Sunday, August 26, 2012

Whew!

Isn't it amazing that once kids become a part of the back to school equation, all resemblances of a normal blogging life cease to exist.  Kudos to those of you who are able to keep up the blogging the first week of school.  We had kids 3 days this week and I don't think I even stopped to breathe most of the time.  I know I didn't sit.  I have no extra chairs in my room and I don't have a teacher chair.  So, for 3 days I stood.  Not to mention, my classroom is on the 3rd floor of the building.  Let's guess how many times I went up and down the stairs.  I'm thinking somewhere around 100.  If I don't lose weight this year, there is something seriously wrong with me.

I dropped the ball last week for Teacher Week, so I'm here to catch up with you guys...

Therapeutic Thursday:

My prescription for therapy is simple: get a pedicure.  It is easily the best 20 bucks I spend every two weeks.  There is nothing in the world better than letting someone else rub my feet, massaging my legs, and then getting me all pretty for open toed shoes.  I haven't gone this week (boy do I need it), but will be making my appearance on pay day!

I also sleep to relieve stress.  However, this is the first year in 13 years of teaching that I haven't taken a nap every day of the first week.  Wowza!  I must have done something right!

Would love to tell you that running is my therapy as well, and at one time it was, but I haven't been in over a year.  That is getting ready to change though.  I'm bringing it back beginning this week.  3 days a week I plan on bringing my shoes and clothes to school and hitting the trail that runs beside my building.  There is beauty in working at a downtown school.  Hopefully, that beauty will be a few sizes smaller by Christmas.

Freebie Friday:

I don't have a freebie I've created, but I have a wonderful free tool that I am using this year.  If you haven't heard of Remind101, you must check it out.  This is a site that allows your parents to sign up for text messaging from you.  The beauty lies in the fact that you will not be providing your cell number.  It all originates from this address.  I know many times parents are more connected to cell phones instead of email, so this will be a great tool to use.  I've already had most of my parents sign up. Can't wait to use it!

Linking up with BlogHoppin!  Have a GREAT week!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday Tech Tip & Where I Teach Wednesday

School started today.  Let's all take a moment and take a deep breath.  My husband ordered pizza and my feet are up on the ottoman - throbbing by the way.  My dog is curled up beside me and I am ready to go to bed - at 6:55 pm.  I think I would sleep all night.

I am including two topics in today's blog hop because I was too busy yesterday to tend to Tuesday's Tech Tip.  Forgive me?

Tech Tip - Tuesday

This year my students were all given iPads.  Today it was like Christmas when I opened the cabinet to hand out each iPad.  It was clearly one of the best teaching moments ever.  The fact that I am just excited is even better. Moving into a 1:1 situation can be tricky if you are not prepared.  I spent all summer doing that, but there are still things that I do not know.  However, there are things that I do know as well.

1.  When at all possible, use a VGA cable to display your screen to your students when using the iPad. Hook it up to a projector or an interactive whiteboard.  It looks like this:

Source

2.  Break the technology task up into small chunks.  For example, teach a skill (opening and closing an app).  Then have students turn and talk to each other about how to complete the task.  Then have students do it with you.  Next, have students do it independently.  Finally, have students verbalize the procedure.  Do not expect children to complete more than 4 steps independently without practice!


Where I Teach - Wednesday

I just wrote about my classroom reveal on Monday, so here is a link to that post.  I am teaching at an Engineering Elementary school that focuses heavily on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  The school is fairly new and has great features.  This is only my 2nd year in the building, but so far I love it.

Join us for the blog hop over at Blog Hoppin'.  I hate to write and run, but this poor teacher needs a nap!



Monday, August 20, 2012

Blog Hopping: Teacher Week

I know that I am breaking a blogger cardinal rule for posting more than once in a day. I am so sorry for those of you who have a goal to clear out your RSS feeds and Google Readers. I'm one of those too, but I stumbled across this amazing Blog Hop at Blog Hoppin'.  Apparently, it is Teacher's Week!  It sure feels like it too.  I've started back to work and today started with a bang - Meet the Teacher today.  I met 24 precious families - my students, siblings, friends, grandparents, aunties, etc.  I love that everyone comes out to celebrate going back to school.  My room is cluttered with Rubbermaid containers full of supplies and now I have to find somewhere to store them - ALL of my cabinets are full! Eek!!

