Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Months of Gifts

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for a loved one? I'm going to give my husband 12 months of pre-paid "dates." I'll be attaching these cute tags to gift cards for the various locations. The tags can be printed here! I used preview, took a screen shot of them and added them as an "image" to a word document. Then I typed in text boxes to add the month/words. The fonts are Smiley Moster for the months and Milk & Cereal for the words.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Season of Giving

I CAN NOT believe how quickly people have stepped up this season to grant wishes on Donor's Choose. Since my last post I wrote a totally new proposal for a listening center and it has already been fully funded! I am so excited! My heart is so warm and fuzzy from the generosity I've been shown. I think it speaks volumes about getting paid back 10-fold! I made two tiny little donations and have sense been paid back x10+. If you haven't put a project on Donor's Choose yet, I insist that you must try it! It's minimal work for the teacher - and tons of payout for your students.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December Happenings

Here's what I have planned for December (besides the usual curriculum stuff).

1) Holidays around the world book: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza, & Los Posadas
I staple 5 pages of construction paper together to make a book. Then I read a book or two about each holiday. Students color a page of items related to the celebration and write (fill in the blank style) about the holiday (these are pre-glued into their books). Example: ______ is when ______ comes and gives us presents. (Christmas is when Santa comes and gives us presents.) I got the coloring pages from an old Mailbox Magazine or something like that. I don't have them electronically yet. *this works on comprehension of non-fiction text, getting information from pictures, and retelling the story*

2) Thumbprint reindeer art - stamp thumb, add noses, eyes, and antlers with markers.

3) Snowman or Reindeer craft

4) Paper chains to count down to the new year or paper chains to count down to Christmas depending on child's religious views. *this works on fine motor skills, counting, and following directions* :-)

5) Oh, we'll also try to squeeze in a clay project for parents. Fun!! I'll post pics of some of my stuff once I'm back at work.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fall or Winter Fun!

Shaving cream/glue snowman
I couldn't resist trying the shaving cream/glue puffy paint recipe I found on Pinterest. So, I mixed equal parts Elmer's glue with a squirt of shaving cream and mixed it with a popsicle stick in a little rubber bowl. Then I finger painted this snowman. I let it dry overnight (it took a long time to dry - at least a full day). Then I added tempera paint for the scarf, nose, and eyes/buttons. What a cool 3D effect! I think I'm going to try doing this with my Kinders later in the year (January), but it was so fun that we're going to do our December monthly calendar art using this technique. 

This snowman is dried and looks so cool! See the dimension!

Side view so you can see the raised puff!

Snowman scene (test)

This one is still wet - notice the shine. When it dries it's a smooth crust.

I know this is a little late, but in early November we worked on learning our 2D shapes. We made these little shape scarecrows. They are cookie-cutter art (which I'm not so fond of) but it was a great reading/math/art lesson and they each turned out so different. We read The Falling Leaves and the Scarecrow.

 One last note: look at the COOL big book easel I got from Donors Choose! Yay! I am so excited for my class to get this amazing gift!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving Eve, and I'm lying in bed thinking about all of the things for which I'm thankful. One of the most recent things I'm adding to my list is Random Acts of Kindness shown by family, friends, and strangers. This is a picture of my new big-book stand that is being shipped to me "free" thanks to a completed donation request via Donorschoose.org. You can visit my projects here. I'm also thankful that I can occasionally make donations/perform random acts of kindness too. It's hard for me not to squirrel away "all" of my $, and give back, but I've come to realize that paying it forward means so much!
I'm going to rattle off a list of what I'm thankful for now as I feel each person or thing deserves to be mentioned. So here goes: I'm thankful for...

