Friday, March 29

5 for Friday, Spring Cleaning TpT Sale, High Low Linky

I'm FI.NA.LLY linking up with Kacey over at Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. Excited! Click the pic to link up. :)

1. My new favorite books...BOTH by Amy Krouse Rosenthal of Yes Day fame. 
reminds me of another favorite...Peter Reynolds' Ish. The OK, when turned vertical, is a stick person who is having fun being "okay" at lots of things knowing one day s/he'll be really excellent at something. Precious!!!


This Plus That: Life's Little Equations
is sweet as can be and FABulous for teaching inferences and selectively choosing words! 



big buildings+bustling=city

winding roads+rustling=country

Cute, cute, cutie cute cute!!! Fun in Writers Notebooks, too! Click either book title to find them on Amazon.

2. Is there an ankle bracelet on that Easter Bunny?

Another hilarious quote from my fabulous friend Shelley! This is the closest my daughter would get to that creepy Easter Bunny from the local Park & Rec Bunny Lunch (clearly held in a high class locale. hehehe.) Can't blame her!

3. High/Low Linky from my gal Katie. Head on over and link up!!
high low_thumb[3]

I’m starting with my low this month because it still breaks my's sort of going on right now. Brace yourself for a long segment here...or just scroll down to my high.

We lost my amazingly sweet mother-in-law suddenly and unexpectedly (for unknown, unexplained reasons) last year the Tuesday before Easter. That day she was shopping and voting and feeling fine in the morning...ill and at a clinic (not hospital) by 1:00 pm...passed away at 10:20 pm.

Her funeral service was the day before Easter last year. Thinking about Easter without her is so hard. Our grief is no longer raw, but it's still fresh. We think about and talk about and cry about her alllllllllthetiiiiiime.

We miss her for so many reasons...the biggest of all being how special her relationship was with our kids. She absolutely and completely oozed and radiated love for them, her only grandchildren. 

Her life story was quite incredible...her siblings and parents escaped  ( night, under blankets in a covered wagon in the winter. Her mom knew her kids were still alive by the wet marks on the blankets from where their noses/mouths were) during WWII and eventually emigrated to the US in the 50's where their family was sponsored by a farmer from a church in tiny town in western WI along the Mississippi River. She knew no English and was shunned by many in the community during her high school years spent there. People would CROSS THE STREET to move away from her. I can't imagine.

She met my father-in-law in Milwaukee at a dance sponsored by the local German group and they were married just shy of 50 years. He was a tailor and they built their first (and only) house for $18,500 and have paid cash for every single they own on his modest income. Such special people. Adorably small, sweet Germans still with thick, thick accents (I don't understand my f-i-l sometimes when he talks and I've known him over twenty years!).

Hilda was a get down on the ground, hide in the closet, make loud music while parading around the house kind of Oma (grandma). She was the most incredible cook and baked the most amazing treats. She watched our kids a few days a week up until her she joined God.

She is 100% absolutely in a better place. We just miss her like crazy. Every single day.

HIgh (2)
My high was DEFinitely my birthday. Such a fun day, filled with family and even some peace and quiet (a small miracle)! And, I loved doing the flash freebies and giveaway on facebook! What a blast!

My favorite gifts? Zach and Emily singing Happy Birthday to me while being over-dramatically conducted by my hilarious husband. Best start to the day EVER! first "I love you, Mommy" note from Emily on a teeny tiny piece of paper.

Treasures that fill my heart and beyond.

4. Greg! One of my bloggy besties, Mr. Greg…He has surpassed 1000 followers and is having a big fat giveaway that you MUST enter. I’m honored to be part of Prize Pack #3 along with some blogging legends!! Woot Woot! He has 5 Prize Packs going for a few more days. Head over and tell him I sent ya!

5. Spring Cleaning Sale!!

Sale pic created by the super talented Krista of Creative Clips on TpT and the Creative Chalkboard blog. You might recognize the graphics above - I used them on my April Common Core Crunch pack! I love Krista's work!

Time to clean out those TpT wish lists/carts!!!

I'm joining some fabulous bloggers/TpTers for a Spring Cleaning Sale over at TpT. Sellers are having anywhere from 10-20% off items in their store. Check out their links below!

