Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Great First Day

The Notebooks and labels paid off, everyone is organized. This year I made a check off sheet for the students as we labeled their supplies. One column said Thanks for getting my.. And the other column said I still need my...At the bottom was a message to send in a note if they would note be able to get the supplies by the end of the week.
A brand new student was crying this morning. Before her mother and grandmother left, they told me how shy she was and if she wasn't eating lunch with the other students by the end of the week to call home. Is your heart breaking? So I found her two friends to look out for her today, but two other girls took over and played with her at recess, giggling and smiling. She's in and she has friends.
If you are a parent and not a teacher and you just happened to stumble across this blog, please do your child and their teachers a huge favor: DON'T drive them to school on the first day of school unless you plan on driving them every day. The school bus had to bring two of my students back because they were on the wrong bus. 
If you have access to SMART products, make a class list in random word generator. The kids thought it was the greatest thing ever. I might still make up name sticks for substitute days or days when technology isn't working. Students were also excited about video recording book talks and having permission to try Edmodo if their parents sign their permission slips. How do you use technology to keep your students excited to show what they know?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Shopping Time

It's defininetly back to school time when both Teachers Pay Teacher and Teachers Notebook have sales promotions running on the same weekend. But, I forgot which one started when, so BOTH of my sales are running from Saturday August 11th through Monday August13th. That's an extra day for my sale at TpT but you'll have to survive without the extra 8% off. All my Teachers Notebook items are 30% off for three days, and My Teachers Pay Teachers items are 20% off Saturday, and up to 28% off Sunday and Monday.To get the extra discount at TpT use promo code BTS12 at checkout

If you are looking for other shops participating in the TpT sale you can visit the linky party at Teacher Tam"s Educational Adventures blogspot.

Until Thursday, I felt fine about my classroom. Desks are set up, chairs are by teams, bulletin boards are up, furniture where it belongs, getting things organized. Our schools are closed on Fridays for the summer so I couldn't go in, and I promised my kids a full last week of summer with trips to the beach, park, movies, etc and not visits to school. So that 's it. I can't go back in until I am officially supposed to be in my classroom.
If I've already put in over 60 hours, how are teachers really supposed to get ready for students and attend staff trainings and have lessons planned for school in the amount of time we really have? Just wondering.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Organization & Math Boxes

I switched rooms, so when I walked in my classroom looked like this.

After a three and a half hours.

And then three hours later.

I'll share again when it is done.

I am not the most organized person (except for my grocery shopping lists). I've had student teachers set up my desk for the past two years so I didn't have to think about it. My library has been slowly getting organized over the past three years, and Booksource's Classroom Organizer is helping. I've switched grades up and down, and have purchased and made centers for each grade:)
So basically, I've got a mess of stuff that needed to be sorted and organized to be functional. I've got centers for everything, but if I can't find what I need, what good is it if I am trying to be prescriptive?
So far, I've brought home about half of my language arts centers, sorted them by type (using resources, writing, phonics, comprehension, grammar, and fluency), and put them in a spreadsheet tha tlists title, skill, level, location, and resources like how many prompts, answer key, recording sheet.I hated getting started last night but this morning was much easier and I feel like I've accomplished something useful. I then labeled each activity with a coded sticker, W4 for the fourth writing activity and P17 for the seventeenth phonics activity. When I file them, they now have a place to go. My math centers are somewhat organized, so I'll be able to sticker them and add them to a spreadsheet as well.

My math manipulatives take up space and they were in all sots of containers, unattractive, and not always where they needed to be when the kids needed them. Especially now with Common Core and students selecting and applying their own way to concretely solve problems, I knew I needed something that would give them an opportunity to have access to multiple types of manipulatives without forcing them to use my manipulatives. Third grade is a big year for multiplication and fractions, so they needed an adequate supply of maipulatives to show problems. My first vision involved a box with a few smaller compartments and two or three larger compartments. I walked into the craft store on the right week. I purchased 12 bead organizer boxes while they were half price. My boxes have 2 fixed partitions that run the length of the box and the rest of the partitions are removable.
20 tens rods, 40 some ones units, about 20 toothpicks, digits and symbols, two-color 1 inch disks, 12 each of two colors of 1 inch squares, 2 standard dice, 2 0-9 dice, 1 1-20 die, pennies, nickels, dimes, jumbo popsicle sticks with tiny hair rubberbands

fractions on a number line, equivalent fractions, division models

fractions of a set turned into number lines

7 x 4=(5 x 4)+ (2 x 4)

 17 x 4=(10 x 4) +(5 x 4)+ (2 x 4)

perimeter and area

I plan on numbering the sides of the boxes so math partners will be able to find their math box. Calculators and rulers are near the math boxes. Geometry manipulatives are bagged and on the shelf, but I don't think we'll need them as frequently.

