Sunday, December 1, 2013

Daily 5 rotations

without a SmartBoard. I am wanting a quick way to get the kids from one activity to another. In the ever--teachers can do this mode--I just made a powerpoint that I can display on the board. Using the projector it will be an easy and space saving plan.

We are evaluated on our small groups and I am still struggling with managing this with my current class.  Let's just say that this class needs my structures instead of being able to choose for themselves. Maybe after Christmas I can give them the freedoms I would envision them having! But for my sanity as well as their successes we will go with this!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A "hard" week

This post is different. No pictures of fun activities in the classroom. Just a picture inside my heart and soul if you will.

The week has been a time of reflection. Where to begin in this week was a feeling that things were going to be difficult for some of my friends. There wasn't anything tangible but just a feeling. You know--" that something is going to happen cloud. "


The accepting what is has been the road I am traveling. A road of having my best friend and co-teacher have to take a sudden retirement. She is giving up the classroom to take care of a family member. But --no--this was to be our last year. We were going to retire TOGETHER at the end of this year. My heart aches for her difficulties. My heart aches for her students who will not see her when we come back from our fall break. My heart aches for ME. She has been my support system.This leads to the second part of the poem above--having to let go of what was.

Then I am a follower of Abby's Inspired Apple. She has shared her journey of adopting a baby boy. But that cloud--it seemed there in the back of my mind. She posted a couple of pictures on Instagram at the end of last week and I just didn't see her beaming smile in quite the same way. Then came the news--the birth mother decided to parent the baby. You can read about it here. Oh, my heart aches for her and her family. Yes, accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. Her post tells of her emptiness and her struggle with accepting, letting go, but they have such tremendous faith!

Today was a bit different. God works in mysterious ways. I was on my way home from helping the new teacher with the setting up of her "new" classroom and just felt the need to not go home yet. I drove to a Dollar Tree--in the next city. Why? Just felt like it. While there a customer was struggling to pay for her purchases. She tried her card. The cashier was trying to help. Customers were moved to a new line. The cashier even helped the customer call to have the card activated. Her friend was trying to help. Other cards were tried.  Why was this happening? Why was I witnessing her struggles, her embarrassment? I took it as a sign. I checked out. I walked over and asked to take care of her bill. You know--pay it forward. I say this not to "brag" on myself. But I say it as a sign--faith. Faith. Faith in what will be.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Non Basal First Grade

Our district has gone with Benchmark Universe instead of a more "common" basal for ELA. I am excited to get away from the traditional but am very apprehensive about our firsties adjusting to Benchmark. For example, it is assumed that all the kids entering first grade have a solid foundation in phonics. My class...not so much. We have reviewed the short vowels and consonants and now are entering the blends!

We will see! I am hoping a little picture sort will at least help them "hear" the beginning sounds.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Classroom view

I've finished my room due to the fact that school has already begun. I tried to take a few pictures but the quality is horrible.

This is the view from the back of the room toward the door.

From the computer area toward the front:

View from the door toward the back of the room and guided reading table.

This is the spotlight book area. I use these for read alouds.

The writer's eye rubric that has been all over Pinterest!

Science Area that I will use for different studies.

I plan to use these pocket charts to display our comprehension and vocabulary, etc.
The chevron on the bookcase tops is actually a contact type paper I ordered.

One of the book nooks that the kids use for reading to self and partner reading. 

Reading buddies to use occasionally!

Bulletin board ready for self portraits.

One of the stations I sat up at Open House.

Writing area for Work on Writing during Daily 5. I also have a Writing Workshop at a separate time of the day.

Math area.

And the guided reading table:

Now...I've been with my firsties for six days and I've changed their seating three times. Does that give you an idea of the verbal abilities of this group?????

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It

Today is Monday so it's linking time with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics.

Oh--Monday! My last one...before school. Three days! As in PD starts on Thursday!

