Sunday, December 16, 2012

Drawing Conclusions and Night Letters

Our Reading Street story last week was Night Letters.  The kids really got into this story! For one of their stations, they thought about an object such as a plant or animal that they might find in their back yard.  Then they wrote a letter to themselves from that objects point of view- just like the little girl in the story.  I did model by writing my own night letter from the point of view of garden snake.  After stations, they came up and shared their night letters with the class.  I tied in our skill of the week which was drawing conclusions by having the students guess who each night letter was from.  The students had to explain their thinking by using details from the text and their prior knowledge.  My kiddos really enjoyed this activity and it was great practice!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Time Is Here!

I adore Christmas! As soon as I finished my last bite of Thanksgiving dinner, I was ready to start decorating.  I have decorated part of my classroom and put up our tree.  The kiddos will make their first ornament tomorrow thanks to a wonderful parent volunteer!  Just a tip: I buy a few packs on inexpensive thank you notes from Wal-Mart or Target and keep at school.  That way I can write the kids a note before I forget and they go home for the holidays.

I found these felt snowflake place mats at Wal-Mart and hung them up in our classroom.

This is in my bedroom.

My Christmas tree at home.

An ornament we will make this season!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I did it y'all! I passed National Boards!! I am officially a National Board Certified Teacher.  Wow was I shocked and so so so relieved.  In other great news, the day before I found that out- I was named Teacher of the Year for my school.  That is such a huge honor because my co-workers vote on it.  It was a good two days!

We all know that not a lot of work gets done the day before a holiday break.  So yesterday we did some Thanksgiving literacy activities and writing before doing a math worksheet.  Yes I gave a worksheet! It was a simple addition review which I thought the kids needed.  I am sharing this because of the challenge I gave my early finishers.  Students that finished early were given the challenge to circle the sums that were even numbers in green and the sums that were odd in red.  My kids liked this idea a lot.  We all have those kids that if they are not busy thinking than they are prone to getting into trouble so I am always looking for easy ways to challenge my kiddos.  If you have any easy tips please feel free to share!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Secret Throw Up

This is a funny.  The other day I was working with students at my reading table.  A little boy comes up to me and says, "Ms. Coleman, I threw up."  I asked him where since I had not seen him or heard of chorus of eight year olds saying "EWW! Yuck!"  He said in the classroom but I cleaned it up.  Now my classroom is tiny so I see and hear just about everything!  I asked him who saw him throw up (and so kindly clean it up).  He tells me no one saw it.  I said, "So you threw up, cleaned it up, and no one saw it?"  He said yes.  So I said ok, go to the nurse.  He, of course, was fine and spent the rest of the day at school.  Do they think I am that stupid or do they simply think they are that clever?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Recess Academy

Yes, I am alive.  This year has been really hard.  With a new grade level, a challenging group of kiddos, and a new math program (not to mention trying to have a life outside of school!) I have felt like I am barely keeping my head above water all year.  I am just now starting to feel on top of things even thought I have a million things I want to start with my kids.  My goal is to really think about what my kids can and cannot handle so I do not get frustrated.  For example, I really really really wanted to carve pumpkins with my kids but I know my kids just can't handle it so I am putting it off until next year.
   Anyways, this post is about Recess Academy.  I wish I could take credit for this idea but sadly I can't.  Those of you that have read my posts before know that I am a big fan of Setting Limits in the Classroom by Robert J. McKenzie and Lisa Stanzione. (Buy here).  This book is about how to eliminate power struggles, give students logical choices, and respectfully manage your classroom.  I read it after my first year of teaching and let me tell you- I went home a lot less frustrated every day.  When I led the committee to write out new school wide discipline plan, this is the book we based it on.  I HIGHLY recommend it.  Ok back to recess academy.  The idea is simple.  You take kids out of recess or specials for five to ten minutes and practice behaviors they are struggling to master.  I had my first recess academy two weeks ago and it was great.  I had several students that continual blurted out and I realized how frustrated that made me and how it was have a negative impact on our day.  So I pulled these four kids out of music (we do not get recess) to practice raising their hands.  We sat on the carpet and I read them a really fun picture book.  Whenever they had something to say or wanted to answer a question, they had to raise their hand.  Sometimes I called on them and sometimes I did not.   I have seen a real improvement in hand raising the past two weeks.  This was a positive experience for both me and the students instead of making them move their clip and everyone getting upset.  When we were finished, they went back to music class.  There are a lot of other situations you can use recess academy such as standing in line correctly, walking in the hall correctly, following classroom routines, and lots more!
  I would love to hear back from you if you decide to try this strategy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Introducing Math

