Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tell Me More Linky, New Year's Resolutions, and more!

Normally I post a Monday Made It on Monday, but due to my being out of town last week the only thing I made was a huge pile of laundry. But, do not be dismayed! On my trip I saw so many link ups that I was unable to participate in that I have loaded this post with them. First up: Amy at Step Into 2nd Grade is hosting the Tell Me More Linky Party.  I've enjoyed reading all of the other posts so here goes....

1.  Hubs and I were engaged after just ONE date!  We met in Alaska, talked on the phone for about 6 months, saw one another for about 12 hours where he met my family, and were engaged the next day on an airplane somewhere between Baton Rouge and Dallas.

2.  My first year teaching was in Tacoma, Washington.  One day on the way home I was sitting at a red light (right next door to my school) when all of a sudden 5 unmarked police cars pulled up, cops jumped out and pulled guns and pointed them at the store right where I was sitting.  Needless to say, I ran the red light.

3.  That same year, I experience a 7.5 earthquake during the school day.  It was quite terrifying given the fact that we lived at the base of Mt. Rainier.

4.  I live in the South, but I think I was misplaced.  If given a choice as to where I would live, I would choose the Oregon coast hands down. 

New Year's Resolutions Linky
My blog friend, Amanda, over at Teaching Maddeness is hosting a New Year's Resolution linky this week.  Like her, I normally don't make resolutions.  I have a very difficult time keeping them.  I am really good for a few days, but then I completely fall off of the wagon.  But, I do a little goal setting for the new school year.

This year I plan to...

1.  Disconnect by 7:00 pm each night.  I have a bad habit of staying on the computer, iPad, etc. until it is time to go to bed.  This year, I am planning on unplugging early to spend quality time with the hubs.

2.  Leave the building by 5:30 pm.  I did NOT do this last year.  My day began EARLY - I was in the building at 6:30 and very often stayed until almost 7 and sometimes later.  Terrible, terrible, terrible!  I had NO life last year.  I plan on reclaiming it this year.  That means working smarter.

3.  Do ALL Grading in the building.  This may be hard for me to do, but I plan on maximizing all of my time - all of those planning periods, early mornings, etc.

I refuse to make any more than 3 because that is just too many for me to handle.  Join us over at Amanda's to share your resolutions.

To Do List Linky...

The beginning of the year is often overwhelming to me, even after teaching for 12 years.  My to do list is a MILE long and continues to grow and grow and grow.  I don't think I ever finish adding to it, but I ultimately prioritie and end up giving up on some glorious ideas.  This year, Lorraine from Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies has provided me with the PERFECT  way to get myself organized.  She is hosting a To Do List linky party. I saw it last week, but I was out of town and unable to add my ideas.  But, I'm back and the way my schedule is over the next 3 weeks, if I don't have a to do list, I'll never make it.

To Do List:
1.  Cover bulletin boards with black fabric.
2.  Create borders with tissue paper.
3.  Purchase hot glue sticks for some of my bulletin board features.
4.  Organize library and book baskets.
5.  Purchase an oil pan for my beginning of the year board.
6.  Start and finish iHelp board.
7.  Create birthday board (take pictures later)
8.  Nametags
9.  Binder pages
10.  iPad Expectations posted
11. Word Wall letters
12. Technology Timeline
13.  Engineer of the Month board
14. Get grocery bags for school supplies
15.  Make 1st day frame
16.  Make new teacher's stool
17.  Organize costume box
18.  Pick up Teacher's Editions for new curriculum
19.  Teach 3 more technology classes.
20.  Student Work area
21.  Writing Center

I'm sure things will be added this week.  I have a TON to do and LOTS of ideas.   Heading to check my Pinterest board now!

Head over to check out Lorraine's to do list or Link Up!

Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wow to Williamsburg...

This past week I have been in Colonial Williamsburg with the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute. One word sums it up...AMAZING! We spent the week completely immersed in all things 18th century (before the Revolution = British colony). I lived in a colonial house on Duke of Gloucster Street that Thomas Jefferson stayed in, we Led the streets George Washington and John Adams strolled, and ate in taverns where all 3 dined. To say it was overwhelming to experience that much history would be an understatement. At this moment, I am sitting on the floor in the Charlotte, North Carolina airport waiting for my flight home. Look for upcoming posts about my experience and ideas for your classroom in the coming weeks.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Guilty Pleasure Linky Party...