  • my health (I'm doing pretty good now...nothing to complain about here)
  • the health of my child - I am thankful every day that he is normal in every way, and has not had to face challenges that surround me every day
  • my husband - oh dear, how he puts up with my mood swings, laundry on the floor, and messes I make in the kitchen. As much as we have our ups and downs, I really love you!
  • my mom - she's probably my best friend. We talk on the phone almost every day, and she is my #1 supporter of everything I do. When I sigh that I don't want to buy one more thing for my classroom, she throws the googly eyes and jingle bells I was looking at into her cart. She's a born "giver."
  • my other family members - they are quirky, funny, witty, annoying, loving, disgruntled, or whatever...they are MINE and I take them as they are. In return they accept me.
  • Pinterest! Um...I'm thankful that I've found so many cool projects to do from this site.
  • my students - they teach me what it's like to be a child again, when the "S" word is stupid, or the "F" word is fat...and they help me remember what a magical job I am blessed to have. 31 little squeals of delight as I quiz them with a shape "password" to enter the room - they remind me to make teaching fun!
  • pictures/memories - I'm glad I have these to look back on the ones we've lost and to remind myself of what joy I've had with them. Gma, I think about you all the time, and I miss you every time I take out my hot glue gun (which is often) to do a little craft. You're always with me!
  • stores - after reading about the Pilgrims who had it soooo hard, I'm really glad I can zip down to my Fred Meyers and pick up groceries to make yummy food instead of having to grow it all myself or go hunt. Same goes for buying clothes.
  • the internet - I find deals online all the time, and the convenience of online shopping is awesome - I'm into the diaper delivery service big time.
  • friends at work - I love having friends at work who know what stresses me out and who are there to support me. My colleagues are the best
  • my natural strengths - I'm thankful that I have some natural talents like being crafty/artsy...I love sewing without patterns, and creating things on my own. It is plain old-fashioned fun.
  • rain...I know this is putting my Oregonian stamp on myself, but I LOVE the rain and am so thankful the hot days of summer are long gone and it's finally gray and rainy. I think it's the best kind of weather!
  • cartoons - they are always there on demand - even in the middle of the night when a teething baby can't be consoled...Barney at midnight is my best friend
  • modern medicine - I guess Barney made me segue into thinking about Tylenol...lol...Thanks modern medicine - I love you!
There are many more things I could list but I don't want to bore you. I'm thinking of things that are like my weird little microwave egg cooker, and my starbucks Iphone app that earn me free drinks. There are many things that I am thankful for, but health, friends & family are truly the greatest.

Link up What the Teacher Wants to read about what many other teachers are thankful for!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall Game - Making Learning Fun!

At our school we have many different cultures represented, so on holidays like Halloween we can't do traditional parties due to religious reasons. Instead, teachers have to be extra creative to put a non-holiday touch on things. Anyhow, we had a short "fall" party on Halloween and played this fun game. I stole it from my teacher friend Leah's Halloween party and put an *educational* spin on it. Background: our class is studying letter R this week, and the alphafriend character is Reggie Rooster (from Houghton Mifflin).

Here's how to play:
1. While kids are out of the classroom (at lunch/music/PE...whatever) hide 20+ candy corn pieces around the room. 
2. Once students are back in the room draw sticks to choose one boy and one girl to be "roosters." Give each of them a cup.
3. Tell the students that the roosters are hungry and want to find the corn in room. If boys see a candy corn they are to crow the R sound and flap their wings. Their boy rooster will run over and put the candy in his cup. The girls are supposed to do the same thing and their girl rooster (I know this is weird since roosters are male...but that's a technicality) will pick up the corn. 
4. No chickens (non-roosters) are allowed to touch the corn - only the roosters.
5. Let them play and find the corn. 
6. When time is up or you think they found them all make a circle around the carpet and as a class count/and or graph the number of pieces of corn that were found by each team.
7. There are no "winners," just tell students that the team with more corn was the "hungrier" team.

This game was so fun! My kindees were crowing the R sound like crazy and I'm amazed at how many retained the sound when I did my letter test this week. Yay for making learning fun!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Pumpkin Time!

It's fall and it's my FAVORITE season of the year. It's cold enough to wear sweatshirts on the weekend, but it's warm enough that I can still wear dresses with tights. Along with fall comes pumpkins galore. I'm dying to make some fun Halloween cookies that I found on pinterest. And as fun things go... I get to teach my students about plants for science. They love it! 

So the Oregon Science Standards for Kindergarten state that students will:  compare and contrast characteristics of living and non living things...and... Students also learn to compare and contrast characteristics of plants and animals. To introduce living things we use pumpkins. Here is an activity that we did after reading It's Pumpkin Time. The book goes through the plant life cycle. After that, I drew a pictorial input chart (life cycle poster) of how a pumpkin grows. I hand drew it as I went, but you could trace it lightly in pencil using an overhead projector. The day after I taught the cycle, I printed off the life cycle pictures and re-told the life cycle and posted a real picture for each stage. Then I passed out the pictures to students so they could add them as I re-told the cycle story again. Eventually I had some students "tell the story of how a pumpkin grows." They did a great job! 
To follow up with the life cycle, I took my students out to our school's garden and showed them the pumpkins that were grown by the kindergarten kids last year. They were so excited! Talk about realia!! To follow up our learning, on our 3rd day, we created the plant pop up life cycle. Students are so excited about this. The sample below is my example. I used the students' version as their cutting grade - wow...some kiddos need LOTS more cutting practice. Beware - before I copied the page for the class I cut and pasted the pictures so their orientation would work for the pop up - as they are they would be upside down. Sorry, I don't have the version I used. Anyhow, that's what's going on in our little class. Along with lots of other learning - things are moving along. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Moving along...one month down! Phew!!