Hope this was helpful!

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I started a post about organizing a church/school carnival event, but it was too large and overwhelming. So it sits and I wasn't willing to face it. I'll post it eventually.

Do you love summer PD? I attended a Common Core Math session at the beginning of the summer which inspired me to get a few math items organized and knocked out of the way. This week I attended the SMART Users conference and it has been a while since I've had major tech training. Huge takeaway ideas were edmodo and and SMART Notebook Express. Pixie will be good when we can have it in school (gotta wait a year).

If someone ever told me about edmodo in the past and I didn't pay attention, I am upset with myself right now. Fortunately within four hours of the session, I had my account set up, had joined communities, made folders and assignments, snagged 210 badges to award to my students, and contacted other professionals to join me in trying it out with our classes.
You have permission to leave this post now and checkout edmodo. I'll wait. It's okay, I'll get some laundry done.

It's basically like a free, teacher prompted version of facebook for students. How grown up will my kids think they are studying like a big kid, posting assignments, and replying to each others' comments? Collaboration and evaluation through the roof!

SMART Notebook Express lets ANYONE access and create SMART Notebook files without downloading anything. It' missing very few special features so almost anything that you embed in the file is totally usable. Minor issues in creating with it at home for students but overall should be satisfying to students and teachers alike.

They didn't ask for endorsements. They're just that good. I am looking forward to getting my students revved up.

Pixie feels like a combination of Powerpoint and Kidpix.  I like the student collaboration for students to show what they know and share it with others. I like the idea of having students this year research and present content through podcast to my students for next year. The projects would be great for student portfolios.
BUT... we won't have it until we get updated computers. So I'll wait to get excited until next year.

I would love to hear how you've used these or if you would like to try them together, let me know.
The hour long lunches during summer PD is nice, but it's great to want to go back in the classroom and make changes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

In Black and White

I did not drop off the face of the earth. Even though I started so long ago, I am still packing in my classroom. 19 boxes of books, over 50 boxes so far. I didn't slow down teaching, although some of the students slowed down learning. Today was the last day for students and I wasn't in my classroom. My daughter was promoted to middle school and the ceremony was wonderful. I think more of the boys were crying than the girls. The first student to give her speech made it halfway through and without a sniffle of warning, burst into sobs. 98% of the parents started crying then too. I wanted to share the artwork. Each student had a digital picture of themselves, cut it in half, and drew the missing half. They were mounted on black paper, and the kids names were written in silver marker. Dramatic, classic, and personal at the same time.

We stopped in the pet store before the grocery store May 27th to get a new water bottle for my daughter's rabbit. The water bottles are located by the cats that are up for adoption. My black cat passed away about two months ago. There was a little black fuzzball biting his sister's ears. My kids were amazed when I said yes. Jack threw up in the bed and cried when he had to go to the bathroom the very first night we had him home.   He is a brand new baby.
Things should calm down soon and get back to normal. I am now going to go check out blogs I haven't visited in about a month. Sorry!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Advanced Learner Programs

Today I attended my first training with the third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers. Before today I had only heard about Jacob's Ladder, William and Mary, and Touchpebbles. I have implemented one unit of M3 and have had 3-4 years with Hands-On Equations. It sounds like next year we will have one teacher focusing on achieving William and Mary for 2/3 of the year, and another teacher implementing advanced math. I am so torn! Reading would be very fun and creative, but I have the most experience on my team for the math. Another issue is my 8 year old. I might be excluded from teaching either of these classes because he would be in both. I am looking for feedback on which programs you use and how much you use them "as is" and how much you modify them.
I am working on some ladder questions for the last 16 days of school with my second graders. This will be fun!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Checkin' in, Achin' and Winnin'

We're trying to get planned and copied to the end of the year. And PACKED. One of our permanent subs taped up a wall of boxes that are used up. My grade switch is sinking in, so I've been busy trying to find the differences in curriculum since I left four years ago. Our county is only adopting common core for math in k-2 next year, but the following year we all switch, so I've been looking for resources and creating some of my own to meet the new standards.

