Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Random Printables

So these are not organized in any way but I thought I would post some of the things that I have been doing in the first week of school.

Lost Book? Owl Theme Poster (pdf)

I PICK Good Books! OWL Theme Handout (pdf)
Based off of PICK from Daily 5

What I'm Reading Now! Teacher's Sheet Owl Theme (pdf)
Take a second to post what you are reading.  This reminds the students that you're a reader as well.

 Self Portrait PPT --> Based off a lesson from one of my FABULOUSLY AWESOME co-teachers

I hope you find these helpful!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A View of the Inside

FINALLY....I have pictures of my class! I hope you enjoy my unorganized photo tour.

Bulletin board outside my classroom.  "Look at our FABULOUS work!"  There is yarn with clothes pins going across the board to easily hang work.
This is my FACE of a Reader cabinet.  This cabinet faces my guided reading table so it is easy to refer to during small group work. 

This bulletin board houses my OWL of the Week area, classroom jobs, and Box Tops for Education collection envelope.

Turn in bins.  The top bin is "Notes for Teacher" and then there are bins 1-5 and I just have students use them in order.  I found it too difficult to have only 1 for LA, 1 for Math, etc.  Then at the bottom students can find the notebook paper and graph paper (currently there is none because there is no paper for the copier). At the top is the reminder to turn in assignments that are "Hand In Ready."

I'm always asking the students to explain "Why?" and these signs remind them to go ahead and answer that questions by explaining their answers with "...because..."

Morning Meeting poster that I LOVE!  I got this idea from a friend last year.  The clouds have the 4 parts of Morning Meeting -- Greeting, Share, Game (should be changed to Activity), and Announcements.  Then the poster gives 4 expectations: 1. Come to meeting with empty hands. 2. Sit with your legs crossed and your hands in your lap. 3. Listen to the person who is talking. 4. Raise your hand when you want to talk.

My new thing...posting learning targets.  Here are my student "I can" statements and my daily schedule.  We got LOTS of pocket charts :)

Have to love Beth Newingham's genre posters!  I will post the different Read Aloud books that we read under the appropriate genre poster.
Future Word Wall - in the library corner

Part of the library corner.  The bins are only partly labeled due to lack of ink in my printer. Blah!

Great shelves to display books.

Other side of my library area.  New rug.  Bench made from self and 3 milk crates.  Butterfly chair from my childhood room.

Bright Links interactive projector.  It projects directly on the white board!

Small group work table, plant grow light for our first science unit, director's chair, and tons of cubbie space with BEAUTIFULLY made curtains.

Current table arrangement.  The students stay at these two long tables and then move to the small group work table if they need to separate themselves from the group.

CRAFT PROJECT...I made about 4 paper bag owls to decorate my door. "Whooooo's in Ms. M's class?"

Rug...numbers and colors in English and Spanish.  This is the area for morning meeting (students sit in a circle) and minilessons (students sit in rows/group).

Teacher Space..all mine!  No students allowed back here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Great Administration

I think the administration really sets the tone for the school.  If my hard work goes unnoticed and unappreciated then I am less likely to put my all in.  Luckily I have never been in the situation.  Today we got a great email from our admin team.  It made me happy that not only do they appreciate our hard work and dedication but also know that it is important for teachers to maintain their mental health as well :)  I have to go in for a little while today but I feel rested and ready to tackle our first full week!

Here's the email we got today....

"Teachers and Staff,
We, as Administrators, congratulate you on your First TWO successful days at ********** Visual and Performing Arts School.  We saw teachers with smiles on their faces and anxious to greet their students and parents. Classrooms were brightly and cheerfully decorated. Eager students were all enthusiastic and anxious to return to school. We observed an environment for learning that you created by establishing a culture of consistency. Students were all practicing classroom and school-wide procedures and routines. It appeared that you were enjoying this 'dress rehearsal' as much as they were!
Throughout all the planning and preparation that you have done and continue to do ... please remember to take care of yourself.
From your staff of administrators who value and appreciate you."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meet the Teacher Night (and 1st Day Update)

