Sunday, June 30, 2013

July Goals

I came across this link up hosted by Jess over at I {Heart} Recess and just knew I had to join in.  I firmly believe in setting goals with my students and yearly goals for myself as well.  However, I tend to be a little loosey-goosey with those long term goals so thought this monthly set might fair better (especially since they are actually written down and others can see them LOL)  It's all about accountability right?

So here are my July goals:

Personal- I recently tore apart my upstairs bathroom  and stairwell to do a little remodel.  I have finished up painting in the bath, now need to make a curtain (I can't sew to save my life!) and do some texturing/painting in the stairwell.

Family- we have many quick places of interest I want to take the kids to before it is time for school.  They are growing up so fast and busy with their own interests, it is hard to find time to squeeze in when we can all just hang out together.

Health- My summer goal is to loose 15 pounds.  I did well this Spring-I gave up soda for Lent, but completely reverted to old habits once Easter was over.  Trying to drink more water or green tea instead of my favorite Dr. Pepper is something I have to really get back to.

School- Seems I can't get away from thinking/planning for next year.  We will be focusing on ELA Common Core this year, so I want to get through my materials and get things ready to go.

Blog/TPT-  I have actually just started blogging myself.  I've been doing a lot of blog stalking and can't wait to connect with other teachers out there. My TPT store is pretty bare, so hoping I can create/tweak some of my materials to get them ready for the store.

Outside the box: My Pinterest boards are MESSY.  I need to go through those and get it reorganized and put those great pins to use.

                                                               Until next time....

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Colored Folders Galore- {Optimum Organization #4)

I can't believe it is the last Saturday of June! Where has the time gone?  Since it's Saturday, you know it's time to link up with Kristen and Elizabeth for the Optimum Organization tips and tricks.  I don't know about you, but I am getting lots of ideas and inspiration as I stalk through the blogs linked up for this linky. I am soooo thankful these ladies decided to host this!

Ok today, I want to share one way I try to help my students stay organized.  I am a color coordinator.  I mean I am obsessive about color coordination.  (There I said it- that's the first step right?)  My students come at the beginning of the year with 5 folders: red, blue, green, yellow and one of their choice.  I used to have the students write the subject on each folder but you know those nice heavy folders with the shiny covers...the marker tends to rub right off, comes my handy dandy folder labels.

(I went through a stage where I was making cute labels for everything under the sun...these I actually kept up).  I pass out a strip of the labels to each student and we put them the top of each folder as we place them in their desks in the order we will do the subjects throughout the day. For those of you interested, I have put these labels up in my TPT store.  They are FREE for the time being.

Now about the color coordination.  We use the red folder for reading.  Anything I print off for the students, I copy on pink paper (red is to dark and hard to read).  They know pink papers go in the red folder.  Science is the green folder and all science papers are green, we use the blue folder and blue papers for Social Studies, the yellow folder and yellow paper is for math and the folder of their choice is for writing (I copy all the things for language arts on purple paper).  The visual match of the paperwork with their folder helps the students know where their things need to be.  When I have students who misplace an item we can tell quickly if it is in the wrong folder because the colors don't match.  It is also helpful for me when papers are in my bag at the end of the day, I can tell at a glance what subject I still need to check at home. Plus if something gets turned into the wrong basket, the color of the paper makes it stand out of the rest and we can find missing work that they know they turned in.

Another place I use color is in my student files.  I use a 3 folder system to store student information throughout the year.  For each student I have a red, yellow and blue folder. (I use numbers on these to make it easy to use year after year and to insure confidentiality).  In the red folder I keep things like IEP accommodations and goals, any behavior write ups, permission slips, our behavior contract, notes from home; basically they are things that only I need to see.  The yellow and blue folders are for student work.  In the yellow folder I keep all the assessments the students complete throughout the year.  I share these at conferences but they don't go home.  In the blue folder I keep pieces of student work from the current trimester.  This folder is also something I share at conferences,  the difference is all the things in this folder go home with the parents. I keep the two separate folders for student work so that I don't accidentally send home assessments that I need to keep at school.

Well, that's my organizational idea for today.  Hope you have a great Saturday!
                                                                        Until next time....

Friday, June 28, 2013

Fiction Friday- Round 3

It's Friday and time to share some more children's fiction.  I was actually able to get three of the 2013-2014 Iowa Children's Choice books read this week to share today.

The first book I want to share is Ghost Dog Secrets by Peg Kehret.  (She is one of my all time favorite authors! What a great storyteller!)

