Friday, August 31, 2012

Fridays Are Fantastic!

Hi friends!

I was just going through my Google Reader and came across Taylor's post about five things she thought were really great this week in her classroom! I love that idea of staying positive, so I am allllllll over it.

  • My class is basically in full-on work mode. I spent a lot of time on the first few days of school letting the first graders know that we didn't have free choice time, do-whatever-you-want time, or playing with toys time (the last one was actually funny, as I don't even have any legit toys in my class besides our Skippyjon doll!). The first graders have now accepted it and moved on with their lives and are working HARD.
  • We can walk in a (relatively quiet) line down the hallway!!!!!! Last year I was way too lenient about this. I think part of the reason is that I work in a very small school, and I'm the only teacher who keeps her door open during the day... so unless we were screaming down the hallways, we weren't really bothering anybody. But I made it a personal goal of mine to have a quiet line this year. So far, so good. :)
  • We are becoming more and more polite every day! Over the summer, I read Amanda's post about how she instills manners in her class, and it really made me think. We practice this a lot over the course of the day, and it's starting to become natural for some of us. Yay!
  • Phonemic awareness time, or Hear & Cheer (as we call it), is going SO well! I put a lot of stock into Michael Heggerty's PA program when I asked my principal for it over the summer, and it is paying off already! I have hand motions going for a few activities so far, and those the ones the kids like the most. Note to self - think of some more. :)
Phonemic Awareness
  • We are finally going to have a full specials schedule! I typically have six 30-minute specials during the week, which are my planning periods. Mondays - art, Tuesdays - P.E., Wednesdays - technology and music, Thursdays - P.E., and Fridays - library. However.......... we did not have an art/technology teacher hired until this morning. Our previous art/tech teacher became our Kindergarten teacher this year (HOORAY!) but that left an opening that, for some reason, just could not be filled. But finally it was. The loss of planning time wasn't my biggest problem - it was more that the kids really needed a break from our room! 
Oh, and I have a sixth one!
  • We can read for 15 minutes!!!!!!!!! I love you, Daily Five!
Can you think of five fantastic things about this week? I'd love to know them! Happy weekend!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Can I Have Your Attention, Please?

Wow! This week has been tiring. And although I've had lots to write about, I haven't had the energy!!! Ay caramba.

Anyway, I want to talk to you about something that is a bit silly slash embarassing.

Whenever first year teachers ask me about advice that I have for them, I ALWAYS say, "You need to have an attention-getting strategy!" I have said it a hundred times. I have even added that I didn't have one last year and that is part of the reason that I didn't feel confident about my classroom management skills.

I went into this year with my attention-getting strategy in mind - I wanted to do the Class/Yes from Whole Brain Teaching. I haven't bought into the whole WBT situation but I felt like this was a pretty standard thing to try out.

So I went in on the first day, taught the Class/Yes thing to my class................ and then didn't use it for the next 3 days. I felt really self-conscious about it for some reason, even though I teach 6 year olds!!

On Thursday afternoon, day 3 of school, I was already just as frustrated as I was last year. I hate the feeling of standing in front of the class and just hoping that they'll stop talking. Or talking over them and then no one hears you whatsoever.

So I decided - on Friday, I was doing it! I was going to Class/Yes all day long! There was no stopping me!

So I did it. And it was AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMAZING. I never had a hush fall over the crowd like I did on Friday. Go me go!

It made our Friday schoolwork SO much more pleasant and wonderful!

For example, we made our first math quilt!
I absolutely loved making these last year, but my love for them increased 1000% when I had everyone's attention to teach the folds and cuts! My second graders (who made these last year - but starting in December) were trying to do the fancier folds and cuts that come later in the year so I had to stop them, haha!

We also did a super fun estimation activity with oatmeal squares!

A side note - one of my friends came out from New York this weekend and we did lots of touristy things in the city! It was a beautiful day yesterday and I had so much fun!
What attention-getting strategy (or strategies) do you use? If you need some ideas, there are a bunch of options here!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! It was our first full day of school!
I have a lot to love today. :)

I'm loving that I have a pretty good class this year! They are super chatty and I need to get that in check, for sure, but overall they are very sweet kids. I don't foresee any major behavior problems this year.

