Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More work in my room

I went back again this afternoon and actually felt like I got a lot done!  All but my library books are unpacked.. that is a major task that I am just not ready for.  I started out breaking down the boxes as I emptied them.  However, after slicing the top of my thumb open with the scissors while doing that, I got mad and decided to leave them in the middle of my room.  This led to a fun tower of boxes.  That is the only picture I took today.  My friend Kristin came by to help, and she was amazing because she did the job I was dreading.... cleaning the desks. They were disgusting.  In fact, she scrubbed them with a magic eraser, goo gone, and scrubbing bubbles lemon scent for about 2 hours and only cleaned 7 of them.  While she was doing that, I was organizing cabinets and got a lot of things put away.  Soon I will be able to do the fun stuff, like put up bulletin boards!  

Monday, July 30, 2012

A daunting task... Part 2

Ok, so if you saw the first post about the state of my new room you could see how much chaos and stuff was in there!! In the first pictures, the majority of the stuff everywhere was stuff that needed to be taken away. (including lots of big furniture)

Today I convinced a friend to help and was amazed at how much we got done!! The cabinets are all clean, the stuff that needed to go away is all gone, and I feel much better!! I have 4 student computers and one monitor.... Don't ask.. I still have to figure that one out... Anyway, it is way more than I had at my previous school. I found a nice little table for my teacher computer and will back my guided reading table up to it, so you can see how my corner is starting to shape up. The cabinets are all close too.

I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to have the students store their things. I think we may need their cubbies to be our library. There are hooks for backpacks but i don't live that idea either....

Anyway.. I'm ready to continue unpacking tomorrow after tutoring!

I almost forgot my Monday Made it!! I am making my headings for my daily 5 board on the cricut machine. I am using the Life is a Beach cartridge and the square card cut outs for the background. I made 2" charms of the same color patterns and pictures that I will use with the pocket charts I got from the target dollar section. Each student will have a row, and they will be divided into 6 columns. One for their number and then they will put their choice in the round column they want to do each thing! I will put the guided reading charm in the round they have guided reading!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Back to School Checklist

Lorraine at Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies is hosting a Linky Party about back to school checklists. Here is my challenge... I have a love/hate relationship with lists. I make them and they never end. I find myself constantly thinking of things to add to the stupid list faster than I can check things off! Or.. What I think is worse is to make lists and the lose the list so that you start over again. I am going to give this a shot though. At least it will put some of those words flying around my head and put them in one place. Also... if I typed it on my blog then I should not be able to misplace the list? In theory at least. :) 1.Cricut - Finish making Daily 5 headlines and charms for students choices, CAFE letters, Schedule, and Enhancements 2. Calendar - Need to get pocket chart for calendar 3. Get rid of all the stuff in my new room that doesnt belong there so I can unpack 4. Clean room - Inside cabinets, doors, and drawers (I am a little OCD...) 5. Upack Boxes 6. Change library over from SRI to AR 7. Labels for student supplies - folders, notebooks, and binders 8. Bulletin Boards 9. PDSA Chart 10. Open "Mic" Friday signup and poster 11. Behavior Chart - Make new color chart and put numbers on clothespins 12. Writing Chart - Giant Pencil with numbers on clothespins 13. Set up Listening Center 14. "Wish Fish" for classroom wish list 15. Figure out what on earth a room parent does.. 16. Sub Binder 17. Back to school forms and things in the folders - stickers on items that need to be returned, and make checklist to make sure they have everything 18. Write something up for first homework assignment - Decorate their writing journal covers and write journal entry - choice of "all about me", "The coolest thing I did this summer was.." or "Most excited about/Most nervous about fourth grade" 19. task Cards for common core and figure out how to get them loaded onto Teachers pay Teachers 20. ACE strategy problem solving folders 21. Math structure plan 22. Math outline plan 23. AR management system 24. Get olympic teaching stuff together 25. Behavior/reading log calenday AHHHHH!!!!.... It never ends!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Love, Love, Love the Olympics

