Sunday, May 27, 2012

GIVEAWAY! I've reached over 100 followers!

I have passed 100 followers! It's time to celebrate with a giveaway. A $25 gift certificate from Teachers Pay Teachers and a $20 gift card from Amazon is up for grabs. These are my two FAVORITE places to get "teachery" things. I am always perusing these two sites. There are multiple ways to enter! Make sure if you blog about this giveaway you attach the above image! Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! I'm hoping this is all working correctly (here's a secret . . . it's my first time. . .) ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Memorial Day Sale at Teachers Pay Teachers no promo code needed
I'm also having a sale in my TPT store. . . I know I'm a little late to the game. I'll keep the sale going till Tuesday. (We were busy yesterday buying a new black Pomeranian.) 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Oh My! I'm at Ninety-Nine!

WOW ~ I have 99 followers. I know, I know, to some of you other bloggers that is nothing but to me it is something. I have 3 and a half days of school left. I can;t believe it is almost over. I have such a big to do list during this summer. Now that I've taught for a year I know what I want next year and what I don't to a certain extent. I know I will always learn more every year and, in turn, be more prepared for the next school year. Today I worked on my report cards! All that's left is comments but I don't think we have access to it yet. :)

I don't know about you but I like using fadeless (and flameless) paper in my classroom. I've discovered the practicality of keeping the same bulletin board paper and borders up all year. All I do is simply change out the content. I use to use staples a lot, next year I'm going to be all about the clothespins. It will be SO much easier to attach ever-changing bulletin board content when all I have to do is clip and unclip! Back on track - As much as I love keeping my bulletin board paper and borders the same all year I have a decent size collection of themed borders. I can't simply part with them. . . . SO. . . the solution. . . Poster board trimmed with themed border (laminated of course)! I had a huge box of posters in my classroom when I inherited it so I took the box home and chose colors to match the borders and themes. I have made about 10 so far and am loving it. What will I use it for you may wonder? First, they are laminated so my students can write on them with expos. I foresee many tree maps, venn diagrams, list, and other graphic organizers. I also create some units with pocket chart pieces that I will use on the themed poster boards as well. I will even attach some pocket charts onto them. Now onto a couple pictures. These ones are bee themed because we have been learning about bees. A bee keeper came in with a hive and talked to the second grade classes. It was AWESOME.

Here are some more color poster boards that I am creating today!

This isn't ten half of my border collection. I don't know how I got so many :-/

That's all for today! PS I just bought Reagan's Candy Awards and I LOVE them. They go perfectly with my classroom theme: CANDY/SWEETS!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Favorite Read-Alouds Linky Party

I'm linking up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera. She is having us all share are favorite read-alouds. Right up front I shall be honest "my favorites" are subject to change upon new discoveries, different seasons, and different curriculum. That said one of my favorite authors is Chris Van Dusen and I love his books. Some of my favorite are. . .
Product Details
Randy Riley's Really Big Hit
Product Details
The Circus Ship
Product Details
If I Built Car
Product Details
Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee

I also love 
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

Product Details
Duck for President

And of course Stuart J. Murphy's math books
Childcraft MathStart Grades 2-4 Books
I purchased this set of books to add to my math literature collection. I purchased it from amazon

As a child and now as an adult I simply LOVE to read. It is one of my favorite things to do. Amazon makes my book addiction quite easy. Hopefully if you haven't heard of some of these titles you'll go check them out. They are awesome. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Soon to Be FIRST Giveaway and a Link Up!

I am loving reading everyone's posts linking up to "Another One Bites the Dust. . ." I decided to link up and be honest :) 
The rules are simple: 
1. Grab the linky graphic
2. Link back to this post
3. List three things that were great about this school year
4. List three things that were not so great about this school year

The Great 3
1. My getting completely rid of my teach desk and my desk supply organization. It took me awhile to realize the SUPER DUPER UTTER IMPORTANCE of being organized as a teacher. Not just in the little things or visible things but in everything! 

I use my small group table as my desk when I need to grade or work on something. Otherwise it is used for small groups and conferring with students. Below are some more close up pictures of my desk organization. You can read about it HERE.

