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.