So when I asked my students, what does the word opinion mean? One of them shoots their hand up and yells, my momma cooks with them. Upon further discussion, they thought I meant onion....oh sweet children :)

So we first looked at this chart. We thought about our feelings about different things, and how sometimes they change.
Then we read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, we talked about how the main character did not want green eggs and ham throughout most of the story, but at the end he changed his min (and his opinion).

We then did a four corners activity. I have 4 large post-its (the big blue ones). I made a t-chart on each one with two different choices. One said Pete the Cat books OR There was an old lady books, one said winter or summer, one said hot dog or chicken nuggets, and one said art or pe. I split the class into 4 groups and at each 'station' gave them a post-it, which they wrote their name, and decided which side to place their post-it note. After a few minutes, I had them rotate until we were finished.

After we were done rotating around, we looked at each chart. I asked the students which the majority of our class liked more--they looked and were able to tell me the side that had more, and were able to say because it has more post-its than the other side (when I asked how do you know?!). Then I had students from each side raise their hand and share WHY they liked winter more than summer or vice versa. We did this for each chart.

The next day, we searched the black friday sale ads for toys we wanted on our Christmas list (we did this in early December). We wrote down a toy that we wanted on a post-it note and then we came back together on the carpet and discussed which toys we would choose and why. When we were finished, we had the students write The toy I would want is ______ because ________.

The next day, my special ed teacher and myself (we co-teach this group of students), brought in toys from our homes. We told students we had to play with toys to help Santa figure out which toys he should give other boys and girls around the world that were the same age as them (6 and 7). We had them set up as stations and had the students rotate around the different stations to play with the different toys. Afterwards we debriefed and talked about what toys were our favorite and why, as well as which toys we wouldn't recommend for Santa to get other boys and girls and reasons why. When we were done, we had the students write My favorite toy was ________ because __________.

And then I had to be out for a meeting. Don't you hate that!! When you feel like you are on a teaching roll, and something happens and you have to be absent!

It's all good, because I created this set of prompts for my class for my substitute to use, as well as for me to use for 'quick writes'! You can find a freebie of this HERE! Or the FULL verision can be found - Opinion Writing FULL of CHOICES!

After the holiday break, we will be continuing to work on opinion writing, so stay tuned for more engaging activities to do with your kiddos!!

Wishing you all a Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

So,  in the season of all things thankful, I have to say that I am truly thankful to be apart of a wonderful group of bloggers!! Stephanie from Mrs. D's Corner put together this super fun Secret Santa exchange!!

SO I received my Secret Santa package on November 18th. I was super excited!!

These were the goodies I received!! Let me say that those chocolates were eating within a week!! LOL The flair pens have been put to great use :) But the starbucks giftcard I'm saving for a special occasion!

 Ok, now let me say that I LOVE everything Kayla sent me, but I seriously A.D.O.R.E. the earrings!! I think I've worn them pretty much every day :) That one picture is a ridiculous picture I took of myself to send to my sister because she's a brown noser!! But that's another story :) Although I've worn these earring pretty much every day, I don't normally take selfies, so this absurd pic was the only one in my phone :) Then I took the other one this morning!! See I really wear these earrings everyday!

My goodies were from Kayla at Kayla in the Classroom and I seriously LOVE her!! Look at the super cute note she sent!

Make sure to check her out her TPT Store, as well as her blog
Good Morning!! I am linking up with the whole crew of The Primary Pack-- such an amazing group of Teacher Bloggers!!
So there are 3 parts to this fun linky!! My personal wishlist, my classroom wishlist, and my wishlist for you!

So let's start off with my personal wishlist!
So I haven't COMPLETELY decided on the colors yet, but I am in desperate need of a re-do of our living room. I have spent countless hours at Home Depot comparing paint and flooring, and also on Pinterest looking for inspiration, but nothing has been set in stone yet. So for my Black Friday wishlist,  I am wanting to purchase new flooring and paint (as well as new furniture) for our living room! I am leaning towards grays and sea blues (not sure whether dark or light yet). So hopefully this will happen soon!!

This is my wishlist for my own 1st grade classroom:

Ok, so one of the AMAZING items I have come across is the Mentor Sentence from Ideas by Jivey. This is the item on my wishlist- Ten Weeks for Early Emergent Readers. You can read a blog post about it here. So what made me even look for something like this? Well the kids in my school are grouped by ability. And this year, I have all the below level 1st grade students, and currently there are 14 in this group. I have been really struggling with getting them to write a sentence. So after searching TpT for something that would work for them, I found this... Freebie The Kissing Hand Mentor Sentence. I finally found something that worked for my students! I purchased Ideas by Jivey Seasonal Mini-Unit, and Ten Weeks of Lessons for Emergent Readers (which I use with my higher group of students I teach in the afternoon). Seriously, this has made the difference in my kiddos with their sentences and ability to write them!! Check out her other freebie (The Pigeon finds a Hot Dog) as well!! You can also check out her YouTube video about it---seriously love these mentor sentences!!