I got to meet all my students tonight.  Since I didn't leave work until 8...I'm making this short but they were great!  Having taught 5th and 4th grade students before who have to warm up to me before going in for hugs...I got tons tonight - from my students and their siblings!  I also got lots of good solid, eye contact handshakes.  Looking good :) I had kids just in awe with all the books.  Most kids ended up sitting on the pillows or in the chair reading.  One student even took a book home to continue reading.  I saw students taking care of their siblings and showing them around helping them read a book or recite the alphabet from the rug.  Students were excited about the technology - interactive whiteboard and laptops that they were going to get to use themselves!  I had Smarties in my estimation jar and one of my ESL and very shy students came up and asked for some smarties...not for her, but for her little brother. There were hugs and more hugs.  Parents were taking pictures of the classroom and of their child with me.  There were smiles and laughter as students saw they were in the same class with some of their friends.   I know I will have my challenges in teaching students to read, write, spell, problem solve, and calculate, to ask for help, to support one another, to monitor/regulate their actions, to think for themselves, to live in one classroom together for 185 (state legislature just extended it from 180...thanks) days. On days when that gets tough, I will go back and read this post and remember that they are just 7 and 8 years old and they have all the potential in the world to be great!

Update...Day 1 was very long and exhausting...just like every other year that I have taught.  I went back and read this post and feel better now.  I'm working on remembering the really positive things from today - the student who raised her hand in the middle of the spelling inventory to share that I was nicer than last year's teacher.  The student who struggles so terribly with his behavior but took our talk of the ideas of realism vs fantasy and the use of exaggeration from our reading lesson and extended it out to art class. The student who seemed to hate me more and more as the day went on as I corrected his VERY off task and disrespectful behavior but I managed to give a positive note home.  He smiled so big when he got it out of his book bag to give to mom and grandma.  They need strict expectations but also lots of love.  This weekend I will go buy snacks so they don't have to keep telling me they're hungry and I will buy binders so they don't have to tell me again that their parents couldn't afford supplies.  I will work to give them time to take a nap when they keep falling asleep in class.  I will remember the good and the positive which they all have.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Teacher Monday

Today on Blog Hoppin' is Meet the Teacher Monday.  Go ahead and join and link up with a post all about YOU! Here's mine...

Tell us a little something about you...
I am a Tar Heel fan even though I live in Duke Blue city.  I love the summer because I get to read adult books for fun.  I like to cook even though I don't get to very often.  If I cook for someone, it is normally a recipe I have never tried because I'm always finding something new I want to try.  I love shopping but I always look for good deals.  My dog, Bailey, and I probably spend too much time watching tv :)  Both of my parents got remarried within a month of each other Winter 2009 and now I have a very large "Brady Bunch" family....and I love it!!!
Brady Bunch on my Dad's side

...and my Mom's side
How long have you been teaching?
This will be my fifth year teaching.  I've spent the past 4 years in a project based charter school teaching 4th and 5th grade.  I spent 3 years only teaching math and science so those are my stronger areas. Now I'm in a new school and new grade.  The old school I was at didn't have a cafeteria or bus line.  These will be new to me but since its a new school, no one can give me any idea of the routine! This is the second school I've help start up and its exciting but a little overwhelming.

You might not know...

I was a NC Teaching Fellow and I "owed" NC 4 years of teaching to pay back my scholarship so I'm officially done this year! Woohoo!

What are you looking most forward to this school year?

I'm looking forward to a change in schools and grade.  While I know it will be tough and I will have my moments where I can't believe I made the switch, I think it is good to change things up.  I will be able to learn so many new things from the new colleagues I'm going to be working with.  And after meeting them....I know they will keep me on my toes and keep pushing me to do better!

What do you need to improve?

-Working on a modified Daily 5 in my class.  I'm not sure what it will look like but probably something of a Daily 3 rotation.  I decided to star this in order to build endurance readers.
-I want to be more focused and purposeful with my instruction.  For instance...if I'm reading a read aloud book, I want to make sure that my think aloud comments directly align with and support the weekly learning targets.
-I need to get better about not taking everything on.  I tend to push myself too hard.  "Just say no!"

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

-One touch stapler...after using this to hang things on the walls/bulletin boards I CANNOT go back!
-Books...I have an unhealthy obsession with spending way too much money on children's books
-Interactive whiteboard...I started with  a Smartboard, then moved to an Activboard, and now I have a BrightLinks
-Dr Pepper and Chocolate...enough said

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Someone once said...

"We must find the time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives." - Dar Zadra

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To Do List...update 8/19

Since my school is brand new they closed down the school this week to finish it up and re wax the hallways.  Of course this is when I was gearing up to go back in.  Oh well.  It has given me time to work on my to do list.

