Monday, August 29, 2011

Keepin Them on Their Toes

I can't believe we started our third week of school already! It has been a busy but wonderful blur!  I have an amazing class this year but there are some challenges.  For instance the gap between my "high" students and "low" students is very extreme so I am having to make sure I am reaching all my babies and keeping the others challenged.  My co-worker, Brooke, and I have been working together to differentiate our stations in math and reading.  Even though my reading program is leveled, I still need something extra to keep high ones thinking.  One thing I am doing for my higher students is increasing the difficulty of some activities but including a challenge step for them.  The challenge usually involves some critical thinking. 
  I will get to some of my other challenges in later posts.  I am curious though- how do you keep your "higher" kids challenged?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet The Teacher Monday

I am really excited to read the new blog Blog Hoppin'! Some of my favorite blog stars are going to be  writing it!  They are hosting Meet the Teacher Monday and you know I had to be a part of that!

A Little About Me...
I am the youngest of three girls (can you imagine how much fun we have together?!!).  I grew up in Mississippi and I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.  I remember seating in school and thinking: "When I have my classroom I can going to to it this way."  When I graduated high school, I went to a small liberal arts college here in Birmingham called Birmingham-Southern.  The main reason I went there was because both of my sisters did but it ended up being the perfect place for me.  Not only did I get to travel some, I was in the classroom teaching my sophomore year! I have taught lessons in every grade from K4-7th.  I did my student teaching in 1st and 4th grade and was convinced that I wanted to be a 1st grade teacher.  Well, the job I got offered was for 4th grade and four years later here I am! I love my 4th graders.  They are the perfect age group for me right now.  They amaze with the connections they make and their humor and observations.

My Addictions...
 Teacher blogs, Pinterset, Children's books, Grey's Anatomy, chap stick, Diet Dr. Pepper, Alabama football!

This year I am looking forward to...
 I am really excited to get to know my students better.  I am also looking forward to working with my wonderful 4th grade team! As always, I am looking forward to learning and becoming a better teacher.

I need to improve...
  So many things! I want to do more small group small instruction so I can reach all my babies! I want to start test prep earlier so I don't have to go testing crazy on my kids.  I want to talk to my students about the books they are reading and encourage them to talk to their classmates as well.  And I really want on parent communication.  I dislike calling parents but I want to build strong relationships with them so if there is ever a problem they know I am there to help.  I sent every parent a handwritten note the first week of school.  Oh and I want to be more patient with my kids and myself!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

Sorry for neglecting my blog the past week.  The first week of school is so exhausting! This week does not look like it is going to be any easier: faculty meeting, webinar, open house, birthday party, Bunko, and the list goes on! I am excited to get into the curriculum more this week although for some reason I cannot remember how I introduce place value! It is starting to stress me out!  If anyone has any cute ideas please let me know asap :) 
  Last year my school and feeder pattern participated in Take One.  This a program from the National Boards in which we do one entry from a self selected National Board certification area.  They pay for everything and you do the same entry three years in a row.  They have offered to pay almost all of the fees for complete National Board certification so I have decided (along with a few brave co-workers) to go for it! I am pretty sure I will regret this decision in the near future, but in the long run I think it will be great for my teaching practice.  Pray for me!
  To those who start school tomorrow- remember to breathe and that the first day does not have to be perfect.  To the rest of us who have already started- remember to stay consistent.  They will be testing your limits in the next few weeks to see what they can and can't get away with in your classroom.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Update and Giveaway

My second day of school is over! My feet hurt and my new teacher shoes have worn holes in them.  And I am even more tired than I was yesterday.  However, I had a pretty good day and I am in love with my new class.  I am so anxious to start all the lessons and ideas that I have learned this summer but I keep reminding myself to start slow, get to know my kids, and practice our rules and procedures.  Those of you that start soon- good luck.  Get some rest before it all begins!

In other news, Amanda from one of my fave blogs is giving away a great book (Miss Malarky Leaves No Reader Behind) and a Barnes and Noble gift card.  Head over to Third Grade Meanderings for a chance to win!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting to Know You...

Today was the first day of school for my 4th graders.  It was a busy, kind of productive, crazy kind of day and I am exhausted.  My throat kind of hurts from not using my teacher voice in so long! Before I crawl into my bed with a book (I believe everyone will be able to hear my sigh of relief when I do that) I wanted to share with you.  As I am sure a lot of you do, I gave my kids a getting to know you sheet with lots of questions about themselves and a space to ask me a question.  I also gave them a reading interest survey.  So I have spent the past thirty minutes or so reading their responses and commenting on them.  I wanted to share some of them with you.

