Thursday, June 30, 2011

I am honored...

I am so honored to have been nominated for the Really Good Stuff Best Blog Contest.  Here's the link to vote for me or to view the other blogs up for nomination... Voting starts July 1st

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Trash to Treasure Linky Par-Tay!

I'm really lovin' these linky parties.  I did not plan on posting a second time today, but I wanted to share my trash to treasure final product!  Oh Boy! 4th Grade is on my list now!

Here is my trash ( it was however, my husband's tresure).  It hung in our apartment for a long time, didn't quite get "lost in the move", but has yet to find a home in our new home...until I stumbled upon a home-maker's blog (see previous post here).

So, I thought and thought and thought and decided to turn this into a classroom calendar/dry erase board.


I will go back and add in our classroom's schedule when it is determined in the fall.  I've also decided to put a lunch section above the calendar.  I will have a calendar manager that will change our special area and lunch choice daily.  SO SUPER EXCITED!!

The designs and text are written in sharpie on the wrong side of the glass.  I printed what I wanted on the computer and held it up to the light.  The little designs around the calendar are a leaf, a snowflake, and a flower...all found online and traced.  The blog I got the idea from used vinyl stickers, but I don't have one of those awesome machines.  

File Organization Linky Party

Angelia at Extra Special Teaching is having a linky party about how you store your files on the computer.

Here is how I do it...1st of all, I have a MAC computer at my school hooked up to an activ board.  That means that my computer desktop is essentially a large part of my class decor.  I keep my desktop clean of all files except for what I need for instruction that week.

I also keep all my files on a jump drive.  Being a new teacher, I've unfortunately shifted around a lot in the last 3 years.  Having everything set up on my jump drive makes changing schools and computers very easy.

So here's how its set up.

The dated folders contain anything that has my student's names on it, and also sub plans for that year.  Basically anything that is made for a specific class or day during that year.  

There are a lot of folders from my intern year (i.e. portfolio items, behavoir management, and articles).
The 2 most important are the lesson plans folder and the newsletter folder.

As you can see, I've made my lesson plan files similar to a filing cabinet.  There are folders within the "drawer" that tell me the subject.  I've got some filing to do to the reading folder, but this really helps me plan.  I look at the standards for that week, go to that folder and have several activities or flip-charts (fancy powerpoints) to choose from.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Need Some HELP!!

So I've been blog stalking and I came across a great home making blog.  brown paper packages has some great home projects complete with before and after I loved an idea she posted about how to make a home calendar using a frame and glass as a dry erase marker board.

Click here to visit this post.  She goes through step by step of how she made the calendar...

Now you can see hers is focused on a home, but I want something similar in my classroom.  

My frame is more rectangular than this one.  I'm going to put a calendar in the corner like hers.  I think the whole right hand side will be a daily schedule area.


I'm thinking I want it to be a student interactive calendar so...what should I put there???


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wish List Linky Party

Really Roper is hosting a linky party about classroom wish lists...what would I like to have in my classroom??

1.  Itunes Money - I love using audio books in my's the problem - our library only has picture book sets of books and cds.  Over the years, I've collected some from Wendy's KidsMeals so I've got about 15 novels on cd.  I wrote a grant last year and got a class set of personal cd players and my students had a blast reading longer novels.  I used up the last of my classroom money to buy 2 more on Itunes, but I would love to have more!

2. Personal White Boards...I know, I know...Lowes will cut down the shower board for you and it is so cheap.  THe problem is that I go every year to buy the shower board and have it cut...AND THEY WONT DO IT!!!!!  It is so frustrating because it appears everyone else accomplishes this task with ease, but not me!  I've been to all the home stores in my area, and they all refuse!!!!! Never fear, I just found these at the dollar tree and when my paycheck gets deposited, they will be mine.  

3.  Ideas for this organizer.  I was fortunate enough to be the first one to claim this prize...although in the 10 minutes it took me to put down my lunch and round up students to carry it, someone tried to sneak off with it...
mine is actually bigger than this one...16 total boxes

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Joys of Pandora...Part 2

So I recently attended an inservice that fell closer to the waste of time on the spectrum of "boring" to "down right ridiculous".  However, always trying to find the silver lining I did come away with some new ways to use my FAVORITE online radio.

#1 - Game-Quiz/Quiz Switch...this game is where you have some type of flashcards (vocab, math facts, etc...)  Each student has a card and they mill around the room while the music is playing.  When the music stops (musical chairs, anyone?), the students ask their question to the person closest.  The other student asks their question and then they switch.  Music starts and the game continues.

#2 - We were asked to participate in an activity and the "teacher" asked that we complete it during one song.  Good way to control time...

ahh...all the reasons I love pandora radio...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Organized Bulletin Board Letters

I was fortunate to have a mentor teacher during my internship that taught me a lot of practical lessons.  This one was a favorite and something you wouldn't think about until it was a huge messy junk drawer.

