Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Currently alive and also very late with this

I know, I know. I've been gone for a month! November was kind of crazy for me. My fairly new Macbook Pro's hard drive crashed on me in the middle of November and with it, my muse for creating anything new. I've been struggling to make anything and only created a few pages of a no prep packet, so I ended up taking a break after trying and trying and have been relying on resources I bought. Anyways, I figured I'd do an update and although I'm a week late, I thought I'd link up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade and do my December currently's. Better late then ever!

Listening to: I love James Morrison so much. His voice is like honey to me, but as always, I get into these moods when I listen to music and will get hooked on one thing and listen to it until I'm sick of it. Before this, I was listening to Maroon 5 and Daft Punk's newest CD and now, I'm listening to my James Morrison mix on Pandora. It's pretty amazing.

Loving: My biggest news lately is that I just bought a baby teddy black hamster, also known as a short-haired Syrian hamster. I bought Bucky on Saturday from Petsmart and he is just the sweetest thing to have happened to me. Preparing for him and taking care of him have been my greatest joy and I'm always thinking about him now. I'm a proud mummy of one darn cute hamster!

Thinking: Man, oh man, have I been burning cash like a billionaire... except I'm not one :( my credit card debt keeps growing and with that my anxiety, so it's pretty much all I think about now. That and Bucky, who keeps me sane through all of this. 

Wanting: I so desperately wish I had my muse back. I've only made a few pages out of my "Tis the Season for No Prep" packet I started a month ago, and I just can't seem to find the inspiration anywhere. With my hard drive crashing, I just feel like doing nothing. I didn't lose everything when it crashed, thank god, but I definitely lost my inspiration. Please, please come back soon. I miss you.

Needing: This one's an obvious one. I need to blog more and talk about what's been going on in my classroom. Things have been great, but I just haven't gotten around to blogging about any of it. I'll try to remedy that this winter.

Giving: So, I think I did this one kind of wrong, but I've been trying to give my family more of my time. I don't live far from my mom and grandparents, but I don't go home for a few reasons I don't really wish to talk about. Either way, with the holidays around the corner, I'm trying to be better about going home and spending time with them. No matter what our differences are, I should still give some effort. 

And now, since I think I did this part wrong, I'll also be giving a sample of my no prep packet as a freebie very soon, so stay tuned! Until then..


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Currently November

Wow, where in the world did October go?? I swear I must have blinked and it was November already... anyhow, I love November. I love the name of the month, I love the weather and I love the food that so often comes with this month! So on the topic of November, I spotted the "Currently" posts and though I've never linked up with another blog before or done one of these, there's always a first time for something! So, I linked up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade and here goes my currently's :)

I am currently:

Listening ... to Kelly Rowland and her album "Talk a Good Game." I hadn't listened to her too much before, even though I knew she was talented (just didn't get around to it), but one of her songs came up on one of my Pandora stations and I loved it, so I created a separate station for her and have been listening to it regularly for the past few weeks.

Loving ... the extra time I've gotten to hang out with my sister. She's been staying over at my place and it's been really nice reliving our time together, eating junk food, and watching Elementary episodes.

Thinking ... every first week of the month, we have our bulletin boards due. This month's theme is Thanksgiving, and I've already created the foundation for my board but I have yet to make it interactive, which is one requirement on the rubric (yes, we get graded on our boards) that I have yet to meet. I might just do a "flip up and ___" type of thing. We'll see.

Wanting ... I've been pretty glum lately and one of the reasons is that I've completely fallen off my workout routine. I had a great thing going the end of last year into summer, but when I started getting my half sleeve and other tattoos done, I had to take a break from working out and since then, never really got back into it like I had before. Now a handful of months later, I weigh more and feel less healthy and it's all been pretty upsetting to me. I'm wanting and wishing and trying to get back into it, but as you probably know, getting started is one of the hardest things to do. BUT, I refuse to give up. I'm going to the gym today and hoping it'll help jumpstart things.

