July 27, 2012

Extra time... oh, and a blog award!

Since I can't get into my classroom (they're cleaning the hallways), and I don't feel like going all "mission impossible" and breaking in through the outdoor window, I've been spending some of my extra time painting and working on Perry (the picture book I'm illustrating for Heather) and crocheting. Here's the sign I made for my classroom-- I haven't decided yet where I'm going to hang it-- but it makes me happy:

I also crocheted a stuffed owl... I'm not sure why-- maybe I just like a challenge. The pattern is at this link... and here he is:



Sadly, I'm not the best at actually sewing all the crocheted pieces together-- but I do the best I can. And I suppose the more I practice the better I will get. Maybe.

In other news, I got my first ever blog award! (I didn't even realize these existed, but I'm still excited!) Thanks so much to Deana over at "First Grade Chatter" for the Liebster Blog Nomination! This award recognizes blogs with under 200 followers! Deana's blog is super cute and she is always posting useful things! Make sure you stop by her blog!


Here are my choices for The Liebster Blog award:

Mrs. Perry at http://petalsandpencils.blogspot.com/ 

Love to Learn at http://lovetolearn2012.blogspot.ca/ 

Mrs. Siegel at http://theteachaholic.blogspot.com/ 

Mercedes at http://surfingtosuccess.blogspot.com/ 

Erin at http://adventuresinthirdgrade-brown.blogspot.com/

Stop by their blogs for a visit (and TONS of freebies, tips, ideas, and MORE)

And here's what the winners need to do:

1.Copy and paste this award on your blog.
2. Thank the giver and link back to them.
3. Reveal 5 other bloggers and let them know by commenting on their blog.

Fantastic work, ladies!

July 23, 2012

Manatees, Coffee, and Friends

This last week I had an amazing opportunity to visit one of my best friends EVER in Texas. While I was down there I tried to forget about my normal responsibilities (little things like graduate classes and getting my own classroom ready for the fall) and focus on spending time with Heather (and occasionally her husband Stephen-- when he wasn't away in Canada for the week). And it was AMAZING! I always forget how great it is to be with someone who completely understands you and relates to you on so many different levels. Best. Time. Ever.

While I was there we visited the Dallas aquarium. In case you've never been, the Dallas aquarium is an odd thing. It's not like regular aquariums. I mean-- there are fish and sea animals-- but there are also things like sea otters, jaguars, ant eaters, sloths, and birds. So it's almost like a little zoo habitat with sea animals thrown in.

Our favorite attraction was the manatees. If you do not know what a manatee is, you are truly missing out on life. They are pretty much the cutest thing in the water. Anyway, we wanted to see the manatee but it was super crowded. So the manatee swam by once and never came back. Heather and I left a wee bit dissapointed. We continued on, and when we reached the end of the aquarium we decided to go back and see the manatees 1 more time.

This was our lucky moment! There was hardly anyone in front of the giant tank and the 2 manatees were swimming about freely and happily.


Heather and I waited... and then-- to our amazement-- one of the manatees swam RIGHT up in front of us and even posed with Heather-- it really did look like it was trying to give her a kiss. Best. Picture. Ever.

True love.

Now that I'm back home from my trip... I realize how much I still need to do. But, I will get through it all with the help of Friends (the TV series-- I'm not forcing my actual friends into manual labor) and lots of coffee.

Here's a quick look at some of the centers I finished cutting out... Only like a bazillion more to go!


I'm also proud to report that I am managing to restrain myself in the buying of school supplies... Let's face it, the school supply aisle is pretty much the most awesome aisle of all time... So far this is all I've bought:

What is it about a brand new package of markers that I cannot say "no" to? Every year. Every. Year.

I can't get into my classroom for another week because they are waxing our hallways... but when I finally get it done I will post more pics.

July 11, 2012

Scatterbrained Me & School

Today I convinced myself it was Thursday, July 12. The only problem? It was NOT July 12... It was, in fact, merely Wednesday the 11th.

It seems that without school to keep me on my toes I tend to forget what day it is... Am I the only one with this problem?

I went up to my classroom today. I made one bulletin board called "Birthday Bugs". Each mason jar cutout is a month and I put little fireflies on them with my students' birthdays. Then I hot glued some plastic bugs on the board.


