Monday, September 9, 2013

Whole Brain what??

Today was my first day in fifth grade and it was amazing.  My classes are really 
well-behaved and all around great kids.  I know we will have a great year but imagine
my surprise when none of them had ever heard any part of whole brain teaching.  
Actually that may be a little bit of a fabrication,  they knew to say "yes!" when I said
"class" but that was it!!!

They looked at me like I had three heads when I asked them.....
practically had to beg talk.  In a couple classes, I 
had to stop the conversations and tell them that I needed to 
hear more talking.  Some were scared to turn their neighbors and
chat.  Boy, I have NEVER had this problem before!

We were about to cover the five classroom rules, partner share with "teach/ok", 
and "class/yes".  I taught them all about the scoreboard and 
every class beat me.  They really were that good.   We used "mirror words"
for our classroom rules.  I did not use "Hands & Eyes" because they are in 
my opinion a bit old for that one.

I think we really are going to have a great time 
learning our social studies using whole brain.  They really
seemed to like mirror words.  Even the "too cool" boys were doing the
hand motions with me.  

Tomorrow, we start our first real unit with our first real lesson.  I've created my 
flipchart so that the information is sent out in chunks with talking and sharing in 
between the chunks.  That always seems to be my weakness.  Once I start
talking, I have trouble stopping.  Surely you don't have that problem right?!?!  
I knew you didn't!!  

Just as a reminder, if you want my classroom rules (whole brain of course) 
on polka dot papers, you can find them in my store here.

I hope you have a great week.  Check back later in the week for a 
recap of our group project which is on Wednesday! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I think I can, I think I can, I think.....

So after surviving the first three weeks 
of school with my sweet babies, I decided that maybe 
I needed a change in scenery.  A job came open at a
school near my house, at the school my boys go to, at 
a really really great school in our district and I jumped
on the chance to be here with my boys.  

Yes, I will miss my babies.  

Yes, it is hard to leave after just learning about each one.

No, I never wanted to be "that" teacher that switches schools 

But, sometimes you have to do what you have to do!

So tomorrow at lunch I leave my firsties for the very last time
to go work in my FIFTH grade room.  Yes, fifth grade!!  And social studies at that!!

Sadly, I will be packing away my circus stuff.  One day I will come 
back to the little people again but for now, I am with the big kids!
I was totally at a loss as to what to use as my theme for my new classroom until
I walked in and saw that she had put polka dots as a border around the top of the room.

My new theme - Dots and Spots!  

Creative isn't it?  lol.....

I'll have pictures AFTER I can get into my room to clean it out and decorate it tomorrow but for now......

I created a set of classroom Whole Brain Teaching rules.   

You can grab them all in my store here for FREE of course!!!

I hope you have a great weekend!!  I'll be back next week to share pics of 
my new room!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Surviving the first few weeks of school!!

Yes, I have survived!!  Today marks the end of our third full week 
of school (we started on a Wednesday)  and I can honestly say 
that my students are pretty much where I want them to be.  
Yes I still have some friends who need to be constantly reminded
 of the rules but for the most part, by golly, we've got it!  

Most of our first week was spent learning rules and procedures.  My 
students are definitely chatty and some have difficulty remembering 
procedures but most of them are very eager to please and that helped
make our transition to first grade a great one.  

As we were learning about our math tools and how to use them, we worked on 
patterns.  I find this to be an easy start each year because students usually understand 
patterns really well.  Since this is a slightly advanced class, I decided to see if they 
could "name" the pattern with letters.  

They were proud to show off their patterns to me.  Most of them were excited that 
I wanted to take a picture of them.  

They were so cute and worked so hard but I can't tell you how many times we 
had to "catch" our frogs hopping all over the floor.  It was a MESS!!! 

We loved our roll and color sheets from Little Miss Kindergarten!!  You can get them here!

They were lots of fun until one friend would win and the other would throw a fit 
and provided lots of opportunities in learning how to win and how to lose politely.

Here's a pic of my youngest enjoying an ice cream to celebrate the end of
his first week!!