I'm loving that one student who particularly challenged me last year has transformed into a wonderful little man. He always tried to be good, so it was hard to get TOO frustrated with him, but had some impulse control difficulties. I hardly recognize him this year! I love his parents for working so hard with him all summer. :)

I'm loving my new girl. New kids are really rare at school, but I have one in first grade and she is the cutest. She is incredibly shy and nervous around the other kids, but she wants hugs from me all the time and just generally brightens up my day. She is loving school this year (the TOTAL opposite of her Kindergarten experience) and I feel happy that I am helping her have a good experience!

I'm loving that yesterday, when we talked about stamina, one boy said he had a lot of stamina for eating. Haha!

I'm loving that today my first graders asked if they could read when they finished their work early! YES! Pleeeeease read!

I'm loving that we launched Writing Workshop today! Everybody was incredibly excited to write, even though 75% of them wrote about their dog (like I did in my model story). When time was up and some kids weren't finished, they begged to finish tomorrow. I laughed to myself and said, "Yes! Of course we will have time to finish tomorrow!" And the next day... and the next day... and the next day...
I could probably think of a million more things, but it's probably past my bedtime!! What are you loving today?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Second First Day!

Today was the first day of my second year of teaching! Go me!
We had a half day, and it went AMAZINGLY well. Like, I was boggled as to what was happening in my classroom. They got a little squirrely in the last hour or so, but they're essentially all BFFs who haven't seen each other in a few months... so I wasn't too tough on them. :)

We started Daily Five today, and it went crazy well. Last year when I tried to launch D5, we read to ourselves for 17 seconds on the first day.

17. Seconds.

Today I actually had to stop them at 3 minutes! I almost died. I told them afterwards that I was AMAZED and I couldn't believe what was happening, haha! Then we walked down the hall in complete silence with our hands behind our backs and our bubbles in our mouths.

It wasn't all perfect! I did forget to collect their supplies, which led to general craziness at dismissal time. We enjoyed some Jitter Juice (courtesy of Abby), which was very fun!
 But it was a little too unstructured for us on the first day.  I'm sure it's just the way I taught it, because it was super fun and the activities were awesome! I learned quickly that we need lots of structure in my class. And that's cool, I can work with it. :)

So, tomorrow's another day! We're launching Writer's Workshop (which is new for all of us) and learning the 3 ways to read a book! And some math stuff too. :)

Question for ya - tomorrow we have our Technology special, but our Tech teacher isn't coming in. I want to take my class to the computer lab just to get us into the routine. Any thoughts on what we can do while we're there for 30 minutes?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back to School Jitters!


Today I went with my favorite cousins to school and we worked HARD and got a lot done! The room isn't quite ready for a picture reveal but it is looking pretty snazzy I must say. :)

So in lieu of pictures today, I'm joining a linky party hosted by Jessica at A Turn to Learn. This linky party is about our back to school feelings! I definitely have some. :)
So allow me to elaborate...

I'm excited that I have totally rearranged my room. Nothing is the same as last year! I moved my desk, I moved the kids' tables, I moved our whole group instruction area, I moved the computers... plus supposedly the Starboard is coming in sometime soon. They won't even recognize it in there!! :) I'm also hoping to try some new things - Daily Five, writer's workshop, news notebooks, a class blog, poetry journals... wowzer.

I'm nervous about my first graders. I've heard through the grapevine that at least one of my incoming first graders doesn't have letter recognition (is that how you'd say it?). Also I met a new girl who is coming into school and when I pointed to numbers and asked her to just say them, she was fine on 0-5 but got stuck past 6. I am up for the challenge, I hope!!

I'm excited because my former first graders are coming back to me!! Love love love. I got a postcard from one of them this summer and a letter from another one!