I am so excited to be joining Ashley from The Resource Room Teacher this week for her Guilty Pleasures Linky Party. 

I've blogged about a few of my guilty pleasures on my personal blog, but not here.  So here it goes.


1.  Dunkin Donuts Coffee - I've lived on the West Coast and while I was there, I was a Starbucks snob by default.  However, over the years, I can't handle the bitterness of their coffee.  When I lived in Seattle, I only ordered their white chocolate mochas or a latte so I didn't taste the bitterness, but I don't drink those anymore.  When I started drinking regular coffee, the Starbucks brand was terrible - even their new Blonde Roast. So, I tried Dunkin.  Honestly, I tried Dunkin because it was the ONLY coffee shop near my house in South Carolina.  I was so thankful that my little town finally had matured.  I stop almost every morning to get a cup of French Vanilla Roast with cream and sugar.  Yum!  I haven't had many this summer though because I've been being frugal and brewing my own.  (Still trying to perfect the perfect cup)

2.  The Bachelorette  - I know, I know - no one should watch this trash, right?  At least that is what hubs says.  I can't help it though.  I'm drawn in like a moth to a flame.  And we all know what happens to that moth when it gets in the flame.  I love the drama - the whining guys, the crazy women, and this season, I'm loving that Emily has guts to tell 'em like it is.

3. Burt's Bees Chapstick, Carmex, lipgloss, etc. -Every winter coat has a tube, every pocketbook, and some have about 4 or 5.  I'm headed to Williamsburg this week and made sure that I have about 5 tubes to get me through the week.  I don't think I've ever finished a tube, but I love them anyway.  I don't go anywhere without a tube and often find it in the washing machine because it has been stuffed in a pocket.  I buy a tube almost every time I go shopping.


4.  Mexican Coca-Cola - I love my Mexican coca-cola.  It is sweetened with cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup.  You can find it at a little restuarant in my town and a Hispanic grocery store by the case.  For Christmas a few years ago, my hubs bought me an entire case for myself.  Love that guy.  But, there is NOTHING like an ice cold coca cola on a hot day.  Even better if it is poured over crushed ice.

Head over to The Resource Room and check out the linky party.

Blog Title

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blog Award

Wow, I have to say that I am impressed with all of the teachers in the blogosphere this week.  My little space of the world went from 6 followers last week to 31 this week.  Thank you for making a girl feel loved.

Speaking of feeling loved, Ms. Goodwin over at ilive2learilove2grow awarded The Loop the Versatile blogger award.  I am so humbled.  Thank you Ms. Goodwin.

There are a few rules to this award that I must at least try to follow.  I know that MANY of the blogs I read have received it recently, so I don't know if I'll be able to get 10.

Versatile Blogger Award:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their site.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5-10 other bloggers, include their link, and let them know. (I will be breaking this one because I already received the award, but could not figure out how to show the button in my sidebar).

7 Random Facts About Me
1.  This is my 13th year of teaching.
2.  I am horrible at Scrabble.  My husband is AMAZING and kicks my tail EVERY time.  I'm not talking by 20 points, more like 200 points.
3.  I'm an obsessive reader.  I hate to leave books that are unfinished.  So, usually in the summer I stay up until the break of dawn finishing books.
4.  My Jack Russel Terrier, Taku, is spoiled rotten. He even lets me hold him and rock him.
5.  I drive a red Mazda Miata convertible.  It's my "I Can't Have Children" car.
6.  I met my husband in Alaska.  We had one date and decided to get married.
7.  I absolutely hate cooking.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tech on Tuesday...Chicktionary

When I first received my iPad, I went into download mode like crazy.  If the app was free, I tried it out.  If I didn't like it, I had no money invested and very little time, so I simply deleted it.  As I matured in my iPad app search, I began seeking out apps that allowed my students to create so I didn't download any games.  However, I've discovered a way to use gaming in my classroom and I cannot wait to share how to use Chicktionary.

