New Years Resolutions Linky Party!

Hi friends!  I can't believe that 2015 is coming to an end.  It has been an amazing year, one I will never forget.  We are approaching my one year blogiversary and I am so excited to be able to look back at all that I have been able to experience through my little corner of the internet.  I know that 2016 will be a fantastic year but there is always room for improvement.  I am so excited to be linking up with my sweet friend Diana from My Day in K to share some New Year's Resolutions that I plan to put into action.

New Year's resolutions are always put into place with the best intentions and by January 5th, they're forgotten about.  I know I am super guilty of this.  But, I'm hoping that this year the resolutions I make for myself are general enough that I won't be able to just brush them off. Diana and I would love for you to join in on the fun too!  After reading through the post, make sure to grab the image at the bottom and link up your own post with us!

So what are my New Year's Resolutions for 2016?  They seem simple when I write them but I know they're going to be complicated to achieve without working at them all year long.  But, regardless I'm up for the challenge!  Here are my resolutions for school, personal life, and my blog: 

School: Keep Consistent Routines.  Oh my this one seems like a no-brainer but new curriculum and an ever-changing schedule has made this year feel really inconsistent.  I'm feeling it, my students are feeling it, and it's time for a change.  I am determined to stick with a consistent routine for all of the main subject areas: word study, reading workshop, writing workshop, and math.  My word study schedule and routines have been the most consistent area of instruction this year.  The other areas if i'm being honest, not so much.  My reading block has been choppy sometimes I spend too much time on direct instruction and not enough time just letting my kids read!  I also want to focus more time on spiral activities during math and math centers.  If I can keep a consistent schedule, I'm hoping I'll be able to fit these in.

Personal: 1. Let It Go 2. Take Care of Me. I just need to keep Elsa's little tune handy whenever I need it.  But, it really does do the trick.  I need to let go the things I have no control over.  As teachers, I find that we're type A always needing to control each situation.  Well, sometimes there are things out of our control that we just have to accept.  I'm ready to Let. It. Go and be more positive.  Who's with me?!  
I also need to do a better job at taking care of myself.  I get up too early, go to bed too late, and let myself get too comfortable on the couch.  Not anymore.  This year I need to put me first and if that means saying no to a few things or requests, I have to be ok with that.  My health both mentally and physically is more important.

Blog: Blog Once a Week. Oh my poor little blog has been truly neglected this last month and it makes me so sad to face the truth.  I was getting a little self conscious about the things that I wanted to post and second guessed whether or not people would want to read my silly ramblings.  I have to be more confident and hopeful that the things that I do in my classroom would be exciting for others to read also.  I want to get back into the swing of things even if that's blogging just once a week.  Anything at this point would be better than nothing!

Ok, thank you so much for listening to my 2016 New Year's Resolutions.  I'm so excited to dive in and make this the best year yet!  I can't wait to read all about your resolutions and see if we have anything that's similar.  Grab the image below and make sure to link up and join the fun!

Happy New Year everyone!  I wish you nothing but health and happiness in 2016.

Five for Friday...finally!

Hello friends!  Oh December I do love you but you are knocking me for a loop this year!  

This is currently what I'm working with in my first grade classroom.  The sniffles and sneezes are at a record-breaking high and I have fallen victim to its' strong pull!  I was out sick Tuesday and Wednesday and still not feeling back in fighting form just yet.  I'm getting there but wow December has been a doozy!  Here's a mash-up of what's being going on the last few days.

My family and I celebrated Hanukkah this Sunday with a fried food feast!  It was delicious but my jeans were not thanking me afterwards.  My husband and I celebrate "Chrismakkah" so I can't wait to for the onslaught of Christmas cookies coming by way soon!

I helped organize a secret snowman gift exchange for our school this year and it has been so much fun!  Each week leading up to the final week of school we have been leaving our secret snowman gifts that they would like based off a questionnaire we all filled out.  I love how spot-on this reese's pieces popcorn treat was for me! Job well done Secret Snowman!

I got the sweetest surprise in the mail this week.  One of the best things about this blogging experience has been the amazing friendships I have made.  My #bloggingbestie Diana from My Day in K sent me this Alex and Ani bracelet.  It has such a meaningful message and I am so grateful to have a friend who is always there when I need to vent or need a little positivity.  This teacher blogging community is truly one of a kind.  Thank you Diana!

I debated even sharing this photo because it is so embarrassing but oh well!  We had a wonderful assembly yesterday that centered around Christmas and some of the characters from a few favorite Christmas classics.  It was interactive and depended on a lot of audience participation.  Well, as I'm sipping my tea quietly in the corner I was singled-out by good ol' Mrs. Claus to act as her partner in crime, St. Nick.  Not only do I have no voice but I was asked to whistle in front of the whole school to signal my reindeer and I can NOT for the life of me whistle.  So, I had to think on my feet and hum a little tune to get my "reindeer" ready for their important mission.  One of my friends snapped this pic of me that documents probably the WORST Santa Claus ever displayed.  My kids got a kick out of it and that's really all that matters!

