Friday, August 31, 2012

Teacher Stress Release 101 & 102

Do you find the second week of school to be more difficult than the first?

Well, we do. 

With all the mounting stress we knew it was time for a little stress release.

Teacher Stress Release 101: Spend time with teacher friends outside of school.

After all fellow teachers are the ones who can best relate to your circumstance.
For us that means, gathering up a 4 or 5 of us and heading to:

We went on a Wednesday. 
So did that make Thursday any easier?
Unfortunately, no.  (Insert sound effect: wah, wah, wah.)

So now time for Teacher Stress Release 102: Retail Therapy!
(My fave!)

As I walked through the aisles of Target I spotted a couple of these:

I kept one.
And the other one for Antoinette (who is at a neighboring school).  SURPRISE!

How do you relieve stress after a long week at school?

EmilyK & Antoinette

Monday, August 27, 2012

I Love Giveaways!!! Can you tell? :)

Jen from Teaching, Life, and Everything in Between is having a Back to School Giveaway and I am SUPER excited because there are 3 prizes and 3 winners.  I am most excited for the Amazon gift card.  I LOVE AMAZON!!! :)  So click over to Jen's blog.  It's super easy to join the giveaway!

teaching, life, and everything in between

Oh and BTW- I made SO much progress in my office today.  I went through 7 boxes of books; one of which was a HUGE box.  YEAH ME!!!  I also put up 3 pictures of my adorable nieces in their homemade puffy paint frames and some colorful magnets, so it's starting to look a little like mine. lol  I am hoping to have it all finished soon so I can show you the after pictures.  Wanted to give you an update as I posted the before pictures like 3 weeks ago. lol  Didn't realize how SUPER busy my new job would be.  Loving it though. :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Second Post, I Know!!!

Yes this is 2 posts in one day, but I stumbled upon a 600 Follower Give Away with Reading and Writing Workshop resources.  That is the new style of teaching my district is taking on this year and I am all about getting as many resources as I can.  I want to provide my teachers with as much as possible to make their transitions easier. :)

So this post is to let you know about Lindsay's 600 Follower Give Away at My Life as a Third Grade Teacher.  Check it out because there are many other bloggers contributing such as The Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher, Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher, Teaching in Room 6, Buzzing with Ms. B, Ladybug's Teacher Files, A Teacher's Treasure, and Will Grade for Coffee.

An Online Solution to Organizing Classroom Libraries!

Is your classroom library beautifully put together... Organized in cute baskets by genre', topics, levels, etc.?  Maybe alphabetically? On the surface, my library always looked pretty decent.  But I always had a difficult time keeping track of what books I had along with all the books coming and going.  Over the years, I lost many good books.  Maybe I lack organization, or maybe it's just a common thing when you have a classroom library where students are constantly checking out books.  I did have a checkout system, but still lost books nonetheless.  I believe I have found a solution to this problem!!!

To fully tell this story, I must take you back to the moment when I looked into my office/book room for the first time.  Stunned, I found that it was overtaken by a sea of both organized and unorganized books.

  Quite overwhelming to say the least.  Click here to see more pictures of what it looked like at first.  Now, I have to give credit where credit is due.  My new coworker Brandi spent many hours organizing those books on the shelves.  I can only imagine what it looked like when she first started!  If you ever read this Brandi, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! :)

In order to put my office section together, the book organization needed to be completed (which is still unfinished at the time :'( ).  At first I stood there dumbfounded... completely at a lost.  Then I dove in.  The baskets, in the pic above, contain multiple copies of books by level to be used in guided reading.  So my main goal was determine which books had enough copies to add as guided reading sets.
Now, at look glimpse of what it looked like after I dove in.
Pretty scary huh??  It actually looked worse.  I know right!!!  I only thought to take a picture after I had already organized some.  If you want to know what it looked like at its worst, imagine a tiny circular spot in the center of the room where a person could sit and then books/boxes covering every other spot on the carpet.  Yep... that bad. lol

Now this all had to be told for you to fully understand the relief and excitement I felt when good ole' Brandi came by for a visit and introduced me to Booksource's Classroom Organizer.  It was as if Heaven had opened up it's doors and shined down upon me!  Although I am not yet finished, I made so much progress.  I only have a few boxes left.  :)

You might have seen this resource on Pinterest.  That super hero on the pic, along with Brandi, saved the day for me! :)
You have to check out this site!!  It is free!!  You can scan in the books (if your school has one on hand) or type in the isbn number.  Whalaa your books are in the system.  You can enter your students in (which I haven't played around with) and then they can check out online!  Isn't it amazing!!!


Friday, August 24, 2012

We Survived...and a freebie

 We survived the first week of school!
It was a long 4 days!

