Saturday, August 31, 2013

Week 1...Check!

We survived week 1 in kindergarten!  My students started last Thursday, so they have been in school 6 days (Teacher Work day yesterday).  We are seeing some improvements in our behavior, but sticking to our strict schedule (mandated by the district) is going to be tough!  On Thursday I pulled out the iPads.  Students who had been struggling with behavior had the opportunity to earn time on the iPad. Some of them didn't know what an iPad was, but after their chance to use it for 5 minutes, it was a big motivator!

After doing some reading and exploring, I'm jumping in with both feet on Tuesday with Class Dojo.
It seems like a great way to track behavior (RTI?) and motivate students to make better choices. Do you use Class Dojo?  If so, I'd love to hear your comments below!  I'm interested in what people use for their "positives" and "negatives" and how you reward students for their points (if at all).

I am spending today working on getting my 3 iPads ready for beginning of the year kindergarten kiddos.  There were tons of apps on there for the end of the year, but many of them aren't appropriate for this time of the year.  All three also needed a software update installed.  It has been quite a process (still not done), but I know it will be worth it, especially when it comes to enrichment and intervention!

Here are a couple pictures from center last week!

We love!

Mr. Potato Head is also a very popular guy!

Alphabet puzzles
I'm looking forward to a productive week next week!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Behavior Help

Ok, "Blogland" readers, I need your help!  I have a "one of a kind" class, and I need your advice.

I have 22 kiddos in my room, 12 girls and 10 boys.  We use a card behavior system that we are required to use.  We just completed day 4.  I have several (7) students who are very hands on both in structured times (carpet, stories, etc) and unstructured times (hallway, recess, etc).  Students are having a difficult time picking up on our classroom schedule and routines.  Additionally, there is a lot of chatter throughout the day, making it difficult for friends to hear directions.

So, what suggestions do you have for keeping hands to self?  How do you rein in the talking?  How can I positively help my students follow the classroom/school-wide rules and expectations?  What do you do to reward your students who are doing the right thing?

In my 10 years of teaching, this is the most challenging beginning of the year I have experienced.  I'm hoping hearing your ideas will inspire an idea I haven't tried yet :).  Your comments would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Happy First Monday of School

Our students started last Thursday, so this is our first Monday.  In my class, the kids always like Monday because it is gym day.  We have had a busy 3 days learning rules and routines, getting to know one another and learning about our school.  Some early assessments are being completed by our intervention team in between all the other things we have going on.

Tomorrow we visit different stations throughout the school to learn more about the rules in specific places (cafeteria, playground, office, hallway and restroom).  I'm hoping this helps to head off problems that typically occur in these areas.

Our biggest celebration is that on Friday (our first day of returning homework), we had 20/21 students do their homework!  I was floored and so excited about this positive first night of homework.

Today we ad the chance to explore pattern blocks.  I was impressed when a few began to form larger shapes with the various blocks.  I walked up to one student who had made a hexagon from triangles, and the boy next her had made a hexagon with trapezoids.  I challenged them to figure out how to make a hexagon using rhombuses.  Working together, they were able to quickly figure this out.

What are you exploring in your classroom this week?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Day with Students

I doesn't feel like it has been a week since I was last on here, but it has been a whirlwind of a week.  Today was our first day with students.  This girl is T-I-R-E-D!  I had a very active group of kiddos today.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet all my students' parents and all but 2 of my students.  Prior to the start of the school year, we have conferences with all parents.  I conferenced from 8:00-3:30 (well, actually 4:30 when all was said and done) and then again from 5:00-7:00 (7:30 in the end).   It is great to make a connection with families prior to the start of the year.

I didn't get many pictures today because we were pretty busy.  We did make it to centers, through a large part of calendar math, read Pete the Cat Rockin' My School Shoes and drew pictures of ourselves on the first day of school.  It feels like we accomplished so much and yet it didn't touch much of what I had planned.  These things happen :).

Looking forward to tomorrow to see what it brings our way.  Happy Friday!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Door Decor

I've been trying to figure out what I wanted to hang on my classroom door this year.  Last year, I had a "scrapbook page" pocket chart.  My students loved looking at the pictures and talking about the memories made in each picture.  I hung the chart with command hooks, but somehow over the summer, the command hooks didn't make it.

While the pocket chart was down, I decided that I wanted to hang it elsewhere, leaving the door space open.  I was in a creating mood when I was thinking of ideas for my door.  This is what I came up with:

You can click on the picture to download a copy for yourself. Thanks to Kevin and Amanda for the fonts!