What are you afraid of?  elephants
What do you want to be when you grow up? baby doctor
What are you looking the most forward to in 4th grade? To learn more and to grow and to get good grades (I love that!)
What do you dislike about reading? If there are a lot of big words but that is how you grow (same kid as above)
What do you want to be when you grow up? a Marine for my country
What is something you do well?  "make strait As"
What is something you are afraid of? sharks
What is something you are afraid of? "crazy people"
What do you want to be when you grow up? A big truck worker
How do you spend your free time? helping my family

And one child wrote and asked me-"Are you nice?"  I wrote back "I think so!"

I hope all of you who started school today had a wonderful first day!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Organizing Leveled Readers

My school uses the Reading Street program.  For those of you that use it as well, you know there are a lot of materials to manage.  For example, the leveled readers.  There are six units with five stories each.  So that is thirty different leveled readers.  And there are six of each book and three groups.  In all that is 540 books (if my calculations are correct).  We all know that those cardboard units they came in don't always last and they are an awkward shape to try to store.  I wish I could take credit for the following idea but sadly I can't.  This organizational gem comes from the mind of my wonderful co-worker, Brooke.  She put the six leveled readers from every story in a quart size ziploc bag.  Then she printed labels that said "Unit" and "Story".  You stick the label on the bag and write the unit number and story number in the space provided.  When you finish all that, you put the bags in order into a basket.  I have three baskets- one for each reading level group.  The books I need for guided reading groups are always right there in the front.  At the end of the week I put the books back in their bag and put the bag at the back of the basket.  That way by the end of the year, Unit 1 Week 1 is back at the front again.  Isn't Brooke a genius?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Final Classroom Makeover Update

Back in May I started my classroom makeover (click here to see the before photos).  I wanted to get rid of all my black and lime green decor and go towards a more soothing color scheme.  I also rearranged and organized some things.  Here are the pictures of my room as of this afternoon! We start school Monday so I am super pumped!
This is the table right when you walk in my room.  The students will
make their lunch choice here and turn in assignments in the drawers.

My genre wall where we will put pictures of the books we read this year.
Excuse the baskets.  We had meet the teacher last night.

The calendar
My Promethean board and white board.

Computer stations and blank walls ready for anchor charts!

Super cute genre posters that I bought on TpT from One Extra Degree
Library Center

more posters from One Extra Degree including book recommendations

small group area/teacher desk

My desk- this is the cleanest it will be all year

Helpers, Clip Chart, Rules, Birthday

My room

My room again
student supplies


I have lots more pictures but I am super tired so they will have to wait for another day.  Let me know if you have suggestions!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Supporting A Friend

When I graduated college and began looking for my first teaching job I had certain schools in mind (as I am sure every fresh new teacher does).  God had other plans for me.  The school that offered me my first job was not at all what I had pictured for myself but was exactly what I needed.  The people I met helped me become the teacher I am today.  The kids needed me and I love them! God also knew what he was doing when he placed Michelle at my school during my second year of teaching.  My Principal said she thought we would hit it off and gave her my contact info.  I helped Michelle out some during her first semester but it was not until a trip to Christmas Village that we became good friends (due to our intense desire to sample every single food item there haha).  Since then we have bonded over our love of reality TV, Justin Bieber (don't judge), funny You Tube videos, and of course teaching.  This past March, Michelle told me that she would be leaving after the school year (her second year teaching with me).  Not only was she leaving- she was going to move to Turkey and teach and spread the Lord's word! Wow! So many emotions.  I was so so sad that I would not be able to sit in her room every day after school and laugh about the school day.  I was proud of her for taking such a huge risk.  I was scared for her too.  Michelle has been overseas many times before with mission trips and felt the Lord calling her to do more.  So in just nine short days, she will leave for Turkey for two years! Luckily she will be teaching 4th grade so I have been making her CDs of all my files and emailing her non-stop.  I am so glad that I will be able to support her not just with my prayers and the small donations I can afford on my teacher salary but also with my ideas and knowledge from teaching 4th grade for the past 3 years.  Michelle will be teaching 4th grade at an international Christian school where she will not only teach the 4th grade standards but she will teach a love of Christ.  She will get a small salary but she needs to raise support to cover the cost of living and some of her school materials.  You can visit her blog here to follow her adventures! You can also find information on how to support her during the next two years.  Please keep my dear, sweet friend in your prayers!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Top Ten Reasons You Know It Is Time To Go Back To School

Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits is having a really fun linky  party about how you know it is time to go back to school.  You must join the fun!

