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Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Free-For-All

It's Friday, the last day of freedom for me. Monday I will be sitting through meetings at school (one of which I have to lead, too).

Today I have two free documents that I have created. The first is a mini monthly scrapbook I created for first grade. You can use the document as is or make it larger if you'd like. It is small because we have a time capsule that we create at the beginning of first grade that we open at the end of the year. This little book will be kept in their capsules and taken out (by me) each month. I chose one important unit or event that represented each month for the kids to write/draw about.

 The second is a list of activities to promote vocabulary acquisition in math. I was on a PLC a few years back and we researched vocabulary and how to encourage the retention of words. These games can easily be adapted to other subjects, too!

Click the image to find them on My4shared site here:
From My Mixed Up Files on My4shared

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three for Thursday

Today on the blog hop we are posting three favorite links.

Favorite font:
You can see a list of fonts I love in this post, but if I had to choose one favorite, I find myself going back to this one quite often

I downloaded it for free, but I think that offer has expired. You can order it for $1.99 here or do a search- it might still be free somewhere out there.

Favorite blog:
Oohh...hard to say. I stumbled upon The Inspired Apple from finding Abby on Pinterest. I love her stuff!

If I could pick two, I also follow Clutter-Free Classroom.

Favorite Online Resource:
Right now, definitely Pinterest.  As for teacher goodies, I'd choose Teachers Pay Teachers or Scholastic Teaching Resources (especially their Instructor Magazine area).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Classroom Photos

Today I'm going to share with you a sneak peek into my classrooms of the past. I don't have any photos of this year as it is still a work in progress.

In the middle of second grade, I let the kids draw a plan for our desks. They must include 24 desks in some configuration so that everyone can see the board. This arrangement won our class vote for the month. In the background you can see our calendar area under the TV, our Cafe Menu and Daily 5 board, our Reading Recommendations board, and our Alphabet Tree where we write fancy words that we find in our books on leaves.

Here is a close-up of my Cafe Menu board- the kids write the different strategies we learn on sentence strips. The stars show each student's reading goal that we set together.

Here is our Daily 5 board with the student choices. Above are the i-charts we created as a class with our guidelines for behavior for each of the choices (yes, they are color-coded).

At the beginning of second grade, I teach the kids how to draw portraits. We mix tempera paint to get the right color for our skin and then finish the rest with watercolor. We outline them in Sharpie.

And here I am, dressed as Pippi Longstocking for storybook character day. I am standing in front of another group of portraits that I hung with our hopes and dreams for the year (from Responsive Classroom).

I will post photos of my new room soon! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk

Today on the blog hop, we are sharing tips for new teachers. In many respects I do feel like a new teacher but I have some tips for those of you embarking on your new journey.

  1. Don't try to do everything. There are some things that cannot get done. When you are going through your college program, you create lesson plans that are amazing and time-consuming. When you are a teacher sometimes you just have to teach out of the manual. It's okay. The kids will still like you. Not everything needs a read-aloud and an art project.
  2. If you need some quiet time, have the kids break out the watercolor paint. Works like a charm.
  3. Find a mentor teacher if your district does not have a mentor program. Luckily, my district did. They provided me time to observe my mentor in the classroom and meet with her to ask questions and exchange ideas. Veteran teachers can be a valuable resource.
  4. Get to know your students and families. I cannot emphasize enough how important building relationships will be for you.
  5. When you are trying to build your library, start cheap. Check out yard sales, library book sales, secondhand stores like Goodwill, and definitely sign up for Scholastic Book Clubs. You will earn free bonus points to choose books for your library.
Good luck to all of the new teachers out there! You will do great!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Teacher Week Blog Hoppin'

I'm joining up with other teachers from around the web for Teacher Week 2011. If you'd like to play along, just link up here: Blog Hoppin' Teacher Week.