To close out the week of Hanukkah learning fun in Social Studies, I taught my kids how to play dreidel.  They loved it and had so much fun!  I can't wait for next week though as we'll be boarding the Christmas Around the World airline to travel and learn about Christmas traditions from several countries.  It will be so special!

Well, that's about it for me this week!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and are beginning to see the glowing light of Christmas break getting closer and closer!  Thanks for stopping by!

Parent Teacher Conferences

Happy Tuesday before Thanksgiving friends!  Has the smell of turkey and stuffing already begun to waft throughout the house or is that just my happy imagination?!  My husband and I will be traveling to his family in Buffalo tomorrow afternoon so I wanted to stop in quickly today to share a freebie that I hope will be useful to you!

While most of you are already finished with the tornado that is parent teacher conference week, I am gearing up to enter the vortex next week.  While I don't enjoy the packed schedule and late nights, I truly do enjoy meeting with my students' families and discussing all of the wonderful things that I've noticed about my students and come to learn about them.  Yes, of course there are those difficult cases that keep you up at night worrying about how parents will perceive some of the information you are about to share; it's almost inevitable.  However, over the last five years I have come to treat parent teacher conferences as a team meeting where I share what I am doing in the classroom to help my students succeed and discuss what the parents can continue to do at home to help their child grow.

By looking at it through this lens, I really try to keep each meeting positive.  What I was struggling with however, was the best way to present this information to the families while keeping things in a positive light.  In order to help guide my discussion and remind me of my talking points, I created this conference template.

Each form has three sections that will help guide my conversation with the parents.  Areas in Bloom will be where I write down and discuss my student's strength and areas that I've seen the most growth.  Room to Grow will highlight the student's areas that still need improvement, hence the empty flowerpot.  The image and wording is not meant to be negative but to symbolize that these areas will eventually grow with time and hard work.  The last section is Additional Comments where I can share my observations about the student's behavior and attitude towards school as well as suggestions for the future.

I have included a signature section at the bottom for my personal records to make sure, if need be, that I can refer back to this conversation and show that the parents were aware of what was discussed and agree with the suggestions made.

I uploaded these forms to my TpT store in both black & white and color for FREE here!  I hope you will be able to use them this year or save them in a file for next year!

I hope everyone has a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, food, and free time!  Thank you as always for stopping by!  

Five for Friday...Finally!

Hello everyone!  I'm writing this post with a little added pep in my step.  Not only is it Friday, that already helps motivate the masses, but it's the end to the last full week before Thanksgiving break.  Can I get a woohooo?!  I do love Thankgsiving, all of the food, festivities, and oh yeah the food but I am also excited to have a little break to relax and recharge.  It also will catapult us right into the holiday season which I can't wait for.  There's just a magic in the air when this time of year rolls around. Before we all celebrate and reflect on what we're thankful for, here's a little highlight reel from my week!

This week we focused on inferring in first grade.  It's an incredibly difficult concept so I used some PD opportunities (Pinterest) to find some ways to make it relevant for my students.  I came across Babbling Abby's amazing idea to let the students investigate the contents of my purse in order to make inferences about the type of person I am.  I combined her idea with Leslie Ann from Life in First Grade's anchor chart and recording sheet to create the lesson.

After finding my umbrella, day planner, bag of pens, lip gloss, car keys, iPhone, and Christmas magazine, my students did a great job inferring what these items said about me.

Some of my favorites are from above, "Mrs. Yannuzzi is a person who likes to write.  Does not like to get wet (when walking her dog Roger)."

Who couldn't love this one's inference about me after finding my lip gloss and iPhone?!  "Mrs. Yannuzzi is a person who likes to be pretty.  She likes to text to her girlfriends."  Too funny!  I even had one students say, "Now we know the REAL you!"  Oh first grade, you're too fun!

We continued our inferencing practice with some of our favorite book characters; Elephant and Piggie!  We read through Mo Willems' book My Friend is Sad and paid close attention to the pages in the book that had no words on it.  Do we skip over pages just because there are no words to tell us what the author is trying to say?!  No way!  We used our schema and the clues from the pictures to help decipher what Mo Willems was trying to tell us.  My SMART board drawing of the scene from the book was just too embarrassing not to share!  My sweet students assured me that it really wasn't that bad!  Recording sheet can be found from Susan at her blog, Thank God It's First Grade.

We started using Reagan Tunstall's fantastic math rotation board starting this week and it has been such a lifesaver when it comes to organizing math centers.  I wanted a way to practice current and previous concepts at a separate time of the day than our whole group math investigation and instruction.  Reagan's math rotation board has been the best and most effective way to organize groups and transitions.  I only have been doing one rotation a day so by the end of the week, I will have met with each group once and can use Fridays as a catch-up or review day to meet with struggling students who may need extra support.  Check out her board here it's fantastic!

