Saturday, August 25, 2012

Moving into a .....Routine?

Well, not quite.  My little ones this year are having a hard time doing just that, but hey, it's only been a week and a half, right?  Still, I miss them being trained able to anticipate what we're doing next!

This week, we continued some of our back to school activities in creating these cute lunchboxes for Cafeteria Expectations from Rowdy in Room 300 that she posted as a freebie.  We also did Miss Kindergarten's "School is Cool" kids (another freebie--LOVE those freebies!).  I think they look pretty nifty in our hallway! :)

I love displaying our work in the hallways! :)  Maybe I could work on my administrator putting a bulletin board out there for me! :)

OH!  Started my BUILD centers this week!  They were a HIT with students and, since my students are not very independent (yet), that was one of the main parts of their seatwork while we rotated math groups.  It made a big difference in the atmosphere of the room from past years.  No more students off task and wandering around, not sure what to do or what center to choose.  I also didn't have a large number of kids playing one center with someone being left out.  It really helped with behavior and teamwork!

This week, we are adding the "Number of the Day" book to their independent time.  They had trouble with this at the beginning, but after a week of working with it as a group, I think they're ready to try it on their own!  I had done these books in years past and gotten away from them, but decided I like these much better than Investigations' version (shh!).  Here's a sample of the first book:

I put two on a page then cut it in half.  I copy 10 pages for each student, so they have a book of "20."  For some of the templates, I copy more and some I copy less, depending on how much they need help with the concept.  If you click on the picture, it should take you to the Google Doc page.  I hope it works okay...I'm still learning how to do this!  If you're wondering, the "number of the day" coincides with how many days we've been in school, so it ties into our calendar lesson each day.

So, all in all, it was a pretty good week.  We continued discovering nouns and sang our songs about punctuation (I wish I could remember the name of the book I copied these from years ago, but sadly, I cannot...other than it had a wide variety of topics of songs).  We have our PALS Reading Assessment coming up this Friday.  I've done an informal evaluation (running record) and right now I have four reading groups...we do Guided Reading Levels and they are (literally) E, F, G, and H (the equivalent of PrePrimer, Primer, and First).  Sigh.  No, I can't combine them together.  But, this post is long enough, so let's just say my little dependent kids have "snack" as one of their rotations! :)  Between that and Raz Kids and Literacy Centers, I'm able to keep some sanity!  Come September 11, we'll start our reading rotations so that they'll also get "Reading Lab" and "Title I."

Wow, this was a long post...and varied...I'll try to do better next time! Thanks if you've gotten this far!  Oh, one last question.......does anyone do the "AMC" math?  We're trying to fit that into our Investigations but other than having the books for the testing, I haven't had any formal training on it (I'm currently in the begging stages with my administrator, since I know of someone who went to the training and it sounds really cool!).  Thanks!

Oh, and one last personal "woo hoo" son survived his first week of middle school and STILL likes it!!!!!  (This from a child who spent K-4 hating school!).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

First Week Down! (or "Why Am I in School on a Saturday?") and Michael Phelps

Whew!  First week down!

I have to laugh...a lot of my parents warned me at Open House on Monday that their darlings were good, but talked a lot.  I just smiled and replied that we have a very active classroom and even in our "down times" there's usually some music (Kids Bop!) playing in the background.

Score one for parents.  They are DEFINITELY talkers!  I finally had to blow my whistle (which is very shrill) at one point...things seemed to get better after that!

But, they are a nice bunch....I haven't seen a mean action out of one of them....but I can already tell my work is cut out for me.  I have a feeling I may be spending a lot of weekend days in school preparing for the week.  While I have a lot of good things I created/planned last year, this group might need some extra help in other areas that I didn't need to create last year.

I feel better this year, starting out, because I DO have a great group of resources to go to that I didn't realize existed at this time last year...Pinterest, teacher blog land, TpT, I can either be inspired, or use someone else's "perspiration."  (Okay, that sounded gross...sorry...but you know what I mean!).

We did "personality bags" on Friday (school started Wednesday...I have mixed feelings about the short week...yes, it's great to get to Friday earlier, but I did NOT like having only half a day to work between Open House and First Day!).  If you haven't done these before, it teaches you so much about your students!  I haven't done them previously (my teammates did) because I did other "getting to know you" activities, but I realized something listening to my students on's all fine and good for the students to get to know each other, but this was a FANTASTIC way for ME to get to know THEM.  

So, we had fun and the kids got to guess whose bag it was before the owner revealed him/herself.  I now know that:
1.  Pokemon is still alive and well and is an obsession of quite a lot of my students!
2.  Star Wars and super heroes are still key....and so are Legos and motorcycles.....with my boys (and some girls!).
3.  My students are impressed that I know what Ninjago is and could name some of the superheroes they brought in!
4.  I have a LOT of swimmers in my class (and they all brought in swim goggles...too cute!).

I could go on, but have to share what one of my girls was great!

She showed us her swim goggles (each child got to explain what they brought after we guessed whose bag it was) and explained that she has ADHD just like Michael Phelps.  She told them that he was able to use all his extra energy to win gold medals.  I LOVE that she compared herself to him!  It about made me cry!  She went on to pull out a piece of "gold" to represent his medals, and went on to explain to her classmates that nothing ever holds you back.

So, I'll end on that note today.  That, and I need to get back to work....since my stack is still staring at me :(.  Hopefully I will publish pictures next week of something super cool the students are doing :)  Until then, have a great weekend and good luck with your preparations for back-to-school!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

More pics from the classroom

Okay this is a bit of an experiment....blogging and taking pics with smartphone using the blogger app. My apologies if things are misspelled, etc.