Today's topic is Must Haves...

It just would not be the start of school without these guys:
I LOVE Sharpie markers.  I think it is a mark of a teacher.  I remember liking them when I was in school.  I use them for EVERYTHING!



This year, I fully embraced the personal laminator craze that was going on on many teacher blogs.  I received one from a precious family last year, but didn't use it until this year.  I've burned through some serious laminating pouches this week.



One of the BEST purchases ever was my cordless hot glue gun!  I've had it for a few years, but it was well worth it.  I actually purchased it on accident.  My dear husband went to get one for me and just grabbed one.  When we arrived at the counter it was $20 and I freaked a little (money is precious at the beginning of school). But, after 2 years of use, it is still going strong.




It would not be school with a cup of this each morning.  So blessed to drive by it on the way to school.

Check out the other teacher must haves! Off to bed to prepare for another busy day before my kiddos arrive.

2012-13 Classroom Reveal

I know that I am not alone in feeling that my classroom is never completely finished.  Teachers spend countless hours - BEFORE - contracted time to make everything as close to perfect as possible before meeting students for the very first time.  I know that I spent close to 48 hours in my classroom setting things up, creating displays, organizing existing materials, etc.  That does not count the endless summer nights I spent cutting, laminating, and creating sitting on my counch watching television.

Today was our Meet the Teacher day, so I think I am close enough to done to show you a few pictures.  There are still a few details to be added, but none that will truly make a huge difference in the appearance of the room. 


My students should never question how to spell my name since it is posted on our doorway.   This is the door into the hallway.  My favorite craft from the summer is my pennant banner.  I LOVE it!

 My school has a school wide engineering focus, so our school behavior motto is to "Stay in Gear."  This is recited on the school news each morning and students are held accountable for it.

 I found these adorable chalkboard signs in the Target Dollar Spot.  I think I am going to attach a clothespin to it and add the Engineer of the Week's photograph.  I love the "Listen to your teacher" poster and Spud Behavior.

My steal of the summer is the gumball machine cookie jar.  Students will write their memories of 4th grade on slips of paper and put in the jar for the end of the year reveal.  Here is our Spud for spud behavior. Students earn a body part for each whole class compliment that is received.

 This is the only area that I am not really  happy with.  Right now it houses our folder box and math manipulatives. 
 For Meet the Teacher I set up my memory book from last school year, sign in sheets, guest book, and one of our iPads.

 I gave up my teacher desk years ago and cannot bring myself to go back.  However, I struggle every year with all of the things I have to keep out for observers.  This is where students will turn in their work - the drawer system will keep it neat.  I found this guy at Wal-Mart for $34.  The milk crate is where my lesson plan binder and portfolio will be kept.
 I don't start class jobs until the 2nd week of school when we have procedures in place, but I can't wait to use this tool this year.

 I'm fortunate to work in a school that has a "kitchenette" in the room.  I love the counter space.  The 3 paint cans are a part of our 4th grade incentive program.  Each child is sorted into a scientific lab - Menlo Park (Thomas Edison) and a few others.  A classroom can have an assortment of labs.  Students are given tokens when they are caught doing something good, win competitions, etc.  At the end of the year, the winning lab will have a huge celebration.  I'm a Harry Potter nut, so I like this idea.




 This is my teacher desk.  It doesn't have a lot of space for organization anyway, so it is kind of easy to give it away.  But, I turned it into a writing center for my kiddos.  I hot glued the curtain - my mother would be proud.  The fabric is beautiful in person.  I want something made out of it that I can wear.
 This is the book area.  I don't have a center because I feel like the entire room can be used.  I have 25 children and not a lot of nooks and crannies, so this has to work.

 Our book recommendation board.  I cannot wait to hear about all of the great reads from the summer.

 My brand-new, touch screen Promethean board!  Can't wait to use it!

 My small group area.  On the bulletin board I will place Calendar Math.  Waiting for all of that to arrive.


Student Work displays.
The Writing Process board and Editor's Checklist.

The one thing I forgot to take a picture of is my iPad board in the hallway.  I'll do that sometime this week and post it here.

I'm linking up with Brigid for her classroom tour linky.


Linking up with Teaching Blog Addict for Open House Week today!



Open House Week

Saturday, August 18, 2012

3-2-1 Blast Off!

