Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas All!!!

Oh hey friends! I wanted to pop in and wish all of you a Merry Christmas! We're still always sunny over in my windowless classroom.  I have a week of break left and I am so thankful to have this time to spend with family and Cami, catch up on tv shows, nap, and work out (bahahaha did you catch that joke there).

But, seriously, today is Christmas and God is so good! Another year gone by...crazy cakes! Did I meet the man of my dreams this year? Who knows...if I did I'm not aware yet. Did I buy a house...nope still with my mama. Did I get really fit and run that half marathon...nope added some muffin to my top and definitely didn't run. Nothing spectacular or fire work worthy happened. 2013 just was...but thank God it WAS! 2013 was peaceful, quiet, comfortable and good. I know that every year in my life won't be good. Some years fireworks are gonna shoot high and I'll be happy dancing more than napping and some years are going to suck and be hard, chaotic, stressful and sad. So I'll take this year of plain good and ill treasure it and use it as a reminder that just good is good enough...even with a muffin top.

Whether your year had fire works, tears or maybe a little of both, I pray you feel blessed beyond words and thank Him for his grace, love and sacrifice.



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Comparison Subtraction and a Candy Corn Overdose

If your fall has been anything like are running on overdrive teaching super crazy rigorous Common Core standards, while trying to fit in fun fall activities, while wearing a scarf and sipping on a pumpkin latte.

This time of the year always brings the dreaded COMPARISON SUBTRACTION train to our math unit. ugh. gross. It is honestly one of the most difficult concepts to get 6 year old students to grasp.  They can easily tell me who has more or who has less, but ask them how many more or how many less...blank stares, crickets, cute "I don't know" smiles. I can see their frustration...I can feel their frustration.  Its just one of those things. But giving up is not an option in first grade!!!! So, we bought stock in bags of candy corn @ Target, made an entire bundle of small group games, and practiced until our heads (and stomachs) hurt...and in some cases, we fell asleep.

If you are having the same fall dilemma with these tricky skills, hop on over to my TPT store, or click below, to purchase. 

This pack includes: 

-Candy Corn Comparison Subtraction word problems with work mat
-Bobbing for Apples Comparison Subtraction Match Up (students will play concentration to match comparison word problems with the corresponding subtraction equation)
-Candy Corn Grab Bag (Students draw candy corn numbers out of a bag and decide who has more and how many more)
-Caramel Apple Hunt Match and Record (Students match a comparison subtraction word problem with a subtraction equation and record on the recording sheet)
-Roll and Compare 
-Comparison Subtraction Homework Sheet

Enjoy your last week of October friends! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

I Think I'm Catching On!

Hi friends! I hope you are doing well...I feel like I can finally breathe again because the semester is over and I have two whole months (COUNT THEM) two whole months without college!!!! College kind of sucks the "I am on fire with blogging, creating, sharing, etc." life out of me.  So I apologize for being a "sporadic" blogger.

We're off today, as are all MD teachers, due to the MSDE conference taking place.  Yesterday, we had an all day, countywide inservice that focused mainly on CC ELA.  Now I have to admit, my nerdy self actually really enjoyed this inservice....and yes partially because Shafer was a presenter....but still!   Common Core professional development started my first year of teaching, and I didn't listen...AT ALL. because I was too overwhelmed with what I had to teach that day, I couldn't even begin to think about what I'd teach the following year. Then last year, I was forced to listen because we were knee deep in this thing and really still didn't know what I was doing....something wasn't clicking.  I had the "fake it till you make it" mentality until finally I got in a groove and realized Common Core was a good thing, it was working, and I could do this. However, I will admit, I left in-services last year frustrated, angry and stubborn.  They want us to do what?  How can I do that with my group of kids?  Really Common Core?

Now, in the midst of my third year, the pieces are falling together.  I see the methods behind the madness.  I know the standards. And I'm implementing CC more naturally and without a lot of thinking.  Is this done seamlessly?  NO. Am I a pro yet? NO But, I will say I left the in-service yesterday excited to use tools I learned about.  More close reading strategies....yes, I need those!  Videos on how to conduct text talks....sweet, give me more!

This morning, I was up early (God knows why) and immediately picked up my computer to get some planning done for the upcoming week.  As I was tweaking an ELA lesson, without thinking, I created a new writing prompt for the read aloud that day.  Curious, I went back to look at the writing prompt I had already created my first year of teaching and used again last year.  There was no "I'll just use the old one because its already created" honestly, there wasn't even much thinking put into changing the prompt.  It had to be done.

Can you see the difference?  If you can, you're catching on too!!!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Classroom Tour...Better Late than Never!

Hi friends!  My enthusiasm for blogging and creating came to a screeching halt on August 27th.  Wowzaaaa this is going to be a year to remember....full of crazy common core days, awesome adventures, and college, college, college. But guess what!  After this year I (fingers crossed) have tenure!  (insert choir of angels singing....HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH) So I may be sparse this year, but know I'm still kicking it in a windowless classroom!

Enjoy the tour!