And my wishlist for you!!

So I have chosen 3 items from my store that I really think many primary teachers could benefit from! Whether or not you teach in a state that follows the common core, my 1.OA Task Card Bundle is a great value and reviews concepts taught within 1st grade. The task cards are also available in my store seperately, however you will save money (which who doesn't love to save money?!?) by purchasing the bundle! The 2nd item I think many teachers can benefit from is the 2nd edition of my no prep homework pack. Who doesn't cringe about homework!?!? Well you don't have to! This homework pack follows the pattern of 1 page of homework a night--Monday phonics, Tuesday math, Wednesday-send home your own provided printable book and then there is a page (like a reading response) for the students to fill out, and Thursday math facts. I have my homework packs bound and labeled at the top corner so parents are aware which nights the homework is for--my parents love it, as well as the fellow teachers in my grade level!! The 3rd item I think many primary teachers could benefit from is my Bundled Cvc JUST RIGHT Printable Books.  This is one of my more recent items I created for my kiddos. My students are in desperate need of continual practice of skills we have learned in our phonics program (Fundations). So I decided to create decodable printable books for my students to be able to manipulate and mark-up with highlighters--they LOVE it!!

Drumroll please.... Check out this HUGE giveaway package you can win by entering below! There is a resource from almost everyone in The Primary Pack, perfect for all primary grades!! Good luck, friends and happy shopping!

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Now It's Your Turn To Join The Fun! 

Just a few rules to follow and your on your way:

  1. Download the images above!
  2. Add your personal holiday wishlist to the image titled "My Personal Black Friday Wishlist"
  3. Add your favorite sellers products from your TPT wishlist to the "My Classroom Black Friday Wishlist"
  4. Add your own products to the "For Your Black Friday Wishlist"
  5. Link up below to share your Black Friday Wishlists!
  6. Don't forget to enter our fabulous giveaway above AND visit others linked up below!

Have you ever just thought....."what am I doing.....?" Like not when driving, or doing some chores, but literally in the middle of one of your lessons---what am I doing?! It's like I'm speaking a foreign language, these kids just aren't getting it.

The common core standards are certainly rigorous, but the problem I have with the depth of those standards is the fact that I find it hard to delve into them until my kiddos are able to function independently and be able to read (to a certain degree).

Even though this year is year 3 for me, I honestly feel like I am doing more work! I'm not sure if it's just because it is the beginning of the year, or because I'm only teaching literacy to 2 groups of kids, but whatever it is I feel like I am struggling!

Now, I don't mean it's not going to happen for every kid. I mean most kids will be able to master the content of their grade level. However, for the bottom 8-10% (maybe  a bit more) they will not be able to master that content! So why do we keep testing them and expecting them to make the huge gains, while they are falling further and further behind---and they know it!!

With the first marking period ending, and not feeling very successful based off the data I've collected. I decided to go back to the drawing board and start simple.

After hours of questioning myself, and what EXACTLY my students needed. I came to the conclusion that they just simply need MORE time. And unfortunately, time is not something I can created or give out freely, there is just not enough time. So, we will just do the best with the time we have! And keeping it simple!!

What do I mean by simple?  Well how much simpler can you get in first grade than writing a sentence! With my lowest ability kiddos, this is what I did:

Day 1: We took a 'field trip' around the building, and I took action shots with the kiddos using the school's IPAD. When we returned to the room, I downloaded the pictures to my computer, and we viewed the pictures as an entire class (all 14 of us) and thought about the who and the what they were doing. I asked them who was in each picture. Then I asked them what was the person doing? From there, we agreed upon a sentence for a few pictures to tell what was happening. I then gave the students an index card, and they choose I picture that we viewed to write a sentence (including capital letter, spacing between words, and punctuation). After they finished their sentence, I had them take a red crayon and circle the WHO that was in their sentence, and then take a BLUE crayon and circle the DID WHAT that was in their sentence.

Day 2: I modeled whole group writing a sentence from the pictures that we saw. The students went back to their desk (meeting with myself or the special education teacher), and we created sentences using post-it notes. The teacher would write each word on a post-it note (this would be a sentence the student created). The student would then manipulate the post-its to create his/her sentence. The student would then transfer and write the sentence.
DAY 3: I printed out the pictures on writing paper (with lines at the bottom). I modeled writing a sentence, having the students tell me the who and the did what of the picture I was modeling. I then sat out about 9 different choices for them to pick to write their own sentence about. Many students surprisingly did not pick the picture that had themselves in it.
DAY 4: I printed out pictures that did NOT have the students in them. I wanted to see if they were able to create sentences for the pictures that did not hold such an important meaning to them. Again focusing on a complete sentence with the who and did what.
DAY 5: I printed out fictional cartoon-ish pictures to see if the students were able to create meaningful sentences for these pictures.