I remember being a young child and how I was so fascinated by the Olympics. It is one of my most favorite things! From the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies they are simply filled with magic! One of my all time dreams is to be able to be at the Olympic Games. My stepbrother was actually working in Shanghai, China 4 years ago and was able to not only go to the games, but saw one of my favorite events... Swimming!! Part of me wants to hate him for it!! :) In 1996, my family had just moved to Charlotte a few months before the Summer games in Atlanta. I remember so clearly how we went downtown to the intersection of Trade and Tryon to watch the torch come through the city on its way to Atlanta. My dad held me on his shoulders so I could see past all of the people crowded in the square. There was cheering, and music, and people everywhere. When those runners came through in their white uniforms it was absolutely breathtaking! How awesome to be so close to a symbol of peace, and strength, and collaboration. I love the Olympics, and I am surprised at myself that as much as I love them, I have never used them as a tool in the classroom. What have I been thinking??!! Over the next few days I am going to be putting together resources to use in the classroom to teach with the Olympics. For now, I will leave you with some thoughts I had while watching the Opening Cerembony: 1. I recorded it, so my roommate saw it before I did. He said that he thought it was weird and strange. I disagree. It was not as flashy as the Beijing Opening Ceremony, but it was very moving! I loved the fact that they showcased the history and people. The music was fantastic. In fact I want to create a playlist of a lot of it to play when my students are working. I thought the childrens choirs were phenomenal, and the sequence of music through the decades fantastic and memorable. 2. I realized that there are some excellent stories of strength and overcoming obstacles in these games. I was inspired by the shortest clip in the very first segment. Oscar Pistorius, from South Africa. He has two prosthetic legs, and is competeing in this years 4x400 mens relay team. What a phenomenal story. I cannot wait to see what he does! 3. One of our other fourth grade teacher had a very interesting practice with putting student names on desks last year. Instead of putting their names, she put the name of a famous author. I am thinking of putting the names of gold medalists from this years games. This could be fun! 4. I am stoked for the sports to start! Swimming and Gymnastics tomorrow! Yay!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Adventures in Cricuting: Part 1

Ok, so the greastest thing to the classroom since the apple timer has got to be the cricut machine. It is so much fun to Cricut and so incredibly useful.If you don't have one, it is worth the cost. You can even go into it with a friend and then you not only have a Cricut for less money, but someone to Cricut with! :)So, since we got the Cricut (well, since Jess got the Cricut) I have been a Cricuting fool. My roommmate just joked that we might need to have an intervention. In my defense, I was only cleaning up from the cricuting adventure this morning and getting ready to write this post. Here are some things that I have made so far:1. I didn't have an alphabet strip so I made my alphabet for my word wall. My classroom is mostly fish themed, so I have been using the Life is Beach cartridge. For my alphabet, I made 5 1/2 inch Beach balls and Sand Pails. The beach balls are all consonants, and the Sand Pails are the Vowels. 2. Objective boards for each subject. I saw something on Pinterest where you could put cute paper into a cheap frame and write the objective on the plastic with a whiteboard marker. I never did find the cheap frame, but I am thinking the laminating plastic will work just the same. I will put these up on my whiteboard. I made one for Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and Social Studies. 3. Started the elements for Daily 5. I made the label for my daily 5 bulletin board in the shape of a super cute whale. Each choice will have a headline for the bulletin board and then small circle charms that match for students to make their choices for each round. I started Read to Self today. It has a turtle cut out, so its charms also have turtle cutouts. I am going to use the pocket charts from Targets dollar section for the students to make thier choices. What would you make for back to school? I have a pretty long list still, but I am always looking for new ideas!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Preparing For School

