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Friday, July 27, 2012

First Day of School Writing {Guest Blogger}

Hey y'all!  This is definitely a post you'll want to read!  Mrs. Crow is an amazing teacher all around, but I especially consider her an expert in creating a classroom of passionate writers.  Enjoy the post!
--Mrs. Pollard

My name is Trish Crow and I had the pleasure to work with Mrs. Pollard last year.  I have taught kindergarten and first grade over the past 5 years.  Mrs. Pollard asked me to share my beginning of the year writing lesson for K & 1st grade.

I am extremely passionate about writing, it is my FAVORITE subject to teach!  To have a class that enjoys writing there are a few things you must do.  You must start the first day of school, write everyday, and no matter how frustrated you become, keep writing!

On the first day of school before writing, I share a “mini lesson”.  The purpose of this lesson is to remove the pressure.  I begin with talking to the kids about the stages of writing.  To do this with Kindergarteners or First graders I bring up siblings, you know YOUNGER children :)

I am at the board with my marker and I draw a four square.
I ask the question, “who has a little brother or sister?”-someone always does.  I ask how do they write?  I usually get a couple responses, “sloppy”, “with crayon”, or my favorite, “they don't write”.  I always hope for the last reponse because then I can say, “Oh, but they do”.  Everyone can write, but we all write differently.  Then, I tell them to watch and I'll show them how people write differently.

I draw a scribble while I say my sentence out loud.  I went to the park.  Then I ask the important question.  Who has seen someone write like this?  Hands fly into the air.  Then I say if you have a baby at your house I bet they write like this.
I go to the next square and as I say my sentence I draw a picture.  I went to the park.  I saw a house and a butterfly.(remember I am just saying the sentence)  I draw the picture and ask if anyone has ever written like this?  Again, hands fly up.  I say, I have seen a lot of kids in pre-school write like this.
In the third square I say, “I have seen a lot of kids write like this too”. Then I say the sentence- I went to the park- I take my time, I write very slowly as I am sounding out each word before I write a letter. I use invented spelling and link all of my letters together. This one usually gets a laugh. Then I point and read my sentence. For the laughs I point out that I used my sounds to find the letters, that's what writers do.
In the last square I write the sentence out. I take my time, stretch words, and use finger spaces with a lot of emphasis. I have used invented spelling in that square as well. Remember it's the first day of school!
After all of this is up on the board I tell the kids that I want to see how they write.  Remember, you just took the pressure off.  I ask them to write to tell me something about themselves or their family.  I pass out the papers and they start writing.

As soon as the first pencil hits the paper I start walking around with dramatic “oohs & ahhs”.  I make my first stop where I see someone using letters, “wow, you know how to write words!”, I say.  Then several other students get the confidence to show me words as well. 

We continue this for about 20 minutes, more or less, depending on how much they are willing to share the first day.  Once everyone is finished we have a share square.  We all come together and I invite the kids to share their work.  This is a proud moment for them to showcase their skills to their class.

Thanks for sharing, Trish! This is definitely a must-do lesson for the first day of school!  :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I have gotten numerous emails and comments about where I got my black hanging organizer as seen in this post last year.

I just went to the website where I got it and saw that they are having a sale on their classroom decor... and filetastics are only $5.00!  Seriously, folks, only $5.00!  I can't believe the deal.  The website is  They have lots of different colors so surely they have one to match your classroom decor.  Here's the link directly to the filetastics.  Go check it out!  :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tell Me More, Tell Me More! {Linky Party}

My personal rule is to not share personal stuff on this blog and keep it strictly focused on teaching.  I saw this linky party, however, and just couldn't resist.  I enjoy reading about the amazing teachers who are behind all of the wonderful ideas and resources I find in the bloggy world so I'm linking up with Mrs. Lemons from Step into 2nd Grade for her Tell Me More Linky Party!