  • Monday you will get to know the bloggers. 
  • Tuesday will be full of advice for new teachers. 
  • Wednesday will feature photos of our classrooms. 
  • Thursday will be a link to a favorite font, blog, and online resource.
  • Friday will be a "free for all" loaded with free goodies for your classroom.
Today I'll let you know 5 things about me:
  1. I have been teaching at the same school my entire career. This will be my 7th year of teaching. When I was first hired, I had the unique opportunity of going to a brand new elementary school the first year it opened. It was amazing to be part of such a strong team of teachers- all of who wanted to be on board to help get the new school off the ground and see it's vision through.
  2. I used to teach preschool before embarking on my new journey. While I was teaching at a preschool full time, I went to earn my undergrad degree by taking mostly night classes. I received my degree in Elementary Education and I am certified to teach K-8 with an emphasis in communication arts and literature. I earned my Master's Degree in Teaching and Learning two years ago. My final project was a year-long study on reading comprehension and response journals. I will be sure to share the things I do in my classroom.
  3. I will admit that I do, on occasion, eat school lunch. I once had a thought that I should eat school lunch every day and document it to see if I lost weight (or gained). 
  4. I have one son who is in preK and another boy on the way- due around Thanksgiving. I will be taking my maternity leave for December and a few weeks in January. Right now, we are calling the baby "Sharky" (yes, my son loves sharks).
  5. In my spare time (when I have some) I enjoy scrapbooking and reading for my book club.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Are You Pinning? Linky Party

I'm on Pinterest, are you?! It's a fabulous website that allows you to "pin" your favorite bookmarks to a bulletin board of sorts. You can share your links with others and "repin" things that others post. It's ideal for teachers since there are so many fabulous resources out on the web.

Michelle Lundy from Math in the Middle is hosting a Pinterest Linky Party to share other teachers' Pinterest boards so you can follow your e-colleagues. Stop by her blog post here to join the fun and see who else is playing.

Don't forget to follow me on Pinterest by clicking on that small red "Follow Me on Pinterest" button on the right.

Happy pinning!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To-Do Check-in

Just checkin' in on my to-do list...
  • Plan book organized in a binder 
  • Order Math Pensieve on Zazzle with coupon 
  • Set up Math Pensieve (I will post this soon!)
  • Get ideas for math STARS centers  (also coming soon!)
  • Read up on Writer's Workshop (I have my first few months planned!)
  • Go through new math curriculum (still waiting on some pieces that haven't been delivered)
  • Set up classroom (I have some kid-less days coming up!)
  • Organize books (not sure if that will ever be done...)
  • Beautify the teacher notebook
  • Write welcome letters to kids (We are actually having an ice cream party instead)
  • Check out STEM units (This will be part of our inservice during workshop week so I can't plan these units yet- we did put them into our curriculum map, though)

My next posts will be about my Math and Daily 5 Pensieves. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Target Deals!

Finally I have officially been told I will be teaching second grade, as was planned at the end of last year. It actually was still in discussion mode yesterday but the class placement letters go out Thursday so there is no turning back. This means I will be the "new kid" in the class as 22 of my 24 students have already been together for one year with another teacher. I have never taken over a loop so it will be interesting! I get to meet my kiddos (although I was partnering up with their teacher for the last few weeks of school last year so that I could scope them out) next week at an ice cream social. At least now I can get ready for the year!

So, of course, I went shopping. I love Target. We've had Targets here in MN since I was little (this is where their headquarters are) and my younger sister actually works as a business analyst at Target HQ so I've always been fond of them. Plus, they have EVERYTHING! And it's good quality. (By the way, my sister told me that some of the Christmas lights and cards will be on sale at Target starting in September! And the other holiday decor will be out near Halloween- crazy!)

I can never walk in without first checking that Dollar Spot at the front of the store (my sister likes to remind me it is called "See Spot Save" because there are things that are $2.50 as well). They are pulling at my pocketbook when they have all the teacher stuff out. I wanted to share with you what I got and my plans for my treasures.

Two Blue Baskets: I plan to use these in my writing center for crayons and markers. They are a perfect size for the shelf I have.
Two Sets of Magnetic Numbers: These will be in a box in my math area for skills practice. They have addition and subtraction signs in them.
One Set of 4 Large Cups (white): I was thinking of using these for my sharp/dull pencils and highlighters for the writing center.
One Pack of Sticky Notes: I really liked how these were numbered. My plan is to write down the steps to complete a project for students who might need them in close proximity. Could I do this with regular sticky notes? Of course. Would I remember to do it if I didn't buy these? Probably not. On a previous Target trip I also bought some star-shaped sticky notes since my theme this year is stars.
Three Math Placemats: These things are awesome. They are wipe-off placemats that have different skills on them. The ones pictured are time and money, but I did purchase the addition placemat on a previous trip. The Addition one has two spinners that you add up. The Time one has analog and digital clocks. The Money one has a spinner that you add coins to a given problem. I will definitely use these in my math center when we are teaching these subject areas. They also had another placemat that had upper and lowercase letters.