Last night I noticed a strange pain in my ear. When was the last time you had an ear infection?  I haven't had one is decades so I had forgotten. I slept last night keeping my ear warm, but I thought the pain would be gone in the morning. WRONG!! We were already short on subs, so I knew there was no way I could go to the doctor.  During planning I sat in the teacher's lounge and cried because it hurt and because if I sat I didn't have to worry so much about my equilibrium. It feels like someone just stopped the roller coaster. If any of my students complain that their ear hurts, I will now instantly write their pass.

I am a confirmed winner at Teacher's Notebook. I've known this whole post but I waited this long to tell you. I am trying to go through the third grade stores looking for wonderful things that I need. Does anyone have any suggestions of what they can't live without? If you want your chance in the sweepstakes, you've got one more day to enter. Good luck!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Sale & Candy Bouquets

I have joined in the Teacher Appreciation Sale at Teachers Pay Teachers running from May 6-8th. There will be lots of great products on sale. I'm hunting up good Common Core materials myself.

I am also planning on trying to make the candy bar centerpieces on my Pinterest board. Check out the candy bouquet! Our art teacher would definitely get a kick out of them. Fifty bucks is the LIMIT for candy, so hopefully I can make one for each building. I am planning on taping the candy bars to wooden skewers that are poked into styrofoam hiding inside the Hershey bar base.
Pinned Image
If it doesn't work out, I'll have a lot of candy to eat! Have a great weekend!

Mine didn't turn out as fancy, but they were very much appreciated!

  • I used a can cozy from the craft store as my container. 
  • 8 regular sized Snickers or Milky Ways fit around the outside.
  • I cut a piece of styrofoam to fit inside the cozy.
  • I purchased 5 10 count snack-sized candies and two each of 6 full-sized candy bars for each bouquet.
  • I used bamboo skewers that I hot-glued for about three inches on each candy bar. 
  • I used heavy kitchen shears to take three inches off the skewers for the smaller candies to provide levels.
  • Last, I used the wired stars to add sparkle. My son liked wrapping it around his fingers to make it curly.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

End of Year Assessment & looking for suggestions

Yesterday we met with the reading teacher to get our articulation cards. We write the names of our students on pink or blue slips that ask us to rate them in reading, writing, and math. We add their county reading and math assessment scores from the last major test, and their current running record level. Next week we will also give DIBELS again.
I knew my little guys were making progress. At the beginning of the school year, they were Cs and Ds. By January we were at J. Now most are at P, and one finished a STU!!!  From a C. Now this is un-timed, picking up the main idea as they read to the end of the passage. DIBELS is timed without reading to the end of the passage to pick up comprehension. But I get to tell them the words they are stuck on which might help comprehension. Do you give these assessments and if so which do you feel best reflects your students' performance?  
I still don''t have word about whether or not I am looping with my class or just two of my special friends, and I don't want the other third grade teachers to say I totally misjudged my students.
Some students did a great job with selected response questions on the formal assessments, but don't have much to add to classroom discussion about what they read or experience in math class. The Walls. You probably have a few of those. My check mark on the top of the form saying they are not in my high group should mean more than the advanced mostly SR assessment. We try to group for balanced academics, gender, and race, but then personalities become a factor. 
We started packing our grade group closet. We gave the teddy bear counters to our after school program, ancient wooden rulers to to the art teacher and small, medium, and large attribute blocks to the Pre K teacher. And we threw away dominoes, paper clocks, colored rings, links, and a lot of other stuff. There is sooo much to pack. We also have materials  in a closet we share with the music teacher, and reading materials in a reading closet. And our personal classrooms. And our cumulative records have to be done the morning after the students leave so they can be cleared out of our office. But NO PRESSURE.
Looking ahead, we have about 6 school days when we will be done our math and reading programs. Does anyone have a great idea on how to spend those last few days productively with no books and few materials? I was considering having the kids write tall tales and include US geography, the life cycle of an animal, and measurement in units that are appropriate for a  tall tale. I think our computer lab will be packed up, so we will have limited technology:(

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Giveaway for Multiplication

We started multiplying last week, topic 19. (Only one more topic after this!) My second graders KNOW they are big kids now. A few of them are doing really well because they have already figured out this is just fancy skip counting. To keep them excited and challenged, I created a game that lets them apply strategies to break apart some of the harder multiplication facts. I am giving away two copies in my Teacher's Notebook store on May fourth. Go over and enter.