My entire store will be 20% off. You can click the darling Spring Cleaning pic to get to my store and down below is the linky so you can shop at other fab stores, too. Have fun!

My own cart is FULL and I am excited to save money on some of the items I've been wanting for a while! And, I'm definitely buying clip art May's Common Core Crunch! My TpT cart runneth over.

Thanks a bunch for stopping by!!! Sending smiles of appreciation your way!!

Tuesday, March 26

Learning Together Linky - Writers' Workshop - Writers' Notebooks

I'm so excited to turn the Learn With Me: Writing Workshop series into a Linky!!!

Are you ready for the brilliant name for it?


Learning Together Linky: Writing Workshop

I'm so impressed with my ability with words I think I need a celebratory glass of wine. Ha. (On the words part). Wine...always.

What I'm thinking is that this Linky will address different topics each time and there will be a separate inlinkz link up for each topic. For example, today's topic is Writers' Notebooks, as noted on the graphic.

When you want to link up one of your posts (old or new), you link up with the corresponding linky. 

Meaning, since today's topic is Writers Notebooks if you have a Writers Notebook related post, you'll link it up to today's linky.

If you want to link up to the overview or components of your writing workshop, you can link up to that Linky by clicking right here or on the picture below.

We'll develop the topics as we go. How does that sound?

I'm hoping this Linky takes on a life of its own and we can link up with all kinds of writing workshop topics...

Personal Narrative Writing

Editing & Revising

Informational Writing


Procedures & Routines


The only thing I ask is that your post ties in with that Linky's specific writing workshop topic and that you link to that specific post (not just to your blog).

And, if you have an idea for a topic, add a comment or shoot me an email ( any time!


On to my post about today's topic...

Writers' Notebooks

First and foremost, I WISH that I'd had the kids personalize the covers all fabulous at the beginning of the year. 

There were a variety of reasons I did not have the kids do that this year and at this point in the school year, I've let my guilt go. 

Guilt's overrated anyways, right?

This post is in question-answer format. If you have any questions, add a comment and I'll update the post when I can.

1. How do you use Writers' Notebooks?
Check out a variety of samples from some of my medium to strong writers so that, if you'd like, you can use them as samples with your students. 

If you'd like them as a pdf, go ahead and click right here. You probably don't want to print them with the black background, but rather use them on your Smartboard. If you'd really like to print them, please email me at and I'll send them to you without the black background.

Memory Keeping & Prompt writing - 

I'll also have students follow up on a content area lesson by giving them a prompt or question to answer. 

I'll put the prompt/question and key words up on the smartboard or easel or whiteboard with the expectation to spell those words correctly.

List making
Students keep lists of their ideas for writing topics in their writing topics. Some of these lists are specific to a genre we're studying, other lists are lists that they themselves make and add to on their own.

Mini-Anchor Chart Storage
For each of our writing genres I shrink an example or anchor chart to half page size for students to store in their WN so they always have something to refer to (and to be accountable to) when they write something in that genre.

Weekend News recording
Every Monday morning, the Daily Warm Up expectation is for kids to record their Weekend News in their WNs. On Mondays I float around the room and comment/connect with them regarding their weekend. Recently I began trying to read over their Weekend News each Monday morning and make a comment of some sort. This helps with overall accountability plus it gives them an opportunity to share their news with me without bombarding me each Monday morning.

2. When do you begin Writer's Notebooks? Where do they store their W.N.'s?

As soon into the school year as possible. They are SUCH a lovely record of progress from the beginning of the year to the end that the sooner you start, the bigger the gains. Their handwriting alone in first grade has almost exponential growth!

They are stored in their seat sacks so they have quick, easy access to them at all times.

3. What are your "ground rules" for Writers' Notebooks?

  • Write so that you're PROUD of your work EVERY single time you write (cuz you'll LOVE looking back at it one day!)

  • New at the top (we make it an oral class mantra when we take them out)

  • 1st semester...use the lines as best as you can

  • 2nd really hard to use the lines AND the margins correctly (they REALLY do improve with the lines!)

  • Words on the First Grade Helper must be spelled correctly. Best $2 investment EVER! Thanks, Michelle Oakes!!! Making it editable made an already fantastic product even better!!!

