Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Traditions

With each season comes new traditions at our school. Each year we put up a Christmas tree in the lobby and all the kids have an ornament with his/her picture on it.

We also are treated to Cookies with Auntie Claus where students listen to a story read by our own "Auntie Claus" and then get to have cookies and milk. Our media center become transformed into a beautiful cozy setting and makes everyone feel right at home.

We also have traditions in our classroom. Each year we hold our own book exchange in the class. Each kid is asked to donate one book under $5.00. (For those that can't afford it I always have some extra wrapped books so that everyone gets one). It can be a holiday book or any other book. The book is wrapped and students are allowed to write who the book is from if they choose. During our class party, we gather in a circle. Each child is given the opportunity to choose a book out of the pile (we pull class numbers out of a box). Once everyone has a book we get to shred them open and see what great new book everyone recieved. This has always been a favorite with the kids and parents.

Another tradition we have is to collect for a charity. This year we collected for BEAM which is a local organization that provides food, clothing, and personal items for families in our area. Even after our school food drive was complete our class still collected about 25 more cans of food. This year our class alone was able to donate over 100 cans to local food organizations. What better way to teach children about giving to others.

I feel lucky that we are able to share so many traditions with our students. I know that these will become lifelong learning experiences and memories for them. Isn't that what teaching is all about!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Academy of Science

Yesterday I was fortunate to share a demonstration lesson for a group of teachers in our county for Academy of Science. It is exciting being on the instruction end of this new learning as teachers think about the depth of science in their classroom and how to incorporate the 5 E's into their teaching.

After the video conference I was able to spend the afternoon with them discussing not only the lesson but instruction in the primary grades. This is a great group of teachers who are motivated, risk takers, and eager to learn. This year we will have two more AoS days. I can't wait to see the progress they are making in their classrooms.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Time for Giving

As teachers we teach our students to be academically ready for the world but we also try to make sure we help them to become considerate, helpful, caring individuals. This time of year is a great time to help our students learn about giving to others. BJ's who is one of our business partners this year is helping us do this with our canned food drive. Each year Chets Creeks has a Giving Tree. Students are encouraged to bring in cans of food, toys, clothes, or whatever they feel would help other families in need. One thing our school does is that we support needy families from our school community first. We make baskets for those families during the holidays so that everyone will have plenty of food. This year, BJ's has offered our school $1,000 for 1,000 cans of food donated. Though that may seem like a lot, I know that not only will we meet our goal but will exceed the standard! I can't wait to hear how many cans of food will be donated to help our community families!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Top Blogger!

Today we had our awards ceremony for our first graders. One of our goals this year is for our students (and parents) to be more involved in our class blog. We encourage them to read it with their parents. We entice them with simple rewards when they have posted a comment. For some children, they are excited by what they find on our blog. They can't wait to see pictures or see what our Extra Expedition is. This is especially true for one of our little girls - Faith. Today Faith received the Top Blogger award for posting more comments than any one else in the class. Faith gets on the blog a couple times a week (I am told by her mother she logs in herself) and writes her own comments. She is proud of herself and learning how to type on the computer. She loves to share her thoughts. She is seeing how we can bring part of the classroom to our homes for our families. But more important, Faith (at 6 years old) is learning about the technology that is part of our every day lives. She is a "top blogger".

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Time..Time...Time we ever feel like we have enough of it? As a wife, mom to two BUSY teenagers, and a teacher who loves her job, there is never enough. Especially when there is so much out there I want to do and learn. This year I have stretched myself to continue learning how I can use technology in the classroom. One thing I have learned it that learning about technology takes time. It amazes me when I look at the clock and realize that two hours has passed. Tonight was just another one of those days. I found this great site from Jenuine Tech. This site is dedicated to helping teachers learn how to use technology in their classroom. If you go under the newsletter section, she has an area where she highlights different blogs and websites from teachers once a month. There were so many great sites and so many ideas. If you can, take the time to read and search all there is to offer. I hope you will find new ideas as well. Just remember you'll need a little, okay - a lot, of time!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Always a Learner

