About Me

My photo
I love reading education blogs, fashion blogs, craft blogs and dreaming!

Check Out My Store

Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth - TeachersPayTeachers.com

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

12 Days of Hope

The 12 Days of Hope is a program at my school that runs for the 12 school days that lead up to winter break.  During this time, the students are given a small gift or provided with a unique experience.  It all started because, typical of a low-income school, the students had increased behavior problems during that time or they just didn't bother to come to school at all!  After looking for the cause of these behavior problems we found that many of the students were just scared- they count on us for stability, breakfast, lunch and safety.  Winter break is 2 weeks without any of those things!  So, we set out the first year to get a pair of socks for every child.  We posted on our facebooks, we contacted different stores or companies and we got socks....and books, crayons, cookies and more!  It just grew from there, the community has truly surrounded our kiddos and are giving them the hope that they need to reach for the stars.  So many great things have happened at my school in the last 3 years- it is hard to remember how far we have come when I am in the thick of things each day.  The 12 Days of Hope are a time for me to remember that I give hope each and every day to my students and I can just as easily take hope away.

Here is a video about my school- I'm on there (don't worry that I look like a doofus)!

Look for more about the fun things that we are doing for the 12 Days of Hope this year!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Liebster Blog Award!

Sarah over at Wishful Teaching  nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award.  Thank you for the award!
Here are the rules of the award: 
The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers by established bloggers (less than 200 followers), in order to recognize them, let them know that they are appreciated, and to spread the word about new blogs. The rules are:
  • You must post 11 random things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions that the nominators set for you.
  • Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
  • Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
  • No tag back, (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so that I can learn more about you!)
Here are the 11 random things about me-
1. I treat my dog like my child- and he thinks he is one!
2. I am left handed
3. I am from Detroit- and I often wish I was still there
4. I am the middle child but act like the oldest
5. Teaching science is probably the hardest thing I do in a day
6. There is at least one child every year that I wish I could just adopt and take away from their home situation
7. My best day ever would involve wearing pajamas ALL DAY LONG
8. I hope to adopt children some day
9. I dream of owning a summer cottage in Michigan
10. Disney World is one of my favorite places on EARTH
11. I can scare myself out of doing things that I have already done successfully- ie. not ride a roller coaster again that I had a blast riding the first time.

Questions from Sarah
1. Where did you go on your honeymoon, or where would you like to go for your honeymoon?
My husband and I didn't technically have a honeymoon...we were married in Michigan and then spent the week after our wedding driving back to Washington where we live

2. You're leaving work late, again, and you are just too tired to make dinner. Where do you stop to get a quick bite on the way home?
I don't! I get home and whine about it to my husband and then let him go and grab something from wherever he wants!! :)

3. Do you sit down and eat your lunch? Or do you have a "working lunch"?
I usually sit down- I really like my co-workers and we talk about tv shows, books, shopping- it's a fun time to just be away from my classroom and relax for a few minutes!

4. What is your go-to thing to do when you need to get away from it all (work out...call up a friend for a coffee date...)?

5. When did you know you were meant to be a teacher?
I spent some time as a nanny for a special needs-but undiagnosed- child and I spent every day in the classroom with him until things could be figured out.  I really enjoyed being in the classroom.

6. If you hadn't become a teacher, what would you have been?
I probably would have just found a customer service job- I like talking to people while I'm at work.

7. Do you have siblings?
I have an older brother, a younger brother and a younger sister.
8. Do you have pets?
My little man, Emmett

9. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Disney World, Poland, Costa Rica, Travel throughout South America...I have a long list!

10. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be? Why?
Diane Ravitch-I was lucky enough to hear her speak earlier this year and I was inspired by her passion for education and treating educators with respect.  I admire her willingness to put herself out there to be criticized by others because she truly believes that she can make a difference and improve education.

11. What color pen do you correct student work with? 
Any color that is laying around!

After extensive internet sleuthing I am noticing that the majority of the blogs I follow have already received the Liebster award or have more than 200 followers!   If you are interested in this award, consider this my nomination of you- and let me know who you are so that I can follow you back!! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Another Pinterest project!

