Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teacher Tuesday

I am beyond excited at the number of things I've accomplished this summer!!  I just know I'm going to be so thankful when school starts that I did a little bit each week and got a ton of stuff completed this summer!  Moving on from my self pat-on-the-back to my Monday Made It!  I'm linking up with Tara again at 4th Grade Frolics.  If you haven't stopped by to check out all the amazing things other teacher are making you are missing out.....or living on an other plant.

Made it #1: Pick and Persuade.  I saw these amazing persuasive writing prompts in April's TPT store, and I just had to have them.  I printed and laminated all 100 of them, and then put them in this adorable little jar I picked up at the second hand store earlier in the summer.  I just knew I'd find a use for that thing.  I painted the lid black and used a little Modpodge to attach the label.

Made it #2: What's for Dinner?  Isn't this just the cutest way to display the lunch menu?!?!?  I found it on Kelly's blog Fabulous in Fourth.  I still need to laminate it and attach the very first lunch menu of the school year!
The white piece of paper is the spot where the menu will go.

Made it #3: Highlighter name bucket.  I've seen these all over Pinterest and other blogs.  I couldn't find the original creator of this project, so if it's you please let me know....I want to give credit where it's due.  I picked up the little bucket in the Dollar Spot at Target and made the tag myself.  Here's hoping this gets my little peeps to put their name on ALL of their assignments :)

Made it #4: Credit cards!  Okay this is really another print and laminate, but it is just too cute.  I already have a monetary reward system in my classroom.  I've been using Denney Dollars for the past 5 years and the kids LOVE them!  They earn them for good behavior, having their planner signed each day, turning in assignments, helping out....all those good things we love to see in our kiddos.  Well, the kids save their money for our auctions.  The auctions only take place 4 times during the school year so they accumulate a big ol' pile o' dough during that time.  In the past they have misplaced some, lost some, had some stolen (this makes me so sad, but it's true), and just have a hard time keeping track of all those little bills in their desk.  This year I decided to keep the Denney Dollars (which I remade.....had to add a little Garfield :) but when they reach a certain amount (maybe $50 or $100) I will give them a credit card in place of their cash.  Then when auction time rolls around they can use their card for their purchases.  I plan to write the amount on the back of the credit card in a certain color and initial it so the kiddos can't change their totals.  I can't wait to break these out and see the looks on their faces.  I found them at Teachers Treasures!

Made it #5: Brain Breaks.  I used these same brain breaks in my classroom last year and I can't tell you how much my kids enjoyed them.  If I forgot, they reminded me about every 5 minutes until I finally gave them a little break!  As much as I loved them, I had a hard time remembering what some of them were.  I had originally put them on Popsicle sticks with no directions.  I would pick one, and if I couldn't remember what to do, I had to dig around until I found the directions (not exactly the short break it's designed to be).  So I saw this idea at The Diary of a Teachaholic ......perfection!!!!  I printed her freebie, laminated them, and will attach them to a ring.....just as soon as I can get into my classroom.

Made it #6: Pom Poms.  I love the way these turned out and I can't wait to hang them from the ceiling in my newly renovated classroom!  I found the directions on Pinterest....in about a million places!!

Whew....that was a list!  I'm already working on lots of goodies for next week and can't wait to share!  Don't forget to head on over to Tara's blog and link up!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Only 2 Mondays left....

Can you believe it....I only have 2 Mondays of freedom left before school starts!!  There is a chance we will be able to get into our new classrooms next Friday, which means I will be spending the 6 days between then and our official day back (August 16th) putting my room together!  I'm so thankful that I have been working little by little on school projects this summer.  I have a good feeling that this school year is going to have a smooth take off!!

In order to ensure that I stick to my goals and avoid some turbulance for the upcoming year I am linking up with Amanda at Teaching Maddeness for her New {School}Year Resolutions.  Let's hope I stick to these a little better than the resolutions I made back in January (what were those again?????)!

