Another Work Day- I am almost there!

This is what I came home to tonight: 

Aren't my hubby and baby adorable?  I just wanted to scoop them both up and give them squishy hugs and kisses.  I thought I knew what love was when I married, and then I had a child and realized how much more I love my husband now AND my child.  It is mind boggling.

I spent today in the classroom.  It was my  fourth day in there and I think for the most part my room is put together.  I still have some posters and such to put up.  Since I coteach, my partner teacher will do a lot of that stuff.  She has several children and didn't have daycare this week, so it was just me.  Next week  it is all her : ).

I forgot to take pictures before I left today .   Opps.  Sooo...I am posting pictures of what it looked like at the end of the day yesterday.


This is my counter.  The first picture is the before and the second picture is the after.  I use this area as an area for supplies and turning in papers.  Papers are turned into the labeled, black stackers and pencils are in the clear basket and office walls are in the yellow basket.

I am working on reorganizing my baskets(somewhat).  The white baskets are fiction, the black baskets are nonficton and the blue baskets (on the top) are fiction AND nonfiction.  These baskets are ones with multiple copies , Folk Tale and Fairy Tales (aren't some considered fiction if they are fractured?  I wasn't sure on this one).  All the books on the floor are sorted and waiting for sticker labels.

 
 
These two pictures show what my desk area looked like when I walked in.


At the end of last year we moved the furniture so that my desk, guided reading table and materials were all together.  I LOVE it!  I can't figure out why I didn't do this YEARS ago.  I never sit at my desk, I just use it to pile stuff on.  I always work at my guided reading table.  To help limit my piling and maximize space, I put a large bookcase with all my teacher resource materials on top of the desk. I have just enough room on the desk for my laptop (it is on my guided reading table since I hadn't fully set up the cords).

I am out of before and after pictures, so I will only post my afters from here on out!

Next to my guided reading table are cubbies.  I don't use mine for student materials or centers.  Instead I use it to store my leveled library.  Each tub contains a different level of books.  My district gives teachers TONS of guided reading books and they can be hard to store- each tub is stacked FULL of books (what a nice problem to have!!).


 Right by the door is this large brown shelf.  At first I thought it was a little strange, but now I love it.  The shelf stores all of our materials for writer's workshop.  The top shelf stores pens, crayons, glues sticks and so on.  The second shelf has more tubs of crayons and markers (need LOTS of these!) and paper. The third shelf has resource materials.  The bottom shelf has a crate of white boards and a crate of clipboards.  Next to the wall are blue crates with cushions on them.  I was going to make the fancy ones that are all over Proteacher, but my hubby was too tired to cut the wood and  I was impatient (shocking).  I already had the chair pads so it worked out just fine.  I don't know if the picture is clear, but this is at the front on the room.  The white board and the Promethean Board are at the front of the room in the middle of the picture.  The whole purpose of the shelf is to block (somewhat) the doorway from student's view when they are sitting at the carpet during lessons (there is no carpet there right now because I am cleaning it at home).  Since I coteach there are several students with special needs.  Most of them are ADD or ADHD.  Many are ADD or ADHD in addition to another disability so the teaching area needs to be as simple as possible to avoid distractions.

 

This shelf is above my teacher desk.  I use it to store all my personal teaching resources (well, most of them) and my children's seasonal picture books. I LOVE IT!  I used the cardboard boxes from IKEA.  The fish cut outs are from the Dollar Tree and each fish is labeled with the teacher resource topics.  The top shelf is the children's book since I will not need them as often.  I turned the IKEA box on the side and taped the label to the bottom of the box. Here is a picture below.
Here is a close up of the box.  It looks so neat and clean on the shelf!

I am taking the day off tomorrow!  I am going to see the new Harry Potter movie with  a friend and I am so excited!  I am bringing tissues because I am such a sap!