Last Year
The most obvious way to use this little word game in your classroom is reinforcement for spelling or words.  Students rearrange chickens with letters to form words.  We did this in my classroom and turned it into a little competition between students.  Who could generate the most words?  It was motivating and engaging.

This Year
ALL of my students will have their own iPad so it will be really easy to implement this new idea.This year I plan to use this in math.  I'm moving to 4th grade and my standards include mean, median, and mode.  Students will play the 3 minute fast play round to create words.  After the 3 minutes, students will graph their score.  Students will repeat this 2 more times for a total of 3 graphing each time. 

After playing 3 rounds, I will introduce the concept of mean, median, and mode.  We will then use the data that was collected to calculate mean, median, and mode.  Students will graph the class averages and we will crown a Chicktionary king or queen.

After teaching the concept, students will then have opportunities to repeat this same sort of activity using other games such as Angry Birds, Temple Run, etc.

Gone are the days of using fake test scores to determine mean, median, and mode.

I had planned on sharing a recording sheet, but I haven't determined the End Use agreement for clipart and I haven't created any of my own :(

Stay in the Loop

Monday, July 23, 2012

Made It Monday...

If this posted correctly, I'm currently in Williamsburg, Virginia at the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.

Technically, I haven't made anything this week other than a huge mess.  I did get a few housekeeping things done for my class this year, but that is about it.

1.  Word Wall Words - I'm changing grade levels (moving to 4th) so that means new word wall words.  I decided to get a jump on things and print them ALL out before school ended.  Talk about a daunting task.  I went through 3 packs of colored card stock.  Each word under a letter is supposed to be on a different color of paper.  I have to fudge it because the letter T had 27 words.  So, if the color duplicates I'll just add a pattern around it.  Anyway, I had to cut all of those bad boys out this week.  I figured that while I was sitting in my recliner catching up on Days of Our Lives I could be useful.  Can we say painful?  I don't even have a picture to show what the pile looks like.  The next step will be to organize the words by week.

2.  Back to School Packet - I had copies left over at the end of the year on my printer so I used them to get ready for this year.  I printed out my back to school letter, Meet the Teacher information, Student Questionnaire, etc. This week I organized it all.

3.  Engineering Design Process - See the back wall of this houses my Engineering Design Process gears.  I loved them last year, but when I went to take them off of the wall, the foam ripped, so I'm spending some time redoing them for the coming year.  I loved the bright colors and plan on repeating the same style.  The only thing that may change is the size of the letters.

**I would love to be linking up with Fourth Grade Frolics, but since I'm out of town and the link is not up yet, I can't.  Will do when I return.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop...

Since my blog is relatively new, I've been focusing my efforts into connecting with other bloggers in cyberspace. Linky parties and blog hops are a great way to get your name out, but also a great way to make connections with other teachers. I've met so many new blog friends along the way and have found fabulous ideas for my classroom this year. Today, I'm linking up with Janis at Grade Three is the Place for Me for her Newbie Blog Hop.  She posted a few questions for her participants to answer:

1.  What state are you in?  I'm in South Carolina currently.

2.  Your current teaching position:  I'm currently moving to 4th grade, but I spent the last year at 2nd.  I'm at a STEM school in SC.

3.  Teaching Experience:  This will be my 13th year.  Over this time I've taught 2nd-5th grades.  I've only spent 2 consecutive years at a grade level. 

4.  When did I start blogging?  I've blogged for about 7 years personally and I've been off and on with my teaching blog over the years.  This year I decided to bite the bullet and really focus on my teaching blog.  I jumpstarted it in June.

5.  Share a blogging tip:  Be honest, but not too honest.  You never know who will land on your blog.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Must Have Picture Books Linky

One of the things that I love most about being in Elementary Education is that my obsession for children's books is completely justified.  I mean, you can't have just one, right?  Over 12 years of teaching, I have my favorites that I go to EVERY year regardless of the grade level I am teaching.  I LOVE reading to my kiddos and I hope they love to hear the stories that I share.

