/> May 2017 - First Grade Findings

5 Reasons Why I Love My Plum Paper Planner


When teachers start thinking about plans for the year, many have a trusted planner by their side. I am starting my third year using Plum Paper, and I absolutely love their planners! The company started out as a small start up on Etsy. Now they have this awesome site where you can build and customize your planner- oh the customization possibilities!!! So let's get down to business- why is Plum Paper so great?



Disclaimer: This isn't to put any other planner brands down, but rather I want to show the reasons why I prefer Plum Paper. I'm also not sponsored by Plum Paper. I just love the brand!

1. I love to support growing companies when possible. Since Plum Paper was a start up, that makes me more happy to go with them! It's seriously grown to be a huge planner competitor! The reason I went with them back when I first needed a teacher planner is they were cheaper than the more well-known brands. They do have sales quite often as well. You have to be on the lookout though via their social media sites! Sadly, sales can slip up on you so sign up for their newsletter if you're waiting for a sale. The pictures below show the extras they added in for the teacher appreciation sale, which is when I ordered my planner for next year. You can have your planner start in whatever month you need. My new one will start in July. Below you can see the included extras for the teacher appreciation sale which were teacher stickers, grade book (record keeper), and sticky notepad.


    




2.The pages are so smooth and durable! There's just something about thick, smooth paper! My Paper Mate Flair Pens write so smoothly on the paper. According to the info in my order box, it is 70# paper. The design and organization is so clean cut and simple. It's a perfectly designed clean slate to start each week. The picture below shows how each month starts out. There are sections on this monthly highlights page for goals, birthdays, events, and things to remember along with a notes page.



3. The weekly/monthly planning pages keep my life together! There's just something beneficial about writing your plans and events in your planner. My phone calendar is useful, but you just can't fit everything in there like a real-life planner. In a school there are so many special events, birthdays, meetings, and things to keep up with. There's a monthly and weekly planning option to help you out! The dates are already filled in, too! I know some planners you have to add the dates using stickers- as they say "ain't nobody got time for that!"

        


4. There are sooo many covers you can choose from! I went with the green apple which was introduced during the teacher appreciation sale and it is still available. It is very difficult to choose! Once I saw the green apples, I knew that it was meant for me! Plus, you get to add your name/grade/favorite quote/year/picture/etc on the front cover and customize colors/fonts. The front cover is protected by a clear thick plastic- WATER RESISTANT & TEAR PROOF, too. They also have notebooks where you could have a matching notebook to go with your planner! ::all the heart eyes::


5. The 7 x 9 teacher planner is $32 for 12 months! Not too bad of a price. They have a variety of planners/layouts you can purchase for different lifestyles. I decided to go with the smaller 7 x 9 teacher planner versus the 8.5 x 11 this year. The past two years I had the 8.5 x 11. I love the larger size, but it is heavier (obviously!). I carry it with me in my teacher bag each day to and from school so I was considered the smaller size to lighten the load. I LOVE the small size so far! It is beautiful in my hands. The picture below shows the difference in size of my current planner compared to my new planner.


There are several other features that are great such as notes sections, checklist section, student/class information section, contacts, etc. You can order additional pages such as checklists, notes, to do lists, etc. Two new sections are the substitute information and the field trip information. It is so handy to have all the information in one place in case of emergencies! There's also a small folder pocket in the back to store little notes and things. 

So what do you think? Have you considered buying a Plum Paper Planner? What do you love about your Plum Paper Planner??? I would love to hear about your thoughts in the comments below! :)
Interested in ordering?








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Morning Meeting

In my last post, I mentioned Morning Meeting and its benefits for building a relationship with your students. Morning Meeting is a time to greet your students and have them share about themselves all while doing fun activities to start off the day. It's a fun time both the students and I look forward to! If you are looking for something new to research and try next year, check out Morning Meeting. It will help create a strong classroom community which in turn knocks out many behavior issues.

