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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A full week off!

I know, I know, be jealous, last week I had a week long vacation!  Don't be too jealous though, as much as I wanted to spend my vacation like this:
I actually only spent it like that HALF of the time! :)

I decided this was my week to ORGANIZE the classroom!  I am usually a very organized person and if you walked into my classroom you would most likely find it neat and tidy.  But, I have my "secrets" too.  Mine are just behind closed doors and curtains!
Yuck! That was my extra paper storage shelves- after I had already begun cleaning it (I wasn't sure it was blog worthy yet).  It was difficult to find anything in there and when I pulled out one thing everything else tumbled out!
My stack of unopened packs of loose leaf paper.  I don't really use this type of paper but it is on the third grade supply list for my teammates so I have just been hoarding it for years.  Two coworkers were in the building the same day as me and they had already taken armloads of the stuff- it was out of control!

My other paper area of embarrassment!  Especially because this one sits out in the open!  I have no idea why I even had it- it just kept junk and scrap paper mostly- so it had to go!

My junk all laid out- YIKES!

Well, I recycled some of the paper that should have been recycled long ago and the rest has found new and happy homes.  I gave up the blue shelves (that I should have given away long ago) and condensed my collection to the built in shelves.

Tada! My 9 x 12 construction paper is in the file crate along with extra lined paper (I couldn't give it ALL up) and extra copy paper.  The paper holder is the home for my 8 1/2 x 14 size paper.  The bottom shelf has the 11 x 17 construction paper and graph paper.  I think it looks MUCH better- even if it is normally covered by a curtain!

Boring post I know- but I have been following the clutter free classroom and I am inspired to keep organizing!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I saw a class management linky party over at Journey of a Substitute Teacher and it gave me the perfect excuse/reason to pretty up my management system.  We use a BINGO system for positive behavior support.  The BINGO board is posted and anytime the class gets a compliment- we pull a BINGO card, anytime I notice the class following our school guidelines of Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible- we pull a bingo.  When we have earned a BINGO the class votes on the reward- it might be extra time on the playground, free choice time, revisiting a game that they have played in the past- I let them come up with the ideas.  The beauty of this system is that I control what BINGO cards we are pulling from, meaning that in the beginning of the year (or if I have a more difficult class) I can guarantee that every time they earn a pull it results in a card on the board.  As the year goes on, I can add cards that are not on our board and then it takes longer to earn the BINGO.  When I first started using this system I thought that as soon as we pulled cards that were not on our BINGO board the students would lose interest- I was happy to see that I was wrong.  The key element is knowing if your class is ready to move on to that level or not- with my group this year, I added in the extra cards within the first month.  With my group last year- I didn't add extra cards in until after winter break and then I would periodically take them out again when the class was having a hard time making positive choices.  It all depends on your class!

You can download my BINGO board with boarder from Over the Pond Graphics

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Student Teacher

Question for anyone in blogland that is reading this, what advice can you give me about hosting a student teacher/ practicum student?  My school has not met AYP in a while and because of that, we haven't taken any student teachers or practicum teachers.  However, we are located within walking distance of a local university and so my principal is encouraging collaboration with them.  I have been asked to take a practicum student 3 times/week and then possibly host a student teacher next year.  I really feel like I need to do a fantastic job- to show that even though we have struggled with AYP we are a fantastic school, to help my principal build the connections, and to inspire whoever is placed with me.  I have never had a student teacher before so I am nervous!  I really want to do a great job as a mentor teacher- any tips, advice, or websites to check out would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Defying Gravity

Each year the staff at my school has a back-to-school "retreat" and my principal picks a theme to focus our activities around.  Last year, her theme was "Defying Gravity" from the musical Wicked.  That theme really stuck with me as a way to talk with my kiddos about setting goals and pushing ourselves to achieve more than might be expected of us.  It worked so well that I did it again this year and I wanted to share the bulletin board we created.

This is a board that stays up all year.  The art work was created in the first week of school and the goals change as they are met.

The title of the board is "Together We Will Defy Gravity" and I also have a "Shoot for the moon..." poster on there.

The students created art work of rocket ships in out space.  It was a bit involved but they turned out beautifully and the kids are still proud of it- which is good because it stays up all year!

They started by using oil pastels to draw up to 5 circles of different sizes on their paper.  They could color these any way that they wanted to make planets.  Then, they painted the paper black.  When the paint was dry they added stars using oil pastels/clear glitter paint.  The rocket ship is just a clip art print out which they colored any way they wanted and we used tissue paper to add the flames.  The final touch is the photo of the student.  We went outside and I took a picture of them either, jumping or hanging off the monkey bars.  They cut the picture out and glued it onto the art. PHEW! It certainly sounds like a lot of work when I type it but really it was fun. I PROMISE (if you like to do art projects)!

The students' goals for math/reading are written on a slip of paper and when they are met, the student gets a prize and then sets a new goal for themselves.  I only help them in the beginning of the year if they set a goal that is too easy or too hard but they are pretty good at setting their own goals.  It is also up to the student to let me know that they met their goal.  I really want it to be something the kids take ownership of and if you ask them what their goal is, they can tell you.  So, I might hint that they have met their goal but I wont give them their prize or tell them that they have met it- they need to tell me themselves.

