Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Classroom Setup

Like all teachers at this time of the year, I've been busy getting the classroom ready. I've moved back into a room I had a few years ago with blue walls, so the blue fabric bulletin boards from the last few years had to be retired and the lime green came back out. I think I may have gone a little overboard, and I'm eagerly anticipating getting some student work up on the walls!

The classroom library had a small overhaul to even out the genre baskets. Over the years, I've gotten new books and some have gone mysteriously missing, so I had overflowing baskets and some that were empty. Showcasing more of the series books that I had was also a goal, so I made more space for them between baskets. Lastly, I wanted to add back in a section of picture books and more non-fiction books for social studies, so I added the magazine files on top of the shelf. I need to make myself a promise to not buy any more book bins from Target, and to only get rid of old books in order to make space for newer books in better condition.

The next project was to add an extra bulletin board for WOW work. Since I am co-teaching this year and we have two classrooms worth of space, we had to come up with some extra creative uses for the bulletin boards. I plan to showcase examples of WOW work here with a little note explaining why each piece was chosen, whether it be for neatness, exceptional improvement, perseverance, showing all of their work, or... well, anything that WOWs me! I love these little Scrappin' Doodles forest babies. They also made an appearance on my birthday board with some cute little mushrooms. There were only so many puns I could come up with for the animals though ('beary' good work, something to hoot about, no stinkin' thinkin' here, couldn't stump you, etc.) I hope at least one kid gets my humor!

And lastly, my classroom door. There are those little Scrappin' Doodles making an appearance! They make me happy... and so do chocolate and marshmallows. What could be better?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

DIY projects

DIY Project #1:
I was cleaning out some old kindergarten supplies and came across the purple drawer container which used to house all of my alphabet stamps. I thought it could be a cute desk holder for all of those knick-knacks that get cluttered around, so I brought it home for a little TLC. I peeled off all the old ABC stickers and gave it a good cleaning, printed out some new labels and taped them on (I would have put them on the inside, but the label goo didn't come off), and then painted the outside with an acrylic paint. Total cost: $1.87. Not bad!

DIY Project #2:
After finishing the bin makeover, I was still feeling crafty. One of my biggest frustrations is the piles of paper on my teacher table. A pile to grade, a pile to file, and a pile to pass back. If only there were some better way to organize it all! A quick trip to the store for the container and 4 sheets of scrapbook paper, a few minutes of cutting and modge podging, and a hunt through my current hanging folders in other spots to find 4 that match the color scheme, and voila... A new organizer for my table! Total cost: under $8.

Maybe this will finally be the year that my table looks organized? 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Gratitude Journal

Last fall, I did a Gratitude Journal with my students. Every day, for 42 days in a row, they had to write down 3 things they were grateful for, or write about how they were grateful that day. At the end, they did two short reflections. For students who are used to only having homework Monday through Thursday, there was a bit of a grumble at the beginning when they had to do work on the weekends. But by the end, many were sad to see the project end. Here are a few things my students said they were grateful for during the six weeks:

-My parents pay for my school
-I have a cozy bed to sleep in
-My dog was very good today - I love him and he protects me
-My mom/dad made me a good dinner
-A good education
-We have enough money to live and do the things we like
-Finishing my NaNoWriMo story
-I have a computer
-My dad who tells me that I can do anything
-My coaches and great teammates
-The bright sunshine
-I was sick, but now I am better
-The right to believe what I want to believe
-My homework wasn’t too hard tonight
-My friend wasn’t mad at me, even when I broke a promise
-I live in the U.S.A. and there are laws here to protect everyone but they don’t make everyone do what the government wants
-I am really good at sports
-Going camping with my family
-My family has enough money that we can donate some to help others
-Someone took time to play a board game with me
-The telephone - to call my dad when he is away on trips

The students also made up their own gratitude quotes, which I printed, laminated and hung on their lockers. A few examples:
-Be grateful, not hateful.
-You might not get what you want, but you should be grateful for what you have.
-Gratitude is what you have, not what you don't.
-Always be positive, even at the worst times.

