Hey Friends :) As the end of another school year is glaring me in the face, I can't help but feel a roller coaster of emotions. I've seen so many posts and memes about the last day of school, which are so cute and funny, but I can't help feeling sad.

I know you all can relate. Seriously, we have THE.SINGLE.MOST.IMPORTANT.JOBS.EVER.PERIOD.
And anyone that wants to argue with me, please, come spend a day, a week, a marking period, a school year with me and you will see! Some days I think UGHHHH this school year is going soooo slow. And this time of year, I think OMGeeee I only have 30 days left, how in the world am I gonna get these kiddos to where they need to be by the end of the year.

Let me give you a little information about me, for those that don't know-- I teach 1st grade literacy (reading/writing/phonics) to 2 groups of kids. Our kiddos (throughout the entire school (K-5) are flexibly grouped by abilities). SO I teach the lower level first graders. My morning group has 11 students and are all reading on a kindergarten level, on a F&P scale these range from non-readers to level E. 

As it would occur, these students in my homeroom are not the easiest students. Many come from less than fortunate situations, and at times it seems like the world is against them. I've seen gains this year with them, but BELIEVE ME the beginning of the year was a struggle as I felt I was constantly hitting a brick wall with not seeing great progress (as my fellow 1st grade teachers with on level and above level students were seeing). BUT, each of my students have grown (in their own way) and it has been SOOO rewarding. 

However, I can't help but worry about them. With the upcoming summer days, I worry how the lack of routine will affect them. I dream of driving to each of their houses to drop in with lunch, only for their parents to cuss me out or kick me out :) I wonder if their families will remember to feed them or leave them food(my lock key kids). I hope they know I worry. and pray. and pray. and worry. They aren't my own kids, but I love each of them like my own children.
With having 4 children of my own, I've debated about taking a year or two off, spending time and raising my own children. I admire mothers that are stay at home mothers. For me, my career gives me a different kind of fulfillment. I absolutely love being a mother, I am FAR from perfect and definitely not winning a MOM OF THE YEAR award anytime soon, but I feel like I'm a decent mom. BUT, with teaching, I feel like there are unfortunately kids who don't have a loving caretaker. I'm afraid if I take a year or two off, that there will be kids who come through who truly need a teacher like me and I won't be there. My calling is to be a teacher and be there for those kids.

Teaching is the hardest job out there. You just can't turn it off. You just can't put away your worries and fears. Yes, grading papers can wait. Yes lesson plans can wait. But wondering if "Patty" got something to eat today because she was absent, or worrying if "Tommy's" caretaker will pay attention to him tonight, or praying for all of your students well being---that. That can't be turned off. The love and compassion that comes with being a teacher. It's not just about our lessons and materials and standards. It's about those little eyes looking toward us for approval or praise or just a hug. 

Thank you for all you do. Teaching isn't easy, and you are a rockstar.

 WHAT?!?!? I am linking up FOR ANOTHER AMAZING LINK-UP with some pretty fan-tab-ulous teacher bloggers to bring you SmAsHiNg StRaTeGiEs!! This is a monthly link-up that we are bringing you for helping in teaching guided reading! I hope you are as excited as I am!! Special shout-out to Allison from Partyin' with Primaries for organizing this!

If you missed the previous SmAsHiNg StRaTeGiEs products you can check the first month here, it's all about comprehension, and you can check out the second month here, it's all about blending.

Now for this month!

This month I'm blogging all about the management of guided reading. Whether you do daily 5, centers, rotations, whatever you call it, it can get sticky and some teachers are overwhelmed by the management piece of guided reading. So let me take you on a picture journey of what guided reading looks like in my classroom. 

The school where I teach is completely departmentalized from K-5. I teach literacy (reading, writing, phonics, social studies) to our lower skilled first grade students. All classes are flexibly grouped, so as students grow (or don't show growth), we move them to the appropriate placed group. I teach 2 blocks of literacy. My first block is spent with about 12 students who are reading on a kindergarten level. Much of our time together is spent in small group 5:1 instruction with an adult. I don't get to 'guided reading' as I do with my afternoon class. My afternoon class ranges from students reading on a below first grade level to right on grade level. With my afternoon students, our guided reading time is called rotations, and they LOVE it!

Rotations are just my take on daily 5. My students can't handle the independence and choice of daily 5, so I call my version rotations. When we get done writing, and we've turned in our writing folders, all students will return to the carpet and I will say, "It's time for rotations!" and they cheer :D It's quite comical the fact that they like it so much, but hey, I'll take it!! We do rotations for approximately 50-60 minutes a day.

I use my pretty backgrounds and clipart not only to create fun classroom goodies, but also to create powerpoints for our rotations!! With having 26 kids, they are grouped into 5 groups. I switch up how I group kids throughout the year as well. We do MAP testing pretty early in the year (late August), so I use that data for the first round of groupings. Now that data is only valid for 2 weeks, so once I get the beginning of the year running records (f&p) data then I will group kids based off that. Everything they do during rotations is based off the group that they are in and the skills they need to work on. Most days the students get to 3 rotations a day, that means I meet with 3 groups a day (for approx 15-20 mins). Sometimes I switch what rotations the students go to. The rotations I use are: Meet with me, Computers, Read to self, book shopping, buddy reading, seat work, scrambled sentences, kaboom, or word work.