Needing ... Grades are due this Friday, and I've been pretty good about them, except my listening/speaking and science grades, so I have to hustle and get those in. Also, the amount of papers I have to file is no joke. I spent 20 minutes filing papers this morning. It's just one of those things I actively avoid until I can't avoid it any longer because the papers are overflowing from their bins. So I need to really get on those two things, because who wants to do it all on a Friday afternoon? Not I, for sure.

Reading ... I confess to not having read much lately, so since I've been getting back into watching Elementary, I figured it'd be the perfect time for me pick up where I left off on the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I'll start with a story today on commute home.

:) Happy November, everyone!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Let's look at Verb Tenses!

This week in writing/grammar, we are moving into studying verb tenses. In order to introduce the topic, I made a packet that includes posters and hands-on practice for my students. Isn't the little nerd on the cover just precious? I just purchased Melonheadz nerd kidlette's pack of clipart, and I'm so in love with them. Any who, click on the previews below to find the resource in my store. 

In this packet, you'll find:
- Verb tense posters
- Past vs present cut and paste
- Present vs future cut and paste
- Past vs future cut and paste
- Labeling sentences (2 versions; 1 with irregular verbs)
- Verb tense sort (2 versions; 1 with irregular verbs)
- Writing sentences (2 versions; 1 with irregular verbs)

Hope this resource comes in handy for you!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Relinquishing Control in the Classroom

I was recently having a conversation with one of my grade level partners and we were discussing how we can make our students more independent and transform our classrooms so that it is basically run by the students. One way to do this is by giving students more responsibilities. I started off the school year with a handful of jobs, including paper passers, sanitizer distributors and a paper collector. As the year goes on, I introduce more jobs and allow for students to take ownership of different aspects of the day. For example, this is what my morning looks like:

After students enter the classroom, they take a seat at their desk. I start the timer for breakfast and morning work (because the times vary depending on when we get in), and as students take out their homework folders, I dismiss students by table to put their belongings away in the cubbies. A student is in charge of turning off the timer on my ipad when the alarm goes off, another student gets up and gives out table points during breakfast cleanup, and a third student manages breakfast cleanup, calling each table to throw their breakfast out. The only time I intervene is when I dismiss the tables to put their things away, and starting from next week, that task will be given to a student. 

The first 20 minutes of school is student-run, and I love it. I love seeing my students working together to help roll the day out because, as I stated before, I stress to my students that we are a team, and "Teamwork makes the dream work." So, in order to move my classroom into a student-run class throughout the day and not just in the mornings, I am giving out more responsibilities to my students starting this upcoming week. I'm going to start by handing over the job of dismissing students to their cubbies as well as calling students for transitions. In my class, we use nonverbal hand signals for all transitions and the students know them by heart now so a student could definitely take up this task. We put up 1 finger to indicate girls and 2 for boys, and then we use the following steps:

(Quick note: For transitioning from the rug to their desks, the second step, "B", changes to mean "face your destination," since there are no chairs on the rug.) 

Before you start releasing control in your classroom, it's important to have your routines and procedures set in place. If your students are still struggling with following expectations, I would work on that first before passing on the majority of the responsibilities to the students. My mornings weren't always student-run. I had to do it slowly, stepping back and allowing students to take over with my facilitation and and a handful of reminders. After practice and explicit instruction, I was able to step back and let them run the morning. Of course, we're not fully there yet, but it's my goal for my students to become more self sufficient and to help operate the day together. My hope is that by January-February, we'll have the majority of the day lead by students without me having to give constant reminders. Here's to dreaming a big dream!

How do you relinquish control in your classroom? What jobs do you have your students completing? Do you find them to be useful or more work managing?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Let's talk about Halloween + freebies!

It's Halloween week! Or rather, it's been Halloween week and I've just been a little bit too busy to blog. But fear not, I have some juicy things to talk about today! 

One of my favorite parts about our ELA block is the read alouds, and since I'm in charge of the read aloud plans for my grade level team, I chose a variety of Halloween-themed books for this week. Also as a rule with read alouds, I try to incorporate some sort of follow-up writing activity or craft. This week, I saved the crafts for our Halloween party and stuck with writing pieces. These are the books we are reading this week!