The Teacher's Wife is hosting a picture book linky this week and as a result of the linky there is an amazing resource for picture books.  I can't wait to actually sift through all of the amazing blog posts.  Here are my favorites:

The Recess Queen
I absolutely ADORE this picture book.  I use it at the beginning of the year with my students when building community within our classroom.  I've also used it to teach point of view in writing with my 4th and 5th graders.  Students rewrite the story from a different point of view.  I've even dressed up as Mean Jean in my classroom when we did the Hot Seat.

A Bad Case Of Stripes - Library Edition
Another favorite is A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.  This was an ALL-TIME favorite of my kiddos this year.  As a matter of fact, I used this today when teaching a group of teachers. I love the message that is portrayed through the precious story: Be yourself.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch (Reading Rainbow)
Meanwhile Back at the Ranch is one of my favorite read alouds simply because I am able to use a little country twang to engage my students.  They eat it up every time I read it. I use this book to teach transitions in writing in my room. 

Head over to The Teacher's Wife to check out the other books that are listed.
The Teacher Wife

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tech on Tuesday...Pocketbooth Writing

One of my favorite subjects to teach is writing.  I love the freedom and creativity it affords to me as a teacher, but also to my students.  When I look at the way that I was taught writing, I really cannot remember lessons focused on specific craft techniques.  Never did anyone talk to me about developing an idea or adding voice to a piece.  I was always instructed to follow the 5 paragraph essay model (under much scrutiny here lately).  I don't know about you, but I very rarely use a 5 paragraph essay when I am writing.  

A few years back, I had the opportunity to become an official 6 + 1 Traits of Writing trainer.  I boarded the plane and headed out to the Pacific Northwest where Education Northwest is located.  We met at Cannon Beach, Oregon (my favorite place in the world), and immersed ourselves in all things writing for an entire week.  I ate it up like a spoon.  Being on the beach also contributed to my happy disposition, but that is a story for later.  When I left the training, I had a much better understanding of what writing could and should look like in my classroom.  

Out of all of the traits, I enjoy teaching Voice the most.  This is where a writer's personality really shines.  I love to read the pieces of my students and hear their emotion and flair.  Over the past few years, I have spent a lot of time on this trait because I feel like it is very important.  We've all read pieces that were difficult to get through and dry.  Honestly, that is one of the things that motivates me in teaching voice.  I am tired of reading writing that has no pizzazz.  Up until this year, I did all of this without using technology, but this year was different.  

Enter the iPad. I purchased a fun little app called Pocketbooth.  Basically Pocketbooth is a tool for creating photostrips just like the photobooth machines found at the mall, amusement parks, etc.  I have an entire box of those strips from my youth.  I loved them and still do.  So, I wanted to use this little gem of an app.  I think I paid 99 cents for it and I have definitely received a good return on my investment.

After showing my class the ins and outs of the app, I let them loose.  Their task:  Take a photo strip that shows 4 different emotions.  (I wish that I had videoed that step in the process.  They were hilarious.)

Hope you can get the gist of the pictures without his eyes.

After taking the photo strip, we printed them out so we could utilize the photographs.  Each student had their own strip.  Next, students were grouped with a partner and identified the emotions present.  Many of my students wrote only one word for each photograph, but there were those who used a thesaurus to generate a  bigger list.  (This could turn into a word choice lesson as well).  

Once all of the emotions were identified, students were then given the challenge to work those emotions into their writing through events, reactions, words, etc.  You could use this on a new piece of writing or have students return to a previous piece and incorporate the words.  

This was one of my favorite projects as well as my students.  Not only did I get great writing out of it (wish I could share, but the writing was on my hard drive and it crashed), but I also had a great group of hilarious photos to display.  

If you try it out, please let me know how it works in your classroom.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Made It Monday...

Linking up again with Fourth Grade Frolics

This week has not been the MOST productive other making stewed tomatoes.  My husband and I have tomatoes coming out of our ears.  I've cooked about 80 tomatoes over the last 3 days in the crockpot.  I guess that counts as a "made it," right?

Anyway, my school has a policy in place that states that 80% of classroom decor must be handmade.  That means even borders and letters.  So, I spent a TON of time last year making decor, but I didn't share it with anyone.  I plan on using it this year because I had so much time invested and I really like it.

I went to Hobby Lobby and bought wooden letters that represented my last name, painted them red and added a little pizazz with buttons and ribbon.  These are my hall passes.  My students LOVE them!  I love them because if they are left somewhere, everyone knows who they belong to.

