Saturday, September 7, 2013

Back to School ~ Two Weeks Later

I literally feel like I blinked the last two weeks away. They definitely flew by. I've read all over facebook and pinterest that "There is no tired like the beginning of school tired," I completely relate to this. The first day back, at 5:00 after school I was ready for bed. Back to School is always a special time for me. First of all, getting to know all my new students is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. This year, I gained 64 brand new fourth grade friends. I am only teaching reading this year to the entire fourth grade, so learning 64 new names was a new challenge for me. I am happy to say I have conquered that challenge. I wanted to post a few pictures of my room and share a little about the past few weeks. My mind is spinning with all the new fun things I've implemented this year.

Classroom Pictures 2013-2014

Here is my bulletin board/door decor for the beginning of school. Our school mascot is a Star.

I gave all my homeroom friends a welcome to our classroom treat on the first day of school. I push the fact, to my homeroom friends, that we are a family and my classroom is their home. I got this adorable printable from teacherspayteachers, and I apologize to whomever made this gorgeous printable, but I couldn't find you to give you credit. We also have a root walls where we will add the root of the week we study and leaves with the words. I borrowed this idea from Dandelions and Dragonflies, (Thank you SO much).

This is our classroom jobs and AR club. On the left of the AR Club is a "What's Your Purpose" chart I created for our school. We have a school wide language that we use with students. This chart is to help students understand their purpose for being in different situations in the school. We can ask a student, "What's your purpose for being in the bathroom?" and they will recite, "To use the bathroom and wash your hands." We use this to show students when they are not making smart choices.

This is my "I Can" board where I display my I Can statements, and my reading notes board where I will put different charts we create in class as a visual. 

I started using Whole Brain Teaching this year and let me tell you the first day of school I was terrified. My worst fear was that I would start making all these hand motions trying to get my fourth graders to mimic me and they would start at me like I was crazy. Luckily, that didn't happen. They were very receptive and LOVE saying the rules and being active. I love how much energy WBT has brought into my classroom.

Sweet Rhyme & Pure Reason
Over the summer, I linked up with Sweet Rhyme & Pure Reason with the idea to share popular songs to teach figurative language. This week, I taught similes and metaphors using the song "Roar," by Katy Perry. (This is now new class theme song.) I LOVE LOVE LOVE listening to my wonderful fourth graders sing as one. I've attached the lyrics I used with my class. We also discussed onomatopoeias with this song, but this is an EXCELLENT song to teach metaphors.

Click here to get the printable lyrics to "Roar," by Katy Perry.

The last thing I want to leave you with is a chart I first found on pinterest created by Finding JOY in 6th Grade. For the past two weeks, I've heard so many distracting connections that I am making this chart this weekend. I think it is very fitting for all students and very visual to remember, "The best connections bring you back to the text..." 

Hope everyone is having an excellent school year so far. :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blogger Exchange

I was fortunate to be a part of a blogger exchange that was hosted by Covered in Glitter and Glue. My fantastic partner was Amy at Turtley Loving Teaching and she gave me wonderful goodies to get my mind back in the school mode.

I have committed to an "OWL" themed classroom this year and Amy got me the perfect Owl Notebook. I started using a spiral notebook last year for various meetings to take notes with so that every meeting I attended was centralized, so this will be perfect for the 2013-2014 school year! :) (In fact, I've already started using it at my first grade level planning meeting). There were also tons of post-its (which I love and use daily for myself and my students), the cutest chevron pencils and pens, file folders, and a perfect blue basket that I know will find the perfect home in my classroom. Thank you so much Amy for your generosity, I hope you have a wonderful year!!! :)   

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Time...ISN'T on my side!!

Does anyone else feel the anxiety building over the beginning of a new school year? I LOVE the beginning of school, but it seems that there are SO many projects I want to do, yet I blink and time is gone. I have 19 days left before the first official teacher's day back and we have a whole week to work in our classrooms attend professional developments. :( We are blessed in our county to be able to leave everything in our classrooms and go in anytime we want over the Summer. I have finished the cosmetic part of my room, now it's just picking up and putting down and planning, planning, planning. I WILL FINISH!!!