We read this story twice. The first day, we responded by completing a beginning, middle, and end graphic organizer to summarize the story and the second day, we talked about what the central message of the story was.

My students loved this book! They especially loved the "mysterious dark figure" who delivered a note to Farmer Brown :) After reading this book, we wrote our own invitations to our Halloween party to give to our families. You can grab a copy HERE.

For the two books listed above, they tell the same story of Halloween monsters getting ready for kiddy trick-or-treaters and in the end, the children get too scared because they realize the monsters aren't wearing costumes at all! So the monsters then enjoy their own party by themselves and have a great time. For the follow-up activity, we compared the two stories together and talked about how they were similar and different and then, students picked their favorite version and explained to a partner why it was their favorite.

*  *  *

Still on the topic of Halloween, quite frankly I was feeling a little lazy this year when it came to drawing my Halloween treat labels so I created some on Powerpoint using Creative Clips adorable Halloween cliparts and uploaded them in my store for your particular use. Click on the picture below to get them!

Back to the topic of read alouds, what are your favorite Halloween read alouds and activities you do with them? I know there are a ton of great ones out there and I can't wait to switch them up next year!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

New layout reveal and word problem centers!

TA-DA! This is the big surprise I was talking about in my previous post. The blog has finally gotten a makeover, thanks to the amazing Blogs Fit for Queens. I worked with Sharon closely and I have to say, I'm sure I wasn't the easiest customer to work with because I asked for so many changes here and there, but Sharon was attentive and patient with me and tweaked things as much as I requested. I would absolutely recommend purchasing a custom layout from her. She is wonderful and does equally wonderful work, as seen by this page as well as the many examples on her website. Just click on the button at the bottom of my page to check her out! Thank you again to Sharon for such beautiful work :) I am beyond happy with my new blog and can't stop staring at it. Hopefully it's as pleasing to the eyes as it is for me.

Now, moving onto all things teaching. In the month of October, my class, which we call Team 109 because we're a team, has been working on a variety of word problems, with a focus on subtraction word problems and missing addend word problems this upcoming week. Since I don't have many word problem centers, I created a quick 12-question word problem center with a fall theme. Included in the resource is a recording sheet so that you can keep your students accountable for their work. You can grab a copy at my store by clicking the photo below.

How do your students do with word problems? Do you like teaching word problems? Any struggles, tips, insights?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Doubles Troubles Flashcards Freebie!

I'm back, as promised, and with a freebie! The Common Core-aligned graphic organizers will come at another time, but I made some doubles flashcards for my class since we're working on adding fluently within 20 and wanted to share it with you all in case you could find use for it this fall. They are doubles addition flash cards to 20, meeting standard 1.OA.6 that states students should be able to add within 20 fluently. The cards are perfectly sized to introduce as a whole group, maybe in your morning meeting or even use as partner work with students when they are done with centers. They are also fall-themed, which I thought would be perfect for the weather we're in (at least here in Chicago) and included at the end of the pack is a bonus flash test for students to complete 12 doubles facts in 30 seconds. Click on the picture below, leave some feedback, and enjoy!

P.S. Something very exciting is going to be happening this week on the blog. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Alive.. ish.

I promise I'm alive. It's just been hectic and I've been going through some things that have made me recoil from all social things, including blogging. Then I had dropped my Macbook and had to go get it fixed. Well, it's finally fixed... $350 later. Sigh. So I guess this is just a little update post to say that I am indeed here and haven't abandoned this blog. I promise to be better and be back with something to share (I'm thinking some Common Core aligned graphic organizers, anyone?). See you all soon.

Much love.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Let's punctuate! Practice with telling, asking, and exciting sentences

I'm alive, I swear! I've just finished week two of school and it feels amazing. This year is truly better than all the years before; it is our third year turning around my school and we, as a staff, can really see the changes taking root in our students. I am so proud of my school. As much as we still have to go, we have made great improvements as a whole and you can really see and feel it. This year is going to be great and it has already started off on the right foot.

