Your questions are answered!

Yay!! We asked for your questions - and here are our answers!! We hope you find our answers helpful; we want to help you in any way possible. After spending an afternoon in collaboration with my team/school, I came to the realization that THIS (our blogging/sharing ideas/helping others) is what collaboration is all about!
By: Rachelle (in blue) and Natalie (in red)


Q: (From-Erin): Where do you get all of the awesome graphics and fonts that you use in your stuff? 
A:  I use DJ Inkers the most! I just love their graphics because they come in color and black and white.  I also like Scrappin' Doodles! For fonts, I use DJ Inkers again and the free fonts listed on the sidebar of our blog!
A: I love fonts! I have dj fonts, ck fonts, and ld fonts. I have never been into clipart/graphics until all this teacher blogging began. Rachelle converted me to DJ Inkers though and I recently made a couple fun purchases. 


Q: (From-Ms. Morgart)  Any suggestions on a cute name for a blog?
A:  What about "Grade One Fun"?  Are you a 1st grade teacher?? hahah :)
A: Hum, it would help if I knew more about you. Just looking at your name, M&M's come to mind. 


Q:  (From-Abby) Does everything (planning researching, creating, planning, and organizing) get easier the longer you teach?
A: Yes and no! Haha... I'd say years 1-3 were all really hard. I spent long nights in my classroom and almost always worked in my room on Saturdays. Maybe it was a combination of being pregnant and then having a baby, but I have found ways to simplify so that I can go home and be a mom on nights and weekends.

Q: (From Susan)  What is your first grade daily schedule?
A: It's quite busy and jam packed!  Click {here} to see my daily schedule.



Q: (From Mrs. B)  What are you fabulous ideas for Black History Month?
A:  I use BrainPopJr. to show videos of famous African Americans.  After you watch some of the videos, you can take quizzes, play games, or do a writing activity on the website!
A: I don't really have any "fabulous" ideas, but I bet I could come up with something fun before this month's over. In the past I've had my students do a little research project. I had them look at THIS list and choose anyone the wanted to do a one page report. When they were done, we printed off a picture and hung them up in the hallway. 

Q: (From Jodi)  What is your absolute favorite thing to teach each year?
A:  I LOVE to teach addition and subtraction. I enjoy seeing their light click on (as Oprah would say, an AH-HA moment)! :) 
A: Just one?! I love teaching about WWII. I went to Germany when I was younger and got to visit Dachau Concentration Camp. I love teaching all about it because it's so interesting to me and I learn something new every year. (Some of the things we do: read Number the Stars, talk a lot about Pearl Harbor, and then learn about the Japanese internment camps.) I also love teaching geometry!


Q:  (From Ms. A)  What are some fun things that you do for science and social studies in first grade?
A:  I have some fun science experiments I do with my kiddos!  I am posting those this week!  I also do a really great dry ice experiment that you can find {here}.  As far as social studies, that topic has so many components. We love to learn about historical figures and inventors.  Have you seen The First Grade Parades inventor unit...it's ADORABLE? Click {here} to see Cara's great ideas.


Q: (From Ms. Durning)  Do you do "student of the week"?  If so, what do you do to recognize them and make it special?
A: I do a V.I.P!  The student takes home a back pack over the weekend. They get to have wild "Adventures with Andy".  There is a cute, fluffy stuffed dog (Andy) in the bag that the firsties get to hang out with all weekend and write a story about their adventures.  They also fill out an "about me" poster. Lastly, they put 2 items in a "Me Sack". It's basically a show and tell, but it has to fit in the sack (the size of a brown paper sack).  When they bring the bag back on Monday, we share one item each day in front of the class. They also get a VIP pass so they can have access to the front of the line!


Q: (From B. Roper) What do you not like about teaching or what bugs you the most?
A: This is an easy one for me.  I am SO bugged by a certain kind of teacher. The mean/negative teachers.  How can you be so negative and yell at the cutest kids in the world? Even when they aren't so "cute", there is a certain way to be firm with them, but always loving. 
A: WRITING SUB PLANS!! 

Q: (From Christine)  Where are you at in your history teaching? How do you get it all in?
A: Umm... I'm just barely starting Revolutionary War... I'm behind, I know. We've been doing Revolutionary War literature circles, and talked a little but about the road to the Revolution, but that's all so far. My advice to you (and myself...) is to integrate with language arts as much as you can, there is just not enough time in the day!


Q:  (From Kinderpond)  How do you teach ones and tens? 
A: I introduce the ones and tens in calendar each day when we count how many days of school, but when I actually teach the place value unit, I use {this} lesson.  This website is amazing (www.uen.org). Every teacher should bookmark it.