Today was a half day so it was a perfect opportunity to try out a Pinterest project I have had my eye on since last Winter. These little snowmen are so cute but boy do some of my kiddos have long names!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hey! Remember me??

It has been along time. I have a whole litany of excuses but none bigger than the fact that my computer died. I mourned her for a long time and then downloaded the blogger app. I still haven't replaced my laptop. I have a desktop if I really need it but for now I can use my phone and enjoy not constantly having a computer on my lap! I don't have much to share. I just wanted to try out the app and pictures.

These are pictures of a Thanksgiving project that we worked on today. I love how creative they are in their responses! Enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving and I should be back soon!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

We are loved!

Remember my last post? I talked about putting together a word cloud using the adjectives parents used to describe their kiddos and that I wanted to print it out poster sized?  WELL, I just figured something out that has changed my world!  I may be super late to this printing party but for those of you who don't know how to print poster size on a regular printer- maybe this will change your world too!

I guess the technical term is "tiled printing." I don't know anything about it except that I can print a poster from my home printer/school printer and I don't have to pay extra to have it printed at Kinkos! Woohoo!

How to print poster sized from a regular printer:

1.  Save your document as a picture or pdf
2.  Insert your picture into excel
3.  Format your picture in excel to the size that you want
4.  Click print

Seriously, it is that easy- Excel automatically tiles your printing for you!  Once it has printed on multiple sheets- you will need to puzzle piece it together and tape it/laminate it so that you have your poster, voila!
All the pieces are laid out and pieced together- I had to trim some of the margins

I placed a small amount of tape on the front to hold the pieces together

Then I flipped it over

and added packaging tape to the back to hold it all together

This is what it looks like hanging on the wall (don't mind the busy border or the crooked letters)!

I am so excited to think of all the things that I can print! I hope this helps someone as much as it has helped me!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

We are loved!

I have worked hard at developing relationship with my student's families.  It is not something that comes naturally to me- I am not the most outgoing personality and it is often difficult for me to make conversation with new people.  However, I have gotten better and better at it over the years!  One of the things that I love to do is to find ways to let the families know that they are listened to- and also to let the students know that we are all a part of a team. I start this by asking the families to describe their student using three words.  Then I take all the words and compile them into a word cloud.  Have you made a word cloud before?  I find the visual aspect so interesting.  There are a few different websites that allow you to create a word cloud, the ones below are my favorites:
What's neat is that you can see if there are adjectives that are used multiple times and if there are some that can be used to describe the group.  Then, I print it out as a poster and hang it up in our classroom.  Families love to look at it when they come into our classroom and students like having the reminder that they are loved!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bucket Fillers

This post doesn't have any new tips or tricks and it doesn't have any pictures but I just needed to share a sweet school story.  Students at my school eat lunch in the classroom and I monitor their 30 minute lunchtime.  Usually students are finished eating sooner than lunch is over and so they are allowed to write "bucket filling notes" to their classmates when they are done eating.  They have a bucket filler slip and when they have written one they put it in their friend's bucket to check later.  I also have a bucket and I can get some very sweet and often hilarious notes in there.  Today I got one that I have never received before...this student filled my bucket by saying "Dear Ms. B, you are the CUTEST teacher EVER!!!!"  How sweet- I have never been called cute by a 7 year old before!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An update on joy

I am finding it!!  I want to sing from the rooftops!!  Believe me, teaching phonics and struggling readers is not easy, and there are days when I want to pull my hair out BUT each day has gotten a little bit better.  One of the things I wanted to share with you all is my reading schedule for each day.  For my lower level readers I need STRUCTURE and I am finding that their attention span is so short that if I just keep us moving along, things go much easier.  I have a 90 minute reading block each day.  I try to keep those 90 minutes packed full!
9:00-9:15 whole group phonics lesson
9:15-9:30 centers/daily 5-rotation 1
9:30-9:45 rotation 2
9:45-10:00 rotation 3 or second whole group lesson depending on the need/the day
10:00-10:15 rotation 4
10:15-10:30 read aloud

For my first whole group lesson I have been using phonic poems, rhymes and songs (thank you Kaitlyn) that I have found on the internet as a class warm-up.  We have used wikki-stix to identify words with short a and long a sounds.