This week finds me with 31 students. I have a pretty good class this year. I've had to touch bases with some parents for all sorts of things this month: lunches, supply fees, and behavior issues with their children. I'm pretty lucky to have parents be responsive to the call-for-help regarding their child's behavior. In case you're wondering...secretly stuffing your pocket full of my playdoh will get you written up and a phone call home - don't pocket my stuff! Also you probably shouldn't tell other kids to F- off! It' not nice!

I feel like I've been swamped in meetings, but I'm actually impressed at how well my kids have learned most of the class routines. Things have definitely settled down and we're becoming creatures of routines. Here's an update on how things are going.

Number spots: Most *about 27 out of 31 students can remember their number spot so lining up is easy. A few are confused about where to line up when it's lunch time and we don't stand on our number spot. I am happy to say that at recess my kids are practicing their counting daily as they have to count the paint stripes on the concrete to find their place to stand. I have memorized their numbers and can quickly discern (who and if) someone is still on the playground. Also, there is no issue with pushing/shoving in the line. Everyone has "their own" spot!

CHAMPS: I instituted the CHAMPS style of picture icons to use as a visual aid for class movement, talking, getting help, and it's going pretty good. The students are always eager to help me change the signs...maybe a little too eager. Maybe I should institute a CHAMPS helper of the day?

Quiet crown: I've been answering, "No it's not my birthday...it's my quiet crown" to all the adults who visit my room during my reading block. Upon starting my guided reading groups I was bombarded with students not in my group who were requesting my assistance. To nudge them away from me, toward independence in a gentle way, I grabbed one of my birthday crowns and on the spot told everyone that it was my quiet crown. I've been wearing it daily during groups so students know that I'm busy teaching and they should not approach. A couple of students try to prompt me to wear it any time I'm busy like checking a quick email or calling the office. I love how they take it to heart!

Choice time/inside recess routine: This is going lots better since I've instituted the magnet system. Students find their name on a mini-popsicle stick (with a magnet strip on the back), and they find an open spot to play. The dots below each choice limit the number of students at each activity, and it spreads out the noise so students are playing in all areas of the room. They have fewer people to share toys with and kids are doing really good at cleaning up "their" choice.

Calendar routine: We sit on number spots and this is going pretty good. The only thing that needs work is making room for helpers to come to the front. The kids are packed into the area pretty tight so making an "aisle" for helpers to come down is pretty tough. I do have space to spread them out a little...I might have to work on re-numbering my floor.

I taught "My *** Paper" as I found it on Pinterest and knew it was a must teach. The kids loved the lesson and I can't wait to use it to refer to their papers.

My struggle that remains is teaching library for 30 minutes a week. Our certified librarians were cut from schools so now instead of it being a 30 minute prep for me - I have to teach library skills. I found some great resources online, but still feel like it's all new to me and I'm not sure what I'm doing. Hopefully this gets better as the year progresses.

Last but not least, our midterm grading period os coming up soon...I have a whole new report card to wrap my mind around. Ok, I'm off to get work on that. TTYL! Laura

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Safari Birthday

My baby boy celebrated turning one this weekend and here are some pics of our party. We had a fun safari theme...animals on the cake, monkey cake pops that mommy made, decorations from oriental trading co., and my little guy diving into his cake.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Let's Play Nice

It has been a long time since I've had a full class of 30 kiddos. I honestly forgot how hard it is for them to play nicely (and share toys). That's a lot of little bodies to squeeze onto the rug for morning play time/choice time. I have decided that I really need a new system to help make their play time more equitable and friendly. Now that the kiddos are into an enter room - make lunch choice - then go play routine, I want to show them more playing options. This will hopefully spread out the kids so the carpet isn't so crowed, relieve the fighting over the cool toys, and help kids who can't make decisions find something to do besides sit at their desks. It will also help during rainy-day recesses which are often in our classroom.

I was "pinspired" by Caitlin over at Kindergarten Smiles. Her free choice board with dots/clothespins is the inspiration behind mine. I have specific toys in my room so I googled pics of them and added a text box to label them. I'll cut them out and glue to a piece of tagboard like she did and get everybody choosing centers soon. I wish I had a magnetic white board right now because this would be perfect with magnets like I do my lunch count. Stay tuned for pics on how I decide to get the board going.