Q:  (From questionso882)  Any creative ideas for writers workshop?
A: I don't really do writers workshop. I kind of do my own twist on it that really works for me. But, I'd really love to start writers workshop! So maybe this is a question to the bloggy world!  What do you do for writers workshop?  Do you have any great resources?


Q:  (From Mrs. O'Brien) Do you know of any 3rd through 6th grade blogs?
A: I know of only a few. I have linked them on our sidebar.  If I find any others, I promise to link them on our sidebar for your reference!
A: I wish there were more! It seems like there are a million 1st grade blogs, but hardly any for upper grades. 


Q:  (From E Anderson) What do you do to keep your kiddos on task while you are doing Guided  reading?
A:  My students are in centers while I am doing guided reading.  I set my expectations clearly from day one of school.  For 3 weeks we practice just procedures in centers!  My centers are very fulfilling and fun for the students so they are completely engaged. They L.O.V.E centers because they are choice centers.  The students decide on what they do and for how long. Don't get me wrong, I have some little stinkers.  Between groups I take a quick check to make sure everyone is on task. If they aren't they know that there are consequences (ie, pull their card).  I have a post about my centers {here}.
*As far as interruptions go, the students know that they cannot come to my desk if I am with a reading group (unless it's an emergency). I've heard of teachers who wear a special hat or necklace. If they are wearing that item, the students know they cannot approach the teacher and must ask a friend.


Q:  (From Laura)  When do you find the time to implement and make all of these great ideas? 
A: It is very hard to find time for everything! I utilize every minute of the day (even snack time).  During my transitions, we recite poems.  When we line up, we practice songs.  Try to sneak in as many learning opportunities as possible. 
A: Right now, blogging is what I do for fun! I think all day about what I want to make and share. People leaving comments helps too. If I know I'm helping someone, it makes me want to post more! When I find a cute idea, I try to implement it as quickly as possible, otherwise I forget about it and never go back. 


Q: (From Laura) How do you get your documents to post to your blog?
A:  Check out one of my favorite blogs for a tutorial!  Thanks Lady Bug Teacher Files!
A: Basically, upload to google docs, set up sharing, copy and paste the link. 


Q:  (From Jackie Abyeta)  What do you do for writers workshop?
A:  Thanks for the question Jackie, I posted your answer on Question #11.


Q:  (From Debbie Jordan)  How do you link the picture of the document to your blog?
A: I open up the PDF file and I crop the page that I would like to share (go to edit, crop). Then I save that as a JPEG (file, save as JPEG). I attach it just like I would a picture.  There is probably an easier way, but that's how I do it!
A: If you have a mac, just do a screen shot. Hit command, shift, and 4 at the same time, then drag the cursor over what you want. It will automatically save the image to your desk top.


Q:  (From CC) What is your favorite place to buy clipart?
 A:Dj Inkers!


Q:  (From CC)  What is your best and easy recipe?
I love craft/cooking blogs! Sisters' Stuff is one of my favorites and I got an easy recipe there! Click {here} for the yummy recipe for peanut butter rice crispy treats.  Even though I am the complete and utter opposite of Martha Stewart, I can even make these!
A: I'm loving my crockpot right now! My favorite recipe is Chicken Tortilla soup, it's so easy! Pour in 32 oz chicken broth, a jar of salsa, a cup or two of frozen corn, 2 cans black beans (rinsed), 4-6 frozen chicken breasts, and 1.5 tsp of cumin. Cook in crockpot on high for 4 hours and top with sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips. It's delicious!!


Q:  (From CC)  How much money do you spend on your classroom?
A:  I'm not good at budgeting. I spend way too much.  But, in Utah, we have something called "Legislative Money" that the state gives each teacher to spend in our classroom. With budget cuts, this amount has gone down A TON...but my first year I got $650.00! 


A: On top of my leg money - that's around $250 dollars, I also use my Foundation money. I donate $20 per paycheck to myself each month, the money comes out of my paycheck before taxes, and all money is tax deductible. This equals $240 out of my own pocket I spend each year.


Q:  (From Samantha) What is your best advice that you have for a 1st year teacher?
A:  Find a teacher that is very successful on your grade level. Sometimes it's your mentor teacher, sometimes not.  My mentors were so great! I got most of my ideas my first year from them. They helped me with the most difficult part, curriculum planning.  Also, plan out your first week to a T.  Write out every minute and over plan! 
A. Remember that classroom management is the most successful factor in a classroom. Spend the first few days/weeks/months developing procedures and having students practice them! 

