Sunday, August 23, 2015

Simplifying Homework

School has officially started and like most teachers, we have hit the ground running in my classroom. Knowing how much we work every day makes me hate giving my kids homework, but at the same time I know that little bit of extra time practicing with their parents can really help.

If you are a parent, I do get it.  Your kiddo gets home and now it's your turn to hit the ground running.  Your little guy or girl needs a quick snack, time to knock out homework, eat dinner, get to gymnastics, dance, baseball, football, or whatever activity is planned for that night, and then time to get home, get a bath, read a little, get ready for the next day - all between the hours of 3:30 and 8:00.  That's a lot to cover!
So, that leads me into simplifying homework.  My teammates and I always do the same homework and we try our best to make sure it doesn't take longer than fifteen to twenty minutes.  We also send home the homework for the whole week on Fridays or Mondays.  This way our parents can adjust it to fit their schedules.

Here's how we have made it work for us.

Each night, students are expected to read for ten minutes.  We include a reading log so that the kids can record what they have read.  Our students also practice their spelling words, their story of the week, and their Fry words throughout the week.  This may sound like a lot, but in my classroom I  allow a good bit of flexibility with my homework, so if my students are already doing well with spelling or their story, they may only practice it once.

My team also includes a reading comprehension sheet, a language arts sheet, and a math sheet.  For the last few years, we've been using my printables, but I've always thought that I would love to create a layout similar to the morning work our students do.  So many of our students don't have support at home, so I felt like if our students had something similar to what they do at school, then that would allow them to practice even if they were alone.  Not only will that hopefully build their independence and confidence, but it should help homework fall into the time frame we want.

Now, I'm sure some of you are going to look at my new homework packet and think, "Faith, a lot of it is repeated and it's easy."  It is definitely repeated and it does start off easy, but there is a reason.  It is our job to teach our kids new skills.  I wanted the first few weeks to be very easy so that teachers would have an opportunity to teach new skills.  I think it's very important for homework to be a review of what students already know.  Every three weeks, skills will slightly change and each nine weeks will get a little tougher.

Our students are going to have homework the rest of their lives.  If we want parents to support us and help us, then I feel like our students need to feel successful and not overwhelmed.

If you are still curious about my new homework packet, feel free to click the image below.  It will allow you to download the first week of homework so you can see the layout.  Right now, I have the first nine weeks done, but I am hoping to have the second nine weeks ready in the next few weeks and the remainder of the year done by Christmas.


Have a great week and let me know if you have any questions :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Fun Books to Read



I just got some new books for my classroom.  Outside of Mercy Watson, I've never heard of any of these books, but I loved the covers and the fact I could picture myself reading them to boys or girls.

What are some of your favorite books to read to your first grade class?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to School Bandana Gifts

For the first day of school, I always like to have a little treat for my kids.  Usually, I order little boxes from Oriental Trading, but this year I wanted to try something new.
I found a cute bandana idea on The Shopping Mama and had to make them for my classroom.


Below are the supplies you need and the steps for how I did my bandanas.  I also included several pictures so that you can see the final product.


 I'm also linking up with Monday Made It, so feel free to click the link below to go find other fun ideas.
Also, if you haven't hit up TPT yet for the sale, click the image below to go shop.  Don't forget to use the code when checking out.
Have a great Monday!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back to School Sale

Are you ready to go back to school?  I'm not quite ready either and my first day back is TOMORROW!  I love my teammates and I love teaching, but I'm not an early morning girl, so I'm going to slightly miss my summer schedule or is it my non-schedule summer?

So, I have some awesome news for you that may get you closer to ready for summer.  TPT is throwing a sale on August 3 and 4.  That's Monday and Tuesday!
If you are like me, you may have a few gaps you want to fill in for the coming year.  Here are some of my favorite packets that are in my store and some of my favorites that I've bought from other sellers.  ALL of these are packets that I use in my classroom and a lot of them I use daily.

I've linked all of the packets, so it will be easier for you to grab them.

MORNING WORK BUNDLE
This is one of the packets I use in my own classroom every day.  When I created it, I made sure that it constantly reviews and repeats skills for language arts and math.  The bundle contains 360 pages.  If you aren't quite sure you want the bundle, you buy the individual 9 weeks packets.


QUESTION IT! BUNDLE
Last year, my kids were struggling with their reading comprehension.  I decided to create passages that would be on their level with questions that were based off the passages.  The beginning passages use lots of short vowel words and Fry words while other sets were created to challenge your better readers.  While this is a bundle, you can also get each set individually.

CALENDAR MATH
My calendar math is not the same as the traditional calendar math.  It was created to work with Activboards and other interactive whiteboards.  It includes slides for each month and for many of the standards that are taught in first grade.  Personally, I love it because it frees up my bulletin board space in my classroom and my kids buy in more because first graders love using anything that is interactive.

TEACHER ORGANIZATION PACKET
I have multiple designs of this packet, so you can pick one that fits your personality.  This packet includes all the things that you need from forms, lesson plan templates, calendars, and labels.  It is also editable, so you can type on it if that's what you prefer.



PRINTABLES BUNDLE
This bundle includes printables for every season and many of the holidays.  All of the printables are based off of first grade standards, so they are perfect for assessments, practice, and homework.  If you aren't sure that you need a whole bundle, then feel free to start with getting one of my individual packets.  I included examples of some of my fall packets below.

LISTEN UP! Bundle
This packet is by Fluttering through First Grade.  My whole team uses it, especially at the beginning of the year.  It is aligned to standards and it is perfect for helping your students develop listening skills.  Oh, and they have them in individual sets if you want to try just one packet.

DIRECTED DRAWINGS FOR THE YEAR
This packet is by First Grade Blue Skies.  Jennifer started making these awesome freebies on her blog last year that I think ALL first grade teachers realized were just incredible.  Since they were such a hit, she developed an entire packet.  I bought it the second it was available.  These pair up perfectly with writing activities and are so much fun.  Even though the drawings are directed, you definitely see your kids' individual personalities.

READING STRATEGY CARDS
This packet is by Hello Literacy.  It's a tiny little packet, but it is one of those things you will use every day when working with your reading groups.  I printed these on card stock and laminated them.  The colors are vibrant and they instantly grab your attention.

FLUENCY STRIPS
This packet is by The Moffatt Girls.  This is another packet that my whole team uses.  They are great for your beginning readers and are perfect for allowing your students to practice sight words in sentences.

I hope you find one or two packets out of these that you can use.
Have fun shopping!