Monday, December 30, 2013

Preparing for the New Year

December sort of flew by for me and I didn't even get to everything I'd planned. Can anyone else relate?  I have set a goal to be more organized and intentional in my planning for the second semester.  I'm going to sit down with my Common Core tracking tools and create *NEW* maps for myself to make sure I fill in all the gaps and fully prepare my students for the next level.  Yes, I thought I'd done that with my original maps, and according to those maps I had.  But, let's face it, things happen that are out of our control and we get behind.

I'm actually excited about starting fresh with the new year.  I purchased a few sets of behavior beads in August but I didn't feel they were a good fit for my class at the time. I think now would be perfect for introducing them and get my class re-energized in the new year!

I'd also fallen off the math centers wagon in the last month.  Both my 3rd and 4th graders were studying fractions and I found myself teaching to both groups at times.  It worked well for their initial chapters in fractions because my fourth graders needed a little review and I could introduce a couple of concepts earlier to my third graders.  However, it's time to get back to centers!  My kids need them and I love spiraling the math through the center activities. This means I need to print out a couple of new ones and pulling out a couple I made last year. 

For Reading, I have so many ideas my head is spinning!  This is where I will spend the bulk of my mapping time. There are just too many wonderful books, activities, and choices out there!  Not to mention all of the fab TpT purchases I've made and still have in my wish list.  :-) I definitely need to work on my fables/folk tales/myths/fairy tales unit and I can't wait to use Nicole Shelby's Greek Mythology products. I love all of her things.  I also pinned a few things on Pinterest last night for this unit.  I think this will be mid-January because I really, really want to start off with Mr. Popper's Penguins!  I purchased a few things last year from TpT to use with my last group and they loved it!
And, of course, I hope to find time for blogging this year. I think about it a lot, know...

What do all of you have up your sleeves for the New Year?


Friday, August 23, 2013

Five for Friday

1. My Personal Mission Statement.  At our Leader in Me training this summer we were presented with the challenge of crafting our own personal mission statement.  I tried to think about how I want to live my life and the message I want to send to others through my actions.  I finally wrote my personal mission statement and I'm pretty excited about it!

2. Class Mission Statement.  This week my class brainstormed ideas for out class mission statement and we decided on this one.  Pretty great, huh?

3. Family Fun Friday!  My family has adopted a new tradition--pizza and a movie every Friday night.  I know it's a simple idea, but my little ones are so excited about it and it really gives us something to look forward to.  I have to admit, this week I was equally excited about Teen Beach Movie and Crazy Bread!!!

4. Ingredients for a Great Year.  I bought this beginning of the year activity on TpT.  It's by Fourth and Ten.  My kids have loved it and we've had some great discussions about the traits we want to embody in our classroom community.  My favorite is "Sharing" because I explained to my class it's also about sharing ideas and participating in lessons and discussions.  Monday we get to wrap it all up with our trail mix!!!

5.  No alarm clock tomorrow makes me happy, happy, happy!!!  Yes, my little ones will still get me up bright and early, but at least I get to lounge in my PJ's and drink a cup of coffee instead of rush, rush, rushing around trying to get everyone out the door!  :-)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Monday, August 19, 2013

I'm Back and a Freebie!

Bloggin' Buddies, ya'll are Rock Stars!  We started with students about a week and a half ago and I have been too worn out to even THINK about blogging!  Honestly, I collapse into bed every night just behind my two little ones.

I have a 3/4 split class again this year, which I love.  The biggest challenge this year is Trying to fit in two separate math classes.  Last year my 4th graders split up among the three 4th grade classes for Math.  (I have the only split; it was created due to numbers in third and fourth.)  This year, though, the fourth grade classes are at cap and it would make them way too big if my kiddos join.  Same goes for the third grade classes.  I know many of you run multiple math groups daily, so I appreciate any and all tips.  I have one hour in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon for math. I wish the blocks were together so I could do 45 and 45.  I plan to have one grade work in stations while I have whole group instruction/practice with the other grade level.  It's just a matter of time management, I guess.

I have started Reading to Self and informally introduced Working on Writing today.  I really want to try a modified version of Daily 5 this year!  I think it will work great with the group I have.  We may try two days a week to start and then add another day later.