On another note, tomorrow is my son's 1st bday party. I am sooo excited to spoil him with everything I can possibly give him. We're having a little safari theme with monkey cake pops, a jungle cake, and some fun treats for friends. I have some of his little buddies (and big buddies) coming over tomorrow to celebrate. I love watching him play with other kids. I seriously cherish every moment with my baby boy because he was growing for many years in my heart and now I finally have him. Baby G...I hope you love your party. Love, Mommy

Choice Time

Friday, September 16, 2011

TGIF and managing with CHAMPS

So, it's Friday and I'm finally able to breathe, enjoy some peace and quiet, and rest my poor feet. I'm soooo worn out from this week. I have 30 little darlings, 5 of whom are native English speakers (thank heavens for them) and I serioulsy feel like I'm running a circus. My cuties speak so many different languages at home and answer to different names than their "school name" it's making things really difficult. But as always, I'm trying to find ways to make it work.

As I was surfing the net, I found a cool blog: Aloha Kindergarten and she has some cool ideas for management that I had never heard about before (and some other cool links/freebies). There's something out there called CHAMPS. I looked into CHAMPS a bit and basically it's a management system that asks teachers to review the expectations before each activity. The acronym is for: conversation, help *how to ask for it, activity, movement, and participation. I loved this idea and am surprised I've never stumbled upon it before. So, I printed her picture cards and made my own voice-level cards. This is a very ELL friendly thing to have so students know appropriate times to use the bathroom, water fountain, how to ask for help, and so on.

I attached my picture cards to the side of my teaching easel with velcro and rather than doing the whole "CHAMPS" format...I just post our activity, the voice level cards, how to ask for help, and the movement (bathroom/water) cards. I also added a card that is a picture of my mailbox/paper sorter thing where kids turn in their papers. This has helped eliminate the major problem of having all the kids want to go to the bathroom at the same time. You know how it is...once you break the seal...they all have to go. The kids are catching on and are even helping me change the signs and are really buying into it (more so in the am than the lonnngggg pm).

I'd like to end on a happy note. I am feeling really thankful to have a teacher's aid this year for 2 hours a day. Mr. S...you're rocking my Kindergarten world with all of your help. I am thankful to have a wonderful practicum student who is pitching in and is so great with the kiddos. And, I also am thankful for the teachers I work with. The crazy stories we get to share with one another (like my little friend to decided to go potty on the playground, and many more) make me laugh and keep a happy spirit when all else is going crazy and I think my head is spinning. I really love this class of mine, and I can't wait to watch their language skills take off. My goal numero uno is that everyone answers to their name. Oh, if that happens...then we'll be doing all right!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Oh my freaking word!

Today was a challenge from you know where. Eek...I'm seriously wishing it was Friday at 3;30 right about now. My first 2 days were awesome. I have some of the cutest and smartest kids ever. But today was a challenge. At my school we do gradual entry so for 4 days 1/4 of the class comes - 1/4 each of the 4 days. We do this so I can do letter ID testing, counting, and sounds, and shape recognition. It's really nice to meet my students in a small group before I'm ambushed by 30 students. Oh Monday, how I'm scared of thee...

I met a new kindergarten friend who wore me out. Needless to say, I'm exhausted from monitoring and adjusting trying to make today run as smooth as possible. My mental-mantra was "monitor and adjust." Today I'm glad I could reflect in peace that even though I was TOTALLY not following my lesson plans, I did get the students to complete some activities that were planned without throwing the room into total chaos. Hooray for me.

I think the biggest hits of the day have been doing dance/movement time with the kiddos...the song Bop Til You Drop was a major blast. The other great part of our day was when I passed out the baggies of cereal at the end of the day. The students loved this extra special snack. Plus it was something I could use as an incentive for them to earn a special surprise at the end of the day.

I'm praying that the last 1/4 of my class is as good as the other 3/4...here's hoping.

What do all of you bloggers do to document behavior of students who have major issues that affect the learning of others? I'd like to hear your tips on this topic.

Thanks, Laura

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Day Schedule

My room is ready, and I think I am too. What a process! Today I finished the last of my to-do's (for now). I'm excited for my first day of Kindergarten with my 7 little ones. I can't wait to spend time with them. On my first day I'll have quite the diverse class: 5 languages spoken (Karen, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese, and English). You might guess, I use a lot of visuals and miming to help these students navigate through the day.