Speaking just about myself, I have made it a habit this year to plan and plan ahead and so it has been nonstop working to stay a few steps ahead. Of course, there are always going to be things that pop up out of the blue, but I do my best to stay prepared and it is working out well. I am so much calmer and collected this year as I get to stay in the same grade and learn to master it. It's a wonderful feeling.

Now that I've overloaded you on my good feelings, I am here to share a new resource I have been working on! I've noticed that my students have a hard time identifying what type of sentence a statement is while reading, so I created this packet that allows for students to first practice identifying types of sentences and then practice punctuating sentences once they have identified what type of sentence it is. Most of the practice worksheets have 2 versions of them so that one can be used as independent practice and one for homework or extra small group instruction. There is also a center included at the end that needs minimal prepping (print, laminate, cut) with a recording sheet. Click on the cover picture below to purchase the item.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

1st week math: number of the day

I can never figure out what to do for my math plans the first week of school. Do I dive in into the meaty stuff? Or do I start off easy, do more of a review? But then what if it's too easy? As you can tell, math isn't my best subject to teach. However, being surrounded by talented teachers (and splitting the planning with an amazing team) has allowed for me to piggyback and learn from some teachers who have a better grip on math than I do. So this year, we're starting off with reviewing numbers and number sense by doing a "number of the day". I'm sure you've all seen this before; it's nothing original but it's effective to see how much your students know about number concept and works great as an assessment for the individual components involved in completing a number of the day worksheet. I've created a number of the day worksheet that has 6 different components/ways to show the number: numeral, number word, illustrations, tally marks, ten frames, and a number sentence. After modeling doing one myself and one with my students, I'm going to have students complete these individually and then perhaps for homework as well, after I assign a number. 

You can download the freebie by clicking the picture below. Also, don't forget to leave feedback in my store! It's helpful and just makes my day a little bit brighter :)

What are you all doing for your first week math plans?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Classroom 2014 reveal!

Phew, it has been busy this past week! Teacher's institute week officially started Monday and am I glad that I finished most of the work for my classroom early. My other co-teachers are running around getting their classroom's set up and I remember what it was like to be in that position, so thank goodness I was lucky to come in early and get a head start on my room. I've actually been able to be a resource to my fellow teachers, especially the new ones, so I'm really happy that I can help in that way. It's officially finished and I thought I'd share some pictures!

My main teaching spot, which is the front of the room.
The news board is a little empty right now because I'm waiting on administration to pass out some beginning of the year forms/handouts. I have my newsletter up there so far.

View from the door: Here I have my library to the very right, which is the first thing you see when you look in from my door. Then there is my small group table with my instructional materials (since I got rid of my teacher desk, this is where I keep my materials),  a little reading nook to the left of my small group area (there's a rug you can't see) and then my technology center with four computers.

The back of my room: my technology center, my word wall, and my whole group rug area with my calendar to the left.

The left side as soon as you walk into the door: my storage cabinets, my supplies, listening center and cubbies.

A closer look at my library. Hanging in the front are these cute genre posters I got from the awesome Rachel Lamb. You can purchase them here. I totally recommend them. The green and blue bins are from Big Lots.

Hope everyone enjoys their long 3-day weekend! Happy resting, relaxing, and let's be real.. lesson planning ;)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The light's on, the teacher's busy!

Recently I was browsing Pinterest for some classroom ideas and I found this cool idea of using a push light to let students know visually when you are engaged in small groups and how they should not disturb you or your group. It also works when you're conferencing with individuals or administering assessments and need to left alone. Basically the idea is: when the light is on, the teacher is busy!