After Rusty Larson spies a German Shepard chained to a tree with no food or water during a sleet storm, he decides he must do something to help it.  When animal control tells him they can't do anything to help with out proof of abuse, he and his friend Andrew hatch a plan to take care of the dog, they have now named Ra.  One night Rusty notices that Ra has been hurt, so he and Andrew unchain the him and take him back to their clubhouse.  While all this is going on, the ghost of a collie has been paying Rusty visits.  She seems to want Rusty's help in protecting/helping Ra and a new dog at Ra's owner's house.  When Ra's owner finds out Rusty and his mom have his dog, he begins making threats to take the dog and more.  With the ghost dog's help, Rusty finds a way to keep Ra safe and put an end to "Mean Man's" cruelty.

This is a wonderful story that has a great message about stepping up and helping solve problems.  One of the things Rusty's teacher tries to teach his class is that everyone can help solve problems instead of always saying "Someone ought to do something" be the someone who does.

Reading Level: 3-6 grade
Pages: 184

Book 2 for this week is Mallory Goes Green by Laurie Friedman.  This is the 13th book in the Mallory McDonald series.

In this story, Mallory's school has taken the pledge to "Go Green" and Mallory is gung ho to make everyone around her do just that.  She volunteers to be the class representative for the school Green Committee and present an idea for her class to do for the Green Fair.  All doesn't go as planned when her idea for the fair isn't popular with her classmates.  Mallory must learn to listen to everyone's ideas and be a team player if they are truly going to be a Green Team.

Mallory is a very lovable character (think Junie B. Jones, Judy Moody and Amber Brown all rolled up together).  While it is a simply told story, its message to readers about working together and really listening to those around you is an important one to get across.  This would be a fun story for Earth Day or when launching a communities unit to get everyone working together.

Reading Level:  3-5 grades
Pages: 158

Book 3 for this week is an emotional story entitled Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur.  Tissues needed for this one!

After a tragic accident leaves eleven-year-old Aubrey Priestly alone, she believes she has everything she needs to run her household: a house, food and a new family (a beta fish named Sammy).  Aubrey is unable to talk about the tragedy that has so drastically changed her life.  The only way she can deal with her life now and get her feelings out is by writing letters to her sister's imaginary friend, Jilly.

When her grandmother takes her home to Vermont, Aubrey begins to get "unstuck" as she calls it.  With new friendships and the warm nurturing love of those around her, she learns that she is not alone and that she can heal and move on.  Aubrey must make a hard decision when she is faced with the one wish of her heart's desire.

This was a wonderful story.  I laughed and cried with Aubrey as she dealt with her grief and came out the other side of it.  This is a story about loss, but is also a story of hope. I would highly recommend this book!

Reading Level: 3-6 grades
Pages: 262

I'm off to AdventureLand with the kids.
                                                     Until next time...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Made It #2

It's Monday!  Time to share my Monday Made It for this week's link up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics.

I'm not ready with a home made it for this week.  I've been busy redoing my upstairs bathroom and tearing out ugly brown paneling in the stairwell...(can you say early 80's blah).  Lots of cleaning, painting and sweating!  I'll be sure to show off my hard work when I get it finished up.

Lately I've been thinking about doing an objective board in my classroom.  We aren't required to post our objects, but I've seen some neat boards on Pinterest and really think it might be helpful for my students (and even myself) to have that reminder posted of what we are focusing on for a week.  With that in mind, I have started making I Can posters for the individual skills in the Common Core for math and English Language Arts.  This week I completed the math statements.  I will be putting the math up on my TPT store later today  Free for this week.  Let me know what you think of them.
I am planning to do a checklist to put in student data folders to go along with these to have as a record for each child to show at conferences; I hope to get that done to share for next time.  

Don't forget to check out the other Monday Made its- oh the inspirations!!  Have a great week!

                    Until next time....

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Organizing the Classroom library- {Optimum Organization #3}

For today's Optimum Organization link up, I am going to share how I organized my classroom library and the system I use to keep track of the books students have checked out.

My classroom library is actually made up of two big sections.  In this picture you are seeing the "fiction area"  where students will find books under historical fiction, mystery, realistic fiction and more.

In the middle of my classroom on the back wall is the "nonfiction area" where students will find reference books (dictionaries, thesaurus and atlases) along with the biographies, autobiographies and other information type books.

As you can see all the books in the classroom library are displayed face out in many, many baskets. In each area, the baskets are either sorted by genre or by author. I have the genre baskets all grouped together on the shelves to make it easier to locate books for students and for putting books away.

