. That is 3 - 45minute lessons as week. Jeez...
Now since I don't only teach my own class, I have more lessons to fill up my week and I teach later into the day. I teach English to the other first grade class and usually still a few more hours of something else. Last year I had to teach 3rd grade science. Next year I am teaching 3rd grade handcraft.

After 14.30 - I am then organizing for the next day or meeting with other teachers, just like the rest of you.
16.00 - I used to leave at 17.00, but I try to leave by 16.00 so that I can spend time with my fab family. So then pick up the kids, walk home, and do dinner/homework/hobbies/chores/etc. This autumn I am going to sign up for Zumba!!! Mommy needs a hobby too, right? Or is cleaning the home a hobby????

Speaking of shoes....we wear inside shoes at school. Basically, take off your outside shoes and switch when inside. This isn't a must for teachers, but it is for kids. Anyways, I need to find myself a new pair of inside shoes this autumn. I will be shopping for a pair of plain, black, comfortable flats.

For the time being, these are my fav summer shoes!! Aren't they summery and cute??

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Happy 4th of July!! I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe day with family and friends.
We won't be doing anything too special, just another regular day for us here. We will barbeque though!!

This summer my 11 year old niece is visiting us. I had been asked that I help her with her reading comprehension. No problem!

Then I started to think about how, and I started to panic. Could I barrow materials from the school? Where was I going to find grade level material for her? Then I started to search online for teacher materials and found a downloadable eBook that was just right. Yeah!

I tell you, I am thankful for eBooks!! Not all companies ship internationally, and even if they do, the shipping cost can be ridiculous. Here are my go to sites: Carson Dellosa, Creative Teaching Press, and Scholastic Teacher Express.

If you have any more that you could share with me, I would be GRATEFUL. Please leave a comment and tell what eBooks companies you have found :).

Again............HAPPY 4th of JULY!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

I can statements

Well thankfully it's finally starting to be sunny and warming up here. June has not been a great month for weather. Today the high should be 69F and by this weekend warm up to 75F, and mostly sunny all week. This is excellent! Kids playing at the lake and me reading/taking sun by the lake is all I want to do this week.

I have been checking out these "I CAN" statements. I think these are pretty awesome. I am seriously thinking about making up my own for next year. I think it's really empowering for the students to know exactly what we expect them to learn in their daily lessons.

Speaking of learning, I still vividly remember 2 students from my last bunch of first graders. They were both insistent that they couldn't read!! They would flat out tell me "but I can't read", and this was after a month or two after school had started. We had already started learning sight words too, so they had all the basic skills to get going. So then we would look at their workbook and sound out the words together, for example "bat". They could too read, but they just had their mind set that it wasn't possible to read English. Today they are good readers. Just makes me laugh! I wonder how many will tell me next year that they can't read?

Currently July

Today I am linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for my first Currently post! Yeah!

So this year I finished up with 2nd grade, and will be returning to first grade next year with a new lot of kids. I'm pretty excited! I could TOTALLY be a first grade teacher every year!! I even confessed it to my principal this spring in our spring review. I don't think she will allow that, but at least she now knows.
I have been blog stalking first grade blogs, since my current collection of blogs are mostly second grade ones. Don't worry 2nd grade bloggers, I still think you are excellent and full of useful wisdom! I already have lots of ideas for next year. It will be my 3rd year teaching first grade. So I am happy to feel like I have a clue how I want to teach those cuties!!! And when I think about next year, I mostly have been thinking about English. What types of author units I want to do, if I want to subscribe to A-Z reading (and I'm leaning towards it more everyday), how to organize writing and reading in the classroom, and so forth.

Here is my currently July!