During rotations or centers students have the choice or read to self from books that are just right for them, listen to a story, word work (continuing our phonics practice) or a computer program called Imagine Learning- it's awesome.  While the students are working on one of those things, I have a group with me and we are working on decodable books.

My optional 2nd lesson is usually a vocabulary or sight word lesson
For my read a loud I am trying to follow along with our basil but jazz it up a little bit.  This week second graders are reading The Mixed Up Chameleon so we have been looking at a variety of Eric Carle books. 

Now that I have a structure in place I feel like a much more effective teacher.  I still have days where my expectations are too high but I am getting somewhere.  In my short time with this group I have already seen some progress and that is so uplifting!

So my question to you is, what is the structure of your reading block?  Do you have a group of struggling readers, what do you do with them?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Finding My Joy...A Call to Help!

Hi blogging friends!  I am happy to be back "talking" with you after what feels like a long time!  Please let me explain my absence...school started and WHOA!

I am hoping that I can recruit you to help me out with teaching struggling second grade readers.  Do you have any books you suggest that I read or lessons or tips that I should try?  I am teaching the struggling reading group this year and I am not finding the joy---YET!  We all have those things about teaching that truly bring us joy- something that you can cling on to even when the rest of the day doesn't go as planned.  For me, this has always been helping children discover that they LOVE reading.  It might be guiding a student to a book that they can't put down, or helping a student find an author that they love so much they go out and read every book that that author has ever written.  I have never found that same joy in helping students identify letters, letter sounds or rhyme and that is where my group is at right now.  I am so anxious to get them to the next step that I don't feel like I am giving my best instruction.  So- please, point me in the right direction, help me find that joy in these struggling readers!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Library Organization

I am into my second week in second grade!  I survived- and I must admit that after the first day, I wasn't sure if I would!  All you second grade teachers out there, this third grade teacher wants to send you a big THANK YOU!  I never realized all the social skills that beginning of the year second graders are lacking- and beginning of they year third graders are not...

I am posting today however, to say that I have found a book check-out system that works for me and my classroom library!  This process has been 4 years in the making and I am so happy that it works.  My first year teaching  I started out with no check-out system and I "lost" so many books that I knew I needed to try something.  I moved to a paper/pencil/card system- way too complicated!  I tried the technology route- but the kiddos had a hard time logging in to the program I used and looking up the book to check it out.  Then I noticed my school librarian use paint sticks during book "shopping."  The kiddos grab their numbered stick and use it to hold the place of the book that they are looking at- if they decide not to check it out, they know right where to put it back.  I thought I might be on to something if I tried a system like this and then...what do you know but I saw an example of what I was thinking online (I would love to link up to the blog post/pin that I saw but I can't find it)!

Book sticks in the bins

So here is what I did: 
I went to Home Depot and grabbed the smaller size free paint sticks and some spray paint. I came home and spray painted them on both sides.  You'll need to use a bit of spray paint to cover up the Home Depot logo.  Then I made some plain numbered labels and I laminated them and hot glued them to the sticks.  Voila!  Each student grabs their number, and then holds it while they browse for books.  When they pick a book, the book goes to their desk with them and the stick stays in the book bin that their book came from.  When it is time to return the book and pick a new one, they remember where the book goes and they put it away before grabbing their stick and picking out a new book.  We have only been using this for a short while but the second graders caught on to the procedure quickly and have done a great job of using it while browsing for books.  If you are thinking of developing some sort of book check-out system or are just frustrated with students who don't return their books to the right place, you might find that this cheap system works for you too!

