A Technology Blog Hop

Spring into Technology with Classroom Freebies!
Several phenomenal teachers, Technology Tailgate Coaches and bloggers are joining forces for an amazing classroom technology blog hop!  As you hop from blog to blog, you will visit some of your favorite blogs and discover a few new blogs too!  Each with a fabulous freebie just for you!

Thank you for hopping over!

We are so excited to take part in a fun blog hop! As you may already know, we work in a school where we have 1:1 macbooks and/or iPads.  This has been our first full school year with all this technology and we have had a wonderful time trying new tech ideas out with our students.  Their engagement when technology is involved has been amazing! One of the technology ideas that we have been using repeatedly in our classrooms are QR codes.  We have used them in math, reading and themed units and the students just CANNOT get enough of them...so therefore of course, neither can we! So our freebies for you today are both QR code activities that we are hoping you will be able to use in your classrooms as well. All you really need is one iPad, iPod or some sort of device that allows you to scan a QR code. Please click the pics below to download the freebies from google docs and...happy scanning! :)

Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting!  If you are new to my blog and liked what you see, don't forget to follow us!  The next stop on the path is Nikki from An Uncommon to the Core Teacher

Uncommon to the Core

In case you didn't start from the beginning, here is an ordered list of all participating blogs!

Kristin from iTeach 1:1
Heidi from Rakis Rad Resources
Leah from Learn With Leah
Amanda and Aylin from Learning to the Core
Kristen at Teacher Playground
Jen at Tech with Jen
Kay at A Little Tech
Melanie at I Luv Twek
Carrie and Caitlin at Table Talk with C & C
Lauren at iWonder

A special thank you to Jen at Tech with Jen for designing the blog hop button!
Interested in joining our next blog hop?  Join here

Have a great day!
Amanda & Aylin

Technology Tuesday Tried It: We're on Instagram!

Woohoo- we joined Instagram just yesterday to share pictures and ideas with you in yet another technology format. You know we love all things technology so we figured why not try this out too. I have to say having only just started yesterday, I am newly in love with Instagram! I'm definitely a visual learner so being able to view so many pictures in just one spot is a very fun thing for me. :) So since this is a new technology idea that we are trying out, I am also linking us up with Technology Tailgate for Techie Tuesday Link Up and Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried It Tuesday!

Throughout each week we'll be adding pictures to our account for you to check out-- hopefully some different ones than you'll see here on our blog because we take A LOT of pictures everyday...my students are always like, "why are you taking another picture??" On Tuesdays we'll hopefully be adding our #teachertalktuesday to our Instagram pics so we can see what everyone else is up to that day who is also linked up.  

Follow us and we'll follow you too! So far we only have a few pictures up, but we'll be adding more soon! Come check us out: @learningtothecore  (We added a button on the side of our blog so you can just click and follow us from there, just search for us once you are on Instagram OR click right here!)

Have a great day!


May Monthly Goals

I am excited to link up with Jess from  I {heart} Recess for my monthly goals!  There are many great reasons to be happy for this linky but let me give you my Top 3 Reasons: 
1. I {heart} Jess' blog it is so cute and has so many wonderful ideas!
2. As Jess said, we often ask our students to set goals but sometimes forget to set them for ourselves.  Setting goals is a fun way to continue to better ourselves.  
3. We are doing May goals...yes, you heard it right... May!  Can you believe it?  Now that the year is almost here I am starting to wonder...where did it all go!?!

Laundry!  There is always laundry to be done in our house...and it is just the two of us.  I can only imagine what is going to happen when we have kids..it will be never ending!  My goal for May is to try to do a load or two of laundry on weeknights (that sounds doable right?)  so that it does not all pile up on the weekends!  

The hubby and I have gotten pretty good at eating different kinds of fruit each day.  I don't think a day goes by without eating at least one piece of fruit (and most days it's more.)  However, veggies are much more foreign in our household.  They simply get forgotten about.  This month I will make it a goal of mine to get more veggies in the house so we can start nibbling on vegetables too!

I love finding new blogs.  There are so many amazing blogs out there full of resources! Many times I find myself reading other blogs and laughing/smiling because I totally have their same sense of humor! Other times, I find myself instantly pinning an idea of something I have been wanting to try with my kiddos. My goal is to continue to find and connect with more teacher bloggers.  

Beginning of the year first graders and end of the year first graders are two completely different sets of kids.  I watch my firsties now and am amazed at how independent they are both academically and socially.  I love seeing my kids solve problems, read stories, work together, follow directions and the list goes on and on.  I am so proud of them.  The end of the year often gets so incredibly busy that I don't think I always take as much time as I should to really enjoy the little people my first graders have become!   