Does your school require that essential questions be posted in your room
for students to view?  Our school does so I have been creating pages to 
hang on the walls with the essential questions from our reading series, Wonders.

Here's a peek at my latest set from Unit 2!!

Click on the picture to be taken to the item in my store!  Want to win it??  Leave a comment telling me when you started school or will start school this year!  I will pick one winner tomorrow evening!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A peek in my room on the eve before the first day!

Well this is it.  I'm as prepared as I'm going to be!  My room is as done as it can be!  My sweet first graders will come tomorrow for their first day!  I'm very excited to get to know them and begin this journey with them.

Here's a peek into my room as I left it today -

A view from the doorway into my room....on the opposite wall you will see my word wall and my schedule

Our carpet for carpet time with my chair and circus wall

My "messy" corner of centers storage and outdoor play toys along with our
Juggling Jobs clown

My boys' and girls' restroom with our library in between.  A few of our first days books are on top of the library with SkippyJon for now.

Each bucket in our library has a different type of duct tape on it.  Each book in that bucket also has the same strip of duct tape across the spine.  This enables my student whose job is librarian to know which bucket to put the books in.  

More of our library...

An example of a bucket with the strip of duct tape

The left front of my room with student boxes, centers trays, color words and our Whole Brain rules

The board area of our room

My agenda board with our essential questions and objectives as well as my teaching table

Looking back at the door into the hall with our 200 chart, shapes and number words

My data wall to hold student benchmark scores as well as goals and "Did we meet our goals?" information.  Please excuse my mess under the board.  Some are my items and some are supplies but those desks will hold my student netbooks when we receive them later this week.

Well I better get to finishing up my last minute things so that I can go to bed.  I hope I can sleep!  Can you sleep on the night before school?  I'm always SOOOO excited and nervous that it's hard to actually rest!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

More back to school planning!!

I think I may have finally figured out my centers dilemma.  Whew, I had so overthought (is that a word?) the whole process.  Tonight, feeling overwhelmed by my large number of students and my even longer "to do" list, my brain shut down and I just began to click through old blogs and links that I had saved from years gone by.  On the second link, I came across a page on centers.  I think it was an answer to prayer! Here it is if you are interested - Mrs. Mcdowell.

I'm not going to share her chart here because that would be "plagiarizing" but basically she suggests only 3 rotations a day - me, centers, seatwork.  This will give me eight students at each rotation and since they work in pairs, there will be four groups in centers at a time.

SO....for my class of 24 students, I will have 8 working with me, 8 working with partners on seatwork, and 8 in centers.  We will have three rotations of 20 minutes each (actually around 18 minutes with 2 minutes to move about the room).

Since there are five days in a week that we will be doing centers, I will need five centers (the other way I had planned 9 centers each week - YAY for extras!).

My five centers are as follows -
1.  Bump/Scoot Game
2. Computer time
3.  ELA center
4.  Math center
5.  Writing center

I feel so much better about all of it!

I also worked on desk name plates today.  I often have my kids work in pairs and also in teams of 3.  Last year I felt grouping 3 confused some of my kids because they weren't sure who to group with.  This year, I have a plan!

On their nameplate, each child will have a color and a shape at the end.  This child is a member of the purple pair and the triangle group.  Each member will be at the same table sitting next to each other but this will show him to speak to if I say "color group chat" or "shape group chat".

How do you do centers?  How do you group students for class chats?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Class Lists, Meet & Greet, and a GIVEAWAY

A while back I had received what I thought was my class had 23 kids on it....I was 
shocked and stressed to have so many firsties.  Since then, I've seen that lots of you
have that many or more on your lists.  After receiving my first list, my class grew to 26, and then to "too many kids to have in one class" so now they have taken back my list as they sort through exactly what to do with my sweeties.  

Tomorrow I get my class list AND tomorrow I meet my babies for the first time.  I hope that somewhere in there I have time to put their names on least one thing before they come in.  I have never in my 13 years of teaching had to do it so last minute but if it keeps me from having 26 or more kids I'm all for it.

Tonight at midnight, my giveaway ends so be sure to check it out here!!  