It's almost time for me to officially start work.  I've been in my classroom for the last 2 weeks and thought I would have pictures to share, but not yet.  Monday is Meet the Teacher and kids join me on Wednesday.  Time is ticking!  As the summer comes to a close, I'm joining up with 4321...Teach for a linky party.

3-2-1 Linky Party...

3 Favorite Summer Memories

2 Favorite Things About Back to School

1 Career you would like to try if not a teacher

3 Favorite Summer Memories

  1. Hands down, the number one event would be my trip to Williamsburg, Virginia.  I stayed in a colonial house, ate colonial food, and immersed myself in all things Colonial America.  Loved EVERY minute of it.

2.  Girls Trip to Gatlinburg, TN - One long weekend + 3 high school girlfriends + 18 years of memories since we last had a slumber party = heaven!  It was so great to gather together with my girls for a Disconnected Weekend - no cell service, no television, no facebook or wireless was divine.  The weekend was MUCH needed and treasured!

3.  My iPad Classes - This summer I was given the opportunity to teach several iPad workshops for teachers in my district.  While it took my summer vacation, it was so worth it to gather with teachers who were there by choice and very excited to learn.  I can't wait to do it again if given the chance.

2 Back to School

1.  Setting up My classroom - I LOVE decorating my room for a new crop of kiddos each year.  I've kept some things the same over the last 6 or so years (black fabric on boards, bright colors, etc.) but I try to add new elements each year.  I have to make my room a happy place for me since I spend so much time there, but I always make the focus my kids.

*Just a preview - more to come this week!

2.  Back to School Shopping - school supplies and clothes are always fun to shop for!  I start early in the summer picking up school supplies.  The first thing I usually purchase are composition notebooks.  But, I can't resist a new pack of Sharpies or Dry Erase markers.  And, there is NOTHING in the world like a freshly opened box of crayons.

3. One Career

If I could choose an alternative career, it would have to be a travel writer for a magazine or website.  I would love to travel the world and write reviews for hotels, restaurants, etc.  Cheney and I love to travel  and I would love to experience the obscure out of the way places and get paid for it.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to School Jitters...

Today marks the last official day of my summer vacation.  Albeit, my summer vacation was only 2 weeks, but this is the last day of my freedom.  I've spent it in my pajamas so far drinking coffee and watching past episodes of Bunheads.  Thank you Pioneer Woman for turning me on to this show.  Love it!  Anywho, I have nothing for Monday Made It.  I've slacked in that department to be honest, other than printing out the necessary items for back to school.  So, I'm linking up with A Turn to Learn for the Back to School Jitters linky.





Back to School Jitters Linky Party

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Made It....

I only have 2 Monday's left before I officially report back to school.  That means that the next few days will be insanely busy with trying to prepare myself for that moment.  My parents have been in town this weekend, but I was still able to spend some time at night printing out the things that I needed for this week.  Thank goodness for a wireless color printer!  I don't have a color printer at school so for the last few years everything has just been printed on colored cardstock.  It's served me well, but I wanted to do something different this year.

Project #1 - Birthday Balloons

Thanks to Once Upon a First Grade Adventure for creating the birthday balloons and sharing them with the world.  I LOVE them and cannot wait to give them to my guys. It saved me SO much time!  All I had to do was cut them out and tape them to the Dollar Tree crazy straws I found this weekend.



Project #2 - iPad

Let me just say, I am in LOVE with the way this turned out today.  When I was told in February that I would be moving to 4th grade AND I would be working in a 1:1 iPad situation this year, I knew I wanted to create a hallway display that showed my excitement for the year.  I have searched and searched for materials that would allow me to create an authentic representation of an iPad.  One night, while I was surfing Pinterest, I stumbled upon a Boggle board that used an oil drip pan with magnetic letters.  I was completely inspired.  Today hubs and I headed to Auto Zone to find an oil drip pan.  I paid $10 for it and bought a can of spray paint to finish the job.  I don't think he could envision what the finished product would look like at this point, but he's known me long enough to know that when I have an idea, to just go with it.


 The hubs lovingly made sure my spray paint job was perfect.  I should mention that he is my most crucial back to school item.  I can't tell you how many times he has helped me or he has created things for me that I had no idea how to do, but had a vision.

