Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Made LOTS OF It!

Yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaa! Another successful Monday Made It!!

One of my teacher buddies even came over this weekend and we had a Pinterest day! So much fun! This definitely needs to happen again in the future! Not only were we able to talk and catch up, but we were productive as well! She made a teacher toolbox and I made some of the things below. We drank lots of coffee and I made this for lunch.
 Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Can we just talk about how awesome it was? Even my boyfriend who hates quinoa loved it! Super easy, super good, and definitely to be made again!

On to my made its!!

First up, birthday balloons! Love these ideas I saw popping up all over! I found the balloon at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits. She used pixie sticks, so her balloons were very large! I made mine a little smaller and added "Hip Hip Hooray It's your Birthday today!" I found the straws 6 for one dollar at Dollar Tree. LOVE that place!!

This is my third year using Whole Brain Teaching. I love these little cards that Stephanie at 3rd Grade Thoughts made. Cannot wait to post these up this year! I printed and laminated them.

I mentioned buying these from Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files last week. Well... here they are! All printed, cut out, and laminated! My plan is to put magnets on the back and stick them to my whiteboard.

So this is absolutely my biggest challenge so far. This was my first year teaching with math stations as one of my rotations. (You can read more about how I do math workshop here!!) I have accumulated so many games, and definitely had storage issues with them. My summer project is to get these organized before school starts in a few weeks.
 Just this week I pulled out all the games and organized them into piles sorted by math concept.

In addition to sorting them, I made sure that each game was placed into a large ziploc bag. Then I wrote the name of the game on the front. This game below has multiple copies so it's much easier for me to keep them all in one bag.

 Within each bag is each indivisual game which I usually keep in a page protector. These have proved to be AWESOME this year! I can stick the gameboards, pieces, cards, EVERYTHING in one easy to hold case. Best of all it's cheap! Some of my games need dry erase markers, and these page protectors can easily be written on and erased! Best of all, you don't need to laminate game boards anymore! This has saved me lots of time last year.

On the back of some of my game bags I have written materials that are needed. I don't keep dice and other game pieces with every game because I don't have enough. By writing what the game needs on the back, I'm hoping that it will be easy to play right away and will help me be better prepared. I'll try anything if it cuts down on prep time.

My next project will be turning all the sterilite drawers I have at school into something like what Mrs. Bond did in her room:
But instead of months, they'll have my different math concepts with all the stations not being used by my students, housed and organized inside! Get ready to see this next week!

Now that I have my math stations organized, next up was organizing all of my math worksheets, master copies, and projects. Last year I kept them in file folders, and I was horrible at returning the papers to the correct folder. For some reason filing just did NOT work for me. I've decided to use binders this year.

 Just like my math stations, I am creating binders based on math concepts. So far I have:
  • Measurement
  • Place Value/Patterns
  • Money
  • Probability/Graphing & Data
  • Fractions
  • Addition/Subtraction (which I divided up into single digit, double digit, and triple digit using divider tabs)
  • Multiplication/Division
  • Geometry
Download them HERE for FREE if you are interested in them! :)

Here's a peek inside my Measurement binder (I plan on using dividers to make sections for customary, metric, area/perimeter, time, temperature, weight, and liquids:
 I have my master copies that I used during my Current Events or Team Meeting stations.

 I also kept some of my student's work for some of the projects we completed. This was one of my favorites! Students were given 6-8 strips of paper of various lengths. They had to measure each of them, then turn it into a picture. This student created an alligator that could even open its mouth when you pulled up on the orange strip!! So creative! Then the students added up ALL of the strips to get a final total and named their creation! I'll have to highlight some of my favorite math projects before school starts!

 I also used page protectors to house cards, leftover project pieces, manipulatives, specific team meeting or minilesson games, etc. Anything that couldn't be hole punched and that was not specifically a math station.

And then more master copies. It's going to be so much easier to put them back in this binder rather than in a folder!!

And now for my BIG HOME PROJECT REVEAL!!!!!!


Remember my dining room wall from last week?

