Thursday, August 23, 2012

Therapeutic Thursday!

Today is all about how I relax and unwind after a long week at work.  Truth is, I'm not very good at relaxing.  I just don't like the feeling of doing "nothing".  I have never been a fan of the beach or other places people usually associate with relaxation.  Perhaps that's because every family vacation I've ever taken has been to Disney World.  That's right...once when I was 8 then once a year when I turned 12.  When I was in high school we started going twice a year, at Christmas and during the summer.  I have missed a few trips since getting married but it has to be getting close to 30.  I love it there.  My dad plans every minute of our trip and to most people it is anything but relaxing, just ask some of the families we've drug along in the past.  Who have yet to come on a return trip with us by the way.  I wonder why?  This is the kind of vacation I am familiar with so it's really hard for me to lay on a beach all day and do "nothing."

I relax more by "doing" things, like shopping, for example.  I love to shop!  I have gotten much better about spending since I met my husband.  I've also gotten much better at looking and waiting for a good deal.  But when I've had a hard day and want to relax, I usually go for some retail therapy.

I also love spending time with my family and friends.  If I'm stressed all I need is a good group text conversation or some time with my sweet Parker.

What do you do to unwind after a long day at work?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Where I Teach Wednesday

I posted pictures of my classroom last week so this post will be sort of a repeat.  I will be taking more broad pictures tomorrow after Meet the Teacher and will add those this weekend.  I am still finishing up my library area, Safe Place, and writing work station.  Once those are finished and the boxes of "junk" are put away I will feel so much better about my babes coming into my room.  It doesn't matter how early of a head start I get, I always feel rushed at the end.  Does that happen to anybody else?

Here is a view of my whole group teaching area.  Just out of the picture is my carpet.  This the view from just inside my classroom door.

These are my academic vocabulary walls.  When I introduce a new math or literacy concept, we will discuss the academic vocabulary associated with it and those words will go on their respective wall.  If you are interested in doing something similar in your room then check out Kim Adsit's academic vocabulary packets by clicking here and here.

This board is dedicated to my high-frequency words.  Behind the butcher paper is a magnetic white board which allows students to interact with the words on the word wall as necessary.

Here is my Letter Wall where we put information for each letter as it is introduced.

To the left is my behavior clip chart.  The idea came from Kim Adsit and her daughter Megan who uses this system in her classroom.  I simply adapted the clip art and background to match my room.  Click here to read more about Megan's system.  On the right is my Daily 5 choice chart where the kids will be making their Daily 5 choices each day.

These pictures are focused on specific areas of my room.  Like I said, I'll be taking more broad view pictures tomorrow.  It's probably a good thing I waited because I completely re-did the furniture layout of the room the day after these pictures were taken.  I love it so much more now though!

Check back tomorrow for Therapeutic Thursday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tech Tip Tuesday

I love technology!  Who doesn't?  We have four computers in our home, two tablets, two smartphones, ipods, etc.  My husband is the tech guru in our family so he's constantly teaching me new things.  This post is going to be more about how I use technology in the classroom and hopefully from that you'll be able to pull a tip or two!

First I could not function without some sort of computer in my classroom and the more the merrier.  I have moved away from the tape player and primarily do Listen to Reading on the computers or the iPad.  We use a program called Raz-Kids and I love it.  The kids are able to listen to books on their level and then take comprehension quizzes.  I am then able to go in and run all sorts of reports with those results.  It's a great accountability piece and I'm able to continually assess them even when they aren't at my teacher table.  Many of you probably use this program but if you don't, I would highly recommend looking into it.

This is going to be my first year having a smartboard in my classroom.  Needless to say, I am very excited about all the possibilities this is going to open up for my class.  So if there are any veteran smartboard users out there, please comment and share your favorite websites for lessons and different ways your incorporate this resource in your classroom!

My personal favorite piece of technology is one we all use everyday....the internet!  It is amazing how much better of a teacher I am because I am able to collaborate and share with so many knowledgeable teachers all over the world.  If I need an idea for a lesson or a tutorial on how to use a resource all I have to do is type it into Google and I am provided with an endless supply of websites, blogs, and "pins" to be able to pull from.

The last tip I have for you is for those people who are interested in creating their own products for personal or commercial use.  I get lots of questions about how I create my products.  I primarily use PowerPoint to make everything.  It is so much easier to use than Word.  I am also beginning to use some Adobe products to create programmable pdfs as well.

Check back tomorrow to see where I teach!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Must Have Monday

We are in our final week of Staff Development.  It's hard to believe that summer is over and I will have a room full of kiddos next Monday!  I got a sneak peak at some of my babes and they are adorable!  I can't wait to see all of their smiling faces at Meet the Teacher.