My next project was to continue working on my writing center-- so I created this "What can I write?" poster along with 8 examples of what students can work on during class. Then I laminated them and glued them to the wall!


Then when I was at home I took this bird printout and cut out 21 little scrapbook birds. I glued the birds onto clothespins. Later I will glue the clothespins to the wall (probably in the hallway) and use them to hang up student work! I think they are cute!



Feeling quite productive for such a scatterbrained day!

July 7, 2012

The problem with free time...

I know a lot of you will probably think I'm crazy, but I really cannot handle too much free time. I get a little bit crazy.

For example, this morning I played a video game for 1 hour. Read a book for 1 hour. Then spent entirely too much time trolling the Internet. I ended up finishing my PowerPoint final for my masters class (which, apparently I did above and beyond because my teacher seemed very impressed).

In my free time I've set up my living room like an office (hard to believe my family was here only 2 days ago and this place was spotless)


I've also spread file folders ALL over the living room...



Some day (soon, I hope) I will finish organizing these things (and my classroom)... I am tempted to just leave them all over the floor.

I KNOW I forgot to share about one exciting thing-- a few months ago I wanted to apply for a free grant and I found this website:


Basically, you put up a project and strangers can choose to give you money to help you reach your goal. However, your project has a deadline. And, if you don't raise all your funds, you do NOT get the items you requested. So I set up a fund for $$$ to buy more books for my classroom. Total I needed $364.

I figured, maybe I'd get lucky. But-- deep down I'm somewhat of a closet pessimist. So I left the site and completely forgot about it. Then one day, out of blue, I got this AMAZING email that told me my project had be completely funded! Now I'm going to get the supplies I needed! I felt very blessed! Check it out by clicking below on my project photo:


(PS- Thanks to Heather for the hilariously cheesy title "I feel the Need... The Need to Read". You know I love you!)

Also in my free time (Trust me, it's a LOT!) I finished 2 more projects for my classroom-- Click on the pictures for more info... The first 2 are from a board game I made for math to practice place value. The 3rd picture is of my election unit-- the big 2012 election is this year and I don't want my kids to miss out!



I think I'm quickly becoming a school nerd... I guess that's better than a couch potato.

July 6, 2012

Technology and Summer

Why is that when 1 technological item goes bad-- they all seem to go bad? For example, my printer stopped working about 2 months ago... No big deal-- I could live without a home printer.

Then, a few weeks ago, my laptop kept randomnly turning off and sending me messages that the hard drive was failing.. Of course I couldn't live without a laptop-- I needed it for work and school. So I had to go get a new one.

Today (with all my past technological worries gone from my mind) it seems my digital camera has decided to call it quits. Go figure. Isn't there a saying about trouble always coming in groups of 3?

Anyway, I think I'll change the topic to something more upbeat! Summer!

Here are 10 reasons I LOVE summer!
1. No school (who would've guessed that one?)

2. Swimming (I love swimming. I just wish I had my own private pool instead of having to share with everyone in my apartment complex)

3. Book, books, books. So much free time (well, more free time than normal) means I get to visit the library more and read more books! Since June I've read 17!

4. Sandals. I love wearing sandals and not having my feet suffocated by disgusting socks.

5. Bright nail polish! I can paint my nails and toenails whatever color I want, and I won't have a classroom of 4th graders asking me why my nails are bright orange! Here are my favorite summertime colors:

I had my toenails painted the color on the far left-- but the color started to fade, and I was oh-so-kindly told my boyfriend (of all people to notice) that I needed to repaint because the color looked like fungus. Thanks honey. So I opted for the bright, happy robin egg blue on the far right side.
 
6. Not having to blow dry my hair. Usually this would annoy me-- but I've really been experimenting with my hair and its natural waviness. Trying different products and such to find one I really like. And I've also had LOTS of chances to practice braiding and updos and those kinds of things (though I usually fail at them.) Here is the product I used today:

It is supposed to make your hair look like you just got back from the beach. It has sea salt and kelp extract. The nice thing is that it only cost like $5 at WalMart-- and so far I've really liked the results. And the best part, it's all natural and heat free!
It's really hard to capture the back of your head!

