Monday, August 27, 2012

Hogwarts Bound

I recently accepted a job teaching at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!  I decided to go and start setting up my new classroom this weekend... Wouldn't that be awesome if it were true?! 

I did not go into school to work this weekend.  Instead, I went to Universal Studios for a day of fun!  It was a perfect day!  The lines were relatively short (when available I go in the single rider line, they usually get my best friend and I on together anyway!)  Here are some pictures of Hogwarts castle and Hogsmead in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  

The clouds rolling in reminded me of snow clouds,
 perfect for the theme of the land!
My Math classes finished Chapter 1 and we tested on Friday.  I am so proud of all my students, they did amazingly well!  The lowest grade was a B!!  So we started chapter 2 today.  Again, we worked in pairs to find the definitions of the new vocabulary.  I created a template for showing different ways to solve multiplication problems.  I'll share that later this week after we use it!

Here are some more pictures of Figurative Language anchor charts we made last week.

This is the way I am organizing my multiplication quizzes this year.  Since I have 2 classes, I am keeping track of their progress with the Monster charts.  Each section of the quizzes has 1/2 sheets and full sheets of problems.  They start with 3 minutes to complete the 1/2 sheets.  After they complete all the 1/2 sheets they will move onto the full sheets.  We quiz on Tuesday and Thursday.  These quizzes are compliments of one of my amazing 4th grade team members!  I have full sheets from last year, but I did not previously have 1/2 sheets. 

This year, my school provided all of the teachers with binders to keep our sub plans, lesson plans and other information organized and uniform among all the classes.  We need to keep our lesson plans open and on our desk at all times so admin can come in and see them if they choose.  A 3" binder takes up a lot of room on a desk so I wanted a way to free up some desk space.  I found this adorable apple cook book stand on Ebay!  I keep it on the corner of my desk and set my lesson plans up on it.  I am able to have my plan book open and ready without having it take up precious space.  

Have a great week!  


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Figurative Language Week!

This week we are learning about figurative language; Metaphors, Similes, Personification, Hyperbole and Alliteration.  The kids love to "ding" when they recognize the form we are studying that day in a book we read to go along with it.  We read "Tar Beach" for Metaphors and "Owl Moon" for Similes.

 In Math, we are still working on Place Value.  I have been telling the kids that when rounding, we have to knock on our neighbor's door to decide if we should round up or down.  Then I saw a great Place Value anchor chart on Pinterest and had to make one for my class.  I adapted the colors and numbers to go along with a Place Value bulletin board I have in my room.

The rest of this week we are going to be finishing up Figurative Language and take our Math Chapter 1 Test.  I was pretty unsure of how this departmentalization would work out, but I am really starting to enjoy it.  I have 2 great groups of kids and we are able to get everything done in the time we have.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Funday

I went in to school today to get my copies made and get everything ready for the coming week. My first year teaching I would go in practically every weekend. Last year, I rarely went in on weekends. I would just pick a day a week and stay late and get stuff done. I forgot how nice it is to have the school to myself! I am not spending time socializing, I am purely working. I got the copies of the Math chapter 1 tests run-off. (After fighting with numerous paper jams!) I also organized my multiplication quizzes into a convenient countertop file box. I forgot to take a picture of that! Oops! Tomorrow, I promise!

I did remember to take some pictures of the anchor chart we made for painting a picture with words. I think it turned out great!

Now, I am enjoying a full afternoon of rain! I even turned off my air and opened up my living room windows so I can hear the steady rainfall! I LOVE rainy Sundays!

Friday, August 17, 2012


WHAM!  It's Figurative Language time!  We are going to be spending the next few school days reading books with examples and coming up with our own figurative language expressions that we can use in our writing.  Today we began with O-n-o-m-a-t-o-p-o-e-i-a!  This is one of my favorites because the kids really enjoy coming up with the sound words.

We read "Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type" and "Stellaluna" to see examples of how writers use onomatopoeia in their stories.  The kids read the "Click, Clack, Moo" and "Click, Clack, Quack" what we got to those parts because they were having so much fun.  In "Stellaluna" the onomatopoeia is not as in your face, so I had the kids say "Ding!" when they heard me read an example.  (Yes, using onomatopoeia to detect onomatopoeia!)  They then wrote the examples they heard on post-its and put them on the anchor chart I made.