Some people believe that you go to school, get a degree, and then you are done. For teachers, I don't think we can ever stop being a learner. Today I found a great new site that allows me to complete my own professional development in technology. I came across this new ning - classroom 2.0. This ning is all about technology and education. WOW...if you need to learn ANYTHING about Web 2.0 you should check this out. The ning is open to anyone. They also have a great Wiki about Web 2.0 with explanations and links to help those that may not be as proficient as others - such as myself. I am really excited to become involved in their forums and learn all the great things they have to offer. You can also find an introduction and the location of it's members on voicethread. I hope that this ning can offer you something new as well.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


For many people, they may not understand the importance of traditions. Here at Chets, traditions are the foundation of our school. Each year there are certain things that happen because we feel they are important and provide meaningful memories. One of those events is our Literary Celebration. At the end of October, our school is transformed by Literary Pumpkins. Each year I walk out thinking my pumpkin looks the best only to be WOWed when I see what other classes have done. I can't believe they get better and better. One important aspect I believe in with this event is that all students should be able to have a part in the process. I love to find a book that kids can make a little pumpkin to go with. This year our book was Apples to Oregon. It is a great story and the kids love listening to the adventures of Delicious. The kids homework project was to decide on one type of apple and make their pumpkin look like that apple.

They couldn't have gotten any better.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Making field trips meaningful

Today our first graders visited MOSH (Museum of Science and History). We have been on this field trip for many years. When we got there I was very happy to see that they had added a whole new Force and Motion section because we are currently working on that in our Science standards. But the one thing that I hate about this trip is that there are always so many, many students there. We have about 220 first graders there ourselves. I worry the kids never get enough out of it because they have to share the space with so many other children. Do they hear all the cool information when they press the button? Did they get to try all the neat science tools? Did they get to see everything there?

Today I was put back into the mind of a 6 year old as I was reminded that they don't care that there are tons of kids all around. They don't care that it is loud. They don't mind that they didn't get to see EVERYTHING. Today, I was reminded that they enjoy just being able to see new things, learn new information about ANYTHING, and are excited by just being there. For many of our students this year, this was their first time being to MOSH. They were so excited to see all the great things they have - like the skeletons of people and manatees. We ate lunch with our friends at Friendship Fountain and played vocabulary games while we ate. We shared our food with our friends.

They had a wonderful time with their classmates and learned something new. This was a meaningful field trip!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What is coaching all about?

As the science coach for Kindergarten and First Grade, my goal is to help teachers learn best practices for teaching science to our future scientists. For the most part, that entails having meetings to discuss the standards, curriculum, look at student work, and discuss ways to teach in an inquiry classroom. For many teachers in the primary grades, they are still learning how to write and teach lessons in the 5 E model . Some times we forget that teachers are just like our students - they learn from modeling. This week I spent Tuesday in 5 Kindergarten classes teaching a lesson from their pumpkin unit. Hopefully, spending time modeling one lesson will increase the time and passion that each one of them spends in science instruction. Hopefully, they are able to vizualize exactly what some parts of the 5E model look and sound like. Hopefully, I made a difference for not just one teacher, but 5 teachers. That is what coaching is all about!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Celebrating Mem Fox

In our class we have just finished our unit of study on Mem Fox. What a great author for first graders. They love her work and she is great model for Authors as Mentors.. On Friday we celebrated her work and her homeland. We began with our Reader's Theatre of Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge. What a great way to teach comprehension, fluency, and intonation! We had crafts all day and re-read her stories. If you have any great ideas from an author study celebration, please drop us a comment. You can check out all our fun from our class blog.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Open House

Welcome to Open House at Chets Creek. At our school Open House means more than just meeting the teacher and looking around the room. Open House is a time to learn about their childs' day.

In our classroom, we do everything we can to motivate the students to come to Open House. We talk about what we are going to share with the parents. We discuss we want to show off (this year it was a song with the months of the year). We talk about how excited we are for the parents to see our work and our classroom.

This year we began with a song. Once we were done the kids stayed on the floor and read our Mem Fox books (this is our current author study). Then we presented a short powerpoint presentation about key information to help first graders be successful. Then the fun began. Each student was given a map of Australia with 7 different activities (ex. read the standards board with your parent or find two word family charts to read). One of the activities was to complete the skllls sheet that was an example of what we do in class. The final project was to name 3 out of the 7 states (or territories) that are included in Australia. This was a previous homework assignment from the week prior. The kids were calm but the parents were sweating bullets! Finally the kids came up, shared with us the great job they did with thier parents, and received a treat.

