September 19, 2017

Show and Tell Tuesday - September

Ever since my former student, Reilly, came to visit my class and told them about creating books as a third grader, my students have been obsessed with writing their own books!  I had to create time for them to share them with each other. I love how excited they are to write! (By the way: this story is about superheroes looking for someone to join their super group.)

Today was Talk Like a Pirate Day!  We did a ton of fun (but educational) activities to celebrate.  Scoot was a hit!  The students traveled around the room answering pirate themed addition problems.  One girl said it was like we were going on a treasure hunt!

We have to have lock down shades for our door.  One teacher made curtains for her room a couple of years ago.  This summer, I found fabric that went well with my pirate theme and made my own!  It looks so much nicer than the ugly paper roll taped up to the window.  Check out all my pirate theme HERE.

Not going to lie - I have become a super anal teacher when it comes to organization.  My classroom is looking fabulous! One of my favorite ways to organize is their mailboxes.  I took large binder clips and labeled them with my label maker. My label maker has become my favorite toy!

September 16, 2017

Bringing Kindness Into Your Classroom

This past week has been a difficult one - the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as well as the anniversary of 9/11.  This past year has also brought more violence in the US.  With this in mind, I want to share how important it is to bring Kindness Into Your Classroom.

Disclaimer - This post contains some affiliate links.

Morning Meeting

This is a great time to gather together and build a classroom community. Students share with each other.  Their backgrounds can be vastly different.  It's amazing how students come together and learn to be kind.

This book helped me create a Morning Meeting that worked for our class.

Read Alouds

Sometimes a picture book is all it takes to open up conversations and spark new ideas.  Below are some of my favorites.

             This boy learns that                     Gets students to think about                     enemies can become friends.                how they treat others.

                    Kid President is an                             We are all different.
                amazing role model!                This book embraces the differences.

Other Resources

Infographic - This was provided by Marino Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.  Please use it to show your students how Little Acts of Kindness can make a big difference!

Videos/Websites - Check out these websites and videos for your classroom.

Kid President - I highly encourage showing any/all of his videos.  The one I linked you to is but the 20 Things We Should Say More Often.

Storyline Online - This is another one of my favorite resources.  This one has Camryn Manheim reading Enemy Pie.

World of Wonder - This website shares so much more information to use when teaching Wonder to your students.  There is even a spot to become a Certified Kind Classroom.

Free Rice - Teach your students the benefit of helping others by answering questions.  For every question they get correct, 10 grains of rice are donating to a needy country.

Random Acts of Kindness - This website is a huge resource for lesson plans, worksheets, and posters to teach kindness to your students. (Free to sign up.)

How do you bring KINDNESS into your classroom?

September 15, 2017

Weekly Recap - The Bad and the Good

Week number 4 is in the books.  Here's a quick recap of my week.

Disclaimer: There are some links to affiliate links below.

Don't hate me, but my week was okay.  There isn't anything bad that necessarily happened at school (or I blocked it out if it did happen).  

The bad thing that did happen was very sad. I made myself a Chai Latte with my Keurig to take to school.  Halfway to school, I realized I didn't have my cup with me.  This in itself was sad.  The awful part was when I got home, I couldn't find my cup on the counter.  It must have flown off the roof of my car on the drive to school or was accidentally thrown out by me taking the garbage out in the morning.  I have no idea what happened to it.  

I know - Boohoo. Right? 😭 You would be devastated too if it was your favorite cup!

A moment of mourning please!  This was the best mug (in my favorite color), because I could drop it repeatedly (which my butterfingers tend to do) and it wouldn't even spill!  The Chai Latte was like fall in a mug. Oh well, new ones are on order - thanks Amazon Prime!

1.  Fabulous Coworkers - This week I got a cupcake in my mailbox and had wonderful coworkers make copies for me and get materials for an activity. I love how well our team works together!  (Side note - This also explains the dream I had where my entire team asked to move to Kindergarten together.  At least we stayed together! Thankfully, this was only a dream!)

2.  Open House - I had the biggest attendance at Open House this week - 6 families.  This is HUGE for me.  Last year, I only had 1 family.  The parents were very supportive.  One mom made me so happy.  She told me that her son has developed a love of reading since being in my classroom!

3.  Morning Reading Tubs and Afternoon Math Tubs - This is a new routine for me.  I am pleased at how well these are going.  They are fun but educational!

Race the Fidget Spinner - Finally, a good use for them!

Place Value Task Cards - I love these leveled task cards.  Students can differentiate their own work.  They choose the level that is appropriate for them.

September 9, 2017

Week Recap - The Bad and the Good

Week of 9/8/17

With a new school year, I am trying lots of new things!  At the end of the each week, I will share some memorable moments - The Bad and The Good!

Not everything can go as planned!

1. Testing! - This was our third week of school.  I am still testing! I still have individual Lexile testing to do with my entire class. Only problem is that I do not have a proper leveling kit for my class. We are a third-fifth grade building, so we were given a kit for reading levels K-Z.  Unfortunately, level K is too high for my students. I have mandatory testing to complete but improper tools to do this. Oh well, at least whole group testing is finally over.  Maybe I can finally start teaching...

2.  Behavior Issue - I have one girl that is openly defiant.  We are working on it, but I still want to rip my hair out! Our social worker came to observe her and will start seeing her.  I have a dialogue journal with this girl as well.  It's a work in progress.  Two steps forward, one step back.

Okay! Enough negativity! I want to end with some positives!

All is right with the world!