Since I finally figured out how this whole Linky Party works, I decided to link up with Mrs. Crouse at 6th Grade All-Stars. I am actually excited about this years back to school, though as I think I have said before my friends all think I am crazy. One of the things that I have always been interested in was finding ways to support new teachers, and this topic sounded like a good opportunity to reflect on what it is that I do all the time, and also ways that I have changed that back to school practice. - What grade do you teach? I teach fourth grade. I have taught 4th grade for 4 out of 5 years. One year I looped with my class up to 5th. One positive of upper elementary is that the beginning of the year can be very smooth as the students already know the basic expectations of a student. Unlike the earlier grades where they are still learning so much of what is expected of them. - What is the greatest advice you received during your 1st year of teaching? I don't remember the greatest advice that I received, but there are a couple of things that I would tell a new teacher to help guide their beginning. 1. Spend the time up front to really teach and practice and discuss any behavior that they are going to need in your room. From how to sharpen a pencil, to turning in homework. It may seem silly, and like you have too much curriculum to teach to spend that much time of behaviors but I gaurantee that the time will be well spent and learning much smoother throughout the year. 2. Classroom setup sets the tone for how your room will run. If you want the students to be really organized, we have to model that from the start. The more systems you can have in place the better. 3. There is always something else that can be done. Set a time limit, and leave when you reach that time. I always liked to set one afternoon that I could stay later, but you will be no good to your students if you get burned out because you have no life. - Do you have a checklist that you follow when preparing your classroom (include the checklist)? I wish that I was that organized.... I have multiple checklists. This year, I am moving schools and have a new room. So here is my basic plan: 1. Go through drawers and cabinets and get rid of stuff that I will not need in my room. 2. Clean. Thouroughly clean cabinet doors, shelves, counters, find a way to get the dried up sticker off of the window..... Make it fresh before putting my stuff away. 3. Organize my boxes by type of items (Luckily I was smart enough to label about 80% of the boxes, and I actually did this today when I was stuck between 1 and 2 while I waited for the stuff that needs to go away to leave. 4. Sticky notes! Label each cabinet and drawer with what you think you want to go in there. Leave and come back later. Think about it again before starting to unpack. 5. Unpack 6, Decorate!!! Actually I am working on this step all along since my best friend and I just got a Cricut. Seriously.. well worth the price. Everyone should have one. 7. Once the desks are in order and supplies are organized I will label everything. I am lucky at my school that we (the teachers) get the supplies and the parents bring in a donation. This means that I can have everything labeled exactly as I want it before school starts. 8. Get ready for open house. Find forms print them, put them places. Make my wish list. This year they will be on cut out fish. My "Wish Fish" will match my underwater theme. For some of the weird items I am putting on it I will print pictures. Try to have items that range in price. Anything that you think sounds too expensive you can list as a dream item. (ie: a Cricut machine. You never know who has one that they never use, or just updated to the new one but has the old one. Or who has the ability to get one for you somehow.) - What are some must haves in your classroom that you cannot live without (ex. items, books, posters, management strategies)? I cannot live without my Daily 5 organization stuff, My color chart for behavior, and my student library organized in book tubs. - What is something that all teachers should have in their classroom? A really good hole punch, a paper cutter if you can get your hands on a 12 x 12 one, a comfortable teacher chair at your small group table, and a Cricut. Well, maybe not a Cricut but it is pretty spectacular! :) Head over to {6th Grade} All-Stars to see how other people start their year! Good luck, and I will continue to post my journey from a room of chaos to what I hope will be the most fantastic 4th grade room ever. :)

A daunting task...

I went to my new school today to continue working in my room. It is a slightly overwhelming task. My first step was to go through all the stuff that is there and figure out what goes and what stays. The next thing I want to do is thoroughly clean it. Then I can deal with my own stuff and figure out how I want things to be. I stopped for a moment and looked around. I decided I should probably take some before pictures so that I have proof of how awesome I am when I am done. :) Where would you start???