MORNING TUBS
While Morning Tubs are not part of Morning Meeting, they are an essential part of our morning routine. We start our morning out with Morning Tubs (Brown Bag Teacher) which I will also make a post about soon! Is anyone interested in learning more?? I've linked to her original post. Get ready for some serious inspiration when you head over to her site! Check her out if you haven't already because she's got all the great ideas! Morning Tubs are a solid alternative for morning work. The kids come in and get started immediately on something engaging and fun. Morning work always seemed like busy work to me, and we don't have time or resources for that! Anyway, Morning Tubs give me time to get all the morning business taken care of and lasts about 15 minutes. Then it is on to Morning Meeting! Responsive Classroom outlines four components to Morning Meeting. It is up to you how many of the components you include in your routine. 

Component #1 GREETING
First, we start off we a greeting in our share circle. Whenever we come to the carpet to share, I call it a share circle. Calling it this gets kids thinking about share time! They love sharing!! Greetings can be anything you want them to be. Some of my favorites are: Mix and Mingle, Waves, Handshakes, Fist Bumps, and greetings in different languages. There is one called the "micro wave" which means the students wave their pinkies at each other. Hilarious! At first the teacher models how to greet someone by looking at them and greeting them with a strong voice, then the students take on that role! 

Component #2 SHARE
Next, it's official share time! Especially at the beginning of the year I use questions to get to know my students. At first the questions should be straightforward. For example, use a question like "what is your favorite color?" versus "what did you do this summer?" This allows students who may not be very confident to build their confidence by sharing one quick thing about themselves! The possibilities are endless for this one! Here are some of my favorite share topics to start with: What is your favorite food?, Do you have any pets?, What is your favorite cereal?, What is your favorite game?, etc. Then start using more open ended questions like What did you do this weekend?, What is your favorite part about school so far?, etc.  I do think it is important to give students the option to pass if they don't have an answer at the time. Either come back to them if you have time or they can just share next time. It shouldn't ever be a high pressure share situation! 

One of my favorite ways to greet and share at the same time is the mix and mingle. You can give your students opportunity to mix and mingle. They walk around on the carpet. Then when you say STOP they find the closest person around to greet and share with. You can tell them to use a certain greeting or have them pick their favorite after you have taught several different ones. 

Component #3 ACTIVITY
Then, if time, you can do an activity like an ice breaker. The activity time in my class is more so designated for the beginning of the year for icebreakers. Plus, my Morning Tub time offers the social experience just like an activity would. I don't always include activities due to time constraints. If you are a song singing kind of teacher, this would be a great time to teach a song to your class! 

Component #4 MESSAGE
Morning Message is a flexible option you have as a teacher to model writing and encourage purposeful reading in your classroom. At first, you may be the one reading it to your class depending on the grade you teach. Soon it should be your students' turn to read it! It can be informative and interactive. If you have a special event, remind them of it here and have them share how can we show awesome behavior at _____ (special event). Your students can answer a share question or complete a survey right on the message chart. Some teachers even do fill in the blanks to encourage shared writing. Toward the end of the year, your students could be the one writing the Morning Message for the next day! See some examples below:

         



If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Responsive Training PD, I highly recommend it! You can also peruse their website and blog. There is a plethora of resources out there including books. Here's a few I would recommend: (This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links which send some money my way if you purchase!)


 
This is my favorite book. It's SPIRAL BOUND, too! It's easy to navigate and has 20 ideas for each of the four components plus other quick tips. If you are looking for a quick start book, look no further! There is also a 3-6 version for any upper grade teachers. I haven't used that one, but I'm sure it's just as great! Click the picture for a link to Amazon.



This book is much more detailed and informative about how to start Morning Meeting. It is geared for K-8. I did not purchase this book mainly because it would require a good bit of reading! It is not spiral bound, which makes it less convenient! If you're interested, click the picture above for the Amazon Link.




I highly recommend this one! It has detailed schedules for each day of the first six weeks. It incorporates Morning Meeting ideas along with ideas for each day's academic work. It would be fabulous for a first year teacher or any teacher looking to revamp their classroom for a fresh start. I used this book along with the Morning Meeting K-2 book when I first began implementing Morning Meeting and Responsive Classroom. It gives a preview of other elements of Responsive Classroom as well. It is the simplest How To on creating a positive learning environment for your students. Check it out! Click the picture for the Amazon link. 


