Friday, May 31, 2013

Countdown, Testing Problems, ABCs, Hay, and a Lemonade Recipe {Five for Friday}

I've taken a few weeks off from Five for Friday, so I'm really glad to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching again!

1. 5 more days until freedom!! The last two weeks have seemed like they would never end, so now that we have only a week to go I finally feel like I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

2. Speaking of a long two weeks, we had an interesting time testing! On the last day of our testing we lost internet connection around 10:30 am and got it back at around 3:00 that afternoon. It was a very long day full of restlessness and uncertainty. We were right in the middle of our test, so we weren't sure what would happen with our students' work!! It was like the 3 hour tour on Gilligan's Island...we all got more than we bargained for!! haha Thankfully no tests were lost and everyone who'd started testing was able to finish that day.

3. The Summer Bucket List linky party inspired me to have my kiddos write their own ABCs of Summer Break. It was a neat way to get a quick look at what they all had planned for the summer. I let them get away with the papers before I got a picture. 

4. We started cutting hay yesterday, which means summer is officially here for us! I know a lot of people are really allergic, but I think fresh cut hay is one of the best smells on earth. Someone bottle that up and I'd be buyin' it for air freshener! LOL 

5. I am officially hooked on lemonade. A wonderful coworker of mine shared a great recipe of lemonade and I've been the most popular girl in my family - everyone keeps stopping by and asking if I have any made! I just knew I had to share the recipe with all my bloggy buddies so you can get in the summer spirit too. To whip up this delicious concoction you need 6 lemons, 2 cups of sugar, and a 1/2 gallon water. Just squeeze your lemons, add the sugar and water, and stir!! Maybe I could make some extra money this summer selling lemonade?!? 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Next School Year I'm Definitely Going To...

I think one of the major perks of teaching is the opportunity to have a fresh start every year. I love that feeling - the anticipation of trying something new and the satisfaction of finding something that works well enough to use again the next year! 

Like always, I'm not even finished with this year and I'm already thinking about what I'd like to do next year! I'm joining up with Finding Joy in 6th Grade for a linky party to make sure I don't forget any of my ideas! 

I was blown away by the concept of Mentor Sentences when Jivey and Amanda and Stacia started blogging about them! I can't wait to try this out in my classroom. It just makes so much sense and I am looking forward to seeing how my students' writing improves with this technique! 

Small group instruction/guided reading is where I really struggle in my ELA block. I think a better schedule and more detailed lesson plans will go a long way to help, so that's on the summer to-do list.

I want my students to have a reference they can use while working independently and I think reading notebooks will be the answer for me! I'm hoping to get some great ideas at the Interactive Notebook linky party by 4mulaFun.

After an eternity two weeks of testing and end of the year bickering I'm ready for some fun. I have some things planned for my kiddos over the next few days, but I really plan to make fun a focus in my classroom next year! 

What are you definitely going to do next year? 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Picture Birthday Bulletin Board {Tried it Tuesday}

I'm in the process of taking everything off the walls (well what was left from the testing take down) and packing up my room for the summer. Last week when it came time to take this bulletin board apart I knew it'd make a great topic for Tried it Tuesday with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper

It didn't occur to me to take a picture until I already had the thing off the wall, so just picture it on the wall! 

This was a Pinterest inspiration from last summer back when my favorite saying was "just one more project". I used bulletin board paper to create a board where there wasn't one in the back of my room. I thought I'd do a pros and cons list for this project: 

  • I love using my kiddos pictures in the classroom - I think it makes the room feel homey! 
  • As a team building activity on the 2nd day of school students had to arrange themselves by birthday without talking! Then I took the pictures for this board.
  • It was a great visual reminder for me and my students! 
  • It was time consuming. Making the "board", centering the months, gluing everything on seemed to take a little longer than I'd liked to have spent. 
  • I didn't add new students to the board because it was difficult for me to remember my camera (this was before my blogging days) and there is so much to remember with having a new student join the classroom that this just got pushed to the side. 
Will I do this next year? Probably not. I don't think the idea itself is a flop, actually I think it is adorable and I get tons of compliments on it, but I'm not the best at following through on things like this and I don't want to leave anyone out of the birthday board next year. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer Bucket List and a $1 Monday Must Have {A Linky}

You're getting double for your money on this post! I'm going to squeeze in two fab linky parties! 