 Thanks for stopping by!!  

Friday, August 2, 2013

One year and 100 followers later.....GIVEAWAY!!!

Last year on August 1, I started this little blog as a way
to journal my thoughts on teaching and my classroom.  It has also
become a way for me to connect with other teachers to share ideas.

I think it's so neat that I hit 100 followers just last week as I 
neared my one year anniversary of blogging.  In order to celebrate both
milestones, I have put together this little giveaway.  

Here's a look at our fabulous prizes!!  
(Clicking the picture will take you to their blogs.)

Good luck!!!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Working in my room, pictures, and a giveaway coming soon!!

If you've been following along with my journey, you know that Friday at lunch 
I left my almost set up classroom in order to get a larger one.  
I've worked really hard since then to 
"catch up" to where I was when I decided to move rooms.

Yesterday and today, my boys and I have spent full
work days in my room (read that as 8-5) in hopes of 
it being finished by the time I go back for inservices on Thursday.
How in the world is it already time to go back to school?!?!?  

With the exception of cleaning some more of my junk and 
decorating the last bulletin board (which is behind some stuff that needs
to be moved out of my room to another room, we are pretty much done with all that I can 
do before I get student names.  

Here's some pictures of what it looked like today when we left.....

This is going to be a student work board after school starts but I hated to leave it bare
so I put all of the encouraging monster posters
in the middle of it.  My banner across the ceiling is the same one 
I used last year.

On the far left is my schedule for each day.  Color word balloons in the center and my 5 WBT 
rules are on the right.  The red pockets on the right hold my papers for each day.

My calendar....I obviously don't do calendar time.  I've never felt that it was as beneficial to my 
students as it was time-consuming for me.  We do 
morning work in the mornings that covers both math and ELA as a review
but we do not do calendar time.  The white paper under my calendar is our "Strive 65" 
behaviors and the poster will hold my birthdays once I know who my kids are.  Oh yeah, you
thought I had gotten my kids right because I said last time I had 23 but we now have so 
many that we may have to adjust or add a teacher so I may lose some.  
The empty spaces under the birthday poster will hold our school monthly calendar and lunch calendar.

Off to the right of this one you can see the bulletin board that I have not finished.  My hall board is done but I am waiting on names so I will share it later.

This weekend I'll be celebrating my one year blogiversary and my 100 follower celebration!!  Someone will win my entire store as well as prizes from a few other fabulous ladies who have
been gracious enough to share with us!!!  Come back Friday for a chance to win!!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Surprise of the Week and a few pictures

I have been trying to go to school each day for a few hours these last couple of weeks to prepare my room and purge the extra stuff I had from last year.  Junk just seemed to grow in my room.  I was just about finished purging and was beginning to put stuff on my walls when......I heard that one of our "big" rooms was available.  

This room has its own a/c, 2 bathrooms, and is 1.5 times as big as the other rooms.  It's one of the rooms we drool over at our school.  So what does a good teacher do? Yep go to the office to ask to be moved!!!  


So, all my decorations.......

(I had chosen clown #2)

All of my decorations had to come down.  

My really organized teacher shelves.....all coming down.  

I started moving yesterday at lunch time and with the help of a super sweet facilities gentleman who stuck it out with me to the end, we finished a little after 4 yesterday.  It's all moved into the new room.  It is not however organized or decorated!  Did I mention that my kiddos come to meet and greet on the 5th??  

One last look at my old was nice and cozy (read: cramped) but it was home for the last year.  

Part of my new four student tables are already set up.  The open door in the back left is the boys' restroom with the girls' restroom on the other side of the black bookshelves.  

The other part of my new room....excuse the coke machine!  This was going to be a teacher's lounge this year but we have too many students!  The small door in this picture is a "sink room".  I think this must have been some kind of art room long ago.  The "sink room" is about the size of a linen closet with a HUGE sink in it so it's completely unusable to me but this room is amazing!

The computers on the shelf are not mine so don't get excited yet!

A view of my his/hers bathrooms with my class library in between.  

