Late-Instagram-Bloomer

What I'm about to say will shock you: I've just discovered the wonder of Instagram


Now before you judge me too harshly, I haven't been living completely under a rock the last several years. I've had Instagram on my phone for awhile, and even posted a few pictures of myself with friends (using those wonderful filters that make me look more tan than I really am) or random pictures of sights that made me smile.  And I would periodically scroll through my friends' pictures of selfies and beach parties and happy hours.  But I never thought about searching for other people to follow who were outside my immediate circle of friends. 


Until now. (Dramatic pause.)  I had no idea how many teachers had Instagram accounts that were essentially curated Pinterest boards of their own classrooms.  Teachers' Instagram accounts are like looking at a pictures-only highlight reel of teacher blogs!  No offense to my friends, but I'm more interested in seeing how other teachers arrange their Word Walls than seeing one more picture of a beach sunset.  



So I've created a new Instagram account, FirstGradeMenagerie, that I'm using for all my classroom pictures and ideas.  (I'm keeping my original Instagram account separate, in case I decide I haven't seen enough Santa Monica sunsets this week.)  It's exciting to see how many people are already following me - people that I've never met, but have simply stumbled onto my Instagram account (despite the fact that I'm a terrible hash-tagger).  Although I do love the hashtag I've recently discovered, #todayisaid. They are hi-larious. 

 


So THANK YOU Instagram followers. You give me a boost when you like my pictures and write comments. 



I want to get my Instagram account added to my social media buttons in the bunting of my header, but until that happens, my Instagram is www.Instagram.com/FirstGradeMenagerie.  (Side note rant: Wheennnnnnen will Instagram be available on the iPad?!?!). 

Grace Before Meals Unit

I've written another Prayer Unit!  My other Prayer Units that are currently on TPT (on the Nicene Creed and Our Father) are from when I taught 4th grade, but I've finished one that I can start using in my current classroom with my firsties.  We say the traditional Grace Before Meals prayer before going outside to recess/snack and before going to lunch, but I want the kids to really think about what they're saying instead of reciting words that have no meaning. I have several activities included in the packet, but I'll be adding more within the next several weeks after I figure out what else the kids need to become more thoughtful and contemplative pray-ers (other than needing, oh, another twenty years onto their ages).  


I've made the unit FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers until tomorrow night at midnight, so grab a copy before the Flash Sale is over!  And please, please please leave feedback on my TPT page.  I would really and truly appreciate it.   (And if you feel it isn't worth 4 stars, please send me an email to let me know what would make it 4-star-worthy.  Tell me what you need!)  Thank you, Blogger readers!  

Creating a Listening Center with an iPad

If you have an iPad in the classroom, you can create a listening center for your students to listen to read along books.    The trick is to buy a headphone splitter, which will allow up to five students to plug their headphones into one iPad.  You can even plug a second headphone splitter into one of the headphone jacks of the first, adding another four headphone jacks to your initial five.  I ordered mine on Amazon for about ten dollars - highly worth it, considering it just multiplied my iPad usability by five.  

Where before only one student was using an iPad to listen to a book on CD, now I have five students utilizing a single iPad. Even if you have a set of multiple iPads for your classroom, this still frees up iPads for other students to use at a different center. 



I've found a bunch of books with read along CD at the Dollar Tree last year, and all I did was put the CD in my computer to download it onto iTunes (I created a Read Along playlist just for books on CD), and then transferred my iTunes playlist onto my iPad the next time I synced up.  The kids know to go to Music on the iPad, and then look for the book title they're reading.  

Another fantastic feature of using the iPad as a Listening Center, is that you only need ONE copy of the read along CD.  Once you've put the music file on your computer, you can put it on all of your class iPads. 

Since there's five kids on one iPad, I did have to coach the kids on waiting until everyone had their headphones on, and their books open and ready before the group leader pressed Play on the iPad.   (I learned this lesson very quickly, after several students started crying that the rest of the group had started the book before they were ready.)

There are a few books with CD at Scholastic Book Clubs this month that I'm thinking about ordering... Now that I've nailed down my system for Listening Centers, I'm eager to start building my Read Along library!

What about you, readers?  How do you work listening to reading into your day?

Meet the Teacher Blogger {Linky Party!}




THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS . . .
  • Birds: If I lived in a woodsy area instead of suburbia, I would be a crazy-obsessed bird watcher.  Sitting in silence and watching birds hop from branch to branch is pure bliss.
  • Starbucks: I get a venti black tea lemonade with two splenda every morning on my way to work.  
  • J. Crew: The best teacher outfits EVER. 
  • Art museums: Some people like to go to movies alone, I like to go to the Getty alone. 
  • School supplies: How many types of colored pens, post-its, stickers, and award certificates does one teacher really need?  A LOT, according to my supply cabinets!
  • Dollar Tree: This is one of the best places for teachers, seriously.  There's a lot of crap to be found at the Dollar Tree, but a lot of gems, too, especially when it comes to books for my classroom.  The secret is to go all the time, because you never know what you're going to find on any given trip.  
  • Professional Development Conferences: I love being in school as the student!  So whenever my principal will pay for me to attend a conference or seminar, I'm there!   (I know, NERD ALERT, right?)  Many of my colleagues dread PD, but I absolutely LOVE it. 