The book sticks in use

Monday, August 20, 2012

Classroom Tour 2012-2013

I wanted to edit this post to link up with Blog Hoppin' Teacher Week

**Disclaimer- this post is heavy on PHOTOS!!**

Here is my classroom for the upcoming school year.  I am sure that things will change as I get to know my students and we begin working and learning together, but for now- I am really excited about how it has all developed.  I am thinking that this room will be a wonderful place for my second grades to blossom into little learners!

This is the view from the doorway.  I have 25 desks arranged in a modified U-shape.  You can see my windows that look out onto a courtyard

This is what I will see standing at my technology cart.  Up in the top right corner you can see a pennant banner hanging above the cabinets.  My very first class made that for me as wedding decorations and I have kept it hanging up ever since!

This is another view of the whole room.  Along that wall is my second white-board.

Here is a picture from the back corner- I am standing in front of my word wall.

This is my reading area.  My CAFE board is here along with an easel to make anchor charts.  I like to host my mini-lessons here with the students sitting on the carpet.  The bookshelf has magazines and books in other languages and other "special" books to share.

Above my white board I will post my Daily 5 t-charts. I currently have Daily 5 task cards up there to designate a spot for those charts.  

Another view of the library.  The leaning tower on the floor are pillows that I ordered with Scholastic book order points!

UGH! This cart is sent to annoy me!  The boxes have different consumable materials (think workbooks) from our curriculum that I need to distribute throughout the grade level...I will get to it eventually!

My lovely rain gutter bookshelf!  This one is in the front of the room- away from the library.  The books in here are my special books that I will use to teach different lessons.  Once I have used the book for my lesson then I will put it in the library!  For those of you interested in gutter bookshelves- these were super easy and super cheap to make.  I called around to different gutter companies and found someone to donate the gutters to me.  I am not allowed to actually mount anything to the wall so I got some scrap plywood at Home Depot, used a staple-gun to attach oil-cloth to the board and then screwed the gutters into the boards.  The gutters were free, the scrap plywood was $4 and the oil-cloth was a Dollar Tree tablecloth so I paid $5 and have used these shelves for 5 years!

I will be using some of the concepts from Whole-Brain Teaching in my classroom this year.  My rules are posted above my front whiteboard.  You can get a copy of the rules posters here.

This is my writing area.  Authors sit in that chair to read their work and I often hold writing mini-lessons in this area as well.  I have dictionaries, clipboards, and editing tools on the shelves.

This board will be added to as the year progresses.  I am hoping to spotlight authors-both famous and emerging in the center area.

This is what students will find on their desks when they stop in for Back to School Night.  I have a questionaire for parents to fill out and a copy of our school schedule.  I try not to overwhelm parents with too much information to begin.  I have already mailed home a newsletter that included information about our rules, homework and school supplies.  I like to just keep it simple and give myself time to get to know my students and their families!

A little treat for the new kiddos!  I've seen a ton of adorable printables for this on pinterest but my teammate had these fish name tags and wanted to use them up- so of course we obliged!

A summer project- I used contact paper to cover up my old and shabby supply containers.  It has given them a whole new look and I am loving them all over again!

Another pic- the students don't keep ANYTHING in their desks.  I can't stand desks! Instead they have pencils, colored pencils, crayons, glue, erasers, scissors and a book in their supply containers.  One container is shared by four students.  I keep markers in a separate area and bring them out when we need them.

My listening center- an old ikea coffee table, an old ipod and some lakeshore headphones!  I downloaded some audio books and a coworker graciously gave her picture books/cd to my team to share (they're in the basket below the ipod)!

UGH-another problem area for me! This technology cart is HUGE.  I posted a while ago asking what I should do to make it look cuter and some people suggested contact paper. I tried using my leftover paper on the sides and a small area on the front doors to see if I would like it and I love the look but it wont stay on! Any suggestions??

A project waiting to be finished- I picked up four crates to make seat crates for my reading area.  I have the measurements and most of the materials, just have the cut the board and staple it all together!