I also got my class list yesterday and I have 23.  23!!!!!  I've honestly NEVER had 23 before in my life so that kind of worries me.  I had my centers all set up for 20 which is our "perfect class size" at our school but sadly I'm going to have to make more!  I also don't have an even number.  I hate odd numbers because someone is either left out of a partner for Whole Brain Teaching OR I have a group of three where someone really doesn't share as much.  How do you handle odd number classes?  I've asked for one more/one less but for now I have 23.  

SO that's where I am at in my classroom just one week before I meet my students for the first time.  I hope you have a great weekend!  I go back officially on Thursday!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I think I'm ready......

Well, every good thing must come to an end.  My summer doesn't officially end until next Thursday morning at 8 a.m. but it's o.k. because I think I'm ready.   No, I'm not ready for summer to end but I am ready to see my kiddos.  My lessons are done.  My year is planned out.  My centers are prepared.  My room is NOT finished but getting there. 

 AND....the one that tells me every year that we are ready for school, 
my boys are fighting hourly.  Yep that means even they are ready for a distraction from each other.  This year they will be at different schools and that really scares me!  In fact, I almost cried the other night when I realized that they will never be in the same school again. 

I went up to school again today to work in my room like I do just about every day now.  I'm down to the last layers of trash and I can honestly see the end in sight.  I am very excited about this year and the potential to be organized!!!  

My two goals for this year are:

1.  I want to work on writing daily with my students to make better writers.

2.  I want to incorporate meaningful centers in my everyday classroom.

Before I leave you for the evening, I have a design question for you.

Which clown looks better?

Clown #1
Yes I know that the balls are a little crooked.  I could fix that.

or Clown #2??

I know which one I like but I wanted to see if everyone agreed with me! 


Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It and a Freebie

Well I've been very busy getting my things back in order in my room this past week and it seems crazy to say that next week I will be back at work.  The students don't come back until later in August but we teachers start August 1.  I sometimes think our summers are on warp speed while the school year itself is on super slo-mo.  Do you ever feel that way?

Today I'm linking up with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics for Monday Made It!  As you may remember I've been working on my sewing room for a while now.  Although the walls and floor are finished, I haven't found the perfect affordable furniture for it yet. 

First up, a look at the before......

I could not take that puke orange peachy orange any longer!!  

And the far......

Excuse the poor father in law was working so hard to get that floor in.  I'm sure he cursed me for buying the cheapest floor possible! 

I would really like to build something like this to go in there.

It's a bookshelf screwed to the top of a small table.  I think I would like a wider table for my sewing machine but it looks neat.  Still looking for the pieces....

I did find this tall drawer set at a local resale.  I plan to refinish it pure white with no distressing to match my walls.

Enough of my sewing room and dreaming, so what did I make this week???  

Well, I made one of these.....

It's an itty bitty baby onesie for a sweet preemie!  Isn't it adorable? 

We also made a tent for my youngest's bed.  It was DH's idea and he built the setup but needed me to sew the fabric.  I just used a queen sheet and made a new seam in it.  Definitely NOT perfect but DS loves it and that's all that matters!!

This last one is my Pinterest FAIL of the week!!  Ever try something that will be "soooo cute" and have it turn out awful?!?!?!  lol....I had this "brilliant" idea that I would paint Mickey heads on the walls of my boys' bathroom since it's done in a Mickey theme.  How hard can that be right?!?!? WRONG!!! 

So after that failure, I ordered some wallpaper border and we are covering those little guys up! 

My one school related made it is for my job board.  Since my room is a circus theme, my job board is a clown juggling balls with the jobs written on them.  The title is "Juggling Jobs".  Well I made each of the balls this year all pretty and colored in but then I got to thinking about my current ink situation (Read that to mean little to no ink left) and I came up with a different idea. 

 I simply made a black circle outline with each job printed in black inside.  This way you can put ANY kind of paper behind it to print out on and it doesn't use colored ink.  If your room is chevron, print on chevron paper.  If you want solids, print on solids.  You can usually get the regular sized paper cheap at Michael's or Hobby Lobby or any local craft store.  

Pick it up here in my TPT store!!  Thanks for reading along!!