She used a large index card file box and set of alphabetized cards like this.

Then like any other file system, she would place the letters behind the appropriate card.  This keeps the cards all contained and in order.  I took the W, and MC and relabeled it to be numbers and symbols.

Love this!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Linky Party - My Favorite Things

Little Miss Kindergarten is hosting a linky party and even though I did not plan on blogging today, I couldn't help but link up.

Ohh...I feel kinda like Oprah.  Here are a few of my favorite things...

1.  My Nookcolor and I fell in love even more when my public library got ebooks to check out for FREE!

2.  The DollarTree - refer to previous blogpost...I'm addicted

3.  My Husband...I guess I should have prefaced this with "this list is in no particular order"  He keeps me grounded, and I know that is a tall order.

4.  Mind numbing television.  I'm talking about Vampire Diaries, Teen Mom, anything on Bravo!  I'm especially excited about the new season of Flipping Out!

5.  Word.  Yes, that's right.  I'm a genius when it comes to that program.  I can make ANYTHING and it looks awesome.

6.  Blogging, it is one of my new favorite things.  I love getting sucked into all the great ideas and stories that everyone else has.  So, be a follower so I can keep up with you!

A Classroom Pet/Writing Topic

So, I've been thinking I would love to have one of those cubes that has the bamboo and the 2 frogs in it...however, I'm not ready to drop $20 on something I KNOW will not survive the whole year.

I've changed gears and now can even connect this new pet to STATE CURRICULUM STANDARDS!!

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think...I like to talk out new ideas to identify where it could go drastically wrong.

I want to get a Beta fish...easy to care for and cheap to replace.  Each week a lucky student will get to be the Pet Manager.  Responsibilities will be to feed it.

Here's the amazing part, our fish is going to have its own blog!  Along with feeding the fish, that student will be allowed extra computer time to blog about what has gone on in the classroom that week.  Not only will they be motivated to write, but hopefully it will be a neat lesson on point of view and fictional narrative.

Now...what to name him

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Joys Of...Pandora Radio

Again, I can't take credit for this idea, but I <3 it.

If you haven't heard of Pandora Radio, it is an online radio that you can stream to your computer for 40 hrs a month for FREE!!  and apparently after that it is really cheap to continue to listen says my hubbie.

I have an account hooked up to my school email and we listen to it all the time.  I have a Disney channel for morning time.  I personally like to sing along as my 4th graders walk in and give me strange looks.  Secretly I know that this is one of the things that makes my students love me.  Although that is not any sort of goal of mine, it really helps that the students love you.

For working time, I usually have a jazz or classical station playing in the background.  Most of the students want to listen to the music and they keep each other in check...I hear a lot of "shhhh, I can't hear the music!"  Sometimes peer pressure is a GREAT thing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dollar Tree Addict

I think I could create an entire blog dedicated to just this amazing store.  Now, don't be fooled by any other "dollar" store.  At Dollar Tree, everything is only $1 (+tax).  This is really great for someone who wants cute things for her classroom, but is realistic about the fact that it will go directly into a child's mouth or nose.

This is the part of the school day where I have a small demonstration about where not to put my belongs which always results in 18 kids who say "eww" and the one or two that realize I'm talking about them...

Here's my haul!!

Puzzles for a mission trip to south america...

These are wall stickers that I'm gonna place all around the room to make it "pretty"  I saw this on someone else's blog and LOVED it.  I just home they stick to cinderblock walls ok...

These are boxes with latched lids a little larger than a pencil box.  I'm planning on using them to sort and store math manipulatives.  Our county's math program came with a pouch for each student with all sorts of manipulatives inside.  I've of course never gotten them out because what teacher in their right mind would just hand over a pouch full of toys...I'm gonna separate them out into like items.
The best thing about this next basket is that I already have 6 more in different colors...they are the perfect size to fit in the window sill that takes up almost an entire wall of my classroom.  Makes that space usable.
This little box will be filled with sugar free candy to use as bribes, I mean positive reinforcement for participating in classroom discussion.

Letters and borders...what new teacher doesn't need that.  Can't wait to tell you how I organize them!!

Here's the stack to take to the classroom sometime this week so my poor hubbie doesn't trip over it every morning. 

And $30 later, I'm still addicted to the Dollar Tree.  I'm trying to decide which one to hit up next.  I know where at least 8 locations are near my house, and have even sunk so low as to make my husband stop when we were out of town on vacation.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Debbie Diller? Yes, Please!

So, in my county we are required to participate in 18 hours of "un-scheduled inservice".  Here this translates to finding something that fits into your schedule, but not necessarily anything you really care about.

These trainings usually range from boring to down right ridiculous.

