Monday, July 28

Monday Made It: A Peek in My Classroom

Last summer, I was all over the Monday Made Its... This summer, not so much. In fact, this is the first one I'm participating in and my summer's pretty much over. I've still been enjoying checking out other people's awesome creations.

This year it was decided we would have a building-wide theme: jungle safari. I suppose, by the looks of it, I'm focusing more on the jungle part of it. I took down my valence curtains and hung these huge leaves instead. The dark green leaves are from poster board and the lighter green leaves are bulletin board paper. Then I added twine to make a vine.

Outside windows

Hallway windows
I absolutely love my leaves and vines!

I even love the way it looks peeking in my classroom from the hallway. 
I just stop and look sometimes because I love it so much. 
I've also spent some time over this last week labeling like crazy in my classroom. These are the Sterilite mini 3-drawers. I love the way they look now. So much easier to read than the tiny labels I had before. I can even read them across the room.

Finally, I want to leave you with a little smile. I hope you have a great week! I know I will... this week, my mom and I are spending some serious mother-daughter time before I go back to school on the 6th. Lookin' forward to it!

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Saturday, July 26

Another Five for Friday

Well, it's here. Friday has arrived again. The arrival of Friday isn't as exciting for me during the summer because almost everyday feels like a Saturday. 
Unfortunately, I only have one Friday left in my summer break. Kinda sad. This is the busiest summer I've had in a while, though. I think I'm ready to get back into a regular routine and am excited about new faces and schedules this year.

Consequently, I have already started preparing my classroom... slowly. I have a ways to go, but I know I'll get there. This week, I spent time labeling and making giant leaves (they're the size of half of a piece of poster board) for window curtains (I'll reveal the final product on Monday). . .

...and working on bulletin boards.

I'm excited about my new computer tote. This is my summer to get a newer laptop (our district switches them out every 3-4 years). I decided this year I would get a new computer bag to protect my new computer, and I love it! I love the color combo. I love that it's not too flashy, because I'm not a flashy person. I love that it's fairly light too. For me, it's perfect!

We took a little trip to the city today. Luckily, I barely got in on the 10 cent composition notebook sale at Office Depot. I love strolling down the pen and notebook aisle, even if I don't plan on buying anything, just because I'm an office supply nerd, and I noticed my favorite pen was on sale for more than 50% off. Score! I really like Sharpie pens. (I know I've mentioned that more than once.)
My teammates and I have been working on our long range plan for the year. We made one last summer and put it in the Dropbox folder that our grade level shares throughout the whole district, but we noticed it is gone, so we've been meeting once or twice a week to redo it. I like that this version is more specific. (Note: it's still a work in progress.)

We've also started thinking about how to better align our Tier 2 Math groups to support what is happening during core Math time, so we've started creating a map of the strategies and skills that we should focus on each week, along with important vocabulary from our main Math resource.
While in the city today, we also decided to watch How To Train Your Dragon 2. Have you seen it? My husband heard that it was better than the first one. I liked the first one, but I'm not sure I would say this one was better. It was good. I thought the first one was great. If you've seen it, I'm interested to know what you thought of the movie in comparison with the first one.

Have a great weekend!
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Saturday, July 19

Word Crimes

A fellow teacher friend sent me the link to this video, and as someone who is concerned about grammar, I thought it was GREAT! So, I'm passing it on to you, teacher friends.


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Thursday, July 17

Classroom Management

Hello, again! I hope Thursday is treating you nicely.

Today I'm joining the Big Time Blogging Challenge to share some of my classroom management strategies.


In my classroom, I use a clip chart. You are probably very familiar with this concept, but, in case you are not, students start on green. They can "clip up" or "clip down" based on behavior. When students move to yellow, they take a time out. If they move to orange, they move to a "safe seat" away from the other students to help them make better decisions until they are ready to come back and follow directions. If students move to red, they take a time out in a "buddy room." That second grade teacher has a seat and a timer where the students come in, sit, and fill out a behavior form until the timer goes off. I make a copy of that form for parents. After each clip move down, I have a conversation with the student about what went wrong and how the situation can improve. If students "clip up" to blue, they get a positive note home about how they got there and get to choose a dum-dum from the topiary monster.

I also do team points. Teams can earn points for anything: chairs pushed in, cleanest table, lining up quietly, being on task, etc. The team with the most points at the end of the day gets to have this trophy I made on their table the next day. I think this year I want to add another incentive to having the most points, because the trophy enthusiasm didn't last long enough. Maybe first to line up for lunch or first out to recess?


In December, Pep the elf comes to visit to help keep our behavior on track with little treats and rewards for good days. In May, we have building-wide punch cards to go on the incentive field trip. 

Another building-wide incentive is Cool Cash. Students can earn the cash from any teacher, any staff member. About once a month, there is a cart in each hallway that kids can purchase things from, like water bottles, pencils, small toys, or small stuffed animals that were donated. 