Q:  (From Jennifer)  Do you get overwhelmed with all of the great ideas you find and how do you fit it all in?  Do you find yourself looking at blogs all day?
A: I also get super.duper.oh.my.word. overwhelmed!  My poor google docs has so many documents saved in it, its' about to explode! I have to pace myself and only let myself print and laminate 1 or 2 projects a week.  On weekends, I might print a couple of ideas and then just file them away for next year.  Blog stalking has become an addiction!  It's better than being addicted to lots of other things, right?
A. I feel overwhelmed when I see how fabulous these teachers are. I start comparing myself to them and finding all my weaknesses. The best idea is to remember to implement ideas in baby steps.


Q: (From Jennifer) Do you do daily 5
A: No, I do not. I have heard it is G.R.E.A.T! I wold love to learn more about it. I just so happen to love the way I do centers. I love that my centers are based on student choice.  Check them out {here}.


Q:  (From Cathriona)  What word processing program do you use to make your printables?
A:  I use Microsoft Word and Powerpoint.  
A: I like powerpoint! 


Q:  (From Emily) How do you meet the needs of your high readers?
A: I find this extremely difficult because I feel so guilty if my attention is not constantly focused in on my struggling readers.  But, I always like to let my high readers do extra work on my laptop to research animals or look up definitions to words.  My high readers love non-fiction texts and I let them pick which ones they read! Also, if I know I'm not going to meet with them that day, I might have them just read for a few minutes at their desk instead and then call them over for a quick vocabulary or sight word lesson.


Q:  (From Anonymous) Do you have a newsletter that I can sign up for?
A:  Sorry, we don't have a newsletter. What a great idea though!


Q:  (From questions0882) What are your best organizational tips for the classroom?
A:  Well, have you read my post about my favorite organizational tips?  Click {here} for that!  Also, I label everything for easy access.  I will also be taking picture of my classroom this month to post an organizational "how to".  


Q:  (From Christina)  How does guided reading time look in your classroom?  Do you have many disruptions?
A: Great Question! I answered a similar question on #13.


Q:  (From Mrs. Lewis) How do you make documents so that when you click them, they automatically download and pop up on your screen?
A:  Go to this wonderful tutorial on Lady Bug Teacher Files.


Q:  (Mrs. Perry)How much would you charge for a classroom design makeover this summer?
A: Brooke, you are hilarious!  Girl, take some pictures, send them to me and I will be happy to give you lots of advice for FREE!
A: Or... buy us plane tickets to wherever you live, then we can play AND organize your classroom! Where do you live? :)


Ok. Now we have answered all of your questions.....tell us what you found helpful about this post!

11 comments:

Christine said...

Thanks, Natalie - that's where I am too! Whew! I created a 'history in a hurry' schedule, and am working in as much literacy skill as possible. My team is going to work on regulating our social studies schedule next year, maybe with a rotation, but definitely with lots of literacy integration. Now that we know what we're doing... years and years in!

Natalie Kay said...

Christine - I want a copy of your schedule!!! Look me up through district email!! :)

Laura said...

YAY! this was GREAT! fantastic answers.

Christine said...

I L.O.V.E DJ Inkers and have a TON of it- I can't get enough..... I'm addicted. :)

http://love2reed.blogspot.com/

Brandy said...

Here is a blog from a lady that teaches a Gifted/Talented 1st grade class. She's always posting ideas that you can use to challenge those GT/highly academic students. And one of her most current posts (titled: GT and Academic Achievement) can have you feeling just as guilty for not giving those students as much attention as the struggling ones. Check it out. It's neat and helpful.

http://notjustchildsplay.blogspot.com/

Mommy Jenny said...

Natalie, Can you tell me more about your Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe? How much corn? And, you listed chicken broth as the first ingredient and then "frozen chicken broth" towards the end. Is the "frozen" one supposed to just be frozen chicken? If so, how much? Sounds like an easy dinner to throw together!

Jill said...

I have said this before, but I have to say it again, I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!! I really feel the need to say again just how inspiring your posts are to me as a "newer" teacher. I get so many great,new lesson ideas from here!! Thank you so much for keeping your ideas free. It means the world to me as a teacher to be able to get so many cool lessons without having to pay. As teachers, we always spend so much of our own money buying things (supplies, games, etc)for the kiddies that it is hard to find/spare/justify more money to spend on lessons. Thank you so much for keeping your lessons free!!! :)

Ms. Morgart said...

It's funny that you said that about M&M for a blog name because that is one of my nicknames!! When I use my full name (maiden-previously married)name...Ms. Miranda-Morgart!! Ms. M&M..
..lol....

Curls and a Smile

Jen.MDK said...

These tips were WONDERFUL and widely helpful. Thank you for doing this!

Anonymous said...

Are you serious about buying you a plane ticket and you would come and help organize a classroom? I would so consider this at the end of the school year!

kathryn jackson said...

What is the name of the FONT used in your header?

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