As school is getting under way I was humbled to be reminded by a parent of one of my new kiddos of what a special milestone this is for students and parents. They are trusting us with their children, often for the first time. So I'm going to keep that at the forefront of my mind - that I will care for my students with the love that they deserve and I will make sure that they feel safe and cared for. Alas, that is what I would want for my child.

Here is my schedule for the first day: First Day of School                                                                                            

Here are some daily schedule cards that were posted free online with pictures. I adapted them to fit my schedule. You can easily add times to them by using Preview, grab, screenshot - and saving the tiff. Then on Word upload the file as picture and stretch it to enlarge. Then add a text box and add you time to the cards. They were originally posted on proteacher.net. I added a couple new cards to match my schedule. The order is kind of random because the boxes were being jumpy.
2011 Schedule Cards New                                                                                            

I'm also attaching a couple of new CAFE signs I made (larger this time) and I found some great signs from proteacher.net that had the Kindergarten CAFE menu listed. I'll post these below the CAFE signs as I introduce the skills. I take no credit for these:CAFE Half Sheets
Emergent Cafe Final

I'll try to keep up the blog but who knows how busy I'll be. Enjoy your 3 day weekend teachers!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

First Day Activities

One of my favorite activities for the first day of school is to read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. I found a cute Chester Raccoon printable. I've adapted her puppet as I was inspired by ideas on pinterest.

My plan is to copy the the raccoon printable on gray construction paper. Have students cut the head out and glue it to the top of the 1/2 sheet of text, and glue the tail off to the side. So the "body" of the raccoon is the paper that says ___ went to school and felt ____.

This is just one of the activities I have planned for my Kinders. I'll post more as they become ready.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Last Weekend of Freedom

Oh boy! It's getting closer to the big day - back to work. I guess that means I should enjoy sleeping in until 7am everyday with my baby boy and napping whenever I want, going to spray parks instead of school, and wearing flip flops every day. At least my best friend is back in town and I get to see her and her 2 kiddos and take my son to his friend's birthday party. Anyhow, after another full day of work in the classroom I have more pics of my room. I rearranged a bit *again* as I'm seriously NEVER completely happy with the flow of my room.

I just hope my 29+ Kindergarten students are happy to call this little room their home away from home. I still have another week to work in my room before kis, so I'll finish clearing off a couple of tables, file some books away that another Kindergarten teacher gave me, hang up table signs, and put name tags on the desks, and label cubbies. 

This is the view standing at the door. You see my 2 big tables (10 students each), the round (4 students) and to the right by the white board there's another rectangle table (6 students). Do you see the little white dots on the floor? Those are my line up spots. They have numbers 1-31 and that's where my little ones will line up. With the tables as is it's quite the funny line. 

At the front door looking to the left are my cubbies and storage shelf. Ignore the big green camping pop up tent that I trapped my crawling baby in on a few work-days. What an eye sore. I'm thinking of running a black fabric curtain to cover it. Oh, time and $....
I don't want to show this pic because it's really ugly, but immediately to the right in my class is my sink, counter with homework trays (filled to the brim with folders, homework bags), mini-fridge, microwave, copy box, and coffee pot. Then there's my Title One aid's reading group table aka my art table, assistant's "desk". I have two black crates on my short filing cabinet that hold abc books all copied and ready to go.    I'm making progress...much of the clutter was trashed before I went home.

 Here is my Kelso the frog problem solving wheel. This is my main classroom management - teach students to handle their small problems themselves using Kelso's tips. Notice I changed the green background to purple. The green was just way too dark. The weird line in the paper is because the top half is a bulletin board, the bottom half is a weird chalkboard with a metal divider. I've got my bag of "Lucky Charms" to send home with my "I'm lucky to have you in class" toppers - thanks 1825 for the inspiration. The ones I'm using someone altered slightly from the link and are so cute. 

This is my Daily 5/CAFE board. I've got the 5 choices up that I'll introduce. Thanks to KindersTastic for the darling signs. My CAFE signs for Kindergarten are freebies here.

Next to the CAFE wall is my Number Corner for Math. I've got my calendar, 100's grid, coins, shapes, positional words, clock, and birthdays up. The blank spot is for my missing pocket chart. Hopefully my district can find it before I have kids. I might go back soon and repaper this wall. The green is just too dark for my liking. Ew!