All you really need is a push light, which you can find at your local Dollar Store. I couldn't get to mine so I found identical lights on Amazon for $6 and they came in a pack of 3. You can find them here. You can use the light itself and stick it on a whiteboard where you write the little reminder to students about how the light works, but I didn't want to keep writing a reminder in my ugly handwriting (really, it's not nice) so I made a cute sign to go with it and I thought I'd share it. Here it is! Just print, laminate, stick the light in the middle, punch 2 holes and tie a string and hang it up around your small group area and viola! You have an easy-peasy way to manage those little munchkins who come up constantly during your small group instructional time.

Click the picture to download the freebie!

What are some ways you manage your small group time?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Weekly Behavior Management Sheet

I'm back with yet another freebie! I wasn't kidding when I said I loved giving freebies :) This one is a weekly behavior management sheet I pass out to my students at the end of the day during our dismissal routine. At our school, we have a 7-color behavior system and at the end of the day, students take a crayon and color/write in their color for the day in the appropriate spot and then I initial it on the side. I thought I'd offer up this freebie and made it editable in case your school has a different color system (I know some places only have 5 colors). Below the weekly chart is the editable part. As a reminder to parents, I describe what each color means and then place a note to parents about how they need to look at the sheet each day, place it back in their child's homework folder and ultimately sign the sheet by the end of the week so I can collect them. It's my way of making sure parents are actively monitoring their child's behavior. Of course, I pair this with phone calls as well, positive and instructional, but I always have parents who want to know what color their child was on and I can't always remember off the top of my head.

Click on the picture below to download your editable chart. 
(It looks fuzzy in the download tab, but I promise it doesn't when you edit and print it out.)
What are some ways you report weekly behavior?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Classroom setup rambles, a sneak peak, and number lines

I've been so busy setting up my classroom and it's slowly, but surely, coming together. But... I can't say I'm as pleased with it this year as I was last year. I had an ocean theme and it was beautiful, if I do say so; I loved being in my class because I had put in so much money and time into making it pleasing, but quite honestly, the decorations got in the way of putting up anchor charts and I regretted putting a third of the decorations up. So this year, I opted for a simple color scheme instead of a full out theme and while things generally match in my classroom, there's so much blank wall space that it bothers me. I keep trying to remind myself that I'll need that space later on, but I'm comparing my room from last year to this year and how much "less," for lack of better words, my room seems. Of course, this is all superficial rambles because everyone knows your classroom decorations do not determine how well students learn, but I already know that and because I've planned in advance for instruction, I can allow myself the energy to lament over these trivial things.

I'm such a visual person that things need to look a certain way for me or I tend to obsess over them and will spend hours drafting and tweaking little things here and there. I've been doing that for the past month or so, especially since being back in the classroom to set up because now I can actually see how things look. Perhaps I need to add more small decorations or something without taking away the wall space that I'll eventually need.. Sigh. On the other hand, I really do need to get over it and let it go just a little. After all, my classroom isn't quite done. It's still a work in progress, and I need to remind myself of that. Deep breaths, Hannah. It'll work out in the end. With that positive thought, here's a sneak peak at some of the highlights of my room.

The library/front area.
 Pom poms ready for hanging.

Fail of the day. (Actually, it's only one of the many fails of that day setting up, but it still makes me laugh).

On the topic of number posters, I spent some time creating a set of primary-colored star-themed number posters, available in my store for purchase. Just click on the picture below.

Hope everyone's set up is going smoothly, and remember: keep calm, breathe, you're amazing, and it'll work out in the end.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dolch 2nd grade practice freebie sample

Last week I created a sight word practice packet for the 2nd grade Dolch list and I've uploaded a sample of the packet for a freebie, exclusively on my blog (it won't be on TPT!). Grab your copy below by clicking the picture and enjoy!

You can purchase the full, 45-page product with all the words by clicking the picture below.

Also for sale is the primer list practice packet. Grab that here!

Hope you're all having a wonderful night!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Crayon Box that Talked Activities!

Guys, I found my new love. Brownie Brittle. Brownie brittle, guys. These things are SO addictive. With a glass of milk, they're the perfect snack... to snack on all day. I may have eaten the whole bag in one day (with the help of a hungry sister, of course). They're brownie bits but with a cookie crunch. SO good.