1. I have forever and always wanted to be an elementary teacher.  When I was little I would make all of my stuffed animals sit at 'desks' in my bedroom and pass out work for them to do.  I then corrected it and recorded it in my grade book.  Oh, how I wish I still had my pink jean backpack full of my childhood teaching materials!  Who's with me?!

2. I hoard teaching materials.  I knew I had a lot of teaching stuff {books, games, etc.}, but it wasn't until I was packing up to move that I realized just how much stuff I have.  I used to have teaching stuff in my classroom, in my storage unit, and at my apartment.... now, it's ALL in my garage.  There's a lot of stuff in there!  I think it's an official illness.

3. I have some OCD tendencies.  For example, the volume on the tv and radio must ALWAYS be on an even number {or end in 5-- somehow that's ok even though it's not even}.  The same rule applies to the thermastat even though sometimes it'd be way more comfortable one number up or down.  I also check that the doors are locked multiple times each night before bed even though my husband has promised me he locked them.  Please, don't judge me.

4. I have two furry children who make my life complete {in addition to my hubby, of course}.  People think I'm a little crazy, but both of my pets have complete names.  My cat is lucky enough to have a hyphenated last name because I had him before I met the Mr.  I'm happy to introduce you to Reese O'Riley Church-Pollard {cat} and Hamilton O'Malley Pollard {dog}.  No, I'm not Irish... I just like how the O names sound!

And this is what their typical day looks like.....

5. I'm OBSESSED with The Small Things Blog.  This blog is all things hair, make-up, beauty, and home.  I L.O.V.E. it!  You've probably seen her hair pics and tutorials pinned on Pinterest.  Well, now that I've mentioned Pinterest I might as well admit that I'm obsessed with that, too.  {I know you all are, too.}

6. I used to love roller coasters and scary movies, but in my old age the thought of either one nearly gives me a heart attack.  Has this happened to anyone else out there?  Please, don't tell me I'm alone.

7. I truly appreciate my experiences living in the south for four years, but the north is my home.  I am loving every second of living in Ohio and being so close to family.  The Mr. and I have already had so many adventures with our families in our first month here.  Home is where your family is.

8. I love going to the zoo.  The highlight of any zoo trip is definitely the polar bears.  The Detroit Zoo has an amazing tunnel under the polar bears.  Let's just say I become mesmerized by these fuzzy white guys.

9. I think cowboy boots are amazing!  As a final nod to southern living I asked for a pair of cowboy boots for my birthday.  I thought they'd be the most uncomfortable things ever, but I couldn't have been more wrong.  Cowboy boots are awesomely comfortable.... and they look really cute with a dress!

10.  Yes, it bothered me to only have 9 items on this list so I added 10 just to make myself feel better!  :)

Now, tell me more about YOU!  Link up with Mrs. Lemons and share the quirks that make you YOU.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Are you organized?

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer.  I can't believe it's already the middle of July!  I'm certainly enjoying the free time and loving exploring my new town.  Let me just tell you... the Farmer's Market here is awesome!  I got a bunch of beautiful sunflowers and an upcycled windowpane last night.  I can't wait to go again next week!

So, back to my reason for blogging today... ARE YOU ORGANIZED?  Before we know it it'll be back to school time and we'll all be rushing around to get ready for our little ones to come to our classroom for the first time.  Check out my Teacher Keeper to help get you organized and ready for that first day.  It'll be one less thing you need to get ready in August!  Last summer I created an organizational binder for myself that housed all things important-- lesson plans, monthly calendars, teaching standards, meeting notes, and more.  I loved using my binder so I wanted to share with all of you wonderful teachers.  I have added 9 different themed Teacher Keepers to my TPT and TN stores.

Here are the themes I have available:

I have just updated all of my Teacher Keepers with customizable features so you can add your name to the cover and add any dividers you need!  Check them out in my stores: Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook.  {If you've already purchased one of my Teacher Keepers, you can go back to your purchases and redownload it for the updated version.}