Saturday, February 26, 2011

Organization Link Party- Virtual Tour of my Classroom

Join in the fun and get some great tips about organization along the way!
I have a secret... I'm not the most organized person ever.  So here's a tour anyway.  I'm more about taking notes from all these other amazing bloggers and just giving you guys a peek into my world.
Cover up areas where you don't want the clutter showing!  The bright floral print is actually a shower curtain from Walmart cut to size.  It is hot-glued to the top of the cabinets, but I can easily open up the bottom to access everything that is inside (which is mostly stacks and stacks of Kleenex boxes).  Sorry, this isn't the best picture, but it's all I have.  The picture below demonstrates the same concept: this time with a beach mat from Ron Jon's surf shop and some floral fabric from Walmart.  The Wind Chimes are also from Ron Jon's.... leftover items from my REAL beach days living in Florida!
Flowers and lamps make amazing accents and can really brighten up the classroom!  Also, I LOVE having an aquarium in the classroom.  I have easy tropical fish, and they are super low maintenance and the kiddos love them.  *Also... they aren't in the same location this year.  That table is really in the way of the word wall.  SPEAKING of word wall... Do you have a theme for your classroom?  I purchased this ocean background paper for $7 at Teacher Supply Center.

This fun ocean-themed canopy was $50 at Oriental Trading.  They also carry a jungle themed canopy and a circus (primary color) canopy if you are interested.  My students LOVE it.  I highly recommend devoting a full area of your room to your library.  *My bookshelves are much prettier now.  Please ignore these.*

Do you still have a giant teacher shrine that takes up 1/4 of the room (aka big bulky desk)?  Chunk it!!!!!!  I know, I know, you can't live without all your little drawers.... But really, you can.  It opens up the room for amazing things like this!  I use my reading table as my "teacher desk" now.  I have one little basket for supplies, and everything else goes in storage on a shelf on the wall behind me.  I can easily access all my office supplies, stickers, etc...  

Check out Angela Bunyi's Top Teaching Blog on Scholastic for more amazing organizational tips.

All of these pictures are from last year!  I will try to find some new stuff to put up. 
Join the link party!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Host your own class art show while reading "The Dot"! ***BEST ACTIVITY OF THE YEAR***

In our reading series, my FAVORITE story comes from the book "The Dot" by Peter Reynolds. My sweet little firsties decided that we need to have a class art show.  The story is about a little girl who doesn't believe she can draw, but her teacher changes her mind.  :)
  At first, I thought- we are waaaay behind from all these snow days and there is just no way we would have time to do ANOTHER thing!  But then I thought about it some more....  and decided it was a fantastic idea.  I sent home a letter on Monday that we would have an art show during lunch on Friday in our classroom.  All family/friends/staff were invited.  One of my sweet darlings made this amazing sign that we ----->
 hung around the school.  The students would complete any type of art project on their own and bring it in on Friday.  Participation was optional- this was not for a grade- and EVERY one of my kids brought in a project!
We had entire families show up- even lots of Dads!  They were sooo excited to be invited to the classroom and celebrate their children's work.  The principal, vice-principal, office staff, and even an entire Kindergarten class came to view our work.  See that sweet lady in the middle of the picture (below)?  She just happens to teach K and she just started an awesome blog you should check out.  She is one of my bestest buddies AND she was teacher of the year last year!

To set it up:  I hung a closeline around the edges of the room and attached the artwork with clothespins.  A table was set up for sculptures and models as well.
I was blown away by how artistic my kiddos were!

Check out this Styrofoam sulpture!  Ewww and my old center management board in the background.  If you haven't converted to The Daily Five yet, please do yourself a favor and check it out!

Oh my gosh ya'll.  This student made Mario out of modeling clay and some of the other characters- completely by himself!  Love it!

  I also had a "teacher table" to display my artwork and show the kids that teachers have hobbies, too!   

Don't judge my library.  It was my first year teaching.  It's now in labeled bins. :) 

One of my favorite things was our class created "Jackson Pollock" art on the whiteboard.  If you go to Jackson Pollock's website, you can create your own interactive class masterpiece in just a few clicks!  It is super fun and the kids love it.

Again, this is something that the kids do at home and just bring to school.  We had lunch in the classroom and people came to view the work.  This took barely any class time, but it helped me connect with parents and motivate kids.  I hope you will give it a try this year!  Also, if 'The Dot' isn't in your reading series, you can score your own copy on Amazon for less than $5, or go check it out at your local library.  Enjoy!