I'm trying to upload a multiplication freebie but Teacher's Notebook won't let me :(. It's up on Teachers Pay Teachers.

I'm also trying to be REALLY GOOD to clean up, organize, and start packing for the move. Every stack of school papers at home has been sorted this weekend. I found lots of good stuff to leave for the teacher moving down to second grade and organized everything at home to add to everything that I organized at school on Friday. And I taped and packed one box of reading materials. This week I will put all of the math printables back in order... long task.. haven't been put away too well..... and sort through Science and Social Studies. Hopefully I can pack up two cabinets this week.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Math Night

Our Math Night was a huge success, and I added on to what I had done for my school and decided to share. We used the posters, grade level posters, Sudoku and We Built a Zoo. Then I got kinda carried away. By the time I was done, this unit was 65 pages! Please check this out as one of my featured items at Teacher's Notebook or even repin it. I might redo this with the theme of your choice as a giveaway for 50 followers.Can someone explain how to do the random number generator?

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'll rest next week

Do you keep track of blog guests from other countries? I'm always amazed when I see a new flag pop up in the Feedjit. Since I've been recording, I've been visited from South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Philippines, Slovakia, Bahrain, Netherlands, Australia, Poland, Indonesia, and Pakistan. I think there was a Japanese guest, but that was before I was writing them down. Teachers everywhere are trying to learn from each other, and find something to make our lives easier and our students learning more successful.

This is a busy week at school. It's our spring book fair, so our media time is moved around and I won't have planning with my team tomorrow. Today was a math committee meeting to prepare for Math Night on Thursday and our staff development presentation next Tuesday on the Common Core. Tomorrow night is Chick-Fil-A night again :) Wednesday my class has a dance party incentive that we won for having the best attendance for two months. I am still working on the problem solving activities for Math Night Thursday, and Friday is our field trip to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and report card day.

Math Night Problem Solving Activity for our theme: Wild For Problem Solving

And I need to complete end of year running records for all of my students. I only made it through 2 students today. 2!! They both read level Z. I started with my high group to help me think about who should be ready for a fourth grade reading level and who should be ready for a fifth grade reading level. It will be difficult to sort them at the end of the year.

Have a good week and don't let them figure out that the end is near!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Giveaway at the newly improved Teachers Notebook

One of the new features at Teachers Notebook is the Giveaway Promotions. I entered a few, and decided to try one myself. If they are popular, I'll do more. I am giving away my Bug Collector Blends that includes all three games. Please check out the new format and and I hope to figure out how to get a good link from this page later on today.

 Giveaway Promotion

We're getting ready to go horseback riding. Instead of doughnuts for breakfast, I switched the sleepover bunch to scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit. Pray for a quiet ride.

Update- The ride there was noisy. Horseback riding was AWESOME, lunch at McDonalds was subdued, ride home was sleepy. Very good idea for 9-13 year old birthday party.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

She WAS Looking at Me!

This is working now! My browser was no longer supported on Blogger. That is a problem.. so I changed browsers. Problem solved.

Tuesday I was only in for the half day. When I got in to school Wednesday, my teammate told me that the principal had been trying to reach me. She called my house (got the fax) and called my cell that I wasn't answering because we were at the hospital. So with that warning, I knew it was me. Remember how I said that at the staff meeting I thought the principal was looking at me? She was.  My teammate that had volunteered to leave second grade told me she was moved to first but that my name was on THE LIST with hers. I found out before first bell yesterday that I am going to third. Another teammate is going from second to kindergarten. Then a k to 1, a 1 to 2, and a 3 to 2. How many moving boxes will all that take?
Switching grades makes you take stock in your life. What do I believe is important? What do I have that I need, and what am I holding onto for sentimental reasons. I need to stop being sentimental. The Winnie the Pooh that I painted for summer camp 17 years ago will probably never be used again. It's time to let go.
I've downloaded my new pacing guides, made new labels for my reading series and am starting to make posters for the theme questions.
Unfortunately now that we know we are not teaching these grades any more, our minds are shifting to our new grades. I don't want to plan for second grade. I don't want to kick butt at my job. I want to get ready for next year. I am evaluating what I want to teach really well to make my life easier next year. I'm not thinking so much about refining a unit but getting it done. That's sad.

