Friday, August 23, 2013

Five for Friday - Classroom Sneak Peak

Today I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for 5 for Friday.  I've been working hard to clean, organize, and decorate my classroom all summer long.  Things are finally coming together and I have a few items that I'm ready to share with you.

1.  Class Jobs

I got adorable fish bowl cutouts from Carson Dellosa and I printed out our job titles to staple beneath them.  I also printed out fish graphics from Krista Walden and have each students' name on one.
I used Velcro to stick the fish to their bowls.  I can easily move students to a new job each week. Job descriptions are printed and posted to the left and right of the class jobs display so that students know exactly what is expected of them.
One important job is our class manager.  Each day they check off when students have completed their job for the day and help remind students if they forget.  This keeps our class jobs running smoothly.
2.  Book Bins
I love the book bins I got from Really Good Stuff a few years ago.  I reuse them each year and they are holding up pretty well.  I got these cute name tags from Carson Dellosa so that each students' bin is labeled.  Students will keep their reading folder, reading journal, and class books in their bin to use during reading centers.  This keeps their books from getting smushed and ripped inside their desk.

3.  Bathroom Sign-Out

To coincide with our fish theme, I found these lovely stuffed fish at the Dollar Tree.  We will use blue for boys and orange for girls.  When a student needs to use the bathroom they simply sign out and place the fish on their desk.  This signals other students that a boy or girl is already out (only one may go at a time unless there is an emergency).  It is also a quick visual for me as to who is out.

4.  Center Wheels

This year, I have combined my reading and math center wheels onto one board.  Since I group students heterogeneously, I plan to use the same groups for centers in both math and reading.  Students' names are printed out on the fish and they are velcroed to the fish bowls to show which color group they are in.  Each day I rotate each center wheel once to the right so that students know which center they are responsible for.  The colorful bins below are used for students to turn their work in.

5.  Crates at each Group of Desks

I'm super excited to have purchased some brand new black crates from Walmart.  I stacked two on top of one another and placed them at each group.  I have students in groups of 4 or 5.  I plan to use these creates to store each groups' white boards, markers, erasers, glue, scissors, markers, their new red pencil boxes (that are currently on their desks), and their folders for various subjects.  I'm hoping this will help reduce the clutter that builds up in their desks. 

Alright, that's all for now. 

Happy Friday!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Back 2 School Giveaway Winners Announced Just in Time for TPT's SALE!!!

Thank you to all who entered the HUGE Back 2 School Giveaway over the past week.

Now it's finally time to announce the winners:

Prize Pack 1:  Lori Raines

Prize Pack 2:  Ronda Walton

Prize Pack 3:  Caitlin Coley

Prize Pack 4:  Susan Krevat

Prize Pack 5:  Dinah Ely

Prize Pack 6:  Maria Sanford

Check your email ladies.  You should be receiving your prizes soon!

Didn't win?  You can still stock up on great Back 2 School resources at Teacher Pay Teachers Back 2 School Sale.  Products created by your favorite TPT sellers will be on sale for the next 2 days for up to 28% off.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Interview with Corrina Allen from Mrs. Allen's Teaching Files

Last Thursday I got to meet up with a fabulous blogger: Corrina Allen, From Mrs. Allen's Teaching Files.

We met up at Friendly's and chit-chatted about home, school, blogging, and TPT.  Corrina has a wonderful Classroom Q & A Interview Series on her blog.  Rather than Corrina just interview me, we decided to interview each other!

Corrina lives in Camillus, New York and is a wonderful wife and mom to 2 young girls.  She teaches 5th grade and shares her classroom ideas, interviews with other bloggers, educational freebies, and more on her blog.

Here is our interview:

Q:  I saw on your blog that you have mostly taught 5th and 6th grade.  Have you taught any other grades?

A:  Sort of, when I first finished my student teaching I got a long term sub job in kindergarten for the end of the year.  It was exhausting.  2 days before school started I got an offer to teach middle school English and Science.  I had never envisioned myself at middle school but I really liked it there.  I focused on English and human body systems for science.  Last year we had an opportunity for a teacher to transfer to 5th grade and I volunteered to go.  I was looking for a change and had always pictured myself at the elementary school level.  I figured this was a good opportunity.

Q: Do you like 5th grade more than 6th grade?

A:  It's tough to say.  I like teaching older kids because you can joke and laugh with them.  Kindergarten is exhausting and there is a lot of prep work.  Although the first year was a lot of work learning the new curriculum, I think I am going to really like teaching 5th grade again this year.

Q:  Have you lived in Syracuse your whole life?