2. My labeling system. That may seem really simple to all of you but it has changed the atmosphere of my classroom. Everything is labeled using the same label I just change the size and text. It lets my students know where things are and what is accessible to them. I have discovered it gives my students more ownership of our classroom. If you look at the pictures above you can see all my labeling . . . you can see more in this post and this one or this one
3. Getting down to my kids level. As a first year teacher I wasn't quite sure what my second grade sweets would be like. I wasn't sure exactly where they would be developmentally (certainly not from experience ~ a little bit from books). I wasn't certain entirely what I should be. Did I need to be more formal or less formal, more struct or less strict, workbook driven or content objectives driven, etc. . . The list could go on. The best thing that happened to me was talking to one of the administrators and having her tell me to let loose and have fun learning. She told me if I made a mistake a could simply say "Ooops" and change. It changed my teaching style. I was having tons of fun teaching my sweets. We were learning content in creative ways. If you walked in my room (still now) you are almost sure to hear talking in inside, six inch, voices. I hope that made sense to you all!

The Not-So-Great 3
1. Guided Reading . . . I have to chuckle because it seems to be a hot topic on everyone's Not-So-Great list. I also chuckle because my school doesn't require it. I truly do believe in it. Ultimately, I believe in small group instruction. I plan on finishing up Debbie Diller's Making the MOst of Small Group Differentiated Instruction for All. I also need to get my hands on a bit more diverse selection of leveled readers. The only set I have is the Above Level Readers from my Harcourt Trophies basal reader. 
2. Routines. . . If you are about to be a first year teacher and everyone is telling you to take the time during the first several weeks to focus on routines and procedures and less on curriculum you MUST listen. Trust me you can catch up on the curriculum. I am working on making a Classroom Procedures/Routines Binder. At the beginning of the school year we shall be going through them, one by one, over and over and over again. It will also be a wonderful tool for a sub.
3. My Classroom Library was semi-organized during the summer before my first year. I actually put in a TON of time organizing my classroom library. My biggest problem was that I simply didn't know the best way to organize my classroom library because I had never used it as a teaching tool in my own classroom. I'm in the middle of creating library bin labels. I've begun labeling and grouping my books by favorite series (My Weird School House, Junie B. Jones, etc.), favorite authors (Chris Van Dusen, Dr. Seuss, etc.) and the rest will be grouped by groups such as "Books About Marine Life."

Well if you've stuck with me this long you will also know. . . 
that I am OH SO CLOSE to 100 followers. When I get there I shall be doing a giveaway! A $25 gift certificate from Teachers Pay Teachers and a $20 gift card from Amazon. Those are my two FAVORITE places to get "teachery" things!Another One Bites the Dust

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day and Guided Reading

Good Morning! I'm a bit bummed that I am out sick and only have 14 and a half days left with my sweet students! I'm going to cry and I've already accepted it. The bright side is I will see them next year when they are off in third grade.

On Mother's Day I went into school and made sub plans. Ladies and the occasional gentleman I am on a zpack (you know the medicine that wipes out your cold) well apparently my body doesn't like to respond :( The funny thing is I'm wide awake and as I'm typing this my sub is just NOW getting my kids from the pick up spot. I'm going to go stir crazy sick in bed. I also know I have several autoimmune disease and if I don't rest now I'll be sick for the last three weeks of school. Being responsible can be a bit frustrating at times. 

About Mother's Day . . . Yes I know I am super behind the ball at posting this. Simply remember I am a first year teacher and think back on your first year of teaching. It is a lot of FIRSTS. I decided to have my students complete Deanna Jump's Happy Mother's Day Gift book. My sweets loved it and it was pretty low maintenance to facilitate. Then I started thinking I needed to do more. I went online and googled some homemade scrub recipes. I found one that I tweaked a bit. Vanilla Brown Sugar Scrub ~ it almost sounds like dessert! Some of my boys aced if they could eat it! I kept explaining it was for mom's hands and feet. Anyway, then I bought 1/2 pint Ball mason jars at Publix. I created some cute labels to print out, place on colored card stock, have students write a simple message, sign their name, and then I laminated them. Click on the picture of the jar to go to my TPT store and download the labels for FREE for next year. I printed my labels on sticker paper because the round circles the kids stuck on the lid of their jars. 

