Monday, August 22, 2011

Classroom Tour

Hey there! Remember me?

I know, I's been awhile.  All I have to say for myself is that the 2011-2012 school year is officially underway, and I'm basically just trying to keep my head above water. I always get SO overwhelmed during the first few weeks of school--paper work, lesson planning, organization, getting a new class acclimated to school's a lot! Not to mention that I'm at a new school, so I'm also constantly trying to learn the policies and procedures for me as the classroom teacher. As crazy as my life is, I keep trying to remind myself that in a month or so everything will settle down--the bulk of the paper work will be done, my kids will have learned our routine, and I'll officially be in my teaching "groove." Everything won't feel so chaotic. Until then, I just need to take a big breath and go at it one step at a time. My motto is "eat the elephant by the burger."

So...since I'm having trouble formulating a complete thought, I think I'll just offer up a classroom tour tonight. My room is a bit bigger this year, and I only have 21 students...which is nice! I have a good group of kids this year, so I'm really looking forward to getting into the swing of things.

This is the view of my classroom from my door...welcome!
This is the front corner of the room. Here you will see our calendar, class schedule, lunch ticket system, bathroom passes, and other pertinent classroom information.
This is the front wall. On the far left is a student display board. I also have two white boards and my Smart board.
A closer view of the front of my room. See my podium? I have a love/hate relationship with that thing. It's wonderful when I'm teaching and need to set down a teacher manual or notes. It's a pain, however, when it's blocking the board and I have about five kids informing me that they can't see...which means I have to move the thing out of the way.
Bookshelf housing some of our classroom books.
Storage cabinet, computers, and classroom weatherbug. I'm very excited that my room was chosen to house our school's weatherbug. We have a lot of fun talking about temperature, heat index, rainfall, and other interesting info this thing provides.
We are bucket fillers in our classroom! Every afternoon, I go through the cards that students have filled out during the day and read about all of the nice things that we have done for each other, and students put pom poms in their buckets. I think it's something that the kids really look forward to.
Homeworkopoly--If students complete all of their homework for the entire week, they get to take a turn at Homeworkopoly on Fridays. It's a hit for sure!
I love my US map because it's useful in Social Studies and Reading! Our Social Studies curriculum studies the different regions of the United States, and in reading, we put push pins in all of the places that we "visit" as we read.
The back wall...including the cubbies. The colorful baskets house more of my classroom library.
Student mailboxes, my hanging files, etc.
My desk: where the magic happens. Ha! It's more like my desk: where everything lands! My goal this year is to keep up with my filing! So far, so good.
So there you have little home away from home.

And now, I think I'm going to go lay on the couch in an attempt to prepare myself for tomorrow!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Classroom Must-Haves

I go back to work on Monday, and my students' first day of school is August 11th. That is really soon, so to say that I've been kicking it into high gear is an understatement. I did make a promise to myself that I would stay away from my classroom this week and enjoy my last week at home...which means that I've been plastered to my computer, creating and planning like crazy. Hopefully I'll have some things to share soon.
As I've been preparing for the 2011-2012 school year, I've been thinking about my classroom must-haves--those things that I typically use on a daily basis. Some of these things are probably a necessity for all of us, some things you may use a different version of or a different system, and some things may surprise you. Here are some of my must-haves:

1} Flair pens (by Papermate) in a rainbow of colors.
When I taught Pre-K and Kinder, I used these for my monthly assessments--a different color for each month. I could tell which skill they mastered in which month with a quick glance at the paper. Now with the upper grades, I mostly just use them for grading papers. I don't know about you all, but I get a bit of a twitch when I go after a student's paper with a red pen. I like to use different colors, and if I'm going to spend time grading papers, they may as well be pretty when I'm done! I also use these with the Teacher Organizer, pictured below.

2} Clipboards (of the monogrammed persuasion)
I will say, I have tons of those brown ones from the dollar store that my kids use. But for my personal use, I have two different monogrammed clipboards. I like them because they stand out a bit more, and again--they're just cute! I also have one that opens up so that I can keep things inside it (it's not monogrammed--it came from Target {of course}). It's wonderful if I'm walking and talking and need to be able to hand things out (like stickers for kids who are on-task or a certain supply that they will need at a certain point in a project).

