Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Guest Blogger: Growing Firsties

Hi Super Star Friends of Kyp!!!!

It is SUCH a pleasure to be guest blogging for my sweet friend Kyp today!!! Thanks so much for the invite!!!

Growing Firsties

I am Lisa Mattes from Growing Firsties - a semi-organized yet fairly-random first grade teacher in Wisconsin....Gooooo Badgers!!!

I had some trouble trying to figure out what I wanted to blab blog about on this guest post...

but I finally decided to blog about some routines I have going in my classroom.

The morning routines help my first graders build independence and organizational skills (hopefully)...

which ultimately leaves time for me to scramble to take care of the things I've forgotten to get done connect with each kiddo as they arrive.

Gotta love visuals, so I'm packing in some pictures here...

(please pardon the flash-on-laminate-sheen...it's just easiest to use my iPhone for the pics since it's the fewest steps to get the photos postable...)

I originally snapped these photos so I didn't have to get too wordy on my sub plans. 

Pictures DO speak a 1000 words!!!

This is what the Morning Job board currently looks like. (Though we're now in unit 8 for math, not unit 4...)

We start at the very beginning of the year with the first 3 items...we build muscle memory for those jobs with step by step practice & choral reading on a daily basis. 

Golden Tickets (thank you Teeny Tiny Teacher) are handed out to students for doing all the jobs.

If you want to learn more about Golden Tickets (as opposed to a clip chart), check out Teeny's first & second posts about how she uses them. 

My grade level all wants to be just like Teeny Tiny, so we use them the way she does!

Once they're pretty solid on those three (and once guided reading and Everyday Math Homelinks begin), we add jobs 4-6 and repeat the process of building muscle memory in similar ways as at the beginning of the year. More about job 4 in a minute...

After a few weeks of deepening all six routines, we add #7. 

For our Daily Warm Up activities, the main things we use are printables from my Common Core Crunch (a monthly ELA series) 

and from Kelley Dolling's Good Morning Work - Math (she's the brilliance behind Teacher Idea Factory!).

I'll throw Common Core Crunch on sale for today (4/9) and tomorrow (4/9 & 4/10) if you'd like to give it a try. If you want to 'try before you buy' go ahead and download the Preview file, since it contains 3 freebie sheets. Just click the picture above to get to it in my store.

Commercial over...

Another routine that helps keep me organized with Guided Reading is this handy dandy tub...

I began this routine part way through the year last year and modified it a little bit this year, too.

Each Book Club Group (guided reading) is assigned a color....red, orange, yellow, green, blue...

Each group has a section in the tub, in front of the fancy dancy divider. 

To make the dividers I trimmed 12x12 cardstock to the width of old, icky white board (cuz they're hard), folded the cardstock in half and adhered it to the whiteboard using clear packing tape.

More functional than classy, but oh well.

One side of the divider says Put in Book Box, the other says Keep in Envelope...that's because we almost always focus on a guided reading book for two days...(I'll post more on that another time.)

So I flip those signs accordingly...

Each night when I'm doing a variety of little tasks to get ready for the next day, I have a little white helper card in my calendar that I CAN'T move until I've addressed those two jobs!...

This little helper has helped me keep track of whether I've done the two jobs of arranging the divider signs AND if I've rotated Literacy Stations. Not pretty...but works SO well to keep me on track! 

There are just too gol-durn jobs to keep track of in a day that I just don't always remember if I've done something or not.

We won't talk about how sometimes I forget to rinse the conditioner out of my hair or shampoo a second time in case I hadn't done it the first time.


Each student has a poly envelope (ordered online for the whole grade level in August from the cheapest vendor) - they each get 1 poly envelope per year. 

We charge them $2 if they lose it. 

If it becomes damaged but can still hold the materials, we keep using it.

Each student's envelope gets a folded piece of duct tape on their envelope to help them remember to put their envelope in the correct section.
Envelopes #3 & 4 are hiding between #2 & 5!

This also helps me visually see that all have put their envelope in the right spot.

K...the next steps are a little picky-pants, but it really HAS helped me be more efficient during Book Clubs...

Each student is assigned a table spot at the book club table (kidney shaped table) and then I put a number on their duct tape according to their assigned seat (going from left to right at the table).

The duct tape DOES come off relatively easily when we switch groups around! At least it has for me all year long so far.

Groups have different numbers of students so I don't actually label the actual chair or table spot...just the way they sit from left to right.

This helps me keep it flexible so I can skip a chair between some particular students.

And, yes, students DO put their envelopes in their section in number order...that was the whole point of numbering them in the first place...so that I could easily hand out envelopes when the kids need them.

I hope this long post helps you out! It's nice to learn from one another, so I'd love to hear from you! 

You can find me lots of days over at Growing Firsties and it would such an honor if you dropped by!

Smiles - Lisa


  1. This is such a fabulous post,Lisa, and what a lovely blog Kyp!

    I love your mention of muscle memory. It really is the perfect way to describe training our students so that routines are second nature!

    Love your note to self in the calendar! I do that, too!

  2. Thanks Lisa for such a wonderful post!! Lots of ideas to get us all organized!!

  3. Holy cow Lisa! This is such a great post. Thank you for all of the fabulous ideas. Need to pin:)
    Sarah's First Grade Snippets

  4. I LOVE your idea for the guided reading books! They always stuff their book bags in with their homework and reading logs and everything gets smooshed together. Totally stealing that!!

    Primary Buzz

    1. I'm SO glad it will help you out!!!
      Smiles - Lisa

  5. Big fan of Kyp & Lisa and love a good organization post! You, my friend, are super organized! I heart that Guided Reading Tub and will definitely implement it next year!! Thanks for sharing!
    Peace, Love, and First Grade

    1. Thanks, Laura!! I heart you RIGHT back!!! :)

  6. What a great organizational post! I am love your routines! The pictures of what they are actually doing makes so much sense!
    Going Nutty!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Missy!! You are wonderful and I love your blog, girl!!

  7. Lisa - I love your guided reading trick with the old white boards...so smart!! I will have to keep that in mind for next year. xoxox
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After