Okay, now onto some slightly more important things. Who's read this amazing book??

Although this book is pretty well known, for those of you who don't know it, it's about a little girl who goes into a store and purchases a box of crayons that dislike each other for no real reason. She begins to draw a picture using each color and the crayons gradually begin to see each other in a new light and realize that by working together, they can be something more: they can create a complete picture, a masterpiece. It's an adorable story that can be used to teach respect, how to get along with others, and the uniqueness of each individual. I read this every year towards the beginning of the year to set the tone for the school year and the kids love it. They really see the message loud and clear because it's so explicit.

After reading the book, I create a writing display with students decorating their own blank crayons with one thing that makes them unique and put the crayons together in a large crayon box picture labeled with our room number and my name. Search "The Crayon Box that Talked" on Pinterest and a ton of examples will show up.

Asides from making the display, I realized that I don't do that much with the book so I created a short activity packet that allows for more engagement with the book through writing and drawing. Included in the packet is:

  • I am unique because.. writing piece
  • Be the artist! Draw a picture using 5 colors. 
  • Story map: characters, setting, problem, solution 
  • Retell and illustrate the beginning, middle, and end of the story (RL.1.2 standard)
The product can be found at my store by clicking the link below. 

What are some activities you do with this amazing book? 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bathroom Break

Let's talk about the dreaded bathroom breaks. Yes, the ones where every student seems to be going every which way, while quietly (or not so quietly) whispering back and forth in the stall that they hope they'll get away with (but not quite). It's definitely one of my least favorite transitions of the day.

I've been on the search for ways to make my bathroom breaks go by faster (or just less painful) and found that using sanitizer, though not quite as sanitary, speeds up the process. My first year of teaching, I had students wash their hands with the soap, but that was always a big hassle and students were flicking soap at each other, sloshing water around, and for some reason, there never seemed to be enough soap in the dispensers so last year I switched over to the sanitizers and it worked great, for a little while. But I made the mistake of using a single, large bottle for all my students (save money), held by a student. This quickly became chaotic because everyone was lining up to get their pump of sanitizer with only one student working furiously to meet their demands. So this year, I bought two smaller bottles, 1 for the girls and 1 for the boys and got to labeling them (because I have a slight obsession).

The one on the left is the front of the bottle and the one on the right is the backside with a quick reminder. Here's to hoping bathroom break just got a little bit less chaotic!

What do you do that works for you? 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Read, Write, Make Freebieeee!

I know it's like a blogging rule not to post twice in a day, but I just felt like giving today and wanted to share a quick document I made. I'm sure most of you have seen these around, but they're basically mats that say, "Read, Write, Make" to practice sight words or spelling words. Just print and laminate and they're ready to use.

I like to tape mine onto cookie sheets so that students can make the words with magnetic letters. You can just leave them by themselves too and have students use letter tiles or even magnetic letters to make the letters (they just won't stick).

I made these with the 1st grade Dolch words, but I also included one blank one so you can include your own words. Click on the picture to get the freebie!

Don't forget to leave feedback! It's much appreciated :)

New Organized Desktop!

I finally did it. 
I revamped my desktop. 

I've had a light gray chevron wallpaper for a while now and had my files gradually multiplying on my desktop, which I hate because of how cluttered it looks even when they're neatly positioned in rows, so I got my butt on TPT to see if there were any good desktop organizers and viola! I came across the cutest wallpaper. So here's what my new desktop looks like:

I generally like my desktop to be completely bare, but let's be real, that's practically impossible. In the least, I try limit what I have on my desktop and this was the perfect wallpaper for that because it doesn't allow for too many files so it helped me to figure out what I really wanted to be easily accessible to me.

You can grab the freebie here, made by Miss Vee's Kinder Kraziness. The awesome part is that it's editable, so it's completely customizable to you and what you want. Pretty cute, eh?

I love looking at the way other people organize, so feel free to post pictures of your desktops in the comments! I'd love to see them :)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Classroom Set up & Freebie Friday??

