Sunday, August 29, 2010

Heart Mapping


My students and I have been working on launching our writing workshop the first week of school...and it has been so much fun. I began by modeling how to create a heart map--this enables students to think of writing ideas that are near and dear to their heart. We will use our heart maps very much at the beginning of the school year. These maps will help my Firsties come up with ideas to write about during our writing workshop. It is important to have them write about something that is close to their hearts...by generating writing ideas that are familiar to them they can add details to either the picture or the storyline as they see fit. I love heart mapping....and so did my kiddos.

This week I have spent a great deal modeling how to write...I believe this is so much more helpful than just telling them how to write. When I write in front of my students I help them understand the process of creating ideas, forming words, illustrating pictures that will support my words, etc. Later as the year continues not only will I model through my writing, but I will utilize mentor texts--great picture books that will inspire my Firsties to write like these awesome authors.

My students are learning that each and every day they will have time devoted to their writing during our writing workshop...by doing this I am placing great value in writing...and how important it is in our everyday lives. My writing workshop is a very special time of day...it's when budding authors create their masterpieces!

The following are examples of heart maps I found on the web...I'll be posting pictures of my students' heart mapping activity later on in the week. ♥♥♥




 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Classroom Pictures, Finally!

I know that I was supposed to post pictures of my classroom on the weekend...but I have been soooo tired lately! Firsties sure do have a way of wearing you out! Anyway...here are the pictures of my finished classroom, finally...





 




















 Well there it is...I did forget to take a picture of my small group area...it's on my to do list. This year I tried to keep it calm and not too busy looking...I hope I have achieved what I set out to do...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Enjoying the Weekend

After a week of inservices and staying at school until 7:30 pm almost everyday...I am finally ready to begin the 2010-2011 school year on Monday. I am super excited to meet my Firsties! I am sure it will be an awesome year! I am still working on a few things at home but nothing major...just tying up some lose ends (name tags and other small stuff). I will be posting pictures of my finished classroom tomorrow...so until then...I'm definitely enjoying the rest of the weekend. ♥♥♥

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Earn 6,000 Scholastic Bonus Points


If you are anything like me, you looove Scholastic Book Orders...and thinks Bonus Points are fantabulous! Today while browsing the web I came across Laura Candler's blog and was utterly amazed to see how she explained in minute detail how to earn 6,000 Scholastic Bonus Points! 6,000 points! Is that even possible? It sure is, and Laura tells us how...isn't that awesome? What would I do with 6,000 points? Hmmmm...buy lots (and I mean lots) of non-fiction books for my classroom library, that's what I would do!

Don't hesitate to check out her blog...she's incredible!



Monday, August 16, 2010

The Amazingness Award

Wow! I am so thrilled to be receiving my first blog award ever! Who would have thought that little old me would receive one of these awards in blogland...not me that's for sure...so needless to say I'm super excited.

The Rules:

A. Thank the person who gave you the award
B. Share 7 things about yourself
C. Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers

Here it goes!

A. Thank the person who gave you the award
My lovely award came from The Caffeinated Teacher...thank you Sunny! I absolutely love to read your blog...I think it's such an honor to be receiving this award from you. Thank you so very much from the bottom of my ♥.

B. Share 7 Things About Yourself
1. I have always wanted to be a teacher. When I was little I used to make my  younger brother play school with me and if he wouldn't I'd get upset and go tell on him to my mother. I like to think that our playing school had such an impact on him that he decided to become a teacher himself!

2. I am the oldest child in my family. My brother and I are only 2 years apart...my middle sister is 9 years younger than I am and my youngest sister is only 2 years older than my oldest child. So there is a big age difference among us...but we still get along wonderfully.

3. I love movies! I like all type of movies...but recently my favorite have been suspenseful ones. The most recent movie I watched was Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (what a title!). On the weekend I like to relax at home watching a good movie, eating popcorn, and drinking diet coke.

4. I love the beach...but I don't know how to swim. This in part has to do with me being afraid of the water...so weird considering I'm a Pisces...a water sign.

5. I have a small addiction to school supplies...I love anything school related, but especially love colorful sharpies, pens, paper, notebooks...you name it, if it's school related I ♥ it.

6. My favorite colors are pink and black...I'm definitely a girly girl! This year I decided to incorporate my two favorite colors in my classroom decor...so you'll be seeing those two colors a lot...hmmm wonder what my boys are going to think?

7. I live in a small town but secretly would love to live in a large city...


C. Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers
I am relatively new to blogging...so I don't know if I can do 15 other bloggers...I will try!