I get the cutest fonts from Free Scrapbook Fonts!

I plan to print and frame this then hang it on my door with ribbon and probably a new command hook.  I would like to print it bigger than an 8x10, but I'm not sure what size I am going to make it yet.   Any thoughts?

We head back to school on Monday (first official teacher day), so I'm hoping to enjoy the last weekend of summer.  I don't really have any plans, just enjoy some time with family.  What are you doing to enjoy these last days of summer?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Classroom {Teacher Week '13}

I'm excited to share my classroom with you and link up with Teacher Week 2013.

Up first is a look inside my classroom from the door.  To the right is a storage bench from IKEA that keep my puppets.  On top, students put their folders and homework in the baskets.  This is where you will find me in the morning greeting students, filling out my attendance and lunch count and checking homework.

To the left of my door is a sink, storage cabinet and cubbies.  In this picture you can see the cubbies and computer center.

Moving on around the room, this is my full group area.  The red pocket chart to the left of the SMARTboard is our daily schedule.  The table is my science center.  The block center is in the baskets under the SMARTboard.

To the right of my large group area is my library.  The bins on top are leveled; the bins in the shelving are based on topic.  The vertical bookshelf is for books about our current theme.  All books are labeled so they can (hopefully) be easily returned to the correct bin.  You can also see a bit of my word wall on my bulletin board.  I will have a "traveling word wall" on rings for students to access as well.

This is my small group and doubles as my desk.  It is still a work in progress, but the bookcase to the left is a new addition this year, so I'm excited to organize over there!

Next to my small group table is my dramatic play area.  This is not used all year, but I'm not real sure where to put it (short of hauling it home) so it gets turned backward and I display items on the nice white background the rest of the year :).

The last stop is my writing center.  On the other side of the writing center is the art center.  The blue pocket card is our school-wide behavior system.  The tree on the wall is for family pictures.

Thanks for sticking with my through the tour of my room.  I'll hope you'll come back soon to see what we are up to!  You can follow me on the right so you don't miss all our fun!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Teacher Week: Meet the Teacher

I'm excited to participate in Teacher Week '13 and Monday's top is "Meet the Teacher."  Below are 10 facts about me.

1.  This is my 10th year of teaching.  I taught my first 2 years in third grade and the rest have been in kindergarten.  I have been at the same building all 10 years, but did move classrooms when I moved from third to kindergarten.

2.  My building is all preschool and kindergarten students.  We have 11 kindergarten classrooms (full day) and 7 preschool classrooms (half day), so our building has an enrollment of over 400 three, four, five and six year olds!  The beginning of the year can be a little crazy, but the holidays and special events are a blast!

3.  I love to cook and bake, as I'm sure you've noticed if you follow my little blog.  I moved into a new condo this summer and have a kitchen that makes me even more excited to cook and bake.

One of my more recent baking projects: zucchini blueberry bread.
4.  I also enjoy reading in my free time.  My favorite reads are light, funny novels; think Sophie Kinsella or Mary Kay Andrews.  Most of my pleasure reading takes place over the summer.

5.  Traveling would be at the top of my list of things to do, however, funds for those trips are limited.  Each year, my family goes on vacation together.  This year we visited Savannah, GA and Tybee Island: beautiful!!  I went to Germany in college to visit a friend who was studying abroad and would love to visit more of Europe.

The pier at Tybee Island, GA at sunrise.

6.  Thanks to Pinterest and Monday Made It linky party, I am becoming more crafty.  I enjoy creating things, and thanks to step-by-step tutorials and such, I am getting there.

This artwork for my bedroom is one of my favorite recent creations.
7. I am a bargain hunter.  I love a sale and it is a game to me to see how low I can get a bill.  I do use coupons, but am by no means an extreme couponer.  I went shopping with my mom yesterday to help her pick up school supplies to donate to the church for a supply giveaway.  I had a list of all the places we needed to go, what we needed to get and who would price match another add.  It is the thrill of planning and seeing the savings for me!

8. I use to provide materials and experiences for my students.  I have had 60 projects funded; everything from basic supplies to trips to the science center and the zoo.  I love my students' expressions when they see a new box arrive.

9.  Last year I taught Sunday School to 1st-3rd graders.  I loved finding ways to relate Bible stories and lesson to them through stories, crafts and food.  They of course loved the crafts and food!