I have made it through my very first days as a 3rd grade teacher...and I am pooped!  The tininess of my students amazes me.  Moving from 4th grade to 3rd grade is a bigger adjustment than I thought it would be.  I am having to make sure I give instructions in smaller chunks and realizing how much less independent they are.  I am learning a lot though!  As I have mentioned before, my state has adopted and adapted the Math Common Core Standards.  My county has started the journey of training us in AMSTI (Alabama Math Science Technology Initiative) in math.  We got the Pearson Investigation Units and a whole lot of manipulatives.  I think it is always important to give kids time to play with new materials before you try to teach them how to use them as learning tools.  So today that is what we did.  I set up a few different stations around the room (unifix cubes, pattern blocks, small white boards, etc) and broke my kids into groups so they could explore.  We also practiced our station behavior before and during our exploration time.  We practiced walking from station to station silently, cleaning up after ourselves, working together, and staying on task.  After stations were all cleaned up, I asked the students to write in their math journals about how we behave and move during stations.  Students were then encouraged to share their writing under our Elmo (document camera).  I think this was a very valuable way to spend our time today.  I took some pictures of the kiddos exploring the materials and reading today.

Friday, August 17, 2012

My Completed Classroom!!!!

Hello All!
  I have been very busy the past few weeks finishing up my classroom, attending workshops, and trying to enjoy the last bit of summer.  School starts on Monday and I am super excited and stressed.  I met some of my new kiddos at Meet the Teacher Night last night.  Third graders are a lot smaller than what I am used to! I think I have a great group and some very supportive parents!  Here are the last pictures from my classroom makeover.

My super cute door.  Thanks to Brooke and Kim for helping me!

My "Classicot Award" Wall that I got from One Extra Degree
Inside the cabinet I have stored copy paper, lined paper, extra textbooks and extra workbooks.  There is also a built in filing cabinet inside.  In one drawer, I will keep the student's graded papers after they have been signed.  I will keep graded benchmark assessments in the second drawer.
This is the back wall of the room.  I have my calendar up.  The empty bulletin board will be for novel study and author study.  I plan on putting my reading vocab words and concept webs on the white board as well.

This is my library center.  I have baskets for different genres, authors, and series.  Each book is labeled for AR.  Every book also has a dot sticker on the front that matches the basket in which the book belongs.  I got my super cute genre posters from One Extra Degree (can you tell I buy all her stuff or what?!)
This is a big view of this wall.  I have shelves running along almost the entire wall.  I have picture books in baskets on these shelves as well as baskets of clipboards and dry erase boards.  Their textbooks are currently stored there until I pass them out next week.  I also have a lot of the math manipulatives stored in plastic bins as well.

A close up of my math journal basket.  I have one just like it for reading journals.

A close-up.  Their book boxes are on this counter.  I have students turn in their work in the drawers.  I have one labeled for centers, one for math, and one for science and social studies.
The front of my classroom.  My math wall is still a work in progress! I have a little desk where my laptop and Elmo are located.  I love that desk because I can store my teacher editions that I am currently using and any over head manipulatives right there.
My bookshelf with TEs, binders, leveled readers, and personal picture books.

A wide shot of the classroom and my small group area.

My classroom helpers and clipchart.  The students will store their data binders in the stacked crates by the door.

I hope to post my plans for my first few days this weekend.  Wishing everyone a restful weekend!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Photo Update

I went out to school yesterday and did some work in my classroom.  I put up some posters, sorted reading materials and new math materials, and put together my new book boxes. I am feeling very overwhelmed by all I have left to do (label all materials with student names, decorate my classroom door, label all my books for AR, copy back to school packets, and plan my first week).  I am trying to take it a little at a time but I want it done!! Ah!! Anyways- pictures!

I put up my craft from Monday Made It!

The Class Leaders are our classroom jobs.  The jobs are on branches and the kids' names will be on colorful owls!

Another shot of my small group area

Library center

Classicott awards (One Extra Degree on TpT!)

My bed is here! Now I just need stuff to put on my pretty new painted walls!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Giveaway Winner

Thank you to all of you that stopped by and entered my giveaway! I appreciate all your support and ideas.  It is time to announce the winner. 

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Made It!

All summer I have been looking at all the cute crafts everyone has done for 4th Grade Frolic's Monday Made It series.  And all summer I have been saying I was going to get crafty.  Well I did! A while back I found these awesome printables from Technology Rocks Seriously (they have been all over Pinterest!) and knew that they needed to be in my new classroom.  Today I found some unfinished wooden frames at the Dollar Tree and got to work!
Frames from the Dollar Tree

Paints from Wal-Mart

I got some unfinished photo frames from Wal-Mart and did those as well.  I am going up to school tomorrow to work registration and perhaps hang these up.  I will add more pictures when I do.  My new bed is being delivered tomorrow so check back for more pictures of my Bedroom Makeover.  And don't forget to enter my giveaway-it ends soon!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tell Me More, Tell me More

I am linking up to Mrs. Lemons Tell Me More, Tell Me More linky party to tell y'all a few more things about me.  I love the idea of this linky party because the random little things about you are what make you special.  So let's celebrate by sharing!

