Thursday, August 29, 2013

An Organized Classroom!

Did you see the news!?! I will be a monthly guest blogger for The Organized Classroom Blog! I will be guest blogging every month this school year on the 19th, starting September 19th. In celebration for this awesome blogging adventure, I thought I'd do a quick share one of the ways I am organizing my classroom to make materials more readily available for my students. 

Check out Charity Preston's OC Blog!

Thursday crept up on me! 4 more days and I will be in my classroom with a group full of bright-eyed second graders. I have been pulling together the final details of my classroom.  I am very lucky to have several cubbies in my classroom. I have enough cubbies for each student to have their own, plus enough for me to store all my crap things.

I am assigning each second grader their own cubby space. Each student will have a number. This number is marked on their cubby, and will be used in other ways throughout the year as well (lining up, role call, organizing files, etc.). 

Don't you love the labels?!?! They are from Schoolgirl Style and match my classroom colors and pirate theme. I used a fancy hole punch to create the flower shape you see on the clear containers. 

Inside each cubby is a clear plastic container. These will be their book boxes and will hold their reading supplies like highlighters, post-its, pencils... you get the idea! I'll have more on how my student organize their reading supplies later! The number on these plastic containers matches the number on their cubby. This way, each container has a specific home. The best part about the plastic containers are that they're only $1 each, so if they break, it won't break the bank replacing them as well (pun intended :). 

And there you go! Short and sweet!

Be sure to add me on Facebook for updates on my Organized Classroom Blog posts! 

How do you organize student-picked books and reading materials??


Monday, August 26, 2013

The Daily 5 CAFE' Menu Freebie and a Little Closer to School Starting

One week... just one week and I'll be one sleep away from the first day of school with my new bunch of second graders. I have my class list and couldn't be more excited to start the new school year! 

This weekend, I spent the majority of my time with organizing and decorating my bulletin boards. Behind my teacher's area/ guided reading table, I wanted the space to feel homey and welcoming. Here's a look at what I put together...

It's my Daily 5 CAFE' board! Yes, I plan to once again fully implement the Daily 5 in my classroom this year. I love the Daily 5 and have used it since I started teaching in 2009. CAFE stands for: Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expand Vocabulary... all components of being a successful reader. Students will learn about CAFE and make goals based on what they most need to grow and improve in as a reader. Students will then place a post-it note with their name on it to mark their goal(s). 

Under the colored paper will be strategies to help students meet their reading goals. We will add these strategies as the year goes on. I have my students write the strategies down so that they have more ownership of their learning. 

If you've seen other pictures of my classroom, you know that I love the look of black bulletin boards! I framed the board in a black border from Creative Teaching Press. The lamps are from a garage sale, and I found the shades at Walmart last school year. I was going to paint the lamps to go with my red and black pirate theme, but I decided I wanted to keep them yellow... I think the yellow lamps make my teacher area look more like home. 

As promised, I have a freebie for anyone who still needs CAFE menu posters. Click HERE to be taken to my TPT store to score my CAFE posters. I printed the posters at two-per-page, but I made them in full size. I hope you enjoy!

And... one last thing! Here's a peak of the current status of my classroom. I feel like I made it more of a mess! I still have random stuff everywhere that I couldn't quite fit into my cabinets. I better get cleanin'!

How do you use Daily 5 in your classroom??


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Exciting Things Around the Corner in Second Grade!

Where have I been?!?! My goal of blogging at least twice a week went out the window these past few days! Professional development doesn't start till next week, but I have still been keeping busy with plenty of other endeavors. 

First, I joined STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) and I am so excited to plan a STEM project with my new teaching partner, who just happens to be awesome! I spent two days learning about project based learning. Let me tell you, project based learning is the bomb! Okay, I don't think that's cool to say anymore... Let's try this again... PBL is off the chain! 

On top of my new journey with STEM, I was chosen as a monthly guest blogger for The Organized Classroom Blog!!!! You can see my guest blog posts on the 19th of every month starting in September, except December. If you follow me on Facebook, I will be posting links to my monthly guest blogging posts {plus, you can get my Facebook fan freebie... oh, the perks to liking me!}

And of course  on top of everything else, I've been busy in my classroom! I'm still a LONG way off. Way too far off considering professional development week is this Monday... EEEEEK!! Here are a few pictures to show what I've been up to...

I'm still planning on posting an entire classroom reveal, so stay tuned for even more!

I utilized the space above my whiteboard by hanging up some black paper and framing it with some pretty, pretty chevron border. I found the alphabet at the Learning Palace. There are some amazing alphabets on TPT, but I loved how this alphabet has photographs instead of cartoons. The rules are from Teaching with Style and are Whole Brain Teaching rules. I used WBT last year and loved my students' response to WBT's expectations. 

