Monday, December 2, 2013

December Currently

It's December 2nd and a little over 3 months since my last post. What happened you ask?  Work, children, training for a half marathon (which I finished-but suffered miserably from-i.e. cramping, dehydration, heat hives etc.), and self doubt.

Sure the first three kept me from blogging, but they were mostly just the excuses I used when the real culprit for lack of blogging came from self doubt.  It was easy to blog in the summer when I was all "ideas" and no reality.  Tonight, I toss away the excuses and come back, remembering why I started this in the first place-to connect with other fabulous educators, to stay motivated and inspired, and to "toot my own horn" every once and a while because we all need to be our own biggest fans!

So here's my Currently!

Listening-There's this great TED Talk by Brenee Brown, author of Daring Greatly a friend told me about a week or so ago.  When I listened to this talk, I realized how much in common I have with this lady-not the totally hilarious, very witty parts, but the parts about how much I think of vulnerability as a weakness and therefore, refuse to be vulnerable thereby making my life less abundant, refusing to take the risks needed for growth.

It's the same reason I didn't cry at my parents' funerals (yes both died within six weeks of one another). 

Weak people cry.  Weak people let others know they feel like a failure when they can't get that gifted student motivated or get the help another student needs to be successful.  Weak people struggle as mothers when their daughters have other ideas about school and life than straight A's on report cards.  Brenee Brown reminded me that weak people take risks, and I've realized I'd rather be weak and a risk taker than "strong" and closed off.

Loving-I have enjoyed these two books so much.  They have been a positive, uplifting, personality-changing influence in my life over the last month.  These two books have opened my mind to new possibilities.

Thinking- I work with really smart folks.  Today, at our faculty meeting, thirteen different groups had to present a chapter from Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. Let me just tell you there was some clever, very techy, very high energy stuff going on there, and I was inspired! I could feel the earth move under my feet!

Wanting-My essential oils from DoTerra to arrive.  It's a new all natural healthcare regime.  I've already tried the company's "tension blend", and I love it.  I use this every morning when I start to get anxious about the day, and I am immediately calmed down.  I'm so excited to have found something like this.  

Needing-to decorate for Christmas! Gasp!  I've been married for fourteen years, and every year I've had that tree decorated the Friday after Thanksgiving.  This year something happened...I decided to enjoy time with my girls, my husband, and friends instead of worrying about decorations.  Of course, my six year old wanted to decorate that tree tonight, but that will have to wait until tomorrow because tonight I'm blogging! :-)

Favorite Traditions- Some of my favorite traditions are baking cookies with my sisters and our children.   Every year, my sisters and I bake cookies together.  One of our all time favorite recipes is the chocolate crinkle cookie.  They are amazing!  We are totally corny while we bake cookies and of course, we play Christmas music.

We've been wearing jammies on Christmas morning to my sister's house for fourteen years now.  Of course, this means you have to have new jammies each year-a perk that comes with the tradition.

Lastly, one of my favorite traditions is the three present rule.  Each one of my children receive one book that I carefully select based off of their current interests, and two presents that they have asked for.  My husband and I will always carry this tradition because it makes our girls think about what they really want, and it keeps them remembering that Christmas isn't all about presents.

That's a rap..get it? December Currently, presents, a rap?  Being corny makes me happy and vulnerable, so there you have it.  May you all find December to be the month for taking risks!


Monday, August 19, 2013

Classroom Reveal

I missed all the cool link-ups for classroom reveals, so I'll have to just go this round on my own. 

This is a view of the front of my room. To the left is my job chart and to the right is our character education program where Ron Clark's Essential 55 meet the 8 Keys of Excellence. If you look really hard, you can see my Author's chair.  I just recently bought iron on letters and added the letters to my chair-it looks pretty fancy.

This is a view of the back of the room. See those table signs above the tables?  On one side it says its respective table number, but on the other side it has one of the four regions of Texas. I'm determined to teach this little guys even through classroom decor!

 Here is a collage of my turn in basket, supply station #1, library, and computer center. A little ribbon goes a long way, and by a little, I mean 8 rolls of ribbon.

 Here is cozy central.  I teach language arts/social studies, and I love watching my kiddos sprawl out all over the place as they read and write.  Rarely are the students in their assigned seats.  Behind the chairs is our library and the bins I use to keep a folder for each student.  This folder houses their writing pieces regardless of the stage in the process.  I also keep each student's behavior reflections in these folders.