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Teacher Story

I think I have always known I wanted to be a teacher! In high school, I was a teacher cadet and had the opportunity to student teach. I loved it! I met 2 awesome teachers, and worked with 2 really different 4th grade classes. I went to the University of North Carolina @ Asheville. Their education program is a little bit different than most places in the they require a 4 year degree and you can choose to go through the licensure program. I chose Psychology, and I really feel that this has helped tremendously in working in the classroom. When I finished, I ended up surprising everyone (including myself) by coming back home to teach! My first job was actually 4th grade at the same school I was a teacher cadet in. It was a great school with many challenges. I have been there for 5 years. It is a title 1 school, and has been a struggling school on standardized testing. I loved the kids and the families, but this past year was a really tough year and I decided that I needed a change. I am now starting at a new school that is 5 minutes from where I live, and less than a mile from both my sisters house and my parents house. It is very different from my former school in that it is smaller, and is not a title 1 school. I am so excited about this upcoming year! Another plus is that my niece and my nephew are both students there, and I am looking forward to being able to take a more active role in their education! I think that I did this right this time.... This is my first attempt to Link up with Janaye at Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes blog!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My new favorite thing...

Yesterday, my be brought me her new Cricut machine so that I could play with it, and then teach her how to use it. It is by far the number one item I have wanted for years. There are so many things you can do with it in the classroom.

Right now, they are on sale for $199 on the Cricut website or at Michaels. Also, at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts, they have 25% off of accessories, and you can use your teacher discount of 15% on cartridges. We are going to have fun Cricuting (verb meaning to be super awesome while using the Cricut machine) I have already made a couple of things to test it out.

Later, I will use the Life is a Beach cartridge to create tons of things for the classroom. I will post more when we have made them. For now, I will leave you with a fun idea. Get a couple of friends together and prep for a new year with a wine and cricut night!

What have you made with a Cricut or your classroom?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Today is the day, I am on my way... Or at least am ready to share my blog. First, I want to say thank you for coming by or a visit! The blog world is new, but I have thought about starting one for a long time. My goal in writing this bloge has several components.1. I want to keep track of awesome ideas other people share and that I use in my own classroom in a way that I can come back to find it later with my own reflections.2. I wanted a venue to reflect upon best practices and collabrate with others in that process.3. I want to share ideas and strategies that I find to be very successful. I have used Daily 5 for the last couple of years in an upper grade class, and I know that there are many other people who want to start it but have concerns. This year, as I launch into our reading work, I plan to share the things that work.... or don't work. :)4. I am totally reworking my math block this year, and am sure that it should be an interesting ride. I hope that you will join me for the excitement, and possibly the tears! I have high hopes for my improved math journals, and common core task cards. 5. I have been teaching for 5 years, and I think that I have a lot of ideas to help new teachers, or teachers who need a change when it comes to classroom management. I am continually adjusting my management systems, but this has always been a strength for me. I will share templates, ideas, and resources in this blog. I hope that you will continue to come back and share your thoughts with me! A little about me:My name is Sara, and I teach 4th grade in North Carolina. I am starting at a new school this year, and am very excited about it! My new school is less than 5 minutes from my house. I see this as being both awesome, and terrifying! I have a wonderful relationship with my bed, and therefore, never want to leave it in the morning. ;) Thus, 5 minutes away will be fantastic! But, I will now be shopping in the same area as my students... could be dangerous! Any advice here would be greatly appreciated.I have worked with students of all levels, and backgrounds. My previous school was a Title 1 school. I am 29 years old. For stress relief, I run or swim. I am working towards the goal of running the Disney Princess Half Marathon next February. I am very ADHD, and can sometimes be very unfocused, but super fun! I like pretty, colorful things. I talk a lot.. But then, I kind of think that everyone who blogs must talk a lot because isnt this just another form of talking??? :PThanks for listening, I look forward to talking with you more! Sara

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The first set is ready!!

Wow, I can't beleive how addicted I have become to making things on my iPad!! I have completed the first set of task cards for fourth grade common core math. I am looking for some feedback before putting them out there to share with the world. I completed sets of task cards for all of fourth grade Operations and Algebraic Thinking A couple of things I am considering: 1. Making duplicates of them that are in black in white, without for people who can't print in color 2. Breaking the skills down further to building block skills, or focused remedial skills for students who need more support Thoughts? The first 3 people who respond and are willing to look over the cards for me will get the whole set for fourth grade Operations and Algebraic Thinking for free!