Do you ever have those teaching moments where you just don't give your students enough credit?  I am going to be honest here, I did this week.  We were in the middle of independent reading and I was doing a sight word assessment with one of my lower kiddos at the guided reading table.  I popped my head up in a huff because of the noise level coming from the carpet.  I was all prepared to let out a loud "SSSSHHHHHH!!!!!"  when I realized what the noise really was.  Two of my littles realized they had the same Pete the Cat book in their book boxes and decided to join together to buddy read the book together WITHOUT any prompting from a teacher!  I stopped dead in my tracks and was so elated I had to celebrate right then and there.  I realized that I need to work on giving my students so much more credit.  They really are an awesome group! #thankfulteachermoment.

I LOVE directed drawings! Kid art is so sweet and the step by step directions have proven as a great way to show each student how successful they can be.  We started these sweet turkey drawings yesterday afternoon and haven't had a chance to finish them just yet.  I can't wait to see how they turn out once they're all colored today!  Of course, I had to share another shot of my drawing from the SMART board.  I have my students follow along with me as I draw on the board.  It shows how to do each step but also makes it clear to them how it doesn't have to be perfect!  It's all about trying our best!  Find these drawings at Art Projects for Kids here.

Today we have the teacher turkey trot before school.  I like to run but have been out of commission lately so I'm super nervous for how this will go! I think my approach will be the walk/occasional run to stay in the game.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and are beginning to sit back and contemplate a plan of attack for next week's Thanksgiving feast!  

Thank you SO much for stopping by!

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday everyone!  I wasn't able to post my Five for Friday last week and this week was shortened because of NJ teacher's convention.  So, I thought I'd write a combo-platter of a Five for Friday highlighting some things that have been going on over the past two weeks.  I am FINALLY starting to feel like myself again after getting hit hard with a cold and cough after Halloween week 2015.  It knocked me for a loop that's for sure!  This weekend I have friends visiting from Boston with their sweet new baby boy and I can't wait to spend some time relaxing and celebrating friends and new family members!  Here's a peek at what has been going on in first grade lately.

We've been working so hard on retelling in first grade.  It's such an important skill to practice throughout the year and that's what we plan on doing.  We introduced what makes a good story retell with the Ist Family and have been digging in for a week and a half now.  With each read aloud or shared reading we talk about what the Gist of the story was, We List the events in order, talk about the Twist or the change before the end, and then share the End.  They've been doing a great job with it!

We launched How-To writing this week and this was one of the first pieces of writing a student of mine shared. I always try to reiterate that the kids should write about something they know how to do really well so it's easy to teach someone else.  This little cutie feels like she is an expert at crossing her eyes.  Who am I to disagree?!  I love first grade writing!

My first graders have really taken to using their Reading Tic-Tac-Toe menus for homework along with their book in a bag that goes home each Monday.  I blogged a little bit more about how I use them in my post on Teacher Deals and Dollar Steals.  Check it out this weekend at a discount in my TpT store!

Since it was a shortened week (we had off Thursday and Friday) I had to have all of my copies and plans organized on Wednesday before I left school.  I love looking at my daily piles and seeing so many wonderful TpT resources that will help my students in the next week!  

I needed a good curl up on the couch with your family kind of night this week.  So, I went home to my parents' and watched Inside Out with my mom and sister.  If you have never seen the movie, I highly recommend it.  It was adorable and just what I needed to put a smile on my face.  If you have little ones, I can't imagine them not enjoying this sweet movie!

I'm with you sadness.  A little lie down never hurt anybody!

Well, I'm off to enjoy some quality time with friends and family this weekend!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  Thank you for stopping by!

Currently November

I have been a very bad, bad blogger this last month.  I'm hoping with the start of the new month, comes new blogging goals that I can live up to.  I have missed all of you and I am so excited to share what I'm currently up to by linking up with the always fabulous, Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade!  Make sure to link back to her site to read more about other bloggers and what they're currently up to this month!  So what am I currently up to you ask?!  Let's find out!

Listening: I am listening to my newest guilty pleasure on Bravo, Ladies of London!  I have always loved British culture and this window into London life is everything I want out of a reality show.  Throw a few glamorous Americans and Brits into a room and watch the sparks fly. Yes, please!  Not to mention that my world-traveler of a brother is currently pit-stopped in London and have met my parents there for a quick visit.  I am so jealous that I can't be with them so I'm trying to live vicariously through them and this show to get my British fix!

Loving: Lazy weekend mornings are just the best.  Throw in an extra hour of sleep and vegging on the couch and I'm a happy camper.  Even my dog Roger enjoyed a little extra shut-eye this morning.  So thankful for that!