On a side note, check out this contest from Google:  Welcome to Doodle 4 Google, a competition where we invite K-12 students to use their artistic talents to think big and redesign Google’s homepage logo for millions to see. At Google, we believe that dreaming about future possibilities leads to tomorrow’s leaders and inventors, so this year we're inviting U.S. kids to exercise their creative imaginations around the theme, "What I’d like to do someday…"
Whether students want to find a cure for cancer or take a trip to the moon, it all starts with art supplies and some 8.5" x 11" paper. And, one lucky student artist will take home a $15,000 college scholarship and $25,000 technology grant for their school, among many other prizes.  Registration ends March 2nd, so get your students entered today!

PS- Sorry to those that have already covered this story.  We are way behind because of all the snow, and I have been craaaaaaazy busy with graduate work lately.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do YOU Ning?

Calling all blogstalkers: In case you don't have enough to keep you busy for hours and hours and hours on the internet....
Introducing NINGs! It's a social network about... anything. This one is specific to first grade teachers.

It's like an online forum/community with pictures, slideshows, discussion boards, etc. It's a great place to get lots of feedback or to post ideas.
Here are even more Nings:

epals global community
Also, I love EPals
Check it out if you haven't been there.

Do you belong to any online groups?

Ok, my hubby has started the movie without me so I've gotta run! I haven't seen it yet.

PS My email locked me out for a few days and I was having a CRAZY PANIC ATTACK!!!! Thankfully, it let me back in today... Whew!

Write your students a Valentine note

This year for Valentine's Day, I am writing each of my students a short letter for their valentine. I like this because it is cost effective and meaningful. And it re-enforces letter writing skills!
To do this project: First, I opened up Microsoft word and created a table with 20 rows and 2 columns. I am adding a heart-related graphic to the left side of the column and writing the student a personalized note on the right. I am trying to include something about their academic success or good behavior in the note. And, of course it has to be in a cutesy font. Here's a sample:

February 14, 2011

Dear Lacy,

Hey pretty girl! You are such a hard worker! I love having your as a student because you care about the needs of others and you always try to help. You are doing a fantastic job in reading this year!

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Mrs. _______

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My early Valentine's day surprise (non teaching post, but I was excited to share!)

Today when I got home, the house was dimly lit with candles everywhere. It smelled AMAZING- clearly some work was being done in the kitchen. The place was spotless, which needless to say, wasn't my doing! Ha! :)

When I turned the corner into our dining room there were beautiful pink tulips, a red heart balloon, a heart shaped box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates (my FAVORITE!), pink/white/red heart mini-cupcakes, and a jar of green olives all set out on the table. Amid all of that amazingness sat our wedding china, plated with the most scrumptious 3 course made-from-scratch Mexican meal you have ever seen! He even bought me a cactus margarita glass for the salsa!

Wedding pictures and candles were everywhere, and a playlist of our favorite songs from over the years was playing. It was very sweet. We are currently on intermission from a girly-movie marathon (Yep, it's Valentine's all right!)- just finished up "When Harry Met Sally" (Can you believe he had never seen it?!) and Sleepless in Seattle.

So, our schedules have been crazy around here lately. I have either class or a meeting almost every night; Ben's schedule includes working weekends. We knew February was going to get hectic, so we have been going out to eat at fancy places (namely on our recent trips in Gatlinburg and Louisville), and this was a really special surprise. :) What a great night!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Mrs. Patton's Patch Giveaway

Head over to Mrs. Patton's Patch to check out her scrapbook giveaway to celebrate 100 followers! Congrats, Mrs. Patton! :)

Incorporating Time & $$$ into Morning Meeting

Miss Knight asked how everyone incorporates time and money into their morning meeting. My routine is a variation of J.Meacham's calendar routine.

This is our complete morning routine:

7:10 a.m. Come into the classroom with Dr. Jean's "Welcome back" playing. Hang up backpacks. Meet at the carpet for "Rise and Shine" "Hello Neighbor" and "Shake a Hand" (all Dr. Jean songs set on my "morning" playlist on itunes). Return to desks when "Have a seat" begins.

7:15 a.m. School officially starts- students get out their morning work packet. A "packet" consists of one month's calendar documents, 2 sided and stapled together. I turn on classical music- usually Baby Einstein's Baby Galileo because it is very peaceful. The students WILL request it if I forget to turn it on!

**I'm having trouble with the format! This is a regular word document, but when I upload it into Google docs, my spacing is waaaay off. Help please!

This is my first year to use this set up. I like that there is a set routine, but it can be made more advanced as the year progresses. I have a section of my board that corresponds to each topic on this sheet. Every day the students: complete a pattern, identify the amount of coins, tell time and what time it would be one hour before/after, complete a fact family (I now only give them 2 numbers- they have to add or subtract to get the third), complete a calendar, work with place value and tally marks, and alphabetize 5 words.

What I don't like about this: the graph. I am going to replace this with something new... maybe more math facts? I'm open to suggestions! :)

Variations: My amazing buddy that teaches K has a simpler version (also from JMeacham) that is on laminated file folders.