Task Cards Sampling

I am so excited abouot these task cards I've made so far!! My friends all think I am nuts because it is summer, and aren't we supposed to be doing anything at all BUT school stuff? I think that this is fun (call me crazy) and if I am going to be sitting around watching TV I might as well do something productive. I think I mentioned in the last post about task cards, that I started this project because I was unhappy with the task cards I had used last year. It was awesome that someone else had made them, but the description of the set was not as detailed as I would like, and sometimes there were answer keys while other times there were not. My goal in creating these is to have clear learning targets, bright colorful cards, and answer keys wherever possible. I am uploading pictures of the task cards I have made so far. Please comment and let me know what you think!When I get through the set for 4.OA I will put it out to share with others. Have a great day!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Math Task Cards

Last year, a friend turned me onto task cards in math. They were great, and there were a lot out there to be found. (Especially on proteacher.com) however, I had a hard time knowing if they were exactly what I wanted to correlate with the standards that I wanted to use them for. This year, our state is rolling out common core standards k-12. With that change, I decided to take some time this summer and make my own task cards. I am going to include the standard that they are created from in the set so that if other people want to use them, you will also know what the questions reflect. Due to common core asking students to do more application and deeper thinking, these will not be multiple choice questions but open-ended, matching activities, and sorts. I am going to figure out how to put them on teacherspayteachers when I get a few done.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Breaking all the rules..

My friend Denise just yelled at me because it is summer and I am NOT... absolutely NOT... supposed to be doing anything related to school! However, I am not always the rule follower so here I sit thinking of all kinds of things I could be making and playing with! I've been so inspired by Pinterest (aka "The Time Suck") and all of the blogs on Pinterest that I wanted to find a way to keep track of all of those cool things I do all year long! So.. a little about me. I am a fourth grade teacher, and I am just changing to a new school. It is super exciting and a little scary at the same time! I am not sure yet if I will need to do all the same things I normally do at the start of school. I love to run, read, and relax. Bright colors and sparkly things are very exciting. I started two projects tonight (besides this one):1. Paint Chip-palooza!! I have always loved the paint chip aisle at any place that sells paint. It is so bright and cheerful! So when I saw an idea on Pinterest to make a calendar using paint chip samples I thought how awesomely colorful will that be?!! I started today by choosing my colors and cutting off the end that has the words on it. Tomorrow or Monday, I will get a poster frame so I can put it together. I will post a picture of it when it is finished. I chose all shades of blue and some greens because my classroom theme is underwater/Fish (particularly Finding Nemo!) I was having so much fun with the paint chips that I had to find something else to make too! I found the links to word family activities with the paint chips, and I made 3 sets. I used a Sharpie to write on the cards. They are certainly colorful! I am still looking for other ideas to use these fabulous things for! I am thinking of making the Synonmym Flowers to find better and "brighter" words. I also had the idea of making place value charts. I want to use interactive math notebooks this year, and I am sure we can find tons of uses for them in there!2. Figuring out how to use Pages on my iPad to create fun documents! I finally discovered how to save a file as a pdf so that I can actually use the things I make on my iPad the other day. That opened up a whole new world for me! I love pages because it is a combination of Word and Publisher. Tonight I figured out how to make the document have a background of things that do not move as you move the objects around on the main page. I made a first attempt at a newsletter format, and was able to include cute little Nemo pictures. It looks great so far, although a little plain in some areas so I will have to keep working on that one. I will upload some pictures as I start to get things together. I am excited for this year, and hopefully will have some cool things to share of my own!

I also started making my new place value chart. I used to have one that was a giant caterpillar. Each body segment was a large brightly colored oval. In each segment was the name of the place, and an example of it. I decided that the caterpillar did not really fit my underwater/finding Nemo/Fish theme. I made it with fish.. See the picture below for an example. :) I will laminate it and cut them out with places from one millions down to hundredths. They are sized proportionally so that the places which have the smallest value have the smallest shapes.