10.  I teach in the same town as my college alma mater.  I had the opportunity to take my students on a field trip to the college last year.  Even though our school is only a mile and a half away from the small campus of about 2,500 students, the majority of my students had never been on campus.  I loved seeing their excitement and am thrilled to report that they think college is cool and can't wait to go so they can eat in the cafeteria.  Whatever makes them want to go... :)

Thanks for sticking with me this far! I'd love for you to come back and visit again.  I'm looking forward to learning more about other bloggers as well through Teacher Week '13.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I Love a Bargain! and Monday Made It {a day early August 11}

I live in Northeast Ohio, and this weekend is Teacher Appreciation Days at JoAnn Fabrics and Office Max in our area.  I love bargain hunting (and shopping in general), so these types of promotions bring me in every time.

I met a friend and her family in Columbus yesterday to do some shopping at JoAnn's.  I have a couple projects in mind for home and for school.  I purchased: 6.5 yards of fabric, 6 yards of cord, 4 packs of pipe cleaners, beads, a pack of name tags, patterned card stock, 2 shadow boxes and an 18x24 canvas for $60.  I saved $78! Very happy camper coming out of JoAnn's yesterday.  You can still get 25% off your purchase for Teacher Appreciation Days at JoAnn's through the end of today.

This morning I stopped at Office Max. I got my free teacher tote bag and a little coupon book for future use.  I purchased: 2 big pad Post-It notes (11x11), 3 composition books (which I had cut in half), 10 packs of index cards and 20 packs of filler notebook paper for $6.61!  The index cards and filler paper are on sale for a penny this week with a $5 purchase.  Post-It notes are buy one get one free (even these big guys).  Office Max is giving 25% off for Teacher Appreciation Days through tomorrow.

One happy shopper right here!

Also linking up with Monday Made It posted a day early.

I did some cooking and baking again.  This time it was blackberry bread.  It was quite tasty!

I wanted you to see all the blackberry goodness!

I've been plugging away at the math bracelets I saw on the Math Coach's Corner blog a few weeks ago. I chose to use all the same color beads and make each pipe cleaner different.  Each number has a color of pipe cleaner (all 10s are pink, all 9s are green, etc).  I am storing a class set of bracelets in a pencil pouch (found for a penny at Office Max a week or two ago).  I'm hoping these will provide us great number sense practice!  

Make sure you head over to Tara's blog and check out the last Monday Made Its of the summer!

Any thoughts on how to use big Post-It notes with kindergarten kiddos?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Five for Friday {August 9}

I'm linking up with Kasey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly Five for Friday.

1. Working in my classroom  I spent 2 good days working in my room this week.  Yesterday I went in to finish up a few copies, do some laminating, label items and meet a friend for lunch.  Today I went in and met with my team to do some planning and scheduling.  We have a new team member, who I think is a great fit, so we wanted to talk about our first week and work on our common schedule.

A little sneak peek at my work in progress.  This is my small group/teacher desk area.  Come back next week for more pictures of my classroom.

2.  Dentist  I do not enjoy trips to the dentist because I don't like what they tell me at times. I was lucky enough to visit the dentist this week and had a happy appointment with no bad news :).

3.  Crafting & Creating I am using my bulletin board for my word wall this year, so I wanted to use my chalkboard to hang my students' work.  I made magnets that I've seen all over Pinterest using Dollar Tree glass gems, patterned card stock and magnets.  I also created a little first day of school prop for my first day of school pictures.  Students will hold this when I take their pictures. You can get your own copy here.  If you'd like a different grade level, let me know.

4. Cleaning Up & Cleaning Out  I cleaned out my closet, dresser and pantry this week. I just moved in about 2 months ago, but it amazes me how much "stuff" accumulates in a house!  I made a trip to Goodwill and organized all the things that I kept.

5.  Cooking & Baking   I love to cook and bake (as I'm sure you can tell from many of my previous summer posts).  I made the zucchini blueberry bread pictured below and "boyfriend cookies" that were a huge hit at work.

Be sure to come back next week (you can follow me at the top right) and see more photos from my classroom and my progress on all the little things on my "to do" list!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Working In My Classroom

I've been working hard in my classroom over the past couple weeks.  I've gone in one day a week for the past 4 weeks.  Because of my commute (about 50 miles 1 way) I no longer just "pop in" for an hour or two, but make it an event to work in my room leaving the day free and setting up a lunch date with friends.  It has been nice to see large amounts of things crossed off my list each time I go in and to catch up with friends.  Teachers go back August 19, conferences the 21, students the 22.

Today I worked on labeling (with the class list I have today), copying and taking care of the things I don't enjoy doing in nice clothes.