I warn you now, I am a pretty creative and crafty person, but I have no drawing ability AT ALL!!  Kids are not responsible for those amazing pictures under the definition.  That is all my original work!  LoL  See kids, even teachers aren't perfect!

We learned about different ways to add interest by word choice this week and I totally forgot to snap a picture of the anchor chart we made for that.  The kids read descriptive poems and then drew what they saw.  We use that lesson to reinforce that they need to paint a picture with their words.  I'll get a picture of it next week!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

First 3 Days

Sorry I haven't been updating this as often as I would like.  I am not really sure what I did, but Friday morning right before my students were due to arrive, I had a shooting pain up my back and down my leg.  I must have pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve or something.  I spent some of my Saturday sitting on my couch with a heating pad on my back coloring some signs to hang in my classroom.  I found the original images at Technology Rocks, Seriously!  There are a lot of really inspirational sayings on that site and I chose my favorites.  We aren't allowed to just use the color printer at school for anything, and rather than wait for permission to print, I just printed my own, very washed out, copies and colored them myself.  I think coloring is a very relaxing activity, I don't care if I am 27 years old!  LoL

During the first 3 days of school, we talked about rules and expectations.  I am sharing some pictures of our SOAR expectations.  At my school we use SOAR (Safe, Outstanding Citizen, Active Learner, Respectful) to reinforce rules and expectations throughout all the different environments at school.  I had the students work in collaborative pairs to come up with examples of each letter.  In the close-up of one of the Respectful examples you will notice an apple on my desk.  I have received 2 so far this year!

This one made me laugh.  I love my hands on my hips!
This is a prompt I did with my homeroom class the first day of school.
It begins "School is a Breeze When..." Then we turned them
into bright windsocks to hang around our classroom.
The first week went by so quickly!  I am so excited to get into the books and do some actual lessons.  Last week I had the students write an expository and a narrative prompt to see where they are and what I need to work on.  I think this is going to be a wonderful year!  Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

First Day of School

There is nothing quite like the first day back to school!  It always reminds me of one of my favorite movies, "You've Got Mail", when Tom Hanks' character tells Meg Ryan that if he knew who she was, he would send her a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.  I would LOVE to receive a bouquet of brand new school supplies!  I am a total teacher nerd, I get such a thrill out of buying new pens and crayons and such!  (I hoard boxes of new crayons because I love opening a brand new box and seeing the tips perfectly sharp... Plus, there are TONS of cute crafts to make with crayons on Pinterest!)

This is my first attempt at melted crayon art!
Unfortunately, I made this over summer vacation back home in Illinois,
and then flew back to Florida... I'm hoping my family brings it to me
when they come to visit over Christmas!
Since I am going to be teaching Math and Writing to 2 separate classes, I will normally be switching classes part way through the day.  Today, however, I got to keep my homeroom class to review expectations, rules and procedures.  What a GREAT group of kids I have this year!  I don't want to jinx anything, so I won't rave about their behavior, but they are so sweet.  I took pictures of them all in front of the calendar so we can mark how they grow and change over the course of 1 school year.  I didn't really notice the change in the size of my last class.  It was only when I looked at pictures of them from when we were in 3rd grade that I noticed how much some of them had really changed.

We worked in pairs to come up with example of our school wide SOAR (Safe, Outstanding Citizen, Active Learner, Respectful) expectations.  We decorated All About Me pages and shared them on the document camera.  We even completed a "School is a Breeze When..." Writing prompt that we will turn into wind socks tomorrow!  We were able to get so much accomplished, I couldn't believe it!

Tomorrow will be the first day of switching.  This way I can review my expectations with my afternoon class.  Hopefully they will be equally as wonderful!  I don't have any pictures of finished projects yet.  I'm going to try to get some tomorrow to share.

