Friday, August 31, 2012

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Hi all,

One of my favorite activities at the beginning of the year is to read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  Then I pass out magnetic letters and we act it out with a big coconut tree drawn on the board.  The kids enjoy bringing up their magnetic letter when we get to it in the story.

After that, we make our own coconut trees and repeat.  This way they can each have all the letters.  Here are some pictures.

We first made our coconut trees, then cut out and ordered our alphabet letters.

We acted out the book, then glued the letters on. These first two were mine. The ones below are all student work.

This one likes when they all fall off, of course.  I love that even one of the palm leaves is falling.

The scattered approach

Another scattered one.

One of my more orderly kids...

It's so fun how each one is individual to the child.
So there ya go.  A fun, easy, beginning of the year alphabet review.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 4

Hi all,

I have survived until Day 4.  Things are getting a little better.  I'm trying to get the kids trained on procedures and still manage to teach a thing or two.  All the new stuff has me feeling stressed out and I don't feel like I'm being a very effective teacher, but I'm trying my best.

I got out my "practice" binders today.  The kids loved them!  I did actually think to get out my camera, so here are some pictures of the kids using them to practice handwriting.

Here's one that was getting close to finished.

They LOVED using the dry erase markers.

And the colorful socks as erasers were a hit, too.

Eraser on one hand, pen in the other.  Cute.

This is the neatest writing I've seen this kid do.

Another one got down to G.
I just hope they don't lose the markers and lids.  I'm letting them keep them in their desks.  I'm so happy to be almost done with the week.  I have company coming from out of town for the weekend!  Enjoy your Labor Day!


Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day

Well, we got through the first day.  We got very little done.  It's going to take some time for us to learn all the rules and procedures this year.  Kinda scary when you're already behind on the first day, but I did everything I could with what I was given, and that's my motto because I can't do more than that.

The kids are very cute and tried really hard on the few academic type things we did.

I'm completely exhausted and heading to bed soon.  All the pictures I took today had kid faces in them, and I just don't have it in me to edit for pictures here.  As I'm trying to get used to a lot of new routines, I might be more likely to forget to take pictures and things.  Once I get more used to my new room, new equipment, new students, and all the new curriculum, I'll hopefully be better at remembering to snap some pictures.

And with that, I'm off to bed where I"m sure to sleep well.  *yawn*


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Excitement, Nerves, and Pictures!


School starts on Monday!  All this work and preparation hopefully starts to pay off.  I already met many of my kids, and can't wait to start getting to know them for real on Monday.


School starts on Monday!  I'm scared, as usual.  For some reason this year, I seem to feel like I've forgotten how to teach.  I think it's because so much of my curriculum is new to me, so I feel almost like a first year teacher.  I hope my students behave and learn a lot from me.


School starts on Monday!  I took pictures of my room before I left on Friday.  There are still some things not completely done, but it's looking almost ready at least.  Here are pictures of my room.
Small group table and floor area

Rules, Consequences, Behavior Chart


Wet area

Small group and shelves

Word Wall

Sight words and work wall

I can statements



Outside my door

Super Improver with the stars up
So there ya go.  Notice there are no pictures of my desk--that's because that area is a scary mess right now.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Hi all,

I have been so busy with meetings and professional development and trying to get things ready for parent/teacher conferences tomorrow that I haven't even thought of taking pictures.  I've gotten home too tired to even think straight.  But tonight, I feel more like myself rather than the scary stressball I was on Monday and Tuesday.

The Good

  • I am now ready for parent/teacher conferences tomorrow, and actually had the first one today.
  • We had a fabulous luncheon at a country club before our big faculty meeting.

The Bad

  • The school district scheduled training on our new gradebook program for everyone in the district at the same time.  Naturally, nothing worked because too many people were all trying to do the same thing at the same time.  So, we weren't able to set things up.
  • There's lots more, but I don't see the point in recapping a bunch of negativity when it won't change a thing.

The Ugly

  • I have been in a foul mood with a headache most of the week.  It was mostly ugly inside my head and I tried to avoid too much contact with people for fear I'd implode on them.  Still, my team members did have to put up with a lot of whining from me.
  • My living room might never get cleaned up since the cutting project is so slow going.
I will try to get some actual pictures taken probably Friday.  No post tomorrow--conferences will go until late.  As an introvert, conferences are always hard on me.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Rules and Consequences


The rules and consequences for my classroom are determined partially by the school (the first 3 are school-wide) and my grade level team.  Here are the rules.

For consequences, we use a color coded card system.  The students progress through the colors and there's a consequence tied to each one.

A.C. stands for Alternative Classroom.  It's another place where students calm down and process with a counselor before returning to class.