Each basket is labeled with a card displaying the specific genre (you can get them FREE at my TPT store). Knowing how tough it can be for students to put books back where they found them, I added another element to help them out.  On the outside of each book I have placed a colored sticker dot which represents a specific genre. (For example, a dark green dot is realistic fiction, blue = mystery, etc).  Inside the front cover of the book, there a another sticker that says the type of book it is, along with a book pocket and colored card bearing the title of the book.  The color of the book card matches the color of the dot.  When students check out a book, they put the book's card into the pocket of blue chart that corresponds with their number.  At a glance, I can see who has books checked out from our library and what genres they are reading.  After finishing a book, the students put the card back in the book and put the book into any one of the baskets labeled for that genre. (I decided it was too much of a headache to try to make sure that books went into the exact same basket it came out of).

During the school year, I display books for the author/genre of the month, a basket of new books and a basket for books that need to visit the book hospital.

That's my idea for this week.  Don't forget to link up with Kristin & Elizabeth with your organizing tips.

Hope you enjoyed a quick peek at my classroom library.

                                                                     Until next time.....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fiction Friday- Second Round

For this week's Fiction Friday I chose The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.
Ivan is a silverback gorilla living in the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.  He doesn't mind the humans watching him through the glass windows of his domain.  He spends his days watching TV, painting pictures, talking with his friends Bob, a stray dog, and Stella, an elephant, and eating.  He doesn't think about the jungle or his family, so he doesn't miss them.
Ivan is content with his life until he meets Ruby, an orphaned baby elephant who has been brought to live at the mall.  He finally remembers that one of the key roles a silverback has is to protect his family.  Ivan must come up with a way to save Ruby from a dismal fate at the Big Top Mall and Arcade and get her to a real zoo where she will be with other elephants in a safe and well cared for environment.

I loved this story!  It is told by Ivan as he lives out his days in his domain-he refuses to refer to it as a cage.  Ruby's arrival at the mall caused Ivan to look at the mall, his art and his life in a new light. The characters are wonderful both the animal characters and the humans they interact with.  It is a heart-warming story about friendship, family and the relationship between humans and animals. 

"I like colorful tales, the ones with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings. But any story will do." 

This quote by Ivan sums up his story very well.  The beginning isn't so black, but it definitely has a stormy middle and a cloudless blue-sky ending.  

Reading Level: Grades 3-5
Pages: 320

                  Until next time....

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Monday Made It!

I loved reading the Monday Made It posts last summer, so this summer I vowed it was going to try my hand at it myself and link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics..  Heaven knows I have plenty of projects/creations on my list of summer to dos, so I shouldn't have an issue coming up with ideas! ت

Without further ado my first Monday Made It for home are my garden brick books.  I have seen craft this on Pinterest and have been dying to make them.  We don't use our front door, so I thought my front steps would make an ideal outdoor "bookshelf".  It was the perfect craft to get me started for the summer.  I have decided that I need more books on my shelf so need to pick up some more bricks- thankfully my parents have a pile out back that are free for the taking! ت  

My school project was a MUCH larger task then the bricks, but thanks to the awesome tutorial by Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files on how to use PowerPoint to make printables, I was able to get the job done without pulling my hair out.

I have been using a Reader's -Writer's notebook with my students for the past several years.  I started out using folders with fasteners, then moved to 3-ring binders but neither really seemed to be the best fit. My plan for this summer was to compile all the different files I had on my computer for this notebook and send it to our area education agency to have it bound as a true spiral.  I am hoping that this simplified format will make it more user friendly for my students.  I had been plugging away with it using MS Word and it was going Ok until I made an error formatting some page and it messed up the whole document! I couldn't find the error and was ready to bawl! (I was up to 93 pages done)  So....I took a break from that and cruised through some of my favorite blogs where I came across Kristen's tutorials.  She saved me!  I was able to recreate the whole book in PPT and even added graphics to make it CUTE!  I finished up the whole thing this morning and love how it turned out.  Here's  a quick peek-tell me what you think.

Until next time...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Organizing student materials- Table Boxes

So, here's one of my ideas for organizing student materials.  Be sure to check out some of the other great organizing tips as part of Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files and Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B's summer linky series Optimum Organization.

This past year our district adopted the EveryDay Math series, so in an attempt to have the materials students would need readily available I created these table boxes.

My student desks are arranged in 6 groups of 4 desks each, so I have enough supplies in each box for all the members of a group.

In each box I have included 4 white boards and dry erase markers, rulers, 2 decks of the Everyday Math cards (we don't have enough for every student, so they partner up), math geometry templates, small and large post-it notes, highlighters and visa-vi markers, dice and a small piece of padded shelf liner they roll the dice on (it cuts down on the noise of the dice on the desktops). 

