/> First Grade Findings

Teal: A Book About a Little Crayon That Makes a Big Difference

Teal: A Book About a Little Crayon That Makes a Big Difference by Renee Galvin paints the tale of a crayon that's at a loss for where he fits in this big, diverse world. After many disappointing days, he decides to make a plan. He wants to make a difference in his world! This heartwarming story will inspire readers to think outside of the box to make a plan to come together and embrace diversity. I would highly recommend this easy to follow story with a big message for building community and inspiring the next generation to do great things! I cannot wait to read this book to my class this year. Great picture books, like Teal, inspire readers to accomplish amazing feats, and I can't wait to see what my students take away from this story!

I have some fabulous activities I'm brainstorming to go along with this story. Stay tuned for updates! Click the link below to head over to Amazon to grab your copy.

How will I use this book in my classroom?
I plan on reading this story the first week of school to encourage my students to embrace each other's differences and strengths. We will also discuss being problem solvers and being great in a world where things don't always seem great. I have a feeling my students will love this story, because of the inspiring main character. Crayons are continual figures in their lives. I'm curious to see if my students have any thoughts about other colors as well... I can't wait to see what this story brings to my classroom!

Equity Sticks: A Quick and Cutesy How-To

Do you use equity sticks in the classroom? Equity sticks are a classroom management tool used to select a student at random. It provides a sense of fairness as the teacher (or a student) is picking a stick but not selecting by choice. It is random! I use them in variety of ways such as when I need a random student for an activity, a quick helper, or to decide on the next person to share. I often use them when every single kid wants to share and we just don't have time for everyone that day. I don't use them to put kids on the spot to share. This would discourage the community I try to build from the start! How do you use equity sticks?? I would love to hear some new ideas!

Here's a quick guide on how I spruced mine up (instead of simply writing my students' names on a plain stick):

 Step 1. Gather your materials! (I chose green and blue materials because those are my main classroom colors-the possible color combos are endless!)
-Jumbo popsicle sticks (Include a few extra in case you get a new student!)
-paint & paintbrush
-washi tape
-cardboard (I cut off two flaps of a large-ish box)
-permanent marker (to write names) Sidenote-I didn't include a picture with names because I wanted to protect students' privacy!

  Steps 2-4. Spread out sticks and tape where you want the paint to stop. I paint about 1/3 of the stick. Flip the sticks over. Then tape the other side. Make sure the ends of the tape line up.

5. Paint! Try not to get it past the tape. I did get a little bit so that one will be my extra!

6. Twist the sticks in order to make sure to get the paint on the sides and top of the sticks. Let them dry for a few minutes. 

7. Carefully flip the sticks over. Paint the other side. Let the sticks dry for a few minutes. 

8. Hold down sticks with your hand and gently pull the tape off. Don't worry if some paint leaked under the tape. The Washi tape will cover that up. Separate the sticsk to check to see if you missed any spots. Touch up, if needed. 

9. Cut washi tape strips. I did strips about 3 inches long. Wrap washi tape around the stick where the paint ends.

10. Done! Now you have some cutesy equity sticks. Write each child's name on a stick and place in a jar or cup. For an extra touch add a ribbon!

So how would you use equity sticks in your classroom?
Here are a few ideas:

-choosing a helper
-choosing a random student to do an activity
-choosing a student when all students volunteer
-choosing partners when you need it to be random
-choosing a person to pick the Go Noodle
-choosing someone to go first

I know there's a ton more ideas, so let me know in a comment below!

DISCLAIMER: You could easily just write your students name on a popsicle sticks to make equity sticks! This is just a fun way to spruce them up!

5 Focus Points for the 2017-2018 School Year

Recently I read "Focus: Five Things for the 2017-2018 School Year", written by Kristy, a high school English teacher at www.loudenclearblog.com. After reading her post, I was inspired to create a list of things to focus on for 2017-2018! That's one thing I LOVE about the blogging community. Inspiration is everywhere!

The reason why I wanted to post my focus points instead of just writing them in my planner or a random notebook is I want more accountability. So often I don't stick to goals out of sheer laziness. If y'all are keeping me accountable, then I am much more likely to keep a check on my focus points! We might even have some focus points in common and can hold each other accountable! :) Drumroll please.... Here's my list:

1. Organization- I've always wanted to be organized! Parts of my life are organized. I have a planner. I use my phone for to do lists. Overall I am fairly efficient with some things, or at least I like to think so! This summer I am taking time to organize aspects of my classroom to optimize my organization. I am incredibly bad at staying organized! I am also a slight hoarder. In recent years, I have cleaned out when switching grades, moving schools, etc. But I still have so much stuff! I see teachers who are organized, and I want to work hard to be organized to ensure my classroom is as efficient as possible. Plus, I would really love to have more functional space, especially closet space.
A freshly organized drawer of post its might be every teacher's dream ;)

Goal Setting
2. Goal Setting- Since I am setting, and hopefully meeting ;), goals this year, I want to encourage my students to give it a try. I have prepped a freebie from @purely.primary on Instagram which is a template for students to keep track of their goals on sticky notes. One of my IG friends, @sublimeinsecond, had the idea of switching the goals out once they are met. I think that would be optimal versus having a goal per week. Since my school is also starting a Leader in Me initiative, I want to lead by example by modeling my goals and progress with my students. I envision this bringing together and encouraging my class to become a strong community. I am eager to see how it goes! 
My students will each have a card to place their sticky note with their goals. 

3. Writing- When I was in school, writing was never my favorite subject. I was okay at writing, but I did not gain confidence in writing until college. Sadly, I don't have great feelings toward writing so it's not my favorite subject to teach. This year I want to embrace writing and teaching writing to enable my students to love writing. I am teaching writing for an academic summer camp for a few weeks. Honestly, I was not excited when I realized I would be doing writing. This also made me realize how my opinions of writing could negatively effect my students. I don't think I let on to it, but I know my instruction would benefit from me loving writing more. My recent blogging adventure has also ignited a passion for communicating via writing. This also goes well with the next focus point...
Using How to Tell a Story to come up with story ideas was a hit at summer camp! 

4. Blogging- I want to continue growing my blogging portfolio and network during the school year. I see networking as a sort of professional development, because experienced teacher are where teaching gold is found! This is why I want to continue to blog and network on social media even when school responsibilities start to become more prevalent. If I stay organized day to day, that should allow more time for blogging ;) And let's be real, no one wants to see a messy classroom blog. Well some people may, kind of like that hoarders TV show, but I don't want that title!
My latest logo! 

Time Management
5. Time Management- This focus goes along well with the ones mentioned above. If my time is managed wisely, I can only imagine what great things I can accomplish! An ideal of mine is to leave school work at school. I was good about this last year, so I want to continue managing time well while I'm at school to avoid taking work home. Of course blogging and TPT would be accomplished at home. Those two aspects of teaching are like hobbies though! Efficient time management will also ensure I meet personal self care goals like working out, making time for loved ones, and me time. I have recently got back into my groove of working out, so I want to keep that a top priority throughout the year.
My Apple Watch keeps me in check! Click the picture for my blog post about why I love being an #applewatchteacher!

Now take some time to think, what do you want to focus on for the upcoming year? What goals do you want to conquer? I believe in you all! I would love to hear what focus points you have for yourself. Drop a comment below or connect with me on Instagram!

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