These three pics are of some of the other bulletin boards in my room.  The top frame is the CAFE menu.  Notice there are no pre-printed strategy cards.  The students make these.  I attended the sisters' workshop in Houston this year, and they even visited my classroom!  Like all other anchor charts, when the students create the anchor chart,  it gives meaning to the students.  I have to fight my inner self because it isn't always super neat, but it's about the learning not the neatness.

The second frame is a row of anchor chart frames. I added clothespins to a frame created out of poster board and decorative tape.  I use the clothespins because right after we create the anchor chart together, we can just clip it right up.  Super fast!  I created labels for each one of the six areas I'll be creating anchor charts for all year: mentor sentences, featured reading skill, featured writing skill, social studies skill, Reading Talk Show (this could be a poem we are analyzing, a featured book, or a student's book review), and finally Word Collection.

The bottom frame is where I'll post student work.  It reads, "Our Work Soars."  There's a hidden message there.  I wanted to embed something in my room that reminded me to not only teach my students but to continually push them to their own personal best.  There are two places in my room where I have hot air balloons.  Those balloons remind me that learning should "reach high" and be an adventure!

 In this collage, I have my second supply center, my check-in system, reading/writing conference center, my work station, my tweet board to be used for exit/entrance slips, cleaning supplies, and our pack up list.  See, I did add the ribbon like I said I would. :-) See this post for explanation.

And finally, this is located near the door of my classroom.  My chains for behavior/reading incentive beads--thank you Miss Nelson, my birthday board, "no name" board, the filing cabinet I covered with laminated scrapbook paper (on top of the cabinet is a bathroom log, hand sanitizer for both the boys and the girls-they place it on their desk when they leave for the potty, a mystery walker container, and the "whisper bell"-see post), and finally on the door, there they are again, the hot air balloons, reminding us all that learning is magical!

So long!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Five for Friday

Five random things from my week, you say?  If you knew me personally, you'd know I can SO do RANDOM!! Random describes me well, very well.  So, here comes my randomness. Thank you Doodle Bugs Teaching for the linky.

I created "Fame Frames" this week. I got this idea from Teacher Tipster. Watch the video provided in this link for the rationale.

The second item is another great idea from Teacher Tipster called the Whisper Bell. Watch the video provided in this link for the rationale. I love this idea.  It has a certain mystery about it I think the kids will love and I love tapping that bell kinda like Si from Duck Dynasty (I threw that out there just to prove my point about how random I can be. If you'd like a good laugh, click here.)

This idea came from a teacher in a GT workshop I attended.  You know the child who can't stop bouncing his or her leg up and down?  This is a fidget that will work for them.  You take a noodle and cut it in half and then in half again.  The child can then roll the noodle under his/her feet.  It doesn't make any noise and satisfies the need for movement.

I made my little tweet board to be used "exit slip" style.  I kinda like it!

Loving this book!  I think it's a great text to use at the beginning of the year to check geography skills similar to the way my friend Charlotte over at Fabulous Fifth Grade fun does in this post.

Two more weeks a my new kiddos and I will be off and running using all this stuff!

Have a terrific weekend!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Currently

It's August 1st. No way!!! Summer is over for me which is bittersweet.  I'm looking forward to applying all that I've learned this summer, but I'm going to miss all the time I've spent with my children! Cute little buggers!

So here's my Currently!

Listening- There's a rustling happening under my desk. It's my pants rubbing against the chair.  I put my hand on top of my shaking leg, trying to get my leg to stop its bouncing.  It works while my hand stays on top of my leg, but as soon as I move my hand, there it goes again.  Off and shaking like a leaf!  Okay, so here's what I'm nervous about.  There are still twenty nine items on my to do list and some of them will take a very long time to complete!  I will be recruiting the help of my children soon. I'll pay/bribe them.  Is that wrong? :-)

Loving-I spent the day with eight team members (we have ten in total) designing a behavior plan.  I'm excited that everyone is on board and genuinely seems excited about what we've come up with.  We have our system in place and today we even started generating lessons! It was a great day!