A:  I lived in the Syracuse area my whole life.  I grew up in the North side of Syracuse and went to school there until I was 8.  My mom got married and moved to Solvay.  My step father adopted me.  It was really sweet.  When I got married I moved to Camillus.  It seems I keep moving west but I think we are in Camillus now for the long haul.

Q:  How do you balance your classroom, family, blog, Teachers Pay Teachers/Teachers Notebook Stores and everything?

A:  It's hard.  It helps that my husband works at home so I don't have to take sick days when the girls are sick.  On the other hand, at night he's working, so I'm it.  Now that they are older I can check an email or quick put up a Facebook post.  The older they get the easier it is.  Often it is like juggling and I might drop the ball.  This last year with teaching new subjects and being in a new building it was hard but family is always the priority.  If anything needs to go it's not going to be that.

Q:  What unit or topic do you enjoy teaching the most?

A:  Overall I really like teaching literature a lot.  Our figurative language unit is fun.  I like teaching about story elements, plot charts, protagonists, antagonists, conflict, conflict types and connecting it to anti-bullying.  I think that is my favorite part of the day.

Q:  In comparing your teaching style to an ice cream flavor, what flavor would you be?

A:  I think I would be chocolate ice cream with peanut butter twist and chocolate sprinkles on top.  The chocolate ice cream is sort of like the things that you have to do during the day like the Investigations program that is pretty scripted and the writing program that is pretty set.  The peanut butter swirl are my additions and my things are the sprinkles on top.  Plus, I like chocolate and peanut butter!

Q:  Where are your go-to places to shop for back-to-school supplies?

A:  Staples is 2 minutes from my house so that tends to be the spot that I go to.  I also like Target and their dollar spot.  Sometimes I go to Walmart and I do a little bit of shopping online to Really Good Stuff.

Q:  What's your favorite holiday to celebrate with your class

A: I like Halloween.  We dress up.  Last year my team had big, giant Winnie the Pooh costumes.  I was Winnie the Pooh and the costume was really hot.  Maybe next year I will be a pirate or something fun.

Q:  Do you keep a Bucket List?  What's something crazy you want to do?

A:  I don't have a Bucket List but there are a few things I'd like to do.  One thing I've dreamt of doing is taking my family and going to England to live in a cottage for the summer.  My husband's job, he can do anywhere.  I have the summer off.  I've been there twice before and I loved it so that would be fun.  The other thing that's crazy and I'd love to do would be Roller Derby.  I think that would be a lot of fun but I'm clutsy so I might fall and break my arm or my leg and be out of school for a month or something.  I saw a TV show about it once and thought, "I would love to do that."

Q:  What are your top selling items on TPT or Teacher's Notebook?

A:  Right now I have a Beginning of the Year Student Survey.  It's a back to school item that is doing really well.  It's only $1 and it's my best seller.  After that I have a Vocabulary Journal that is doing really well.  Those are my top two.

Q:  What are your goals for this school year?

A:  After talking to you I think Donors Choose is up on my list.  I'd like some Kindle Fires or iPads.  A rug would be nice to have for a meeting place.  I think I'd like to be more organized with my students' goals.  Now that I know the curriculum and have gone through it once I'd like to post the goals consistently in the classroom.  I'd also like to be more organized with my desk and keeping it clean.

It was so much fun meeting up with a fellow blogger who lives close by.  I can't wait to meet up again. 

Stop by Corrina's blog:  From Mrs. Allen's Teaching Files and show her some bloggy love!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

CD Fish for Monday Made It

This week I worked on some decorations for my classroom.

My favorite.....CD FISH!

I used glue dots (because they don't require any drying time and I was in a hurry) to glue two CDs together with the shinny side facing out.

I glued on (with the glue dots) wiggly eyes and gems along with some paper fins and lips.

Then I hung them with string behind my classroom computers.

I think they look kinda cute with the blue wall in the background.  What do you think?

Check out all the other Monday Made It's on Tara's Blog, 4th Grade Frolics


Check out my Back 2 School Giveaway!  You can enter any time this week to win a $25 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers, a free app for The Digits, and 70+ items from amazing TPT sellers.

Happy Monday!

HUGE Back to School Giveaway!

Can you believe it?

It's finally week 5 of my Back 2 School Link-Up!

Do you know what that means?

It's time for some back to school freebies . . .
. . . a HUGE Back 2 School GIVEAWAY!!!

In fact, this giveaway is so HUGE that I've had to split all the fabulous prizes into 6 prize packs.  That means we are going to have 6 winners!

Check out what you can win:

Prize Pack # 1

This pack includes . . .