I haven't taken the time to completely think through what I will do this year, whether I'll keep everything the same or change things up a little, so I'm interested to see what other bloggers share from their classrooms.

Thanks for reading! 
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Wednesday, July 16

TV and Movies

Today's topic on the Big Time Blogging Challenge calendar is movies and TV shows.

I enjoy watching movies, especially some of the 80s and 90s classics from childhood. I also really enjoy superhero movies. Thankfully, my husband grew up in the comic book world, so that's an interest we can share. I like watching some kids movies, too. (Just rented the Lego Movie today, though, and really didn't like it, that's why I added the word "some." Hope that movie wasn't anyone's favorite.)

I really like detective shows. Pretty Little Liars is one of my must-see shows. I also really like Sherlock on Netflix, but when you commit to watching an episode, you're basically watching a movie, so we don't indulge in that show as often. AND the seasons are super short: 3 episodes each. Great actors, though.

My husband really likes reality TV, so lately I've been watching Big Brother with him. Surprisingly, lately, we have also gotten into Game of Thrones. We didn't think we would like it, but we're working on season 4, so it drew us in somehow.  

Since my husband and I are pretty close in age and since I grew up with 2 brothers, sometimes we reminicse on shows we watched growing up. Saved by the Bell. Fresh Prince. Wonder Years. Star Trek the Next Generation. There are others too. We still love catching an episode of those shows every now and then.

Well, that's it. 
Hope you learned something new about me!
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Tuesday, July 15

Memorable Students

Today, I'm participating in the Big Time Blogging Challenge. The topic is sharing about memorable students. Since I've taught for 8 years, I have plenty of students that immediately come to mind when I think back on each year. I'll share a quick memory from each year...
1. A spunky little boy was in trouble several times for acting like a monkey in the boys' bathroom. He would climb all over the stall partitions. Strangely, I had several conferences with the parents about various behaviors and their idea was to take him out for waffles. Hmm...
2. I was working with a group of my higher students in guided reading. A boy bent down, for what I can't remember, but his head went straight for the table. We all heard a loud smack. He was perfectly fine, but that little 15 second event sure gave me the giggles the rest of the day.

3. Ahh, the year I had two interesting kids. One, I felt the need to walk on egg shells around because the student would tell parents stories about what had happened that weren't completely true, like I refused to let the kids drink water on a hot day. The other, I felt could have some serious anger issues when older. The dad was intimidating!

4. My class and I took walks occasionally this year so that one little friend could be removed because my little friend was very uncooperative at times. In the next couple years, I heard there was trouble with the police. However, every once in a while we would cross paths, and the student always seemed excited to see me again. I must've made a positive impact regardless of the negatives.

5. I had the sweetest boy this year who was a real friend to everyone. I'm sure once he went to middle school he was teased to no end. Every now and then I see him and wonder if his drastic difference in appearance is due to teasing.
6. This year, my storyteller sticks out to me. He had a story for every lesson and situation. He's filled with facts and information, sometimes to his parents' chagrin, I'm sure. Turns out his little sibling is the exact same, though I didn't have the pleasure of having the sibling in my class last year.

7. I had a pretty fun class this year. They were generally happy and got along well. I had several memorable students. One that will always be on my heart is this sweet little girl that had a terrible time with her family situation. I will remember her attitude and big heart, regardless of the difficulty she was going through.

8. I had a spunky little student who rocked a unique fashion daily. There were days that I wanted to pull my hair out, but, thankfully, the student didn't feel the same way. This student loves {almost} everything {that doesn't involve reading and math}. I will be expecting plenty of hugs and hellos from across the hall next year.

I love hearing teachers tell stories of memorable moments. 
You should share some of your memories too!
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Friday, July 11

Shopping Spree

I don't have my laptop back yet, but I'm going to give the Blogger app a try. Hope it goes well! No fancy schmancy stuff, but that's ok. 

I recently made a trip to town to visit some of my favorite stores. 

Here are some of my Back to School finds:


I found erasers and bookmarks for the first week of school, informational texts on animals and plants, blank books for a writing project, sentence strips, a cool hanging file teacher tote, Dr. Seuss goodies (I love this new bag), a paper tray, and a new lunch tote. 

The Back to School section wasn't quite put together yet. Everything was (mostly) still in boxes, but I did pick up a few of my favorite colors of Sharpie pens. (I love Sharpie pens.)

I forgot to check out the $9 Banker Box paper tray that someone mentioned recently, so I'll have to go back next time we head to town. Boo hoo, right? :)


I found clipboards (I would like to have a class set), blue and green containers that I will probably use in my class library (I made space for more books at the end of last year), National Geographic fact books, monster boxes, blank cards (because I can never have too many options for positive notes home), and some greenery (because our school-wide theme is jungle safari next year, so as soon as I can get into my room I will be jungle-ing it up). 