It was a great Open House. We love getting to see our kids with their families. I only hope that each parent walked away with positive thoughts about first grade.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Traveling Chet and Chelsea

This year we have started a traveling bear for our school and classrooms. Many classrooms have adopted their own Traveling Chet. Our class has Chet and Chelsea. Twin bears that are ready to see the world. We have invited parents and students to take Chet or Chelsea with them on their travels and to document it along the way with journals or pictures. We are so excited to see and learn about their destinations. You can tune into all our Chet travel bears to learn about their journey around the world in 180 days!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Flag Raising - A Tradition at Chets Creek

On Friday we had our first Flag Raising Ceremony of the year. This has been a tradition at our school since the beginning. What a celebration it is. The whole school is able to come together and be a part of this ceremony. Students and teachers gather around our primary playground. On the side of the school, our principal and administrators stand together. The patrols are called out to raise the flag, pledge allegiance, and sing the National Anthem. Then Mrs. Phillips sends a message to all the students and teachers. It may be about making good choices and presenting ourselves as good school citizens. It may be about how our families support our school through PTA and the importance of that connection. It may be about the men and women who serve our country to protect our flag and our freedom. What ever the message is for the day, it is always a valuable thought. What a great way for our children to understand the need to respect our flag and what living in our country means.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

School is finally starting to become routine

For those of you that live outside of Florida (especially Jacksonville) you may not know that our school year has been anything but normal so far. We started school on the 21st of August only to attend two days that week until we were showered by Fay. It may have only been a tropical storm but it dumped many inches of rain and wind on us which in turn stopped us from going to school. We came back the following Monday to what felt like the first week of school for us and the students. The week was rough as we were all trying to figure out exactly what day we were on - mentally! This week started with Labor Day off and put us on a four day week - crazy once again. With 12 new students added into our looping class, we could not take for granted that they knew what to do. As hard as it was to get rituals and routines down with all the days off in between, this week our class is becoming one once again.

Our kids will become better readers and writers, mathematicians, and scientists! They will have a year full of music and art. They will become immersed in books. They will have lots of PE and recess time to run and play. They will become fabulous first graders. I hope you enjoy our journey around the world in 180 days!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It was a great first day...

Every year we wow our students the first day of school. This year was no exception. Although not only did the students have a wow moment, but I am sure each teacher in our building did as well. This year we were blessed with a visit from Bruce Junek. He gave an impressive discussion of his travels with his wife as they biked across the world. It took them 26 months as they biked through 22 different countries. I highly suggest checking out their website and viewing the wonderful pictures they have taken along their journey's.

When we returned to class we had a scavenger hunt around our school. This year we visited resource classrooms and the office and left them treats instead of finding treats for us. We wanted to let all of them know how much we appreciated them and that we were looking forward to another great year. We also decorated boomerangs we had ordered for the kids. Before we knew it, the day was coming to an end. We put on our new t-shirts and headed down to the lobby for our first of many class pictures. It was a great day to the beginning of a great year. I hope you enjoy our journey not only through our class but through Australia as well.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Around the World in 180 days!

On Monday we begin the first leg of our journey around the world at Chets Creek Elementary. I am anxious to share and learn about our country ~ Australia. For me it a place I want to journey to in real life so I look forward to learning about it along with my kids. This is an exciting year as we begin a virtual tour around the world. What does that mean? To me it means there are endless possibilities. How cool is that if we can meet kids in first grade from Australia and the kids can blog about what school is like for each of them. Wouldn't it be neat to blog with someone on the other side of the world about what the daily temperature was and make comparisons between our weather and theirs? What if we studied different places within the country and blogged what we learn for others to read. I know that there will be many ideas that come to mind as we embark on this new year. I hope that you continue to travel with us and read about it through our class blog.

If anyone from Australia is interested in making a connection to our class, we would love hear from you.

G 'day mate!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Starting to Put the Pieces Together

As always summer seems to slip by so fast. We sneak off for vacation as soon as possible to get away and relax. We spend our time cleaning closets, organinzing things around the house, shopping, and enjoying our friends and family. But before we know it, school comes back around.

During the summer I spend a lot of timing planning what my classroom is going to look like academically and visually. Most of the academic stuff comes along with whatever changes are taking place within the county. Usually we have our pacing guide set prior to leaving for the summer but this year we couldn't even do that. Our county has adopted a new reading series, working on a new writing pacing guide, written new math standards, and reworked the science pacing guide along with changing primary standards. There will be some changes but hopefully we will still be able to be ourselves.