- a $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Certificate

- free Premium version of the App:  The Digits**

- 3 Back to School items from Elementary School Garden's TPT Store:  Pinterest Craftivity, Problem Solving Pages, and Would You Rather Writing Prompts

**A free version of The Digits app can be downloaded at the following places:
The web series connected with the app (with a math lesson in each short episode) can be viewed for free on Youtube . Stay tuned for a new Digits album which will be available for download coming in September.
Enter to win Prize Pack 1 here!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize Pack #2 - Grades K - 2

This pack includes . . .

- Add, Doodle, Write! from Adirondack Teachers
- All About Me Booklet from Alissa Manning
- Writing Paper with Picture Boxes by Brittani Black
- Create Number Sense Anchor Charts, Posters, or Bulletin Boards from Christine Maxwell
- June Theme Schedule Cards from Curriculum to the Core
- Put Your Best Foot Forward from Differentiation Station
- Winner's Choice from The Techie Teacher
- 35 Classroom Reward Coupons from Saddle Up for 2nd Grade
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Morning Messages from Mrs. Lindsey
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear Center Activities from Mrs. Payton
- Winner's Choice from Mrs. Scotese's Class
- Winner's Choice from Miss V's Busy Bees
- Confusing Letters from Sight and Sound Reading
- Making Words Activity Sheets from Teaching Heart
- Early Literacy Unit 2 from Teaching with Nancy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize Pack #3 - Grades K - 2

This pack includes . . .

- Winner's Choice from Adventures in Teaching
- Common Core Report Card Comments by Common Core Connection
- Welcome Back to School by Diamond Mom
- Winner's Choice from Jungle Learners
- Basic Black Gingham Alphabet Posters and Cards by Karen Hester
- Invitations and Save the Date Cards by KindersinNY
- Winner's Choice from Little Miss Edugator
- Literacy Pack and Parent Involvement Pack by Looneyslitblog
- Addition Memory and Addition Sort by Rachel Hildebrand
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Pack by Right Down the Middle with Andrea
- Ice Breakers by Roller English
- Pirate Word Family Fun by Spelling and Technology
- Watch Me Tell Time by Susan Morrow
- Fall Addition and Subtraction by The Teaching Treehouse
- Winner's Choice from The Traveling Classroom

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize Pack # 4 - Grades 3 - 5

This pack includes . . .

- AH-mazing Guided Reading and Guided Reading Strategy Resources by A Grade 7 Heaven
- The Friendly Feud by Aspire to Inspire
- Winner's Choice from Crown Jewels 4 Learning
- Winner's Choice from Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late
- Fictional Close Read by Elements of Elementary
- Owl Themed Library Labels (or any theme of the winner's choice) by Fourth Grade Flipper
- Winner's Choice from Jan Gervais
- Winner's Choice from Janet Rainey
- Winner's Choice from Magic Mistakes and Mayhem
- Winner's Choice from Mrs. Allen's Teaching Files
- Student Writing Resource by Mrs. O's Rockin Resources
- Dinosaur Multiplication and Don't Be Bugged by Division by Polka Dots and Teaching Tots
- Winner's Choice by Rick's Resources
- Back to School Find a Friend by Second Grade Stories
- Welcome to Our Class Banner by Third Grade Allstars
- Back to School and End of the Foldables by Third Grade Galore

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize Pack #5 - Grades 3 - 5


This pack includes . . .

- Social Stories Value Pack by Amanda Butt
- Superhero Training Camp and Teaching Binder and Meet the Teacher Bundle by At Whits End
- Back to School Printable Memory Book by Christine Cadalzo
- Winner's Choice from Digital Divide and Conquer
- Winner's Choice from I Want to Be Super Teacher
- Number of the Day Task Cards by Jennifer Laffin
- Informational Writing Using Personal Expertise by Kathy Cothran
- Fiction Reading Response Prompts by Write Now
- School Themed Word Problems by Kristin Kennedy
- Back to School Activity Pack by Lisa Lilienthal
- School Supply-Themed Teacher Notebook by Making Model Students
-Math Word Wall with Pictures by Mme Sara
- Differentiated Writing Instruction by Ms Finlayson's Classroom
- Where Are We Door Display by Okinawan Girl
- Start the Year Out Right Letters to Parents by Stephanie Rye
- Common Core Reading by The Teachers' Aide
- Reader's Workshop by Third Grade Doodles

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize Pack # 6 - Middle School / High School

This pack includes . . .

