Base Ten Organization

Schools go a little later in New York, so today was my moms last day of school! I went to school in the same district she teachers in, so I always love to go back and visit everyone. Now that I am an official teacher with my own classroom, I have what you might call teacher vision. Only teachers have teacher vision. Teacher vision is kind of hard to explain--but basically it is when you see something in a school hallway and you wonder...Is that free? Can I take that? I can totally use that in my classroom. Is someone seriously throwing that out?! ... Then, you take it (making sure you've checked with the person who ditched it first--that part is very important) and put it to good use. One teachers trash is another ones precious treasure. What I am getting at here is that today I hit the jackpot. Teachers left and right were ditching stuff and I was taking it all! They were relieved and happy their belongings were finding a 1st grade home!

My mother then had the brilliant idea to stop by my old elementary school and look for grade level goodies. I left with 5 BOXES full of stuff (score)! The pictures don't even do it justice--my moms SUV was full, too Not only was it great to get more supplies for my classroom, it was great to see old teachers and go back to the place that instilled my love for learning. That is where the magic happens and I'm so lucky I get to be on the other side of it now.
Now that I am done the good stuff. One of the very useful things I acquired was different types of base ten blocks. Lots of different colors and even some foam base ten blocks--which I think my kids will really like.

I could not stand this past year how I organized my base ten blocks (in ziplock bags). Half the time the bags weren't closed, the amount of blocks in the bags were totally uneven, and by the end of the year the bags were totally destroyed (if they even made it that far). SO here is where my crazy organizational side comes out. I went to the Dollar Tree and found these Betty Crocker Divided Containers.  ($1 a piece, about $26 total--completely worth the money for me). Next year, each student will have their own box of base ten blocks to be responsible for (alleluia). All that's left to do is number them and decide where I want to put them--desks or shelves? Any suggestions are appreciated.
How do you organize your base ten blocks?

Happy Teaching!!

Guided Reading Changes

Now that my first year is over, I am SO ready for year 2! I thoroughly enjoyed my first year (I had the most perfect group of first graders) but there are so many things I want to change to improve my teaching practice and my classroom. SO what better place to start than guided reading time? We all know that learning to read is a crucial part of first grade. This year, I felt as though my guided reading time was just okay. I had the materials I needed and differentiated my groups--but I did not feel as though we were working towards any specific goals (aside from the obvious learning to read).

That's where Mrs. Wheeler comes in! I follow a lot of teacher blogs--I feel like it's professional development at your finger tips whenever you want it. I can only hope I have a blog similar to those that I follow one day--but I think that will come with time, experience & confidence. Anyway, Mrs. Wheeler is a fantastic first grade teacher who, through reading her blog, I am learning a lot from. Her blog has fantastic ideas for any first grade classroom and those ideas can also be applied across other grade levels. She has saved me this summer by providing various resources to support guided reading time. You can read about all of her resources and what they provide on Mrs. Wheeler's TPT site. Below, I've provided pictures that you can click on to take you to each resource I will be using this upcoming school year.
My favorite resource she provides comes from her Guided Reading Resources K-1 product. She gives you everything, step-by-step to ensure a successful and smooth running guided reading time. Specifically, I love that she provides "Skills by Level." As a new teacher, I don't always know what exactly my kids needed to progress to the next level (yes, I can admit that :) ). With her list of skills, I can easily assess my students during our time together and give them exactly what they need to advance. It will be my best friend next year :) I cannot wait to put her products to use and see my kids flourish. Working like crazy before my departure to Ireland!
If you want a quick look at how Mrs. Wheeler runs her guided reading groups, download her FREE planning guide! Thanks, Mrs. Wheeler!
I leave for Ireland on Friday (WOO!!). I am still putting off packing my clothes because I am the WORST packer ever. So, I have been busy getting my goodbyes in and shopping of course. I treated myself to an early birthday gift--the Fitbit Charge HR. I love it for multiple of reasons (heart rate monitor, called ID, exercise tracking) and I can't wait to see how many steps I get in abroad.
I hope everyone is enjoying summer!

Happy Teaching!

Summer Project: Rise & Shine Binders

Unfortunately and fortunately, I have a short summer due to my study abroad program in Galway, Ireland :) Woohoo! I'll be pursuing my masters through Michigan State University in Educational Technology. I am super excited for this opportunity to travel across the pond (first timer) and bring back some awesome ideas for my upcoming school year.

Seeing as my trip is 11 days away, I don't have TOO much time to obsess over what I'll be changing about my classroom for next year. I am such a busy body and constantly trying to improve my classroom (it is a blessing and a curse). Over the next 11 days, I will be finishing a project I'm working on for the upcoming year. This idea came from an amazing teacher I follow on TPT, Reagan Tunstall. I read her blogpost about the "Rise & Shine Binder" she created and it was something I knew I had to try. You can purchase the binder materials for $7.50, here :)  
During the last school year, I spent a lot of time and paper each month putting together morning work packets. It was just...blah. The kids did not love it and either did I--hence, the Rise & Shine Binders! I'm about half way done putting them together, and yes--putting them together is a lot of work--but I am confident my kids will love them and instill very important first grade skills in the process. After reading Reagan's blogpost, I was convinced! Here's my progress so far:
Sheet protectors & Expo markers--I'm saving a rainforest!

Ok this right here is one of my favorite parts. Base ten is HUGE in first grade--practicing this each morning is going to be so beneficial for my little guys. Great for fine motor skills, too!

I think I will make something like this for my students who need a little extra help here. Reagan uses a clear counter and I think that will work great for my higher kiddos.
I can't wait to put them into action!

Happy Teaching! Or as they say in Ireland--Slan go foill!