The store I went to didn't have a couple things I was in need of, like dice (somehow my whole container of dice has gone missing after loaning it to a para) and playing cards, so I will also need to go back to Dollar Tree. What sadness! ;)


I took lots of #BlogHoppin2014 scavenger hunt pictures and looked at some options for creating a tree on one of my tall cabinet's doors. I also came across this safari hat! I usually take individual pictures of the kids at the beginning of the year, so I thought it would be fun to wear the hat. I'll have to look for some cheap binoculars, too. 


I went for a yard of jungle safari-type fabric (green and black zebra print) to recover my bench after I add another layer of padding. (It's getting flat after 3 years.) I passed by the Back to School section and these caught my eye, so I bought one for myself and each member of my team. They, of course, loved them this morning when we met for our weekly planning time. 

Oh, and I got a new lanyard... I love it! It's my school colors (blue, black, and white), and it's from MICHAELS. Last year I had one with sparkly jewels, but my hair is longer and I'd find jewels in my hair or down the back of my shirt all the time. Annoying! I've had necklace lanyards before that pulled my hair sometimes, but I think this one will be different. I love it!
That's it, friends. That's all I have to share for today. 

Admittedly, I'm sort of pleasantly surprised at the Blogger app. I probably won't use it on a regular basis, but it is certainly adequate for when my laptop is absent.

Have a fabulous Friday and a fun weekend! :)

Monday, July 7

Monday Meet Up with Goals

Today I have to turn my computer in for updating. Seriously gigantic sad face! It will be gone for 2 weeks. So, before it goes, I'm participating in 2 parties this morning.

Jess at I {heart} Recess is hosting a 2014-15 Back to School Goals party. 

I'm not a morning person, so being ready to go by 7 a.m. will be tough. I couple years ago, my husband and I closed on and bought our first house. Around that same time my car died, never to be revived. Because we couldn't take any hits on our credit (or it could potentially mess up the house closing) we opted to share my husband's car. In order to make it work, I was ready to go by 7 everyday that year, so I know I can do it.

After this summer, I will have taken all the introductory grad classes to my masters program, which means I can't take anymore until I officially go through the lengthy application process. Hopefully, I will complete it this fall so I'll be ready to take another class in the spring.

I chose that motto because, despite all the standards to teach and all the tests to administer, I want to remember that, ultimately, I want these kids to have positive influences in their life that really encourage them.

The Teaching Tribune is having another Monday Meet Up
I've really enjoyed getting to know other bloggers each Monday.

I remember, growing up, there was a name that I was convinced I would be called if my parents hadn't settled on Sarah. I think it was Katie. So anytime I would play and pretend with my friends, that would be my name, and I even gave a doll that name.

Isn't it sad that sometimes it's those tough students that stick out more than the ones who always did the right thing and were the sweetest things? That's true for me anyway. I will never forget that student or the parents. Thankfully, they had sort of made a name for themselves in the complaint department, so any call to the principal or the superintendent was taken as a grain of salt.

Yes, I am the youngest... and the only girl. I know what you're thinking... spoiled!

Have a great week! 
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Wednesday, July 2

Currently, My First

Hello, friends! Happy Wednesday! I've been wanting to participate in a Currently for awhile. Glad I finally made it!

I am listening to Devil Wears Prada in the other room, not because my husband chose to put it on, but because I thought it would help me fall asleep tonight. Alas, here I am, so it obviously didn't work. Wish I could fall asleep as easily as my husband! He's out as soon as his head meets the pillow.

Teaching Summer Academy last month was great, but so is sleeping in and being on your own schedule. I'm loving the chance to be lazy and not have to set an alarm every night.

Thinking: Each summer I lose my computer for 2 weeks while my district does updates. I have to turn it in on Monday, and it always makes me sad. Fortunately, this is my year to get a new laptop. In the meantime, I have some decor plans that I will work on for our new school-wide theme this year. Of course, I will have to share pictures with you all.

My list is growing, particularly for the Dollar Tree, so I want to make the trip soon. Then, I can also get an overdue haircut. I'm thinking today's a good day. I'll be sure to share my shopping finds after I make it happen.

I finished one of my two grad classes last week. Phew! It was a quick, three-week class. I'm glad to be at a slower pace for a couple weeks as I finish the second one. I need to finish two more assignments this week and feel good about doing a little each day, instead of the rush I felt last month.

I'm not sure what our 4th of July plans are yet. We were just talking about it tonight. We have 3 options: supper and fireworks with his dad, spending time with my family, or just the 2 of us doing whatever we choose around town. It might end up being a last minute decision, as usual.

Thanks, Farley, for an opportunity to participate!

Thanks for reading, friends!
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