Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lunch Count, Exhaustion and Frogs

Well, I've finished the second day of school and exhaustion doesn't even begin to describe it.  I know you're all right there with me.  Why is it that it takes a week for your feet and ankles to get back in the rhythm of teaching?  Man oh man, do I need a looooong hot bath!!!

I wanted to share what I did with the clothes pins we use for lunch sign up.  As a grade level, all five classrooms decided on the same system for lunch count, and behavior.  We have numbered book pockets in our classrooms with four colored cards inside:  blue, green yellow and red.  Students move a color if they aren't making wise choices.  Each kiddo has a numbered clothes pin that clips on their pocket that they move to their lunch choice for the daily lunch count.  I decided that my hand numbered clothes pins needed a little color and personality.  I printed names and numbers for each student and glued them on a piece of card stock and laminated it.

I then cut them apart using my handy dandy old-school chopper that I found at a garage sale for five bucks.  SCORE!!!

Next I hot glued them on to the clothes pins.  Ta-da.  Colorful, numbered and personalized clothes pins.  The pins start the day on each child's pocket.

(Bonus:  How many patterns can you find on the student pocket wall?  It's things like this are the reason I LOVE math!)  When they come in every day, they move their clip to their lunch choice.  I write the daily choices on sticky notes.
 I made these charts out of scrap book paper I found in the dollar section of Target.

How many of you have heard the dreadful words, "I don't know how I'm getting home!" two minutes before the bell rings?  Last year, there seemed to be an epidemic of forgetful students.  Then I'm running around like a crazy woman at the last minute calling parents while trying to get 22 kiddos packed up and ready to go.  This year, I decided to give myself a little advanced warning, and decided to make a chart showing how everyone gets home.  When we get back from lunch, kids move their clip from the lunch sign up column to the going home column.  This gives me a leisurely afternoon to make calls if a kiddo isn't sure how they will be getting home.

I think I will like this system, and I really like the bright yellow, cheerful clips.

Now, on a more serious note.  Please remember never to eat frogs.  I was reminded today with this bit of wonderful advice from a student.
HA!!!  Isn't that the cutest thing ever!!!  It just made my day and I smile every time I think about it.  We had been working on a page from Ashleigh's Back to School Book. www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Back-to-School-Book (sorry, you'll just have to copy and paste.  I couldn't get the darn link to work and I am just too tired to keep trying....) as part of our get to know each other activities.  Yep.  This is why we teach.  I can already tell this little guy is going to be a hoot this year.  I love my job.  What humorous things have your kids shared with you lately?

Good luck with a new year.  If you are already back in the classroom, I hope your days are wonderful ones.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mrs. Spitzer's Garden

I don't know what I was thinking, but I decided to clean out every nook and cranny of my classroom.  I'm determined to be streamlined and organized this year.  The only problem......

it has to get worse.......

much worse.........

before it gets better.

I emptied all the cabinets along the wall and reorganized.  It's starting to feel much better, and I can actually see the surface of three tables.  I'll share pics soon.....hopefully of the finished room.  We have meet the teacher Friday afternoon, so I've got to get BUSY!!!!

While organizing, I came across one of my favorite books.  I try to read it every year at the beginning and the end of each school year.  It's Mrs. Spitzer's Garden by Edith Pattou.


Each year, Mrs. Spitzer is given a packet of seeds from her principal.  She tends here garden, plants and waters the seeds, and keeps the pests and weeds away.  Some "grow quickly, pushing upward, eager, impatient," others "grow more slowly, unfolding themselves bit by bit."  The book has the most wonderfully whimsical illustrations by Tricia Tusa.  The seeds are really her new crop of kiddos for the coming year.  They each grow differently and have different needs, but bloom and shine by the end of the year, when Mrs. Spitzer hangs up her gardening equipment until she gets the next packet of seeds.  I love this book.  It was given to me my second year of teaching when I was named Teacher of the Year at my campus.  My co-workers wrote the most wonderful, inspiring notes in it.  It is very special to me, and I love to re-read it every year.  I get excited to see those wonderful seeds I have the honor of tending.  I can't wait to see their faces.  But one thing is for sure.......I've got to get their classroom in order so the weeds don't overtake us all by the end of the first day!!!!  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I Just Can't Resist a Good Container

Is it just me?  When I see a container, I see possible potential.  I just MIGHT be able to use it for something someday.  I'll admit, it's a bit of an addiction.  My hubby thinks my problem might be classified with the level of hoarder, but I disagree completely!!! If only he could appreciate my visions for these containers as nothing short of pure genius.  ;)  Well, I did it.  I finally figured out how to use the Crystal Light containers I've been hoarding saving for months.

I use pop-cycle sticks with the kids name on them to draw names to answer questions.  This keeps them on their toes because they could be called at any time share their knowledge.  (okay, okay, I'll admit it.  I sometimes tweak my level of questioning depending on whose name I call.)  I really liked this system, but the problem I had was I didn't have anywhere to put the sticks of the kids I had already called.  If I put them back in the cup I used, I would call them again before their classmates had a chance to be called on.  If I laid them down, I would have to go back and gather them from the various places I set them down as I moved around the room.  At last, those Crystal Light container came to my rescue.

I taped two containers together using colored electrical tape to go with my color coded homeroom system.  I cut a hole in one of the lids and wrote "Have Been Drawn" on the lid.  When I pull a stick and call on a kiddo, I put it in the have been drawn side.  When the side I am drawing from is empty and the lidded side is full, I move the lid to the empty container, and I'm ready to go again with one side full of sticks ready to be drawn.  This has worked great for me, and helps me to be sure I have called on everyone. 