Now onto guided reading. Our school does not require guided reading or small groups. I understand why guided reading is the way to go. I completely believe in small group instruction. This year I was not diligent with guided reading. Partly because it is my first year and I'm trying to get an understanding of my curriculum. Partly because my school doesn't require it. Well I started amping it up a bit for the last couple months of school. It is awesome! My sweets love it. I needed a system to stay organized. I really am in "next-year" mode. I created binder covers for almost ALL my binders ~ candy themed of course :)

I purchased this container (19L) from Office Depot. Inside of it I keep a blue, green, red, and yellow file folder. Everything I need for each group is in there color coded file.  So if I'm meeting with my blue group I would get my leveled readers from my blue hanging file folder, I would get out any copies or charts I placed in their and I would be all set.

This is my binder cover. All my binders have this design so they match.

If the spines of my binders are not labels it drives me CRAZY!

I use numbered tab dividers in almost all my binders. I find it simpler that way.  Tab 1 is my Guided Reading Schedule. After the first couple weeks of school I create a "set in stone" schedule to use throughout the year. This allows me to get to know my students and appropriate time frames for them. Tab 2 is my Guided Reading General Info. The reading level correlations, the tips and pointers I find on blogs, some stuff from the Lesson Plan SOS' Reading Binder. Tab 3 is Blue Group. Tab 4 is Green Group. Tab 5 is Red group. Tab 6 is Yellow Group. Each group tab keeps the current lesson plans, running records, informal assessments, and notes. Tab 7 is Guided Reading Lesson Plans. There are several books I'm reading or read and they have lesson plan templates for different reading skills and I'm place them under tab 7. Tab 8 is Helpful Resources aka miscellaneous misfits.

These are my group identifiers. I printed and laminated them. This allows me to have my groups  on display and easily changeable. I only have four students per group. I was thinking of creating some more that had five kids per group and six kids per group. I've read six is really the biggest small group you should have and it can be pushing it. That said I know lots of teachers have large class sizes. 

Green Group

Red Group ~ I also have a yellow group one. I just have three groups this year because I only have 12 students! Yes I know I am SUPER SPOILED.

Well that's all I got for now. I'm thinking of putting all the guided reading stuff up in my TPT store for free. If anyone is interested let me know and I'll put it up. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thematic and Classroom Supplies Organization

This picture simply makes me happy ~ candy themed classroom with m&M whole group rug area! Can I just say the beige chair aka "THE Laffy Taffy" chair is a HUGE hit in my classroom. It cracks me up every time :) Side note - stuffed animals appear to be seriously favored by second graders. I need to use them more next year.  
This is where I store my "thematic" units/materials. supplies. I was inspired by the Clutter-Free Classrooms link. Check it out here. I took ideas and used them to create my own idea. I love these plastic tubs from Office Depot. They fit perfectly on top of my IKEA bookshelves. Everything needed for the theme/unit is in the box.  My next organizational project will be my classroom library ~ I'm in the process of making candy-themed labels :) 
Can I simply say I can not express enough how easy these two drawer units have made my life. I'm a big believer in communal supplies. No whining, arguing, and/or complaining that "it's mine" (expressed in student's most whiney spoiled voice). Each drawer holds exactly what the label says. The only stipulation is if it is in a closed container labeled teacher they may NOT touch it. Just about everything is for the kids and I.  Plus side I got the 10 drawer from Office Depot for 10% off because there was a minor defect. By the way, if anyone wants to go and grab one of these they are online only. The one I purchased was an in-store return. 

On top of the 10-drawer unit I keep my box of sharpened pencils and dull pencils.  To the  right of the pencils in the red bookshelf is my pencil sharpener. If you look at the previous picture you can see it. On the three drawer unit, or to the left of the pencils, I keep loose lined paper, plain white paper, and colored construction paper.