I am running more and more outside as the weather continues to get nicer.   I am hoping by treating myself to some new, cute workout clothes it will help me to stay motivated to workout!  

Happy Monday!

5 for Friday and a Freebie!

It's Friday (and our last full week in April!)    I am linking up with Teaching Blog AddictDoodle Bugs: 5 for Friday, and Teaching Maddeness: Friday Flashback

1. Earth Day Craft:

We colored coffee filters with marker.
Sprayed them with water and let them dry.  
 We glued them to black paper and wrote about ways we could help the Earth.  
A simple craft and the kids loved it!

2. Earth Day Brain pop JR. and Writing:
To continue with Earth Day we watched an Earth Day Brain Pop (it's free!) and then filled out this writing piece on ways we can reduce, reuse and recycle. Student then drew or found pictures on their computers to show the ways in which they were going to help the Earth.  


To see more Earth Day products we completed on this special day please click here!

3. Surprise Vegas Trip!
This is a big year for my hubby!  He graduates from law school and it is his golden birthday on June 28th! I have been working on a surprise trip for him to one of his favorite place in the entire world (Las Vegas) and finally surprised him with it.  Just like I do for the kids-I gave Jeff a bag of letters and he had to figure out what the surprise was..by making words. He figured it out and I gave him a card to let him know which summer weekend we are going to celebrate.  It was so much fun to see his genuine surprise and excitement for our upcoming summer break trip!

My hubby reading his card after "making words" to find out we are going to "The Vegas Strip!"  

4. Workout WEdnesday
As a district we are working to promote healthy living to students.  We serve our kids fruits and vegetables two times a week as a snack and this year we have "Workout Wednesday" the last Wednesday of every month.  It a great way to way to get kids active during the day and teachers get to workout clothes to school which truly makes a Wednesday that much happier! 

All of my "action shots" were blurry so I had to use a stretching picture!

5. Butterflies (and a Freebie!)
I began by introducing butterflies and their life cycle to my students through this freebie.  Students scanned the QR Code to watch a short video on butterflies.  Once they did that they filled out the graphic organizer below.  Please click here to grab this butterfly freebie!  

After my students learned a little bit about the butterfly life cycle I brought out our caterpillars.  The kids were so excited!  We have been doing lots of observing of our caterpillars.  They are now  chrysalises and soon will be butterflies!  To keep track of our observations we have been using "Butterfly Life Cycle Observation Booklet" that Susan Moran at T.G.I.F.-Thank God It's First Grade created.   Simply click here to grab your free copy! Students are asked to write at least 3 sentences each time before they are able to start illustrating their picture! 

Observing caterpillars!

Happy Friday!

Class Dojo (an online behavior management tool!)

Classroom management is something that I feel as teachers we are always working on.  We are constantly adding new tricks to our bags but  I do not think it is ever fully mastered.  Tricks that worked last year with certain students might not work this year and vice-versa.  Each year as we get a new group of students in our room we need to adjust to meet their needs and help them to feel safe, loved, and welcome to create the best learning environment possible.

I have recently gone digital with my classroom management!  I had heard of Class Dojo but was not sure if it was something that would work in my classroom...well I gave it a try...and I can honestly say I don't know who loves it more...the kids or me?!?!  Class Dojo is not only a website but it is also a free app which makes it incredibly easy to set it up on a phone, iPad or computer.  

Setting-Up Class Dojo: 
Once clicking on the orange button (seen above) a few questions will need to be answered to get started.  You will enter your name, your email, and say if you are teacher or not.  That's it, really!  Then, it is time to really get started. You will now get to add all of your students names as well as choose positive and negative behaviors you will be targeting in your classroom.  

I’m all set-up...now what?
After you have it all set-up you can get started!  
You can always go back and adjust "positive" and "negative" awards at any point.  I suggest starting with a few and then adding more as needed.  
It is that simple!  My students have been incredibly motivated by this system.  They love their avatars and love seeing their "points" go up!  

Graphs, Reports and Data:
When in the "reports" section of Class Dojo there are many graphs to view. The graphs can help to target specific behaviors for the class or individual students.  Both positive and negative behaviors can be viewed.  Graphs can be looked at for the day, week, month, last month, or you can even customize your dates.  

Parent Involvement:
It is incredibly easy to get parents involved in Class Dojo!  You can even see when parents last accessed their child's reports which makes it easier on me (I no longer have to wonder if a parent saw/talked to their child about their day.) I now know when parents look at their child's daily reports.  You can also leave notes for parents so when they log in they can read your note about their child's day.  Parents get to see an individual graph for their child.  They can see the positives their child was recognized for and the struggles their child is having.  