1. Laminate all the new things I have found online this summer - genre signs, student jobs, calendar, etc.  (It would be nice to actually have a laminator at school!)

2. Hang everything up.  The past few years I have been lucky enough to have walls that could all be stapled directly into.  Tomorrow I get to start trying to hang signs and posters on cinder block.  I'm sure I'll come back in on Thursday and find everything laying on the ground.
     Genre posters (from Beth Newingham)....check
     Word Wall letters....check
     Multiplication poster and Arithmetic poem....check
     Fabulous Work Bulletin board outside my door....check 

3. Send out welcome letters.  I should get my class roster (or rooster as the typo said in the email to teachers said) tomorrow.  Once I get the student information I'm going to address envelopes and send home a letter from the teacher.  I've never worked in a school with a large Hispanic population so I'm also faced with the new challenge of translating the letter.  I've used an online translator suggested by our Spanish teacher but I'm scared it will be too literal (too many nightmares from high school French and online translations).
     Welcome letter written and translated...check
     Letters copied, envelopes addressed, letters mailed...check 

4. Personalize the room.  Names on door and cubbies.

5. Textbooks - number and assign.  First year using textbooks so I'll have to figure out a good system.  Any ideas?
     Textbooks labeled with room # and #1-20...check

6. Meet the important people around the school.  I want to meet the cafeteria team, the after school teachers, the front office staff, etc.  I want to find out how they want things run.  If I make their life a little easier then they're more apt to help me out as well :)
     After school teacher....check
     Front office staff .... check 

7. First week planning!  Once the room is settled, I will actually have to teach the kids :)
     Began unpacking the standards with my PLC....check

...I'm sure I'm leaving a ton of little things off....Focus wall for Reading Street, leveling new books, finding leveled readers and teacher's guide that go with my Reading Street set...
     Don't have to do a Focus Wall :) ...check


The list goes on.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Arts and Crafts...DIY

Lots of projects on my list to get ready for the beginning of the year.  Here are 2 of my DIY projects I'm working on...with the help of good friends and thankful students (and their siblings) from last year.

I'm working on making my own boxes for students to store their folders in.  I swiped/was kindly given two folder display boxes from Staples, had help painting the inside, and then will mod podge and decorate the outside of the boxes.

I'm also working to make curtains to cover some of my storage in my classroom.  Thank goodness for good friends who know how to sew :)


Who doesn't love free stuff?  I discovered a site (from I Heart Teaching Elementary) called Teacher's Tape where you can order up to 7 different samples of things like magnetic tape, foam tape, etc. I just ordered all 7 samples because why would I pick and choose when they are graciously offering all 7? Here's the link!

Teacher's Tape

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Meet the Teacher/Open House

Even though school is still a few weeks away for me, I thought I would share some ideas I have for my Meet the Teacher night. I am linking up to Meet the Teacher Night Linky Party at I Heart Teaching. 

  1. I create contact magnets for all the families.  These are just like business cards with my name, phone number and ext, email address, and class website.  I also put a magnet (love my roll of magnet tape!!) on the back so families can keep it on hand all school year.

  2. This year I ran across some really cute bookmarks that I might make my own.  They say: "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." If I don't include these at Open House then I hope to have them for curriculum night.

  3. For Open House, I also like the students to have a chance to explore the class.  This year I might have a scavenger hunt or have some sort of estimate jar contest.  I like the idea of bringing the parents into both activities so they begin the year involved in their child's class.

Diorama Foldable

One of my friends is already back at school and was searching desperately to remember how to make this great Foldable to set up centers.  She makes it out of poster board and then uses magnet or velcro pieces to change the title, pockets, directions, etc out when the center changes.  She leaves it so it can be folded and stored.  Students can easily move it around the room or bring it to their desk/table.  Since it took quite some time searching online and many crumbled/folded sheets of paper to figure it out, I figured I would post it for the rest of you see.  It could also have great uses for student projects.


Directions (a little easier to read):
1. Make a four-door book out of a shutter fold.
2. Fold the two inside corners back to the outer edges (mountains) of the shutter fold. This will result in two tacos that will make the four-door book look like it has a shirt collar. Do the same thing to the bottom of the four-door book. When finished, four small triangular tacos have been made.
3. Form a 90-degree angle and overlap the folded triangles to make a display case that doesn’t use staples or glue. (It can be collapsed for storage.)
4. Or, as illustrated, cut off all four triangles, or tacos. Staple or glue the sides.