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About Me

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I am a first grade teacher who has rediscovered a love for firsties this year. I have taught pre-k, kindergarten, first grade and even second over the past 16 years. I have been married for 17 years to my wonderful husband and have been blessed with 2 very active boys.

Pre-K Back to School

Pre-K Back to School
Pre-K Back to School

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy
Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy
Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Phonics Games

Phonics Games
Phonics Games
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Graphics by: MareeTrueLove.
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Calendar Math for Primary Grades

Calendar Math for Primary Grades
Primary Calendar for the Year

Two awards in one week!

I am so EXCITED!!  I have been nominated for TWO AWARDS this week! 

I have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award from The Idea Backpack and  Tales from Second!!  Head on over and check out their super cute blogs:)

The rules for this award are as follows:
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, include their link and let them know!
Ok, so here's 7 random things about me:)

1.  I have 2 fabulous boys and a wonderful husband who fill my days. I am blessed!!
2.  I was held up at gunpoint while working at a shoe store I  worked at in high school!
3. I started my college carreer as a marketing major in hopes of working my way up in the retail fashion world.  While working at a retail store, my co-manager and I were asked to teach a class on scarf tying ( YES, YOU READ RIGHT!) as part of a local community's continuing education classes.  It was actually held at a local elementary school and at the end of the night, I gave my co-manager my resignation and told her I was going to back to school to be a teacher!  It was definately a calling.
4. I LOVE the color red.  Red walls, red clothes, red nail polish, and a collection of red Brighton purses!
5.  I have been teaching for 17 years and I have moved classrooms 18 times!!  Yes, one year I had to move twice!  This year was actually my choice to move out of a portable, but it was still a major job to pack everything again!!
6. I am totally addicted to Diet Coke Fountain drinks:)
7.  I am technically challenged and stepping out into blogland has helped me step out of my comfort zone to grow!

I have also been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award from Stories by Storie!  Storie is a wonderful blogger and I had her on my list for  The Versatile Blogger Award:)  There are some rules for this so stay with me!

1.  Follow the person who gave you the award.
2.  Link back to the person who gave you the award.
3.  Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers.

 Now onto those I have found inspiration from:
1.  Totally Terrific Teaching Tools  2.  A New Teacher's Journey  3.  Sprinkle Teaching Magic  4. Stories by Storie  5.  Today in First Grade  6.  Classroom Companion  7.  Learning with a Happy Heart
8.  Simpson's Superstars  9.  First Grade Blue Skies 10.  Doodlebugs Teaching  11.  Creative Happenings  12.  T is for Teaching  13.  First Grade Splash  14.  Stapler's Strategies   15.  The Teaching Reef

Please stop by and check them out.  They are in no particular order:)  Thanks for the inspiration and the nominations!!

Mrs. Wathen
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Daily 5 Chapter 3

I am so glad that we are finally jumping into to meat of the Daily 5!  Here are the questions we were asked to think about in the book study:)  Thanks to Mrs. Freshwater's Class and Thinking Out Loud for hosting this week!

Why is a gathering place important?

I love when the kids are in front of me with minimal distractions:)  I also have taught mini lessons as the Sisters have suggested and the children are more focused as they are sitting for a 8-10 minute lesson.  The downfall is it is a bit more of transitional time.  We will work on this! Suggestions??

How did your students progess with picking appropriate books?  What went well?  What had to be changed?

Our school has a great selection of Accelerated Reader books and I used the Scholastic Wizard to level my classroom books.  I will be using book boxes for the kids this coming year (which is new to me) as well as introducing Good Fit books and trusting that after lots of practice, it will work!

What rituals and routines do you need to teach for this structure to be successful?

I will be introducing, modeling and practicing selecting good fit books.  Last year I used the shoe comparison and they got it.  I dropped the ball with the continual modeling and practice and they forgot it.  I love the idea of using Goldilocks and the Three Bears to guide another lesson!

(If you are already implementing) How did you adapt the rituals and routines introduced in this chapter to make them successful for your students?

Our school/district is using the Marzano model for assessment.  The check in goes right along with Marzano with the seld assessment.  This helps me see who needs additional help and the are more in tune with their purpose.

I also used anchor charts, but not as consistanly as I wanted.  I found some ultra cute ones on
Pinterest that I printed, but the kids did not take ownership of them.  I love Abby's over at The
Inspired Apple

What is one statement that stood out above everything in this chapter?


Mrs. Wathen
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Daily 5 Book Study-Chapter 2

In Chapter 2, the Sisters include the following fundementals in the Foundations of the Daily Five:

*trusting students
*providing choice
*nurturing community
*creating  a sense of urgency
*building stamina
*staying out of the students' way once routines are established

The first 2 fundementals are where I get stuck!  I work on building community for the children to trust each other and to trust me, but if I am honest, I haven't trusted them!  If I did, then providing choices in their learning would come easier...