Thinking- I really do need to tackle the curriculum items on my "to do" list.  I've waited because I wanted to plan with my team members, but I just can't wait any longer.  I'm one of those "I have to know specifically what I'm going to teach at least three weeks out" people.  Of course my plans change twenty-two million times, but hey, I know where I'm headed.  How far in advance do you plan?

Wanting-I really wish I had a time machine.  I've learned so much, but I get super impatient waiting for certain learning curves to take place for me.  You know it will come, but you also know you'll be a far better teacher when you just have that missing component figured out!!! Why do we have to wait for the synapses to connect?  Sometimes, I visualize them connecting in my brain, hoping that will speed the process.  GRRR!!

Needing-to participate in I Heart Recess's Monthly Goals. This year I want to "Flip" my classroom, apply whole brain teaching, integrate social studies seamlessly with reading and writing, make every lesson highly engaging, incorporate an effective morning meeting, use augmented reality and QR codes in my classroom, teach my students to blog, and help my team create a highly effective RTI plan.  I know, I know. Settle down HOT ROD!!! Rome wasn't built in a day, but there is a teacher out there somewhere who has already built the "Rome" I'm referring to above.  I've done the research, I've taken notes, but the application is just too much to tackle all at once!

B2 School Must Have's-Can you hear the frustration in my writing?  I have the cure.  It's called Retail Therapy, darlin', which brings me to my back to school must have's.  Each picture has a link to the source.  I shopped while blogging for the first two, and the last item allows me to focus on how I can make my students feel loved, which always puts me at ease. I feel much better. Ahhh.....

Friday, July 26, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

I'm linking up with Cara from The First Grade Parade for Favorite Pins Friday. 

1. This first pin comes from Notes From the Patch. 
How many of us teachers have dingy, but functional milk crates floating around our room.  I just used this tutorial and made two crate covers, only I didn't sew the covers.  I used stitchery, and it worked pretty well!  The covers turned out really cute! I will post pics when the crates are in my classroom.

2. The second pin is a link to a website of a cool dude named Cybraryman. There are some really terrific ed tech tips here as well as some great back to school ideas.  I love this site!

3. The third pin is something I think is amazing! It's a link to instructions on how to make your own clip art from your very own artwork! Say what?? I didn't even know that was possible.  I don't know where I thought all that clip art came from. A magic fairy? A stork? The grocery store? You've got to check it's pretty simple sounding.

4. If you want to try to make your own clip art, you're going to need your own scanner.  (Kinda reminds me of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, You're Going to Have to Give Him a Glass of Milk. I apologize, I had birthday cake today.  My big sister turned a very special age today! :-)) This pin takes you to a link that allows you to use your IPAD as a scanner.  Again, AMAZING!  I heard about this at an Edcamp I went to a couple of weeks ago and did some digging.

5. And finally, the fifth pin.  I spent the beginning of my week at GT training.  I was reminded of how important creativity is for our students and how sometimes we stifle their growth.  This pin speaks perfectly as to the way we should teach.

I've got a fun-filled weekend ahead-family luncheon tomorrow and taking my big girls to camp on Sunday.  Maybe I'll have time to do some more pinning on the long drive up to camp!  Have a terrific weekend, all!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It

Phew! I'm home from a great vacation (hence the blog hiatus) and I'll spend the majority of my week at a GT workshop.  Fun Stuff! In an effort to bring some light into my world, I'm linking up with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics for Monday Made It.

I needed something cutesie for my supplies that I don't like to keep on the desks at all times-things like scissors which cut erasers clear off the tops of pencils and glue which somehow finds its way stuck to things other than paper. Of course I had to have silver tubs to match what I created in this post and always need something inexpensive.  Enter Save on Crafts !  Have you seen this site?  If not, hurry over.  It's so incredible and reasonable.  Very cute stuff! I found these awesome tins for about $2 a piece.

I labeled the bins with free labels from Ladybug Teacher Files. Most buckets are filled with your "normal" classroom supplies, but there are two special buckets I'd like to tell you about.

Both buckets contain editing MAGIC!

First, this bucket, which holds glasses from Oriental Trading Co. for my students to use, so they can put on a "writer's eye".