For me, it was routines and procedures. 
Since I changed grade levels, I have several students I had before, and many of the kids know me.  That is a blessing and a challenge. 
We made progress this week.

For Antoinette, it was getting to know her knew 2 new staff groups. 

Yesterday, our first walk throughs were announced.  Yeah, district personel coming to check out your room environment. (What that doesn't excite you, too?)  :)
I personally can't wait.  Come on in, look at my CUTE room.  Watch me teach. 

Now for the freebie!
(It's a little basic, my first time making my own clip art.  Be gentle.)

Click on image, and it should take you to a google doc with the image.

This is what I am putting my I can statements on.  (Remember, I have a poster printer at school, so I printed it large enough to write the I can statements for ELA and Math.)

Here was my pinspiration:

We attached this post to the Blog Hoppin' Teacher Week.

For those of you who survived the first or second week of school, congratulations!
If you are starting with students next week, good luck!

EmilyK & Antoinette

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Patriotic Classroom: The Tour & Classroom Jobs

I decided to pair the remainder of my classroom tour with Blog Hoppin's Teacher Week.

Last time I posted about my Patriotic bulletin boards.

Now I am going to give you the rest of the tour and share my classroom jobs, with a patriotic twist!

I decided my students won't be a Class but a Congress.

They won't be boys and girls, but rather Representatives and Senators.

That means we don't have just any old classroom library!

The Library of Congress

I have part of organized by Fountas & Pinnel level, and the other part by genre/series.

We have tables instead of desks, so this is their supply storage.
Yes, I found the 23 & 24 bin labels!

I love using all 2 drawer file cabinets.
It makes a nice "table" for storage.

A set of upper cabinets.
I made these curtains and signs for Made it Monday.

White Almond board.
Yep those are paper license plates!

The other side of the Almond board.

Classroom sink.
I also renamed the classroom jobs to sound more like government positions.

Computer helpers: IT dept.
Duster/Table cleaners: Sanitation Crew
Lunch helpers: Food Service
Library helper: Librarian    (I know creative right!)
Lights: Dept. of Energy
Restroom: Health Dept.
Plants: Dept. of Agriculture
Paper return: Post Master
Planner/calendar: Director of Communications
Recycle bin: Dept. of Conservation
Paper passer/collector: Office Secretary
Supplies: Warehouse
Line Leader: Girls (Senate): Senate Majority leader
                     Boys (Representatives): Speaker of the House
Job changer: Human Resources

I have 28 students this year, so some of these jobs are meant for 2 people, and the rest of the students are subs.

The other thing I wanted to mention is my behavior plan.

Behaving Our Way Through the USA

I have a stoplight system.
Good day=green
Tough day=red

I taped a US map on each kids bin.  If they have a day of green, I initial the state of their choice.
When they fill up the whole map, they will earn a special reward.  (I have not decided what exactly that  will be, though I have some ideas.  I have 48 school days to figure it out.  Since today was the second day of school!)

I flew solo on this one.  (Remember Antoinette doesn't have a classroom anymore, just office space!)

Where do you teach?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Updated Conference Form, Conferring Freebies and a Much Loved Quote

Updated Conference Form
Back in an earlier post, I had asked for feedback from our amazing followers on a conferring document I was putting together for my new buildings.  Click here to view that post.  Two presentations down and my schools will officially begin their journeys, today, into the world of conferring.  I am so excited to help them along this path.  I am also hoping all of you experts out there will help us.  See what I did there??  Recruiting all of you to help out! lol ;)  Hey that's what teaching is all about, right?

Thanks to the wonderful followers who posted a comment with feedback, I have an updated form.  It is a freebie for you.  Download it if you want and tweak it to fit your needs.
Click on the image below to download.

Included, as well, in this download, is a basic conferring form which would be good for beginners.  I also included a guide to using this form and information about each category under the teaching point.

Another document I created for my teachers is a cheat sheet for the metacognitive strategies.  In this form, I included a definition as well as discussion starters which could be used during conferring.  I'd like to claim I came up with all of the information on my own, but I am a firm believer in "Why recreate the wheel?".  So, Click here to go to the website where some of the verbiage came from.  Some of it IS actually mine. lol :)  The website is an amazing resource for reading and writing workshop.  It's a MUST CHECK OUT!!!
Click the image below to download the cheat sheet!

I remember when I first learned about conferring.  It was 14 years ago and I was a brand new teacher.  I had NO clue where to start or what to say.  I am trying to make this transition much smoother for the teachers I work with so I wanted to provided them with as many resources as possible.

I would LOVE to hear any feedback and/or tips about conferring.  How do you track your conferences?  How often do you confer with students in a week?  Any info would be appreciated. :)

I want to leave you all with a FAV quote of mine.  I had this exact poster hanging in my classroom for the last few years.  It is so true!!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Made It Monday:Pinterest Inspired

I took a few weeks off from Made It Monday, so I have a few things to share.