I have implemented the Daily 5 activities over the past 3 years during my reading block.  Let me CLARIFY that and say that I had my students ROTATE through read to self, work on writing, word work and listening/computer.  My students certainly had favorite centers and I know I need to add more variety to work on writing, but there was definately NO CHOICE.  That's what I am working on for this upcoming school year; TRUST and CHOICE! 

So, the Sisters say to start slow and build stamina.  It can be difficult with county pacing guides and curriculum to get through.  There's where that TRUST comes in again.  I need to trust that this works and is a powerful concept.  I need to give it the time to let it work.  I am planning on using Mel's stamina chart which you get pick up at Suesstastic Classroom Inspirations.

The questions I have floating around my head (yes, I am a little bit of a control freak organizer).  How do your centers run?  How long do the children have at each center?  If you pull them for a group during a particular center, are they given additional time to finish?  Do you pull groups, individuals or both? 

The most powerful thing I read in Chapter 2 is


Motivation is a powerful thing so isn't it worth me trusting my students and giving them choices? YES:)

Please check out the following bloggers at the Blog Hop.

Mrs. Wathen
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Common Core, Harcourt and Blogs Oh, My!

I am so excited!  I have been trying to wrap my brain around switching to the common core standards while utilizing our adopted reading series (Harcourt) and incorporating many of the cute ideas found in blogland.

I believe I have found some fabulous resources that can help.  The first I have blogged about as The Daily 5.  I will come back to Chapter 2 tomorrow!  The second awesome resource is the Clever School Teacher website by the wonderful Deedee Wills at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten.  Children's literature is arranged by comprehension strategies, genre, writing traits and aligned to the common core!  Books can be purchased directly from Clever School Teacher individually or by sets.  Primary Graffiti and Mrs. Jump's Class  blogs are both having a $25.00 giveaways for the Clever School Teacher.  Check them out for details.
You can check out the Clever School Teacher by clicking on the icon found on the right side of my blog.  This will bring you directly there.  Did I mention FREE shipping with orders over $25.00?  What's better than that?

Mrs. Wathen
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Daily 5

I read Daily 5 two years ago and then again last summer.  I loved the idea, but never fully invested the time in training the kids and giving them control and choice over their learning.  This will be the year.  I am linking up with Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations with Mel D and and Teaching with Style with Nicole with a Daily 5 Book Study.

Chapter 1 Discussion Questions:

1.  On pages 4-6, the authors present two different pictures of their classrooms. In thinking about and reflecting on your own practice, how would you characterize your literacy block? Does it look more like the first or second scenario, or is it somewhere in between? How will you change it?

As I reflect on my teaching, I definitely think I am in the middle of the two scenarios.  My students are engaged in meaningful reading and writing activities on a daily basis.  I did have the students rotate daily with a reading group, writing center and a literacy center (that rotated with listening/read to partner, word work, computer and read to self).  However, the students were grouped by ability which I have struggled with.  They followed a rotation chart that showed them where move to every 15-20 minutes.  I am planning on implementing the Daily 5 this current year and am very excited!

2.  The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are having students do now in your classroom creating quality readers and writers? 

 Again, the literacy center activities  offer daily practice in reading and writing.  I am not a worksheet teacher as I believe children need to be engaged in daily reading and writing.  I learned this 20 years ago with a fabulous professor who taught Elementary Reading at Rhode Island College.  I do have to say that my students do NOT love the daily writing rotation.  I plan on working on stamina in writing as well developing their writing craft.

3.  What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?

Choice, independence and individualized instruction are the components of the Daily 5 that I would like to implement.   I have always struggled with the students "locus of control" being more internal that external.   However, it never fails that a color card behavior system makes it back into my room by October.  I need to follow the structure of the Daily 5 and continue to model, model, model. 

So head on over to Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations and Teaching with Style to link up to the Daily 5 Book Study and for some great FREE giveaways! Check back next Wednesday for Chapter 2 questions!
Mrs. Wathen
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First Day of Summer Vacation and a Giveaway

I am so excited to officially be on summer vacation!   My to do lists are floating around my head.  I love that Abby at The Inspired Apple blogs about writing a daily "minor" list so life doesn't become overwhelming. Thinking I will make a cute to-do list to make it a little more appealing!

Now, have you seen or read about this "new" pencil sharpener in blog land?  NO NOISE!!  Imagine that:)   It brings me back to my childhood with the old fashioned hand crank sharpeners (Yes, I am THAT old!!).  Except, its not hard to turn and the kids LOVE it!  

Today is our chance to WIN it!  Head on over to Peace, Love and First Grade for your chance to win. Check it out !

Mrs. Wathen
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