Second, this bucket which will hold numerous "Miss Bartlebine Pens".  The book pictured below is all about the run-on sentence and how it is no match for Miss Bartlebine and her pen.  I gave these special pens to my students right before standardized testing last year, so they could feel like they had a little something extra to help them through their test.  This year, I plan to introduce it much sooner and send those pens on the hunt for the no-good rotten, run-on all year long!

Happy Monday, everyone!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Made It

Happy Monday morning! Not counting today, I have four Mondays left before I'm officially back to school! Wow-that went really fast! 

Do things count as "made its" when you just found it, printed, and cutesied (I know--it's not a word) it up? (I know--I ended a sentence with a preposition-I hope you can't stand my grammar problems long enough to read my post.)  

I'm excited to share my "made its" this week because I've found and semi-created quite a few free resources.

First, from others:

Kristen from Fantastic First Grade Ideas has this free "1 Minute Until Dismissal" download in her TpT store. I laminated those and sassed up the top with a little fun ribbon in my class colors. You can't see the top very well, but I'll post a better pic when I get into my classroom. (Okay, okay, I didn't cutesie up the top but I will. The creativity zapped me while writing this post. I'm going to hole punch and add ribbon-ya know sort of like ribbon flip flops?)

Next, Being Inspired Blog has these terrific brain breaks that my ten year old approved as fun stuff! I laminated these and placed them on a ring to be hung on these nifty little 3M gadgets.

 If you saw Friday's pin, you saw I'm really into "Morning Meeting" this year.  I found another awesome resource from Mrs. Bainbridge's Class Website which is a free printable of over 34 morning greetings.  All but one was approved by ten year old. She said, "Mom, we're too old for that!"

This class journal idea came from a sweet teacher friend's pinterest pin.  She, Amy, pinned these sometime during the year and from the moment I saw them, I knew I had to make them a functional part of my room.  I changed up a couple of the subjects/topics a bit.  I wonder how many years of student writing I'll be able to keep-How cool is that?

Now onto two items I semi-made.  I just recently finished, The Reading Zone by Nancie Atwell. One of the things she does to inspire kids to want to read is something called "Kids Recommend". On her school website, there is a list of many books that have been improved by different age groups of kids.  I think my students would be more inclined to read a book another 4th grader has chosen.  So, I downloaded the list for grades 3rd-6th and added a cover sheet with a cool quote-one for boys, one for girls. I'll place these on my "Kids Recommend" bookshelf. If you click on the picture, I've shared a google doc with you.

Saved for last, my "When I'm done cards" also known as challenge cards.  These aren't free, but they're only a buck.  That's almost free, right?  I created sixteen challenge cards for my students to work on if they ever finish early.  I wanted to make my own because I wanted the students to work on tasks that might enrich their work a bit.  I included some social studies tasks, too.  I love the way the ring goes right through the leaf on the apple (I get plain nutty about ridiculous things like that.)

I hope you guys have a terrific Monday.  I can't wait to see what you've all created.  


Friday, July 12, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

I'm linking up with Cara from The First Grade Parade for Favorite Pins Friday.  I pinned like crazy this week-just like Cara said. Below are my favorite five.

1. This first pin comes from Rowdy in Room 300 and Dots-n-Spots. 
Rowdy in Room 300 provided the hallway inspiration and Dots-n-Spots provided the TPT freebie.  My team and I put a spin on this to create a reading incentive program using the guitars and their frets as a monitoring tool.  I'll show pics when we have it accomplished.

2. The second pin comes from a gal name Mandie Funk via Slideshare.  I want my morning meetings to be much improved this year and I like the structure she provides here.

3. The third pin is just plain cute!  CT Baker in the Acres designed the most adorable bookmark.
This could be a great first week activity to get kids excited about reading.

4. The fourth pin is very awesome! It's an app that allows you to find the lexile level, DRA, or Grade Equivalent for any book by scanning the ISBN on the back of the book.  Click the picture and you will be taken to the site.

5. And finally, the fifth pin is one that just makes me laugh.  I had a pretty terrific grandfather, one of my most treasured people.  He would have done something just like this!

I hope you received a new idea and a good laugh from my pins!  Happy Friday, everyone.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Liebster Blog

I am tickled pink that I have been nominated for a Leibster Blog Award!   I started my blog June 21st, so I'm over the moon excited to be nominated by Lisa at Fluent in Fourth.  She's a really cute fellow fourth grade teacher.