Resolution #1:  Don't fret the small stuff.  For those of you that know me really well, you know I tend to freak out and panic over the silliest things.  This year I really want to offer a sense of calm to my students.  I want our classroom to be a place we can make mistakes and be okay with that.  I also want to be the best mom I when I get home, and not the crazy-chicken-running-around-with-her-head-cut-off that I normally am.  To help with this resolution I've started doing Yoga a few times a week. It's amazing what a morning walk or morning yoga can do for you attitude the rest of the day!!!

Resolution #2: Deliver more positive feedback to my students.  I really want to focus on the positive this school year!  I want to notice the wonderful things my students do every day and not just address poor choices/behavior.  I even made a Happy Bucket to help us all with the spirit of kindness and generosity!!

You can check out the post about the bucket here!

Resolution #3: Take more classroom pictures!!!  Amanda has this as the first resolution on her blog, and when I saw it I was so relieved to know I'm not the only one who constantly forgets to get snapshots of the fun things going down in my classroom.  I am hoping to use more pics in my blog posts this year as well!!

Resolution #4: Talk less!!  This applies to so many areas of my life.....I can't even begin to list them all.  High on the list though are talk less on teacher work days and after school.  I am horrible at distracting myself with conversations and then regretting it at the end of the day when I've accomplished nothing.  It also applies to my teaching.  I feel like I tell more than I show, and that I talk more than I allow my students to share what they know.  Finally it applies to my own little peeps at home.  I want to talk less and listen more!!!

That's it!  I want to keep it at four because it seems more manageable and with everything that goes on in a school day it will be a miracle if I can remember these in a few weeks!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

10 Things I learned

Well guys it's Saturday which means the end of the week and another 10 Things I learned.  I'm gonna warn you.....I had the worst nights sleep ever last night so this list could get a little strange......here we go!!

10. My daughter is growing up at rocket speed and I'm just not ready.
Let's just say that shaving, a make-up lesson, shopping, and a training session on the flat iron were too much growing up for momma in one week!!

9. I'm sick of summer!
Yep, I said it.....the lover of all things summer has had enough.  Today 105 tomorrow 107......please make it stop!!

8. Funnel cake for dinner......bad idea!!

7. Two gals left all alone for a week may put on make up and paint their toe nails......
but they'll also watch a zillion super hero flicks and have several rounds of Nerf gun target practice.

6. Not being able to talk to your son for a week because he is on an island in Canada leads to creepy dreams and unnecessary panic.....I'm ready for my boy to come home!!!

5. I'm going to have a Rockin' classroom this year!!
I have worked my little tush off making stuff for my room and I just can't wait to get it all set up.  Having my lesson plans done and all this stuff made and organized is going to be so awesome when school starts!

We made pom poms to hang from the ceiling!

4. Finding out that I will have to take two Master's classes each semester instead of one has sent me into nesting mode!!!
I am so freaked out about the number of things I will have going on this fall that I ironed every single piece of dress clothing I own.....even the winter stuff.....talk about being proactive (or crazy...you call it what you want).  I even cleaned out two more closets, planned out 5 freezer crock pot meals, the menu for the entire month of August and made a huge to-do list of school and home projects that must be completed by August 10th.....I sure hope all this insanity pays off!!

3. I may have a root beer float addiction!

2. A rain storm after weeks and weeks of 100+ temps and no moisture can make you act like a kid!
Yep, we just had to go out and play in the rain.....it was wonderful!

1.Spending an entire week, just me and my girlie has been AMAZING!!!
It seems like it was perfect timing for her and we have had some really special moments that I will always cherish!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Super Hero movies and Nerf gun....not your typical girl time!

I've never had this much girl time with Katie in her whole little life.  It's so strange not having Jacob here and we are missing him terribly.  This is going to start off random, but it's going somewhere....I promise!   Let me start by saying that I watch WAY too much Criminal Minds! 

Yes, old cast, but as great as Rossi is.....I just loved Gideon, and the new gal doesn't even compare to JJ!