On a lighter note, I have linked up with Covered in Glitter and Glue for the Back to School Blogger Exchange where I have been on a shopping spree for my mystery blog partner. I am so excited about this link up and can't wait to send my package. I wish we could implant a camera in the box to snap a picture of the blog partner's face when they open their goodies. I was so excited about what I purchased for my blog partner, I purchased some of the same stuff for my own classroom (insert embarrassed face here).

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Wednesday. :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tunes Tuesday: Freebie

I have waited all week to link up with Nick over at Sweet Rhyme & Pure Reason with his Tunes Tuesday. Thank you Nick for this wonderful link up. I am posting from Georgia today while I spend my EARLY morning with my beautiful nieces which are five and three. Let's just say nap time when I get back to North Carolina today, may just last until tomorrow.

I have chosen the song  "Red" by Taylor Swift to link up with Tunes Tuesday today. If you haven't heard this song, I find it addicting and my classroom friends loved this song. We practiced finding similes and metaphors using this song. I hope you enjoy this freebie and I hope you can use it in your classroom.  Head over to Sweet Rhyme & Pure Reason to see all the wonderful link ups and get all the free songs to make grammar more fun in your classroom this year! If you are not already following me with bloglovin' I would love for you click my button and become my newest follower! :) Happy Tuesday to you!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Back to School Exchange

Head on over to Covered in Glitter and Glue to sign up for the Back to School Blogger Exchange! It is going to be such a great treat to get a package full of goodies in the mail. I still LOVE getting snail mail!!! :)
Happy Sunday!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Liebster Award!!!

WOW! I am so flattered and excited that Jo Anne over at Teaching in Cardigans  nominated me for the Liebster Award! I have seen this award around the blog world and I am beyond ecstatic that I was nominated! Thank you so much Jo Anne!!! :)

The "Rules" to Accept the Award:
  • Link back to the blog that nominated me
  • Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
  • Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself
  • Create 11 questions for your nominees
  • Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them
Blogs I'm Nominating: 
Jo Anne's Questions:
  1. What was your most memorable teaching moment? 
    • Picking one memory is a tough one...However, I would probably say the most memorable teaching moment I have had was when a student, that was "labeled" a trouble maker from previous teachers, ended up being one of my favorite students. I think this is one of my most memorable teaching moments because I worked hard with this child and he passed the EOG's for the first time when I had him in fifth grade. It was a learning experience for me because it truly taught me that sometimes our students respond to different teachers in different ways. It also taught me not to always listen to previous teachers, regarding behavior, and let all students have a fresh start in my classroom without a "label!"
  2. What has been the most exciting thing you've done this summer?
    • This summer is my first summer off after a two year master's program, so everyday is exciting. I have gone to Washington, D.C. and to Folly, S.C. for two different vacations, but my most exciting thing was probably this past week. I have spent two days canning pickles, salsa, and freezing corn with the help from my dear ole grandmother and one of my great friends. I am trying to learn this lost art that is EXTREMELY time consuming to say the least. Now, I will have salsa, pickles, and corn all winter, Oh My! :) 
  3. What was your favorite TV show as a child in the grade that you teach?
    • When I was in fourth grade, my favorite show was 7th Heaven. My mom and I would sit down and watch this show every week together. I still remember to this day learning about the concentration camps during WWII through 7th Heaven and my mom explaining that awful time in our history to me.
  4. What do you keep in the trunk of your car?
    • Usually I try and keep my trunk clean. At all times, we have an emergency car kit that stays back there and truthfully, I probably wouldn't know what to do with it if I needed it. It's not a survival kit, it's like tools and stuff you need to fix something that is DEFINITELY not in my area of specialty! However, right now we have boogie boards form the beach still back their (embarrassed, we have been home for two weeks)!
  5. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
    • When I was in high school, I was a lifeguard and one of the job requirements was to teach swimming lessons. While I was teaching swimming lessons, one child had worked really hard all week to get the basic arm stroke down and on the last day something just clicked. The child got this look in their eyes and it literally lit up my world. I was addicted to the look children get with they "get it." I still get to see that look in the classroom and I don't have to get cold from getting in the water! :)
  6. If you could have had the starring role in one film already made, which movie would you pick?
    • If I could have the starring role in ONE film, I would pick Reece Witherspoon in This Means War because she gets to act beside two leading men that are (in my opinion) very gorgeous. Plus, Reece is one of my favorite actresses.
  7. What are your favorite books about teaching?
    • My favorite books about teaching are: The Leader in Me by Stephen Covey and Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.
  8. If your house was burning down, what three objects would you save?
    • The three objects I would take are: 1) Binx, my cat! 2) My cellphone to call the fire department! 3) My purse so that I would still have my ID's. However, knowing my true addiction to my computer, I would probably grab that prior to #2 or #3. Binx would be a definite though! 
  9. What thought or message would you want to put in a fortune cookie?
    • "Wrong is Wrong even if everybody is doing it. Right is right even if no one is doing it."
  10. What is one item that you really should throw away, but probably never will?
    • My very first pair of rainbow flip-flops. I have had them since I was a sophomore in HIGH SCHOOL and while they are very raggedy, I just can't throw them away. 
  11. If you had to give up a favorite food, which would be the most difficult to give up? 
    • Hands down, no doubt: CHEESE DIP. Sadly, I'm addicted.