- Back to School Algebra Activity by 4 the Love of Math
- Beginning of the Year Ice Breakers by An Educator's Toolbox
- Winner's Choice from History Outside the Lines
- I Have Who Has Back to School Game by Miss S's Sixers
- Why Do We Need to Learn History by Ms Furnas
- Winner's Choice from Open Classroom

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So, what are you waiting for?  Enter our Huge Back 2 School Giveaway now!

Have a Back 2 School freebie to share?

Happy Happy Happy Back 2 School!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Give Me Five Classroom Display for Monday Made It

This week I decided to start working on my classroom posters and displays as well as classroom management and what tools I'd like to display in or around the classroom to assist with classroom management.

One of the many ways I get students attention throughout the school year is with the phrase, "Give Me 5."  I hold my hand up in the air and each finger represents something students should be doing to show me that they are actively listening to directions:

Body Still
Eyes Watching
Lips Zipped
Ears Listening
Brain Thinking

I decided to create a classroom display this year to hang in my room.  It will serve as a reminder for students or my expectations when I hold my hand up or say, "Give Me 5."

Want a copy?  You can download my Give Me 5 Classroom Display here in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Check out all the other Monday Made It's at Tara's Blog: 4th Grade Frolics!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Top Tips for the 1st Day of School - Back 2 School Link-Up

Welcome back for week 4 of my Back 2 School Link-Up. Thanks to all who linked up last week. This week's topics is:  Top Tips for the 1st Day of School.

The night before the first day back to school is always a long one.  Butterflies flutter in my belly and dreams of the first day wake me up multiple times throughout the night.

Here are a few tips to keep those butterflies at bay...

1. Prepare the night before.  Have your lunch packed, your clothes laid out, your car already filled with a fresh tank of gas. 

2.  Get to school early the first day.  Even if it is just a few minutes early, the extra time will provide you with a chance to go over your plans for the day, take a deep breath and relax.

3.  Come to school prepared and with a strong knowledge of what your expectations are for students.  Make your expectations clear.  Students want a teacher who is firm, fair, and consistent.  They need boundaries set and they want to know where those boundaries are.

4.  Think about which procedures and routines will be most important the first few weeks and teach them immediately.  My main focus the first few weeks is mastering those procedures and routines.  Don't stop when students kind of get it....stop when they are doing what you'd like well.  It will make classroom management one hundred times easier in the future.

5.  Most importantly, take a deep breath, relax your tense muscles, and smile.  Have fun!  Chances are, the students are more nervous than you are!

What tips would you give other teachers for the first week of school? 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back to School Goals for the 2013-2014 School Year

This week I've spent some time thinking about what I'd like to do differently this school year.  With my first baby on the way, and due in November, this year is going to be a whirl wind of crazy.

Today I'm linking up with iHeartRecess for her Back to School Goals linky party.

This school year my biggest personal focus will be on learning how to balance school with my home life.  I've always let my school work consume me.  Teaching is not just a job for me, it's a's my life.  I've worked hard to balance being a wife and a teacher over the last few years.  At times it's been hard to balance also being a good friend, daughter, sister, blogger, and well...the list goes on and on. 

Our daughter is scheduled to be born this November which is sure to add lots of excitement (and I'm sure a little anxiety) to the first part of the school year.

I am planning to keep my desk clean and organized this year.  Each afternoon, before I leave school, I plan to lay out my plans for the next day along with all the photocopies and necessary materials.  Who knows when my last day of school (for maternity leave) will be.  I also plan on trying to have my lesson plans typed out and ready to go 3 weeks in advance.  So, if baby makes a surprise early entry into the world, whom ever they have selected to be my sub will be all set for at least the next few weeks.  I am also in the process of creating a long term sub binder for whom ever they hire with a flash drive containing all my important files for the school year.

As far as my goal for students, I would like every child to come to school each day feeling that it is a safe and comfortable learning environment.  I will strive to make each lesson meaningful and engaging in order to motivate and challenge students.  Integrating technology will again be a huge priority in the classroom along with making lessons that are hands-on and meet multiple learning styles.

I love these 2 mottos:  Anything worth having is worth fighting for.  There are no shortcuts to greatness.  This year will probably be one of the most challenging for me.  Being pregnant while having diabetes is not an easy task.  Living almost an hour away from your work makes commuting long and tiring (and I'm sure worse when you have a young baby staying at a stranger's house for daycare).  But I'm determined to make it work!  I'm sure everything will fall into place, but it won't be easy.  I love my classroom, my students, my husband, my growing family, blogging, creating on Teachers Pay Teachers...I will find a way to balance it all!

What tips and tricks do you have to manage a family, classroom, blogging, etc....????  Please share!!!