 

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Getting Back in the Classroom

It is hard to believe it is time to go back to my  classroom!  The summer has flown by!  I have enjoyed every minute of my time with my little girl, but I am ready to get back to teaching!  The end of every school year I am so ready to be done, but come August I am chomping at the bit to get started!  I think I am sick!

Preplanning starts in two weeks.  I am hoping to have my classroom mostly ready because EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR. something happens and I have very little planning time to truly prepare.

Below are some pictures of my classroom  when I started the day.  Or well, sort of started.  I forgot to take pictures because I started talking to someone.  However, I had only moved a few things before these pictures were taken. 


 

I got tons of things done today so I can't wait to post an updated picture!
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Vistaprint

I know I am not the first person to discover Vistaprint, but I must admit- I love it!  The possibilities are endless!  I do have to limit myself.  I have been known to create and then buy things I never really used (I have 7 BILLION Desk Fairy cards.  I think I am safe and will not have to reorder these for awhile!).

Most of my creations were simple and many not even are not original.  I picked up several of the ideas/ examples from all over the web.  I made three orders that cost a total of $34.75.  Everything I ordered was free and I only paid shipping.  Not all items are shown below because they have too much personal information and I am lazy and don't want to edit the photos.  I ordered the norm: business cards, magnetic business cards and letter head with my name.  I also ordered:

 
A notebook.  I have no idea what I will use it for, but I thought it was too cute!

Blank business cards.  I think I will use these as playing cards for games or as cards for pocket charts (names, jobs, etc).

Over sized postcards.  These will be book recommendation cards and I will use them similar to how Beth Newingham uses hers.


Here is the back of the card.



T Shirt- Happy Birthday shirt.  I read somewhere online that described using this as a chair cover for birthdays.  On a student's birthday I will use the t shirt to cover the back of their seat to celebrate.

Mouse pad.  For me : )

Post Its- We have to write commentary on student work displayed in the hall.  I am hoping these make it easier!

Over sized postcards- When students misbehave they will fill on of these out and it will be sent home for parents to sign. Just more documentation, but in the student's own handwriting and words : ).

Back of the stop and think card.  I thought I could use the blank right side to add any additional comments from the teacher!

Stamp- I will use these in student agendas to mark when they have a good day!


Thank you cards.  I ordered several of these.  I ordered this pattern as flat invites, announcements and any other way available!  I go through many thank you cards a year either to parents, students or collegues and this is a great, cheap way to get cards!

Notepad.  To do list for the day/ week.

Tote bag.  If we have any volunteers this year I would like the kids to sign the bag and then maybe fill it with something small.  It would be a simple gift!

I feel pretty good about all the things I made!  Hopefully they will all be well used! 

What have you made with Vistaprint lately?





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Beach Bound!

I am so excited!  My family and I are taking a short vacation to Florida.  My mother and father will meet my husband and I down there.  It will be Kinley's (my nine month old daughter) first time to see the ocean.  She LOVES to swim in the pool so I hope she loves the ocean. I am sure if nothing else she will find the sand yummy! ; )

I am looking forward to posting next week.  I will be going into my classroom and begin setting up.  I will be taking plenty of pictures!  I have reorganized some of my personal read alouds and will share a cheap way to organize this collection.  I share the classroom with another teacher so I will also so set up tips for sharing!

I have a few other things up my sleeve as well.  I am currently in the process of writing an eBook about Guided Math for grades 2-4.  My plan is for the book to have four sections.  The first section will be suggestions and tips for setting up Guided Math, including ideas for getting started and different methods.  I am on my third "set up" so I feel I have several suggestions! The second section is games for guided math.  These will be games that require little more preparation than print, laminate and cut out.  I am trying to make these games differentiated bu difficulty level when possible.  The third section is independent math projects.  The final section will be worksheets I have created- this will be the smallest section maybe three our four at this point. Right now I think I have around 10-12 games and 8-10 projects (I think, this is off the top of my head since I am not at home using my "home" computer).