Thinking: I have been having a difficult time trying to balance everything this year.  October was a crazy month and there are so many things I would like to do and accomplish but never seem to have the time.  My sweet friend, Diana from My Day In K, shared this quote a few weeks ago and I think it sums up perfectly how I have been feeling.  I have to remember that what is meant to happen, will happen.  Thanks Diana for the constant support and inspiration!

Wanting:  Halloween week 2015 was a doozy!  I wish I could say I survived and thrived but the truth of the matter is, I barely scraped by and came out of it with a terrible cold and cough.  I made it through the week but have been parked on the couch throughout the weekend, trying to get rid of this!

Needing: Sundays are usually for food shopping and prepping for the week ahead.  My couch has been calling my name and I have yet to be able to get out of its' tight grip.  Instead of going to the grocery store,  I might trick myself and go to Target instead for food shopping and a little push the cart down the aisle therapy.  We shall see what happens!

Yummy: When it comes to Thanksgiving and favorite foods, I'm a sucker for the classics.  I can finish my mother's green bean casserole in one sitting without batting an eye.  I won't be with my family this year because I'll be traveling to the hubby's out in Buffalo, NY and I am so sad I won't be eating my mom's cooking.  I might just ask her to save some for me so I can indulge later!

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading what I'm currently up to!  I am looking forward to this month as a chance to reflect on all that I am thankful for and enjoy the little things in life.  I hope you all have a wonderful start to November!

Five For Friday...On a Saturday

Oh my goodness.  It has really been too long.  I don't know about you but I have not gotten caught up from the beginning of the year craziness.  Couple the new ELA curriculum with SGO goals and PDPs due and a class full of little ones so jazzed about Halloween and you can get a small picture of my current situation.  My class and I are FINALLY getting into a groove but each day has been riddled with some sort of interruption that has been out of my control.  Assemblies, book fairs, picture name it, we've had it.  Halloween is quickly approaching and my philosophy is now, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!  Stick around and see what my class has been up to this last week with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday!

This week we introduced the reading strategy of compare and contrast to my firsties.  We started off the conversation with a simple sort for dog vs. cat.  We discussed each card from the sort and looked for key words such as both, different, alike, or not alike.  The kids did a great job with this.  Then, we took it a step further and continued to practice this skill all week.  We worked with a partner to compare and contrast two things in a pair share activity, we compared and contrasted ourselves using our Friend Venns, and we read Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! to compare and contrast the characters and then the two texts.  My students rocked the skill and even started to use it during math and writing!  I'm so proud of them!  If you're interested in any of these activities, you can check out my Compare and Contrast packet in my TpT store by clicking the image below.

Our word study block is fully up and running and my kids are doing a great job using their schedules and committing to their work each day.  Some of my high flyers are working on finishing up their mixed word family sorts before moving onto long vowels and I wanted to challenge their thinking a little bit.  This week, after we sorted their words by word families, we took a look at our words and sorted them by nouns and verbs.  This showed my students that you can sort their words for the week in so many different ways.  I can't wait to keep showing them how they can play with their words to discover new patterns! 
Something else that's working well, is reviewing our vowel sounds at the beginning of our small groups with my Try it Two Ways chart.  We sing it like a song, "A like alligator, A like acorn.  E like elephant, E like eagle.  I like insect, I like ice cream.  O like olive, O like oatmeal.  U like umbrella, U like unicorn."  I really want my students to try sounding their words out in two ways while trying to tackle those tricky words.  You can check this chart out for just $1 in my store.

I needed to quench my student's thirst for all things Halloween this week.  Some of my sweeties are struggling to segment their sounds when sounding out cvc words.  So, I used my new Trick or Treat nonsense word game to help them work on this.  I gave them each three Halloween themed erasers to place underneath each letter on their word card.  When they sounded the words out, they had to touch each eraser to make sure they were stretching their words out correctly.  It really seemed to help and I will definitely be continuing this practice with them!

This little one was working so hard on her game day during word study to complete these candy corn short vowel puzzles completely on her own.  When she asked me to take a picture of her with her finished work, I couldn't say no!  I love that these puzzles allow my students to practice sounding out short vowel words, matching words with pictures, and identifying the short vowel sound that is in each word.  If you're looking to practice short vowels leading up to Halloween, you can snag these activities in my Halloween Literacy Centers packet in TpT by clicking the image below.

When your curriculum director offers a raffle during a P.D. early morning meeting, you enter no questions asked.  Little did I know that I would be the winner of a TpT gift card!  Woohooo love that she gets what teachers want and need!  I can't wait to use this baby to fuel my clip art addiction!

Well, that about wraps up my week!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and are able to relax before this upcoming crazy week.  I hope it's full of more treats than tricks!  Thanks so much for stopping by!