One last look...enjoy your day off!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mid Winter Break

I have a whole week off!  I wish I could say that I don't know what to do with it but, I have a plan that includes being at school!  In a way though, I am excited about being at school without the kiddos and without any distractions so that I can really concentrate and hopefully get a lot done.  This is all inspired by the realization that next year will be my first year as a looping teacher.  I have taught third grade in the same classroom for the last four years.   While I like to keep my things organized- I realized that next year I will be teaching second grade.  I am going to need to make space and have separate sections for each grade level.  Also, I will be in the same classroom, but my curriculum and district provided materials that are third grade specific are going to have to be moved to the new third grade teachers room and will be traveling each year.  So, I know that it is only February but I want to get a move on it and be prepared.  I also have a bit or re-arranging I want to do with my materials and furniture.  I am very excited to teach second grade next year.   It will be a challenge for me but it will also be nice to try something new.  Is anyone else a looping teacher?  What are the pros/cons?  Next year my whole school will loop K-1, 2-3, 4-5.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Party!

Did you have fun today?  I certainly did! For my kiddos, it seems like Valentine's day is the bigger holiday than Christmas, so we keep it low key in December and then let loose in February!  Look at my loot!
I certainly felt the love today and I think the kids did too!
I wanted to share a writing/art project that we worked on today.  The original idea for the art project came from Art Projects for Kids: Hearts & Trees I just noticed that the project is re-posted.  I was going off of the original that I made a couple of years ago so I hope that I didn't forget a step!

The stationary and Love is... prompt is from The Bubbly Blonde TpT store  The kiddos had so many wonderful things to write about- and for a quick writing activity on a sugar filled day they turned out wonderfully!

Before I go- I wanted to share another wonderful Valentine activity from Art Projects for Kids that I have done in the past- Valentine LOVE card they are one of my favorite art projects to work on with the kids and I have done it every year- except this one! :(  It does take a while and my group this year is so SLOW and METICULOUS so I knew that I just wouldn't have the time.  So- here is an old picture of the project instead!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

100 Day Celebration

Our 100th day finally arrived!  Except- not really- our 100th day is on Valentine's Day and so we celebrated on our 98th day so that we could spread out the festivities!

My morning started with this!

That is my team.  I am in the middle!  We all dressed up like we were 100 year old grannies for the 100th day!  It was a surprise for the kids- and the rest of the staff- and everyone had a blast!  We pick up our students from the gym in the morning and then walk them back to the classroom so we waited to be the last to pick up and I pushed my teammate (in the curlers) in a wheelchair.  What a way to get the kids excited!  The nurse even played along and brought us all medicine around lunchtime.  What a hoot!

The students worked on a variety of typical 100th day activities but my favorite was a project I got from pinterest.  I can't find the original anymore (does the Pinterest new design make it harder for you to find things- or just me) but here is the poster I got it from:

The students had a blast thinking about what they would be like when they are 100.  Unfortunately we didn't have much time in our day to get the project completed and because of other activities/events we have no time to push it over to another day.  So, their writing isn't as detailed as I would normally want it to be- but for a quick write- they turned out pretty cute.

Hope you had a wonderful 100th day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Math journals

 **Edited to note that I am linking up to Fantastic Foldables Freebie Link Up **

I am brand new to using math journals.   In fact, I am treating this year as a "learn as we go along" approach to math journals.  I have done some research by reading articles online and whenever I see that someone has written a blog post about it I read it, but really our math journal is a catch all for a bunch of different things.  I kind of like it this way though- we do math vocabulary in it, we work on problem solving in it, we write journal entries in it and sometime we make flip books and paste those in there too!  It has become a great resource for the kids and a wonderful assessment tool for me.

We are looking at different shapes and made a great flip book on the different types of triangles that I wanted to share.

There was a page for each of the 4 types of triangles that they can identify and an extra page to record new triangle vocabulary.

The students used their rulers to draw at least three examples of each type of triangle.
The vocabulary page included attributes of a triangle and a labeled diagram.

These books were then pasted into their math journals for future reference.

Does anyone else use math journals?  How do you incorporate the journals into your curriculum (we use Every Day Math)?  Do you have any resources/suggestions for me?

Happy weekend!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Author's Purpose

My group has been working hard at determining the author's purpose.  It seems like it is finally starting to click for them and I couldn't be happier! I found some wonderful resources through pinterest to help the students along the way.  So, I thought I would give back by sharing my go-to author's purpose organizer- that I created! (The cute squiggle border is from Graphics on the Pond- free on TpT)

I use the organizer for a variety of things- sorting book titles into the appropriate category, organizing the attributes of the different purposes, and anything else we might think of that day!  Hope it can be as useful to you as it is to me!  Click this link to access the Google Docs pdf version of the organizer.

The posters are free from Mrs. Gilchrist's Class
The paper plate PIE is from: 2nd Grade with Mrs. Wade

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Suggestions Wanted!

 I have seen so many wonderful displays for Have you Filled a Bucket Today?  I have done this for three years and I just love the book and the students LOVE writing and receiving the bucket filler notes.  It gives the class a common language to talk about bullies and hurting others feelings.  This year, I just didn't have space to put their buckets in the classroom.  So, the students made their buckets and we are using them as locker tags.  The students wrote their names on them and decorated them how they wanted.  I laminated them so they would last longer.  During lunch (we eat in the classroom) the students can write bucket fillers and distribute their bucket fillers and at the end of the day the students can look in their buckets.  The system works and I like having them in the hallway because it adds an element of surprise but the locker tags are looking beat up!

They have fallen off and so I have them taped and re-taped with packaging tape.  The lamination hasn't held and some of the lamination has peeled off or the library pockets have ripped.  What suggestions do you have for me to improve this?  I have seen some cute ideas of using actual buckets- which I like but I don't know if they would get knocked off the lockers or how I would attach them to the lockers. I am open to any and all ideas but I want to keep them on the lockers.  So PLEASE leave a comment and give me an idea- I am stuck! Thank you :)