Friday, August 16, 2013

I need s'more time!!!

It is extremely hard to believe that my summer is basically over!! I think I have spent a good 50-60 hours in my room already & it is soooo close to being done!! There are only a few small things that are keeping me from being 100% done.... however I'm pretty positive that even if I get those few small things done, more will be added to the list!! Story of my life.

I wanted to take part in each of the different topics over on Blog Hoppin' this week, BUT life got in the way.  Well... not so much that it got in the way, but I chose to enjoy as much of this week with my sweet little one before we go back!!  This week, we went on an impromptu trip to Sea World... for the 3rd time this summer!! B had an absolute blast, except for when "Shmoo" (Shamu) splashed us until we were SOAKED!
She was out before we even made it out of the entrance to Sea World, poor kid.

We also enjoyed our last lunch date of the summer at our FAVORITE spot!! If you haven't ever been to McAlister's Deli, you're missing out!!  B loves it so much that every. single. time. we drive by she says "momma, momma, eat!"  B's lunch of choice is generally mac&cheese, grapes, & sweet tea!!

In an effort to get B acquainted with her new daycare, I decided to take her a few times this week!  My hope is that next week will go very smooth... Things are going great so far, she is just exhausted when she gets home!! At 5 this evening, she was already laying on the dining room floor with her ladybug pillow pet acting like she wanted to go to bed!!   I can't say I blame her because I was quite tempted to join her on the floor!

While B was at daycare, I was working away in my room!  I managed to get my bulletin board done!!! After a trip to HobLob I was set to go!
Once I have my class list (that is looking quite large 22+) their names will go on the marshmallows over the fire!! I think this is my favorite bulletin board out of all the ones I've ever done!!!! :)  If you caught the post about my classroom earlier this week where I showed how it's set up & decorated... You're probably wondering how in the world I came up with this theme.  Well, our school theme this year is camping & while I don't usually take part in decorating to match (no one does) I also couldn't figure out what the heck I was going to put out there for BTS!!  So after brainstorming for days... I came up with this!! I also made my meet the teacher goodie to match!!
 These are gram crackers stuffed with s'more filling!! They are made by Honey Maid & called Gramfuls!  I snagged a box of 24 for less than $8 at Sams.
To grab the tags, you can {click here}.  
They are editable so you can add your name before printing off!! :)

Freebie Fridays
On top of that... I managed to get a couple other things done today... Here is a picture of a few!  The burlap banner I made is for our photo booth that we will be having for staff next week!! Can't wait!! The chevron banner is still up as a freebie on my Facebook page!! :)

Before I go though, I would like to share a few tips & tricks of the trade! :) 
Remember that each class & student you get each year is new to you.  Don't judge them (as a whole of individually) based on what teachers they had the prior year say.  Let all of your new babies come in with a clean slate.  Form your own opinions & let those of others go in one ear and out the other.  

With that, remember that each class is different.  Just because something worked wonderfully for one group of kids (i.e. classroom management, lesson, etc) doesn't mean that it will work so great for the next.  Be willing to change, be willing to learn new methods for teaching different content & strategies.  After all, if we are not willing to try new things & be a learner ourselves, how can we expect our kids to be?

I wish I had a picture for this one, but I don't! :( That's what happens when I don't think ahead!!
One of my biggest life savers when I get a new kiddo is having pre-made bags with all the necessities they we will need to get them started together & ready to go! 

What is this bag made up of?
Beginning of the Year Letters 
(classroom management, parent contatct, expectations, etc)
 Homework Journal
Take Home Folder
Labels for Journals & Folders
& anything else special that we use

By having these things ready to go & fixed up for kids when the arrive, it makes the craziness of a new kiddo arriving at your door go a little bit smoother!  I know I can just go grab a bag & we can at least make it through the day!  

For those of you that are back already, I hope you had a great week!! For those of you that start back with me on Monday.... I hope you savor every moment left of the weekend!! I sure plan to, especially since I will be getting to meet a bunch of fellow bloggers at a blogger meet up!! :)  Excite! 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teacher Week: Classroom Digs

So just last week, I linked up with the super sweet Ashley from Flying High in First for her Classroom Tour linky!  In case you're new or just didn't make it on over to check out my classroom here it is again for teacher week!! 

The picture above is the view from the door!  