Littlest Learners

Sneaker Teacher

Miss Klohn's Classroom

Opener of Doors

Following the Footsteps

First Grader...at Last!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

B2S Teacher Swap: Favorite Books

Jen over at Following the Footsteps is hosting a Back to School Teacher Swap to share your favorite picture books for the start of the school year.

Here are my absolute favorite...they are so well loved that I always read these books year after year...and leave them out for the kids to enjoy...they eventually become classroom favorites.










These books are my first week must-reads to my Firsties, what are your favorite back to school books?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Classroom Peek

This summer I am being transferred to a brand new school...long story short--it didn't happen until 2 days ago! I stopped counting boxes that needed to be unpacked when I got to #42...whew! Needless to say I've had two VERY busy days! The school that I'm transferring to is a newly constructed building with a modern design...I'll show you a glimpse into my classroom...but don't think that it's finished...it isn't, not by a long shot...but here it is nonetheless. The first day of PD is Monday...then my brand new Firsties will be showing up on the 23rd...lots of things to do still....
This is what my classroom looked like when I first saw it...bare bones.


My stuff stacked up in the corner of the room...that's not even half of it!


My long white board.


Future library area.


More boxes...but not all.


Library under construction.


Computer center under construction.


Yay! No more boxes on top of the cubbies! This is where my Science, Math, and Social Studies vocabulary walls will be located.


I love my tree!

Here it is my room under construction...hopefully it will be ready to go by the time my Firsties come in...
Now that you've seen my home away from home...be sure to visit Babbling Abby...and get ready to be inspired by some awesome classrooms. ♥♥♥

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Creative Ideas

Today is day 3 of Teacher Week and the focus is Creative Ideas. Hmmm...the ideas I'm about to show you are ideas that I have borrowed and made my own...is that creative enough?

1. Parent Contact Notebook. I really like to keep a notebook as documentation for parent contact. Conversations I have with parents (either face to face or over the phone) are documented in this notebook. If I ever need to refer to a conversation between a parent and myself I know that it will be documented in my notebook...it helps me have peace of mind!

2. Comfortable Crocs. I love shoes! I ♥ shoes that are cute and have a high heel...but I also realize that this type of shoe is sometimes hard to wear all day long...so my solution is to have a pair of comfortable crocs in my classroom. I wear my cute shoes to school and meetings...and my comfortable ones in the classroom...it's a win-win situation.


3. I like my classroom to be matchy-matchy most of the time...so when I couldn't find something that would match my decor...I created it! Center signs that I absolutely love...and they match my classroom colors!



So there they are my "creative" ideas...now go link up to Babbling Abby and share your fantabulous ideas!




Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teacher Must Haves

I'm kind of bummed I didn't get to participate in Babbling Abby's Day 1 of Teacher Week...as I just discovered her blog. If you haven't visited her I recommend that you do...her blog is just so cute...love it! Anywho I will be participating in the Teacher Must Haves for Day 2...Here they are:

1. Mr. Sketch Markers...I just ♥ these "smelly" markers! They're perfect for writing on chart paper and drawing happy faces with...my kiddos love it when I give them a "smelly" happy face. They look so funny putting their little noses against the paper to smell the flavor...my favorite? The cherry one, of course!

2. Scotch Thermal Laminator...my husband just bought one for me recently...and I don't know how I managed to go without one all these years...I just LOVE my laminator! Needless to say I've been laminating a lot lately!
 
3. Sharpie Pens...♥ the way they write...perfect!


4. Cute Pointers...we use them for everything! Shared reading, read around the room, big book center, etc...both my Firsties and I love pointers...the cuter the better!


5. VistaPrint...VistaPrint is awesome for teachers who love free stuff. And who doesn't love free stuff?! With VistaPrint you can design items that will make you look like you've spent tons of money....but in reality you just pay for the shipping...the item itself is free! If you are tech savvy and knows how to use Photoshop you can create cool custom things...if you are not, don't worry they have lots of templates to make you look like a creative genius.


Okay...now that you know my must haves I hope you get to participate in Teacher Week over at Babbling Abby. Have fun!♥♥♥

Monday, August 9, 2010

Problem Solving and Math Journals

Okay...I admit I am not strong in math...my strength is reading and writing...therefore as a reflection of my passion my students love to read and write and I'm sad to say...dislike math. This year I want to change things...I want my students to enjoy math and to be successful problem solvers...I found this great resource that I think is going to help me do just that...

K-5 Math Teaching Resources is a website geared to problem solving...but not only that, it also describes how to integrate math journals in your classroom. I have always felt that journaling is a natural process to problem solving and this website does an excellent job at describing in detail what this entails...it even has pictures of journal pages!  The website also provides awesome free-resources like games, literature connections, and math center ideas. The activites on this site are perfect for use in math centers, small group or whole class settings. I am so excited to use this newfound resource!

