Saturday, August 30

Show and Tell

Hello, friends!
Happy three day weekend!!!

I just wanted to check in and share my newest TPT product. I made a goal at the beginning of the school year to upload at least one new product each month. Phew! I barely got August's product in on time.

Unfortunately, though, this will only be useful if...
1) you use Storytown as a resource in your Reading instruction AND
2) you teach second grade.

I thought I'd share with you anyway, because I think my products are only getting better with age... my age, of course... I mean experience. Anyway, I'm proud of it... reading response sheets focusing on the character standard RL.2.3. Check it out, if you are interested!

Also, so that this is not just a shameless post promoting myself, I wanted to share a couple of really neat posts that distracted me on the way to writing this post.

Laura, from A Grace-Filled Classroom, shared some great ideas for developing positive relationships with parents. This is SO critical to a great year, especially with those tough kiddos. (She even posted a temporary freebie that I know you will LOVE. I did!) This is something that I can always work to improve on in my classroom. I think I'm even going to put kids names on their "postcards" in advance so I make sure I'm not always sending them home with the same kiddos.

Marcy, from Saddle Up for Second Grade, wrote a great post about preparing for new students. I have learned over my 8 years that sometimes they just show up before you've had a moment to prepare for them. I love Marcy's idea. In my classroom, I have an extra cubby where I have a couple of book boxes with everything a new student will need: textbooks, journals, communication folder, etc. I also have a little Sterilite drawer dedicated to new students. It's filled with extra clips for the clip chart and extra labels I've used on folders and journals. Being prepared helps me not feel like a chicken with her head cut off, buzzing around the room to get this or that.

Thanks for reading, and you should definitely pop over to 
those wonderful blogs to read what they had to say.

Enjoy the rest of your long weekend!
Hope it's not completely filled by school,
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Sunday, August 24

A Peek at my Week

Well, I finally feel like things are getting back to normal and that I'm not constantly having to work on school stuff. Yay!

I don't have a lot of pictures from this week. Just...

my "I Survived My First 5 Days" selfie...

Really, once we get our routines down, I think we'll have a great year. I have a couple of kiddos that will take a little longer to realize I'm not going to let them get away with some things that they got away with in first grade. Otherwise, I'm already loving so many things about this year. One thing is true... attitude is everything. Wish I started last year in the same mindset.

W.I.L.D. with Panther Pals!!!

That's what my best teacher friend and I decided to call this time with our fifth grade friends. Oh, my goodness... our first get together was fabulous on Friday. We didn't finish our project, but you can be certain I'll share what they are working on when we are finished.

Friday, my husband and I got to spend time with my brother who lives in Georgia. That was a huge blessing. He was on a work-related trip.

Saturday, we watched Guardians of the Galaxy, per my mom's suggestion. She was right... it was a pretty good movie. I tend to enjoy superhero movies. I didn't know those superheroes at all, though, so I will be interested to see how they tie into Thor and the Avengers, since that was the most obvious connection I could make. I wonder why you don't see Spider-Man interacting with any of the Avengers when they all live in the same city/world.

Anyway, here's a peek at my week... sort of...

I think you can click to make it bigger so you can actually read it.

That's what my lesson planning looks like each week. We don't really have to turn in lesson plans or anything. They just need to be out for administrators to see when they come in our rooms (although I've never seen them look at them or for them).

Finally, I was excited to dig this fella out of my closet. This next weekend our church is celebrating its 10 year anniversary with a Sunday of worship. {fun fact} I used to be a part of the music team some Sundays. Our pastor (and former worship leader) asked me if I'd be willing to play this weekend. {another fun fact} I played this fella from 5th grade through 12 grade... yep, I was a band geek... and I loved it!

I hope you have a spectacular week!
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Saturday, August 23

WHAT Friday on a Saturday

What do I love in my classroom?

I do enjoy when we learn through science experiments.
So do the kids.


I enjoy teaching the students about the world and history. I like tying it into character education, too, because I want them to grow up to be people who help make this world a nicer, better place. I want them to want it to be nicer and better too.

I love watching them get to be themselves, but I also enjoy seeing them experience new things or go outside their box. I try to do the same to show them it's ok. 

I love our poetry journals and how every year it is fuller than the year before. We read the poetry together, talk about it, and then illustrate it. It's one of my favorite times of the week.

This year I'm already loving our new writing journals that we will are using as a part of our Daily 5. I think it will be a great showcase of how the kids have grown through the year in handwriting, word knowledge, and writing ability. I will be sad when we are no longer building our stamina together, because I've enjoyed the reflection time.