My mail boxes- nothing fancy!

My computers.  You might notice the seat cushions on all the chairs.  One of the perks of moving is that we start to rethink our decorating at home which means that I get to bring all of the cast-offs to school!  The cushions are super cute and I am happy to have them in school where I will see them more often!

Another new thing for me! I sectioned my white-board and I will use this area to post what targets we are working on for the day.  My team and I are trying to use the same language to talk with our students about the standards.  I am going to purchase these from TpT and put magnets on the back of them so they can be quickly posted in this area!

My hall passes.  I found the cute felt owl at Michaels in the clearance section for 50 cents!

A view towards the hallway.  I have loved the look of all the trees I've seen on pinterest so I had to create my own.  I  am not done with it yet, my student teacher is going to add a couple more owls! Cute!

My new "Where Are We?" display for the door.  We'll move the magnet to show where we are!

A picture of my door.  I need to add my name but I am not sure how I am going to do it yet to make it look cute!

Well, there you have it, my room for the year!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's Back to School Time!

Wow, was my summer a whirlwind!  I did not accomplish a single thing that I thought I would accomplish but boy did I have fun!  My brother got married last weekend in San Francisco and it was a wonderful way to end my summer vacation.  I spent time with family whom I rarely get to see and it was four days of wedding celebration which meant good food, drinks and playing dress up for four whole days!

Here is my bro and new sister-in-law (aren't they beautiful)!

But now, it is back to work! This is what waited for me when I came in on the first day...

Every year I come back in August and I feel so relieved that I don't have to take down my paper and borders over the summer.  The new teachers have been in for hours just hanging the paper! I am so glad to have "been-there, done-that" because hanging paper/borders is one of my least favorite things to do!  Besides, I have found plenty of other reasons to be in the classroom!

I have a few new things to share and I hope to post my updated classroom pics over the weekend.  For now, I am concentrating on preparing for a district workshop that I am leading on Tuesday, having my classroom ready for a back to school night on Thursday and THEN I will be lesson planning.  I am starting to feel guilty because I am teaching a new grade level this year and haven't truly dove into the standards, but honestly, I can only do one thing at a time and I am prioritizing!

I hope that you didn't forget about me out there in blog land!  I suspect that I will be posting a bit more now that I am settled back into a routine! :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Just around the corner

Phew. I have a couple of days rest between visitors and I finally have the chance to hop online and catch up on all the posts I've missed!  I have truly enjoyed my slightly hectic summer so far and it is nice to be forced to not think about school and work!  Instead, I have enjoyed the beauty of Washington!

As soon as my guests left, my mind switched back to school.  I have taken on a lot of additional responsibilities this year, aside from the typical "back-to-school stuff," and I am beginning to realize that August/school is just around the corner!  I was reading this list of 21 Things that Will be Obsolete by 2020 and I started to get even more anxious! Number 15 is Paid/Outsourced Professional Development.  My district has taken the leap toward trusting teachers to run professional development for the district and guess whose team was asked to be the first guinea pigs!  I truly view it as an honor that the district I work for trusts my skills and the skills of my teammates to ask us to lead a professional development day for all 3-5th grade elementary teachers in the district.  I was so excited when we started talking about the possibility in April.  Now, now that the date is set and is less than a month away, I am beginning to question my common sense!  I can't believe that I agreed to lead a workshop on August 21st- less than a week before school starts!!  You know, despite the stress that I will certainly feel, I am still very flattered that I get this opportunity and I just hope that my peers treat me and my team well!  We are leading a day on interventions and how to use data to form your intervention.  It should be a productive day with plenty of time for teachers to work with their own data.  I know that no matter how fantastic we will still get negative reviews, but I will need to brush them off and know that I did my best and my team and I have the best interests of the students at heart!

Expect an update sometime this week on A Courage to Teach.  I am almost finished and it has been a fantastic read.  It is one of those books that you read slowly so that you can stop and reflect/remember the amazing words on the page! Looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you.