What I LOVE about her version: she has velcro strips and the kids actually place coins to make the amount for that day. On my version, they simple draw the coins- example: 1 inside a circle represents a penny.

A student guides the rest of the class in checking their work. I'm going to start taking these up for a daily grade.

I don't think I have any pictures of my board yet. I will try to take some if we have school tomorrow- we had a freak snow blizzard today!

Also, for my "early finishers" I use word ladders. I started this because I thought I was going to have to teach reading intervention to a small group during this time. However, that is not the current arrangement- but the word ladders stuck! The book I am using is geared towards 2nd grade, but my little kiddos LOVE them. It is a great vocabulary and fluency builder! I was shocked at how much the kids love these.

So after we have finished checking our morning work, we move to the carpet. I have all the student names listed on a ring. I have one person who is the calendar helper/line leader for the day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Meet the Teacher

Open House WeekTeaching Blog Addict is hosting Open House Week 2012!  Go link up to join the fun!  :)

Thanks to for putting on a linkparty as well! :) Enjoy!

Quick Bio
I'm 26 years old.
I live in Tennessee.
I have taught first grade for a few years, and this is my first year teaching 3rd (I LOVE it!).
I have my Master's degree in Special Education: Mild/Moderate Disabilities.
My teaching style is very hands-on.  One of my colleagues said last week that her class was "like Disney World!".  That's my aspiration.  I want kids moving, collaborating, singing, smiling and learning!  I love to integrate technology into the classroom as well.

More about me:

I'm married to the man of my dreams- who at met working at DISNEY WORLD! I worked at DisneyQuest at the Animation Academy. I taught guests how to draw Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy. I also worked attractions. I picked up shifts in all 4 parks. I used to work at Star Tours and Expedition Everest (right when it first opened) a lot. Star Tours was cool- part of the costume was a light saber! Kids would walk by and be like "Mommy, MOMMY, LOOK- That girl is a Jedi!!". haha maybe I'm an uber-nerd, but I thought it was a pretty sweet gig. Once at Everest, a lady got off the ride and handed the guy working next to me a BOLT. She was like "this fell off"! It landed in her lap mid-ride... craziness... I could go on for days with Disney stories. And yes, the most common question that cast members in the Magic Kingdom get is: "What time is the three o'clock parade?". For Serious.

My future husband was a captain at the Friendship Boats at Epcot when we met on the Disney College Program. You can read his side of the story here on my personal blog.
I studied abroad in Spain and got to travel to England and France. Talk about adventures! It was crazy fun.

You have to cram into a red phone booth when in London! My then-boyfriend/now-husband came to visit to me when I was studying abroad. :) The girl on the left is my travel buddy and partner in crime, Laney. We actually stayed with a friend of mine that I met while working at Disney.

This picture is in front of the castle at Disney Land Paris.

I love to travel. My husband and I are very spontaneous and we take lots of trips!  We have our own travel agency, Cross The World Adventures.  We specialize in Disney vacations and cruises, but we can book anything.  Email me if you would like a free vacation quote!

We don't have any kids yet, but I have two amazing younger sisters. We have a 10 year age gap.

In college, I joined Alpha Delta Pi sorority. They got me through college! Many great memories with these girls. <>

Now for the Q & A

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?A: I'm going with... Marine biologist! Crazy, huh? My childhood ambition was to be a dolphin trainer. I decided to pursue teaching because it was more conducive to family life, and I get to teach about science everyday. I still have a thing for dolphins, though.

Q: What are your hobbies?
A: Blogstalking, travel, eatting out (I mean, c'mon- who doesn't LOVE this?!), reading,painting...

Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: Dolphin trainer... see #1

Q: What are your guilty pleasures?
A: Diet Coke (with sonic ice!), olives (weird, i know...), anything chocolate, mocha coffee drinks! ...And angry birds! Oh and chocolate pudding!!!! And maybe exclamation points!!

Q: What is your biggest fear?!
A: Darkness (i still hate it)
AND these crazy scary bugs that somehow invade my classroom once every few months:
Isn't that gross?!!! What the heck is this thing?! Ewwwww!

Q: When you’re on vacation, where do you like to go?
A: ! Wow! What's my budget?!! ha! I love cruises, so anywhere on a cruise ship!

I know you will be disappointed to learn that I actually don't own this hat... we were just goofing off in the gift shop. :)

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: "If you can dream it, you can do it" -Walt Disney
Q: What do you value most in others?
A: Passion.

Q: If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass down to your kids, what would it be?
A: Enthusiasm!

Q: If you could have lunch with anyone in the world….living or dead…who would it be?

A: All the educational gurus at once! Or Walt Disney.

Now tell us one random thing about yourself:
I have had a gray streak in my hair since I was about 7. I have very thick hair, so it blends in... Until I wear it up.