Class Dojo in our Classroom:
The biggest improvements I have seen with my class since using Class Dojo is our transitions as well as our carpet time.  Students get immediate feedback with "positive" and "negative" awards.  Since Class Dojo is an app as well as a website it makes it easy to go from the computer, to my phone, to an iPad we have in the room.  Whatever device is by me... I can simply grab and add points for students.  I can even bring an iPad with me in the hallway as we walk to gym or music to reward students for their hallway behavior. 

Students love to hear the "bing" when they get a positive award.    I do not leave it up on the Smart Board all day but we do frequent check-ins to show students how many "points" each child has.  During transitions I will often ask a child to look for all of the kids sitting quietly on the carpet and reward them a point.  The picture below is of my 1st graders sitting super quietly on our carpet as one student gives an award to multiple students.  In our room, the goal is to get to "10" by the end of the day.  

Putting 2 fingers up in the air is our school's "quiet sign."  My kids are so motivated by getting extra Dojo Points that they will come to the carpet super quietly just to get that award! 
I created several tools and helpers to keep my kids motivated and engaged with ClassDojo.  To help enhance you ClassDojo experience check out this these Behavior Management Helpers that align with ClassDojo!

To see these helpers and many more tools click here or on the picture below!  ClassDojo has helped streamline my classroom management tremendously and I hope these tools can help you as you start on ClassDojo too!  If you haven't already checked out Class Dojo I highly suggest giving it a try!  In our school many grade levels have tried Class Dojo from kindergarten to fifth grade-I have heard lots of positive feedback from all grade levels that have tried it.

To read the Top 5 Reason to try Class Dojo this year click here or the picture below! 

Thanks to Collaboration CutiesHead Over Heals for Teaching, and Ideas by Jivey for hosting the Peace, Love, Hope and Kindness Linky.  It is hard not to get sucked into the craziness of the world we live in today.  However, each day when I take the time to truly look around I am also reminded of all the good that is out in our world as well...sometimes you just have to pay a little extra attention to see it.  

I loved Stacia's idea over at Collaboration Cuties idea of  "just because" moments. These stories happen every day but our world is moving so quickly that we sometimes miss them...it is important to slow down and take these little moments and acts of kindness in.    

Here is my "just because" story that warmed my heart....  

One of my students is struggling to learn how to tie his shoes.  This little boy practices and often gets noticeably frustrated. He will say things like "Oh man, I thought I had it..." or "I keep trying but I can't..."  In the coarse of the year I have had several students help him by simply tying his shoes for him.  However, one little girl always goes the extra mile to try to teach him the steps.  She is so patient with him and the other day she literally took off her shoe and had him practice on it saying the steps over and over for him.  I saw her moving his hands with him to help him to get that "bunny" through its "hole."  Although he still struggles to tie his shoes this little girl always seems to find him and lend a helping hand.  I know it will be a big moment for both of them when he does eventually learn how to tie his shoes independently.  

Make sure to click here to check out many more heartwarming stories!  


Happy Thursday!

Math Partner Game-"Addition Top-It"

I have gotten so many ideas for "Jivey's Workshop Wednesdays!"  If you haven't had a chance to check it out click here to see all of the "Workshop Wednesday" links.  Today I excited to be linking up with Jivey for Math Partner Games that Use Cards.  As the year progresses some students are taking off in their fact fluency and others are moving at a slower (but steady!) pace.  Differentiation has been key to helping my first graders be successful in math.  

CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.A.1 Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.

Sometimes when we have a few extra minutes (not often too often can I say we have extra time!) we will grab out some number cards, our whiteboards, and play "Addition Top-It."  

1.Students place all of the cards in the middle.  
2.Each student grabs 2 cards and adds the numbers together.  
3. Students write their addition sentences on the whiteboard.  (Partner gives them a "thumbs up" if they are correct.)  
4. The student with the highest sum gets to keep all of the cards.

Super simple-the kids love it and they practice their fact fluency! We use math cards from our old math series but playing cards, flashcards, or any other kind of number cards can be used!  It is is also nice because as a teacher it is easy to differentiate.  I can give students lower numbered cards to practice basic addition.  Or I can give students larger number cards to really get them thinking!  I can also have students pull 3 cards instead of just 2 to differentiate.  

Students begin by each grabbing two cards and adding the numbers together to find out the sum.  
Students use lower number cards to help them practice basic addition.
Students work with adding 10 to a number.  