Well we finally finished the taping, and began painting last week. One thing we did once the tape was on, was paint white over the edges of the paint. We have a textured wall and we wanted to make sure when we painted our stripes, it wasn't going to bleed under the painter's tape.

 Well after we painted the grey stripes, we found out the orange we wanted to use wouldn't cover the green paint that was originally on the wall (even though the orange paint had primer too! Lesson learned, when painting with orange, grab a can of primer too no matter what!) Soooo a quick trip to Lowe's and we snagged some primer and had the lady add a little orange tint to it. Although in the picture it looks pink.

Cute story- the boyfriend commented how the picture above would look cute in a little girl's room because of the pinkish and grey colors. Cue "AWWWWWWWWWW" moment!

Anyway, 2 hours later we were able to paint on the orange.

And did the peeling of the paint later that night.....

AND TADA!!!!!! We are super proud! Those orange flowers above were the inspiration for the orange colors! :)

They stripes look really straight and I am soooo glad we put small white lines in between the colored ones. Some of the paint bled under the tape though, so we have some touching up still to do. You can't tell from far away, but to be honest, for a first attempt I'm impressed!! Definitely a loooooong process, but the results in the end were absolutely worth it!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

New School Year Resolutions

What an awesome link up! Amanda over at Teaching Maddeness is asking what resolutions you are having for the new school year. Cute right?!?!

Some things I would like to make sure I do next year are:
 1. Take more pictures!! One of our Pre K teachers was ALWAYS taking pictures last year and I was so envious of how on top of it she was! This year I VOW to take pictures of activities and fun things that we do. I'm hoping to make a powerpoint of the year at the end and send it home for parents.

2. Get my life organized. Don't we teachers say this every year though? My plan is to use my teacher planner, stop using a filing cabinet, keep everything in binders, and stop leaving paper EVERYWHERE. I cannot even put into words how much I recycled the last week of school. Can't wait for y'all to see my Monday Made Its! I'm hopeful that some of my new made its will help me in my organization.

3. KEEP GOING TO BOOTCAMP. I am currently on week 5 and feeling so much stronger and happier. I'd like to keep going 4x a week, but I know how hard it is to get off of work and do something! Most of the time I just want to go sit on my couch and decompress from the day. I'm REALLY going to try hard to keep working out while working this year. That also means I WILL leave school by 4:30! No more 6pm and the sun's going down while I am still in my classroom!

4. Keep better notes on students. I really want CAFE to be full fledged this year. I felt like I didn't do the best job tracking students progress last year.

5. Integrate social studies into reading as much as I can. I really didn't get to teach any social studies this year... and that's just a shame!!

6. Spend more time with the boyfriend, dogs, and friends. I always feel that these get put on a back burner... and these are the most important things in my life!

7. Make breakfast every morning before going to school. This IS the most important meal, and our itty bitty muffins or french toast sticks they serve as school breakfast really isn't cutting it. And let's be honest, definitely not the most healthy thing to be starting out my day with....

I know there is so much more, but I don't want to overwhelm myself too much!
Ummm and are you watching gymnastics right now?!?! WOOOOOOW! I absolutely LOVE watching this. Did anyone else want to be a gymnast as a kid? I still remember watching the year that Shannon Miller and Dominique Dawes and Dominique Moceanu were part of the Olympics. Man that was an epic year. I would go around my house doing cartwheels and sommersaults (because let's be serious, what else could I do?). Sometimes I'd even practice jumps using the grout lines of my tile as an imaginary balance beam.'
And no I'm not doing that right now... ok.. maybe just a few cartwheels have happened :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Phonics Dance & Friday Find

I'm linking up with Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B for her Fabulous Friday Find!

 The first is of course Target and their WONDERFUL dresses.
I bought this one and have already been complimented on it a couple of times while I was out the other day! And it's on sale for 19.99!!!!!!

Next up is my school book find. Get ready for my new resource I don't know if I could live without!

Phonics. This word has always scared the pants right off me. Having most of my teaching experience be in upper elementary, I knew how to get students to understand what they've read and delve deeper into the meaning of text. Comprehension? No problem! I can do that!