These awesome tabletop pocket charts were $2.50 each. That big space at the top? A whiteboard. The lines underneath? That's a pocket chart. There are also pocket chart lines all along the back. They are the perfect size for a word work center. My plan is to have the kids find their spelling word on strip and then put it in the pocket chart. They will use paper letters to spell the word in the next pocket. Then, they will have to write the word on the whiteboard area. Or I will steal these for my own use. The possibilities are endless!

I also bought some alphabet stamps. I got the larger set that was $2.50 but they have a small set for $1. My plan for those is to use them in a word work box with playdough so the kids stamp their spelling words into the dough. Luckily I don't have any allergies this year but in the past I haven't been able to do playdough because of gluten allergies. I just use an ink pad with the stamps in that case.

I think I have maybe spent $20 at the Dollar Spot See Spot Save section and I've gotten lots of new centers. Just looking at all the fun stuff gets my brain going a mile a minute! Have you gotten anything from there lately? How are you using it in your classroom?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fancy Plan Book and Notebook

Since I am a scrapbooker in my spare time (whatever little time that may be), I love to "upgrade" my school supplies. My theory is that if I have to look at it every day, it might as well be pretty!

I got a fancy binder, some lovely paper from different scrapbooking companies, and my trusty tape runner (like double-sided tape but way easier to use) and set out to beautify my boring plan book and notebook that we get each year from school.

This little notebook is a school-issued, blah-blue but I jazzed it up with a little October Afternoon paper from their line called "Report Card."

Here is the binder I found on clearance at Target. Most of my important binders are fancy so I can find them easily on my desk! I haven't used a binder for a plan book before, but we have a lot of curriculum maps from our district that I'd like to keep close. I usually just glue our grade level curriculum calendar on the inside of the plan book but it's getting to be too many pages. 

I took the binding out of the plan book and then three-hole punched it (I used a Cropadile but you could use a regular hole-punch if you have patience). Then I covered the front of it with some lovely paper.

 The language arts curriculum map for K-2 at our school...about 56 million pages long...and the math curriculum map for K-2, three pages long.

But now I have some beautiful notebooks to hold all my most important information!

And if you think those are cute, wait until you see my Math and Daily 5 Pensieves...coming soon!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fun Fonts for the Classroom

I don't know about you, but I'm a font-aholic. I love downloading and using fun fonts in my classroom (and Comic Sans, of course. Why don't more fonts have the right style of "a"?)

Here are some of my favorite free fonts and where you can find them (just click on them to get to the link):

If you have never downloaded a font before, it's pretty easy. On my computer I have Windows and all I have to do is download the font, extract the files from the Zip folder, then right-click on the icon of the font I want and click "Install." I give permission for it to download and voila! If that doesn't work for you, there are many other tutorials on websites that are linked here.
Go forth and font!

*Edited link to Homegrown Hospitality Font on 7/15/12. Hopefully it will get you to the right place!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer Reading

Each August, I make sure to go back to my tried-and-true professional development books to freshen up my back to school experience. Below are the books I will be diving into again before school starts.
The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong

The First Six Weeks of School by Paula Denton and Roxann Kriete (Responsive Classroom)
The Morning Meeting Book by Roxann Kriete (Responsive Classroom)

The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser ("The Sisters")

The CAFE Book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser ("The Sisters")

Each of these books can be found at by clicking on the caption below the book. They are each under $20 and definitely my go-to reference each year.

I will definitely go into more detail about how I use elements of Responsive Classroom, Daily 5 and the CAFE models to teach reading. I will also gush about how awesome "The Sisters" are in person and how you should totally fork over the money to see their 2-day workshop (or get professional development funding for your whole grade level team to offset part of the cost like we did).