One of my favorite things to do with my classes is a weekly Family Meeting.  Every Friday during Social Studies time we gather for Family Meeting.  There is an agenda sheet each week and students can sign up if there is something they would like to address with the class.  Only 5 students can sign up to speak, and they are in charge of that agenda item.  I love it because it gives them a voice and shows that it is OUR classroom, not just mine.  After we discuss any items on the agenda (sometimes there aren't any, other times it's full) we have celebrations!  We share bucket slips for the week, draw book slips for prizes (from AR tests), and have a drawing for behavior prizes.  The kids love it and it's a great way to end our week.  This year I'm adding in time for accountability partners (AccountabiliBuddies) to meet and check in on their goals.

Students are in the process of applying for their Leadership Positions (class jobs).  I spent last week talking up the jobs and then handed out the application.  The top of the page is a list of the jobs and a brief description and the bottom is the application itself. My three most popular jobs this time were critter keeper (of course!), meteorologist, and blue slip spy (school PBIS incentives).  I filled as many jobs as possible, had the big unveiling ceremony this morning, and then handed out new applications for those that didn't get the jobs they applied for.  Last year I only switched jobs quarterly, but this year I'm going to aim for 4-6 weeks.

Now for the Freebie!  I will email my Leadership Application to you if you'll leave your email in the comments!  (I couldn't figure out how to link it and it's almost bedtime!)

My year is off to a great start!  Hopefully I won't fall back off the blogging wagon!!  I'll try to take some more classroom pics to share soon.  And, I have tons of TpT purchases to print, laminate, cut out, and put to good use in my class!  I spend a load and a half, but it will be so worth it!

Later Taters,


Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Made It

Tomorrow night is my Open House, and I'm so excited to meet my new students!  I've been working non-stop in my classroom trying to get it all together.  It's finished except for a few little things I can add later.  I have several Monday Made Its to share with you tonight!

This first one is one of my favorites.  I found the print at Hobby Lobby on clearance for $10 and I immediately thought it would be perfect for showcasing selected work (I'm thinking student writing pieces).  I hot glued sparkly clothes pins on the bottom of the sucker sticks.  All I need is a title.  What do you think of "Sweet Work"?

Here is a close up of the clothes pins.

Next up: Washi tape clothes pins!  These are for my hallway bulletin board.  I made little chalkboard name plates for them and then hot glued push pins on the back.  I didn't get a final picture, so maybe next week I can share the finished product!

I finally got around to making my copy/file/grade labels for my bins.  I love how this turned out!  Thanks to Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B for the freebie!  The colors match my room theme.  :-)

These are another of my favorite summer projects!  I bought plain wooden frames from Michaels and painted them (I shared the empty frames in an earlier post).  Then I purchased these motivational chalkboard sayings from Miss Nelson and thought they were just perfect for the frames!  Everyone that comes in my room comments on these right away!  (Sorry about the picture quality.  I really need to take my camera to school to get some decent shots.  My phone camera just doesn't cut it.)

I found some colorful tie-dye packaging tape and thought that the colors would be cute in my room.  I decided to purchase a pack of 4 small cork boards and cover the edges.  I have a bulletin board over my desk for our big calendar.  I used to put notes for myself under the calendar, but last year I decided to use part of that board for my prefix/suffix of the week so I didn't really have room for my "stuff" anymore.  I think these will work nicely and I found a space just to the left of my desk for them.

I also made Tara's Showing My Understanding chart.  It's a freebie on her FB page, so be sure to follow 4th Grade Frolics on Face Book!  Love how it looks on my painted wall!!!

Please excuse the mess still on my back table and student desks, but this is the view of my painted wall.  My mother-in-law made new curtains for me (LOVE!).   Notice how the Sweet Work sucker print pops on that wall?  You can also see my tissue paper pom-poms.  I made those last year, and though they are starting to droop just a bit, I'm going to try to get one more year out of them since I didn't change my color scheme.

It's all starting to come together!  School starts this Thursday for students.  When do you go back?  Are you ready???

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Currently August

I am so in "school mode" right now!  I spent the bigger part of last weekend trying to unpack boxes and organize my classroom.  Did I finish?  Not even close!  So I went back Wednesday afternoon and stayed until Midnight, determined to finish.  Did I?  Nope.  But I'm closer than I was.  I have my mess contained to a single table now, which is definite progress.  I just REALLY don't want to get to the point where I put what's left in a box to sort through later, because later never seems to come.  And then it stays in that box for the entire year and I fuss at myself in May when I start packing my room up again.  Anyone else guilty of that?  Please say yes.