Teach them HOW to read though? *crickets*

As a child, reading was easy for me and I LOVED it. That's all I would do in my free time. My first year teaching, I taught 5th graders. I can still remember one student in particular who was at a 2nd grade reading level. Whenever she was struggled reading words my advice was "sound it out".

SAY WHAT?!?! Sound it out?!?! How does that help her if she doesn't KNOW the sounds!!!

More than 5 years later... I now understand the importance of having a grasp on vowel teams and all the funky stuff the English language does.


Did you know that love, although it phonetically sounds like luv, is spelt with an o because it was easier to distinguish the word when writing? Look at 'luve' written below. See how u and v look the same?

Interesting right? One of the reading specialists at out school has all kinds of interesting tid bits on why weird sounds in English are the way they are! This site also has some insight into our language and goes into more detail about the origins and changing of love.


So phonics! Teaching it last year was new to me, and really really boring. My high readers were of course the ones working hard with me, and they really didn't need it! My developing ones weren't retaining it, and were zoned out half the time. We'd use manipulatives a lot but then it'd take awhile to get them out, there'd be issues of playing with them sometimes, and it was just a pain to me!!!

Bottom line- I just didn't like how I taught phonics. I needed something else. I'm really big on kinesthetic learning.. especially to make something like phonics more fun and engaging.

Sooooo, while perusing pinterest... I found this cute video called the Phonics Dance. I LOVED it.

I love how they are up moving and singing! That is definitely my teaching style and looked like fun.

I had no idea what it was all about, but I wanted to know more. I of course immediately searched Proteacher looking for any information on it. That led me to the actual Phonics Dance website where I recently just ordered the manual and CD.

And can I tell you how excited I am to teach phonics next year? I never thought I'd hear those words come out of my mouth! :)

In addition to dancing and chanting, a huge part of the program is 'hunking and chunking'. This is where students circle the sounds you are learning that week. The program suggested teaching 2 a week. With our basal program I think that will work out perfect!

This awesome example came from Simply 2nd Grade Resources. She has a ton of information on the phonics dance if you're interested in reading more!!

Ginny gives you resources from Kinder-3rd, and explains how to teach it in each grade. The great thing about the Phonics Dance is that its a resource! It's not a program, but can be used in conjunction with whatever phonics sequence you need to teach. We use Treasures, and the scope and sequence is something we have to abide by. I can use any of the hunks and chunks, in any order! What a great supplement to my phonics program- and talk about fun!!

  • Every day we will do the alphabet review. Basically its different chants and gestures for each letter of the alphabet. It also goes over the the long/short vowel sounds!
  • For the first 2 weeks of school we will then practice rimes. It's also a great way to review vowels and their sounds here!
  • Students will then practice rimes or hunks and chunks after the third week, with worksheets. Now these are not the "sit there and complete them independently" kind of worksheets. They're very interactive and involve many different tasks such as recognizing hunks and chunks (like the picture above), writing/spelling words, reading words, and listening for hunk and chunk words.
  • Word wall games are suggested to be played during the second day of teaching a hunk and chunk. She gives a ton of different ideas (30 pages worth). There are even chants to go with the word wall to practice grammar and literary devices. For example "A synonym. A synonym. It means the same!" (pg. 136 The Phonics Dance) is chanted before using the word wall to find synonyms.
  • Monster Words - she even gives chants for words that have tricky spelling! "goes- g-o-e-s there goes the e-s!" (pg 391 Phonics Dance) How cute is that? There's so many more!!
  • Oh and this great hunking and chunking can be used for unknown words! Ginny gives a step by step process to help students look at all the elements of a word to decode it.
  • Writing Chants- are you surprised? She gives some more capitals, periods, questions, etc! I think I am going to love chanting and singing this year!
These are some of the major ideas in the book that I thought sounded awesome. I'm still reading through it and gaining more ideas. Hopefully I'll be able to work out more of a definite schedule with it in the next week and can share that with you.