I moved my desk to the corner of my room here so I can just use my rolly chair for my desk and calendar (eliminating extra furniture is a plus - no need for another chair. I moved my guided reading table in front of my desk. It has a mess to put away...sorry. That's my big treasure box on the window and a tub of big books that I don't know where else to put. Oh, I labeled the floor in front of the calendar with number spots ... nobody gets to crawl under the table for their spot.

If you make your way to the right of my reading table you'll find our daily meeting spot. My student mailboxes on the counter, chart pads, easel, and part of the class library that needs to be labeled.

Finally, my library as it is today. I added the pouches on the white board using Command hooks and put more books there so they are facing out and interesting. 

I always end up done on time and pretty happy with my results, but it takes a while. I'll have a lot of little bodies to squeeze into the room, so hopefully we'll make it work. 

I guess I'm ready to get some curriculum books out and start planning! Yikes...it's that time!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Oh my word...I have to go back to work soon. Can I be both happy and sad at the same time? I really don't want summer to end, but I want to meet my new group.

Well, today is three-for-Thursday...join the linky party at Blog Hoppin'.

I have 2 favorite fonts that you can download free here

My favorite blog is this one - there are tons of awesome free printables.

My favorite online resource is this one I just found: Sparklebox

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Lil' Teacher Talk Tuesday

You teachers are AMAZING out there in blog land - I think I went through almost a whole cartridge of ink last night printing all the awesome freebies and purchases I've made for my class this summer. Thanks!

Now on to Teacher Talk/Advice. If you want to participate head over to Blog Hoppin' to join the linky party.

Tip #1
Assign each student a special number spot (I do it abc order by first name). I use number spots on everything: cubbies, folders, student files, and line up spots. When we line up to leave the room to go to PE, music, library, assemblies, recess or any place that is not determined by choice (like going home/lunch choice), students line up in their number spots. My little friend Abdi was #1 last year, Alina was #2...and so on. At first this was kind of difficult for students to learn to remember where to stand to line up, but I had a list and helped them and soon students remember who is in front/behind them. I could quickly spot missing students who forgot to line up at recess because I'd scan my line and see a "hole" if a child didn't line up. I can sort through my folders quickly or spot missing homework. It really helps during fire drills or any time you need to account for the whole class. And there is a drastic reduction in racing in from recess (pushing and shoving) to line up first or last. When we each have assigned number spots everybody has their own place to go.

Tip #2 
Anything the children can do to help you - let them! I have students count and take the lunch choices down, they file their own papers, self-check assignments, take out homework from their folders and turn it in, ... I admit to babying my students, but when they cut our assistant hours down to roughly 20 minutes per teacher per day!!! I had to figure out how to get all that done without doing it myself. Kids love to help and with training they can do a great job.

Tip #3
Document everything. I mean everything. I've come out on top several times because of this - whether I had a newsletter that explained the day books are due, a homework policy, phone calls, or a behavior tracking log. It's very important to record as close to verbatim things a child may have said, actions, or whatever it is. This makes giving specific feedback so easy whether you're bringing a child up for special ed services, or communicating expectations to parents. Document it!

Tip # 4
I'm on board with the other teachers who use a new-student bin. I use a Rubbermaid Bin sort of like this one. In it I have filled school supply boxes, popsicle sticks for my name jar, folders with welcome to school notes, extra folders for all areas, extra name tags, and anything else that everyone else has. Each year I get several new students so this makes their entry quick and easy.

I can't wait to read everyone's Teacher Talk Tuesday advice. Now jump over to Blog Hoppin' and join in the fun. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meet the Teacher Monday

I'm joining in all the fun for Teacher Week 2011. I'm new to the blogging world so this will be fun. If you want to join in jump to: Blog Hoppin' and check it out.

Tell us a little something about you...

I'm Laura and I'm a new mommy. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and live just south of Portland, OR. I have a baby boy  who has swept me off my feet and a husband who I couldn't live without. My sister is my best friend and she's also a teacher. We spend hours talking shop and comparing the way things go down at our neighboring schools that are in the same school district. It's funny how we can bring such insight to one another. I am extremely close to my mom and we talk at least once or twice a day. My family is awesome and loving. I have the best little brother ever who has a heart of gold. He'll deliver a load of bark dust, let me grow veggies in his huge garden, and so much more. I have definitely been blessed in my life.

How long have you been teaching?

This is my 10th year teaching.  I started out in rural Nevada, in a town called Yerington. I applied at the Portland job fair and was hired over the phone. I dropped everything in Portland, the town I called home and moved there for a teaching job. It was the best experience I could get. The town had a population of 3,500 and it was a slow-paced life - the perfect place for me to get some roots. I taught there for 2 years, then got engaged and moved back to Portland where I've been teaching at a high poverty, high ESL school for the past 7 going on 8 years. I love  the challenges that I have and embrace them with open arms. Not a lot of teachers can have over 8 or 9 languages represented in one class. My kids keep me on my toes.