One of our kids had a really bad day today. He's been having problems for a while, getting better, getting worse.Yesterday he almost smashed the computer in the AP's office. Today he told about his plan to go downstairs in the night to get a knife to kill himself. He had all the details worked out. This is a second grade baby. He's eight. He can make plans on what to do after school, but can't think a week ahead. Which means he meant to do it. His mom was upset that she was paged at work. REALLY??? I pray that he gets help, that all the children whose parents can't be bothered find someone to listen and take them seriously before they feel like there is no way out.

My daughter is ten toady. We have a tradition that we ask them about their favorites on their birthday. It is the official day to change their favorites. Now that you're ten what's your favorite color? What is your favorite food now? There are probably forty questions and then they ask for more. Try it. It lets them make new decisions. My daughter's favorite colors are now bright turquoise, purple, and seafoam green. We bought three shade of pink paint for her bedroom a few months ago, but fortunately never started painting. Tomorrow night is the sleepover, then horseback riding with her friends, then back home for the family party. I'll rest next week.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Four Days? Really?

I was at Kelly Hall's blog and I was going down her blog roll because I figured out how to change my favicon (:)) and saw that I hadn't blogged on my board since Monday. Really? I've been online plenty. Mostly pinterest and blogs. And I worked on dolphins and Sonoran Desert and today plan (fingers crossed) on starting giraffes after cleaning the house a bit. One of the cutest things I found were the printable iPhones, iPads, and iPods for spelling work. I have a student that received his iPad last year in first grade ( I don't have one. Why does a six year old need one? How come they have cooler tech than I do?) and he would be thrilled to show off skills on a fake appliance. Find them at Mrs. Bremer's Kindergarten.
Link to all three printable i-devices

My daughter is growing up. She had made some comments before we left for Target that let me know it was probably time. She's turning ten and heading off to middle school in the fall, but I didn't want it to happen. She helped me purchase some things in the holiday section of Target. Sorry for being somewhat cryptic, but I don't know if your children ever read over your shoulder. And December she will be ready to help me find great items for her younger family members.  Maybe a few more years with my son? I know I'll miss the magic of joy and amazement.

I think I am getting a blog makeover. It makes me nervous  to give up control but it will probably turn out just fine. I figured out this year that that is why I/teachers don't like field trips. We have to give up control and trust that someone will make the right/constructive/positive choices for the growth and development of something we love. I have three designers in mind, but would LOVE to hear your suggestions.

My new word to mistype is because. I have been typing becasue for the last few weeks. I wonder if one of my fingers is getting info from my brain faster than the other side? My classic is hte for the. I need to sssslllooooowww down and concentrate.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April's Currently

This my first Currently. I'm not sure how much explanation they should get.

My husband is at work, my daughter is still sleeping, and my son is away in DE for a few days with a friend. No TV, radio, or game system in earshot. Ahhh!

Pinterest is a problem. It goes on forever. Everyone likes really cool ideas and I want to find even more cool ideas. Which leads me to my thinking.

I'm spending way too much time on the computer and not enough time moving. My body can tell.

I want to get ahead. If I can get ahead, I can breathe and tackle what I need to do... the box and piles of papers. I do a pretty good job with tests, quizzes, and easy to check papers, but papers with longer answers take more time. And I've put away some of my reading materials in the correct folders and binders but not all. But a little tiny voice inthe back of my head is telling me the principal is moving me to another grade because I swear she was looking right at me.

My chocolate eggs are awesome. Every egg that left my house is sold. My two kids bring their money to buy my eggs from church becasue I will not give them any freebies. They are that good. And since they are sold out, I have to make more for Easter baskets.

Now it's time to get to work. I started working on place value yesterday, it might be done later this week. When we get back from break, we are adding and subtracting tens and hundreds and comparing and ordering three digit numbers. I wonder what I'll come up with.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sorry for my Blog Manners but I'm Joining Some Linky Parties

I already posted. Sorry. I am posting again. Please forgive my bad manners. I am joining a linky party.

My contribution is Buzzing Blooms a long i game for more expereinced readers. They need to read the words and decide if they say the long i sound like the spelling suggests.  Good for advanced first graders, and all second and third graders.

download Buzzing Blooms here

I am also finally getting around to joining the K-2 world linky party hosted by Jeannie at Kindergarten Lifestyle. Better late than never.