As far as our room goes, my hopes of transforming our room to the Australian Zoo took a dive. After weeks of searching on-line and in stores I have not been able to find what I wanted. What a disappointment! In light of the situation I have decided to do the Great Barrier Reef along with a fellow colleague. As you can imagine there is plenty out there about the ocean. My new direction is to help kids learn about this great ecological area. I hope to still teach them about the conservation efforts of the reef and the plants and animals that live there. I want them to understand about the environmental issues that surround the world's largest coral reef system. More important, I hope that each child walks away knowing that he/she can make a difference to conserve these precious environments. I really look forward to connecting this work to that of our Mem Fox author study.

It will be a great year!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It may be summer but...

Although we are a couple weeks into summer and I should be relaxing and enjoying my family time, school never seems to be far from my thoughts. As a looping teacher, I think it is even harder because we are thinking about the children we had all year and interested in how their summer is going as well. For us teachers at Chets Creek, summer is a time that many of us are planning our year. As for me, it also includes finishing up a vocabulary unit that I have been working on since last summer with some other colleagues from school. Thank goodness we have finally finished making our revisions after implementing it in our first year. Now we are planning how to make a vocabulary connection in science as well.

The summer also includes planning our theme into our classrooms. This year our theme is Around the World in 180 Days. You can catch a glimpse into our video preview on Mrs. Timmons blog. For first grade teachers our country is Australia. How great is Australia!! To begin with, this ties directly into our Mem Fox author study we do each year. Not only that, Australia is a fascinating country with many different habitats, culture, and abundance of unique animals. This is where my inspiration for classroom theme ties is for me. If all goes as planned, our room will be transformed into the Australian Zoo that was started as a reptile park by Steve Irwin's parents in the 70's. I am hoping that this journey will not only teach our students about the wonderful animals and habitats of this country but about conservation and programs that help animals all over the world. Make sure you check it to see how we work through this project over the summer to prepare our students for this new adventure!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

It's that time of year!

Well the weeks have passed and blogging has had to take a back seat to all the events of the end of the year. Somehow the last two weeks of school go by so quickly that you can't believe it. Excitement from the kids grows more every day as it does with us as well. Our end of the year is filled with many memories for our little kindergarteners. This year we had our first Wacky Olympics hosted by our PE coaches. The kids had a blast playing different field events even though it was hot, hot, hot. We also had our end of the year awards ceremony. This is a wonderful celebration of all our children as we give out awards, present the kids with gifts, and watch a movie from their first year. It always amazes me how much the kids grow and change. We also have our team celebration which this year was a Luau theme. We had seashell games, limbo, beach ball relay, and Ducky Pool Party game to name a few. The kids had lunch with hamburgers, hot dogs, fruit, and chips. Then we went back to our rooms to make leis. Our wonderful day ended with hula dancing lessons in the cafeteria. What more could any 5 and 6 year old want! As we close this week, we are able to take some time and enjoy the kids in a relaxed atmosphere as we dress silly all week. This week we are dressing in wacky clothes, wearing PJ's and having pancake breakfast, and having silly sock day. We will also have our talent show on Wed. afternoon. We can't wait to see them all perform one way or another. As with all teachers, the end of the year is exciting yet sad. We love the idea of a couple weeks to relax but we find we miss the kids as well. Lucky for me, the class will loop with me next year. At the start of next year, we will celebrate being together again and look forward to another great year!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Carolyn Crimi visits Chets Creek

This week we had our annual author visit. This year we hosted Carolyn Crimi.

What a great presentation she gave. One of the best things I loved from her was the idea of a "story hunt" and of course she had to put on her special hat which always helps her write.

She had the kids imagine that she was in her house (which is 100 years old) and follow her along as she looked for things to write about. The kids were so excited as she invovled them in helping her write a story out loud.

She was energetic, creative, and full of imagination.

At the end of the presentation she shared "The Louds Move In" and had the kids laughing through the whole book. It was great to have her here with us and movitate our young writers. Check out her website - Carolyn Crimi.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Celebration of the Arts

This week we have been having our annual Art Extravagza week at Chets. This is a week full of assemblies that expose the children to all the different cultural arts.
This week we started out with The Riverside Guitar Quartet. They were four guys who could really play a variety of music on guitar. On Tuesday we listened to jazz by The Kelly-Scott Jazz 6-tet. The kids loved that!