First project, cover top of mismatched file cabinets!

I was pinspired by this:

Click the pic to see the pin source.
I had to go patriotic with, since that's my theme!
Here is the project halfway through:

Here is the finished product:

Second project, make tubs more patriotic.
I was pinspired by this:
Click the pic to see the pin source.
Here is my version:
Ignore the power cords!

My home Made It was inspired by my hubby.
He volunteered to clean the garage (yeah!), and 30 mins into his task, he came upstairs and informed me, he had torn down the 3 step staircase from our garage to our basement!
(I have no before pics.)

Well, in true home DIY fashion, the project took longer than he expected and he needed an extra pair of hands.  I went through a week of schlepping (sp?) my groceries, teacher stuff, etc. through the front door.

Here is a finished pic:

Doesn't it look great!

My food Made It was inspired by the farmers market.
I love going to the farmers market.
I picked up all kinds of fruit at a great price.  So I got my bake on:

Banana bread. 

As you are reading this, I am preparing for my students to arrive tomorrow!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

First Day Jitters Linky Party :)

Do you get nervous before each school year?  It doesn't matter how long I have taught, I always have First Day Jitters.  This year they were extreme with starting my new job! (Which is going really well so far in case any of you were wondering.)  I started the school dreams 3 weeks before I went back, had those moments of WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!, and of course couldn't sleep the night before.

So when I saw the First Day Jitters Linky Party, I knew I had to link up!!  Be sure to stop by Ms. Jessica's post from A Turn to Learn and link up also.
Back to School Jitters Linky Party

Here are Antoinette's back to school emotions:

Here are Emily's back to school emotions:

Rules for the Linky Party:

1.  Put your text over the picture above to talk about your back to school "jitters!"  If you're not sure how to put text over a picture, check out this link!
2.  Use the HTML code from A Turn to Learn to link back to Ms. Jessica's post.
3.  Comment on the two blog posts before yours!

Antoinette & EmilyK

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Picture Books: Back to School

There is no better time to start using picture books in your classroom than the beginning of the school year.  With so many classroom rules and expectations to go over in the beginning of the year, I sometimes felt like the teacher from The Peanuts cartoons- "Wah, Wah, Wah..." lol.  Have any of you ever felt that way?

Tonight, my niece and I were discussing her first day of school and she talked primarily about classroom rules and expectations.  Now don't get me wrong, I know how crucial those are to the success of a school year, but why not throw some picture books that teach rules, responsibility, community, reading habits, etc in there as well.  I know I felt much better about the first few days when I used some great books to reinforce positive behaviors as well as teach a love for reading.

So I wanted to share some picture books to start the year with.  They aren't in any order of preference, just a bunch of ideas of the top of my mind.  I am including books from a variety of levels.  Click on the book image to view them on Amazon.

This is a cute book and it's great for connections because it deals with anxiety toward the first day of school.  It also has a funny surprise ending.
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
My next 2 books are by the same author, Karen Beaumont.  They are adorable rhyming books for primary grades.  The first teaches about friendship and that it's ok be unique.  The second goes great with being unique and teaches to be confident about yourself.

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson is a wonderful book with a message about friendship and getting to know people before you judge them.

The next book is a wonderful way to teach an appreciation of our opportunities to be educated.  More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby is fictionalized book about the hardships of young Booker T. Washington and his strong desire to learn.

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter is a fabulous book about a librarian who fears all of her books will be destroyed from the war going on around her.  What a great way to teach students how books are a treasure and the importance of taking care of them.

Every year, we get those children who do not enjoy reading.  Our goal is to find a way to inspire them to love reading.  That's Miss Malarky's goal in the book Miss Malarky Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler.

Making Connections is always a great way to start out the year because it is a skill which comes natural to children because they love to talk about their lives. :)  Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume can be used in many different ways, but MOST kids can spend an infinite amount of time talking about sibling rivalry.  This book is told from two perspectives- Pain (the younger brother) and the Great One (the older sister).  A great book to read with this is My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother by Patricia Polacco.

The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting is such a touching story about a young girl named Ana who teaches her grandmother how to read which is a surprise for her father's birthday.  Children can relate to this book either by learning to read themselves or relationships with loved ones.  They also love the surprise of it being the grandmother.

I am going to wrap up this session of Picture Books with another Eve Bunting book. One Green Apple is a story about a new student who is from a different country.  She has a hard time fitting in because she is so different from everyone else and speaks a different language.  This is a great book to teach about accepting cultural differences.

I hope you enjoyed my small selection of picture books to use in the beginning of the school year.  I could have kept going on and on because there are so many great ones out there.  Be looking for my next installment of picture books in the near future. :)

What picture books do you use to kick off your school year?