I had an incredibly LONG wall in my classroom and it was the perfect place for my word wall.  This year instead of attaching everything to the wall, I used foam board purchased at Dollar Tree.  I painted the tops of the boards and attached "handcut" foam letters.  My alphabet is attached to the bottom of each board.  This year I will just swap the manuscript alphabet for a cursive one.

My favorite thing about my room this past year was the Writing Process board.  I used foam board from Dollar Tree again to create pencils.  Each pencil was painted with acrylic paints.  I then took a black sharpie to write the step of the process on the pencil.  The red pencil in the picture above is for our Editor's Checklist board.

Hoping to get into my classroom on Tuesday to do a little bit of work.  Usually I am just about done with the decor part, but this summer I haven't had the time or the motivation to do anything yet.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back to the Drawing Board....Again!

For the 9th time in 12 years, I am changing grade levels again!  This year I will be moving from 2nd grade to 4th grade.  I'm excited for the change and I really don't mind changing grade levels.  I think over the last 12 years, changing every 2 years or so has kept me fresh - really fresh.  With a grade level change comes a new classroom.  My classroom is BRAND NEW!  I will be the first inhabitant.  I am moving from the 2nd floor of our building to the 3rd floor.  Our school opened 2 years ago with just grades K-2.  Last year we added 3rd grade and this year we are adding 4th.

 But, with a new classroom, it means starting over.  I am hoping to go into my room next week to do a few things, but my time is limited.  Next week I will be returning from the mountains, teaching 2 technology classes, meeting with a student book club, and leaving for the Teacher Institute at Colonial Williamsburg.  Usually, by this time, I have some things already done.  Fortunately, everything is ORGANIZED in cabinets because I moved before school was over.

Here are the before shots. 

Hopefully, more pictures will come soon!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tech on Tuesday...on Wednesday evening

Life was hectic yesterday.  Normally, I wake up late and ease into the day, blog the Tech on Tuesday post and then spend the rest of the day chilling, tackling projects, or honestly watching Days of Our Lives.  Don't quit reading my blog because of that guilty pleasure.  Anyway, yesterday I was at school all day.  Nope, I wasn't working in my room.  I was sitting 2 doors down conducting interviews.  When I arrived home after 6, I crashed on the sofa and did not wake up until 11.  Thank goodness it is summer. 

So, yesterday's post is a little behind.  I've spent the last few weeks highlighting a few tools and apps that I use on a regular basis, but today I wanted to turn in a different direction.  I've done a lot of training over the last few weeks with the iPad and I always have at least one person who asks, "Why the iPad?"  Honestly, I think in EVERY technology training there is someone who is asking why to technology, but maybe they don't say it out loud.  I wanted to give MY reasons for using technology.

**Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed here are MY own opinions. 

Why Technology?

1.  The 21st Century is HERE!  We are no longer preparing students for the 21st century.  Guys we are living it right now!  Our students live in a technologically advanced world and it should not just be encouraged, technology should be second nature in our classrooms. Our students wakeup to alarm clocks on cell phones, have refrigerators that hold digital pictures, use smart phones, etc.  If their classroom is not utilizing the same technology they will become BORED.  No, we aren't there to entertain all day, but we have to speak their language and technology is it.

2.  Engagement:  We've all had lessons that we have planned beautifully, but when we stop for a minute and look around our room, sometimes students are tuned out of the lesson.  Technology, whether it is an iPad or a laptop or a Kindle, creates excitement and fosters engagement.  It is SO much easier to teach students who are engaged instead students who are tuned out.

3.  Fun: Admit it, you have been sucked into a word game on your iPad or Farmville on Facebook.  I know I have and time has slipped away because I was having fun.  Why not harness that.  Use Chicktionary as a word center in your classroom.  Have students compete with one another for high scores.  Have a bowling tournament using Wii Sports Resort and use the data to teach mean, median, mode.  Tap into fun and teaching becomes an entirely different arena.