Being part of the "blog world" has been such a blessing.  I've learned more in 3-4 weeks than I could have ever imagined.  Everyday, I'm inspired by such intelligent, dedicated teachers.  I spend a lot more time on my tookus than I should, but at least my brain is growing along with my rear.  Hee Hee!

To accept the nomination I must:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees
6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them

Here are the 11 questions that I had to answer: 
1. If you could choose any 2 consecutive months of the year to have your "summer" break which months would you choose? 
June and July 
2. If you could take your class on a field trip to anywhere in the world where would you go? 
I'd take my class to Washington, D.C.  Learning and inspiration can't help but happen there.

3. If you weren't a teacher what would you be? 
I'd be an interior designer in New York City.  (Hey, if I'm going to pretend, why not pretend BIG!)
4. If you have a day all to yourself what is your favorite way to spend it? Blogging, of course!

5. What is your favorite food? Dill Dip and Kettle Chips.  It's the perfect blogging snack~hence the growing tookus!

6. If you were stuck on an island and could only have 3 items with you what would they be? 
A Kindle, a notebook, and a hammock.
7. What is your favorite vacation spot? 
Anywhere by the beach...
8. Do you have any pets? 
No. I want to, but I feel sorry for the pet I would have because we'd never be home to spend time with him or her.  I'm always running my three kiddos somewhere.
9. Do you prefer the mountains or the beach? Beach. I'm always cold.

10. What is your favorite tv show? Scandal

11. What book have you read recently that you would recommend? The Reading Zone by Nancie Atwell. It's a great book about the importance and logistics of reading workshop.  The book really teaches you how to hold students accountable while still reading purely for love.  Check it out!

Here are my 11 random facts:
I've been teaching for 9 years and I still love it ALMOST everyday.
I'm married to my high school sweetheart.
I have three daughters whose names are in alphabetical order (My mom started it-she was a tad OCD.)
I love basketball but none of my children want to play.
I can't remember song lyrics to save my life, so I just pretend I know the words and kinda hum the tune.
I love a good bargain!
I have a serious addiction to chocolate chip cookies and diet coke.
I love vintage home decor.
I'd love to be able to box--in a ring--with gloves--cage style. Grrr!
I love to bake.
I always want to have conversations about anything that causes "deep thought" instead of the frivolous.

Here are the questions I'd like to pose to my nominees:
What is your favorite thing about blogging?
What's your favorite linky?
What's your favorite type of writing?
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Who was your least favorite teacher and why?
What happened on your "favorite" first day of school?
What's your favorite teaching memory?
What piece of advice do you give out the most?
What's your favorite teaching tip/trick?
If you could give one gift to your students, what would it be and why?
What's your idea of fun? 

Thank you for the nomination, Lisa!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Made it

I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Frolics for Monday Made it.  I think I have a problem!  Seriously, folks.  There's an entire, page-long list of Made its in my composition notebook thanks to all you smart cookies! Because I want to place a "strike-out" line through every one before school starts, I went a little crazy--I'd dare even say neurotic and made six classroom items in an afternoon. The trick to accomplishing this was....

There they are. The keys to six "made its"! Diet Coke and one, maybe two, okay, three chocolate chip cookies {another problem I have}.

Here are the final products.

1. I made this welcome banner using that tutorial I wrote about in this post.

2. I had three old frames from my girls' playroom. (The color scheme wasn't working anymore.) I made this to do post it station, a birthday board, and a no name board. I got the birthday IDEA from Erica Bohrer's First Grade. I was inspired by the one jillion "no name" Pinterest pins out there.

3. I made compliment jars for each of my four tables and one large jar for the entire class. I decided to use warm fuzzies to fill the buckets.

4. Finally, I began my birthday gifts for my students. I used this pin to inspire but changed it to a homework pass on a piece of cake because I found awesome clipart for teachers from My Cute Graphics. I'm going to attach it to crazy straws because my 10 year old said that's definitely more awesome than a pencil! I thought about a pixie stick as well but decided against it. I laminated the pass, thinking when students redeem their pass I can recycle. We'll see if that is wishful thinking works out. If you'd like to recreate, it's a freebie in my TPT store.  It's my first product, so please feel free to tell me if the quality is just plain horrible.

I can't wait to get these into my classroom!

Happy Monday!