I would love to get some feedback.  What would YOU want from a book like this?  I intend on charging for the book, but I want the cost to be reasonable.   How much would you be willing to pay?  Does anyone have any feedback?

I look forward to hearing from anyone! Have a great day! 
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Third Grade SS in Georgia: Famous Americans

The majority of the Social Studies  standards taught in third grade in Georgia generally revolve around famous American figures.  We study Susan B. Anthony, Paul Revere, Thurgood Marshall, Mary McCleod Bethune, and so on.  It can be very hard to find information that is accessible on the student's reading levels.  My district, like many others, has adopted small readers called American Heroes by Houghton Mifflin.  While they provide great information, they are often at a higher readability level than grade level.  Compounded by the fact that 2/3 of my class was reading 2 years or more below grade level and I was sunk!
About mid way through the year (or maybe longer- when I returned from maternity leave) I decided to try a new approach.  I created a "workbook" about each figured based on the text.  I know, it sounds so backwards and boring and against all research.  However, just listen for a minute.


Using my brand new Promethean Board (which I LOVE), I imported each page of my workbook into a new slide.  Before reading the book or anything,  the whole class looked at the first page (after the cover) and predicted and filled in  what we thought the answers could be.  Then we completed the reading as a shared reading, using the first workbook page to set the purpose for our reading.  As we read when students heard an answer, they put their thumb up.  We stopped and then adjusted or confirmed our answer.  When we completed the page all the students filled in the answers.  Because some students wrote more quickly than others, students could color in the title page as they waited. Then we would move to the next page following the same format.


Ideal? No.  However, my students did learn and retain it.  Using the board was a huge motivator and then requiring them to be accountable for the answers as we read kept our many, many, many ADHD student on task (or close).


These packets could be done in pairs or individually if students were stronger readers.  Maybe another year I can try this!  I am attaching my first Famous American packet about Paul Revere.  The packet also contains a song (not created by me- by another teacher in my district, the famous Wadsworth poem and an Important frame).

Just as a side note: on United Streaming there is a video  over the book And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?   I can't decide if I want to start the unit this way or end this unit with this....
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Word Study: Inspired By Beth Newingham

Just like the rest of the teaching world, I LOVE reading what Beth Newingham does in her classroom every month. I am in awe of all the amazing (and research based) things she accomplishes! I want to be like her one day!
I was checking up on some of her posts and rereading some old ones. Her post on word study caught my eye. I am embarrassed to say, we did almost none very little word study last year. It was a feat to introduce any words, let alone sort and study the patterns! I felt like many of our kids could benefit, but outside forces kept us from using this time to its maximum potential. I am hoping next school year will be different.
My school uses the Words Their Way program by Pearson. It was adopted with pour Good Habits, Great Readers program. I loved Beth's (don't you love how I refer to her by her first name, like we are BFFs!) idea of challenge lists and regular lists because it differentiates to meet the student's needs. With two teachers in our classroom, it would be pretty simple to divide the kids to assess. I love her approach with high frequency words, but I am not sure I am ready to dive headfirst into this system. I think for now we will be focusing on the two spelling lists and centers with small group instruction as needed. If we can make this system work, my teaching partner and I may try the high frequency words (news to her- I have only briefly mentioned this to her the other day! Lucky for me, she is game for almost anything!) next year.
I created my first spelling list following the format she shared on her site. I so far have completed the first unit and most of the second unit. At this time I pretty much have ZERO word study centers so I am starting from scratch with these. I am creating these within the same document so I have everything all together. To maximize time, I think kids will have the same activities/ games for several weeks. However, the words will change each week. I am thinking that this will cut down on the amount of time needed to explain each center. Also since we will have five centers (to spread students out) and only three days of centers, some centers will still be "new" to kids each week.
So far the ideas I have for games are:
  • A promethean activity found online
  • Trash or treasure (straight from Beth Newingham)
  • Build a hamburger (I will need to cut out the pieces from construction paper for this game)
  • Connect four (also from a proteacher post, but I cannot find the post now!)
I am struggling for ideas for games for the next units, but I am plugging away at it. I am only going to create the first 2-3 units in case we are not able to use them. : (



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First Post!

