Twas the Night Before School

Holy moly - school starts tomorrow!  It doesn't even feel real.  I can't believe I am going to have little brand new first grade friends in my room tomorrow! :)  From what I can gather, it looks like I am going to have a really good class this year.  Fingers crossed - last year was a bit rough challenging (mainly one who liked to throw rocks at my student teacher and chairs at other people, but then there were about 6 other boys who communicated with kicks and fists and rarely used words so . . . surely, it will be better than that?).  I am nervous!!!

I also feel really sad and upset today.  :(  We had our staff meeting this morning and after a big build up (choose a theme song as if you were a baseball player, a video montage of all our pictures with the song "Wind Beneath My Wings", learning that our school met and exceeded our API and AYP goals by over 20 points), our principal proceeded to tell us what Program Improvement looks like.  I talked about this in an earlier post but even though our school is fine, we have been mandated by the District to teach Language Arts for the first two and a half hours.

Here's the bad part:  I can't even do Daily 5.  I can't even use my supplemental materials.  I HAVE to use Houghton Mifflin the entire time.  I am not allowed to pull small groups, especially READING GROUPS during this time.  It is AWFUL.  I asked if I could use (for example) a short vowel activity that I created because the workbook page only had two problems and mine has ten and the answer is NO.  My team had a private meeting with her because we JUST. DIDN'T. GET. IT.  I mean, do you?  It got to the point that I had to ask (maybe beg is more like it) if it was OKAY for my early finishers to READ A BOOK.  My principal said (and I quote), "For how long?"  When I said, "um . . . (thinking what number in tarnation is she looking for me to say!?) . . .  about five to seven minutes and then I'll call them back to the carpet for the next lesson,"  she said, "Well, as long as it's not for any longer than that."

ARE. YOU. DYING? ..........................................

I had to stop and smell the soup for a minute.  Sorry about that.

I still don't know what I'm going to do.  Here's my schedule:

8:45-10:25 Language Arts
10:25-10:40 Recess
10:55-11:25 Language Arts
11:25-12:10 Lunch
12:10-1:45 Oral Language, Math (and twice a week I either have Library or Computer Lab, plus Wednesdays we get out at 1:57)
1:45-2:00 Recess
2:00-2:57 Science, Social Studies, ELD, Pack up, etc.

Where do I pull reading groups if I am not allowed to during my Language Arts block?

Okay, I need to stop.  I just keep re-reading, shaking my head, smelling the soup . . . I just have to stop.

On a bright note, I took some pics of my classroom.  Here's a little tour.  At least I have control over that (for now).

This is the view from my door.

Back to School bulletin board.  We will put writing on those red rectangles.

This is where I do most of my teaching with the kids on the carpet.  Notice the ugly TV?  We just got cords that connect from our computer to the TV last year.  Yep.  It was a big day.

Calendar (which I guess I am not allowed to do anymore) and another bulletin board which will have some sponge painted bears.  I have no idea when we'll sponge paint them, though.  Maybe they will take them home for homework???? (that's sarcasm)

This is my writing center.  Which I was going to use for Daily 5.  And now I think I will use it for . . . um, let's see . . . the Look, Don't Touch Center.  There is a table right in front of this but I didn't get it in the picture.  I also forgot to take a pic of my Library.  Oops.


Another bulletin board - (and that's the table by the writing center) we make first grade faces using yarn, buttons, etc.  The faces go above the yellow rectangles and we put a little half sheet of writing (all about themselves) on the yellow paper.  (I like to have the rectangles up and ready to go so that I can just staple.  It takes me FOREVER to figure out spacing . . . and yes, I take pics to remind me but every year, I have a different number of kids or I make the bulletin board the wrong size or I'm just a perfectionist.  The list is endless)

View of the whiteboard.  We have lots of storage behind the whiteboard! :)  And did you notice TODD?  (aka Terribly Old Decrepit Dinosaur, aka THE OVERHEAD) That's my technology.  All of you smartboard and Pentagon Parthenon lucky people make me jealous!!!!

Well, I'm going to wrap this up.  I have no clue what I'm wearing tomorrow.  I need to go figure it out.  
Thanks for listening!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

PS  Did anyone watch The Bachelor Pad??????  It was FANTASTIC!  Vienna is DRAMA and I can't stand Casey's voice.  It drives me crazy!  But I love it!! :) :) :)


  1. Wow! That's crazy that you have to follow that program to a T... I've never heard of that before! Maybe you can sneak some fun things in when no one is watching :)

    Good Luck tomorrow, have a great day!

  2. Wow that is crazy. I'm sorry. :( I'm sure you can sneak some incredible things in.
    Good Luck tomorrow. Can't wait to hear about your first day.

  3. I feel for you. I just got rid of my overhead last May and now have a document camera and projector- wahoo, technology big time (not!). My district is in program improvement too and it's frustrating. We have school from 8-2:15 and between Lang Arts and it's intervention time, math and intervention time, ESL time, we have 1/2 hour left for 100 minutes of PE a week, art, social studies, science, and oh yeah, talking to the students clean up and coming in in the morning. I understand what you're going through. Hope you have a good class this year. Good luck.