I'm going to revisit my resources over the summer to fine tune my plans to start next year. I slacked off of morning meeting after Christmas, and I wish I hadn't! While it's especially important at the beginning of the year, it's still beneficial throughout the entire year. 

Let me know your thoughts on Morning Meeting! If you have a question or something to share that you love about Morning Meeting, hit up the comments below! ;) 






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4 Things I Learned My 4th Year

As a teacher, we are always reflecting. We reflect on our students's progress, our lessons, and our teaching. Reflecting is a way to learn and grow. To celebrate the end of my 4th year teaching (YEAH!) I thought of 4 things I've learned. I'm going to try to think of the biggest things I've learned in my 4 years. I wish I knew then what I knew now!

1. Be Flexible!!
What works for one class may not work for another. Lesson plans change. Special events appear out of thin air. Go with the flow! Encourage your students to be flexible too! Don't confine kids to one option. We want them to be independent problem solvers who can take a task and run with it. If they are dependent on teachers telling them what to do, those decision making skills may not flourish! I started some flexible seating and choice seating this year, and this helped me realize the importance of not making a child sit in a chair to do work. Let them stand if they want to!


This is our "standing table." It's raised just a few more inches than the others! For some reason this shape table encourages kids to stand!


 Scoop rockers from Big Lots were a HUGE hit this year for read to self! $6!


I need to think of a better system for the balls. They were a bit more distracting than they were beneficial. Still thinking on this one! 


2. Get to know your kids and their families!
I have especially found success with this my 4th year! Teachers should know how many siblings their students have, how old they are, what sports the play, and what things they like to do. When you know your kids, you know how to teach your kids! A great time to figure these things out is through morning meeting. Check out Responsive Classroom if you haven't already for fabulous ideas for morning meeting.
Here are my kids at morning meeting!

Another great way to learn about your kids' families is to look them up on Facebook! You will learn more than you ever wanted to know using this tip! ;) Figure out how to connect with the parents! Share the good things their child is doing before the bad. I love Class DOJO to connect with families using class story and messenger. This is also a great option if you don't want to give out your personal phone number.

3. Focus on the positive each day. 
Some days aren't going to be the best, but there is something good in every day! Find something to be proud of for your students each day. They grow so much and so fast! Little growth is still growth so don't get discouraged! Always try your best and never ever give up on a kid. They need you more than you'll ever know!

4.Connect on IG!
Instagram has a wealth of positivity, knowledge, and networking right at your fingertips. I started my teacher account this year and in turn my blog thanks to some encouragement from teaching friends. I'm so glad I did! I'm excited to see what new connections I make via IG and this blog.


I would LOVE if you leave a comment below to connect- what have you learned this year?



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An Apple (watch) For The Teacher

Teachers are infamously known for receiving apples as gifts....So let's talk about this kind of Apple...the Apple (watch)! The Apple Watch is the new-ish, snazzy piece of technology out there for techies and regular folk alike. I bought mine almost two years ago and have LOVE it ever since! When I first heard of it, I didn't realize its potential. After one day of use at school, I was hooked! As a teacher, I must say that the Apple Watch is an essential part of my school gear. It's stylish, functional, and motivational.

Here are some of the features that can help a teacher out the most:

Notifications- To reply or not to reply? That is the question. Teachers are all the time getting notifications on their phones during the day, from texts to email or phone calls. Replying on the watch isn't ideal for the classroom, but the ability to see if an immediate response is needed is very helpful! Ohhh the group texts! Does your grade level do group texts? You can stay more in tune with the happenings of the group text, and others, without distracting away from teaching. All you have to do is take a quick glance to see if it's urgent. If not, just reply when you are done teaching! There ya go!

Alarms- How many teachers have a gazillion alarms?!? On the Apple Watch, they are labeled with the title from your phone alarm settings and you can silence from the watch! Hallelujah! No more annoying alarms sounding from all the way across the room (or wherever you laid your phone down!) No more sending kids to get it for you! No more kids rushing to silence it for you- my eye is starting to twitch just thinking about my alarms before the Apple Watch!!!
Weather- When asked, "Do I need my jacket for recess???, all I have to do is look at my Watch App. It has the temperature/weather right there for you on the screen! Easy breezy lemon squeezy! Need to know if you need your jacket for carline duty- check your Watch!
        