After spray painting, I lugged everything inside and began to create the icon buttons.  My hubs had a brilliant idea to create silhouettes to start the school year.  I cut 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" squares from scrapbook paper (50% off at Hobby Lobby this week) and then made silhouettes for each square.


After making each square, I then arranged them on the iPad. 


My picture is up in the top corner.  This will hang outside of my room with the title "Ready for Amazing "App"ortunities in Mrs. Looper's Class!


Project #3 - Pennant Banner

I had some time last Monday night and decided to knock out my own pennant banner.  I've seen them all over Pinterest, but didn't know if I wanted one for sure.  I went into my classroom and decided I needed a little umph to the reading nook.  The banner was the perfect addition.  I have enough pennants left over to go around the remainder of the room, but it was a BEAST to hang.  I may just add enough to my windows and call it a day tomorrow.

*I'll have to post a picture later.  I'm working from a new MAC and I can't figure it out.  The others photos were added from my memory card.  If you can help a girl out, I would greatly appreciate it.


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I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Frolics for this week's Monday Made It post!  Join the party and add your link!

Friday, August 3, 2012

August Currently and Friday Finds

Farley, of Oh, Boy in Fourth Grade is hosting her monthly "Currently" series.  I've enjoyed looking at all of the other bloggers as they post what is currently happening in their lives.  I am currently up to my ears in all things back to school.  My to do list keeps getting longer and longer. I'm linking up so come check everyone out!



As a part of Fabulous Friday Finds, I made a spontaneous purchase today in the most unexpected place.  My parents are visiting from Louisiana for the weekend and we hoofed it to downtown before it got too hot.  One of our usual stops is Mast General Store.  As I was peeking around, I found this fabulous gumball machine.  I've always wanted one, but honestly was not willing to pay the hefty price tag that often accompanied it.  Well, today, it was marked down to 11 bucks!  There was no decision making, it made its way into my bag without hesitation - after I paid for it.  I cannot wait to use this beautiful thing.  I was in the market for a glass jar for my "Fourth Grade Memories" jar, but I will be using this one instead.


I'm linking up with Fun in Room 4B for Fabulous Finds Friday.

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This week is shaping up to be busy again.  It is filled with an appointment to get my car serviced, a hair appointment, a social studies meeting, a technology meeting and a trip to the vet.  Mix in a little time in my classroom and I may not see home very much.  I want my room in place before we report back on the 16th.



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Progress...

This week was the first time I actually spent dedicated time in my classroom. I only spent a few hours, but I felt like I accomplished quite a bit, even though I forgot my to-do list at home and ran out of supplies that I needed. Late Monday night I started making a paper bunting banner for my room. It was spur of the moment, but I absolutely LOVE it! It made a huge difference in my little nook. I had planned on putting it around the entire room, but I ran out of steam and edited my grandiose plan.
This week was the first time I actually spent dedicated time in my classroom. I only spent a few hours, but I felt like I accomplished quite a bit, even though I forgot my to-do list at home and ran out of supplies that I needed. Late Monday night I started making a paper bunting banner for my room. It was spur of the moment, but I absolutely LOVE it! It made a huge difference in my little nook. I had planned on putting it around the entire room, but I ran out of steam and edited my grandiose plan.



I had also planned on printing out letters for my word wall and gluing them to black paper plates, but I decided to work with what I had - 20 yellow plates and about 200 black plates.  However, you could not see most of the letters on the black so I flipped to use yellow instead and the black for vowels.  I love how they are 3D.

 I took a note from Dana at 3rd Grade Gridiron for my bulletin boards this year and used tissue paper instead of bulletin board borders.  I took the picture before I added a huge blue pom-pom in the open space at the top.  This will be my Writing Board when I purchase hot glue sticks.  I went to Walmart today and filled my basket with all sorts of goodies and got up to the check-out and did not have the gift card I planned on using.  So, I gave it all back to the cashier.  To top it all off, I found the gift card on the table at my house, put it in my pocket and then we went out to eat, only to discover that I lost it at the restaurant.  Not a good day!

The only thing that is somewhat complete (just lacking a title) is my Engineer Design Process.  

I have ONE more technology class to teach tomorrow, my parents are coming to visit this weekend, and then I'll be able to work in my room.  Although next week is shaping up to be insanely busy as well - car appointment, vet visit, hair appointment.  Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it.  My room is usually finished by now, so I feel a little behind.  But, it will get done. Eventually.