I was in love with how this turned out! I added a little extra flashiness with two tissue paper poms. I made each pom with 8 pieces of tissue paper; 6 white tissue papers and 2 black tissue papers in the middle. I just stapled them to the wall... easy-peasy!

This picture is of the back of my classroom. My word wall is to the left (not shown) and this is the math bulletin board. We'll be doing calendar, vocab work, number sense activities, and group meetings here. I bought the USA rug for only $125 dollars from eBay last year. I love eBay! 

I had another picture to show you of my Daily 5 board, but realized I totally mixed up the letters of CAFE'... man, I must be tired, or I need to go back to spelling school! I'll show ya'll my CAFE' bulletin board tomorrow with an awesome freebie! 

I'll be back in school tomorrow to try and finish up the rest of my classroom, minus some {a ton} of decorations. 

What things do you have in your math calendar area?? Do you change your calendar area on a monthly basis, or keep it the same?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I Gotta Go to the Bathroom!: Managing Bathroom Breaks in the Classroom

It's inevitable! At some point in your day, multiple kids are going to want to go to the bathroom during class time... there's just no getting out of it! It took me a couple of school years to find a bathroom system that has worked for me, and I'm happy to pass it along!

In my classroom, I have a one boy and one girl in the bathroom at a time policy.When sending multiple kids to the bathroom without a teacher nearby, problems arise! Whether it's splashing each other with water, crawling under stalls, or just goofing off, kids like to use bathroom time as a chance to play with their friends. I can't say only sending one boy and one girl at a time to the bathroom alleviates this problem, but in my experience, it helps a lot!  

When the classroom is busy with excitement, it can be hard to remember how many kids you've sent to the restroom, let alone who you sent to the restroom. I wanted a way to make remembering who is in the bathroom a little easier (teachers have to remember enough as it is!). 

I bought two rubber duckies at a local grocery store; one in blue and one in pink. The duckies have a nice little home at the front of the classroom that is in clear view of myself and the students. When I send a student to the bathroom, they simply grab a duck (pink for girls, blue for boys) and place it on their desk. When the student gets back from the restroom, they return the duck. Students know that another student can't go to the bathroom until the ducks have been returned. 

This system is great! It allows me to quickly glance at students desks to remind myself who I just let use the bathroom, AND I get less students asking me if they can go to the bathroom at the same time! Win, Win! When I introduced the bathroom management system to my second graders, they took to it right away! It only took a couple of days before the bathroom procedure was smooth sailing. 

What is your classroom's bathroom procedure?


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Quiet Down, Class!: Managing Voice Levels in the Classroom

Here's the scenario: You ask your students to partner talk. As soon as you say, "go" the classroom erupts in noise. Your classroom is so loud, partners have to talk in their own teacher voice to be heard by the person sitting right next to them. Yikes! Read on to find how I tackle this common voice level problem...

One of the first things I teach my students at the beginning of the school year is voice level control. I want my students to know that during certain activities, the expectations on how loud the classroom should be are different. This is also one of the easiest management strategies to teach because the kids love practicing changing their voice levels. 

Primary students and intermediate students alike respond well to a visual reminder of their expectations. That's why a voice level chart is so important to have hanging my classroom! 

This year, I decided to update the voice level chart I'd been using for the past 4 school years. I included 6 voice levels, from zero voice to outside voice, and included what the voice level sounds like in the classroom and when that voice level is used. I attached it to string and will use a clothespin to change what voice level I want my students to be at (see photo above). This was simple to make and an easy way to remind students of voice level expectations! 

Here is the voice level chart I used in the past...

I used 5 cards in 5 different colors. Each color has a number to indicate the voice level I want students to be at. I attached the laminated cards to a binder ring so it was easy to hang on my whiteboard. When I wanted the voice level to change, I would simply flip the card. At the beginning of the school year, we would frequently practice what each number meant.

Voice level charts are easy to make and an important tool in the classroom! Come back soon as I will be adding my current voice level chart to my freebie page! 

How do you manage student voice levels in the classroom?? 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What I Wish I Knew Wednesday: Organizing the Classroom!

The countdown before the first day of school has commenced! I'm down to the wire and am trying to spend every hour I can in my classroom getting things ready for my new class of second graders. This will be my first year teaching only second graders and I am soooo excited! I have a great new teaching partner and a great new classroom! Being that I am in a new classroom, I have to unpack and completely redo my classroom set-up.

While I was organizing my room, I thought of an important What I Wish I Knew tip...