I am trying to cause some excitement with my students by making writing more of a "whodunit " activity. The kids won't know what's behind the "curtain" until we explore it more and they can guess.  I'll be writing more grammar adventures to go along with this, but when my friend was getting rid of this mystery theme, I jumped on it!  My apologies for the sideways pics, but you get the idea (I couldn't get it all in one shot).  Anyone know how to change that using your phone?  Something tells me I won't be doing this as much! :P

Also pictured are my literacy centers.  I hope to take "action shots" with the kids....looking at the pic, they look kinda dull (which does not seem worth 3+ hours of work yesterday!).  Okay, well, Open House is tomorrow so I'm hoping the parents will like the room as well as the kiddos!  Thanks for the compliments from my earlier post in my room! :)

Woo Hoo! Another Sale! :)


I'm throwing a sale!  Using the promo code today and tomorrow on Teachers Pay Teachers, you can save up to 28% off!  Join in on the fun and stock up for the new year!  I'll also be throwing another sale from August 15-18 to celebrate my district's first week of school!  So if you miss the Sunday/Monday sale, go browse from Wednesday-Saturday for 20% off!

Oh, and don't forget!  If you are a Teacher's Notebook fan, my items on there are 50% off through the end of August!  Happy shopping! :)

Things to look for in the coming weeks:  Citizenship (2.10) Scoot, Grammar Detectives:  Sentences, Grammar Detectives:  Nouns, Magnet Scoot, Weather Scoot, and (hopefully) more! :)   

Monday is our "Open House" so hopefully I'll be able to post more pics of my classroom, including the literacy centers and "BUILD" Math Centers!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Little Late to the Party

Okay, so August snuck up on always.  I mean, I was going full speed, feeling good that in July, I was already planning units and BAM!  It's August 8th, my first teacher workday and school starts on the 15th!

So, instead of working on things right now, I sit in my classroom watching the pouring rain and deciding that after a day of meetings, I'd better do my August Currently.  Because, of course, it's already 8 days late, right? :)

So, I'm linking up with Farley instead of getting work done.  (I know, bad girl!).  Hmm...everyone probably wishes for that maid...oh, the 10:45 lunch time.  We got our schedule today.  Second grade gets the first shift:  10:45 - 11:10.  Last year, it was 11:10-11:35.  Not too bad.  Enough in the middle of the day it didn't require snack.  This year, I feel like it's going to in the afternoon.  Sigh.  I know I'll be hungry by the end of the day!!!

B2S:  round sticky magnets:  doing a math focus wall on a metal cabinet....I have learned that the magnetic tape, the one that's in the roll?  Doesn't work too well.  Even after I crushed it with several dictionaries.  So, I need more of the round magnets.  After I've bought about 3 packs from Walmart, a friend of mine pointed out that they are cheaper at the Teacher's Store.  Guess I know where I'm going this weekend! :)

Motivation:  I'm sitting here doing this when I could be working on curriculum.  I mean, it's why I spent part of July setting up my room, right?  Sigh.

Duct Tape:  With the humidity, I swear its the only thing (and cheapest option) that holds things in place.  For some reason, the colored duct tape works better.  I like the purple. :)

So, that's about it.  It's stopped pouring down rain.  We DID do something fun today in our back to school first day meeting - Geocaching.  We broke into teams and went to go find sandwich-sized boxes with predetermined latitude/longitude.  It was harder than I thought, but I think I'd like to do it with my students.  Has anyone done it before?  How did it work?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back to School and a Sale!

So I've been working on getting my room super organized (well, as much as possible!) as well as set up for the next school year.  Figured I'd share the work in progress so I don't bombard you with pics all in one post. 

In our district, teachers start back August 8 and I like to have as much done as possible, because you never know what might come up!.  In addition,I want to focus on getting planning son is starting middle school this year and I am more days after 5pm at school!!!!!  He won't be here after hours (unless I go pick him up) so even though my house is less than 15 minutes from here, I will try to resist! :)

Oh, and don't forget!  Everything during August is 50% off in my Teacher's Notebook store!  Stock up on Scoot games (50 cents!) and more! ;)  

My Reading Focus Wall:  Our first book from Harcourt Trophies we're doing as a Read Aloud will be "Wilson Sat Alone."  The posters above have velcro so I can take them down and use them as needed in groups!

These are super cute Beanie posters I found last year when I decided to start doing a Reading Focus Wall.  Debated on putting them all up or just one at a time...but that left lots of empty space, so like the posters, I figure I can take them down and have the group "focus" on them!  Also thought about getting cute sticky notes with arrows or check marks to show the ones we're concentrating on/mastered!

I want to go back to doing a "Poem of the Week" with my kids, then using it in reading groups and for Grammar/Writing Focus.  Also the purple board is the "featured Anchor chart."

Still work in progress....Math focus "board."  This is right next to my group table ....everything is "magnetic" (some magnets need to be reinforced, obviously!).  I can take it down or point it out to students...this is more effective than last year, when the board was in the back of the room and I don't think any of my students really referenced it!

Math manipulatives shelf...trying to make it look appealing since it's by the door (I could not move the metal cabinet once the floors were waxed, so I had to make do!  It's usually hidden on the other side of the cabinet!).

Literacy Center organization....I lucked into the red ones for $5 apiece, and should have gone back for more!

Comfy reading center, although the kids will take the beanbags anywhere in the room! :)

Back bulletin discipline/job board with the flamingos...will add frogs with student names (once I get my list!).  Book boxes are in front of the History/Science focus board (this is near my carpet where I do most of my direct teaching for History/Science).

So excited about using BUILD for math centers! :)  Word wall is behind it.

Over by my desk, I decided to put rules and good character (along with my meerkat family....I somehow find the poster relaxing!).