The table captain for each group is responsible for picking up their table box at the beginning of the, making sure all the materials are returned to the box and putting the box back on the community shelf at the end of the day.  This system work great for me.  I knew the materials would be ready whenever the students needed them and we didn't have a lot of fuss or hassle getting things out.

Until next time....

Friday, June 14, 2013

Organizing student work

I am super excited to link up with Kristen at
Ladybug Teacher Files and Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B for their summer blog party on organizing.  Be sure to check out some of the great ideas that have been shared so far!

One of the ways I try to help both my students and myself stay organized is my homework station.  In front of my desk, I keep a file organizer on an extra desk which has a colored file folder for each subject.  Students put their completed work in the correct folder then place a check by their name showing they have turned it in.  I can pull out the folder and check at a glance who has turned things in.  As part of my student jobs, I have a homework clerk whose job is to put the homework in numerical order.  This student can take the folder and put the papers in alphabetical order by using the student checklist inside.  When I am ready to sit down and correct their work I can simply grab a folder, check their work and enter it in my grade book very easily.

Fiction Friday- The Fairy Tale Detectives

For today's post, I am linking up with The Teaching Thief for her Fiction Friday link up.  What an awesome way to share great books and add some new titles to my already long list of books I want to read!  I want to share the first book in the Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley entitled The Fairy Tale Detectives.

This is the story of Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, two sisters whose parents have mysteriously disappeared.  After spending a year going from foster home to foster home, the girls are being shipped to Fairy Port Landing to live with a woman who claims to be their grandmother (they had been told by their father that she was dead).

Once the girls arrive in Fairy Port Landing, things get stranger by the minute. They are served a strange supper of spaghetti and purple meatballs, their new home is full of books with odds titles like "Three Hundred Ways to Cook a Dragon" and little bugs like fireflies attack the girls when they attempt to escape.  That's not all. Granny Relda, as Daphne calls her, takes the girls to investigate the mysterious destruction of a farmer's house.  While examining the rubble, Mayor Charming shows up with his assistant (a very short fellow named Seven) and tries to discourage any further investigation.  However, Granny doesn't give up and even suggests that the cause of the destruction was a giant.  Sabrina is convinced the old lady is off her rocker and plans to escape at their first opportunity, but when it arrives, so does a giant and it carries off Granny and her companion Mr. Cannis.  It is now up to the girls to save their grandmother and her friend, along with the whole town full of fairy tale characters, from the wicked giant and and even sneaker villan.

This book if full of action, funny characters and mystery.  The author Michael Buckley describes the story and its characters in a way that make it an excellent text for showing descriptive writing and helping students work on visualization.  It is a great read aloud (though a bit long) and was a perfect kick off for many of my students who wanted to read a new series.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 7, 2013

EdTech Solutions - Teaching Every Student: A Letter to my Teacher

I ran across this blog entry tonight and couldn't  help but think how timely it was for me.  Earlier this week I attended an Apple training on using iLife and OsX with students.  Today's learners are so much different from the student I was at their age.  Their desire and ability to use all things technological does change how they can interact with the curriculum.  While I try to employ those tech type aspects in my lessons I know I need to do more. I need to work at putting putting those tools in their hands and engage them in projects that go beyond pencils and paper, basic keyboarding and presentations to engage them in the world outside the four walls of our classroom.  I need to give my students the opportunities with technology can set them free and remove some of the obstacles they face, especially those who struggle.  I'd love to hear what some of you are doing to effectively use technology with your students.

EdTech Solutions - Teaching Every Student: A Letter to my Teacher: Dear Teacher, I want to learn I want to be independent, but Sometimes your curriculum is the disability. When you giv...

Thursday, June 6, 2013's June

Yeah it's June!  
School may be out for the students, but I've been hanging out at school this week.  Tuesday and Wednesday I attended an Apple Training- totally amazing.  I can't believe some of the things we learned and the whole time I kept thinking "Why haven't we done this training before?"  Can't wait to use some of my new found tech-knowledge with my students next year! The end of the week will see me working on English Language Arts Common Core.  It may not be as exciting as the tech inservice, but I know I will come out with ideas swirling through my head about what I can do for next year.

Many of my favorite bloggers  participate in a link up from Farly over at Oh Boy- Fourth Grade!  I am thrilled to get to share my "currently" with you.  

New Beginnings...trial and error

Hi and welcome to my new home on the web!  

One of my goals for the summer is to get this blog off the ground.  I have spent a lot of time this past year blog stalking some of my favorite teachers on the web, and have decided that I am finally ready to take the next step and join the fun.

My hope for this blog is that it will be a way to connect with others who are passionate about teaching and learning, sharing ideas, learning new things and best of all, making new friends. I can't wait to get started :)