I don't have pictures of my cards, but they're really nothing fancy.  Just a pocket chart--I used an old calendar one I had.  Each pocket has the 5 card colors listed above and the child's classroom number on it.  When the child is told to "pull a card" he or she takes the top color out and puts it into a container.  I used to have them move the card to the back of their stack, but found it easier and faster for me to record with things being moved to a container instead.

What are the rules and consequences in your classroom?

I'm hoping this made sense tonight.  My head has been spinning all day long.  So much to do!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Five Things I'll Miss About Summer Linky

Hi all,

I worked all day today, but didn't take any pictures.  So I'm joining in on this linky. From Joy of Kindergarten.

1.  I'll be surprised if this isn't a popular one...
Sleeping in late or taking naps whenever I want.
2. Not being interrupted all the time.
"Can I go to the bathroom?"  
3. Being able to relax because I'm not responsible for the education and well-being of lots of little ones.
The kitty was too cute to pass up.
4. Going out to lunch with friends and family members on weekdays.
You mean we have more than 5 minutes and don't have to eat on the run???
5.  This goes along with #1.  Staying up late.
Love this picture!

So there ya go.  I'll try and get some pictures taken tomorrow so I'll have something to post.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bulletin Boards, part deux.


I didn't have much time at school today because I was busy with contractors for my kitchen.  I signed the contract today and picked out cabinet stuff.

The first picture is my super improver wall cards hung up.  I don't make the name cards until the day before school because in my school the class lists change a zillion times before school starts.

The color codes go with student stars.  They earn a star sticker every time they improve.  After they get 10 stars they move up to the next level.  So they all start at TV Viewer.  Their star is white.  They earn sticker stars.  When they have 10 stickers on their white star, they get a pink one and they are now Movie Goers.  When they get 10 stars, they'll go to gray and be Extras.
The second picture is of my half-finished bulletin boards.  These are the ones that I was complaining about yesterday because they raised them too high.

The Left word wall was made by one of the teachers in my school.  On the right there will be two sections.  One will be sight words, the other one might be student work.  I'm not sure.  As you can see, my room still isn't quite organized completely.
The word wall will go with my vocabulary cards.  Black is for Starter Words (the, a, an, first, next, etc.).  Orange is adjectives.  Red is Nouns.  Green is Verbs.  And blue is Tagalongs, which are prepositional phrases and time words.  You can get my vocabulary cards for free by following the link above and clicking on the files you want.

Tomorrow I have professional development, so might not post.  We'll see.

Oh, and I'm trying to get my blog button to work.  Thanks to Jennie for helping me test it out.  If anyone sees what's wrong with it or gets it to work, please let me know.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Bulletin Boards

Hi all,

First of all, I made my very own blog button over to the right.  I think I did okay with no formal instruction whatsoever.

I did something stupid today.  I left my school keys at home.  So I got to school and couldn't do half the things I planned to because the keys to the cabinet I needed were at home.

So, I put up backgrounds on bulletin boards.  They raised my big bulletin boards too high and even standing on the counter underneath them, I can barely reach the top.  This is going to be a pain because they're word walls where I'll be posting stuff all year.

I actually finished one bulletin board.  My calendar math.  So here it is.

The blank spot on the wall above the boom box will have my Star of the Week hung eventually.
So, after a whopping hour and a half in my room, I went with several lovely teacher friends to lunch and Lakeshore.  I bought some borders at Lakeshore because I don't like the train ones I made as much as I wanted to.  It was fun to discover there's a new dollar store right by the teacher store.  Good planning there.

I pampered myself with a mani/pedi, then came home and couldn't face the cutting.  So, I made the signs for my very first ever Super Improver Wall.  Here they are.

Without meaning to, I ended up with a Hollywood theme this year. 
And of course, I did more cutting.  These things better last a loooong time.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sale and a Fun Outing

Hi all,

I've been taking a break from school stuff, well, except for the endless cutting which takes no thought whatsoever.  As a result, I don't have lots to talk about here.

Today was fun.  I went with my sister and two nephews to a dinosaur museum.  I took pictures with my phone camera which stink.  I got a few good ones with my real camera.  So here you go.

And finally, there is a sale going on at teacherspayteachers starting tomorrow.  Use the code below while checking out.  I'm also putting my whole 2 non-free items on sale, too.
To see other teachers having a sale here.

And that's all for today.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Copy, laminate, cut, file, repeat...

The title of this post is the story of my life lately.  You know all those free vocabulary cards I made? Well, now I have to copy, laminate, cut and file all of them.  I'm staying away from any creativity or brain work for a couple of days in the hopes it will help my stress level go down a bit.