4.  Efficiency:  Yes, I could assign the same pencil paper task to students - write a play and perform it on Friday.  Or, I could have students write a play and create a digital story or Puppet Pals play and host a movie preview instead.  The time it takes to create a digital piece is so much quicker than the paper pencil way of doing things.  Yes, I have a TON of standards to teach, but the use of technology actually frees up time in my classroom because things are done quicker.

5.  Expand the world:  I've taught all over the country in the last 13 years and every year, I have a diverse group of kids. Some children travel to other countries while others do not have that opportunity.  By using tools like Skype, FaceTime, and VoiceThread, I am able to open the world to my students.  We can talk to other classrooms in our building, our city, our state, but what about across the world.  I remember one virtual field trip where a little class in Arizona asked if we wore shoes in South Carolina.  Funny yes, but it expanded the world for all of those little guys and people in Arizona know that we do wear shoes to school :)

6. Collaboration and Critical Thinking:  Using technology is the perfect way to build in collaborative thinking and critical problem solving skills.  Students have to talk with each other to plan ways to approach a problem, choose the correct technology to get the job done, and share leadership as they execute the task.  This is HARD for students.  The more opportunities to practice these skills, the better the result will be. I had to work extremely hard not to give answers or solve problems with technology.  I always ask, "Why?" or "Why do you think that?" or "Have you asked someone in your group?"  At first, I had these written down on an index card to remind myself not to jump in and solve.  By the end of the year, my students were troubleshooting on their own and utilizing each other instead of me.

I am passionate about technology in my classroom and have become more so in the last few years.  If I want to continue to affect change in my students, I have to speak their language.  I doing so, I also become a cool teacher in their eyes and who doesn't want that?


This morning afternoon when I opened my email, I had a sweet email from Mrs. Kidd over at Hanging Out in Third Grade!  She is a recent follower to The Loop and had chosen to award me with my first award - The Versatile Blogger award.  I felt very special!  Thank you Mrs. Kidd for choosing me! 

With this award, there are a few requirements to follow when receiving this award:

1.  Thank the blogger who nominated you.
     Mrs. Kidd, this was the best thing to wake up to this morning.  Since I've only been blogging for a few    
    weeks now, it really meant a lot.

2. Include a link to their blog site.

3.  Include the award image on your blog. 
     I've included it above, but for the life of me cannot figure out how to get it into my sidebar.  Help a friend
     out if you know.

4.  Give 7 random facts about yourself.
     1.  I planted 20 tomato plants this spring just in case a few died because I don't have a green thumb. 
     Well, now I am picking at least 15 tomatoes a day.  I have tomatoes coming out of my ears.  This
     morning I peeled and cut 30 to stew in the crock pot, only to have 40 more sitting in the kitchen. 

     2.  This weekend I am heading to the mountains with girlfriends from high school.  I haven't seen one for
    almost 20 years!  Gah!  Has it really been that LONG!

    3.  My worst habit in the summer is staying up until 3 or 4 AM and sleeping until noon.  I thought I had
    curbed that this year because I worked the first part of the summer, but this week I've stayed up late.

    4.  However, I have been cleaning while up late at night.  This week I cleaned all of the closets out at 2

    5.  I am currently obsessed with my iPad.  I would love to work for Apple or become an Apple
     Distinguished Educator, or I don't know, be a facilitator in my district.

    6.  I am spending a week as a teacher scholoar in Colonial Williamsburg in 2 weeks and I dread having
    to wear socks and shoes the most.

    7. Yesterday was the first day that I had worn real shoes all summer - shoes that had closed toes.  Most
    of the time I wear flip flops or go barefoot (not in public).

5.  Nominate 15 other blogs for this award.  Wowzer!  I don't know if I have 15. Most of the blogs that I
     follow have already received this award.  So I only have 4...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Made It Monday...

Today I'm linking up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics.  She has started this great link up this summer where teachers everywhere are showing all of the great things they are making for their classrooms.  I've enjoyed looking at the very creative ideas that are flowing all over the place.  I've been inspired to say the least.  I've only accomplished one, but I have a slew of things that I need to get started on.  Just waiting for that paycheck to be deposited into my account so I can get a few supplies.  Time has also been my issue, but I'll get it done before my deadline.  For today though, here is what I did.

My inspiration was found on Pinterest.  Surprised? I wish that I had the source, but there was no website attached. 