3} A cute teacher notebook
I am a notorious list-maker. You know, one of those pesky people whose lists have lists? Yes, that's me. I used to keep a plain 'ole spiral until an assistant principal gave me a teacher-themed composition notebook a year or so ago for teacher appreciation week. I carry that thing with me EVERYWHERE! It's always open on my desk in my classroom. I carry it with me to faculty meetings and department meetings. And basically, it's just a constantly evolving to-do list. I make something we needed for Social Studies, I cross it off. My principal asks me to fill out some paperwork for a grant, it goes on the list. My department head reminds me that quarterly grades are due to the office by Wednesday, it goes on the list. I need to email a parent about their child, it goes on the list. You get the picture. Sometimes I rewrite the list to make it pretty, but as a general rule, that notebook stays like it is. I typically date when something goes on the list, but I try to move through it pretty methodically.

4} The Teacher Organizer
I think I should be a spokesperson for Clutter Free Classroom. :o) I purchased this recently and placed it in a huge binder. In addition to this info, each child in my classroom has a tab where I keep info about him/her. My classroom phone log is in this binder. Basically any piece of paper that I need to know where it is at all times goes into this binder. It is wonderful, and I use it everyday. If I need to discuss a student with an administrator, call a parent, confab with a co-worker--everything is in this notebook. Fabulous investment!

5} Coke Zero
Clearly, this has no organizational/instructional/nutritional value whatsoever. But it's the caffeine jolt that gets me through the day. Seriously. Just inject me with this stuff intraveneously please. If my co-workers want a Coke Zero, they know to come see me. I've had students bring me cases from home. I drink "one" (I'm so lying right now) every day. It is my lifeline. :o)

What about you? What are some things that you have to have in your classroom? 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Target Treasures!

First of all, if you visited the Vistaprint post from Monday and couldn't see the pictures, I've fixed the problem. Click here to check it out again! I don't know what the problem was. I could see the pictures, but I had several others comment that they couldn't. I wound up just taking my own photos. Sorry about the confusion!

I popped in to Target for "a few minutes" (yeah, right!) today, and walked out with some new goodies for my classroom (and a few new items for my fall teacher wardrobe, but I'm saving those for another post). I know many of us have said it, but I'll say it again--I L.O.V.E. the Target Dollar Spot all the time...but especially at back to school time! Here's what I walked away with today:

1}Math games--Time Bingo and Math Bingo. I teach 4th grade, but lots of students at this age are still struggling with analog clocks and hammering out those math facts. Here's hoping this will help!
2} Presidential puzzles--I'm implementing something called Mastery Club this year in my class (click on the link for the full description). One of the questions asks students to be able to name all of the Presidents. This puzzle doesn't appear to include names, but I'm hoping that maybe it'll be a visual aid for those who (like me!) can remember things when prompted by a picture! (The math portion also asks that they be able to do math facts {by operation} in 4 minutes, so I'm hoping that Bingo games will help with this as well).
3}Pom-poms--We are bucket fillers and this is what we'll use to do it! I love how they match the colors of my buckets exactly. I'll be sure to post those when I do my classroom tour.
4} Dice--the possibilities are endless! Adding, multiplying, probability, homeworkopoly...perhaps I should have bought more!
5} Hall passes--pretty self-explanatory. My student's agendas actually have a section where I can log how often they leave the classroom and for what reason. Pretty helpful for those kiddos who tend to leave a little too often!
6} Notepads--because teachers can never have too many. They also make great gifts.
7} Star student stickers--for their star student posters that classmates will sign--and compliment stickers for excellent classwork and test papers.
8} Dry erase markers--Did you know that Styrofoam plates will work as dry erase boards? And for those of us who are environmentally conscious--they are reusable! I keep a stack on hand for whole-group response activities, and I'll add these markers to my collection for student use.
So that's my Target awesomeness for today! I'm loving all these posts filled with Target finds...keep 'em coming!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Vista Print Arrivals--Take Two

*I had a couple of people comment that they couldn't see the pictures from the original post. They were there when I published it--I even double checked, but for some reason stopped showing up. Who knows!? I played around with the post for a bit, but finally decided just to take pictures myself. Sorry about the confusion!*

I mentioned back a few posts ago that Clutter-Free Classroom had posted about some amazing deals/free shipping through Vistaprint. I loved the idea of getting my new students some goodies to celebrate the new school year, and my order arrived today! I love it all, so I thought I'd share a few of my items!