Our schedule is cray cray this year, so I made magnetic circles that are super easy to change kiddos will say on the regular, "how many circles do we have left?" 
My math/everyday board. This includes lunch choices, date, addition strategy posters, and our problem solving apple tree. I put my math manipulatives here for easy accessibility this year...the blue, pink and green bins are where I put the three math rotation activities each day. Also, I love my new fabric for my stools!
My social studies board was pretty blank when I started school, but it is up and running now!  I hot glued ribbon to each of my letters on my alphabet so I can clothes pin my weekly words as they are taught.
The card system worked really well for me last year, so I stuck with it this far so good!
This is my fav!  My reading nook has my reading board, read to self and read to someone bins, and my custom built bookcase!  I hang the theme, pictures of the story covers, CC standards and high frequency words each week.
Writing corner time....I try to utatlize every nook and cranny in this tiny box of a classroom.
This dry erase board has become my BFF. For real. It is fabulous.  I use it for every lesson.  The kids love writing on it and it is so easy to quickly model when the Smart Board gets mad at me and we need a break from each other, I won't have to waste hundreds of sheets of chart paper!
"In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whoever I want to be..."  I was Cinderella in our school musical...don't judge. I do love me some teacher desk cubby hole time.  The placement of the filing cabinet really makes me feel like I have my own space, and my kids know that is my space. 
Can you say holy desk skirt??? My mom is AMAZING.  She made this little ditty and velcroed that baby up. Ugly desk turned cute.  Magic. 
Curtains for fake windows?  Why, yes I think I will. 
With our crazy schedule and the rigor of common core, we barley have time for a routine calendar time during the day.  I try very hard to do this daily, but there is only so much I can do :( My weekly calendar helper will change things, even if we don't have time to do this as a whole group. 
Itty bitty lap top desk!  Squeezed between a wall and a what?  Its space and I used it!
Probably 76% of my day is spent sitting at this small group table, so pillow to match my desk skirt was a must. A mini dry erase board is a necessity too for SPED, ESOL or anyone working with a small group. 
Math games organized by unit and extra math manipulatives. 
Another amazing mom creation!  I needed a space where I could store not so cute, not so organized or not so tidy pretend its oz and don't step behind the curtain. 
Cubbies, a little touch of home decor, and my favorite bees!
Table caddies filled with scissors, glue, pencils, crayons, 100's charts and number lines. I put washi tape on all of the caddy materials so I know what is mine.  Each table will get a table tally if all materials are in place at the end of the day. 
We have been in school for almost a month and I am O-FISH-ALLY exhausted....but I'm gonna keep on swimming :) 

Monday, August 19, 2013

We Painted, We Sewed, We Built.

I had a funny moment today where I laughed at myself out loud...for thinking classroom set up got easier your third year.  HA. HA. HA.  I'm sure it would be easier if I didn't want to redo everything, every year.  Needless to say, I'm tired and a little stressed.

An empty classroom is inspiring and exciting.  A set up and finished classroom is amazing.  A classroom in the process of being set up with things EVERYWHERE and you working for 8 hours and feeling like nothing was accomplished....that's stressful.  But this is my kind of stress.  I live for it.

This is how my mind and life work....

I didn't want my teacher toolbox to be blue I painted it pink.

I didn't want my curtains for my fake window to be fake my mom sewed me real ones.

I was not even a little bit happy with the book shelf situation in my my Daddy custom built me one this weekend.

I needed a table for the two laptops in my room....we found an old one in the shed and the sister repainted it.

I needed smaller stools to fit the above said table, but they don't make small stools for above said we bought regular ones and Dad cut the legs off. 

Moral of this post written out of pure family is exhausted, they wish I weren't so type A, and I am extremely blessed to have them.  Another moral is that my room is not done quite yet, but I will post pics as soon as I am happy with it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Now Teach! I love me some organization!

Ok guys, I'm super excited because I eat, sleep and breath organization.  Seriously, my mom always knew when I was stressed growing up because I'd be awake organizing and cleaning (OCD much?!?!) But seriously, organizing is something you can control.  So when your day in the classroom seems chaotic, rest assured your instructional materials are not. It truly is calming.

I am by nature neat and organized, but my true love and need for organization in the classroom came from Shafer. She was like the Mr. Miyagi of classroom organization.

Now, I will say, there are things that I slip up on, get sloppy with, and forget about.  Typically, these are the things that during the school year are just too much to tackle and they get labeled "that will be my summer project." This year, that happened to be my LA and Math game bins.

So, here are some things that keep me sane throughout the year....

1. GO BUY A LABEL MAKER...enough said.

2. Get your binder on!  Have a binder for everything....I'm serious, its a game changer.  I am soooo excited to get to school and print and stock my binders for the year with all the Common Core goodies I need.  

3. Bins and Labeling! I have an obsession with organizational bins, anything that's a cute color that can hold something, I buy.  Its a problem. But seriously, bins and labels! 

 4. Keep your desktop neat and tidy...nothing gives me hives more than a desktop that has things not in folders. eeeek!  It breeds anxiety.

You can't see it very well, but I have a folder for each subject, a TPT folder, a school year folder and a "to print" folder (this is my favorite).  When I know I need to print something, as I'm planning the night before, I drag and drop to this folder so in the morning I don't forget to print!

5. Milk crates, zip locks and hanging file folders. This was my summer project and I'm so excited to use them this year!  This is a trick of the trade I learned from's so simple, but so amazing!

Print, laminate and organize all of your games/activities and store them in big ol' Ziplocks.  Then, label (with above said label maker) the bags with what unit or theme the game/activity is from.  Now, in your milk crate, label and organize hanging file folders for each theme, subject, or unit.  Stick your labeled Ziplocks in their designated spot, and holy moly its a life changer.

EXTRA EXTRA! And guys I finally jumped on board with this last year....get your kiddos organized DAY 1!  Set the example and give them incentives.  I was skeptical, but this so works!  There are tons of amazing ones of these on TPT.  I created my own last year that worked with my class.  Check out the post where I introduce here.  Also, for teacher week, grab it for free below!
Link up and rock out this Teacher Week.  Tomorrow is my first day back to work. I have to be a geek and say I am soooo excited!  My mom took off work and her, J and I will be setting up tomorrow. All of the summer printing, labeling and laminating will finally be put to work tomorrow!


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