Thankfully I have been able to work in my room and have finished all the little things that need to be done.

I made this Chevron wreath for my classroom door. All the supplies came from Hobby Lobby: wire frame, chevron burlap ribbon, and solid burlap ribbon. I wasn't sure how to make one so just googled and got directions for the wreath and bow.

Sorry for the quality of photo--I left my camera at home.

I didn't make the next addition to my classroom but I saved 20% at Bed, Bath, and Beyond!

And my final make it==a nap! Last few days need to include a nap on the couch with my best little bud:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Michaels Ideas

I've been getting some great inspirations from Michael's instagram. It's nice not to have to be creative--in the sense of thinking up ideas. I'm a good copier!

I went to Michaels and picked up a pack of cork tiles (4 for $10.00) but used my 40% coupon plus the teacher discount. They had acrylic paint for half price so it was only 39 cents a bottle. I had sponge brushes and painters tape.

First step was to paint all the cork an almond color.

Then came the measuring part since I wanted them in four different colors of chevron. I googled "how to paint chevron" and came up with easy enough directions. It was a matter of drawing lines and making rectangle boxes. Then adding the tape from corner to corner on a diagonal. Lots of taping but not a difficult chore. (If I can figure it out I KNOW you can also!)

Then it was a quick process of adding the colors. 

As soon as I finished painting I removed the tape and let it dry. I touched up the almond color to hide the lines I had drawn.

I dropped by school and hot glued those babies to the wall. (Do you love hot glue also?)

Finished and hung!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Classroom Sneak Peak

It's getting closer. Time. for. school. August 1. Need I say more?

I spent a few hours at school tossing and tossing old stuff. When I get in a cleaning mood I get in a throw it out mind-set.

Since our district is moving to a literacy based concept I tossed all our old reading series files.

Do you see the leveled readers below this bulletin board? I pulled them out of the display boxes and saved them. I do plan to use them in guided reading so I didn't toss those!

The new, cleaned off area:

I pulled out my little storage "benches" that Mr. Spouse built and placed those at the end of the desks.

From this:

To this:

The baskets go inside their desks to hold various items so that I can't see the orderly disarray inside. (Picture hidden unfinished work that I couldn't possibly know that is missing?)

I'm thinking of displaying our common core standards (I Can statements) that are required to show that I indeed am a Tennessee teacher who is going to be evaluated on said standards. I really need to have them close to our meeting area. 

I did have half of the student book baskets stored in this area but since I may use those little storage benches near their desks I have placed the science area/journals there. I will move all my non-fiction book baskets to this bookcase. The ones pictured in the blue baskets are actually author studies and chapter books. Above the area is my Daily 5 choice pocket charts. I'm a little undecided as to how those will go with our new "balanced literacy" reading/writing workshops. I am more of a Reading Workshop person than a Daily 5 so I sort of made my own way to combine both.

Well, this week I have three days of Common Core training. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Target Find

When July 4th rolls around passes by we know that it is back to school time in my district. Three weeks from tomorrow our staff development begins. That gives me 21 days to search for all the back to school sales, dollar spot items, latest classroom needs=fun times.

I saw on someone's blog last night a picture of the newest pocket charts at Target. Could it be? Really? The aqua color I really hoped for? Yes! I went to two different Targets today. The first one is further away but a much bigger store with an actual organized Dollar Spot. They had two! A little disappointed because the other Target has the tiniest Dollar Spot and I really didn't hold out much hope. But since it is in the area of my school I decided to give it a try. They had several so I snatched up six more.

This year the colors I found were aqua (you knew that already didn't you?????), yellow, and red. I got a yellow one for no reason whatsover. 

Since I'm using the chevron colors I changed my focus Reading wall with the exact color I so craved.

I did  a little work in the room today--adding the banner for the focus wall, and putting a border around my door with a welcome banner, and arranging the student desks. 