1. Most of you know by know that I love love love to read! I have a whole room in my apartment dedicated to my books.  That being said, I have a few books that I have read over and over again.  Most of these I read when I was growing up.  Some examples are Troubling a Star, Walk Two Moons, and now I have added 50 Shades and the Hunger Games to those. 

2. I have an incredibly foul mouth and no filter (except when I am in my classroom of course).  This surprises a lot of people! I come off very shy and sweet and then people get to know me...

3. Jello freaks me out.  It moves...on its own.

4. I can't drink the last little bit of milk from the carton.  I have to pour it down the drain.  No idea why but it grosses me out.  Oh and milk must be consumed from a glass NOT a plastic cup.

5. The girls I teach with can confirm this but I can not hang anything up straight.  It always ends up crooked.  This is why Brooke and Kim volunteer to help me with so many tasks. Cutting in a straight line is also a struggle for me.

That is all I can think of for the moment.  Hope you join in the fun. Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win some great stuff from Teachers Pay Teachers and a cute read aloud!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers Giveaway

Hello friends! I am doing a giveaway to celebrate my wonderful new blog look that Erin from Creating and Designing did for me.  Erin and I are teaming up to bring you some prizes from Teachers Pay Teachers!  The winner of the giveway will win:

Any 2 items they want from Erin's TpT store!
A $10 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers!
A copy of one my new favorite read alouds:

Product Details

The giveaway ends August 1st and I will do my best to post the winner by August 2nd. Thanks for stopping by!
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

My New Look

I have a brand new look and I could not be happier! Erin from Creating & Designing created my new look.  She also has an amazing Teachers Pay Teachers store! Erin and I will be teaming up to bring you a giveaway soon to celebrate my fabulous new do! Check back soon!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bedroom Makeover Update

Yes, I am aware that the title of this blog is in fact "Once Upon a Teaching Blog."  However, I am more than just a teacher so I think it is ok to post this here.  This summer I have taken on many projects for school so I decided to finally do one for me. Yep, ME! So I am decorating my bedroom.  My lovely co-workers and friends (Kim, Brooke, and Amy) came over today and helped me paint.  They were amazing! So blessed to have them in my life.  I must confess the hardest part of this entire process has been deciding on a paint color.  I spent a lot of time in Home Depot, the hardware store, and Sherwin Williams looking at colors.  I spent even more time staring a paint samples taped to my wall.  Well I finally found a color I love.  Here are some before pictures of my bedroom and a few pictures of the painted walls.  Now I am waiting on my bed to be delivered!

Before (kind of blurry)

My light blue/green walls!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I am an Idiot

In the words of Roald Dahl, "We all have our moments of brilliance and glory..." This is either one of those for me or a complete opposite experience.  The other day I was in my classroom and thinking about how I like to bring in new books every few weeks to put in the library center so my kiddos don't get bored with the selection.  I was thinking about how costly that can be.  Then it hit me! Duh! Stash some of my books away in a box and pull them out during the year.  They will still be new to the kiddos just not new to me.  I am sure many of you already do this but it just now dawned on me.  Of course, I will still probably end up buying lots of new books.  Hope your week is going well!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Decorating Overload!

Hello!  Summer time is in full swing for me.  Having fun with friends, spending time with family, and oh yeah decorating my new classroom! My amazing Mom came into town to help me do a few things around my classroom.  We went to the Parent Teacher Store and picked out brightly colored paper for my bulletin boards.  Today we went out to school and put up the paper and my curtains.  Here are a few pictures. 
My back bulletin boards.  We also put up a new alphabet since the one in my new room was print. The pink board is going to be Author Study and novel study related.

The front of my room.  I am going make this my math wall and put my hundreds chart and Mountain Math up there.  I am also going to put number number line up there.

My mom hanging my curtains.
These are my new AMSTI math kits!!

It was like Christmas morning.

Math related literature!

How handy is this? This box came with dividers.

I am still reading Guided Math, Daily 5, and about to start the CAFE book.  Make sure you check out these great book studies that are going on right now.   I am also redecorating my bedroom.  Correction, decorating it.  I moved into my apartment four years ago and wanted to buy an iron bed and do my bedroom.  Then I decided to focus on my living room.  Then I got talked into doing my dining room (which I have used all of two times).  SO now I am finally, finally, finally doing my bedroom.  I might post some before and after pictures even though this is just a teaching blog.  Anybody have any great painting tips for me?