I just found this on my desktop. I thought this unit by The Teacher Wife was AWESOME. You can get it HERE. My sweets were so into it. 

I also just found this picture. This is my class' version of "Me On the Map." I purchased the unit from the Clutter-Free Classroom's TPT store. My students were also totally into this. I love that it gives the student a concrete visual of small (me) to large (the world).

That's all folks! Any questions or comments always make me smile. **hint, hint, hint**

Saturday, May 5, 2012

M&M Math and Teacher Appreciation

First ~ I decided to show you how I organize math in my classroom. 
At the end you will read about the 
fabulous teacher appreciation going on!

The math area of my classroom is near my small group table/desk.
All the drawers are clearly labeled with the plethora of math manipulatives
 my sweets and I need access to! For a while I was storing them in the blue
and red wall cabinet and that was just NOT working. If you are going to teach math
hands-on with manipulatives they MUST be accessible to you
 and your students. On a side-note, if you have a sub no where will
 wonder where anything is because it all clearly labeled. 

All the drawers are from Office Depot. There are 2 small drawers and one big drawer
and they are awesome because they don't just slide right out.
 On the other hand, you can simply put pressure on both sides
of the drawer and pot it out. Under the drawers are my math stations.
 I keep my stations numbered. I attach a piece of velcro to each station box
and each M&M number card. It makes stations pretty easy! The white drawer
on the left is our Math File! We use EnVision math. Everyday my sweets get a new math
sheet to work on. When they are done they open this drawer and place
it the labeled file that says "today's completed math sheet." There is also a file
for "corrected math sheets." If a student had errors that needed to be corrected
on their math sheet they correct it and return it into the corrected file.
I also have files that are labeled for the current math stations.
This makes identifying and assessing completed math station work very simple.
I put a class list in every file. Once a student has complete and turned in a
particular math station recording sheet they place it in the labeled folder and
highlight there name. Second graders LOVE to highlight! The white drawer on
the right is for our connecting cubes. I have a lot and use them all the time.
My one stipulation is put all colors back in the appropriate
 collared bag.  The red bin from IKEA (which I love) is for our math books. I love
children's literature! I think it is so important to integrate literature in math.
Over the summer I plan on creating math literature units to
 go along with every topic I teach in enVision math!  

This picture is a little blurry. The drawers closest to the right are awesome!
They are for lost and found game pieces,  skinny expo markers and small dry
erasers, erasers (any and all), dice (all kinds, if they are not your
 average number dice they have their own labeled ziploc inside
 the drawer), spinners and timers (for stations), and counters and game
 pieces (just like the dice, they all have their own little baggy to keep
them in order). Now how do my sweets keep up an organized classroom?
Explicit modeling and PRACTICE.  So that is what math looks like
in my room. Next week I will post on how I organize my "guided" math groups!

How do you organize math in your room?

Second ~ I'm already setting aside time tomorrow to do some
SERIOUS TPT shopping. They are offering 10% off and just
about every other TPT seller is offering an additional 20% off.
I will also be putting my TPT store on sale! 
Check It Out HERE!

For the record I have added several new products to my store.
 My class will be doing a bee week starting next week
 and I created a unit for us to use!

The Buzz On Bees ~ Check it out HERE!
I also uploaded to my TPT store *some* of the candy themed labels 
I have created to organize my classroom after several people suggested it. 
I had toyed around with the idea and there suggestions encouraged me to do it.
 Quite honestly I looked around for such things on TPT and couldn't find anything.  

By the way I'm trying to figure out how to add the reply to
 comment function on my blog. If anyone knows how to 
please let me know!  All that is to say I love reading 
your comments ~ it makes me do a happy dance. 
I also like responding but want he reply thingy to make it more personal!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Organization Classroom Tour ~ May's Currently

     Well. . .  I will start out admitting that I have been MIA. I truly do LOVE reading all the awesome blogs out there. I read them everyday ~ it's my downtime, my inspiration, my encouragement. . . That said I also "plan" on being more consistent. I will say that my first year of teaching is almost over and my first bit of advice to ANY firs tear teacher is to just accept that the first year will be hard NO MATTER what you think!!!! (how's that for a long sentence)

May's Currently:
I LOVE that Farley from Oh' Boy Fourth Grade does this ~ it always pushes me out of my shell. The whole pageant title pushed me out of my shyness (my boyfriend helped me out . . . hopefully that's alright). 