Wednesday was a Japanese storyteller named Kuniko Yamamoto.

On Thursday we watched the muralist Cliff Beaman as he drew beautiful pictures from chalk (with music in the background.)

On Friday we were able to see Tom Sapp. He is a graphic designer who has made many characters for mascots.

He even created Chets Creek a mascot of their own!

The kids loved the programs. On Friday night we celebrate with a family night of Arts Extravaganza.

The kids will have opportunities to make different things with their parents and see other types of art being done at the same time such as pottery.

We also have a silent auction where anyone can bid on themed baskets put together by each classroom. You would be amazed at them!

It is a fun filled week followed by a great night. What a great opportunity to enrich our children.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Looking for Something New

The great thing about blogs are they allow you the opportunity to learn from others as well. One reader has shown me a great website that allows readers to read books on-line. They also offer books in different languages. Not only does this site have free on-line books to read but also has a great program that anyone can use to create a book on-line. Plus it has a tutorial on how to create your book. The site is free - all you have to do is register. The site is Big Universe. Check it out and give me your thoughts of how you can use it with your class.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Time to Celebrate our Teacher of the Year

At Chets Creek we always celebrate big and with style. That certainly is true when it comes to our Teacher of the Year breakfast. This year that teacher was Haley Alvarado. We begin by welcoming our V.I.P. into our theme decorated media center. We start with breakfast and then each grade level performs a skit in honor of our TOY. By the end of the morning we are laughing uncontrollably. At the end of the day we will meet as a team to attend the district's Teacher of the Year Awards. It will be great ending to a great day!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Connecting the Work

At Chets Creek we continue to think about how we connect the standards with the work we are doing in our classrooms. One way to show this alignment is through a standards based bulletin board. This month we chose to showcase our story the students made to How Little Cloud Became a Big Cloud. Although we don't have the actual voice thread playing next to it (we are hoping to get that up and running this week)we have the individual pieces of student work up along with the class portion. The rest of the students sheets were placed on the clips so that the whole story would be shared. Parents and other teachers are able to see how influential an author can be to students during an author study and how they are able to take on that author's craft. I can't wait to see how this impacts their narrative writing throughout the rest of the year!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How Little Cloud Became a Big Cloud

After listening to Little Cloud by Eric Carle, we decided to write our own sequel to his work - How Little Cloud Became a Big Cloud. The kids loved this book so much and loved thinking about what little cloud could turn into. They wrote the middle of the story on their own and then we wrote the beginning and ending together as a whole group. What fun it was to hear everyone's ideas. We decided to voice thread the piece. We love it and I am sure you will love it to.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A great way to share books!

Are you looking for something new to use with your class? Check out this great website that allows you to share on-line books with your class directly through their site or on your blog/website. It is Lookybook. It is a free website that has a wide range of books categorized by genre, author, or illustrator. What a great opportunity for parents to read new books with their child and share books that we also have read as a class. There is a wide range of difficulty which allows readers of all levels. Best of all, it gives you an opportunity to preview a book and decide if you are interested in buying it. The downside of it all is that if there is a lot of print, the size can make it a little difficult to see unless it is enlarge on a nice size screen.

One of my favorite characters is SkippyJon Jones. He is full of excitement, mischief, very creative, and always into trouble. If you haven't met SkippyJon, take a moment to enjoy this book. (If you click on the glasses it enlarges the image)

I can't wait to share all these books with my class. Please post a comment if you have any great ideas to use with this website!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Goodbye to Q Bear

This week we sent off one of our travel buddies - Q Bear.

The kids loved him but they also loved learning about Q Bears home - Craig, Alaska. The kids loved learning about this small town that has about the same number of people in the town (1,100) that our school does. They also found it amazing that Craig is also a temperate rain forest and gets about 90 inches of rain a year.

This year it has been a great experience for our class to get to know kids from other parts of the world. Not only are they learning about new places but they are also learning to write letters to others about themselves. They have learned that boys and girls all over the world really are just like them although they may have different activities they enjoy depending on where they live. I was so proud of our letters this time and to see how much the children have grown in this area. Here are some of the great notes to Q Bear and his family as he leaves us on another adventure. (Don't forget to click on the student work to enlarge it)