I think teachers have to meet their students where they are, not teaching above them because that's the curriculum expectation, or not teaching below them because it's not in the curriculum. Keep pushing them, or meeting them at their level.

HeyHey!! Do I have something fantastic in store for you!!

So I am participating in this fantastic hop, hosted by Christina over at Hanging Around in Primary and myself :) Although she is the TRUE brains behind this wonderful project!!

Hanging Around In Primary

Christina is a 1st grade teacher, and she lives in Ontario. I "met" her through TpTing :) I started TpTing in or around August 2014, and a few months later started chatting with Christina through a FB group both of us belonged to :) Then sometime around September, she came up with this awesome idea of a product swap and blog hop!! And I was all for it!!

So when it came time to match up partners, I asked if her and I could partner up!! I love her products and work, and was super excited to use one of her products in my classroom for this product swap!

While searching through her store (which you can find here---->Hanging Around in Primary) I was overwhelmed with all her fabulous products! It was hard to choose JUST one! But after much thought, I decided on her Decoding Strategy Posters.
I am only teaching literacy this year to two groups of kiddos. And our school was trying a new instructional model, having the students grouped with 'like-learners' otherwise known as by ability. So my morning group has 14 kids (currently) and range in reading level from non-readers (stanine 1 on their concepts of print) to F&P level of D. My afternoon group currently has 21 kids (just got 3 new ones in there in the past week), and the levels range from F&P level of B/C to F&P level of E/F. So both my literacy groups I teach are considered 'below grade level'. So this factor certainly came into play when I choose the product from Christinas' store.

First I have to say that her product is fantastic!! There are posters to print and display on the walls, bookmarks for the kids, smaller cards to use in your guided reading toolkit, as well as the different reading characters to glue to popsicle sticks for the kids to use during small group.

 After I introduced each strategy, the students practiced the strategies in their text. After doing some formative assessments, I found that different students needed to work on different strategies. I was able to place the card in front of them while they read to help them remember the strategy and what to do when they came to a word.

 The book marks were also fabulous, and the kiddos went crazy for them! It was a very quick reference for them to have with them in their book bags, to utilize even when they weren't working with me at the small group table.
(As you can tell, this was during the month of October as we are using our 'witch fingers' to track the print :) )

My friends really liked using these decoding character wands! These were such a hit!! And I didn't even have the adorable stuffed animals to go with them, but they still loved them! I will have to get those stuffed animals for next year when I introduce these strategies and use them again!!

I really think this video is a true testament to this product! My kiddos were able to coach each other with which strategy to use!! One of the friends was having trouble with a word, and this lovely girl, said, USE the STRATEGY!! LOVE IT :) You MUST go get it now!! Go to Christina's store to purchase it!! Hanging Around in Primary

So now I have some great news for you!! Are you ready?!?! This product, along with the 15 other products including in this blog hop swap meet are a part of a GIVEAWAY!! There are so many great products from some AMAZING TpT authors!!

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Our next Featured Teacher is Carol Polston over at The Chocolate Teacher

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Carol is in her 23rd year of teaching.  She has taught mostly first grade with a few years of second and kindergarten sprinkled in here and there.  Her love is definitely first grade.  Her favorite part of teaching first grade is seeing the growth in her students from the beginning to the end of the year.  This growth never ceases to amaze her.  She feels blessed to be able to be a part of her students’ growth!
Carol has been married for 38 years.  She and her husband have three grown children and two adorable grandchildren.  An unusual fact about Carol is that she had the privilege to teach all three of children in first grade.  Her older two children she taught as a homeschool teacher and her youngest child was in her 1st grade classroom in public school.  She feels happy that she got to teach all three of them how to read!  Her youngest daughter is now also a teacher (teaching P.E.- a love she did not get from her mom).  
Carol loves teaching just about every subject (ok, maybe not P.E.).  She especially loves to teach phonics and reading!  Grammar is also a subject she enjoys teaching.  Carol started creating phonics and language units to sell on TpT a little over a year ago.  She enjoys creating units to use in her own classroom and to share with others.  The first grade classrooms in her district use her phonics and language units.  You can click the links below to see a few of these.

She also enjoys providing activities to get her students up and moving as they learn.  To encourage this, she has created Write the Room activities.  These activities are a bunch of fun.  Students move around the room looking at cards that are pinned to the wall and they record their answers on an answer sheet.  These are a highly anticipated activity in her class.  She has created quite a few to go along with her weekly phonics skills.  You can check out her short vowel word family bundle here:
Carol also just completed a beginning mapping unit.  She used it in her classroom and the kids loved it.  The culminating activity in this unit is a map skill lap book.  You can see it here:
Carol has quite a few free products in her store.  Here are two that you can try that will introduce you to her phonics units and Write the Rooms:
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Are you wondering why she named her store with the unusual name- The Chocolate Teacher?  You can read all about why she did that here:   
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You can follow Carol at these sites:

Thanks so much for taking the time to read about Carol.

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