New TPT Product

I've added a new product to my TPT store!  This is a mini-unit on the Act of Contrition, getting students ready for First Reconciliation.  

The Facebook page is finally LIVE!

Sorry, folks, that it's taken so long, but the Facebook link is now up and running!  You can now "Like" First Grade Menagerie on Facebook to receive news and updates as they're posted. 

Using my iPhone in the Classroom

I keep my iPhone within arms reach at all times at school.  (Is there an apostrophe in arms?  Probably. I'll have to look that up later.)  No, not because I plan on checking my texts or waiting for a phone call.  I use my iPhone for all kinds of things in the classroom.  For example:

Class Dojo
I'm written about Class Dojo before as an amazing classroom management tool.  And it really is.  But sometimes I want to give someone a point when I'm walking around the classroom, or in the middle of a lesson, and to walk across the room to get to my computer would disrupt the moment.  So I pull my phone out of my pocket, and boom, it's done.  That glorious little ding will ring out, and 27 little bodies snap to attention in hopes that they too, will get their own ding.

"Miss Bergstrom, how do you spell porcupine?"  Uhhhh, hold on kiddo, let me double check.I'm a pretty good speller, but some words just aren't always in the forefront of my brain.  How often does one spell the word porcupine?  Or karaoke?  Or corduroy?  Sometimes I start to second guess myself, and need to verify that I'm telling the kids the right spelling.  (Worst case scenario: that writing assignment goes home with the misspelled word, kid tells parents that's how I told him to spell it, and I look like an idiot.)

I use my phone timer everyday to keep track of my center rotations.  I am terrible at keeping track of time.  I've forgotten to set my timer on occasion, and when that happens, I'll usually continue reading with the same guided reading group until one student finally says, "Isn't it time to move to the next center yet?"  Oops.  I get on a roll with the kids and loose track of time!  My God-given talents just don't happen to include an accurate internal clock.  Luckily, I have my phone nearby to keep me on track.

Music can be used for all kinds if things in the classroom.  Either to go along with lessons, to calm them down, or pure bribery, music is a valuable tool.  For example, I'll occasionally tell my kids that I'll play music while they work, if they promise to stay quiet(ish).  I have a Spotify account (one of the best Christmas presents my brother ever gave me), and I use it in the classroom all the time.  All genres of music are at my fingertips, at all times:Kids are doing busy work?  Play Disney's Whistle While You WorkChristmas season?  Let's search for Christmas carols.
Teaching a religion lesson and need a certain song to supplement the message?  Got it.
Need to settle them down after recess?  Mozart
Any time of year, and need to bribe the kids?  Frozen soundtrack.
Introducing a new phonics sound?  Teach it with a song.

All teachers need a camera in their classroom.  I'll write a post soon on all about ways teachers can use a camera in the classroom.

Common Core Standards
I have the Common Core Mastery Connect app on my phone so I can look up standards easily.  It just makes it quick and easy, especially for those times that I'm writing the standard and objective on the board for an impromptu lesson.

Obviously, I can't check the weather forecast for an absolutely definitive answer on whether or not it's going to be raining at exactly 10:20 in the morning.  But for the times when I'm asked, "Miss Bergstrom, are we going to have indoor recess today?"  I can at least check the weather to get an idea for whether or not we'll be on a rainy day schedule, and give me a little help on how to answer the kids (in addition to allowing me to mentally prepare for what might feel like a very long day).  It's also helpful when we're in the middle of our weather unit, and the kids are writing weather journals.  

Since this is a Catholic school, we attend mass as a school on occasion.  In these cases, I like to look up the mass readings ahead of time, to teach the message to the kids before we go to mass.  It's much easier looking up the readings on my Missal App instead of at my computer.  

First Grade Common Core Writing Rubric

One of the things I've been working on this year is rubrics.  By the end of the summer, I'm hoping to have written rubrics for every Common Core-based assessment or project I plan on assigning next year.  I think this will make parent conferences easier, especially when I get the question, "Why is my child getting the grade Needs Improvement in Language?"  So far, I've written rubrics for narrative writing (CCSS W.1.3) and I'm working on a rubric persuasive/opinion writing (CCSS W.1.1) which should be posted soon!