Today, however, I experienced a first.  An inservive workshop that was engaging.  And better yet, I am already working on a plan to implement it into my classroom!!!  What a joy.  My teammate even won the book in the door-prize drawing SO I DONT HAVE TO BUY IT!!

Post me some comments and let me know if you use the Debbie Diller model of work stations (not centers...I'm getting the lingo down!) in your classroom.  I'd be interested to hear how they really work in an upper grade classroom.

I'm pretty proud of my center routine, but it is very time consuming.  I made TONS of card games and file folder games (because of course they don't make those for upper grade kids).  I had a pretty good routine going, but of course I had to rock the boat and decide that I wanted to make it better.  I even made these cute center signs with pictures...

I still think I can and will use them though.  I wish I had a picture of my center container, though...I got a closet organizer from Jo-Ann's that looks very similar to this...

and used these velcro closing plastic envelopes from my favorite office supply store

and created my own "take it to your seat" center.  It really worked well for me...

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I'm not sure if this is normal, but there seems to be so many giveaways on so many GREAT blogs.  I'm gonna knock a few out in one post...

I love Barnes and Noble (even have the NOOK) so this one at Third Grade Meanderings is for me!!

Target is one of my happy places so I'm excited about this one at 1st Grade w/ Miss Snowden

Amazon gift card?  Yes, Plz!!  I enjoyed getting sucked into this blog at The Creative Apple  It was hard at first to find upper elementary grade blogs, but I've stumbled upon some GREAT ones.

Shooo...I think this is it, but I'm sure there are a lot more blogs out there I have yet to discover.

Change is always a good thing

I'm excited to participate in a 2nd linky party.  This one is about how I organize my desks and students.

I'm only in my 3rd year of teaching, so I haven't quite gotten the hang of taking pictures of everything I do, but I do have one GREAT TIP in changing desks.

I use plastic sleeves to contain the name tags, and EVERY Friday my students completely clean out their desks and turn their name tag into me.  If you have been behaving on a certain level throughout the week then on Monday you get the privilege of  drawing a playing card out of a deck and finding the matching card on your new desk.  I use old maid cards from Walgreens because they were cheap and cute.

I have a friend (she used to be my trailer mate when I had a classroom in a single-wide) who uses normal playing cards and does a team reward system based on the cards.  For example, one group is the hearts, another is the diamonds.  The Ace card is the group leader and gathers the supplies for the group when needed.  Points are earned for expected behavior.

The best thing about the entire system is that it WAY cuts down on the desk that is vomiting out supplies every-time anyone breathes on it and if a student is not making good choices, he or she does not get the privilege of "choosing" their own desk.

P.S.  Rarely I have to act on the island threat...if you can't sit with the group, then you have to become an island.  But that only happens until the end of the week...unless you were "Marcus" who got to the point where he was not allowed to leave the 6 foot square area of tile right inside the door, but that is a whole 'nother blog post!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Posters on the wall...

With end of the year testing, more and more teachers HATE putting up and taking down their educational posters and reference material.  However, administrators expect to come in your room and see it up on your walls.
Now, I can't take credit for this fab of my fab team-mates does this in her room.  I got out all my educational posters and hung them up with clothes pins.  I grouped the posters by subject and in an area where they could be used for reference.  For example, my science posters are around the science bulletin board and I will change them with the unit.
THIS IS THE FAB PART - when I need to change the poster or it is time for state testing...I just yank down my poster.  When I need to put something back up, the clothes pin is ready to hold another poster.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Linky Party Fun of my favorite additions is the Littlest Learners Blog and she is hosting a Linky Party.  I've throughly enjoyed looking through the other linked is my summer to do list

1. Revamp my science curriculum.  I am blessed to be on a team of 5 WONDERFUL teachers and we each plan one subject area and my happens to be my favorite.  Science, however, does not count towards our school's state testing data so it OFTEN (read ALWAYS) gets cut from the important list.  My goal is to make it completely literacy based so that I can justify it needed classroom time.

2.  Figure out what place a "word wall" has in a 4th grade classroom.  Apparently this will be on some sort of check list next year and I am required to have it...

3.  Take a large tote of books to my favorite used book store and replace it with an equally large tote of books that are on my school's AR list.

4.  Read a little bit of literary "trash" and not think about school at ALL

5.  Visit all the doctors and have all the repairs made to my house that were not important enough to go through the trouble of getting a sub.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

So...I'm New At This

I'm excited to be in the world of blogging.  I recently became addicted to blogs that made me feel like I was not the only teacher with a unique and challenging classroom.  So, here I am!  I can't wait to share my circus acts with you and hopefully share some great teaching ideas as well.  Obviously, my summer posts will be more about getting ready for next year.  Once school starts, I will love to share my classroom experiences with you.