I picked up these little "people" in the Target Dollar Spot and wasn't sure what I was going to do with them.  I decided to tape them to our tile floor for my students to stand on when they line up.

Close up

Look from the door down the lines (girls on left, boys on right)

 This is what I brought home with me to keep me busy until I visit my classroom again.  I had the school laminator up and running today.  I laminated cubby tags, name tags for their seats and my "traveling" word walls.

I will be cutting lots of lamination.
Do you have a personal laminator?  I keep seeing them all over bloggy world, but haven't taken the leap.  Any convincing words either way?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Made It {August 5}

I'm linking up with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics for Monday Made It.

"Lab Plan" Journals: These little journals are what my students will use to write their "lab plans" (plans on what they are going to do at their center that day).  I used these last year; they held up well and were a great size for this purpose.  These are composition books (50 cents each at WalMart) cut in 1/2 ($2.00 for the stack of 12 at Office Max) and covered with Duck Tape ($2.50 a roll at JoAnn's with coupons). My cousin helped me cover these last week.  One roll of tape covered 7-8 of these little guys.  I hope my students love them as much as I do!

Name Tags:  Instead of buying name tags to put on my students' desks this year, I decided to make them.  I picked up some word strips on clearance at Michaels, glued them to card stock cut into strips and put a couple dots on them to jazz them up a bit.  Each tag has either a purple or blue dot on the far left to remind students that is where their name starts (you know there will be at least one!).

Cubby Tags: I used our Ellison to punch 4", 3" and 2" circles in various bright colors.  I glued them together randomly, and these will be used to labels students' cubbies.

Pickles:  My mom and I used my aunt's recipe and figured out how to make pickles on Sunday.  It was actually not as difficult as I thought it might be.  A lot of cucumbers involved in that process!

Baked French Toast and Fruit Casserole:  This was SO good!  I made this for lunch Sunday after church.  My mom, dad and a woman from their church (who is in her mid-90s) came over for lunch.  I modified the recipe as I used an 8x8 pan.  I only put 4 oz of cream cheese in it as I didn't want to be overwhelmed (it was plenty).  I used about 2/3 a loaf of bread and threw in some extra fruit because we really like fruit.  It was nice because I put it together Saturday night to let the egg mixture soak in and I just had to bake it Sunday.

This was before the 2nd layer of bread was put on.  It was obviously not baked yet, but all that berry goodness...yum!

When do you start back to school?  How are you (did you) enjoying your last days of summer?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Five for Friday {August 2}

I'm linking up with Kasey from Doodle Bugs Teaching to share 5 random things from my week.  I love reading what everyone else has been up to!

1.  I worked in my classroom yesterday.  I went in to work on my bulletin board (only real thing on my to-do list) and 6 hours later, it still isn't done.  I ran out of ribbon I was using for my border.  I had already been to Wal-Mart once and wasn't going back!  Here it is in its *almost* completed state.  I picked up some ribbon on my way home and will finish it next time I go back. The side ribbon will be blue to match the letters.  This will be my word wall. 

2.  I've been enjoying trying new recipes (thanks Pinterest) this summer.  I saw a few people mention stocking the freezer with some pre-made items before school starts.  I'm thinking I might need to add this to my to-do list.

3.  We have conferences with each parent prior to school starting for students.  I'm trying to get things together for this.  We hold an Open House at the end of September too, so as I find ideas (thanks again Pinterest), I'm debating what they need now and what can wait for a month.  Open House is much less "formal" as conferences are scheduled for each individual family.  I did put together a brochure about my classroom procedures and expectations for conferences that I'm pretty excited about.  It has been on my list of ideas for a few years and I have just never put the time into it.

This is the inside of my brochure.  I haven't had a chance to edit it yet (was trying to get it done before I got kicked out yesterday when the custodians went home) so that is on the agenda this weekend.

4.  Back to school shopping has begun.  I'm very much a bargain hunter, so the thrill and anticipation of upcoming sales are almost as good as the sale itself :). Next week Office Max has notebooks for a penny and Staples has filler paper for a penny.  Both deals require you to spend $5.

Zipper pouches (1 cent at Office Max this week), Pencil Cases (1 cent at Staples this week), Crayons (25 cents at Toys R Us this week...Office Max & Staples will price match with a copy of the ad).

5.  I've been enjoying a daily morning walk (assuming the weather cooperates) and some time to read for pleasure over the past couple weeks.  The library is close enough to walk, so I've been taking full advantage. 

I would love to hear any ideas you have for conferences/Open House and/or a Back to School treat for the kiddos.