Here's why....Jake called on Tuesday afternoon to let us know they had made it to their final stop before the boat ride to the island in Canada. His dad's phone was already not getting service and Jake thought he might not get service once they got to the island.  See.....plenty of warning that I may not hear from them, but is that good enough for my freaked out mommy brain.....NO!  We have not heard from them since Tuesday, and last night I had a dream that the Canadian authorieties called to inform us that my car (Why did they take my car to Canada......LONG story!) had been found abandonedd with all of their belongings still in it, and they were missing......Criminal Minds episode!  2 more days and my boy will be home safe and sound and I will be able to return to a normal rational person!!

Other than strange dreams about my boy I have been having the best time with my girlie!  We purchased new school supplies to put in her fabulous new Vera Bradley (half price) backpack!

She got her first razor and learned how to use it.....can she possibly be old enough for this?!?!  We purchased her own mascara and had a little session on how to apply makeup properly (No, she's not wearing it regularly or to school, she just asked me to teach her so we had a little glamour day.)  She even learned how to use the flat iron so she can do her own hair (should save me a boatload of time in the morning this fall).  All the typical things girls do during girl time.....except......

we watched a marathon of super hero movies, they're our favorite kind of movie,

and we made a Nerf gun target for practice and competition.  This was super simple.  I purchased a poster frame at WalMart for $7.  We took out the black liner paper and used the back (it happened to be white) to make our target.  We traced different sized bowls and then colored the circles with marker. Katie decided on the points system....too fun!

She also practiced her front handspring using the exercise ball, and we ate a dinner of nothing buy cheese dip and chips........if we'd had beer you could've called it "A Night with the Guys."  Tonight it's off to the fair for rides and a dinner she has already picked out.....turkey leg, potato ribbons, funnel cake, and a fried snickers.....Jacob better hurry up and get home before we both need to go on a diet!!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Once again, I open Pinterest, and there is the quote I needed to hear today.  I pinned this one a while back and have seen it on Facebook, but there is was again this morning.  Right now it is especially meaningful to me!

Don't you just love it?!?!  Katie is having a sleepover tonight, and it's going to be hotter than the surface of the sun again today :( I think we will make this (instructions here) and invest in a couple of new Nerf guns......seems like the perfect indoor activity to me!!!

Happy Wednesday everyone....stay cool!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Teacher Tuesday

We got home from two weeks of vacation on Thursday night, and I jumped right into crazy-maniac-gotta-get-it-done teacher mode.  We don't start school until August 21st, but I also will be moving into a new classroom and every single thing I own is packed up and stored at school......which we can't get into until August 10th....maybe!!!!  So to keep from having a major panic attack, I am working my little tush off at home to get as much done as I can!  Tara has been so great in helping me get that done!  Her Monday Made it at 4th Grade Frolics has kept me thinking, and productive!

The first thing I made was a welcome sign.  These things have been all over Pinterest, and the one I originally pinned came from Mrs. Lee's Kindergarten.

Yes, I know there is an "E" missing, but I'm out of laminating sheets so I can't add the final "E" until tomorrow when my new ones arrive.

I started my master copy of our Reading Notebook.  I posted about it yesterday (you can read it here), and would love any advice you have on the subject!!!

I first saw this on Pinterest and since then have seen a ton on Monday Made It.  I pinned Jenny's pin from blog Mrs. Brown's Blog, here's my version!

I have also set a goal for myself to use more positive reinforcement in our classroom this year, and teach the students to be more positive and tolerent.  To help out with that I made a happiness bucket!

I've always had a suggestion box where kids can put ideas and such.  Unfortunately, that always turns into a a party-request-box.  As student last year asked if we could put Warm Fuzzies in the box like her teacher did the year before.  I LOVED this idea.  So I plan to do away with the suggestion box and instead use the Happy Bucket!  I made some Happy tickets for the kids to fill out when they see someone doing something good, want to give a compliment, or just have a kind word for a friend.  Feel free to use them!!

