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!