10.  I have been to Hobby Lobby more times in the past two weeks than I have in my entire life.

9. My cell phone cover has Modge Podge all over it from my attempt at being crafty.

8.  I get asked when school starts and if I am ready every time I see someone I know.  Maybe I should make a sign to hang around my neck: I go back August 10th, the kids come back the 15th, and I AM SO EXCITED! :)

7. I am frantically reading all the teaching books I told myself I would read this summer but never got around to

6. I can not stay away from teaching blogs (maybe that is just my constant state of being now though?)

5. I am foolishly tyring to make myself get up at a decent time (and failing).

4.  Upon entering Wal-Mart I am drawn to the school supply section where I buy crayons and notebooks on almost every visit

3. My 4th grade team mate and friend, Brooke, (love ya Boo!) can't stop texting and emailing each other ideas.  Most texts come from the middle of wal-mart or hobby lobby where inspiration strikes us.

2.  My mom has her sewing machine out on her kitchen table for weeks at a time

1. My mind will not shut off at night because I am so busy planning and reminding myself to do this and that!

As much as I heart summer- I am truly excited to start another great year!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Advice for New (and not so new) Teachers

Fun in 4th Grade is hosting an amazing linky party and I am so happy to be a part of it.  She wants us to share our best teacher advice. 

1.  Be consistent- Kids need to know what to expect from you every day.  So with your behavior plan, your routines, and expectations you must be consistent.

2.  Walk the line-  Having a connection with your students is one of the most important parts of teaching.  You need to be able to relate to them and reach them and there needs to be trust there too.  That being said, you have to walk a fine line between teacher and friend.  I have seen it happen before when a new teacher tries too hard to be a friend and then gets walked all over.

3. Ask for help- I want my kids to be lifelong learners just as I am.  I know that I do not know everything (ok most of the time I know this) so I have no problem asking another teacher or even sometimes a student for help.  We need to be role models for learning.

4.  Read aloud to your kids! It is such a wonderful bonding experience.  No matter how old or young your kids are they will love it!

5. Laugh! You are going to make mistakes so laugh at yourself.  Your kids will say the cutest things.  Enjoy it.

6. Try to  find the best in every child and then share it with their parents.  I try to start off the year by contacting every parent with something positive about their child.  That way if I ever have a problem, they will understand that I am on their side and have their child's best interest at heart. 


Kleinspriration recently reached 500 followers! To celebrate, she is giving away a $25 target gift card.  Head over to her blog to enter.  It ends the 9th!

I will be doing a giveaway when I reach 250 followers so keep checking back here too!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Look at my Bird Folders!

As you may know, I am addicted to teacher blogs and pinterest.  I have found so so many great ideas lately. I want to share a project I did that was inspired by Leslie Ann at Life in First Grade.  She used a bird template to decorate her student work display.  At my school, we all hang folders out in the hall where we display our kids' work.  Leslie Ann was sweet enough to share her template so I made my own birds using scrapbook paper to decorate my student folders.  Here are some pictures:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Currently I Am...

Oh Boy 4th Grade is having a fun linky party about what we are doing right now.  Here it is:

Currently I am:
 Listening to America's Next Top Model.  I love their all day marathons!

Loving Pinterest.  I can't stay away from this site!  There are so many ideas out there and I love that I can keep them all in one place.

Thinking about what I want to do with my new students during the first week of school.

Wanting something chocolate.

Needing to go work out!

Stalking all the blogs on my blog list! I heart them all!  I esp. love Oh Boy 4th Grade of course.  I stalk One Extra Degree. And my sister's blog so I can see pictures of my niece and nephew!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Classroom Pet Peeve Linky Party

We all have those little things that just drive us up the wall! Those things we can't stand but on those certain days they can just put us over the edge.  The Bubbly Blonde is having a linky party so we can share those pet peeves and get them out in the open before school starts.  Here are some of mine:

1. Saying my name while raising your hand- I see your hand thank you just stop saying my name!
2. When my kids tell me they "have to use it" instead of asking to go to the restroom
3. And that one most of us hate but some kids just have to do- drumming your pencils

What are your classroom pet peeves?