Lastly, I made new pencil buckets.  I found the idea on......you guessed it.....Pinterest.  Donna from Peace, Love, and Learning posted it with a freebie.  I used the freebie and added my own scrapbook paper to match my class colors!

Now to refill my coffee mug and head on over to Tara's blog to see what everyone else made this week!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Reading Notebooks

Last year was my first year of using the Daily 5.  In our classroom we modified it to the Daily 4, and I did not use the Cafe menu.  Our district has a basal that we must use, and I found it difficult to squeeze in all of the Daily 5, the basal, the conferences, and the free choice that the Cafe uses.  I focused on the skill in the basal all week, and the story was the required reading for Read to Self on Monday.  Our basal comes with leveled readers, and I often used these for Read to Someone and some of my guided reading meetings.  Instead of having free choice each day about which Daily 4 item they would complete, the student were assigned Word Work, Work on Writing, etc on certain days of the week.  Because we departmentalize, I had two reading classes that were 90 minutes each (this year I will have 3 for one hour each), I found this system was easier to manage and created far less chaos.  The students were also more focused and able to complete their tasks within the time we had.

Anyway, we did use our reading notebooks often last year for Work on Writing, but I don't feel I required the students to write enough about their reading.  I read The Book Whisperer this summer and LOVED it!  I love the idea of students writing me a letter about their reading, but in the past when I've done this it's become sort of monotonous for them.  I think it was required too often, and they became bored.  This year I am planning to continue with the letter, but instead of hand writing the letter they will type it as a blog entry on our new kidblog.org classroom blog!  I can't wait to implement this and see what my little 4th graders come up with!!

I also want to make our notebooks more of an all-inclusive space.  A space where the students can refer to anchor charts, notes, log their reading, keep a space for Work on Writing, and check on grammar rules.  I purchased this notebook and plan to organize it as my master and sample.

I love the idea of the ribbon.  I saw it on Jamie's blog What's The Buzz in First and just had to have it.  I purchased blue, orange, and green ribbon (one color for each class) and plan to add them to my students notebooks during the first week of school.

It is finally time for me to put all these ideas into my notebook, but I'm sort of paralyzed.  I want it to be neatly organized in a way that makes sense to my students and me.  I want a space for them to record the books they've read (I'm hoping to use the 40 book requirement from The Book Whisperer, but modify it for 4th graders), I want a separate space for writing and plenty of pages to do that, I also want a space for our weekly vocabulary, grammar, and anchor charts.

I'm thinking about using these tabs to seperate the sections in the students notebooks.  This will help me find the information I'm looking for, but also keep them from just randomly writing on any page in the book.....you know what I'm talking about :)

Here's my reading timeline since May (looking at it I realize I have not done nearly enough reading this summer!!)

So to get started I found this idea on Pinterest this summer and loved it.  It's from Our Class Goins On and I adore the idea of pictures to go with the title.  I'm not sure I will allow the students to print book covers though.  I can see these sucking up a lot of valuable reading time.  Instead, I may have them do a small illustration that represents the book.  This is going to be our reading timeline, and we will use the last 5-10 books we've read to define us as readers.

and immediately following that I will have each child glue this log into their notebooks.  This is an idea I got from The Book Whisperer and this is the space where they will keep track of the books they read.  Feel free to save the images and use them!

How do you use your reading notebooks?  Do you separate the notebook into sections?  Have you ever combined the reading and writing notebook?  I would LOVE to hear what others are doing!!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lovin' Summer

We have been so lucky this past two weeks.  We were able to spend 5 days at Grand Lake in Oklahoma, and 5 days in Colorado (which also explains the lack of blogging).  We had the very best time and are truly thankful for the wonderful family we have....there were willing to entertain us and make our visit incredible!!  Here's a few of my favorite photos from our travels.....

Fun in Colorado!!

 Sunshine and boating at Grand Lake

Okay, picture overload, but I couldn't stop at just a couple.....I refuse to acknowledge the fact that summer will be over in exactly 1 month :(