The seat work I give students to complete is generally a review activity. Seat work is not an activity or rotation the students complete every day. They will have seat work as a rotation 1-2 days a week, depending on what other activities we have going on during the week. One of the activities my students like to complete during seat work, is my phonics flipbooks. The purpose of this seat work time is to have the students complete an activity INDEPENDENTLY while reviewing a skill. I try not to give them anything that I haven't thoroughly taught. 

Another rotation that my students have at least every other day is technology. Our grade level has access to a full MAC book cart (30 computers), but because we teach 1st graders, it's difficult to teach whole group lessons to these kiddos, so we got the ok from administration to each have 6 computers every day. So I am able to have computers be a rotation for my students every other day. Recently (in the past 2 weeks) our school purchased access to Storia from Scholastic for the remainder of this year, as well as next. The students love the website, with the familiar texts. I love the fact that I can give them access to books that are on their level! This is unfortunately not a free website, but recommend it to any school districts looking to purchase an online library for their students.  My other go to for my technology/computers rotation is Google Classroom. My students have completed different assignments in Google Classroom, such as scrambled sentences, word building, and reading and responding to leveled passages. You can find my google classroom resources ----> HERE.

My students have 2 gallon plastic bags that hold their independent reading books. Once a week my students are able to book shop during their rotation. They are responsible for putting the books back in the correct bin, as well as picking 8-10 books. My bins are labeled, as well as their plastic book baggies, they know which bins to 'shop' in by the numbers on their book baggie.

One of the rotations my students do that allow them to be more social and interact with one another is Scrambled Sentences. Scrambled sentences are multiple sentences, each sentence has a different picture as the background--that way when students come to this rotation, they first sort the pictures, knowing that the matching pictures will go together to make a complete sentence. Once they sort the pictures, they can then work on each sentence, trying to unscramble it. Sometimes I add whiteboards or paper and pencil, and have them copy their sentence, but mostly they don't have enough time for this as I have about 5-7 sentences in the bag. Students will go to this rotation once a week.

Buddy reading is another rotation that allows students to be social and read with a buddy. When buddy reading, I have the students on a designated carpet, that way they aren't invading students who are on computers, or reading to self, or doing a different rotation. When I first teach the students how to buddy read, we talk about sitting with a book in the middle, with our elbows and knees touching. As the year goes on, I don't require them to continue to sit like that, as long as they are comfortable. I have students buddy read on alternate days they they are doing scrambled sentences or kaboom.

Read to self, it's as simple as it sounds :) Students read to themselves at their desk for the entire length of the rotation. Many students in my class seemed to spend most of their time finding a spot, so I switched from being able to pick their spots, to just sitting at their desks. This allows them to get their book baggies out of their desk and begin reading right away, as soon as the rotation begins. Students are taught at the beginning of the year to make a plan with their books, put them in a stack as to which books they want to read first, next, and so on. At one point I also had a book log that students charted the books they read each day, but this because an issue as I didn't keep up with it, #teachertruth :) Read to self is the only rotation I have each group do DAILY.

Each day I meet with 3 guided reading groups. The length of the time I meet with each group is approximately 15-20 minutes per group (depending on the day). My students are broken into 5 groups. So this means that my lowest level group I meet with daily, the other 4 groups I meet with every other day. In guided reading, we practice skills on our whiteboard as sounding out words, we practicing our reading strategies skills, we work on comprehension, we read leveled texts and respond to them. What happens when students meet with me at my guided reading table is completely dependent upon what they need. My groups are fluid, meaning they change as I see what my students need. Sometimes I pull groups based on an exit ticket from the beginning of class, sometimes I pull comprehension groups, and sometimes I pull traditional guided reading groups (where we read a text and discuss). 
Make sure to hop over to the other fantastic bloggers participating in smashing strategies!

Happy Earth Day friends!! I have a quick and simple blog post about a few things I did and am doing this week to celebrate Earth day with my friend grade friends!

Some read aloud that I have read and will be reading this week include Where does the Garbage go?, Let's Take Care of the Earth, and Mrs. Fox's Class Goes Green. I also had a few non-fiction simple texts from Scholastic about Recycling, Reusing, and Reducing.

Before I read any texts, I had my students fill out the left side of the KWL chart, what I knew before about Earth Day. You can find this freebie ------> HERE

 After we read Mrs. Fox Class is Going Green, we talked about what it meant to go green. I had my students break into groups, and collaboration to make posters to advertise to other students about how they could 'go green'. They absolutely worked great together and enjoyed collaborating this way.