I ordered a mug for each of my students, but I'm actually saving these for Christmas gifts (that will be filled with fun stuff).
I'm giving each student a classroom t-shirt on the first day of school. They will receive them in...

...their Rock Star bags! I thought these were so cute! In addition to the t-shirt, I'm also placing a personalized pen (which you will see pictured below) and a personalized stamp in each student's bag. What's awesome about this gift is that it cost me $1.49 per student! I don't think I could do that again if I tried!
In addition to my student's goodies, I ordered a few things for myself. These three stamps:
This is the ink pen for my students. The other side is personalized with each student's name.
I also ordered this mouse pad for my classroom.

Not pictured is a set of classroom information magnets--I plan on giving them to parents at orientation.

I'm so pleased with all of my Vistaprint stuff! I received an order of fun stuff earlier this summer that I've yet to post about. I'll be back soon to show you all of those goodies!


Monday, July 18, 2011

How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation

Clutter-Free Classroom is one of my favorite blogs--she posts tons of resources for classroom purposes and lots of tips that are way useful for the classroom teacher. Just last night--thanks to a post that she did--I robbed ordered from Vista Print and got a TON of stuff for next-to-nothing. If you're not following this blog--you should be!

This week she's hosting a linky party where you can respond to different writing prompts each day. Today's topic is "How I Spent My Summer Vacation." Here's her definition of the "assignment."
{Write a paragraph titled, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” I will also accept the alternative title, “How I’m Spending my Summer Vacation.” Feel free to include photographs, but they are not required.}

So. Without further ado.

How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation

I love summer because it allows me to enjoy so many of my favorite things in abundance. Here's a monthly breakdown of what I've been up to:

*I've been spending lots of time with my sweetie! Dinners, vacations, movies on {gasp!} weeknights! We've been having a lot of fun!
*Hair maintenance--I took my looooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnggggggggg, blonde hair and turned it into this!
I think of it as my summer disguise since I got it done after school let out!

*I attended a retirement party for two sweet teachers that I worked with last year. Since my previous school will not re-open this fall, it was nice to gather with my co-workers one last time. 
*I've been spending some time with some cute kiddos--visiting with my friend Marci and her baby boy...
...and helping out with my friend Darla's cutie-pie!
*I've been working in my yard--watering, weeding, and such, as well as trying to stay out of the way of this little guy and his friends!
*I always use my summers to tackle some projects around the house. I took about two days to clean out and re-organize my home office. It was a big job, but it looks SO much better now!
*I've been doing some baking. My grandmother got me a new mixer for Christmas, but I'm just now getting around to breaking it in!
The first thing I made were these cookies--delish!
*I've made a few visits to what will be my classroom this fall. No big changes yet, but I'm already planning ahead!
*I'm also spending copious amounts of time playing around with Vista Print--so pleased with my new creations...I'll be doing a post on those sometime soon!
*I entertained some old friends from Arkansas over the weekend. They'd never been to NOLA, so we went to lots of fun places and ate some really great food.
*I worked on a lot of blogging stuff...both on my personal blog and my teaching blog. I'm really pleased with the new look/layout of my personal blog!
*Best of all, Rhyne and I got to take a much-needed vacation. We spent some QT in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. A few of our destinations included:
}The Great Smoky Mountain National Park
}Downtown Gatlinburg
}The Titanic Museum
We also discovered an amazing used book store on our way home...we stopped at two locations: Knoxville and Chattanooga!
*I stocked up on books...both for personal and professional use!
I have about two-and-a-half weeks left of my summer vacation. I plan on reading and working on some additional school stuff as well as making sure that my house stays pretty clean and organized. It seems like summer just started! It's so hard to believe that it's drawing to a close so quickly!
How are you spending your vacation. Tell us and link up with Clutter-Free Classroom!