     While I've been MIA I've been reevaluating how I function as a teacher. I realized that being ORGANIZED is essential and started working on my from to make manipulatives and resources more available to my students and myself. One of my ABSOLUTE favorite things to read on blogs is classroom setup / classroom organization. I LOVE IT! Without further ado this is my home away from home. I will be posting the rest of my classroom in the next several days.

I have two entrances to my classroom. One is on the left and the other on the right. This is the view you see when you walk in through the left entrance door. My crate seats were made by my grandpa and are in excellent condition after a year of second grade fun. I use my guided reading table for small group work and as my desk. My rule of thumb is that it has nothing on it at the beginning or at the end of the day. The blanket is a Dots candy blanket. My classroom is candy/primary colors themed. I am always cold so it comes in HANDY. 
This is another view. There is a linky I read about that was going around called "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly" (or something to that effect. That corner next to the filing cabinet is what I consider to be my "ugly" ~ mostly because I haven't quite decided what I want to do with the red bookcase. I amy move it to a different area of the classroom or give it away. One thing I've noticed is that teachers (or most of them) rarely can let things go. I want to be practical about what I keep in my classroom. I mean it is a classroom and is supposed to be a learning rich environment. I've gotten rid of several things and have been questioned on some of those decisions ~ but I still love the decisions I made. One of those things was my "traditional" teacher desk. Below you will see some of the things that allowed me to be completely fine (actually thrilled) to get rid of my desk).

another angle

Behind my small group table I have "book bins" for all the subjects I teach. They are labeled and they hold the current teaching manual, related papers, textbooks, and anything else I will use often while teaching that subject. It has been one of my favorite organizational tricks. 
In the subject bins I also keep a notebooks or such that I am modeling to my students and doing with them.

I saw this idea floating around Pinterest and decided I was going to make one. This thing was about $12 from Home Depot. I used avery full page labels (plain sticker sheets) to print my candy themed labels onto. If anyone would be interested I'm happy to share :) It took my a couple times to get the perfect size but I did! To purchase these labels go HERE!

These are my favorite drawers. I will only by them from Office Depot. They are awesome. Why you ask? They don't slide right out, yet if you push in both sides they come out nice and easy. I use a ton of these in my classroom. The blank yellow one needed a label but I hand;t quite decided what I wanted it to say yet. When I do I will simply go and type it up. The reason for the line is in case I just want to write it in Sharpie till I have time or REMEMBER to print it out. People I forget WAY to many things for an individual of my age. I'm a young teacher ~ I mean youngest faculty member, people always say I look to young. . . you get the picture.

This is the bookshelf I'm not in love with but I do love it is clutter free. Above the desk is my Mon-Fri drawers ~ love those. I also have an "extras" drawer. This is for those times I need a time filling worksheet, hidden picture fun sheet, quick craftivities, and things like that. I also have it in my mind as a back-up plan for a sub who has to much "extra" time. 

In the desk to the left I keep my to be graded system. You can read about that HERE. On the right side of the desk is my copy folder an basket. I will add a picture of my folder (I think it is so fun). I keep what needs to be copied in the folder o the left side. Once it is copied, it moves to the right side to be filed back in the correct place. The copies made to use are put in the basket. Once I get back to my room they get placed in their appropriate places. Except for the white stack you see that I didn't move due to being late to pick my kids up from Specials (or at least thats what I think).  Underneath the desk I have this awesome six drawer organizer that I use every single day. The labels tell it all.

I hope you have enjoyed the tour so far. I would love to hear of  any thought you all have. I love organization. I believe an organized classroom make the teacher more efficient. In turn the teacher has more time to focus on academic instruction.