Has anyone ever done the Phonics Dance or heard of it? I'd love to talk to people who have done it before, or anyone who is interested! It looks like a fun program.. and like I said I'm excited for phonics this year!! :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Made It: School AND Home

Okay, so I have had another busy week and I could not be more excited to share with you some things I made this week! Thanks again Ms. Tara!!

First up on the school front, teacher toolbox, DONE. Still thinking if I should spray paint it silver... but I love red. It's just not matching perfectly with the bright zebra prints. A big thanks to Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B for posting THIS awesome editable template to make everything go so much smoother.

I cannot wait to use these this year. Whenever I give directions, instead of the "What do I do next?" or "Can I use markers?" I will be placing these on the board as we go over directions. For example 1. Cut 2. Glue (gluestick!!) and 3. Color (markers). That way students have a visual on what to do and I can specify what glue and what coloring utensil I want used. They came from Mrs. Bainbridge.

Okay can I tell you how excited I am to use these!?!? My plan is to have them hanging on a ribbon or stapled on the wall by the door. As students leave at the end of the day, I'd like to say one to students, and they say one back to me. What a great way to practice rhyming words too! These beauties came from Mrs. Carroll.

I know you've all seen these. I was inspired by this pin.
I found the buttons at Hobby Lobby and snagged some scrapbook paper there too. Then I printed out 4 "Ask me what I made on Ms. Wilkie's test" sentences. Using the back of the button, I traced a circle around it, cut it out, then pressed it inside the button. I think they turned out cute and I can't wait to use them!

Last school related made it is my duct tape quilt! After seeing the one done by Kathy last week, I could not wait to try my own and turn it into boggle too! I followed this great video tutorial at Classroom DIY.

I did the back of mine a little different. The video wanted you to duct tape the back too.. but I knew I wouldn't have enough tape and also I didn't want to waste it on a side that no one would see.

So to tape up the back and keep it secure I used clear packing tape. You can't even see it! And these baggies are not going ANYWHERE!

Now onto a few projects for my home.

Currently the mister and I are painting our dining room wall. We're planning to make this into our feature wall. It use to be a yucky pea green. We painted to opposite walls a mason gray, and are planning on using the same gray for the stripes, but adding orange in too!

Stripes are extremely frustrating and time consuming. I have taken so many breaks from this! I'm not sure if there's an easier way, but I've been using my level and making sure to keep the tape straight on. Can't wait until it's done. Gonna be bright and bold!!

 My next project is the one I am the most proud of, and the one I am planning on doing much more of! Do you remember all the pins about DIY canvas photos? Well... I tried out the tutorial by Crystal at Little Bit Funky and I LOVE how mine turned out! I was skeptical about ironing tissue paper, and then printing on it, but it worked!! Then all you do is modge podge the printed tissue paper onto your canvas! I finished one of these in 10 minutes! The hardest part was getting the picture on the canvas centered.. and then pushing out all those wrinkles. But I feel like it will only get easier as I practice and make more.
 This one is going to be given to my parents. I cannot WAIT for them to receive it in the mail!!

I of course had to do one of my boys too! So 50 pictures later, here's the one I chose! I think it's precious.

My canvases are 8x10 inches, and I found a 2 pack at Hobby Lobby for $4. Recently Michael's had a sale on them 10 for $15. I have an upcoming wedding and I think this would make a perfect gift to give! Soooo many possibilities!!

It's been a busy week... but I have checked SO much off my to do list. Planning to go to school today to meet our new admin team and try to get some things figured out in my room. Hopefully this week will be just as productive!

Happy Monday Made It everyone! :D

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Possible changes? And a blog hop!

I'm a little nervous for next school year. We've had so many changes this summer, and I feel like every week, something new happens. Here's the scoop:

First we found out 3 weeks into summer that our AWESOME principal is leaving to a new school. Our district has done a lot of changing up top, and I think she wanted to spend her retirement in a district that won't end her last year badly. Only speculation on my part.. but we had NO warning about it. Definitely a shock.

Then we find out one of our assistant principals is moving to a new school. Apparently the district decided to take one AP out from each school and swap them to a new school... why? I have no idea.