3. How do you monitor Writers' Notebooks?

I check the WN on Monday mornings for Weekend News. I also roam around when I assign a prompt of some sort.

At the beginning of the year when I'm laying the groundwork for how we use WN I roam around a TON while they're working and take notes for mini-lesson ideas.

I'll also feature students who have done something exciting under the document camera. Kids really want theirs featured, so this motivates them to do their best work.

When we're learning (over and over) about capitalization and punctuation I have them open up to one of their recent entries and edit it for capitals and periods with their editing markers. I roam at this time as well.

When doing report cards, I'll collect them from students if I feel more data points for the grade I'm giving them.

4. When can kids write in them?

During Writing Workshop

In the morning once Daily Warm Up is done

When Literacy Station work is completed

In-between/filler times they can choose "smart work" on their whiteboard or WN

WOWZERS!!! That was a LOT. Thanks for sticking with me -- Keep reading for some fun news!! 

How do YOU use Writers Notebooks???? It would be an honor if you linked up!!! (Old or new post...please link the specific post url to the specific linky topic.)

AND...thanks for loving my Common Core Crunch as much as I do!!! Many of you have already purchased the April set - new buyers and veterans, too! It gives me a thrill to see a number higher than 1 behind your TpT user name when you've made a purchase because that means you are a repeat customer. 

I'm SO honored by your repeat business I can hardly stand it! Yet another reason I LOVE to give things away!

Speaking of giving about this...make sure you're a blog follower and leave a comment guessing my favorite Easter food OR activity. I'll give an April CCC away to the first person to guess my favorite food AND to the first person to guess my favorite Easter activity. Please leave one comment only, but you can guess a food and an activity in the comment.

Cheerio to Spring Break starting FINALLY on Thursday after school!!! Counting down. 


Saturday, March 23

TBA Freebie Friday & Common Core Crunch - April

Freebie Fridays

I am thrilled to be linked up with Teaching Blog Addict for Freebie Friday!!!

Common Core Crunch - April is hot off the press and I'm am so thrilled that you guys love it as much as I do!

My kids and I are addicted to these monthly packs! 

Sometimes my firsties actually CHEER when they see one sitting at their spots for Daily Warm Up. How cute is that?

When you download the Preview, these three pages are free so you can try before ya buy...

If you haven't liked my facebook page yet, you might want to...I love giving things away there! Here, too...but not usually at the same time.

In this monthly pack of April themed 25+ CCSS-aligned ELA printables you will also find pages like these...

Paper options with & without lines to write upon...

I had a SERIOUSLY fun birthday filled with fb flash freebies and a mini-giveaway, too!

Have a fabulous day!

Friday, March 22

Hippity Blog Hop FrEeBiEs!

Hippity Hoppity, Easter's on its way!!

Learning With Mrs. Leeby
Thanks so much, Irene, for inviting me to be part of this fabulous hop!!!

You might be here from my crush, Mr. Greg's blog. Love him!

You might be starting here with me. And then ya get to go on to another one of my bloggy buddies next!

Either way...WELCOME!!!!

This sweet little hop works like this...

------->13 stops (EACH with a freebie)

Before giving you my creation, though, I must shout out the lovely digital gurus' work that I used to make my freebie...

The freebie backgrounds are from...

----->Ashley Hughes (TpT Store)
click pic to head to her blog

and those adorable freebie Peeps are from... 

----->Krista Wallden (TpT Store)
Click pic to head to her blog you go -
Two literacy centers for you... click the cover to snag it up.

 Each center does have a large header, but they're not pictured...

You may notice a typo in the Plurals recording page, but it's no longer a typo on the actual pdf that you'll be getting.

Thanks for hoppin' by!

Now, head off to the fantast-errific Jennifer Tice at...

Hoppity Smiles - Lisa

Friday, March 15

Learning Together Linky - Writing Workshop Overview

UPDATE: This is now a LINKY!!! Please consider linking up one of your old or new posts that covers your Writing Workshop Overview.

More Writing Workshop Topics to come each with their own linky...

Each post will describe an aspect of Writing Workshop in my world...