First up is my Summer Bucket List! Since it is the unofficial start to summer (and I'm really wishing mine was already here) I thought I'd link up with A Cupcake for the Teacher.

1. Sewing I have a stack of hand me down jeans just waiting for some TLC and I plan to turn them into a nice big denim quilt! I also have a few other little projects I'd like to do. Isn't it just nice to have time to create?
2. Start a TPT Store. I've got some products in the works, but I've not had enough time to get it all together and open! 

3. Reading. I have a huge list for both professional and personal reading. I'll have to really work hard at narrowing down the professional list! I also plan to reread An Echo in the Bone because the next book in the Outlander series comes out in December!! If you are looking for a great summer read I would highly recommend Diana Galabdon's Outlander series - wow!! {I love those books...just in case all the exclamation points didn't give it away.}

4. My most exciting personal project this summer will be a community-wide summer food program one of my BFFs and I have put together. There will be 9 churches from our community working together to provide food for kids who are in need over the summer. Our first food delivery date will be June 10!! It has been a long labor of love and I'm looking forward to seeing the idea become a reality! 

5. Summer stuff - sitting on the porch, horse shows, catfishing, fires, corn hole...just good 'ole country summer time fun!  

And as I was doing a little organizing today I thought of an idea to share For Must Have Monday with Sabra over at Teaching With a Touch of Twang.

The last few times I've been in the Dollar Tree I've picked up a few of these mesh bags with a zipper and I'm loving them! They are a great size and hold a surprising amount of stuff!

Here it is in action holding my glue gun, the cord, and some extra sticks of glue! I'm loving that I've finally got it all together in one container instead of those sticks rolling around the bottom of my desk drawer! I've got this baby standing up in my desk drawer along with another full of all my supplies to hang things with - magnets, double sided tape, command strips, and packing tape. 

Here is another action shot. This one shows two pouches (red and black) inside hanging file folders. One pouch is holding game pieces for reading and the other has pieces for Social Studies. I'm loving that these will stand up so easily! 

I have a few more of the pouches on standby for my next organizing project. Any ideas on how to use them? 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Henry's Freedom Box {Social Studies Mentor Text}

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend! I'm linking up with Amanda and Stacia from Collaboration Cuties for their fabulous Mentor Text linky. This week it is all about Social Studies texts, so go on over and share your favorite book! 

Today I'm going to share Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine. This book tells the true story of Henry "Box" Brown, a slave who escaped on the Underground Railroad by mailing himself to freedom. 

My students are always mesmerized by this book. Its one of those where you can hear a pin drop while I'm reading, until I come to some injustice and everyone gasps and says, "They can't do that!" The book does an excellent job conveying the horrible realities of slavery and one man's desperate attempt at freedom. 

I always like reading this book during our discussion of the Underground Railroad because my kiddos always think it is a real railroad and this is a great example of how the UR really worked! 

Do you use this book in your classroom? What are some other favorites for teaching about the Underground Railroad? 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Erin Condren Life Planner {Thursday Raves}

I'm joining Stephanie from Polka Dot Palace for her first Thursday Raves Linky. Its a place for us to all rave about those great little things we just can't live without! 

I've been looking for the perfect opportunity to rave about my Erin Condren Life Planner and here it is! This is my second year using the planner and I just don't think I'll ever be able to use another planner! 

The organization is great - I love that there are three boxes per day: morning, day, and night. I also like the pocket and envelope in the back, they help keep me super organized. It also comes with some adorable stickers and you can order more stickers personalized with your own pictures! I ordered a set back in November when I ordered the calendar and they are so fun I've just about used them all up already! 
Front cover of this year's planner. 

Back of the planner. 

Weekly view with stickers that are included. 

I like to use the morning section for my calendar events, the day for my to do list, and the night for my meal and exercise planning. It makes for a great, easy to read system! 

Monthly view with the polka dot washi tape. 

Any other Erin Condren lovers out there? I'd love to hear some raves from someone who used her teacher planner last year. 