So tell me.  What containers do you save and how have you used them?  Please tell me I'm not the only one that hoards, is addicted to, is obsessed with, ingeniously saves containers.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Procrastinate Now and a Freebie

Hmmm.  I really could really procrastinate one more day, but nope, I'm ready to get back to business.  I finally got up to my classroom and started putting things back into place and trying to find the surfaces of the counter. This is what I saw when I went in.....

Yeah, I was a little overwhelmed when I walked in the room, but I am so excited to get everything ready for the new year.  The biggest road block of the day?  I am going to have to redo some of the labels on my teacher's toolbox.  Some of the supplies didn't fit the way I had expected.  I mean, seriously, I could only fit two lipsticks in that cubbie!!!

I wanted to share something that helps me to stay a bit more organized. I teach Math and Science and my partner teacher teaches Reading/ELA.  That means I teach my lessons twice a day to two different homerooms, so I gave each class their own color to help me keep them organized.  Green means my homeroom and my partner's homeroom is blue.  We have another team of two teachers and their colors are orange and pink.  I keep class checklists ready that are color coded to my two groups.  I use them for EVERYTHING!!!  I check off when they bring report cards back, turn in field trip money, or parent permission slips. 

I also use them for student assignment organization.  I assign each student a number and they put their number at the top right corner of their paper with the initial of their homeroom teacher in front.  So the # 4 student in my homeroom would have a G4 and the # 4  student in my partner's homeroom would have H4 in their corner.  After the kids have turned in their papers  (to the class trays that are color coded with green and blue) I put the papers in number order.  I can then easily check them off on the check list to see if I am missing any papers.  Then I clip the checklist and the papers together, with a color coded clip of course. :)  I love this system.  I can tell at a glance which stack belongs to which homeroom, and who owes me an assignment.  I will then put that kiddo's name on my make-up work board with, you guessed it, color coded expo.  I'm sharing the check off
list word document with you. It was easy to make and you could do it in a snap but I hope this helps you out.  I think I saved it so it is editable Word document.  If not, let me know.  This is my first attempt to upload and link to google documents.

                                                      Cross you fingers and....

                                                          ... CLICK HERE

Tomorrow, I'll share my containers for the pop-cycle sticks I use to call on students.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Parent Involvement - Family Art Night

I just love to walk in the front door of my school.  The PTA at my elementary school does a wonderful job of getting parents involved.  One of the events they have is a Family Art Night.  Students and their families decorate ceiling tiles for our building.  I love how inviting and kid friendly it makes our halls. 

Kiddos are given a square piece of brown paper and art supplies.  They can use their imagination to create a masterpiece.  The paper is then attached to ceiling tiles in a checkerboard pattern.  We've got some ingenious artists out there!!!  Here's a couple of my favorite.

A couple of years ago the PTA brought each teacher on campus a blank tile and asked us to paint it any way we wanted to show something about our personality or subject.  They wanted to put them on the ceiling right outside our classroom doors.  Ummmmm...wait a minute.  We aren't artists.  In fact, most of us are very artistically challenged when it comes to something that will be displayed for all the world to see.  You can't believe how nervous we were.  We agonized over what to do with our tiles for days.  We just thought getting our kiddos prepared for the state assessment was nerve wracking!!!  One of us even hired an artistic room mom to paint hers.  We finally decided to make a paint party out of it and planned a couple of days after school to get together and paint our tiles.  You know, they really weren't half bad all said and done.

I used to paint some to relax.  Of course that was YEARS ago in my pre-chasing three boys around life.  Surely I could pull this off, right?  I have a poster in my classroom that has one white daisy and one yellow daisy and reads, no two flowers bloom exactly alike.  I love that poster.  It reminds me just how differently each kiddo learns.  I decided to use that for my inspiration.  The final result???

                                                                   Drumroll please.....

I was pretty pleased with the end result.  Of course I won't share with you the embarrassing number of weeks, days, hours I spent on it.  I wanted my new blog to show something about my personality, so after weeks of thinking about what to name my blog I decided to use my painted tile as my inspiration.  I even emailed the pic to Misty and Erica and Honey Bunch Blog Designs so they could get an idea of what I had in mind.  I got to see a sneak peek last night.  It is going to be so AWESOME!!!!  I am so excited to have the new and improved design up and running.

Hope the family ceiling tile night gives you some ideas for your own campus.  Happy Monday!!!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hello Blog World!!!

Well, here goes.....    I'm actually starting my own blog.  Yes, I know it is plain, plain, plain right now.  I am having the amazingly talented girls at Honey Bunch Blog design my new blog for me, but I decided to go ahead and take the plunge with my first post. 

I am a 3rd grade Math and Science teacher.  This will be my eleventh year to teach and I absolutely LOVE spending my days with my kiddos.  Math is another love.  I remember being teased when I was a kid because I loved math class so much.  HA! There is nothing more rewarding then when a student looks at me and exclaims, "WOW, Math is really fun now!"  I just want to squeeeeze them with joy!

I am happily married and have three sons who have grown into the most wonderful young men.  Boy, do I love these guys. Would you just look at those handsome three.

I also have an incredible grown daughter and son-in-law and four of the most precious grand-kids known to man.

I've been stalking teacher blogs for several months and I am so excited to be able to share my ideas and my classroom with you!!  Hopefully you'll find me, follow me, and stalk me too!!  = )