(much gratitude to: Lucy Calkins, Katie Wood Ray, Stephanie Parsons, my current and former school reading specialists, my amAAAAzing grade level teams and Y-O-U...the amazing bloggers and followers that inspire me all the time!!!!)...


I plan to include freebies as often as possible! 

I'd also REALLY love to learn from you! up at the bottom of this post...with an old or new blog post.

Please just make sure that...
1)You link your specific post instead of just your blog.
2) Your link is specific to the topic of that linky.

Thanks for considering!!!

On to an overview of Writing Workshop in my world:

As it is for now....I'm always mixing it up to stay fresh (and to drive myself crazy sometimes)...

I love, love, LOVE teaching writing! The kids grow exponentially as writers in first grade. Once they start to really consider their audience their writing gets SO good!

Our schools are moving toward being a Teachers College Reading & Writing Project Homegrown Institute for Reading Workshop. Eventually Writing Workshop will follow.

For now, though, we're a bit on our own, building the curriculum from here, there and over there...

There are three main of writing types we incorporate...

Here's what we do:

Writing Process writing is the absolute HEART of our Writing Workshop...

We study different genres of writing throughout the year. Each study includes reading and listening to books published in that genre. 

The big idea of every read aloud, every day, all year long, is reading like a writer...that"anything you see in a published book is something you can try in your own writing/illustrating."

We also emphasize that during STAR time in Reading Workshop (Study Think Ask Respond). During partner sharing, students are encouraged to share ideas and writers' crafts from one of their books that they want to borrow and try in their writing.

Our Genre Study Schedule will look roughly like this (thanks, Teacher's College) next year...but is subject to change each year. 

We also have room for flexibility to take advantage of teachable moments.

This year we've followed a bit of a different schedule, but we've incorporated these units...

Illustration Techniques Study 
Have you read Katie Wood Ray's In Pictures & In Words? It's incredible and really sets the stage for how we study illustrations all year long.

Personal Narrative
We use my Starting Point: Personal Narrative Pack and I must say I just LOVE how my students write during this unit! They get so excited about their ideas and we really have so much fun becoming a community of writers. This unit is also when we develop our Writing Partners (which I'll talk about in another post).

Question & Answer Books

Friendly Letter
The kids have SoOoOoO much fun with this unit! It's a fab one for focusing on capitalization, ending punctuation and spacing since letters tend to be shorter than stories. It's also delicious for getting kids to REALLY start considering their audience when they write...

This unit is a ToTaL blast! The kids have such a blast writing their reviews. They still choose to write reviews and they're so cute!

How To Books
I wrote a brief post about some of the read aloud books I used this year and this genre has been sooo much more fun this year! 

This year is the first year we're doing more than a dabble into poetry. 

I can't wait to try Susan Moran's (of the amazing TGIF blog) Poetry unit!!! I love her work!!!

I also LOVE Regie Routman's book Kid's Poems: Teaching First Graders to Love Writing Poetry. It's such a wonderful resource!

Non-fiction Writing
Students research a topic of their choosing and write about their research. This year we focused on using the wonderful subscription website Pebble Go and narrowed the scope of their research to animals. Using the headings from Pebble Go, kids took notes and made a non-fiction book about their animal, using PG as their main source of information. It was a BLAST!

Fiction Stories
I'm SO excited to implement this genre study for the first time this year! I plan to use this recent purchase as the foundation...Jenny Bender is a Lucy Calkins protege and staff developer - her book looks amazing!

For your freebies today, I'm revisiting some freebies that have been popular in the past...

Student Writing Paper with Editing Circles - there are several different styles of paper. Having the editing circles right there keeps editing at the forefront. The goal is for the kids to be able to put a smiley face in every when they re-read for upper/lower case letter usage, if they notice issues, they are to fix them before putting the smiley in that circle.


A planning web...(sorry in advance for the double clicking required)...we used this when we were mining for more ideas/topics. Kids lOvEd sharing their stories!
What are you wondering about Writing Workshop? I'd LoVe to infuse it into future Linky posts!!!

Feel free to link up...please make your link direct us to the specific blog post (not just your blog) about the specific topic of the linky.

© Growing Firsties. All rights reserved.
Design by Laugh Eat Learn // Theme by Pipdig