Pinned Image

I went to Hobby Lobby and gathered my supplies, but somehow I walked out of the door without ribbon or white paint, so mine is incomplete.  Here is my attempt:

I just have to add the ribbon to hang it on the door.  I do prefer the white background, but it is what it is.

My #2 Made-It-Monday was not made by me, but by one of my wonderful parents from last year's class.  She is the Martha Stewart of our school and I loved this the moment I pulled it out the bag.  I can't wait to use it next year.  It makes storing pencils very classy!

A simple vase with vinyl lettering cut out with a cricut and wow! 

As far as doing things around the house, I cleaned the linen closet out at 1 AM last night.  This afternoon I tackled the hall closet, bookshelves, and a dresser in our living room.  I feel much better about my house now that those things are taken care of.  Still A LOT to do around the casa, but it will get done. 

Head over to Fourth Grade Frolics to check out more great ideas!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4 On The Fourth

While spending time blog reading this evening, I discovered Ms. M's Blog.  She is a Kindergarten/First Grade ELL teacher and is hosting a linky party.  I decided to join up.  This is the first linky party on my new blog. 

This linky is easy - share 4 things that you are going to try for the first time in your class this coming school year.  I thought I could do this one, since there is A LOT of new happening with me for the 2012-13 school year.

1.  iPads in a 1:1 ratio - I cannot wait for this to happen!  I've been working with the iPad in my classroom for the last year, but it has been challenging with just one.  I am over the moon with excitement about this opportunity.  I've spent the better part of the summer researching, planning, and playing in preparation for this event.

2.  Memory Jar - I saw this idea on pinterest and plan to begin it with the very first day.  I'm tired of getting to the end of the year and forgetting many of the things that we did because so much has happened.  Surely it would be exciting to pull memories out of the jar at the end of the year and remember what life was like.

Pinned Image

3.  Test buttons - I'm a fan of Ron Clark and all of his zany ways within the classroom.  I believe that getting kids excited about learning affects test scores.  I believe that as teachers we have to do something different to reach our students - and I'm willing.  So, I'm adopting one of his motivators.  I found the picture on A Day in the Life of Mrs. Kranz and I plan on implementing the same thing.  I love her buttons!  I hope mine are just as cute.

4.  Mr. Potato Head - Instead of a compliment chain, I'm adding Mr. Potato Head to the mix.  As students earn compliments as a whole class, we add a part.  When Mr. Potato Head is completely put together, we have a small celebration.  Another pinterest idea found here at Something to Chirp About.

Join us over at Ms.M's Blog to add your 4 ideas for the new school year.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tech on Tuesday: Today's Meet

This summer I spent a WONDERFUL two days completely immersed in all things technology at the Upstate Technology Conference in Greenville, SC.  I can honestly say that this conference is one of my favorites to attend and I make it a point to either present or attend every year.  I've gone for the last 6 years and each year it gets better and better.  I've learned countless ways to effectively integrate new technologies into my classroom each time.  It helps to know a good portion of the presenters and the group of amazing leaders who organize and put this conference on each year.  I'm blessed to be a part of this great group.

While at the conference this year, I learned about a new Web 2.0 tool to utilize in my classroom or in any professional development that I may have throughout the year.  Today's Meet is the EASIEST tool to use.  It is FREE and students can easily navigate it as well. It is essentially a message board that allows users to post comments. 

It is a no frills kind of site, which makes it easy to use.  Sometimes I have found that the easier it is, the better so I don't get bogged down in the details.

When you first navigate to TodaysMeet, you will see this screen.

All you have to do is name your room and state when you want the room deleted.  That is one of the features that I love most about this.  I can choose to only have the room open for 2 hours or keep it open for 2 years.

Once you name your room and set the delete date, you can then join the room and begin a conversation.

Because this is SO easy to use, I anticipate using it a lot in the coming school year.  What a great way to have a discussion.  I can see using this as a ticket out the door instead of using post-it notes.  Maybe ending a reading discussion, sharing opinions about current events, etc.  The possibilities are ENDLESS.

I Don't Have the Answers...

It's taken me all weekend to begin to process what happened in Parkland, Florida.  I put it aside and compartmentalized it until I...