Overall, this was a great project that I will definitely continue to do every year. I'm even considering doing a smaller version of it again at this point in the year as a refresher!

If you'd like to get a copy of the journal, you can find it on my TpT store!

Gratitude Journal

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Brag Tags

We have a program at my school where students are encouraged to set weekly goals, and long term goals. I find that after a while, kids set the same goals week after week. "I want to pass my math fact test" or "I want to read x number of minutes." I am also a teacher who likes to present extra optional challenges to my kids, and sometimes they are accepted, and other times ignored. We also do the MindUP program, which encourages qualities such as optimism, gratitude, perspective taking, happiness, etc. Some tricky concepts for some children! If only I had some way to motivate them... and then voila! A friend introduced me to brag tags, which she will be using with her kids for their goals this year. So, here are my first few sets of tags for homework and their weekly/monthly goals. I am super excited to start using these this year!

I have created SO many more of these as the year went on, and I've added many to my TpT store. To see all of the sets, click here.

Weekly and Monthly Goals
Work Habits (Handwriting, Cleaning up, Determination, Focused, etc.)
Character Traits (Character traits from A to Z)
Books Read (20, 30, 40, 50 book milestones)
Mindfulness (gratitude, optimism, generous, persistent, etc.)
Interactive Notebooks
Egg Drop STEM Challenge
... and more!

I've also decided that I like to call them SWAG Tags instead of Brag Tags... It fits my classroom better, I think.

I also have sets created for Geography, spelling, math, pencil challenges, genre challenges, NaNoWriMo... the possibilities are endless! They're easy to get set up, too. I print out the sheets, laminate them, cut into strips, hole punch with a super small craft punch, cut into individual tags and store. Time consuming to hole punch and cut, but it's easy work that can be done in front of the TV while binge watching the latest show that I'm into.

Here are a few photos of them in my classroom!
Each child has a hook for their chain. They start with one tag with their name on it.
Just a small sample of the tags in my collection!

My storage bin... I picked this container up on clearance at Staples and they fit PERFECTLY with little dividers made of cardstock.

The SWAG Tag sign

Monday, August 17, 2015

TpT Sitewide *BONUS* Sale Day!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I love Teachers Pay Teachers! I tried to get all of my back to school goodies a few weeks ago when they had their annual sale, but now that they're throwing another one day sale, I'm sure I'll be buying more! 

I have put everything in my store on sale for the occasion, too!

300 × 300

Saturday, August 15, 2015

NaNoWriMo Update

I have posted before about taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge with my students. For the last two years, I have spent the month of November plugging away at a novel with a goal of 30,000 words. They wrote and published their own books and told me that I should do the same with my two novels. So I figured, why not? It was many hours of proofreading, formatting, researching information about self-publishing, more proofreading, and more formatting, but I think it was all worth it in the end. The proof of the second book is already on its way, and with any luck I'll have both done before the school year starts.

The best part? For at least this year, I'll have a book that none of the kids have read. I won't have to hear, "Oooh, I know what happens!" and it'll be a great literature discussion! Here is Book 1!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Everyday Math Chapter Review Cards

I finally finished my goal of converting all of my review cards for the chapters into digital files. I've been using random sized index cards with hand drawn pictures and scratched out errors for long enough, and my summer tutoring along with the TpT sale days were enough motivation to get me to finish the digital conversion!

Each chapter has a set of task cards, an answer sheet (and answer key), and a set of mini-cards to send home for students to study from. You can get one chapter at a time, or buy the bundle (only chapters 1-11 though... I usually only get to a lesson or two from chapter 12, and I'm more focused on year-long review than the chapter 12 assessment.) My kids loved the little hand drawn pictures in the corners of my cards, so I kept the idea with my digital files. Here is what the set looks like.

If you are interested in purchasing the bundle, you can find it in my TpT store. Enjoy!