I am loving my new wall color at school and my most recent made-its.  You'll have to check with me on Monday for the big reveal!

Today we had PD, a Leader in Me student empowerment training.  It was a great day!  My head is swimming with ideas for next year and how to better my kids' Leadership Notebooks, creating my personal mission statement, and how I can take the Leader in Me to the next level in my classroom.

For now though, I will share with you my August Currently...

If you haven't already, be sure to link up with Farley and share your Currently August.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It!

I still have some crafty ideas floating around in my head, but this week I tried my hand at Vistaprint for my Monday Made it.  I was inspired by Jennifer Findley from Teaching to Inspire in 5th and All Things Upper Elementary.  She had a great post showing some of her Vistaprint goodies and talking about the Groupon deal she scored.  I found my deal on Retail Me Not.  With $50 purchase I got free shipping and some of the prices were unreal.  My return address labels were less than $2 each!  I created a ton of those.  :-)  Without further ado, I present to you a sampling of my Monday Made It! (Believe me, you don't want to see ALL of it!)

I made Keep and Return labels for my students' folders.

 I thought these would would be fantastic for students to stick in their agenda books!

I also made labels for their journals (math, science, ELA, and writing.)

I also made cute homework passes using the business cards.  

Digital papers are from Lovin' Lit and Ashley Hughes.  Frames are MrsDsBorders and TRDoodleFrameSet

This was actually my first attempt at using digital papers and frames to create something.  It took me a while to get the hang of it, but I'm really pleased with how it all turned out.  What have you created on Vistaprint?  Any tips and/or ideas are welcome!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

10 Things I've Learned from Teaching

Tonight I'm linking up with Miss Kindergarten. I had a chance to do some reflecting with this post and I think it's helped me to get even more mentally prepared for school to start. The Hubs is an elementary administrator. After I shared my list with him, he was so impressed by the linky topic he may use it with his staff!!

1.  Expect the unexpected.  No matter how prepared you "think" you are, you just never know what will happen--good or bad!  Lol!

2.  Every August you get a chance to do it better.  I always teach like it's my first year because I'm always looking to be better than I was the year before. Hence, my blog name "Growing a Teacher."

3.  Negativity is poison and it spreads. I try to avoid "Negative Nellies" because I don't like how their attitude rubs off on me and brings down my day. 

4.  There is no one strategy that works for every child.  I once heard a young teacher say she knew what works and wanted her new teammate to do it her way. Wow!  Dangerous words for sure. 

5.  Laugh at yourself in front of your students.  It makes you human in their eyes and gives them freedom to make mistakes. Plus, it's a lot more fun!

6.  Building a classroom family atmosphere is essential. I try to emphasize this from the get go.

7.  Keep an open mind. About kids, parents, peers, new initiatives, etc. 

8.  Make your students feel important and let them know you care about them. 

9.  Ask for help. It's a sign of strength not weakness. 

10. The journey isn't always easy, but it's so worth it!

What have you learned from teaching?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Blue Wall and Cool Finds

Okay, so I've been frantically trying to put our house back together. Hardwood floors are finished and look ah-mazing!  (But there is dust everywhere!). I haven't had time to do anything else in my classroom besides paint, but I think painting is pretty major!  

Anywho, here is the before pic...Boring!

And here is the after!!!  (Please excuse the mess.)

I found these frames at Michael's on clearance for $1 each so I painted them the same color as my focus wall. Not sure what I'll put in them yet, but I'm going to use them on another wall to tie in with the focus wall.  

I love everyone's painted/papered READ letters and I definitely want to do that, but let's get real.  My wish list of to-do things is much longer than I can accomplish between now and the start of school!  I happened upon these felt letters (Michael's again) for $1 each and they go with my room colors. Score!  These will get me through this year no problem. 

These are my class pets. They are Zebra Finches.  I went in to check on them the other night and they were both sleeping in the same basket. How cute is that?  I had to take a picture and share. 

Hopefully next week the house will be "whole" again and I can focus on my room and get my craft on. :-)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Painting Time!

I got "the call" that my room is ready for me to move back in.  We have been given permission to paint a focus wall, so I bought some paint earlier this summer. I think the hubs and my sister might help me paint tonight!!!  I will definitely share pics of the before and after. Keeping my fingers crossed that we can get it done tonight.  :-)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sorry for the 2nd post...I'm feelin' pretty silly right now...

