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 piñata 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!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Picture Book Linky Party

I'm linking up with First Grade and Fabulous for this week's picture book linky.  We are a Leader in Me school, so I'm always on the lookout for picture books with a connection to the 7 Habits. I also have a weekly family meeting on Fridays (which my kids LOVE). The students set the agenda for our family meetings and pretty much run the entire thing. However, if a problem arises during family meeting that I think needs extra attention, I often pull a picture book to share and discuss the following week.

Little Blue Truck

Ok, so this is actually one of my little boy's board books, but I'm stealing it for a day to share with my class this year. If you are a Leader in Me school you can talk about how the animals in the story Synergize.  In this story a dump truck thinks he is too important for the little blue truck and his animal friends until he gets stuck in the mud and they all come to his rescue. In the end he realizes the importance of friends and treating others with kindness and respect.

Hooway for Wodney Wat

I have shared this book on the first day of school since my first year of teaching. This book is about acceptance and an unexpected hero.  Kids of all ages fall in love with Wodney, whose speech problem ends up saving the day from the new class bully!!

Mr. Peabody's Apples
This is a wonderful book for talking about the power of words and how talking about others can have serious consequences.  There is a great analogy of feathers being spread by the wind is like a rumor being spread.  It can also be used to teach Habit 1: Be Proactive!

Be sure to link up and share your fave picture books for teaching character education. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted

Happy 4th everyone!  We are laying low until fireworks time so I thought I'd sneak in a little TpT shopping and a blog post.

Today I'm linking up with Flying into First Grade for a really fun Linky! It's a getting acquainted Linky. :-) Choose any 3 in a row and respond!

*I went to the University of Kentucky. I was living on campus one of the years they won the National Championship.  And WOW!  What a memory!  Everyone flooded the streets and strangers were high-giving each other cheering for the Big Blue Nation (BBN).  It. was. awesome.

*My favorite school memory as a kid. It's true, our kids may not remember the lessons we teach, but they will remember the experiences we provide.  When I was in fourth grade my class made a paper mâché heart-shaped piñata.  We got to go to the back table and work on it when we finished our class work. As an early finisher, I got to work on it a lot. :-)

*Hobbies--I love to read when I find/make the time. I typically read during school breaks.  This summer I read the newest Sophie Kinsella (Love her books! This one was funny, but not my favorite.)  I also read Shine On by Allison Jewel.  Definitely recommend it!  I also LOVE shopping at Target and going up and down ever single aisle. Wait, does that count as a hobby?!?  

I can't wait to read more about my fellow bloggers!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Going on a Blog Hunt

I'm new to teacher blogging. I've blog stalked the old fashioned way up till a few weeks ago.  I found a bog I liked and bookmarked it. The problem was it took WAY too long and I was inconsistent in checking in.

Then someone introduced me to feedly.  I like Feedly and really like that I can set the background to black since I check it while laying down with my little one at night (he can sometimes take forever to fall asleep!).

BUT then I kept seeing Bloglovin pop up all over blog land so I checked it out, too.  It is really easy to navigate and add new blogs.  

Honestly, I like both.  Both have an app, which is nice!  I decided to use Feedly for following friend's personal blogs and Bloglovin for teacher blogs.

Click on the cute little bear at the top of this post to visit the linky!

Blogging on Down the Road

The fam and I are headed to Gatlinburg for the 4th.  I only have my iPhone and a first gen iPad for the next few days. I can easily keep up with everyone with Bloglovin, but I haven't had any luck with leaving comments.

Any suggestions for successful mobile blogging?

Monday, July 1, 2013

July Currently and Monday Made-It

Sitting here in an almost empty (furniture moved out because they are starting on our hardwood floors today), quiet house while my kiddos are asleep (l-o-n-g night) and taking advantage of the opportunity to do a little bloggin'.  I'm linking up with Farley for my first currently:

*I feel like rainy days almost give permission to be lazy, but just as I am typing this the sun has popped out and the rain has stopped.  I don't really *want* to be productive today.  This weekend was nuts trying to empty our house and pack for two weeks of vacation and house hoppin'.

*We always planned to replace our yucky carpet with hardwood floors but thought we'd wait until the kids were a little bigger (3 and 5 now) before we did it.  But, after some water damage to the playroom floor because of a roof leak, we decided to move the project up a few years.  We also decided to do some painting while the yucky carpet was still on the floor, so it's going to look like a brand new house!

*I am so jealous of all the cute graphic organizers and activity pages that everyone is making these days.  I'd really love to learn how to do it so my "stuff" can look fun!

*Last year was my first year teaching a 3/4 classroom and as much as I tried to map things out ahead of time, a lot of it was trial and error.  Plus, it was my first year utilizing the great resources from Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest, so at times I was searching for innovative ideas the night before!  This year I want to go in with a better plan to make my life easier and my teaching more effective.

*My advice is to Embrace Change!  In education, the next "big thing" is always around the next corner.  This means, just as I am getting comfortable with one initiative my district springs a new one on me.  :-)  It also means that every new group of students is different and I have to be prepared to make adjustments to meet their needs.  Sometimes change is scary, but I have found that if I embrace it the transition is much easier.

While scrolling through Pinterest (Man, I love that site!) I found a long-range science planner that I loved.  Unfortunately, I can't find the pin and I don't know who to give credit to, but here is the original.

I thought, how simple but effective!  This planning calendar spoke to me because I could see a snapshot of the year at a glance and see exactly how many weeks I would spend on each unit.  So I borrowed this teacher's idea and created my own template for long range planning.  I met with my team last week and we mapped out our Science.  Next time we meet we will look at Math for the year.  I think doing this as a team is also really helpful so we are all on the same page and ending/starting units about the same time.  I don't have a pic to share of our science map.  It's packed away in a box for the next two weeks while we are out of our house.

I am going to use this template to map out my big ideas/units for Reading skills, Chapter book clubs, writing pieces, math units, science, and so much more!  Then I can put them in my binder to pull for my weekly/monthly planning.  I like that it shows the short weeks, too, so I can pre-plan accordingly.

Ok, sun it definitely out and the kiddos are up and ready to have some fun.