 Here is a little better look at the back wall.  As you can see most of my bulletin board spaces are bare... I don't like to have too much up at the begging of school other than my word wall, character traits, and pocket charts.  WHY?!?! Well, it's simple.  We make so many anchor charts as we come back to school that I will NEED to have room to hang up!!
As you walk in to the right is the front of my room.  Still a little bare... I have yet to add my pledge posters & National Anthem!  Yes, we say both the US & Texas Pledge every morning in addition to the National Anthem.  I also plan to put a pocket chart on the right side of the Texas flag to store my daily objectives!
If you're up front, this is your view of the back!  The back wall will occupy my math anchor charts on the right (grey) side & pocket charts with important vocabulary on the left. I also have my three classroom computers, mailboxes, and math manipulatives shelf on the back wall!
And... the last wall..... The TV is where our morning announcements, put on by
the 5th graders on our campus, play.  I also have my calendar & birthday board below the clock.  In years past, my desk horse shoe table has been in the left corner of this photo.  This year, I needed a change of scenery!

Now for some close(r) ups! 
This is my new "teacher" area!  I'm so in love with it...mostly because I'm right next to the window!!! All those cubbies, shoved full of junk teaching materials & the book shelf will soon be covered with a teal curtain.  Now I just need to get the sewing machine out!!
Immediately when you walk in the door, you will pass this area.  The drawers on the left house some of our materials (rulers, index cards, stickers, etc.), but the bottom three drawers will also be where students will store their extra supplies!  I put a name on a gallon sized bag for each kid & then the put it in the drawer with their name!  Makes searching for supplies, super easy when they run out!  The multi color pocket organizer is where the attendance & lunch count supplies lives.  Perfectly placed because the blue pocket chart will be how my students make their lunch choice this year!! Now I just need to add vinyl numbers to each of the slots!  & Obviously their mailboxes are right above!  This will allow me to keep a better eye on when my kids have emptied out their mailboxes or not!
Here is one of my favorite places.  Mostly because this is when we (all the kids & I) are gathered up having discussions, learning, & sharing!
Behind my easel is my teacher book shelf...  All of my books that I want to read aloud to the kids BEFORE they get a chance to read them!  They are then placed in a special box for the kids to read!  Some of the boxes are labeled according to their subject (life cycles, famous Americans, holidays, etc) for easier findings!  This shelf too will be covered with a curtain!

These are the pictures from the classroom library!  I am still in the process of getting all of the book reorganized & the boxes re-labeled!
These are the shelves from the outside of the library, facing our meeting area!  The greenish shelf will be where all of the literacy centers will be.  The top shelf is soley for writing.  At the bottom I have some multi colored containers, these are how I manage & organize my centers that are differentiated.  The green & red are the same center, but differentiated.  The black and pink are the same as well, just differentiated.
The white shelf with the red boxes is full of community supplies (markers, crayons, & highlighters).
This shelf, on the back wall, is where all of our math manipulatives and math centers are stored!  I like to keep all the math in one place to make it easy for everyone!

& I hope you're not bored....... But before I'm done... I want to share some of the little things that make me love the setup this year so much!

First, my centers pocket chart!  I got this gem right towards the end of the school year and put it to use immediately!  It's a magnetic pocket chart!!  This has by far been the easiest way for me to manage my centers.  I rotate out my centers about every 2 weeks (sometimes a week and half, depends on what I have in the centers).  I do a mix of Daily 5 and other centers that I make.  Why?!?  Well I will save that post for another day, SOON I promise! 

My new table signs!  I'm in L-O-V-E! I bought the cheap 99 cent double sided frames from Ikea.  I used fishing line to hang them upside down (I had to tape the bottoms so the pictures wouldn't fall out), and added a little bow... & Voila!
Each table will have a community box this year too.  In this box will be their personal glue bottles, scissors (that have been flagged as classroom scissors), and the red cup for when students need their pencils sharpened!  It will be one students job to get pencils sharpened each day!
I promise, only one more after this! ;)  & These two are not actually new this year!  These little rings are placed on the side of each of my computers.  It gives students the options of what they can do on the computer rings, along with how to access the sites (complete with passwords).
The trays on the right are how students turn in their work.  I give them a specified tray (1-3 or A-C) to turn in assignments so that they are all turned into the same place!  The labels need a makeover, but this will be my fourth year to use this system & I love it!!  The paper sorter on the left is for pre-cut sheets of construction paper... you can tell it needs to be refilled!

Since I did this original post  I've hammered out *in my head* what my bulletin board outside the room is going to look like... EKKK I can't wait to try it & see if it ends up looking as good on the board as it does in my head!! :) I plan on tackling that, tomorrow! :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Let's Talk About ME!

So I have to be honest.... when thinking about what today's teacher week post is called.... All I can think about is Toby Keith's I Wanna Talk About Me song!  Needless to say, it is now STUCK in my head!