I need to remember to keep up on all that stuff I mentioned before! I have a bad habit of abandoning things in my classroom when I feel like they are too much work... but all the new stuff I want to do is beneficial, so I really hope I can convince myself to persevere!

Overall, though, I have a REALLY good feeling about this year! 

Go link up about your jitters! :)
Back to School Jitters Linky Party

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Ears Are Too Beeg For My Head! {repost}

{Hi friends! I originally made this post about a week ago, but there were some issues with the discount code. However, they've all been taken care of now! Feel free to enjoy the new discount code below!}

Skippyjon, holla!

So, a few weeks back I stumbled across the cutest stuffed animal ever, Skippyjon! I found him at Kohl's, which I blogged about that same night, for the low low price of $5! And all of the proceeds go to support kids' health and education initiatives. :)
Since my last Skippyjon post, I was contacted by a company working with Kohl's who offered to give me and you a special deal!

If you make a purchase through, you can use the code UBLOGTEN through October 24th to save 10% on your order! You can also stack your savings with one other department specific code as well. 

Happy shopping!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Happy Wednesday!!
Just like everybody else... I'm loving the Olympics! I'm not good at keeping up with them during the day but I always watch the recap at night. I am especially loving basketball because my NBA men are going crazy with the wins out there! My boyfriend is apparently a big Argentina fan (??) so we had a lovely time watching the USA/Argentina game on Monday!!
I'm loving the new sheets I bought today. I'm pretty sure I will never get out of bed ever again.
Pure Beech® Jersey Knit Sheet Set, 100% Modal
I'm loving that I spent the day with my boyfriend this week! He recently moved out of town so I drove on down there and we had a lovely day!!! Delicious food, fun walks around town, and tons of relaxing. Yay!

I'm loving my cousins!!! All day err day. Today they came to school and although we made more of a mess than anything, we checked a bunch of stuff off of my list and had so much fun!! Please note that I have WAY TOO MANY books. I am about to throw up just looking at them.
I'm loving that Kristin at Little Miss Glamour Goes to Kindergarten made me some special schedule cards! Having Religion and Mass as two of my subjects kind of limits me as to schedule cards I can use... but Kristin was nice enough to add a few for me and they are crazy cute!

I'm loving Stephen Colbert. Love love love love love. He makes me die laughing every day.

I'm loving that my cousins and I are taking a day trip tomorrow! We have been planning this all summer and I am soooOOOooo pumped!!

What are you loving today?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Made It: Fabric Napkin Art

I'm coming to you LATE for Monday Made It! I usually have these pre-typed up on Sunday nights but I was a busy lady, so here we go now!
Today I only have a home Monday Made It, which is weird for me because at the beginning of the summer, I didn't think I'd ever have one. 

BUT, I am moving out next week! And my new apartment has super super boring walls and I need some snazzy things to hang up.

So I made some fabric napkin art!
I was inspired by Kate at The Small Things Blog. She has a pretty good tutorial up there, so I didn't make a new one. But here are my little tricks and tips:
  • I bought my fabric napkins at World Market. Don't even think about going anywhere else. World Market has TONS of awesome patterned napkins and they are reasonably priced! I found these in the clearance section at $1.98 each, and I bought 3 identical napkins. I just featured different parts of the napkin in each frame!
  • My sweet square frames came from Dollar Tree and they were $0.50!!!! They are metal, not wood like Kate's, but I am on a budget here people! They were originally frames to hold 5 tiny pictures but I just threw out the little insert thing.
  • After I decided which part of the napkin I wanted to show, I cut around it with an additional 2 inch border. I wrapped the napkin around the cardboard backing and then hot glued the edges to the back (remember, I love hot glue!!). I did take a picture of that part to show you... it's a little dark.
  • In the end I just shoved it back into the frame. The kind I had was the kind where you slide the backing into the bottom. With the napkin glued it just barely fit so I had to use all my might. :)
So there you have it! 

You could totally use this in the classroom. It would be cheap if you just used scrapbook paper or a school-themed fabric... or a printed fabric to match your classroom theme!