This year I'm also loving my change in vocabulary instruction, too. I love how the kids are buying in and we are finding other situations to apply our weekly words. I hope this creates a love for words in my second graders. 

Have a great weekend!
We're going to see Guardians of the Galaxy this afternoon.
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Friday, August 22

WHEN Thursday: Schedules and Planning

Hey, friends!

I'm a little late, but I wanted to share my daily schedule and what I use to plan for each week.

This year, our principals decided to set our schedules for best use of the paras and aides around the building. The only decisions my team and I made was how to spend our 90 minute literacy block.

You will notice that we haven't specified specific times for Science and Social Studies. On our long range plan, we have set aside weeks where we will take a break from our Storytown basal and we will use that time to work on Science and Social Studies (within our literacy block).

One of my teammates and I were part of a vocabulary book study this summer, so we are working hard to be more intentional with vocabulary instruction, and I have to say, so far I am LOVING it.

You will also notice I have some scheduled GoNoodle time. Yeah, baby! The kids LOVE it. (I do too, of course, especially when we have visitors, like the SL teacher who can join in.)

The biggest change this year is that we have a gigantic block of teaching and learning this year since our specials aren't until late in the afternoon, so we are all exhausted and ready when the time finally arrives. I think, overall, I will enjoy my schedule this year more than last year, though.

Last spring, I tried out a few online options for lesson planning. I finally settled on as my tool for 2014-15. It seemed to have the least amount of glitches. Some of the things I like about it are...
it has a free app
being able to scroll through each day separately on the app
I can save the lesson plans on my laptop
I can also print them
it has features like bump or extend lessons
it is very user-friendly

Planbook offers a month free trial. I would suggest trying it out that way. If you decide you like it as much as I did, then you can pay the $12 to use it for the rest of the year.

Thanks for stopping by!
Have a FABULOUS friday,
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Wednesday, August 20

WHY Wednesday: Organization

Hey, welcome back!

Unfortunately, organization doesn't come naturally to me, so I don't have a lot of advice to give or cool pictures to share in this area. I do, however, love looking at how organized everyone else is and one day hope to attain that {seemingly} elite status. :o)

(These pictures are all ones I've shared in the past. I left school today without taking any pictures. Sorry!)

Seriously, though, it seems that the more organized I am, the less I know where to find stuff, so, even though I always desire to be more organized, I know it's ok {for me} that I'm not.

My desk may look like chaos to some, but I know exactly where everything's at.

Each year I feel that I am doing better at getting areas around the room labeled. That is usually the most important thing for me because I generally know where everything is, but I know someday something will happen that will require a last minute substitute teacher, and I hate the thought of letting such an important guest in my room down. I've been a substitute before and they already have a hard job without adding to their stress with not being able to find essential things in my classroom.

Looking forward to seeing all the brilliant organizational ideas you all have to share... and relating with those of you who make stacks, like me.

Happy Thursday, friends!
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Tuesday, August 19

WHERE Tuesday: Classroom 360

Hey, friends!

Ok, so I'm working on surviving my first days with my kids, so please excuse that my desk looks a little messy and there are a couple piles around the room that won't always be there. :) I know you'll understand. These first days sure are exhausting! When I finally have the time, I don't have the energy!

west wall: cubbies!

south wall: cabinets and hallway windows

east wall: whiteboard and listening center

north wall: classroom library and teacher area

Current Bulletin Boards: 
our school-wide expectations (the blue words were our vocabulary words last week)
birthday bulletin board (phew, check out all the June birthdays...crazy!)
classroom job board (this year I'm using pictures...might switch to velcro dots soon instead of the picture holders...otherwise, I love it)
end of day routine (I decided this year that I would take pictures and make posters of our routines...still working on many of them)

Anchor Charts (so far):
bucket fillers/bucket dippers (after reading the Have You Filled a Bucket Today? book)
Read to Self and 3 Ways to Read a Book (in my classroom we use the Daily 5 for our center rotations...the kids are doing great so far with building our Read to Self stamina)
handling problems (I use Pathways to Reading for my small group/whole group phonics instruction and during the first days of school it recommends several great small group prep ideas...I love this student's suggestion on how to handle a paper rip, "Just deal with it!" amen, little friend, sometimes we just need to let it be for the moment...of course, we came back to this idea as we continued on)

We have a ways to go, but I feel better about this year than I did starting out last year. I think I've been more intentional this year. Yay! How great it will be when our machine is running smoothly!

Happy Wednesday, friends!
I hope it's a good one!
Thanks for dropping by...