Wow! So here it is! I am trying my hand at blogging. I intend to still maintain my website, but will also use this blog to post new items and ideas I have found online or created. To be honest, my website has become really big (behind the scenes big- too many pages) and I HATE the new software I have to use to update it! My goal is to eventually transfer any information that I publish on my blog to the website so that the site will still be a reflection of my current or past practices in the classroom.

Let’s see...for this post I think I will share ten things about me! So much has changed since I started my website!

1. I gave birth to a BEAUTIFUL baby girl in October. I cannot believe she is already nine and a half months! Her name is Kinley and she is literally the light of my life. My pregnancy was HORRIBLE (I actually got sick on a colleague. It was not pretty), but she was worth every bit of misery!

2. My husband and I just shared our seven year anniversary. He is still my best friend. He is still funny. And he is still HOT! I totally married up! :)

3. I am teaching third grade again for the third year in a row. I think out of all the grades I have taught (second, third, fourth); I love second the most but third comes in a close second. The kids are still young enough to actually think I am cool, but old enough to be independent and not hormonal.

4. For the second year in a row I will be a general education teacher in a special education inclusion class. I teach with a special education teacher all day. We were placed together and neither was given a choice. It was one of the best things that has happened to me! She has become a close friend and we call ourselves a professional marriage. To "divorce" would be very traumatizing for us!

5. I have two cats. I love them, but they are kinda strange and gross. One is fat and loves food. He picks up individual pieces of his star shaped cat food and only eats the arms of the stars leaving the centers to be stepped on all over the kitchen and living room. Why can't he just eat the whole piece?! The other is a sweet little girl kitty and would follow me around to snuggle all day if I would let her. They both are wonderful with my daughter, Kinley.

6. I love to read. I caved in and requested a Kindle from my techie husband for Mother's Day. I think it was actually more for his sake than mine (he loves to play with new toys) but I LOVE IT. Seriously, one click and I have a new book? I am totally going to go broke!

7. Speaking of reading my favorite books are the Twilight series (yes, my inner tween is not so inner sometimes), The Mortal Instruments Series (so good!), and anything by James Rollins. I have read all of his books and they are so drenched in "what-ifs" and science.

8. I am running out of things to write...maybe I should have made this list the top five things about me! My mom is my best friend. When I was 8 I thought she knew everything, when I was 17 I thought she was fun, but naive, and now at thirty- three I KNOW she is brilliant! She knows everything. If I would just listen to her and my husband's advice, I would never go wrong (blast it, he is always right too!).

9. I have a talent for tripping. Really, it is quite remarkable. My freshman year of college I tripped up AND down every set of stairs on my very hilly campus. And now as an adult, I have my "trippy"" shoes. They are not named because they have a wildly hippy aesthetic, but I trip EVERYTIME I walk in them. But I love them. They are the Crocs Malindi style. They were all I could wear when I bloated up like a whale my last few months of pregnancy.

10. I have two best friends that I have known for almost twenty years. We don't even have to speak to know what the others are thinking and most the trouble I got into as a teenager can be attributed to some grand idea we schemed up. I wouldn't trade them for the world. But I swear, every time we travel, disaster strikes. We have: managed to blow up an engine of a car, gotten caught in a wild fire on a road trip, hitched rides from a man driving a tow truck and the list continues. Really, how did we survive?

Plus One Extra Tid Bit…

 11. I am a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE typist. I knew I should have taken typing in high school but drama was so much more fun! While I can spell (well, kinda), I can’t type. So please forgive any typos. I know how annoying and distracting they are!!!


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