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

It seems I never "claimed" my blog on Bloglovin'.  If you have become a follower by clicking on the button on the right, please do it takes you to a different "Growing a Teacher" blog.  Who knew there were two of us?!?   This might explain why my number of followers hasn't changed in a week.  Aye, aye, aye!

I think blogging for me is one step forward, two steps back!  Lol....  

Will I ever get the hang of it?!?

Favorite Pins Friday!

I'm linking up with First Grade Parade for this week's Favorite Pins Friday!  I chose four of my favorite pins to feature today.  I hope you see something you like, too!  Click on the pics to visit the websites the pins came from.

This Pin from Stories of a House shows how to paint and distress furniture.  I won't get to this project any time soon, but it's definitely on my "list."  I'd love to pick up and odd set of table and chairs (would also love a bench for one side of the table) and then do it up Pottery Barn style!

Two Timin' Pasta Bake

I made this for dinner last night.  Can I just say Yumm Yumm!  I did make two minor changes.  I used shells instead of penne (smaller bites for my little ones) and I added sausage.  Add a little garlic bread and this meal was a winner for my family.

I purchased this little piece of fun from Ideas by Jivey and I cannot wait to use it with my third/fourth graders this year!  I will be their new favorite teacher for sure!!!

I found this pin from One Extra Degree and I fell in love.  I've seen others use the book Donovan's Word Jar and then have an actual jar in their classroom for collecting words.  I like the idea of kids collecting words, but I didn't like the "out of sight, out of mind" issue once the words were in the jar.  This is such a simple solution but a real "aha" moment for me.  I am for sure doing this!

There you have it!  I'm off to see what everyone else has pinned recently.  Maybe I can get a new idea for dinner next week or a new craft project to add to my ever increasing "list."  :-)  Happy Pinning everyone!

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ten Pin Linky

I. adore. Pinterest.
My three year old wants me to lay down with him at night while he goes to sleep.  This is a special time for us and we get in lots of snuggles.  However, some nights he just refuses to fall asleep!  On a bad night it can take over an hour.  Sigh!  Anywho, I've gotten to where I take my phone or iPad with me, and I get on Pinterest while he settles in.  So.....this Linky is right up my alley!

In Kentucky 4th grade students are assessed in Science, so I am always on the lookout for new pins!    Here are a few of my recent Science and Social Studies pins.

Skittles and the Scientific Method

I usually start the year out with scientific method.  How fun to use skittles for our first experiment?  This lesson is from The Science Penguin.

Pizza Box Solar Oven

When I tried to visit the website I got the "suspicious link" warning.  BUT, one of my new teammates said she used to do something like this in GA, so I'm very excited that I'll get to try this out with my kiddos this year!

Photosynthesis Model

I am definitely moving toward the interactive Science notebook this year.  We have always used science journals for note-taking, but I want to take it to the next level!  I love this model for photosynthesis!

Using Non-Fiction Picture Books

I LOVE this series of books.  In fact, I just picked up two more today at Barnes and Noble.  They take science concepts and write about them in a way that students can read independently and comprehend.  I made a HUGE push with my class last year for reading Non-Fiction.  In fact, I made it part of their weekly AR goal.  Many of them had been afraid of reading Non-Fiction before but found that they really enjoyed it.  Plus, I got to hear lots of talk about science as they shared with one another what they were reading.  :-)

Edible Soil Layers 

I try to incorporate food in my science lessons whenever possible.  Why?  Kids love it and they remember it!  We made these last year during the first semester when we studied soil.  At the end of the year when we were reflecting on activities we loved, this one came up multiple times!!!

Sun, Earth, Moon
What a great visual for discussing day/night, seasons, and solar and lunar eclipses!

Science Journal Cover Sheet
I want to let my kids decorate this page and either use it as the cover for their science notebooks or to use it as the first page.  Isn't this a fun sheet?

Social Studies Pins

Martin's Big Words Written Response

I used this activity with my class last year, and I thought their responses showed a lot of insight.

Branches of Government Tree

I love this anchor chart. I think actually using a tree for the organizer makes so much sense!