Happy Wednesday!

Another Tuesday Technology Tried It!

Having technology in the classroom really does provide me with lots of opportunities to try new ideas out constantly so I am linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper and Technology Tailgate for another Tuesday Technology Tried It. 

My new fun app that I tried with my little friends is Skitch.  

It's a free app that is associated with Evernote (my most favorite app of all time) and I only used it for one activity so far, but I've already got a list started of objectives/goals I want to use it for someday soon...or next year. :) 

For this activity my little friends were working on using their knowledge of letter sounds to label their choice of stuffed animal and then writing a descriptive sentence about their stuffed animal.  I have a basket of stuffed animals that is sitting in one of my bookshelves and my students constantly ask when we are going to use them. Well, occasionally we actually will use that basket of stuffed animals to practice our fluent reading or to write about, so my little friends were super thrilled when I pulled out the basket this time! I modeled how to use Skitch (and at this point in the year, it takes them very little time to understand how to use a new app because they are just so used to the iPads- which is quite nice) and explained that they would each be choosing an animal, taking a picture of the animal, labeling it and then writing a sentence.  They were ridiculously excited about their choice of stuffed animal AND that they got to take a picture of it.  The picture taking happens right within the app- you just select "Take a Photo" and it takes you to the camera feature and then pulls it right into your new creation.  It did take a few reminders that they weren't just playing with the animals, but rather actually supposed to be doing the rest of our activity, but once they got over that excitement their creations turned out very cute! 

Once they took the picture, they started using the tools on the right write their label of the animal and then type their sentence about the animal.  This student picked my favorite, a hippo which I of course was super excited about as well. They even got to add little arrows to point to their animal. :)  

Hippo- My hippo is cute. My hippo is cute and blue. 

Seahorse- My seahorse it cute. My seahorse is pink. 

Labeling can be such a huge step on the path to being writers and I plan to use this earlier in the year next year solely as a labeling center and then we will gradually move on to writing sentences about our objects just like we did here.  Who can get bored with labeling objects when they are fun objects that you can take pictures of on the iPad?? 

Some other ideas I have for Skitch in my classroom are taking pictures of fiction and non-fiction books and labeling the title, author, illustrator and then non-fiction text features. I have to say I find this to be a very kid-friendly app and just know that your students will likely find more features that they can do with the app before you! :)

Have a great day!

A Science Mentor Text (with a freebie) and Let's Get Acquainted!

First up, I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties for a science mentor text!

Science was a pretty big deal in our classroom when I taught kindergarten and now as a reading specialist I try to use non-fiction science texts in our read alouds to teach various reading strategies and work on comprehension.  

I love science non-fiction texts because I find that most of them are so very engaging with all the real pictures that are included.  One series that I love is the "Let's Start Science" books on the five senses.  The books have great real-life pictures that the students like to talk about and the text is very informative in a easy to understand format.  There are even several quick activities included in each text that you can use to make your read aloud more interactive. 

Here is a simple graphic organizer that you can use with your students.  I like to read these books and then apply what we know about our senses by going on a little hunt.  You can do this right in your classroom, through the halls of your school, on a walk outside, etc- all they have to do is fill out what they see, hear, smell, taste and feel.  Be careful with the taste one...might want to mention that they won't have anything to put down there but maybe what they think they would taste. :) Click the pic below or right here to download it.  I highly recommend checking out this set of books! 

And now...Let's Get Acquainted! This week Flying into First Grade wants everyone to list their 3 favorite spots in their classroom, so here we go...

1. Our jellybean table- So I know this is really a kidney bean table, but in our room we refer to it as the jellybean table because really jellybeans are more fun than kidney beans. :)  This is one of my favorite spots because my little friends spend so much time here becoming super readers and almost everything we need to become super readers is right in hands-reach for us.

2. Our little book nook- I love color and I love books, so this spot makes me happy! We don't necessarily spend a ton of time in this spot since I only see my groups for 30 minutes and we are busy busy busy at the jellybean table, but I try to squeeze in a few minutes throughout the week to do some fun relaxing reading on this carpet too- they love snuggling up with a tiny pillow! 

3. Our big bookshelf- As I said, I love love love books so of course I had to include our big bookshelf.  My goal for next year is to really get these books organized by levels and themes (this has been a goal for awhile, but really hoping it'll actually happen this summer since we are going to be using Fountas & Pinnell even more next year), but for now I love to choose books for read alouds and my students love to choose books to read on their own from this shelf! We've also got some large pillows in the bottom shelf that my little friends get to pull out every once in awhile to get comfy while reading!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Have a great day!

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