My Favorite Organizing Tips for the New Year {Linky Party}

A linky totally devoted to organization?!? Count me in! I'm so excited to be linking up with Kristen and Elizabeth for their Optimum Organization Party. I'm giddy about this! I am such an organizational nerd...I have my "pin it" button ready and shopping list in hand for this party!  

I wanted to share some of my favorite organizational tricks, some old and new, but they will definitely be found in my classroom next year!

1. Pockets under the chalkboard for turning in homework, classwork, and a keeping up with makeup work. This has been the best system I've ever tried for turning in work because I can immediately see who didn't turn in work or who owes makeup work. You can read more about the pockets here

2. The hanging file folder chart has been a lifesaver for me this year. I've been using it to keep my handouts in the order I'll be using them and off my desk! It has worked beautifully and I plan on using it again. You can read more about it here

3. This idea isn't new but it's one of my favorites. We are required to keep a file for each of our students for tardy slips, notes from home, and signed forms from the beginning of the year. Instead of using file folders I use one big accordion file folder labeled with numbers. At the beginning of each year I just tape a new numbered list on the front and I'm ready to go! You can read more about it here.  

When I first started blogging (almost 3 months ago!) I did a whole series on organization called Tame the Paper Monster. You can click on any of the links I mentioned above to take you to those posts...just in case you haven't gotten your fill of organization goodies yet!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My System for Classroom Jobs {Tried it Tuesday}

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the tornadoes in Oklahoma. I saw this picture show up on my Facebook feed today and thought it was so appropriate. 

I'm linking up with Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried it Tuesday linky party. Since most of us seem to be in that place between trying to finish out this year and getting ideas for next year I thought I'd share how I set up classroom jobs in my room. 

Instead of specific jobs this year I've had a classroom helper each day. The helper is announced during morning roll call and takes lunch and attendance to the office, run errands, etc. for the day. 

I like using playing cards in the classroom, so I got these fun cards at the Dollar General and wrote my student's names on the bottom of each card. I keep the cards in a magnetic basket on the chalkboard near my desk. Every morning I pull a new card from the front of the stack and add yesterday's card to the back. If a child is absent on the day his/her card is pulled it is moved to the back. 
I like this system because I only have one card to move, everyone gets a turn at the job, and it's easy to add new students to the system. I also don't have to make up things for the kids to do (I just never found a lot of jobs for my kiddos to do) or have them always asking me if it was time to do their jobs. 

Another bonus with The Dog cards - I wrote names on cards before I ever met my students, so now that I know them I get a kick out of seeing which dog card their names ended up on! Some of them are so fitting and others are so far off! Some days you just need something, anything to get you through...LOL 
How do you manage classroom jobs?  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Budding Blogger Linky

Good Friday morning! We are due to leave for a camping/horse riding trip in just a few hours, but I got up a little early and decided to use the extra time on my favorite new hobby - blogging! I'm linking up with I {heart} Recess for the Budding Blogger linky. The linky showcases bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers, so if that's you come link up! 

Why did you start blogging? 

I've been a long-time teaching blog stalker, so I finally decided it was time to link up and share in all the fun and learning! In the very short time I've been blogging it has really renewed my passion for teaching, creating new ideas, and having fun with my students! 

What is your favorite subject to teach and why? 

Reading is without a doubt my favorite subject to teach because I love to read! I am always sad to hear kids say they don't like to read, so I try to make reading as fun as possible and help them learn to enjoy it again. Reading can take to you to so many places and I try to show my kids that everyday! 

Describe your teaching style. 

I always strive to have my lessons be hands-on and fun and I try to push my kiddos and help them develop those critical thinking skills. 

Give three interesting facts about you. 

1. I live on a circus farm. We have horses, donkeys, mules, cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens! Yee haw! 
2. I like to sew. 
3. I am really into technology and gadgets.  

Do you have a TPT store? 
Not yet, but I've started creating some items so I can open a store this summer. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What's On My School Supply Wish List {New Year New Gear}

As soon as I saw the first post for Pinkadots' New Year New Gear linky I knew I was in!! School supplies are near and dear to my heart and I'm excited to share what I like using with my students! I'm also looking forward to seeing what everyone else is adding to their lists. 
Here are the supplies making the top of my list for the new school year: 

1. Plastic two-pocket, three-prong folders
I've had the most luck with students keeping papers in these rather than in binders. I also plan on using these for a homework/communication folder next year instead of a binder. 