Bucket Filling Slips

I used these with my class last year and we all loved them.  We shared our bucket slips at family meeting on Fridays.  The kids were very disappointed if we ever had to miss a family meeting and would ask Monday morning if we could make it up that day.  I'm a big believer in being a Bucket Filler!

I hope you enjoy checking out a few of my favorite Science/Social Studies pins.  If you have some great ones, I hope you'll link up, too! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Liebster Award

Oh My WOW!  I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by Veronica at Teaching with Giggles!  I have been blogging for exactly 2 weeks and it has been so much fun!  I'm following so many new blogs these days and gathering tons of great ideas.  I am so excited to receive this award, along with other new bloggers.  :-)
Here are my 'rules' for accepting this nomination: 

1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself
5. Create 11 questions form your nominees
6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them
Here are the blogs I am nominating:

Katie at Kdot's Learning Spot
Elizabeth at 2 Preschool Pals
Cathy at Mrs. Whitehead's
Lori at Second Grade Serenade
Julia at Lattes & Laughter
These are the questions that Veronica asked me:

1. How long have you been teaching?  This will be my 15th year teaching.  (I wish that didn't sound so old!)  Honestly, it doesn't feel like it's been that long.  I guess because I like to keep it fresh.

2. What is your favorite grade to teach?  I am currently teaching a third/fourth split class, which I actually love.  If I had to choose between the two, I'd probably say 4th edges out 3rd, just because I love my team. (I team with the 4th grade teachers.)

3. What is your favorite college memory?  I was at UK and lived on campus one of the years they won the National Championship.  After the game, everyone flooded the streets and celebrated.  It was awesome!!!

4. What is your favorite grade school memory?  I already shared a memory about making a piƱata in 4th grade, so I'll choose another memory...In my 5th grade reading class, the teacher divided us up into groups to write a class play.  Each group was responsible for writing a different act for the play and had to build on what the previous group wrote.  When it was all done, we got to act it out.  This was a very lengthy project, but for the life of me I can't remember what our groups did when we weren't writing on the play.  I guess because it wasn't as much fun?  :-)

5. Have you lived in more than one state?  I am a Kentucky girl through and through.  

6. What is your dream vacation spot?  I would like to visit Alaska.  I've heard it's beautiful there!

7. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you take?  My iPad.  Wait, I'm guessing I won't have wifi on a deserted island.  Maybe I should rethink this one.  Do you think they will have Starbucks?  I think we have just established I would NEVER survive on a deserted island!

8. Do you prefer hot or cold weather? Why?  Maybe because it feels like 1000 degrees outside, but I'm going to go with cold weather.  As a teacher, I'm always wishing and hoping for a snow day (even though they just tack that day onto the end of the year).

9. If you won the lottery what would be the first thing you would buy?  A new car for my husband.  His car has no air conditioning!  For the record, he doesn't want to get it fixed; he says he will drive it like it is until it's time for a new one.  Crazy!

10. What is your dream car?  I'm not really that into cars.  As long as I like the looks of a car and it runs well, I'm satisfied.  I have a 4-Runner now and I really like it.  I guess I'd just take a new  4-Runner with all the bells and whistles.  :-)

11. What is something you never leave home without?  Chapstick.  I am seriously addicted!!  

11 Random Facts:
1. I love Skinny Vanilla Lattes from Starbucks
2. My gray Toms are my most favorite shoes ever
3. Our dog's name is Eeyore
4. I am not a morning person
5. I'm not as crafty as I'd like to be, but I am trying
6. I know just enough about computers and technology to be dangerous, but not enough to to be tech savvy.
7. My desk is always a mess!
8. I have watched Grey's Anatomy since it first came on
9. I always sing in the car
10. I saw New Kids on the Block and Tiffany in concert when I was 12
11. I knew I was a "real" teacher when I bought my first pack of scented markers

Now the questions for the nominees:
1.  When did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
2.  Best classroom moment last year?
3.  What is your closet addition?
4.  How do you get your morning caffeine fix--coffee or soda?
5.  What was your first "teacher" purchase?
6.  What is your all-time favorite movie, you know, the one you always quote?
7.  When you go to Target, what's the section you MUST visit every time you go in the store? 
8.  What have you enjoyed most about this summer?
9.  What are some things you purchased for your classroom this summer?
10. What is your favorite subject to teach?  Why?
11. What's at the top of your bucket list?

Thanks again, Veronica!  I'm a proud nominee!