Saturday, September 29, 2012

Who am I and What am I DOING?!?!

Funny enough, I have been avoiding this post for a loooong time now!  A really looong time!  Last year when I first decided to embark on my blogging journal I had no idea what I was doing... AT ALL!  But I thought I would just give it a whirl.  I got involved with a course that was supposed to help me market my blog, I joined some facebook pages for teaching blogs, and began to start learning about blogging.
All the while, I was working on a charity project with an awesome team of teachers at my school.  We actually renovated a local children's charity.  Think "extreme home makeover" but without Ty.  Anywho... things got a bit overwhelming and I slacked off on my blog endeavour.
I had re-dedicated myself this summer to pick back up with my blogging, but as many of you know, you blink, and summer is over!  So now, here we are in a new school year, and I thought for sure I would be ready to "get into" blogging.  Welllll was I wrong!  As all of you can relate no school year is ever the same as the year before.. admin likes to "tweak" and "change" things just enough to keep us on our toes!  Not my school... my school decided to pick up the entire school, shake it up, put it back down and see how the teachers could find their way.  Not only are we going 100% Common Core and preparing for the beginnings of the PARCC, but now we are doing it through teaching Interdisciplinary, Cross Curricular, Thematic style.  Yee Haw!
As my dear ol dad would say "Are you telling me all this to give me an explaination or excuses?"  But, by no means did I share all of this to make excuses!!  I tell you this because as I refected on my procrastination I realized three things:
#1 I was afraid to fail at my blogging endeavour so I found reasons to avoid it ( we can all relate)
#2 I got so overwhelmed in thinking I had to know all the how's before I got to into this
So, here it is... all laid out!  I have decided that although I feel as if I am drowning in my school year, I know I am not alone.  So this blog may not relate to everyone, and I may not even teach someone a new "best practice" ( that's for an awesome co-worker of mine who loves that word) but more a place for people to read and experience, with me, the ups and downs of an everyday teacher.... an everyday teacher who some days is not sure I even know what I am doing!!

Now that all of that is aired out, I wanted to go ahead and post my very first freebie!!  I know it isn't as glamorous and fabulous and some of the TPT stuff, but we all have to start somewhere!!  I created a letter to send home for the parents when one of my little lovelies doesn't complete their homework chronically.  You will need to have access to dropbox, but if you don't already have it I would highly recommend it!  The best part is it's free online storage for you files!
Here is the link to my freebie:

And if you need to sign up for dropbox you can do so here:

I hesitantly ask for feedback and comments on my first freebie.. so if you choose to let me know what you think.. be kind!  :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Organization Linky Party

I am so excited to take part in my first linky party!! For those of you who do not know what a linky party is.. it is basically a collaboration of blogs, all linked together.. highlighting a specific topic. This week's topic is organization. Now, I am in no way, shape or form an expert in this area. I actually look to others for guidance in this area sometimes. However, I can share the things that I do, right now, that seem to make my life just a bit easier.
I'll start with organization tips I use within the classroom, then move on to my home life. My favorite organizational tool is my stackable behind my desk. Each drawer is labeled for each day of the week. I have two large buckets on the bottom that are for next weeks papers. On Fridays, before I leave I make sure to put any and all materials I will need for whole group instruction in those drawers. The nice thing is, if I do not get to something I just toss it into the drawer for the following day.
This is what mine looks like:

Now for my small group instruction, I keep a bookshelf of buckets neatly labeled. Everything I need for that group for the week goes into the bucket. The shelf is just next to my desk, so everything is at my fingertips. The location for me is key, so I do not waste time during or between groups searching for materials.

Here is what that looks like:
The last organizational piece I rely on is my students book bins. In here they store any books they are reading and any work they have not finished. I can tell at a glance who is behind on classwork, and who needs to work on their organizational skills! The students bring these to their tables in the morning, and put them away before we begin centers. They also double as test dividers!

This is where I store mine:
I hope that some of these tips may help organize the paper/work monsters which can take over our lives!

Get more ideas at Fun 2B in First's linky party on Making Time for Life" at

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Report Card Coma / Journal Magic

I decided to take a break from what seems to be an endless process of filling out report cards to post a quick snip it. As I peered around my classroom yesterday, I tried to get motivation for my next blog post. Then it hit me... journal!! Last year journals were my nemesis.. well that and may classroom library but that is for another day!
Last year I was teaching 2/3 Reading and Writing and each time it was time to journal write I got the infamous.. "I don't know what to write!!!" I tried giving open ended prompts, allowing free choice, and even modeling till I was blue in the face. After having a student spend the entire journal time writing the lyrics to Baby Got Back ( with illustrations) I decided to pack in the journal writing for the year! Just never quite worked.
So this year, I decided to fight the bull head on, and get my students active in the journal writing process, and look forward to the journaling time. So how did I do this? Great question.... Junie B. Jones! She is my journal lifesaver! We have read a wide variety of her books and my first grade students LOVE them! After finishing our first one, we modeled how to write a journal entry. I spent about 4 day modeling this to them. We also discussed ideas of things they could talk about in their first grade journal. After that I cut the children loose to write and I was impressed! At this point in the year some of the students have moved away from this format, and chose to write their own topics in paragraph form, which is totally fine with me. But, for those students who was unsure how to answer a prompt, and create a journal entry this was the way to go!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Kick Off Post

Well I guess this is it! My very first post on my very first teaching blog! After having spent months following others blogs, and even blog stalking, I realized it was time to jump in on the exciting blogosphere. I have spent quite a while pondering and planning the focus of my blog. I believe that much like my teaching, it will grow and change. As I try new things, reflect on those attempts, and tweak the process, my blog will become more effective and efficient. In the meantime, I am so glad that you are reading this and hope that my blog will assist you in some small way each and every day you spend in your classroom.