My district uses the Envision curriculum from Scott Foresman, but I have always felt that it lacked a little in the problem solving area...hopefully by integrating journals in my math block, it will help to supplement the curriculum I am currently using.


The following are pictures of the example journals on their site.




I love the idea of having children write and draw their way through problem solving. Definitely a must do in my class this year. Go here to explore their website...you'll be glad you did! ♥♥♥

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Donor's Choose



I received great news in my e-mail's inbox today. The friendly staff and volunteers at Donor's Choose completed the screening process of my project Wow! Is that Fluent Reading? My project is now live on their website and ready to be funded!

I have never tried Donor's Choose...but have heard great things about them. The following is a description directly from their website..."DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit that connects public school teachers with people who want to support classroom learning." Doesn't that sound awesome?! I am ready to give it a try!

If you have never heard of Donor's Choose before go check them out here. I'm sure you'll be amazed at all of the projects that have been funded. It takes a little time to post a project but the benefits are worth the time invested...and you get to go shopping! Who doesn't love a little shopping? It's fun!

I advice you to go on their website...look around...post a project and wait for it to get funded. Your students will appreciate the time you took to do this...I am sure of it!

Oh and don't forget to look at my project here!

P.S. The following is a video that explains a little about Donor's Choose...Enjoy! ♥♥♥

Friday, August 6, 2010

B2S Teacher Swap

I am so excited about today's Back to School Teacher Swap hosted by Jen over at Following the Footsteps. I can't wait to read all of the great ideas from awesome teachers in blogland!

This year I decided to make my own center signs instead of purchasing them...and not to toot my own horn...but I think they turned out super cute!


I chose to make my own center signs because I wanted to include a description of each center...a description that is in a kid friendly format...so that my students can easily verbalize what they are supposed to be doing at each center.

I love making my own things...this allows me to pick my own colors, graphics, and even fonts.  I  ♥ cute fonts! I have to say that Kevin and Amanda have one of the best sites to find adorable fonts...I usually download all the fonts that she creates...thanks Amanda!

Now I have to go create some matching labels...and letters for my word wall!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥


 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Aaaahhh!!!

I am so frustrated right now...it turns out that I won't be able to get into my classroom until Aug. 16, which is the exact date that the dreaded In-Services begin....Aaaahhhh!

To make a long story short all of our school's staff was supposed to be moved to a newly constructed elementary school this summer...some issues came up...and well, our stuff from our old school was just moved yesterday. Yesterday! I spoke to my principal today and asked her what the status was...when could we go in to set up our classrooms? She stated that she would not allow anyone in yet because there was no furniture assembled in the classrooms yet....the people hired to do this job would be coming in on the 13th and we could come in as soon as they finished assembling all of the furniture in every classroom...when I heard this my heart sank! The "13th" is on a Friday...and we start in-services the following Monday...how in the world am I going to have my room ready in time?! (My little darlings will be coming in on Aug. 23, ready to meet their new teacher in a new classroom, in a new school, with bare walls!) I explained this to my principal...but still she wouldn't budge! Sorry about ranting...but it just has been one of those days...bummer.

On the bright side I am looking forward to tomorrow's Back to School Teacher Swap hosted by Jen at Following the Footsteps. I can't wait to see what other teachers are doing in their classrooms!



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Random Thoughts

♥♥♥♥♥♥

1. Last week I got a Blackberry Curve and I absolutely looove it! I ♥ checking Facebook on my new phone!

2. Today my husband bought a Scotch Thermal Laminator for me...I can't wait to laminate my classroom goodies. I know...he spoils me...what can I say...I love you, sweetie!

3. My classroom things have not been moved from the old building to the new school....and it really stinks...especially since professional development meetings begin on Aug. 16th.

4. I still have lots to do to prepare for the new school year.

5. My three eldest children will be going to Orlando, FL with my parents on Thursday...they will be going to Disney World and Universal Studios and will be gone for 10 days...they can't contain their excitement! Me? Not so much...I'm going to miss them!

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The UTOT

Today I finished putting together the Ultimate Teacher's Organization Tool (aka UTOT) thanks to Jodi at Littlest Learners/Clutterfree Classroom. I purchased the plan book set she designed using the graphics by Thistlegirl Designs...and I have to say it's the cutest plan book I've ever had...but not only is it uber cute...it is also very practical, everything is there at your fingertips...everything from student information to attendance and even a gradebook. I ♥ it! I am sure that this tool will help me keep very organized this year.