IF YOU WEREN'T A TEACHER, WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO BE?
If I couldn't be a teacher, I'd want to own a little shop, like Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail.  I'd sell not only books, but stationary, and colored pens, quirky lamps with pretty shades, bright mixing bowls that look pretty sitting on the counter, ooh and comfy cashmere cardigan sweaters with big pockets.  It would be like an amalgam of the Paper Source, Anthropologie, and Williams-Sonoma.  

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE YOU:
Sensitive, Creative, Smart


FINISH THE SENTENCE, "_______________" SAID NO TEACHER, EVER!
"I can go to the bathroom whenever I want!" said no teacher, ever!

IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY, AND YOU CAN INVITE ANYONE, DEAD OR ALIVE TO THE PARTY.  WHO ARE YOU INVITING?
C.S. Lewis

IF SOMEONE WROTE A BOOK ABOUT YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD BE THE TITLE?
Oooh, tough one this is a tough one.  I'll have to think about this and update the post when I come up with a title. 

YOU GET TO PICK ONE SUPER POWER.  WHAT IS IT?
I actually already have at least one super power, and it comes in handy more often than one would think: I can put in and take out my contact lenses without a mirror.  Yes, I know, Hollywood has yet to make a movie exploiting my gift, but it's only a matter of time.  

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE OR SAYING?
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11

IF YOU HAD TO SING ONE SONG ON AMERICAN IDOL, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
The thought of having to sing a song on American Idol is the stuff nightmares are made of.  But let's see . . . I think the last time I sang in front of a huge crowd was when I did karaoke during undergrad with my sorority sisters, and we sang Here I Go Again by Whitesnake . . . Please don't make me go on American Idol.  

ARE YOU A MORNING PERSON OR A NIGHT OWL?
I'm definitely a night owl!  Getting up in the morning can be torturous, especially after those nights when I was up until 2:30 in the morning reading teacher blogs and designing TPT products.  (I have dozens of TPT products that I've started, and yet to finish because I keep starting new ideas without finishing the old ones!  It's possible I may have a touch of ADD when it comes to creative ideas . . .)

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE RESOURCE THAT YOU'VE CREATED ON TPT?
(See the above question!)  I have a ton of products that still need a bit more formatting and a great cover before they can be posted to TPT.  However, my best selling resource that I've already posted on TPT is a unit on the Nicene Creed, for Catholic school teachers.  This product is actually one I wrote when I was teaching fourth grade, so it's way too advanced for my little firsties now, but I'm happy so many other people have found it to be a helpful resource in the older grades!

SHARE SOMETHING THAT WE MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU!
I was a huge band nerd in high school.  I played the clarinet, and I thought I would grow up to be a band teacher when I grew up.  (Turns out, I wasn't too far off!)



Your turn!  Here's what you need to link up to the party:


Tell us all a little bit about you. Follow that up by copy and pasting the Q&A Session and adding your own answers. Make sure to include the square "MEET THE TEACHER BLOGGER" button (above) at the end of your post and link it back here so others can find the linky! When your post is published, link it up and join the party below!!!



Favorite Things ~ J. Crew Martina wedges

Okay, folks, it's my next Favorite Things post!  (I feel just like Oprah on her Favorite Things show!  YOU get J. Crew shoes!  YOU get J. Crew shoes!  YOU get J. Crew shoes!
I ADORE these J. Crew Martina wedge heels - I have them in several different colors.  When I realized I could stand and teach all day in these shoes, and then leave school to have dinner with friends still wearing them, and not have aching feet, I went online and bought them in every color available in my size. (Luckily for me, they were on sale at the time.)  But it was completely worth it.  Because it's not very often that you can find a beautiful heel that allows you to simultaneously chase a six-year-old AND make virtually any humdrum outfit look polished, put together, and fancy.  And sometimes you need to step your look up a notch.  Like on those mornings when you have to choose between ten extra minutes of sleep or putting on makeup, and you decide you don't care if your students greet you with "Your face makes you look like you're feeling sick," (Don't worry, honey, Miss Bergstrom is fine!) or, "You have a mosquito bite on your chin!" (It's not a mosquito bite, sweetie!), if only you can press snooze one. . . more. . . time.  So, yes, these heels were worth every penny.  

Making sentences with Magnetic Words

The Dollar Tree really is the best place to find inexpensive teaching resources.  The pack of magnetic words below cost me (duh) a dollar, and so did the cookie sheet underneath it.  My white boards are magnetic, but I love using the cookie sheets so the little monsters lovely children don't scatter the tiny pieces all over the floor.  (And in my classroom, the floor is like a black hole.  Once something leaves the desk, it disappears like a sock in the dryer.)  
Each part of speech is color-coded as well, however I haven't taught them this yet.  Once we've reviewed the parts of speech more, I can start talking about how all sentences need a blue noun, a red verb, and even better sentences have green adjectives, etc.  Until then, students just had fun reading the sight words and helping each other sound out the other words they didn't know.  

Some of the sentences they created were pretty funny . . . My favorite may have been, "She is old."  The little one who wrote this called me over to show me, and I strongly suspect he was talking about me!  (Oh, God, thirty-three isn't old yet, is it??)


Choosing "Just Right" Books

I wrote this up to give to my parents during Back to School Night, to help them choose independent reading books for their child at home.