My latest dilemma is driving. me. crazy! I cannot figure out where to place my chart stand so it doesn't hide the word wall or reading focus wall. I've tried to open up the classroom to allow more freedom of movement for reading and work stations. I hope it comes together--in the next 21 days!

Tomorrow is another day. So maybe I'll go shopping again!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Oh, NO!

This is what. gulp. I saw:

Sorry for the quality of the picture. It may have been iphone. It may have been my hands were shaking  Could it be? 25 days til I begin.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Assigning Book Nooks

Reading is such a big part of first grade. I use the reading workshop approach so independent reading is used every day. I was inspired by a Pro-teacher blog: Once Upon a Reading Workshop. Andrea provided wonderful resources for lots of teachers. She had her kids in the gprreatest reading "nooks" in the classroom and I began using that idea several years ago. In order to have some routine for moving quickly to a reading spot I placed these labels around the classroom. Each week I rotate where the kids will go. I had made the large labels that go around the room. I thought I would need to make similar ones that were much smaller that I place in one of the dollar Target pocket charts. By placing the small cards in a vertical row I can put the partner names next to the book nook number. Each Monday I move the book nook cards down one row so that the partners will move to a different nook.

 I found out that it is easy to print them smaller by adjusting the print features. I printed the slides four to a page which made them exactly the correct size.

I like to find easy help, don't you?

You are welcome to use these if you wish. I'd love a comment on what tricks you have found that help in Powerpoint documents!

Friday, June 28, 2013



Maybe not too surprised--yet still puts a damper on my summer break.

I didn't teach this summer. I treated myself to days of doing whatever I wished. Sleeping. Naps. Drinking coffee on the porch. Shopping.

But then...the unexpected. Facing two surgeries which may keep me from lazying around and working on school stuff (as in decorations and decor) when I want. Just returned from a trip to Florida and having three days to finish a lot of work in the classroom.

Day 1 of the three day push: Redid the background on the bulletin boards for the word wall. I do like it much better!

I changed the border to chevron. I had ordered it and it came in while I was on vacation so worked on the boards at the front of the room.

Day 2 of the three day push: Worked on the back and side bulletin boards. I also changed my work station areas.

Day 3 of the push (today by the way...) was tossing junk, organizing and finishing up replacing all the polka dots with chevron.

How about that lamp shade? I covered the polka dot shade with some leftover fabric and lots of hot glue gun and clothes pins. It looks really nice...until I actually turn the lamp on and the polka dots show through. (Oh Well....)

I still have to find a classroom rug for the meeting area. I figured that when the back to school College decor arrives I should be able to find one fairly cheaply. (I will make a cushion for the rocker too!)

The beginning of my science area. I did sort through my school supply stash to see what I have and what I need to purchase. We (district rules cop) doesn't allow us to ask parents for school supplies so it is important that I stalk the back to school sales. Since this MAY be my last year as a teacher I don't want to purchases too much.

The beginning of my math area. I put labels on the math tubs and changed the border. I have my math books in a tub in the area. 

These are those ugly metal cabinets. You just might think they are ugly metal cabinets but actually they are my walk in storage closet. You know the huge room to store items. Nada. They are two metal cabinets. On the left one I hot glued outdoor fabric and hot glued border. The one on the right has several of the $1 pocket charts from Target. Guess how I attached them? SHHH--with hot glue! Since the charts were a little too narrow I cut one border piece and glued it down the middle so the doors will open.

Tomorrow I am going to Michaels or Hobby Lobby and getting hot glue.

My word work area is somewhat organized. I need to run off the recording sheets. I will introduce one station activity at a time.

And to finish off my three day classroom FUN I put on the chair covers I had made and straightened the classroom library. The yellow bins are fiction. The royal blue baskets hold chapter books and author study groups. The aqua ones are non-fiction. 

I can now take two weeks of surgery, doctor appointments, and staying at home to recoup. Yikes, we go back on August 1 and I have three days of common core training before that. Where did summer go?