August 19, 2015

Room Reveal

Welp, the inevitable happened...summer ended and I'm back to work. We returned yesterday, and thankfully, we were given the entire day to work in our classrooms (thank heaven for administrators who "get it!"). So, I thought I'd give you a little tour around my classroom!

This is the view to the right when you walk into my classroom. Every year, I frame a collage picture of my kiddos on their first day of school, and the pictures sit on top of my cubbies,

This is the view to the left. I like to put all of my professional knick knacks, awards, and certificates here, along with my favorite teaching quotes.

Here's as much of my classroom as I could fit in the frame. This year, I arranged my student desks in groups of four, and I'm really loving the new setup! 

I'm still waiting for this awesome rug to arrive. No more bickering over the seating arrangement on the floor!

My math manipulative bins always sit on my back counter so that they're accessible whenever the students need them. I include the following in them: Unifix cubes (in sets of ten), counting chips, student clocks, small hundreds charts, and number cards. 

It was super bright this afternoon (I love having a classroom with lots of natural light!), so it was tough to get a good picture, but on the left, I have my Daily Five baskets (with the exception of my Listen to Reading is by my listening area). On the right, I have my Completed Work basket, complete with number clips (so it's easy to keep track of students who forget to write their names at the top of their papers!).

Here is my calendar area, and below it, are my math manipulative bins. A few years ago, I loaded up on Dollar Tree's generic Gladware containers, and I organized and labeled all of my math manipulatives. It has made life so much simpler!

These are the cups for "warm fuzzies" (notice the bag of pom poms on the left). In the past, I challenged each table of students to earn colored counters for making great choices. I decided to mix it up this year. Now, they need to work together to earn "warm fuzzies." The table with the most fuzzies at the end of the week wins a prize from my (much coveted) Prize Box.

This is the cleanest my desk will look all year, so I'm trying to enjoy it while I can.

Here is my back table, all set up for our Get Acquainted conferences. These will take place on Friday and Monday. I used Laura Martin's Meet the Teacher pack, and everything looks AWESOME!

Phew! So, that's my classroom! I'll leave you with a few pictures from the carnival that KShaf and I took the kiddos to last weekend. Nothing says "summer" like a good carnival!

That's my Deedle, with a fresh haircut, enjoying cotton candy...for dinner (yep, I was that parent).

My sweet girl, indulging her sweet tooth.

Somehow, Deedle and Princess A talked us into taking them on the Ferris wheel. I forgot how much I hate Ferris wheels. That is sweat and fear all over my face in this picture. I had to save face, though, in front of my Deedle, who after being strongly encouraged to "Stop rocking the flippin' seat!," turned and said with irritation, "But, Mom! It's supposed to be fun!"

Good luck to all of you who are beginning the new school year in the next few days!

August 11, 2015

My Summer is Just About Over

WAAAAAHHHHHHH! This time next week, I will be back to work and my kiddos will be at daycare. I have such mixed emotions at this time of the year. On one hand, I am so, so sad to see the lazy days with my kids come to an end. But, on the other hand, I'm super excited to start a new school year with a brand new group of sweet little firsties.

In anticipation of starting school in two short weeks, I have been spending the past few weeks, trying to get myself organized and back into the "school groove."

This is what my work bag looks like right now. I should clarify: this is just one of my work bags. My other bag is full of binders. Dear me...

I wanted to give you a peek at some of the projects I've been working on. First, I picked up these two-for-one pocket folders with prongs at Dollar Tree. I was super excited to find them for so little money!

I really wanted to start using writing folders in my classroom this year, and I purchased this fantastic resource from Frogs, Fairies, and Lesson Plans to use with them.

I've also been getting ready for our Get Acquainted Conferences that will be taking place next Friday and the following Monday. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: being given the time to have these conferences each year is FANTASTIC! The conferences help to alleviate a lot of anxiety (for everyone!), and it gives everyone the opportunity to get the school year started on a positive note. Last year was the first year we have held these conferences, and while they went well, I was determined to make sure that they go even better this year! So, I invested in Laura Martin's Meet the Teacher Pack, and I cannot say enough wonderful things about this product! Not only is the resource everything that I had hoped it would be, but when I messaged Laura to ask a specific question about a font that she used in the pack, she responded promptly and politely.

I love the step-by-step signs that Laura created to help guide parents through the whole process!

Aren't these adorable? I'm excited to have a wish list for my parents this year. Parents are always asking what else I need at Meet the Teacher (I know, it's a great problem to have!), and this year, I'll be able to give them specific items that we'll be needing in the classroom.

As I was making labels for my classroom supplies buckets (which, by the way, I got for a steal on Amazon!), I got to thinking about how many stinkin' pencils I bought last year for my students. So, I did what any teacher would have done: I jumped on Pinterest and hunted for ideas! 

At the beginning of the month, each student will get two new pencils with his/her number on them. If a student still has his/her pencil at the end of this month, he/she will get to choose a prize. We'll see how it works! It might save me a trip (or seven) to Dollar Tree.

Finally, I have a reputation, both among my school peers and my county colleagues, for being really (and I mean, REALLY) bad at long-term pacing. Now, don't get it twisted: I'm a natural planner. Just ask my husband. But, when it comes to planning a month at a time? It's just not my thing. I get caught up in the day-to-day fun of teaching, and as a result, I find myself falling behind my teammates. Somehow, I manage to get done what I need to get done, and my students perform well. But, like I said, I get a bad rap. So, I created this simple pacing calendar to keep me on track.

As you can see, I haven't finished mapping out all of September, but I'm further ahead at this point than I usually am! You can grab the blank calendar freebie here.

I still have TONS to do, but I feel like I have a pretty solid headstart. I'm planning to head into my classroom later this week, and once I have my classroom set up and looking purty, I'll be sure to share pictures.