I feel like I did a pretty good job of this my first three years of teaching. I spent months in the summer preparing my classroom and organizing and labeling everything. Last year was a different story! I moved to a new school that was almost 4 hours away from where I was last living. I was moving into a house and into a new classroom and grade level at the same time. I was completely rushed and the result was in a not-as-organized-as-I-would-like classroom. I never caught up with the organizing. Time is so precious during the school year... I would rather create lesson plans than organize. 

I'm not making that mistake again this year... no, no, no! I pledge to be organized before school starts!

This week I am conquering the library! I reorganize my library just about every year because I always change how I want it set up. This year I am mainly organizing it by genre and author/ series with exception to my easy readers which I will organize by level. I did this because I was able to weed out a lot of books that would be too challenging for most of my kids. When I learn more about my students, I can introduce some of the books I put away to students who would be able to comprehend and enjoy them. 

Here's what the library looks like as of today (about half done)...

Most of my picture and nonfiction books are still waiting to be organized! I'm also planning on covering the greenish shelf with black contact paper so it matches the other shelves. The ugly green paint will be covered with a tall shelf and some cute border. I still have a long way to go, but I will be extremely happy when it's all finished and the space is ready for my students to enjoy!

If you have a link to your classroom library, share it in the comments below! I would love to see it!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Made it Monday: Seating Rehab!

Is it Monday already? I was reading several blogs and realized many teachers are starting school this week! I feel very blessed to still have 3 weeks before my second graders come and 2 weeks before professional development week. I promised myself that I was going to get busy this week! There is a wrench in the motor, however... I'm apply for grad school (again!) and if all goes as planned, will be starting graduate school on August 26th! I've been in grad school before, but this is a completely new program, so I am nervous at the work load! 

This week is already starting out hectic, but I had to make sure to get my Monday Made It in! I'm linking up with Forth Grade Frolics!

Why not keep it simple this week? I'm down to the details! Last year, I bought two stools from Walmart for about $10 each. I wasn't sure if they would stand the test of time, and they didn't! Just a couple weeks after I bought them their buttons started to pop off! The kids really did like them, so I let it go and still let the use the stools. I needed a lot of seating in my classroom, so I decided to give these ugly things a makeover. 

I bought some red and white buttons at Walmart for $5 and hot glued them to the stools. I had to cut off the original buttons. Overall, this was perhaps the easiest makeover EVER! I love how they turned out, and if the buttons pop off, I have more waiting to be glued on! The best part is that they match my red and white classroom colors perfectly!

My next project was just as simple...

I purchased red containers from Michaels for about $3 each (I had a 25% off coupon and a 40% off coupon to make them cheaper). I love these bins because they are better quality than the ones at Target, so I am hoping they will hold up well! I bought the beautiful ribbon from Walmart for $3 a roll and hot glued it around the bin. I then placed 3 plastic cups on the inside to hold pencils. I did this last year to add more storage space in the bins to hold supplies. 

I'm excited about all the things I have to add to my pirate themed classroom! I hope my second graders are going to love the new look! 

Off to write an admissions essay... No fun! I'd rather be crafting :)

What colors are in your classroom? I'd love to hear about your classroom theme!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What I Wish I Knew as a New Teacher Wednesday!

You've probably heard this before, teaching is the hardest job you'll ever love. I'm entering my fifth year of teaching, but I am no expert, not even close! Every year I learn a little bit more about what it means to be a great teacher. I wanted to share some of those things that I've learned these past four years; some things I hope to never forget and some things I hope help new teachers on their amazing education journey!

Here is my first What I Wish I Knew as a New Teacher Wednesday... September is just plain tough, seriously! I have yet to meet a teacher who says, "September is the easiest month of the year!" If you know someone who feels this way, please pass my email along to them because I would love to learn their secrets!

Students come into your classroom not knowing about your routines, rules, and expectations (with exception to looping). There's a lot of learning happening, but the learning involves how to be a good student in your classroom. It takes time, a lot of time, for this to sink in. Then, all of the sudden, they just get it! It might not be till October, but one day you'll walk into your classroom and your students are doing what's expected! Whoa! 

Why is this important to know? Because it is so easy to get discouraged! Last year, I moved to a new school and I felt like a failure my first month of teaching! I cringed every time someone entered my classroom during the day because I didn't want anyone to see anything less than perfection! Fortunately, a teacher in my hallway who has been teaching longer than I had told me the very advice I am passing on to you... September is hard for every teacher! 

Do you have advice you would like to pass on to new teachers? Or, are you a new teacher with questions about teaching? 


Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Made It: One Step Closer to a Finished Classroom!

I'm a little late to the Monday Made It party hosted by Fourth Grade Frolics. I spent the day working on my second grade classroom and was lucky enough to have a fellow teacher friend help me! 