Ok...Here is goes! ;) Blog Hoppin' Teacher's Week 2013 is underway!! :)

1. My name is Kelli & I am the mother to a precious little fire cracker, Berklee!!  She is by far the best thing that the great Lord above has blessed me with!! She is my world!  My family is my life, I would truly be lost without them.  I am the oldest of 8 kids... Yes, 8.  However it is a blended family! 
I had to share this picture, it perfectly captures both the personalities & relationship between my daughter & I.  This a photo collage I made from my birthday, this past Friday!  It was a wonderful day & the surprise of my flower bed being finished by my siblings & being the WINNER of an Erin Condren giveaway, was just icing on the cake!!! :) 

 2.  I am entering my fourth year of teaching.  I still am having a hard time swallowing that I've already been at this for 3 years, because it sure doesn't feel like it!  The last three years have FLOWN by!  I have spent all 3 years at the same school & in 2nd, I'm blessed y'all!!

3. I am a reality TV junkie!!  It's pretty ridiculous how involved I get into what my mom would call "trash tv!"  At least I'm not in denial though! :)

4.  I didn't start out going to college planning to be a teacher, even though it was my childhood dream!  I began going to school to be a pediatric nurse.  It wasn't until I made it through 3 semesters of pre-reqs, made it through (&loved) a&p, & was sitting in micro-biology class that I realized.... eh this isn't for me!!   I began to realize that teaching littles was really where my heart was!! I jumped right into my edu classes & never looked back!  :)

5. I am about the furthest thing from a morning person that there can be!  Seriously y'all ... It takes me a good bit to get going in the morning & on those early ones... coffee is non-negotiable!!  I love taking naps & staying up late is what I'm good at!! In college, my friends always knew when they couldn't get a hold of me, & I wasn't in class or working, that most likely I was napping!

6.  Mexican food, pasta, cookies & brownies are among some of my biggest weaknesses when it comes to food.  Thankfully I've learned to eat in moderation through the years!!  Otherwise, I would no doubt be in trouble!

7.  Blogging & creating are a release for me... especially on stressful days.  It is my own little escape from the world.  It's almost scary how easily I tune everything else out!  I am blessed to have become part of such a great little-big community!! I especially can't wait to meet some of my fellow TX bloggers next weekend!! :)

8.  I usually work best & am most productive when I feel as though I am in a time crunch.  This is me basically admitting that I am a procrastinator.  I'm fully aware, always have been, unfortunately probably always will be!

9.  When I like something... it can become an obsession almost... for example... in college I was completely obsessed with the fleur de lis.

I have something almost identical to this hanging on my wall now.  I was just too lazy to take a picture myself, thank you google!
I mean any & everything with a fleur de lis on it I loved... I had jeans, shirts, sweaters, decor, sink drainer, picture frames, covers, and eh even more with this fleur de lis on it!!  This obsession lived in my life for about 5 good years until B was born.  Now my obsession is anything chevron, morrocian, or aztec printed!  L.O.V.E. 

10.  I am an apple snob.  After getting my first mac in college (5-6 years ago) I now love EVERYTHING Apple.  Shortly after getting my mac, I got an iphone.  I'm spoiled rotten & am in a district that is all Apple, too!  So basically I have become completely illiterate when it comes time to do anything on a PC.  I bought a new MacBook in the spring & it made me fall in love all over again with Apple!

I hope you learned a few new things about me!
See you back tomorrow for Classroom Digs!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cake, Candles, Balloons, & Presents.....

.... All of these are things I will be lucky enough to receive today.... Because IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!  True story... Today, I'm turning Twenty-OLD!    :)

When planning this giveaway, I thought it would a great thing to give out some presents myself on my birthday, right!?!?  Sooo.... Here we are... I can't believe it!! My first official giveaway is under my belt!! Let me just tell you, I so enjoyed getting everything together & ready for this, but now is my real favorite time!! To announce WINNERS!!! :) I can't go any further though without saying THANK YOU again to the wonderful ladies who made it all possible!!  If you don't follow these ladies, you should!  Not only are they entertaining to read, they are full of fun ideas, and have some really great products out there, if I do say so myself!! :)
 So without prolonging the exciting news.......

As of NOW .... All winners have been emailed! :)

Oh & to celebrate my birthday, I'm having a .....
Hope you all have a great weekend!! :)

Only 6 more hours!!

Time is ticking & my 100 Followers Giveaway will soon be ending!! If you haven't had the opportunity to enter this, you don't want to miss out on the awesome prizes!!!  Just under six hours left!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Why not Daily 5?

Yesterday, I mentioned in my post that I don't do Daily 5 in my classroom.  I also mentioned that I would explain why later on... so what better time to explain than now?!?  Two years ago I went to a Daily 5 training, got the book, & FELL IN LOVE!  It was my first year teaching as a mommy & let me just say not having to plan literacy centers was absolutely amazing!  My kids loved Daily 5, I loved Daily 5!

