Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back in the Swing

I have officially survived my first TWO weeks of school! I am so blessed to have a wonderful class this year and they are so very sweet! We have also had our first Sunshine get-together and our first fire drill! I feel like I am finally getting back into the swing of things. :)

I also have four birthdays in September in my class and, after seeing the balloons on pixie sticks for birthday treats all over Pinterest, I have decided on a cute and simple treat for my second graders this year.

Click the link to get the free download from Google Drive (formerly Google Docs)! I will punch a hole in the corner of these homework passes and attach them to a pencil. Then, I will be able to store all of the pencils in our classroom so I will have everyone's birthday treat prepared for the rest of the year. I designed these birthday homework passes to follow my classroom theme using frames and fonts from Jenn Jones and free scrapbook paper I found via, where else, Pinterest.

Hopefully I will have time for more fun projects like this during the next few months. I am looking forward to another exciting week in Second Grade!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Room Tour and Organization Tips

The most exciting thing about opening a new school was knowing that I would get to be the first teacher in my room. Little did I know that the first time I saw my room, it would be empty! No furniture, computers, or even blinds! It was so exciting too see the furniture slowly go into my new classroom and notice changes from week to week.

Fast forward to August: I am almost ready for my newest second graders! I cannot wait to see all of their smiling faces at Meet the Teacher and welcome them into their second grade home on the First Day. Without further ado, my room! (I am trying out the panoramic scene feature on my camera!)

View of one wall from the center of my room. I have two doors, the "main entrance" is the door on the left side and the door on the right connects to my teaching partner's room.

The back of my room, looking out onto our parent drive. I love my huge windows and am so excited about all the light that will be coming in! (Yes, I did have to close the blinds for the pictures.)

The front of my room complete with my library, behavior chart and calendar.

I still have a few more things I'd like to finish before the first day, but I am glad to know that if they don't get finished, my kids will still be able to have a great learning environment!

On to a few organization ideas that have changed my teacher life:

1. Mailboxes

In a constant quest to be more organized (or at least appear that way :) ), I love using mailboxes for the kids graded papers and school-wide notes. We send all of these home in a Tuesday Newsday folder so parents generally have to look through stacks of papers only once a week. In between Tuesdays, I store/sort their papers into mailboxes so when I remember that it is Tuesday 10 minutes before we leave for dismissal, I am very easily able to give each child their papers. 

I have used both names, numbers and a combination for mailboxes in the past. All of my kids know their number in alphabetical order and quickly get in the habit of writing it on all of their papers. Until I have learned their numbers, I will post a class list with student numbers on one of the doors to my mailboxes. Also, my messenger can distribute notes to specific students without having to know that child's number. In my district, only teachers can file or handle graded work, so that job cannot be shared with my eager helpers. I do, however, let children put their own self-checked work in their mailboxes. 

2. Teacher Book Boxes

These book boxes (from Really Good Stuff) have really helped me keep all of my read-alouds sorted throughout the year. It has also been great to easily re-sort my books when I change grade levels or when we get new TEKS or curriculum units from our district.

3. Planning Tubs

I know teachers who use folders to keep their lesson plans and papers organized, as well as those who use skinny drawers. For me, the big tubs give me room to include books, manipulatives from our math lab, or any other items that are larger than a file I will need for my lesson. It has been great on mornings when I am running late to pull a completely organized tub ready for the day! We haven't planned our first week yet (we are still 3 weeks from the start of school) so my tubs are empty, waiting for all of the exciting things we will do!

4. Homework Board

This has been such a great way to organize assignments for each week! This year, I switched from ribbon to Washi tape to separate the segments of my board. I am hoping that it will be easier to erase and stay nice looking until the very last day. It is also great for when kids are absent or I have a sub. There is no question about the homework. I write up one day at a time and leave up the whole week until Friday.

I will be posting more about my classroom and management over the next week or so, as I get more things finished up. Also, be looking for a sneak peek into the Daily 5 in my room!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New {School} Year Resolutions

The very best thing about being a teacher is that we get PLENTY of opportunities for fresh starts. As we all know, when you make your resolutions public and permanent, you are more likely to stick to them. Right? 

Resolution #1: Keep up my new blog! After spending the first two years of my teaching career following and borrowing ideas from countless blogs, I have decided it is my turn to contribute to the resources on the web. I want to share what I create for my classroom with all of you!

Resolution #2: Be flexible! This is a year with lots of changes for both myself and my school district: new school, new curriculum. I am so excited for a great year and want to remember to take all the changes in stride.

Resolution #3: Stay organized! I have been working hard in my room to make sure that there is a place for everything. I want to be able to spend all my energy making 2nd grade a great year for my kiddos and none of it looking for lost papers! (Can you tell I have experience with that?)

Resolution #4: Work smarter! I am (somewhat of) a perfectionist and this may be my hardest resolution of them all. I am hoping that being organized and flexible will help with this, as well as my newest adventure, the Daily Five. 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Beginning of the End (of Summer)

Happy Fourth of July! As usually happens to teachers around this point in the summer, I am ready to get back in my classroom and get to work on things for my friends this year. I am also eager to fulfill one of my goals from last year to share everything I make on a blog for teachers. 

Because I am moving to a brand new school this year, (I am very excited!) I haven't been able to get into my classroom since leaving my things there at the end of the school year. I have decided to stay busy this summer by getting as many things organized and ready as I can before I start to officially get all moved in.

My first project was inspired by a book I heard about when I was student teaching. Donovan's Word Jar by Monalisa DeGross is about a little boy in third grade who decides to collect all of the neat words he reads in a jar. 
Donavan's Word Jar (Trophy Chapter Book)

When I heard about this book, I couldn't help seeing a HUGE jar in my classroom full of all the wonderful vocabulary words my friends found while reading. Three years, a giant tub of cheese balls, and one Silhouette Cameo later, I finally have my word jar! (You can get 20% off of your Silhouette Cameo and other Silhouette purchases by applying for the Teacher Discount using your current teaching certificate!)

I am so excited for my kids to use the word jar during "Read to Self" time in the Daily 5. This will also be my first year using the Daily 5 and I already love it as a management system to work smarter, not harder. :) I found these great cards for the word jar from Classroom Freebies:

One of the best things about this resource, besides being free, is that you can edit the cards to fit the needs of your class! It also teaches dictionary skills in a fun way and encourages kids to seek out words they don't know or understand. I am planning on drawing one word out of the jar each Friday to highlight as a new word for the class, as well as teaching my friends to use these words as a resource to improve their writing. (These cards will be pre-cut and stored in the green basket to the left of the Word Jar.)

Inspired by this picture on Pinterest, I decided to make my own flower petals for the clock in my classroom:
for teaching time

I will post a picture of my clock in action, once I get back into my room. My clock has a 13 in. diameter, so, using a little math, these petals will fit around a clock that size. If you need them to be a little bigger or smaller, feel free to reduce or enlarge this to meet your needs. 

I hope you are all enjoying the time off and staying cool!