2. Mechanical pencil
I dislike pencil sharpening and try to avoid it if at all possible. We had a lot of luck with students keeping up with their pencils and having extra lead until after Christmas. Any tricks you use for making sure students have those supplies on hand all year long?

3. Glue sticks

I think children eat glue sticks like candy! Where does it all go?!?! I like to do a lot of cutting and pasting so we go through a lot of these babies. 

4. Notebook 

I had already decided I'd have students bring in a composition notebook next year, but then this great linky started and I read this post from Smiles and Sunshine so I'm thinking I'll use a three subject notebook and do Reading Notebook, Mentor Sentences (Grammar), and Journal all in one. Anyone else tried this? It will be my first experience using a multi-subject notebook with 4th graders. 

There you have it - my must haves for student's to bring in next year. I have a feeling that my list will change and grow as this linky party grows. I've already gotten so many smart ideas! I'm thinking I'll be more excited than ever for Wal Mart to get out the school supplies this year!! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Using Evernote for Checklists and Records

PhotobucketHappy Tuesday! Its time for another day of reading fabulous ideas and pinning until my heart's content!! I'm linking up with Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper to share my experiences with Evernote in the classroom.

I've been an Evernote user for quite some time now and I really like it, but I wasn't maximizing its potential in the classroom. I recently created a notebook for school check lists and have been using it as a way of tracking when students return permission slips, money, progress reports, ect. and I am in LOVE!! It is sooo easy to use and I have access to my information anywhere, anytime! To make this process even quicker, I created a note titled master list, so when I want a new list I just copy and paste my kiddos names into a new notebook and I'm done! 
Here is a screen shot of my School Ideas 2013-2014 notebook (some of you may recognize those pictures). Evernote has this great clipper feature for your browser that allows you to store clips from the web in any notebook. I've been using this feature to keep some of those blog ideas that I KNOW I want to use next year, but am afraid they'll get lost in my Pinterest world and I won't be able to find them again. 

I also think the attachment feature is really handy! It works just like adding an attachment to an email and is perfect for documents you need in a hurry and don't have time to look for. I've also been using this feature when planning for next year. We wanted to revamp our assignment book/homework sheet so I created a note, jotted down the new ideas, and then attached a new document I created - easy peasy and when I need it again everything will all be in one place! 

Next year I plan on creating a notebook just for reading records. I am going to make a note for every child and then I can add to it as I have conferences and work in small groups. 

How do you use Evernote? 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Guide Word Sandwiches, Goodies, and Keep Calm {Five for Friday}

Happy Friday! Only 20 more days to go until summer break!!! woo hoo Its time to link up with Doodlebugs Teaching for another great Five for Friday! Here are 5 random things from my week.

1. We had a cute little treat in our mailboxes every day this week - adorable! Our principal also got lunch for us today...yummy! 
2. This week in Social Studies the kids worked together to come up with skits to review important Virginians from the 20th century. I couldn't really get a picture of them in action, but them pretending to play tennis like Arthur Ashe was adorable!  

3. We've been making sandwiches in reading class - guide word sandwiches! When it comes time to answer standardized questions about which entry word belongs on which dictionary page I teach my kiddos to make a sandwich. The first guide word is the top piece of bread, the entry word is the cheese, and the last guide word is the bottom piece of bread. Then we work on ABC order. The word that is first in ABC order gets a 1 beside of it and so on. A good sandwich stacks up to be 1,2,3 and anything else is rotten and gets thrown out! A teaching buddy of mine showed me this trick and it has been such a big help to my kiddos! 
4. I finally finished the clipboard tub!! I love it and we've already been putting it to use the classroom. Its so much nicer than the big thing I had them all stacked thrown in before.

5. A few weeks back Tanga had a big sale on teacher t-shirts and I ordered one that said Keep Calm and Teach On. When I wore it this week the kids loved it and were coming up with their own "Keep Calm" sayings. Here is the sign one of my students made for me because we have been doing test prep and I say reread a 1,000,000 times a day!!! Made my day....LOL 

Click on over and join me on Facebook! I'm loving all the little "extras" that everyone is sharing on there! 

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