I followed up with my students in small group with Earth Day themed reading passages. Each passage contains 3 comprehension questions. They worked for homework as well! You can find them by clicking on the picture or clicking ------> HERE

Wishing you all a great Earth Day!!
Happy Sunday friends!!

Hopefully you all had an enjoyable, well-rested weekend. I did, it was nice. Baseball season is now in full swing, however, we had low temperatures, so baseball didn't happen Friday or Saturday night. It was nice, we went out to dinner as a family Friday night, and rented some movies. Then Saturday, I made chicken gumbo, watched the movies with my kiddos, ate popcorn and leftover easter candy, and just hung out. It was soooooo niccccce! Then today (Sunday) we had a make-up baseball game. So back to reality :) 

But, if I'm being honest, I've been in a funk lately. As a teacher, I'm sure you can relate! Sometimes, all of a sudden, we are here, all funky, uncertained, angered, tired, stressed, not sure how we got here. 

Knitting is my happy place. Besides mommying, tpt creating, lesson planning, cooking, and wifey-ing, knitting is my thang :D But seriously. I needed to take a time-out. Maybe it's because my class this year has taken its toll. Maybe it's because I lost my Nana 3 months ago. Maybe it's because not everything has happened as I expected. I think as I take a step back, it's clear that my funk has been a combination of different things. I've found myself to be more stressed and realized that I need to pull myself out of it.

Do what you love. Seriously. You've heard it before, you are hearing me say it again. Do what you love!! I LOVE to knit and watch DVRed shows when my kids go to bed. Lately I haven't made time for this. I've been spreading myself thin, trying to avoid dealing with the grief of losing my Nana, attending various meetings at school, just taking on too much. So this weekend, I got back to doing what I love. 

No one can do it all. And if they claim they can, they aren't doing something (or more than something) well. Know your limits. When you feel your ball of yarn tangling, take that time out. Figure out where it's coming from, and how you can get yourself back.

♥Wishing you all the best ♥
Happy day friends!! 

So I'm here to talk about a real topic. A topic that I feel like we can all relate to---co-workers, teammates, partners---whatever you call them--the people you work with. For me, as I write this, we are winding down. It's getting to the point in the year where we are about 75% through the year, only 40 couple days to go. I find that this time of the year many of my co-workers are stressed, annoyed, ready to be done. Believe me, there are days that I feel this way as well :)

So something that I learned from many great teacher bloggers, but I specifically remember Sheila Jane talking about it, is sending notes to staff members.

I try to anonymously send appreciative notes to random staff members once a week. But even sending once a month to different staff members would definitely boost morale. I make them anonymous because I feel like it's not really important that the note is from me, but just that the staff member knows they are appreciated. Here are some I wrote this week:

 Now these blank cards I found at Target in the dollar spot. I think a pack of 10 cards for $1! I mean, how much money do we teachers spend at Target--what's another $1 or 2!! Brighten up a co-workers day! Sometimes I use peoples qualities, like their infectious smiles, or positive attitudes to make the notes a little more personal, and sometimes I feel like my co-workers just need a reminder that someone out there recognizes their dedication and hard work. Go make someone's day!!

Hey Friends!! I am linking up with the FAN-TAB-U-LOUS Doodle Bugs Teaching for their weekly linky!

I figured how better to ring in April than with a great linky with amazing teachers!!

I had spring break last week, so I spent the last day of spring break going to visit my grandfather. His home is the place of so many of my childhood memories! I love taking my babies there to visit, and with the passing of my grandmother this year, it's been very bittersweet to go there. My kids love it, because he hands out candy by the bucket loads!! LOL :D 

Last Saturday night my own children decorated Easter eggs. I absolutely love their little hearts. My dear friend is battling cancer (for the 2nd time :( ), and every single night we pray for her. While decorating easter eggs, my kiddos decorated their eggs to say "Save Nikki" (my 8 year old pictured here), and my son (age 11) decorated a pink one and said "Beat cancer!" It just made my heart to proud of their thoughtful and loving hearts :)
My students had their MAP testing this past week. We do MAP testing 3 times a year to monitor and track their growth and progress. This year, we moved the 3rd time taking the test from mid-May to end of March! To me, it's so inaccurate to compare end of year progress of where they're supposed to be to only 3 marking periods of instruction! We still have 48 days of instruction left!! Anyway, I took this time to go crazy with re-filling my prize box, I ordered these goodies from Amazon, and my kiddos were rewarded after their finished their test with some prizes of their choosing :)

Potty training. I thought she had it back in November. Nope. We are still trying to get it!!


I have been creating some new interactive products to work with google classroom or microsoft onedrive. This was actually a no prep printable product, that I did some revamping to and made it interactive so my kiddos can get on it in google classroom. My kiddos love all things technology, as you can imagine, so any way to interest or engage them I take and run with. Google classroom this year has been phenomenal with grabbing and keeping their attention!!

Make sure to check out the other teacher bloggers over at Doodle Bugs Teaching to see what their weeks looked like!!

Wishing you all the best in April!!

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