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Monday, August 18

WHO Monday

Warning... you are about to be overloaded with pictures! :o)

That's me on the right. 
My name is Sarah.

This is a selfie my husband and I took just a few days ago. 
He's a college math teacher.

That's my family...well, some of them. I also have two older brothers. 
They live much farther away from our parents than I do. 

Besides those 2 amazing women up top, I have some spectacular friends that I love spending time with. My friend on the left is a teacher now, too. She'll be teaching 3rd grade this year. My friend in the middle picture works at a college in the compliance office. She's pretty great. Of course, you've already met my mom. Crazy to think we used to butt heads all the time when I was a teenager!

These are a few of my favorite things. 
Do you know where those blue trees are?
We visited my sister-in-law up there a couple summers ago. Loved it!
She's moving to Spain again in just a few days, though.
Maybe we'll have to save up to visit her next summer.

Hope today was a GREAT start to your week! This is my first full week with kids, so we're working hard at building our stamina as hard-working second graders. Boy, is that exhausting!

Come back tomorrow for a little WHERE action... a peek into my classroom!

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Thursday, August 7

Ready for Home Visits

Everything's really starting to come together! I plan to do a classroom reveal next Wednesday...the kids' first day of school. It's going to be quite a day!

Tonight I finished my Back-to-School newsletter and the label I'm going to stick on my Back-to-School postcards. I plan on handing those out when I do home visits on Sunday and Monday.

Do you have to visit your kids at home before the first day of school?

Here's a little peak at what I accomplished tonight!

I love the new clip art I bought at the Back-to-School TeachersPayTeachers sale. Doesn't it just add a little something special to my newsletter and postcard?

If you get a chance, send me some happy thoughts Friday morning. I'll be presenting a mini-session for one of our morning inservice meeting. I've never done that before and am a little nervous to stand in front of so many awesome colleagues who probably have more insight and far more experience than me. I know it will probably be just fine, but talking in front of a group of adults is scary!

Have a great weekend!
I'm excited to meet some midwest bloggers and teachers on Saturday!
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Monday, August 4

T minus 9 Days: Monday Made It

Well, I arrived back from my vacation last night, so it was a little difficult wanting to go work at school this morning. I made it, though. Here's a peek at what I accomplished today...

I made my Happy Birthday board. All I'm missing are the kids' pictures showing their birth dates. I'll have to finish this after the kids come on the first day.

On our way back home yesterday, we stopped by the Dallas IKEA. (The nearest one is 6 hours away, so visiting rarely happens! Luckily, there will soon be one only 3 hours away.) I bought a red and orange frame for the kids' Spelling lists. They don't sell a yellow one (that I could tell, anyway), so I bought a white one and spray-painted it yellow. Now I have one for each team's table top. 

I'm planning to implement Magazine Mondays this year. I'll tell you more about it once I figure it out. I made huge labels for the sides of the paper trays where we store the magazines. I have two more labels to make, I discovered, and need to make a "Magazine Mondays" sign for the top.


I dropped by our transportation center (aka the bus barn) to have some notebooks cut in half for writing journals. (I need to put a cute label on top of each now.) The person in charge is so nice and did it right then. She even let me have a go at the gigantic paper cutter. It was probably the highlight of my day. It was awesome!

I look forward to seeing other Monday Made It projects...
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Friday, August 1

Currently {Vacation Edition} on a Friday

Yay, yay!
Two parties!
One day!


Nothing school-related...well, not really.

This week, my mom and I are on va-cay. We're road trippin' down to New Orleans to pick up some stuff from the house my great uncle used to live in. In the mean time, we're stoppin' and havin' a good ol' time.

We stopped in Little Rock for the night, then toured the presidential center the next morning. We headed down the road to Memphis where we toured Graceland before turning in for the night.

Then we made our way to New Orleans, our intended destination. Of course, in our stroll around the Quarter, I found some Cajun-style books to use this year. This particular book will fit nicely into that RL.2.9 standard... different versions of the same story.

We also decided to visit the aquarium. Love seeing the funny looking creatures as well as the more well-known creatures. So amazing how there are so many different looking creatures, but they were all created for a reason. God is an AMAZING planner.

We also stopped in at the insectarium. I took several great butterfly and moth pictures that will {hopefully} be usable when we talk about butterflies and moths in the spring.

Finally, tonight we reached Texas. We have serious plans tomorrow to visit the Space Center. Then we'll meet up with my brother this weekend before heading home. It's been great. It'll continue be great for a few more days!

Hope you have a great weekend too!!!
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