7. Sunshine. I absolutely LOVE sunshine. Just sitting in it and soaking it up. It makes me happy!

8. Time to focus on me. I know it sounds selfish-- but over the summer I can do more art projects and pinterest projects and baking and reading. It's very relaxing. I even had a cup of coffee at 8 pm last night... Ok, I didn't go to bed until 1:30-- but it was still nice to have the option!

9. Vacations and Family. Because I'm on summer break, I got to go on vacation with my parents. And just this week my sister and mom and nephew and niece came down to stay at my place for like 4 days. It was great to have so much time together!

10. Time to plan my next school year. Despite having time to do "me" things, I still like to use my free time to figure out the next school year. Questions like, how will I set up my classroom? What kinds of projects do I want to implement this year? These are all very important to me. I want to become a better teacher every year.

And there you have it-- technology drama and summer love! What do YOU love about summer? (Or maybe you hate it?) Feel free to share!

July 5, 2012

Whole-Class Journaling

As I continue to work on my school homework and the Writing Center in my classroom, I come to a lot of realizations...

1. I'm pretty sure I failed my students when it came to teaching them crucial writing skills.
2. My reading lessons next year need to include more writing.
3. I WILL focus more on writing! (If I say it enough it'll come true, right?)

I've tossed around the idea of giving my kiddos a class blog. They love using the computer, and I think it would encourage them to write-- not to mention help them become more independent and excited to write!

But for the time being I will work on adding items to my Writing Center to help my students just sit down and write.

While I was on Pinterest I discovered "Whole Class Journals". These are notebooks with one theme, like: Puppies. So everyone can choose to write in that specific journal whenever they feel like it-- they just have to put their name/date at the top of their page-- and make sure they return the journal-- and make sure they stay on topic.

Anyway, I saw this cute idea to glue the prompts on the fronts of the notebooks to make organizing easy. But, you know me, it's never as easy as it looks. I searched for printable journal covers... and failed. So I had my "ah-ha!" moment when I decided I could simply make it myself and share. So that's what I did!





I really look forward to seeing what my kids come up with-- I think they will enjoy reading them as a class! My favorite prompt is "What would you do if you were in the middle of a lake and your boat started to sink?" My kids can be very creative-- I think there will be some funny answers.

Click on the image below to download the journal covers!


And to my non-teacher readers, thanks for sticking through this post (You're the best!)

July 1, 2012

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day...

Lately I've been doing a lot of work for my master's classes. For one of my classes I do an independent study. Basically, this means I do whatever project I want-- one that will benefit me and my classroom-- and after 45 hours of logged work, I get 3 credit hours on my transcript.

So I've decided that one of my projects will be organizing and setting up my learning centers. Luckily I have pinterest to fall back on for inspiration!

Here is a pic I took of my space and things for organization...

Please, organize me!
 This bookshelf is relatively new to my classroom (as in I got it this summer), but I'm hoping to keep my reading supplies on the left hand side (you can see our boxes for leveled readers). I also want to store some of my literacy centers there. On the right-hand side (see below), I want to put a variety of supplies for a writing center.

The Writing Center Supplies Side
Unfortunately I do not have a lot of money to buy matching bins/baskets. I kind of have to use what I have. Which is a mixture of random containers and bins and baskets. I think I can make it work-- actually, I HAVE to make it work. Like I said, not a lot of purchasing power.

Here are some pics I've seen on Pinterest of lovely, organized rooms. A girl can dream! Click on the pics to visit their original sites!

Monthly-Teaching-drawers-2010.JPG
One for every month... Simple and handy!

How to organize every part of your classroom. He even includes how much it will cost!

Writing Center organization!

This is a guide to organizing your classroom.





















Great center ideas for when students are done

A great website for Center FREEBIES!!

In case you can't tell, I have my work cut out for me...

And here is the new hall pass sign/holder that I made! It's bright and makes me happy! It was another idea I got off of pinterest-- and this one didn't cost me any money either-- I had all the supplies I needed! Click here to read instructions/see supply list.

The kids pin a clothespin on their shirts when they go to the bathroom/office/nurse/etc. This helps them not to lose the passes (I lost like 5 paper ones last year) and hopefully prevents germs from being passed around!




One step at a time and my room will slowly come together-- after all, Rome wasn't built in a day. :)