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Thursday, September 26, 2013

In this Classroom We...

Setting up all of our your rules and expectations is by far one of the most important things we do every year.

I have spent too much time this week at the principal's office. I have lost sleep. I have reflected. I have vented with friends (thank YOU!) and I have come up with plan A, B, and plan C.
I have yet to find out it where I fell short this year, but creating something that allowed me to review my expectations (for every single one of my students) has made me feel better.

We practice the right way. We practice the wrong way. We wrote what it means to them. We drew what it would looks like.
I put them up (bunting style) so we can review when necessary. I will probably decorate my door with them once everyone has master them.
You must check the drawing on the right hand side. I laughed so hard!

46 posters with star background. Find them HERE.

46 posters with chevron background. Find them HERE.

46 posters with polka dots background. Find them HERE.

Wish me luck. I have one day left before my vacation starts and I would like to stay away from the bosses' office :) 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Good Bye Boring Words. Time to Smile :)

You know THE words, right? Sad, mad, nice... Second grade writers can do better than that! Your students can too :)

My students writing can only get better by addressing some boring words. I had done the 'dead words' around Halloween time, but I could not look at the tombstones year round.  I wanted something I could keep up for a little bit longer.
I began thinking about my vocabulary bulletin board, and this is what happened after getting help from a few friends.

Synonyms are a must when it comes to making your writing come alive. 

My student teacher helped me put them up for you to see.  I wanted to show you more than one word at a time :)

Don't have a bulletin board?  How about using a binder to house your synonym posters? 

In there, you will find...

I did not create 1, but 3!
Chalkboard lovers?  Find it HERE

Polka Dot Lovers?  Find it HERE.

Chevron Lovers?  Find it HERE.

Would you super love to win one? Which one is your favorite? 

Pin your favorite. Don't forget your e-mail and your pin link. I will e-mail it to a few friends :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Our Writing Process Pencils (freebie for you).

There are many times, when whatever you created for one class, does not work the next. My husband wonders why I continue to work as hard as I do, even though I have never changed grade levels. The truth is, I like to do new things and when things do not go well, plan B is not an option.

My writer's workshop is not going smoothly. I have observed them closely. I have stopped my teaching to see where I fell them. Sure enough, it happened again. I went over the steps of the writing process waaaayyy too fast. They continue to ask me the same questions.over.and.over. I blamed them for a bit, but then I reflected and admitted that it is all my fault for getting to the teaching part before training was over (HUGE mistake).

So, this past week, we stopped our writing time and went over every step. I then decided to create something new.
 A quick tool my students can use to follow the writing ,and for me to know what they are working on.

My blue chart from last year (new pictures of the kids) was not as successful :( 
I printed the front cover using white card stock. I used regular white paper for the middle pages, and color card stock for the back cover. We hole punched them and added a little ring.

We went over each step of the writing process. I wanted them to have a future model, just in case they forget what it looks like.

Now, they put it close to their writing making sure they do what they need, before asking for a conference.
Not only that, but when I walk around I do not have to ask them what they are working on, I can just look at their pencil. 
Their pencil is placed in their writer's workshop folder. 

Is it working? This past week it did :) Everything sounded and looked the way it was supposed to.

Are they playing with it? No. I am hoping they don't.

Do I still have kids who do not understand the process? Well, yes. But only 2 :)

Would you like a free copy?  I hope you do :)  Find it HERE.   Let me know what you think!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Birthdays in Our Classroom

Last week I finished my first set of birthday cups. Since I had another 'crazy' week, I just sat down to download my pictures and show you my small birthday project.
I cannot take credit for such a clever idea since I totally copied borrowed from my coworker. 

I just noticed they need a bit more whipped cream and those cherries may be a bit big... but I am sure the kiddos will not mind at all. Right?

So, here's how I did it...
I gathered all my supplies:
- 24 Starbucks cups (free- courtesy of my room mom)
- 24 clear bags  (free- courtesy of my mother-in-law)
- Candy $1.00 per bag)
- Scrapbooks paper (2 sheets for $1.00)
- Paper clips and ribbon ($1.50)
- Stickers ($1.00)
- Shredded paper ($1.00 per bag)
- Homework Passes (free...keep reading they can be free for you too!).
- Red tissue paper and red curling ribbon (free- I had it since Christmas)

- I taped the lollipops a little bit so the 'cherry' could look as round as possible.
- I added a bit of ribbon to create 'bookmarks' using big paper clips.
- I cut the scrapbook paper in strips (4 per sheet) to cover the cups.
- I used my punches to make a label.
- My little helper helped me put all the 'gifts' inside the cup, added some shredded paper. Go ahead and add
   a lot more paper than my helper did. It looks better :)
- We taped the scrapbook paper around the cup and added a name tag.
- We bagged them to avoid losing any contents once the kids take them home.  I am sure they will hope for them as soon as they get on the bus!

Last, but not least, we added a tiny homework pass.  No one deserves to do homework on their birthday.

If you'd like a copy of the mini homework passes, e-mail me ( I will be happy to send them to you!

According to my class roster, most of my kiddos already had a birthday in July right before we started school. In honor of their birthday, we will celebrate their half birthday so they can their own birthday cup :)

I really do hope the kiddos love them.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My First!

You read it right. She is my first. My first student teacher is here! I am beyond excited.

Two weeks ago I had the chance to visit her college, meet some of her wonderful professors, and listen to what is expected of my as her mentor teacher. Ms. M is wonderful. She was born to be a teacher.

While driving to her campus, memories of my student teaching experience began to come back to me. Back in the day, I was asked to pick three schools. I happened to be lucky enough to get my top choice.
I remember the nerves of the first day, meeting my mentor teachers and then the kids! I was placed in a first grade classroom for the first half of my placement. My teacher made me feel at home from day one. She let me create my own things and show her how much I wanted to be like her :)
My second placement was in a third grade classroom. It was honestly a bit more challenging, my cursive handwriting was not the greatest :) But my mentor teacher was top notch.
Both of my mentor teachers guided me and helped me with everything. I observed throughout the school. I attended all the meetings. I tried to be the modeled student teacher. I wanted nothing more, than to say thank you for allowing me to be in their classrooms.
I am still in touch with both of my mentor teachers. I love them and respect them...many years later.

This time is my time to pay it forward, so I began thinking about...

And this is how I tried to make her feel at home...

I made her a cute binder, wrote her a welcome note, got some goodies for her, and decorated her desk. Everyone in my building has two desks. I have always hated having an extra piece of furniture, but I am not allowed to get rid of it. It finally has a purpose!

She also received some desk supplies and other goodies are coming her way :)

Knowing that my babies will be taken care of is the best part of this progress. Now I just need to make sure I do my best to guide her through the process of my regular day to day adventures. I am also hoping to be the friend she turns to ten years from now.

Any advice? I want to make sure Ms. M. has an amazing experience with us. What is on your must list for student teachers?

Her binder turned out super cute. I included everything I thought could be helpful. I ended up creating this...
Find it HERE.

Find it HERE.

I'd love send two of you a copy of my binder. Leave me a comment with any suggestions/advice.  How can I be the best mentor teacher?  :)