1.  Reading Grant - I was one of the winners of the James Patterson Scholastic Grants!  This means I get $500 and 500 points!  I have already asked my students what sort of books they want.  The list is long and includes Captain Underpants and Minecraft.  I can't keep these books in my library,

Grant for my classroom!

2.  Flashlight Friday - I started this last year and LOVE it!  I pass out the flashlights and we spread out around the classroom and read.  I got most of my flashlights free from Harbor Freight.  They have coupons all the time for free ones.  Luckily my dad loves going there and gets them for me!

Instills the love of reading!

3.  Apple Experiment - I love to do this experiment every year, because it teaches students the importance of washing their hands!  All you need is an apple and 2 plastic bags.  Cut the apple in half. Place one half, untouched, in one bag.  Pass the other apple around the room letting all students touch it. (Best done after recess!) Observe the apples over the next week.

Keeps germs away!

4.  A Visit from Reilly - My former student, Reilly, surprised me with a visit this week.  He read his book to my students and raced them all at recess!  My students LOVE him!  They are so motivated to want to write books like him! I was stapling papers left and right to create books for them.

His book was a hit!

Yes some bad things happened, but some amazing things happened as well!  All in all, it was a great week! I am looking forward to more great ones!

Resources for You
Disclaimer: These are my affiliate links.

Finger Flashlights - My students love these because they are different colors. The light from them is also less distracting.

Reilly's Book - In it, he focuses on all that needs to be done in order to be the best football player he can be.  There is an emphasis on working hard in school and doing homework!

Back to School Resource Packet

This has the apple experiment in it.

September 7, 2017

6 Ways to Have an Amazing School Year

Choose 1 Day to Leave Early

My school's contracted hours end at 2:45.  One day a week, I make it a point to leave right at 2:45 (or 3:00 at the latest).  This day, I do NO schoolwork at home.  This gives me a chance to focus on myself.  I can make dinner, run errands, or just relax!  I let my coworkers know that I can't answer questions that day, because I am out the door!  This year, I will make Wednesdays my day. It's right in the middle of the week, something to look forward to!  

Basically, having one afternoon/evening to yourself gives you time to decompress and focus on your own life!

Exercise Everyday

Before you ask, I am not super fit or entirely healthy.  I do, however, make it a point to exercise everyday.  I started setting my alarm clock a bit earlier, 5 minutes a week, until I had given myself an extra half hour cushion of time. This is when I do the elliptical. I was lucky to be given one for free - my price range! I started off at 5 minutes and added a minute each week until I reached my goal of 30 minutes.  I find that I have more energy during the school day when I work out. 

I also make it a point to get at least 12,000 steps on my Fit Bit. This might mean a walk when I get home. (This has also given me a chance to meet a ton of neighbors! This could be good or bad depending on your personality. 😊) This many steps is something that I had to work up to as well.  For a year (last year), I made it my mission to his 10,000 steps each day.  Not going to lie, that practically killed me!  At least now, the walking has become a routine!

Start off small, 5 minutes can make a HUGE difference in your energy level!

Develop Your Own PD

I don't know about you, but the pd my district provides does not instill a love of teaching/learning in me.  I get angry during most of them thinking of how I could better spend my time.  I still think it's important to get new information and find better ways of teaching. Therefore, I go out on my own to find pd that I find worthwhile and can actually use in my classroom.

Here's what I do:

Listen to Podcasts - I love Angela Watson's Truth for Teachers, Cult of Pedagogy, and the Google Teacher's Tribe. (Side note - I listen to a lot of these on my walks to get my steps.)

Pinterest - I don't care if this technically doesn't count.  I am obsessed with Pinterest! Check out my boards if you are looking for something new. I have everything divided by subject/theme/etc.

Facebook - Join some teacher groups that teach the same grade as you.  There are tons out there!  The teachers on there are sharing what works right now in their classrooms.  They are also great places to ask any questions you may have.  Did you know Confessions of a Frazzled Teacher has a Facebook Group? Join to share some ideas, ask questions, and gain some freebies!

Blogs - Find some bloggers you enjoy and follow them! I love the new ideas I see because I know that they have been tried by teachers in the trenches!

Limit Your Grading

Do you have to grade EVERYTHING? No you do not!  Pick and choose what you take for a grade.  Is there an assignment that reflects the standard you taught? Instead of 20 questions, can you give a smaller sample of 5-7 questions? Can you let technology work for you? Try Google Classroom, Plickers, and Kahoot to help ease your grading.  While these have a learning curve, the time they save are worth it in the end.

Watch the amount of assignments you collect in a day. If you collect multiple subjects and think all of those papers will get graded, it will NOT happen! Be realistic. My personal goal this year is to grade the assignments the day I collect them.  I know that this will not always happen, but if I can do this most of the time, I will never have that mountain that won't get touched.


Spend 1 Day Staying Late at School

I like to stay late on Fridays. I know most people practically run out the door. This is why it's perfect for me! I am a talker.  If people leave, I am forced to actually work! I make my plans and copies for the following week.  I can get copies made without waiting in line. I move desks. I clean any projects that haven't been put away. I leave knowing I will be able to start Monday with everything ready to go! I also love not taking home work over the weekends! Chances are the work wouldn't get done if I tried to wait until Sunday night to do it!

While Fridays work for me, find what works for you.  Having uninterrupted times to work makes a huge difference!


Take Time for Yourself

You are human! You will get burned out if you do not take time for yourself! You will be a better teacher if you take this time! You deserve it, and so do your students!

What do you suggest to have an amazing school year?