So here's my cutting project in pictures.

These are the large word wall cards.  They are all laminated, cut, and filed away ready to go.  I used paint strips as separators.

So now I'm doing the little cards.  I've finished the back to school unit.  15 sets of all nouns.

Each set is in a small snack sized baggy, all of the back to school unit cards are in the big bag.  I'll have a big bag for every unit.  (There are 11)

Here are the piles of things that are laminated and waiting to be cut.

This is the BIG pile that just got laminated today.  It's about 8 inches high.  *sigh*

And of course, here's the cat "helping".
I love how she sits right where I need to be in order to cut.  :)

Tomorrow I'll be hanging around home and continuing the mental break.  And cutting, cutting, cutting.  

By the way, in my rant yesterday I whined a little bit about working with my team.  I want to clarify that I absolutely love my team and work with some of the most awesome first grade teachers ever!  Our styles aren't exactly the same, but we all teach the kids well.  I know I wouldn't be able to do this without them, and they are the main reason I've stayed in what I think is an incredibly difficult situation for so long.  I'm so glad to be able to work with them.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Hello all,

I went in to school today.  Nothing went as planned and I basically accomplished nothing.  We are all stressing out with what is to come.  This year will be one of many changes and I think we're all nearing that final straw.  Sadly, we haven't even had the faculty meeting from you-know-where that occurs every year at this time.

I like to think I'm a very good listener, and I tend to listen to a lot of people talk about their problems and worries, but today I either heard too many or just wasn't in the right frame of mind for it.  It's got me discouraged and feeling panicky.  Not what I want to be feeling.

Change is hard, and the older I get the more difficult it gets.  Yet, I continually remind myself that many changes which I hated at first turned out to be good things.  The increasing demands being placed on me as a teacher along with what feels like too much change all at once is getting to me.

Let's see...we have a new writing program, a new math program, a new grading program, a new computerized assessment program, a requirement to maintain a classroom webpage, the mandates for us to "team" seems to be taking away my ability to make decisions for my own class and also make me conform to everyone else on my team rather than using my creativity and some of my biggest strengths as a teacher.  The latest rumor is we need to write specific lesson plans in a specific way.  My school is in school improvement, so there's all the stress from that too.

Now I'm guessing I might like many of these changes, but change takes time to incorporate.  I just spent an entire summer getting ready for the change in the writing program.  We're getting NO training on the new math program, but are expected to teach it on day 1.  I'm stressed about when and how I'm going to manage all this and still try to have a life outside of school.

I hope and I pray that it will be easier once I meet my kids and get going, but right now I just wonder why I do this.

Sorry for the rant, just had to get it out of my system, so why not complain publicly?  LOL

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

And the Winner is...

Hi all,

This one is going to be short due to a lack of sleep.  Hopefully my grammar and punctuation will be okay.

I loved every single one of the entries in the Mirror, Mirror contest.  So then I started thinking about which would look best and be easiest to make.  It was still not easy, but I finally decided on....

You're a Great Kid!  Ms. W. Loves You, which was submitted by Karla from Life in Special Education.  If I was a rich and famous school teacher, I'd gladly give you all the gift certificate.  Sadly, school teachers are rarely rich or famous.  Thanks for all your great ideas.

And now I'm going to get ready for some sleep.

Congratulations, Karla.


Monday, August 6, 2012

We're Safely on Mars!

Hi all,

Yes, I am one of those geeky people that stayed up late last night to watch Curiosity land on Mars.  I did this because I clearly remember watching the first rover, Spirit, land and the excitement of it all.  So why am I posting about it on my education blog?  I think it's crucial that students understand that science is fun and interesting.  They see sports championships and the great celebrations from them on television all the time.  This is the scientific equivalent of an Olympic gold medal.

Back when Spirit landed, I showed my students the very next day the video of how the rover was to land, explaining to them the uncertainty of it all. Then I showed them the scientists in the control room as it was landing and the celebration.  What better way to get kids excited about science?  We had Spirit and Opportunity updates that school year and the kids ate it up.  I'm hoping I can do the same thing with Curiosity this year.

First Image of Mars from Curiosity.  Picture courtesy of NASA.
Second Picture to come from Curiosity.  You can see the rover's shadow. Picture courtesy of NASA.
Here's the video of the Entry, Descent and Landing, celebration and first two pictures.

And finally, here's a link to NASA's multimedia page, which has all kinds of videos and explanations about the rover.  NASA multimedia page.

Just a reminder that my Mirror, Mirror contest ends tomorrow evening, so get your ideas in quickly, maybe you'll win an Amazon gift card!  I think it's going to be hard for me to pick a winner.  I have some good ones already.