I know many of you either have already begun school or will be soon, so best of luck to you all for a wonderful, productive school year!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Last Work Day

Open House went really well!  It was a little bit crazy having kids from 2 separate classes coming in  and needing to have some of them fill out information sheets and give others different newsletters.  I will definitely have to brainstorm ways to make Meet the Teacher night run more smoothly next year.  
Today was the last Teacher Work Day before the students begin TOMORROW!!!  I don't care how long you have been teaching, I don't think it ever gets easier to setup a classroom and make it perfect.  In fact, I think my first year was the easiest because I was blissfully unaware of what can be done with a little white room.  This is my third time setting up my classroom, and I keep adding new things.  Let me know what you think of my new additions!

Mountain Math up and ready to go!
Clickers are connected.  This is a jewelry organizer that I found at
T.J. Maxx last year. Works like a dream!

Pinterest idea!  Dollar Tree cookie sheet and glass stones hot glued
to scrapbook paper and magnets.  Trimmed in super fun duct tape!
That's a LOT of little monsters!  I put up names from
both classes that will be coming to me for
Math and Writing.
Lots of folders, dividers and reference sheets for their
O.W.L.S. binders to keep the kids organized!
See how the sun is coming into the room on the last picture?  It was after 6:00 and I decided it was finally time to leave.  It looked like a storm was rolling in, the sky was pretty dark by time I got home, but nothing happened where I live.  Like I said, it never gets easier!  I keep developing more and more things to spend time working on.  Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!!  Wish me luck!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Open House

The day of Open House is always frantic. Teachers are running around trying to make sure they have all the bases covered. Rooms have to be just right, welcome letters have to be edited, supply lists need to be ready to hand out. The office staff is signing up new kids and adding them to classrooms. The custodial staff is making sure the school sparkles and assisting teachers with last minute requests. It is an all around crazy day.

I was running around like all the others, trying to make sure my room was picture perfect. I managed to snap a couple pictures before the kids came, but I think in my haste they ended up a little blurry... My apologies!

View from my door!  My classroom makes me so happy.

Sign in and transportation information station.  

The bins where I put their completed paperwork.  I also put a sign-in sheet for the kids from the other homeroom that will be coming to me in the afternoon, as well as the newsletter for them.

View from the corner of my cabinets.

So bright and fun!

The curtains really make a big impact on the feel of the room.

My little corner of the world! 

Finished book nook.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What a Week

I think it's safe to say, I am not yet back on a normal sleep schedule!  What a week this has been!  I have been going in to work on my room, but Wednesday was the first day teachers had to report for duty.  We had a staff meeting in the morning and then were able to work on setting up our rooms and meet with our teams.

I have been really bad about updating this, and I apologize for that.  I have spent so much time visiting old friends and helping some new staff members that I haven't done too much work in my own classroom.  Tomorrow evening is our Meet the Teacher night.  It's a pretty relaxed and informal meeting, but I still get butterflies because it's the first time I'll meet my new kiddos and their parents.

Monday and Tuesday will be more professional development days.  Wednesday is going to be the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!! I can't believe it.  It comes so quickly.  I'm going to try and get my lesson plan template updated tomorrow so I can start filling it in.  I'll post pictures of my entire finished room tomorrow and let you know how Open House was!  Wish me luck!!

I framed this example of different ways kids can write their spelling or vocab words.

I share a LOT with my students... My smelly markers are not something I'm willing to share!  Love these!

The flowers on my desk are actually pens, wrapped in floral tape with flowers stuck in the end.  I filled a small vase with whole coffee beans.  It smells good and hopefully will prevent me from losing my pens so much.

I have a bunch of USB devices to plug in, so I HAD to buy this cute octopus to use as extra ports.  

I used M.O.O.S.E. binders with my kids last year to keep them organized.  This year I'm changing it to O.W.L.S. because they are way cuter!  

I'm not going to be using my mailboxes this year, since I have 2 classes.  Instead, I'm using this smaller section to store construction paper so I don't have to get it for the kids every time they need it!

Computer area!

This is an idea I stole from my amazing cooperating teacher during my final student teaching.  Cuts down on them asking what they can do if they finish their work early.

My book nook.  I'm going to be taking the Thinking Stems down once instruction starts and replacing that area of the room with a Writing Word Wall.

Dry-erase multiplication quizzes. 
Multiplication flash cards.  I printed these cards out on different colored paper and hung them from small hooks inside a 3" binder.  So simple and inexpensive.  I saw something similar at LakeShore for a LOT more money.