Yesterday was my first day in the classroom to set up and I loved it. I missed being back in the neighborhood, the school, and my classroom. School doesn't technically start until the last week of August for us teachers and after Labor Day for my students, but I couldn't resist asking my principal if I could come in earlier to start setting up. I want to have most of my classroom decor and set up done before that first week of school for teachers so that I can spend that week lesson planning. So, I texted my principal and she let me come in today.

Here's what I walked into.

Sooo yeah, I had my work cut out for me. On the left side, which you can't see, was more furniture that needed to be moved and sorted. After 4.5 hours, I unboxed everything, organized all curriculum books, finished my word wall, configured and set up half of my library, put fabric on 2/3 of the bulletin boards, arranged the cubbies, sorted the supplies, laminated yards of posters, and cleaned out my cabinets. Oh! And the most exciting news is that I got rid of my teacher desk!! I had one last year but saw that some of my coworkers had so much more room without theirs and thus tried to get rid of mine but there was no space in the school. However, the custodian was awesome enough to find a space to stash mine away this year. Not bad, eh? I'm a little nervous about not having the extra storage space but ultimately excited about the space it opens up in the classroom and how it's going to force me to really keep things organized and neat. Super excited.

Now I can't go in tomorrow since they're rewaxing the floors (yay for shiny floors!), but on Monday I'm going to try to get the following done:
  1. Arrange desks and chairs
  2. Finish font bulletin boards 
  3. Put up number line 
  4. Organize the library with labels and bins
  5. Make table pom poms
I think that should be enough... Anyways, onto some FREEBIES! So I don't know if freebie Friday is a thing, but I love freebies and love giving them even more, so I thought I'd share a small something to brighten your Friday. Here are 2 binder covers, one for close reading and one for a general teacher binder (it's editable!). I posted a picture on Instagram and a fellow teacher commented on how they should be made available so here they are. Click on the pictures below to download and enjoy!

It's an editable powerpoint file that you can customize with your school name, grade level, and name.

Is anyone else getting ready to or already setting up their classrooms? Isn't it both exhausting and exciting?? 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mental Math

I've been reading a couple of educational books for some summer reading and one of the books I'm currently reading is Rafe Esquith's Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire.

It's been a very enlightening and encouraging read. Told from Rafe's experiences as a teacher who has mastered creating a classroom culture of trust and high academic achievement, he shares great tips on how to recreate a similar environment and why it's absolutely necessary. I recommend you pick up a copy, especially if you're a new teacher. It helps set you on the right path, gets you in the right mindset and shares some great tips that's easily implementable. 

One of the ideas I've taken away is a mental math warm up activity. I don't know about you, but I confess to not pushing my students enough on practicing mental math because it's often difficult for them but it's a necessary skill that will aid them for the rest of their lives. In chapter 5, "Add It Up", Rafe shares a short activity that he does with his students that caught my attention and I thought I'd share it here for teachers who'd like a quick and easy activity to get them started.

It's simple in setting up and simpler to do. Each student gets number tiles (0-9) that they keep in their desks in a baggie and they pull them out when you pose a mental math problem. 

In gist, that's about it. I've created the following pdf to help you set it up in your classrooms. Included is a little summary about the activity and the number tiles. Just print, cut, laminate and put them in baggies for your students and voila! You're 90% there already. Just teach the routines and procedures around the activity and your students will be on their way to mastering mental math. 

Click on the picture above to get the document!

How do you practice mental math in your classroom? Leave comments below if you implement something similar to this, something different or will be trying it out! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Here's to new beginnings

I've been meaning to start blogging about my teaching adventures but never seemed to have enough time, or really, never got around to it. However, with things becoming better and more stable (more on that in a later post), I feel like I could actually stick to it this time. I've recently started posting products in my Teacher Pay Teacher store and doing more and more to prepare for the school year, so this might just be the perfect time for me to start my blog. So here goes to documenting my many silly, crazy, and all kinds of wonderful moments to come as a teacher. 

P.S Ignore the very simple template. My custom design template should be coming in September :)