Today, I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday to share my Daily 5 experience!

So now you're probably wondering why am I no longer doing Daily 5?!? What happened?!  Well the following summer, I went to a another training where my views on Daily 5 were completely transformed.  I realized that through the 5 components of Daily 5, my kids weren't really getting what they need.  I was not really reinforcing the strategies & skills I should have been in literacy centers by using Daily 5.

Since I took this training at the beginning of the summer, I had all summer to really let it soak in & figure out how I was going to make my centers better for my students.  How was I going to reinforce the strategies I'm teaching?  How am I going to make sure that my kids are doing a better job of retaining the information they are learning?  How am I going to do all of this and still make it fun for my kids?

Well... after collaborating with Diana, one of my best friends and teammates, my centers now look like this:

Students will still do writing, independent reading (read to self), buddy reading (read to someone), spelling (word work), and listen to reading.... SOMETIMES!  Never will they have all of these in one week.  In addition to these I have added word study, seat work, art, book study, science, and social studies.  Wait .. Let me stop for a minute... I do not have all of these centers every week either.  I rotate through different ones based on what my kids needs are.  So here is a model of the two-ish week rotation that I do.
There are 6 different centers, 3 rotations a day.  The six stations include buddy reading, word study, art, seat work, science, and work on writing.   I am realizing as I am looking at this that they are not actually properly placed like normal.  Normally, students would go to each center every two days.  We would use this rotation for about 2 weeks.  So what do I put in the centers?

Buddy Reading may be simply reading to another -- Sometimes though, I put in activities where they read a
story together & determine the main idea, infer, predict, etc.  It can be as structured or unstructured as I would like based upon the week.

Art is usually tied to another subject ... writing, social studies, science, phonics, &.... sometimes even math.  I love all the cutesy stuff shared on other blogs... my problem though is I don't have time to set aside to just do that cute little activity with the class as a whole.  So, I put it in a center & tie it to something we have been working on & voila, we have cute & productive learning going on!

Word Study is my phonics center.   This is where I place different games, sorts, & pocket chart activities for my kids to work on that reinforce our phonics strategies that I have taught. 

Seat Work may be some activity or assignment that I need the kids to do, but haven't had time for them to complete in the day.  It also becomes a time for unfinished work if they have any. 

Science ... well is science.  Depending on what we are learning about at the time, I may put in a little exploration lab, observations, science journal activity, sort, or assignment that will reinforce their learning here. Sometimes it may be two or all three of these at th same time in the center, depending on how lengthy each different activity is.

Work on Writing is another place that I can structure their writing or let them just go free!  More times than not, I let them write about whatever they want.  They can write books, in our class journals, create scripts, cartoons, letters, recipes, lists... really whatever they want!

Each day I rotate the numbers and students know where to go!  Each center rotation is between 15-20 minutes (for my 2nd grade babies) and they will end up going to each center 3-5 times (depending on holidays, assemblies, etc) before I switch out centers again.  As you can see I still have some parts of the D5 in my rotation, but it is not just D5 & my kids are still getting the reinforcement of strategies that they need!  Last year was my first year to do it this way & it went wonderfully!  Planning for centers wasn't too bad, especially because I wasn't switching them every. single. week.  I always make sure to put enough options & extensions in each center so that if they get done with the first they have other options.  Doing centers this way has also allowed for me to differentiate easier than in the past.  Last year my kids L-O-V-E-D centers, probably more than any other year. 

While the planning time to make the centers is more than D5, I can say that my kids retained & understood material a lot better than they did in the year(s) prior.  The centers are meaningful.  My kids are still learning.  My kids are having fun.  I feel like if I'm not doing these things, well then I am not doing my job as good as I really should be doing it!  So there it is.  That is why I don't do Daily 5.  Am I saying you shouldn't? No.  Am I judging you for choosing to do it with your kids?  Absolutely not.  I am just stating that for my kids, it wasn't enough.  I struggle enough to get through everything I need to each day as is, I couldn't not use that time in a better way than D5!

I hope this helps give a little insight!
You can purchase my set of literacy center signs, just posted to TPT {here}.  These signs are saved as png files, like clipart, so you can resize to accommodate your needs!  I have also included a blank template for each of the squiggly framed sign for you to use to make your own! :)

My newest set of literacy centers is also up on TPT now & on sale through tomorrow evening! :) Here is a peek at what is inside this set of centers!  There is even a freebie in the preview from TPT! :) 

Happy Tuesday! :)  P.S. Don't forget to enter the amazing 100 Followers Giveaway going on NOW! :)