You might not know...

Hmm... I was inspired to teach by the awesome teachers in and around my life. I moved in next door to my third grade teacher the year I moved to a new school. My teacher Mrs. Loos was so kind and beautiful and I felt so lucky to live right next door to her. It's pretty neat to have such neat memories of my teachers. Now I'm lucky to be doing the job of my dreams and perhaps I can inspire some students to go to college and get a career too.

What are you looking most forward to this school year?

I'm looking forward to focusing my teaching to align with the national common core standards. I don't find it daunting, but rather encouraging. I'm excited to once again teach Kindergarten (I've been teaching 1st the past 4 years). I am excited to meet my students and deepen the relationships I have with some parents of siblings.  

What do you need to improve?

I would like to become more efficient in the time-management category. Last year when I returned to work from my maternity leave I was pumping 4 times a day to keep up with my son's demands and I barely had time to catch my breath between preps. I felt like I was drowning in my data/planning, etc. This year  I hope to use my time wisely so I can get ahead and still be out of the door when teacher-time ends so I can have my sacred family time.

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

My biggest love is my Elmo Projector /document camera. It's great for all of our group work, interactive games, and stuff.

My next love has go to be my giant roll of packing tape. I use it for everything in my room - attaching name tags, hanging posters, fixing torn books. I use it daily.

Lastly, I love my mini-fridge - it's there when I need a snack, it holds my water bottles and keeps them nice and fresh so I stay hydrated. I also have coffee creamer in there so I don't break the bank going to Starbucks too much. And I get to visit with my co-workers when they want to put something in there.

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Classroom Tour Part 2

I got into the classroom today (Sunday) which never happens. Our building is alarmed and locked on weekends, but today the principal came in to do some business and let crazy staff members come join. He loves free labor! I loved having my hubby home to watch our baby so I could go in and get some serious cleaning and organizing going on. I accomplished a ton today in about 4 hours. My first task was to put together my IKEA expedit 5 compartment bookcase. I also prepared pencil boxes, organized my library and tossed a bunch of junk away! I'll tell you what's in the pictures below.

 My school charges a $25 supply fee so teachers go out and buy the supplies they want. Students bring in $$ and then they get their handy-dandy school box. This year I included 2 Ticonderoga pre-sharpened pencils, 24 count Crayola crayons, a pink eraser, glue stick, a fun food shaped eraser from Raymond Geddes, and an "eraser spacer." My Ks will use these to help space between words. They're from Raymond Geddes too and are erasers inside of what looks like a pencil and they have a tiny broom on the other end. One way to get paid for the school supplies (or reimbursed) is to NOT give the pencil boxes out until your students pay. The cool goodies inside make them prized by students so kids nudge their parents to pay that fee. That's way better than being hundreds of dollars out of pocket because kids think they come to school and get free supplies.
 This is the right side of my white board. I rearranged and put my "words we know by heart" word wall here. The other clipart pics are for giving step by step directions. They have sticky putty on the back and I'll move them and use my dry erase pen to label steps.
 Ta-da! Here is my new bookcase! I have stored extra stuff in the boxes. The purple one is my GLAD plants unit. The blue one has extra books, green is Christmas books, yellow is my handwriting books/packets, orange is extra theme books/holidays. On top of that are my book baskets. I've yet to add labels to them. On floor are Dr. Seuss hardbacks and easy leveled readers.
 This corner of my classroom is more of my library. The big bookcase houses 6 compartments of hardback books. There are 2 compartments of oversized soft backed books. I have my phone, lamp, cd player, scentsy and more baskets of books in this corner. I left this bulletin board blank besides my name. I'll post our reading letter of the week, etc. here. I have drawers on the shelf behind this for behavior slips, M-F copies, and there are my curriculum materials.
 Here is a wider shot of this same corner. The green baskets on the bookcase hold books although right now they're empty since I reorganized my library. I love my little red stool.
 My carpet area is bordered by my rolling pocket chart, writing drawers, whiteboards, elmo projector, and my desk.
 Here is my supply area. I have students turn in dull pencils to the school house. I sharpen them and have two cups of pencils ready to use. On the second shelf I have snack food and extra supplies. The bottom shelf (not pictured) holds two bins of toys for indoor recess.
 This tall wooden structure holds my indoor recess toys. In Oregon it rains A LOT, so duty people watch my class in my room and it's up to me to provide toys for them. There are dinosaurs, transformers, a farm and animals, puppets, Barbies, felt boards, babies, and cradle.
 This picture didn't turn out that well, but this shelving unit next to my closet holds my bins of extra manipulatives that come with my math curriculum. The top shelf has supplies like watercolors, yarn, scissors, cupcake papers, markers, etc. The middle shelf has pattern blocks, sea creatures, polydrons, play money, etc. The bottom shelf holds my DRA2 testing kit, reading center binders, and labels. My makeup bag is shoved in the corner for those little touch ups.
 Here is my new (from my sister) set of bins. I have unifix cubes, 3D shapes, baggies of ABC letters, community crayons, and some other goodies here.
 This is my CAFE board just waiting for strategies to post below. My pencil boxes are waiting for my eager little bodies here too.
 I have framed my inspirational art. I don't remember where I got it - someone pinned it on pinterest and I fell in love!
 This is my weird 2 clock wall. Somebody joked that the bottom clock is on bar time. LOL! Really, the main clocks have a hard time resetting with daylight savings time and never catch up, so the small clock is the "backup" clock. This is where I post a picture of the Student of the month. There's a clear sleeve to slide his/her picture in on the laminated paper. The yellow board is where I'm planning to post my teaching objectives or something else...not really sure yet.
 These are my new doggie bins from the Container Store $2.99 on clearance. I've got homework pouches hanging out here for a while, but soon they will be in manila envelopes and there will be folders in the tubs. I'm still not sure how I'm going to organized this better.
This cabinet holds all of my small loose stuff. Qtips, popsicle sticks, velcro, business cards, etc. The baskets of glue will come down soon. I have a superman piggy bank for when we work with coins and they get left out...kids can put them in the bank so they don't get lost.