This week I am linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week!  Check back each day for a new post!

Today is all about my must-haves.  At the top of that list is a nice, cold Coke.  I prefer a Sonic drink but that's not always a possibility so a good ole' can of Coke works just fine.  I have to have a Coke during the day.  I know it's bad for me but I don't drink coffee so it's all the same right?  I teach little people, I need all the energy I can get!

My second must-have item is some form of smelly markers!  I am obsessed with them and even that might be an understatement.  I had been using Mr. Sketch but I discovered Scentos this summer and they have become an instant favorite.  My jump start kiddos were all over those Scentos so I am excited to use them with my Kinder friends when school starts.

Another one of my favorite must-have items is my scotch laminator.  This thing probably should have been number one on my list as often as I use it.  Our school laminator was constantly acting up last year so this was a life-saver.  Inevitably, there is always a really good idea that comes to you at night and you want to implement it the following day but of course we can't give your babes anything that's not laminated because it would never last.  Those are the moments I fall in love with this thing even more.  I need to purchase another one for school so I don't have to transport it back and forth anymore.

The last thing on my must-have list are books written by the amazing Marcy Cook.  I use her materials a lot for math and they will be an excellent resource as I prepare to move to a math workshop approach this year.  Her activities really promote higher-level thinking and require those multi-step problem solving skills that so many of our kids are lacking.  If you have not seen her materials and are interested in raising the rigor in your classroom then click here to check them out.

Check back tomorrow for a technology tip!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Look What I Found!!

I am so excited about my TPT purchases that I snagged during the Back-to-School sale earlier this week!  There are so many amazing teachers out there and I am so thankful that we have the technology and the resources to be able to share and collaborate with one another.  Take a look at what I found...


I am a huge fan of Kim Adsit.  If you have not had a chance to read her and her daughter Megan's blog then you should really set aside some time to do that.  She has a wealth of knowledge and shares some great ideas on increasing the rigor in your classroom.  I can't wait to start implementing Reader's Workshop this year with the help of her units in addition to Growing Readers and Reading with Meaning.  I also grabbed her new number sense packet.  I am always looking for ways to better teach number sense to my kiddos so this packet will come in handy.  Although Texas is one of very few states that has not moved to the Common Core, our new math standards that will be released next year are very similar to Common Core.  This unit will be especially helpful in addressing those standards in the future.

I am also a fan of Kathleen over at Growing Kinders.  I feel like I have learned so much from these incredible teachers I've never met!  I also purchased her portfolio packet during the TPT sale and I am eager to start using them in my room.  If you're looking for a great way to document student progress throughout the year then this packet is for you!

If you are interested in purchasing any of these units then click the image to view each item on TPT.

Today was our first official day back.  We will be in Staff Development again tomorrow and then all of next week.  I am finishing up my Ocean Binder and Jungle Binder packets and hope to have those posted soon.  I will also be posting more classroom pictures after Meet the Teacher next week.  

Have a fabulous Friday!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pinterest Projects!

I recently finished working on two very popular Pinterest/blog products.  I am so excited to put these to good use in my room.  Which by the way, looks COMPLETELY different since I took pictures last week.  My husband and I did some major rearranging of the furniture.  I must say, I love it so much more now!  I will definitely be posting some updated classroom pictures soon.

Here is the teacher toolbox that has been circulating on Pinterest.  I don't have a teacher desk in my room so this is a necessity.  In keeping with my jungle theme, I went with these zebra print labels I found on Little Kinder Warriors.  If you'd like a copy then check out Katie's post by clicking here.

The toolbox was super easy to make.  I bought it from Lowe's and had my hubby spray paint it black.  I  printed off the labels, laminated and cut them out.  Then I used double-sided tape to attach them to the drawers.  Very simple!  Click here to view the original Teacher Toolbox post on Create.Teach.Share!

I first saw this idea on Nicole's blog Rowdy in Room 300.  I thought it was adorable and very useful but crafty I am not so I kind of forgot about it.  However, two of my best teaching friends started filling our group text with pictures and ideas of how they were going to make their alphabet organizers so I decided to give it a try.  The storage unit is in the Christmas crafts section of Hobby Lobby.  It is actually a cardboard Advent calendar.  I had Mr. Spouse spray paint it black and then we hand painted the individual boxes pink and blue.  I opted not to mod podge the labels from Nicole's blog but used sticky scrapbooking letters instead.  I love the way it turned out!

I'm headed back to school tomorrow to continue organizing and preparing for the new year.  We officially go back on Thursday so I should probably be soaking up these last few days but I can't seem to stay away!  Does anyone else have that problem?