THEN, my FAVORITE AP just let us know that she is leaving to a new district as well! She said it was to be closer to home. She was my rock this year.. the one I always went to for everything. She too let us know probably a month into summer. A few weeks after our principal left.

So, we will be having a COMPLETELY new admin team next year. Currently we have hired our new principal and new AP so far. We just need one more AP. From what I hear from my friend, they are going to be good for the school, but it's always tough with new admin, ESPECIALLY A WHOLE NEW ADMIN TEAM!

Now today I just heard that we need another 2nd grade bilingual teacher. Currently we have 2 bilingual teachers and 3 ESL teachers. One of our ESL teachers on the team is certified bilingual back in her home state (Wisconsin I think?). She is waiting on her Texas license, and then will take the test to become bilingual. Problem is we aren't sure if that will happen by the time school starts. And from what I just heard today, that could mean moving one of us ESL teachers to 4th grade, and then hiring a 2nd grade bilingual teacher.


Our team works SO well together. The new admin doesn't know us, and doesn't know how we work. It scares me to think they can make the decision to move one of us, without knowing anything about us!

Not to mention all the planning we have been doing together this summer FOR SECOND GRADE.

It frustrates me to think that although my coworker has all this certification back home, that you have to go through it all again in whatever state you move to. I started teaching in Arizona, took the tests, moved to California, took the tests again, moved to Texas, and oh yep, TOOK THE TESTS AGAIN. And guess what? They really weren't any different from the other teacher certification tests I had taken. Why is it that you have to do this for each state? Am I missing something here?

Oy. Talk about a crazy summer. I'm trying so hard to keep positive about all these changes, but as more and more happens, it's making it harder and harder. Sometimes I wonder just how flexible us teachers can be before we've had enough.

In other unschool related news! (Thanks for listening. I'm just feeling a bit frustrated!)

I have a Fridayish find! Went to Michales to use my 25% off everything, and here was this wonderful cart already $38! So 25% off later I snagged it for $28! Cannot wait to use it. I have one similar to this one and LOVE it.

I joined in the blog hop over at Grade 3 is the Place to Be. Th newbie blog hop is BOPPING! Come join in and welcome these newbies to the blogging world :)

To answer the questions that go along with the blog hop!

1. Right now I live in Austin, Texas.
2. I teach 2nd grade (hopefully still!) east of downtown Austin.
3. I have taught 1 year 5th grade, 1 year 3rd grade, 2 years RTI, and 1 year 2nd grade. Phew!
4. I started blogging June of this year 2012. Yea summer to let me have time on my hands!
5. I love replying to comments that I get emailed to my box. A lot of bloggers don't have their email linked up, so I cannot reply to their comments and email them! Check to see if you have your email linked up to your blogging comments HERE. I promise its really easy!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Poem of the Week

Oooh August is just around the corner! How does summer always go by this fast? August is my reality check. Just being in Target yesterday and seeing all the back to school sales (and all the children running around with their back to school lists!) made me excited, nervous, and overwhelmed. I keep thinking how there is STILL SO MUCH TO DO! I have tons of pins still to try, a garage to clean out (so we can finally park in it!!), grout to seal shut, a house to clean (it's been at least 2 weeks now since I've vacuumed..), flowers to re plant (thanks boyfriend for killing our 2nd attempt at flowers while I was visiting Phoenix),  and files and files still to organize for school.
 By the way, it has somehow gotten worse since I last took this picture! There are way more stacks of things.. Hmm... that can't be good.

Thank goodness for my personal assistant Max!! He's the BEST paper weight. Ever.

Anyway, with all that, I decide to sit here and post, while drinking coffee (and Bailey's today!!).

But good news: I have accomplished week 3 of bootcamp (been going 5 days a week for 1 hour). I already feel stronger! At the beginning of camp I couldn't lift a 17lb weight from floor to ceiling without using 2 hands, now I can use 1 hand and do it repeatedly! I'm ecstatic that I can already feel a difference! Hoping that school won't get too much in the way of my workout routine. It's amazing how great I feel, and how much energy I have after!