Ok, that's my room as it is so far. I haven't gotten all the tables cleared off yet, but hey - I'm not officially on the clock yet. Thanks for stopping by!

Shape Name Recognition Cards

I made some shape cards to hang around my calendar. Click here to download the free printable. I wanted ones that were black and white as our school often is out of color ink. The shapes included are: circle, square, rectangle, triangle, hexagon, rhombus, cylinder, cone, cube, and sphere. According to the math common core curriculum standards (besides rhombus) these are the shapes Kindergarteners have to learn.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Did a Bomb Go Off In Here?

The other side of my room has my meeting area/library, word wall, and CAFE board. Above the hearts I put up the sign language alphabet. My new shelf will fit perfectly under the white board.

View of my classroom before I started working. Oh my gosh! Where to start?!!

Today I went into my classroom alone! That means I paid my babysitter to unglue my 10 month old from my knee so I could get some serious work done. As you can see my starting point was a serious mess. I had a ton of curriculum to unpack and sort through since I'm changing grades (from 1st to K) and it was sent from another school. What a zoo to pick through. I'm happy to say that I got all of my math and reading materials put away.

Notice, my bulletin boards above the windows - they're up and ready to go. I have the big ABCs in the middle, colors on the right, and shapes on the left. Those can stay up all year since that bulletin board is so hard to reach - last year it only had the ABC handwriting strip up there.

Now the mess is mostly my personal classroom library. I'm ok with that because I have storage - now that I got my new IKEA shelf. I plan on turning it on it's side and putting my science unit/handwriting book boxes in it. Then I'll put baskets of books on top of it. I'm super excited about it. Then my other IKEA shelf on it's side will hold my classroom library books. I have a vision - you just can't see it quite yet. 

I am proud to say, though after 6 hours in my class I made a huge dent. I inventoried all of the missing pieces of my curriculum and sent a note off to the principal so he can get it for me. I cleaned up my guided reading area, I cleared off my desk, I organized a ton of manipulatives, and I am seriously thinking that I might be ready for school in time. I have 2 more weeks off and start Aug. 29 without kids. So, I have a while to go until I need to be ready. 

Here is what I finished today - notice the lollipop tree on my desk? I had to snag one to keep me going today!

My desk: notice my IKEA sticker sorter (attached with velcro) & my lollipop tree.
This is my Number Corner - it's incomplete, since I'm missing my calendar! Sheesh...minor detail. But I have my supplies ready to go in my IKEA pouch and notice my new blue student mailboxes.
Here is my guided reading table with new seat cushions from IKEA. They mark these chairs as belonging to the reading table - students love to try to snag these for their own and it's not allowed. Now they're clearly marked!