The sale on TPT ends tonight so if you haven't had a chance to check out all of the amazing products being offered at a great discount then you've still got a couple hours!  Be sure you use the promo code BTS12 at checkout for an extra 10% discount.  I'll be back tomorrow to share some of the goodies I snagged.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to School Sale on TPT!

Now is the time to move all of those must-have items off your wishlist and into your cart!  I am joining many other bloggers in a back-to-school sale.  Everything in my TPT store will be 20% off and TPT is throwing in an extra 10%.  That's a lot of savings!  Just make sure you use the code BTS12 at checkout.  The sale runs Sunday-Monday.  Happy Shopping!

For a full list of sellers, head on over to Blog Hoppin' by clicking here.

My First Unit!

I have uploaded my very first unit to my TPT store!  If you're looking for great beginning of the year literacy and math activities for your kindergarteners or first graders then click the image to check it out!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Welcome to the Jungle!

I was up at school today for our first day of Jump Start.  It's a three-hour block of intense small-group instruction for our littles who need an extra boost before the official start of school.  While I was there, I snapped some pictures of my classroom!  The bulk of the work is done, however, there is still lots of organizational tasks that still need to be done.  It feels really good to have everything up and almost ready to go!

Here is the view from my classroom door.  This is my whole group instruction area with my smartboard, academic vocabulary boards, and easel.  This is my first year to have a smartboard so I am really excited to begin incorporating that into lessons!

My academic vocabulary walls are situated on each side of my smartboard.  These word walls are separate from my high-frequency word wall.  I wanted them close to my whole group instruction area so they can be easily referenced during the lesson.  The idea came from Kim Adsit.  She has both a math and a literacy vocabulary packet in her store on TPT.  If you are looking to enhance the way you teach academic vocabulary I encourage you to check them out.  You can read about it in her post here.

Both my word wall and my No More Letter of the Week wall run along the back of my room.  The word wall is magnetic so the students are able to interact with the words as needed.  The letter wall is two separate bulletin boards (half cork board and half magnetic chalkboard).  So we papered off the whole thing but as you can see the bottom of the boards are not the same height which gave me some trouble at the end.  Please forgive the uneven spacing at the bottom!  I promise it's not as noticeable in person!  The extra boxes are for th, sh, ch, and wh.

Our district adopted Conscious Discipline as our primary behavior management tool several years ago.  I love CD because it's all about developing and maintaining positive relationships with your students.  I have not set up my Friends and Family Board or my Safe Place yet but I will share pictures of both when they are finished.  I saw this adorable idea in a blog post Deanna Jump did on Pre-K and K Sharing.

On the left are "I Can Be a Good Listener" posters.  These were made by Christie at First Grade Fever. They are super cute and FREE!  Click here to check them out!  On the right are my class rules posters adapted from Whole Brain Teaching.  They are not quite finished.  I'll be adding a "Class Rules" sign at the top but you get the idea.  I did a previous post on whole brain teaching.  You can read about it by clicking here.

I absolutely love this clip chart!  I have used Rick Morris' New Management system color chart in my class for the past four years.  I really like his system and have found it extremely successful (post on this is coming soon).  When I stumbled on this jungle-themed clip chart I thought it was too cute and so appropriate for my kinders that I decided to give it a try!  You can read Kim and Megan's post here.  They have included a parent explanation letter, clip art, and a weekly recording sheet for you!  If you are doing a jungle theme this year then this chart is definitely worth a look!

When I taught first grade I used a pocket chart system to manage Daily 5 choices.  It worked really well for them but when I moved to kinder I needed to make a change.  I switched to a clip chart and love it!  I have some jungle-themed choice cards posted in my TPT store.  You can check those out by clicking here.

Well that is most of my classroom.  My reading area is still under construction while I wait for another shelf from Ikea.  There are a few other spaces that need some last minute touches but the majority of the work is done!

I hope everyone is enjoying the last few weeks/days of summer break!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Reading Institute

I had the pleasure of attending a four-day workshop in Bryan this week called the Summer Reading Institute.  I am always eager to attend a quality training.  I just really enjoy professional development.  As teachers we often say we want to instill in our students the desire to be life-long learners.  Well thank you to BISD and all the teachers I had growing up because they did just that.

I learned some great ideas for teaching non-fiction/fiction text pairings so I will be posting about those as they come up throughout they year!

I am almost finished in my classroom.  The hubby and I are headed up there tomorrow for some last minute touches.  I plan on taking my camera so I can post some pictures this weekend.

Hope everyone is enjoying the last few weeks of summer break!  If you have an ocean-theme in your classroom then check out my Under the Sea Classroom Pack on TPT.  Click the picture below to visit my store.

I am still working on student binder packets and a post on my behavior plan!  I haven't forgotten I promise!  A back-to-school unit is also in the works so consider following my blog to stay updated on any new projects!