And as a special treat, here are my cousins and me last night during Pinterest crafting!!!
Hope your Monday was fantastic!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back to School Postcards

Tonight I carried on a tradition that I started last year at this time - sending back to school postcards to my incoming class!
When I was going into third grade myself, I remember getting a postcard from my third grade teacher and thinking it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I still have it now, and I'd show it to you, but I used it last year as a template for my postcards and I have no idea where it is now!

Here is what I wrote on my postcards this year, if you're looking for some ideas. My inspiration was from Proteacher!
This was the first grade version. I altered it slightly for my second graders, all of whom I had last year in first grade. I also had a write a completely different note for one postcard because I have brothers in my class this year and I didn't want their postcards to say the same things.

My students last year LOVED these postcards. On the first day of school, they were all so excited to tell me that they got my card in the mail, and I heard throughout the year that they were still hanging onto them. :)

I bought my postcards from my teacher store, but if you're looking to save a trip to the store, Lindsey at The Teacher Wife has some she made that you can have for free!

Do you send back to school postcards?

Friday, August 3, 2012

August Currently


All right, back to school must-haves...

  1. Storage - I mentioned in my last post that I traded in my desk for a desk that's more table-y. No drawers, just a flat surface with legs. So I need to find some plastic drawers to fill up with my stuff! I think I also need to just buckle down and make the teacher toolbox that everyone has made this summer...
  2. My cousins - Kelley and Lisa came to help me last year with my bulletin boards and I really do not know what I would do without them! Kelley and I picked out borders last week and I am looking forward to seeing my whole room come together with their help!!!!!
  3. Lesson plan book - Obviously I need a new lesson plan book. Although the Erin Condren planners are incredibly tempting... I am moving out in 2 weeks so I am trying to save as much money as I can! Last year we were given lesson plan books by my school. I didn't like them at all so I bought a different one but this time I think I am going to just suck it up and use it... because it's free.
I went back in to school today! I made a to-do list so I wouldn't forget anything. Do you think it is long enough?
I did cross one thing off - labeling all of our consumable workbooks!
Do you use a lot of workbooks? After labeling all of them it appears that pretty much all I have is workbooks!!

My principal told me today that he is ordering two interactive whiteboards and one will be for me! I can't even tell you how ridiculously amazing this is, as I do not even have an overhead projector in my classroom! I am not holding my breath until I see it installed and plugged in, but the word on the street is that we are getting Starboards.
Does anyone out there have a Starboard?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Before

Today was the first day we were officially allowed back in the classroom! And, ay yi yi, what a mess!

Here's what I'm working with in my roomio...

Here is a view of my wall o' bulletin boards. Also in the corner you can see that I am trading my MASSIVE GIGANTIC teacher's desk for a little desk on wheels! Can you see it? It has the apple on it!
Here is my big whiteboard that is not magnetic. I feel like I need to say that every time I talk about this whiteboard because it would be an AMAZING thing if it was magnetic...... anyway! On the sides are bulletin boards even though they are green. I promise there is cork under there.
Here is my back wall, opposite of the whiteboard wall. Huge windows, great natural light! I have two cabinet/shelving unit things that I want to get rid of somehow.... although I really desperately need storage, they take up way too much space!
And here is the last wall. A chalkboard surrounded by bulletin boards, and on each side you can see my coatroom doors. Also you can see that I actually haven't traded in my MASSIVE GIGANTIC teacher's desk. It is way too heavy for people such as myself to be moving.
Here is something I am super pumped about.... I got a big rug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our Kindergarten teacher retired and she had 3 big rugs in her room. Our new Kindergarten teacher is my buddy and said she didn't need all 3! Yay! This will be where we meet for whole group instruction and read alouds.
Here is my dilemma.... behind my rocking chair and easel you can see that there is part of the wall o' bulletin boards. What can I put up behind my easel that we won't need to look at all day long?? Decisions, decisions...

So there you have it! The before pictures! Hopefully the next pictures you see will be muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch better-looking. :)
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