I've been wanting a word wall for awhile; I've been thinking about it all summer! I just couldn't decide how to display words in a way that would be pretty and functional! Last year I only had a portable word wall; my classroom needed a word wall to be permanent! 

Then, last night (seriously, last night) I had a vision of my classroom's perfect second grade word wall design!  

My new word wall...

My classroom colors are red and black to go with my pirate theme. Since you can't avoid primary colors in an elementary/ second grade classroom, I also have a lot of blue in my classroom's design. I decided to cut 12 x 16" paper in half to display the words for each letter: Red is for the consonants and Blue is for the vowels. I then laminated the strips for durability. I will also add velcro to them so that I can easily remove the word cards.

The background is black... I just can't help but LOVE the simplicity of black bulletin boards! All of my bulletin boards are in black for a cohesive and clean-cut look. I used two borders, a scalloped black and scalloped gold border, for the outside of the bulletin board. I LOVE the look of two borders together; I think it adds depth and a pop! Okay, I have to admit it... I just love the whole thing! I couldn't stop looking at it and telling my friend, "I just love it!"

Here's a close-up of the word wall printable letters...

I found the pencil clip art from Creative Clips. I'm a little obsessed with chalkboard, so I knew these pencils would be perfect! I used blue pencils for the vowels and red for the consonants; this also matches the paper that I used for the words that will go on the word wall. I changed the printer settings to print two per page in order to make them just the right size! You can find these word wall printables {HERE}

AND, because I like things to match, I made some dull and sharp pencils labels... 

I found these red containers at the Dollar Tree and had to have them, knowing I could use them for something in the classroom. I thought they would be cute to hold sharp and dull pencils in. I used the same pencil clip art to create the labels. I used clear tape to place them on the containers (sorry about the glare, I don't have window coverings in my classroom yet!). 

You can get these {HERE} for FREE!

And last, but certainly not least, my awesome, amazing, super-cool teacher friend helped me organize my chapter books. There were so many, I couldn't even begin to sort my picture books (not all of them are pictured)! I think I have a problem!! Is there rehab for a teacher book addiction???

And there you have it! I am officially one step closer to having my classroom ready for my new batch of second graders! I am so excited for them to walk into my classroom and see a pirate theme and a big-ol' organized library. 

Do you have any ideas for classroom word walls that you would like to share? How do you make your word wall interactive and useful for students? 

If you have a link to your blog's pictures of your word wall, I'd love to see it, so please share!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Currently {A First!}

I am so very excited to participate in Farley's Currently linkup for the first time! I've enjoyed reading other teachers' Currently posts, and finally had the courage to share one of my own!

Here she is...

Listening: Who else is a Jeopardy fan? I have to admit I'm not too good at 'regular' Jeopardy, but the kid version is totally my speed! Plus, the kiddos are so darn cute when they answer a question correctly!

Loving: A friend of mine introduce me to a new hobby that takes participants on a new adventure. Have you heard of Geocaching? If not, Google it! There are geocaches all over the world! Before this week I had never heard of it, so I was shocked to discover exactly how popular it is and how many geocaches are right under my nose! 

Here I am exploring during a day of Geocaching...

Thinking: I keep thinking about decorating my classroom, but haven't really done much yet! I am doing a pirate theme this year. If you have a pirate themed classroom, please, please share... I need motivation!

Wanting: This goes hand-in-hand with what I'm thinking about!

Needing: This week, my septic tank broke, so I haven't been able to use much water, BUT I really, really need to wash my car! It is so dirty from driving down a dirt road. 

B2S: I am transitioning from tables to desks this school year. I would LOVE to have chair pockets for my student's things! 
Also, can you believe I don't have a teacher's chair!! I need to find one.stat.
Lastly, I would love to implement Hope King's Word Work (not word study, my bad!). I used a similar word study program for 3rd grade (Beth Newingham's word study) but really don't want to put all the work I put into creating the word study lists again like I did while teaching 3rd grade! Luckily, Hope made one so that I don't have to!

My Current Classroom Right Now {I hope yours looks better than mine!}

How does your classroom look? I sure hope it's closer to being done than mine! I'll be spending long hours tomorrow and this weekend trying to get the classroom closer to being ready for my second graders!

This will be my 3rd classroom since I began teaching at my current school last school year. Three classrooms in less than a year is tough! I was so happy to FINALLY have a classroom I could settle in!

Some of the big changes in this new classroom are more space, new tile, and fresh paint {I'm not sure how I feel about the blue wall, though}. I also decided to get rid of the desks and try tables instead! I used tables during my 3rd year of teaching and really like them for primary students.

What does your classroom look like before school starts? If you have pictures, place the link in a comment below! I'd love to hear about how you get your classroom ready for the school year!

Design by Laugh Eat Learn // Theme by Pipdig