Onto school related things!

Well one of my summer ideas was to do a poem of the week. I'd like to do this everyday after our morning meeting, for hopefully no more than 5-7 minutes.

Benefits: practice fluency, incorporate content areas, highlight sight words, practice rhyming, analyze poem, reading with expression, phonics focus.

Basically each day I plan on having 2 components to the poem of the week lesson. The first focuses on the fluency and actually reading of the poem, the second allows you to get involved with the words/phonics and the comprehension. Here are some different ideas you can do within each component. I plan to do one from each everyday.

1st component - Read the poem, practice fluency in a variety of ways:
  • Split the class up in various ways and read the poem by it's pattern ABAB, ABBA. Example: girls read A, boys read B.Can do by shorts, pants, table numbers, favorite colors, the possibilities are endless!
  • I read You Read
  • Act it out with hand gestures while reading
  • Read in silly voices: monster, hold nose, like you just sucked in helium from a balloon, etc
  • Read with feelings: what sort of emotion does the poem have?
  • Read sight words/phonics sounds/rhyming words LOUD, or do some sort of clap, stomp, etc.
  • Have indv partners/table practice and then present it/lead the poem one day out of the week.
2nd component - Word work/Comprehension
  •  highlight sight words
  • highlight words that follow phonics learned this week or earlier in the year.
  • highlight rhyming words
  • identify pattern and rhythm of poem
  • illustrate the poem
  • compare contrast poem to last weeks
  • highlight vocabulary
  • retell the poem in your own words.
  • complete a story map for the poem
  • can focus on the comprehension strategy you are currently learning!

Now this is absolutely new to me, and I have NEVER tried it before, but here's what I'm thinking a possible rough schedule might be.

(fluency focus)
Teacher Reads it Aloud, Then choral read as a class.
Learn meter/rhythm, highlight sight words, intro phonics sound for the week (pick one)
(fluency focus)
Read girls vs. boys, pants vs. shorts, etc. Read line by line
Learn meter/rhythm, highlight sight words, rhyming words (pick one)
(comp focus)
Read by acting it out with hand gestures, comprehension
Discuss feeling of poem, what's happening, comp strategy.
(comp focus)
Read with expression and feeling. Be the poem.
Illustrate poem.
FridayFinal read with expression and acting: think reader's theater. Announce poetry race winner. They recite poem to class or another class of choice

One thing I am extremely excited about is the Poetry Race component! Basically once the poem is introduced on Monday, students take the poem home and have this copied on the back side:
This AWESOME file did not come from me, but I found it at proteacher. Click HERE to go to the post, and here to DOWNLOAD. You must have a proteacher account (well worth it if you don't!!!). It even comes with an awesome letter to send home to families explaining the Great Poetry Race.

They have until Friday to read the poem to as many adults as they can and get them to sign their name and date. They can do it over the phone, can read to adults at school, adults at home, etc. We'd have to go over being safe and not going around their neighborhood to read to strangers. Many of my students live in apartments and I could see this happening.

On Friday they will turn in their poetry race papers, and I (or maybe my teacher's assistant!) will tally up the results and announce the winner! That person will get one of my stuffed animals that has a little poetry sash as a trophy to keep for the day.

I'm not sure if I LOVE the phrasing on the sash. Does anyone have some cute catchy phrases? PLEASE! :)

They'll also take home one of these cute little awards! Use them if you'd like to implement the poetry race, or just get blank ones!

My only worries about it is what if the same student keeps winning each week? Or what if a student doesn't have access to many adults at home? Should they be able to count the same person each day, rather than just once that week?

I also haven't decided if I want to focus on poems following our phonics sound of the week, or if I want to go with poems that relate more to content area/comp strategy of the week/holiday. I'm thinking I will go with the latter, and if there are words that follow our new or old phonics sounds, we can highlight them. Thoughts on this? I really would love some advice!

Some great resources for more poem of the week:

 Awesome list of poems with phonics.

Great upper elementary poem of the week.

 Poem of the week that incorporate the phonic sound of the week. Great blog!