Sunday, January 13, 2013

Clutter Free Classroom Challenge and Giveaways

Whoa baby.  The last week and a half has flown by.  It's hard to believe that not only is Christmas break over, but it is now 2013 and my New Year's Resolutions should be in full force.  Should be.

One of my New Year's Resolutions for this year is to clean up and organize my classroom.  This has been my goal each and every year and every year I make small (and sometimes huge) steps to obtaining this goal.  But truth of the matter is, when your a classroom teacher, organization is a never ending challenge.
Take my desk for example.  Over the summer I created an awesome toolbox and labels for my plastic drawers to help me stay organized.  Every afternoon, before I go home, I clean off my desk so that it can look neat and tidy when I return the next day.  However, something strange happens from the minute I step in my classroom to the minute I clean up at the end of the day.  It's like a tornado whirls though throwing miscellaneous objects and papers about.  My desk starts off like on the left and then ends up like on the right hand side.  (Now granted my before picture was taken back in August - notice the green wall.  The after picture was taken this week.  But, you get the idea.)

I think I'm good at organizing....but I want to be great!  I can organize and clean when I allot myself a planned time.  But, I can't seem to keep things clean.  In the heat of the moment, when I'm in the mist of teaching, I throw things anywhere and everywhere!

Now, on to my second problem. I keep things neat and tidy on the outside....but behind closed don't even want to know.

Take my cupboards for instance.  When the doors are closed they don't look great...but they don't look horrible either.  Open them up and shazam....your in for a whirlwind of hurt.  Don't even try to find anything in them.  If you pull something out everything else will come toppling out and crush you.  Over the summer I actually cleaned these out and organized them.  Apparently my system sucked because here I am, half way through the school year, and it looks like an explosion occurred behind each and every door.

Sadly, it's not just behind the doors that I need to worry about.  It's also inside each and every drawer.  I go with the mind set of out of sight out of mind.  The issue is, I have a wealth of great resources that I completely forget about until I reorganize again over the summer.

Lets face it, organizing a classroom, and keeping that said classroom organized, could be a full time job in and of itself.  So, I've enlisted some help to push my classroom organization to the next level.  I'm joining up with the Clutter-Free Classroom's challenge to clean and organize my classroom so that it looks and runs smoother throughout the rest of the year.

And now for a few giveaway announcements. 

Check out the Fourth Grade Flipper for her amazing 300 Follower Giveaway!

And...the winner of my 300 Follower Giveaway is ....

Lori R

Congrats Lori!  Check your email!

Monday, January 7, 2013

January Monday Made It

I'm linking up this month with Tara, from 4th Grade Frolics, for her January Monday Made it.  It's been so nice having time off from school to rekindle relationships with friends and family, relax, and enjoy something other than school.

With NY's crazy winter weather I've managed to squeeze in a little time to get cozy and create this week.  Here's what I've made:

1.  Picture Perfect Photo Table

My hubby gave me a new digital camera for Christmas.  In hopes to update my blog with fabulous photos I decided to put together a little photo table in my home office.  Now when I take photos to share with you they can have a clean white background. 

My photos are already looking a little more professional!

2.  Survival Kit for Teachers

Although teaching has stolen my heart and soul, the winter is a crazy time of year.  Lesson plans, data, observations, meetings, new common core standards, new teacher evaluation systems, state tests looming over our heads.....ugh.  The list goes on and on.

So, in order to relieve some stress, I created little survival kits for my fourth grade teacher buddies..

I found these cute containers at the Dollar Tree.  Inside I put little notepads, gel pens, hand sanitizer, heart shaped chocolates, hot chocolate and a candle.

You can snag the template for my survival kit here!

3.  Winter Poetry Writing Unit

Last but not least, my pride and new Winter Poetry pack.  I plan to start our poetry unit at the end of this week!
Included are 6 different poems: 

Each poem includes a teacher direction sheet, sample poem, rough draft worksheet, and a final copy sheet for students.

There are also 2 versions of a Winter Poetry Book cover.  Simply combine the final copy pages together in a book or display them on bulletin boards or in a hallway display.

I'll be sure to post some pictures of students' final products in the upcoming weeks!

Before you go, don't forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a $10 giftcard to Dunkin Donuts and 3 products from my TPT store!

Check out all the other Monday Made Its on Tara's blog:  4th Grade Frolics.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Guest Blogging Exchange - Techie Daily 5 Centers

Today I am happy to share that I am taking part in a blogging exchange. 

As part of the exchange I'm hosting a guest blogger!  Check out her awesome post:

I’m Kristin from iTeach 1:1 and I’m so thrilled to be guest blogging today for Jennifer! This is my second year teaching with 1:1 technology, meaning each student in my classroom has his/her own laptop. I piloted a 1:1 program when I taught first grade last year and now I teach fourth grade with these same devices. We are also fortunate to have five iPads to share and a SMARTboard.
Since I have all of this amazing technology at my disposal, almost all of my Daily 5 centers incorporate some form of technology. Today I’m going to share my (and my students’) favorite techie centers for each of the Daily 5.
Read to Self: I recently subscribed to an amazing free site called Tween Tribune , which has current event articles for kids. I require my students to post a comment to an article that they feel they “connected” with. This provides for student accountability and the kids are motivated by the fact that others can read about their opinions. (Teachers who subscribe to Tween Tribune moderate their own students’ comments to ensure the site is safe for all kids who read it.)
Work on Writing: My students love writing journal entries using Penzu, which is a free online journaling site. They each have their own personal journals, which save automatically. Sometimes I’ll post photos on our class website so they can add those in for entries about field trips, science experiments, and other classroom happenings. 

Word Work: Each week I post our spelling lists (regular and modified) to Spelling City. We use the free version, which has plenty of engaging activities for the kids to practice their weekly words. My students take their weekly spelling tests online as well.
Listen to Reading: Our two favorite online storybook sites are Read to Me and Storyline Online . Both sites are free and have great children’s books read aloud by celebrities.
Read to Someone: When I read with my guided reading groups, we use Raz Kids on the iPads. While this site is not free, it has an amazing selection of high-interest leveled books. My guided reading lessons are split up into two days and I see each group twice a week for 20 minutes (except for my lowest group, who gets seen more frequently). Here’s what a typical week looks like: We preview the text and I introduce the skill/strategy in about 5-8 minutes. Then my students read silently at the table while filling out some sort of graphic organizer so I can track their thinking. This is when I do my individual conferencing and remediation. At twenty minutes, we stop and they go back to their other Daily 5 Centers. On the second day, they finish reading the book and we do most of our discussing and re-teaching (if needed). 

If you would like to see some of my Daily 5 Centers in action, hop on over to my blog. Be sure to click on the Freebies tab where I have free guided and independent reading activities you may be able to use in your classroom.
After stopping by Kristin's blog check out all the other blogs linked up with Primary Possibilities and make sure to enter my 300+ Follower Giveaway!

300 Follower Giveaway

Wahooo....I have more than 300 followers.  When I first started this little ole' blog last Spring I never dreamed it would grow this big this fast.

As a thank you to all my followers I wanted to offer a little giveaway!

So, what will you win?

$10 of teaching materials from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store
and a
$10 giftcard to Dunkin' Donuts!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!