Timers- Time those kiddos to get things right! When they are cleaning up, you can start a timer! Just choose the duration in which they can do it! Same concept as a regular timer BUT ON YOUR WRIST! The only other way you can accomplish that is with a rubber band and a kitchen timer. May be cool..... or not... you decide! ;)
Activity- Monitor your activity levels with this motivational tool! You can set goals for how much you want to move during the day and also track your steps. You can share your activity with other to stay motivated, too! Sounds like a good teacher/staff school challenge!
     

I forgot to mention the watch face is cutomizeable! I like to change it when I'm feeling bored with the current one. You can change color schemes, add a personal background picture, or change from analog to digital. I am personally rocking the analog with lime green accents lately. If you want to wear your own face, you can also do that! You may get some odd glances your way, but DO YOU!!
    



No matter what watch face I'm using, I like to have the activity bands, date, weather temperature, and battery on the screen! Those are my go to's on the Apple Watch! I also love that you can have moon phases too! SUPER HELPFUL TO KNOW WHEN IT'S A FULL MOON! Can I get an AMEN!?

For more style, you can choose from a variety of bands from Apple (pricey) to Amazon (cheaper). I have lime green and light gray. Our amazing school secretary has a watch band for nearly every outfit- I get jealous of her vast collection! She got all of hers off Amazon! I wear the light gray day to day, but lime green is my favorite color wise! It has a handy magnetic charger to charge while you sleep. It doesn't last longer than a day for me so I charge it each night.

My recent student teacher asked for one for a graduation present! She said that it seems like you're not a teacher if you don't have one hah! So true! I hope her dreams came true!

WHAT DO YOU THINK????
 Do you have an Apple Watch? Did I leave out any awesome features a teacher might love? Let me know in the comments!


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Favorite Things for the Week

Teaching is hard. If you're a teacher, you get it. If you know a teacher, you get it. I will say, even on the hardest days, it is also the most rewarding career. While looking at another blog post by Che-Tea-Latte, I realized how important it is to think about the best, or favorite things that happen to you. So here's to the favorites for this week!

First, my students have started making me scavenger hunts where they will leave me little treats at the end. It's fun for them AND me! Who doesn't love a scavenger hunt???
The clue says, "You have been a great teacher for the whole year. I hope you have another great year with kids at school. 1st hint: there is a hint down there ---> go near the ipads and look for another green paper."


Second, my school recently named a new principal. Let me just say-It's going to be a great year next year! The principal is who we all wanted- DREAMS DO COME TRUE!!! When you have an amazing, fearless leader, teaching is much easier.

Third, and last, I sold my first TPT product and OMG was that a rush!!! I've sold a few more and I am really looking forward to growing my TPT following. #teacherpreneur #goals

Check out my TPT store here


So that's my favorites for the week! What are your favorite things for the week?? Tag me or leave a comment!


-Jessica

First Grade Findings
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We're in a blog!

Hey Y'all, We're in a blog!

Seeing as we have been studying Mo Willems lately, "We're in a blog!" seemed like a good title! Oh, how I love Mo! My students and I could read his books all day. We have also been writing just like we were Mo Willems himself. We wrote Pigeon books, Comics with Elephant and Piggie, and Knuffle Bunny destination stories. Since it's the end of the year, my students can showcase their fabulous writing in a fun way! Anyway, I could go on and on about Mo! I'll add some pics here soon!

I'm so glad you came to visit my blog, First Grade Findings!  I looooooooove posting about things I buy (Shoutout to Target, Big Lots, Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby!!), because spending money is a pastime of mine. The reason why I wanted to start this blog is to give a more detailed look at things I do in my classroom. There are so many amazing things happening in our classrooms, let's show them off! Check me out on IG to see what all I post on the day to day. Thanks for reading! :)

-Jessica

First Grade Findings
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