  4. OMG....I know exactly how you feel my district just adapted a program called Cscope. It has the Scope and Sequence in it. I teach in Texas so we don't use common core standards. anyway CScope also has lessons thet we don't have to use but our other resource Texas Treasure is no where near the same order. So MY Teamies spent the who morning trying to decide if we were just gona use the lessons or what we were gona do were all confused and lost. This whole CScope thing has made things extremely difficult for us.

  5. Your room looks so good! I can feel your pain this year we were told no calendar this year too. They also changed our reading block too! Crazy! Sometimes I wonder who is making these changes and if they have ever taught in the classroom...ugh! Hang in there and good luck this year!
    What I Learned in Kindergarten

  6. Oh my goodness, you poor thing.. I am so sorry! To completely set up your room and then learn you can't do certain things, how awful! Hang in there and good luck tomorrow! Your room looks great! Oh, and I TOTALLY posted on Bachelor Pad last night! haha! :)

  7. New follower!! I can't believe your school is going through that, that is crazy! And LOVE that you made a Bachelor Pad reference. I also found it to be amazing and couldn't agree more about Vienna and Kasey.

  8. Dear Kristin, Are you feeling our love for you? I hope so! You are actually being punished by the admin in your district when you have done nothing wrong. How crazy is that?!? Please hang in there!! Your room is lovely and your heart is so full of love for your students. All of us followers know that you are an amazing teacher. Please hang in there and keep your head high. This too shall pass.
    Love, Camille
    An Open Door

  9. Wow. So it sounds like your reading program (HM) is grammar and phonics based? I'm not familiar with it. I just think the idea of not being able to pull groups in 1st grade or any grade is horrific. It's hard to teach LA to a child that can't read or is struggling.
    Anyway, on a positive note, your classroom looks awesome! I can't wait to hear about your first day. I can't get into my class yet, so I'm living vicariously through you! Oh, and I'm glad you talked about Bachelor Pad; I haven't watched it yet and now I'm even more excited!!!

  10. No reading groups? At all? This just sounds like a step backwards!

    I'm taking a big deep breath for you and wishing you well!
    Spotlight on Kindergarten

  11. I just found your blog. I just read my first post of yours. and I. LOVE. You! haha

    1. You sound just like me...must be the sarcasm.
    2. Your principal sounds just like the ones I've had.
    3. I love your OCD tendencies. It makes me happy.

    I will be stalking your blog faithfully. Good luck tomorrow!


  12. Oh! and my dang DVR messed up my Bachelor Pad... but I WILL be watching online tonight and I'll be all caught up. :)

  13. I feel your pain! Teachers have no judgement calls anymore - atleast where we are. We know what is best for our students but we are not allowed to do it. Well, your room looks fabulous! I hope you have an amazing day!!!!!

  14. That is insane! I can't believe they don't want students to authentically read and for you to pull small groups (to differentiate instruction). I don't understand that at all. I actually just watched a video produced by my district last night about how we must group them and not treat students like they're all the same on a factory line. I definitely feel for you! Hope you have a great first day!

    Living A Wonderful Life

  15. I am so sorry to hear about what is happening at your school. It is so sad to see that schools are being controlled by people who seem to bang their head over and over and expect different results. How about trusting professionals? You will find a way around this, I know, and I hope you share it for others. Chin up.

  16. Kristin, I wanna cry after reading this post. I cannot believe the administrators are not open to Daily 5 or any supplemental curriculum. My heart aches for you. I am not familiar with HM as we use Treasures and I RARELY even open my basal because I don't agree with it. I will be praying for you, your kiddies, administrators, parents, everyone in your community. Hopefully something will change throughout the year. Good luck and have fun on your 1st day...I'm sure your outfit is to die for. :)

    Marcy @ http://busybeesandcupcakes.blogspot.com

  17. So sorry about what's happening at your school! We have a 90 minute block of uninterrupted time for Reading and Language Arts where we have to teach reading and language arts but we don't have to be tied to our series. I feel for you because if I was told I had to use our series during that whole time, it would put me over the edge. I attended a Daily 5 conference this summer and they provided us with all of their research on what's best for teaching kiddos how to read. I blogged about it under the label "Daily 5". Help yourself!
    Hope you have a great first day!
    A Pirates Life for Us

  18. I feel sick hearing about the "required" literacy plan in your school. It's unbelievable... and sad. Someone needs to anonymously drop a copy of What Really Matters for Struggling Readers by Richard Allington on the decision makers desk. On a positive note... your room look fabulous! I pinnned your calendar area. I really need to rethink that area in my room and your board inspired me. Happy First Day!
    Funky First Grade Fun

  19. I can't believe the strict attitude towards your curriculum. My district is going to 180 minutes of Communication Arts this year too but they are being very flexible with what we use to teach. They bought us a few new programs to supplement Houghton Mifflin. Can you only use the workbooks (which are terrible)? There is a website www.sosimplefirstgrade.com that has free worksheets that go along with first grade HM. Maybe you could use those to spice things up?

  20. This is awful that they are not allowing you to be the teacher and make decision for your class based on their needs. I've seen this before in schools usually title 1 schools that didn't make AYP so they feel they need to stick to a program. Very stupid on their part. But teachers deal with it and kids learn. Not the way we think they should learn and not very creatively but they learn. Now here is where I do not get where you principal is coming from....Houghton Mifflin has guided reading imbedded in the program!! If you look at the teacher's guide for reading it has phonics, vocabulary, sight words (word work), independent writing time, independent reading time, buddy reading, and technology links online. So essential Daily 5! My teachers edition has a very long whole group time where we are supposed to teach all of this and then break off into centers( like the ones mentioned above) during which time the teacher is supposed to be teaching their guided reading program. I just don't know how you are supposed to teach kids for that long and not do centers!!!!!! There has to be a way for you to get around this because Houghton Mifflin suggests this and you're supposed to be following it to a tee. I would talk to you reading coach, team, and principal again because this is just NOT right! I hope your first day goes well and I'll be thinking of you!
    Rambling About Reading

  21. I am so sorry this is happening to you and the children at your school. I am seeing the trend to make curriculum "teacher proof" and the children and how they learn best... forgotten in all the madness. I agree with Jess... HM does endorse centers with essential reading skills... hmmm maybe you could show this to your principal.
    However, your room looks great and I hope you receive your goodies from me soon. Please let me know when you get your package. Hang in there!

  22. No. Small. Group.??!?!?!?! No. Calendar.?!?!?!? No. Independent. Reading?!?!?! Oh my. I can not believe that you are not allowed to supplement your HM with centers based on the phonics/phonemic awareness/vocab/comprehension skill for the week! HM totally supports small group instruction (just not "guided reading"). HM has many supplemental resource manuals... I pray you can use some of the activities from those? Does your school have them? If not, I can send you some links. Are you allowed to use the suggested supplemental books that are listed near the front of the theme manual? We have some serious requirements, but nothing as extreme as you are facing! I am anxious to hear more about what exactly you are supposed to be doing (cuz I know that dang workbook won't fill 2 hours a day)! I also can't believe you found all of this out the DAY BEFORE SCHOOL!

    Having Fun K-1


  23. We just adopted new curriculum last year and the H-M we looked at had integrated guided reading/center time.

    If they still won't let you use guided reading, I would put my students in homogenous table groups by reading ability. When monitoring students, maybe you could have quick mini lessons differentiating instruction.

    Maybe you could reinforce reading strategies or phonics patterns with songs or chants during transition/clean up times. Each time you read a story aloud have a whole group guided reading lesson no matter the subject. Integrate more language into math and science/social studies. Hang in there and get creative! Make it a great year!

  24. oh my goodness...I am smelling some soup here for you. Talk about taking the JOY of teaching away completely. I would like to be able to lift you up and dust you off and make you all happy inside but now I am mad too. ggrrrrr. I will try to feel better and get back to you soon. But on a good note, your room is SUPER CUTE!
    Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits

  25. HI there! Just blog hopping and found yours! Your room is so COZY and NEAT and has a wonderful welcome feeling! I am a follower of your blog and I grabbed your button for my site :) My blog is new, but I PROMISE i post good stuff ;)



  26. I can soooooo relate...I've actually avoided reading everything about Daily 5 because it would just make me depressed about that fact that our hands are tied as professionals. I can tell you that it is NOT your principal, not even your district, but state and fed. government.

    I KNOW what happened...the cart came before the horse...when NCLB came out each state had to tell what their sanctions would be if any of their districts became PI (program improvement) districts...did those sanctions have to be researched based????...not from anything I've heard!!!!

    ...well one of California's sanctions was to use the adopted State approved program TO FIDELITY...using it COMPLETELY and EXCLUSIVELY...(this is the sanction that has been used for ALL California PI districts)

    Our district is in PI so we have had to use Excursions (which we were told was written to California State Standards~~NOT true!!!! All they did was rename it (it's Storytown in every other state), added one supplemental book, and changed the tests~although we are paying for new tests in our district, because they DIDN'T match the State test & standards!!!)

    So...basically we have been told all of our amazing training...and resources we've gained through our professional lives are OUT....one hint try this phrase....I've EXHAUSTED all of the resources in the program and my students still need more instruction/practice...and then check about using the materials you have!!

    This summer I read The Book Whisperer and I am choosing to be a TEACHER before being an EMPLOYEE...my students WILL read silently however I can manage it...this year we aren't being watched as closely as we were last year...

    My heart aches for our students!!!!! The system is stacked against them....thank goodness there are so many passionate teachers who will do whatever we can to reach our students!!

    Enough of that rant!!! I've got to work on my room!! Hang in there!!!
    Thanks, Nancy