11 Random facts about me:

  1. I am addicted to making flipcharts for my classroom. (Flipcharts are through Promethean's ActivInspire program.)
  2. I LOVE, LOVE coffee. It's an every morning thing for me.
  3. I HATE, HATE cold weather, which is odd since I went to college in a place that snows from October to April some years. Speaking of Appalachian, we went on a family vacation with my husband's family and some of their friends a couple of years ago. There was a total of 11 people and all but 1 had attended App at some point. The only person who has not attended was my niece who was one at the time.
  4. I love to run. I just started in February and I am training for a 10k right now. One day I want to run a 1/2 marathon so I'm pretty sure it's a lifestyle choice, not a phase I'm going through.
  5. I enjoy watching reality television and my favorite shows right now are Big Brother and Pretty Wicked Moms.
  6. My husband and I were high school sweet hearts and so were both of our parents.
  7. I love clipart and making activities for my classroom.
  8. I love getting to watch the TODAY show in the summer time.
  9. I am a pet lover and I REALLY want a Goldendoodle or a Labradoodle. 
  10. When I go to the beach I just like to tan and read. I get in the water sometimes, but I don't really want to move, just bake.
  11. I am terrified of spiders and snakes and really ALL creepy crawlers. 

11 Questions for my Nominees:

  1. If you had to describe yourself using only three adjectives, what would they be and why?
  2. What is your favorite stress reliever during the school year?
  3. Do you use reading workshops in your classroom. If so, what do you think about it?
  4. If you could go back and relive one teaching experience you've had what would it be? Positive or Negative.
  5. What are your hobbies?
  6. What is your all time favorite lesson?
  7. What is your all time favorite recipe?
  8. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  9. If you had unlimited money, what would you buy for your classroom?
  10. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a blog?
  11. Are you an animal lover?

I look forward to making so many new blogger friends through this wonderful experience. Thank you again Jo Anne for this wonderful nomination. :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tune into Technology Linky: iPads

Today I am linking up with iTeach 1:1 and Learning to the Core for what might be my all time favorite link up so far. I am a HUGE fan of using technology in the classroom, ESPECIALLY iPads and iPods, and this linky is PERFECT for finding new apps to engage my wonderful kiddos with. Head on over to one of their blogs to find all the wonderful suggestions.

Two years ago, I received a fully funded Bright Ideas Grant for six iPods for my personal classroom use. This same year, my school also purchased an iPad cart and ever since then, my name has been a permanent fixture on the check-out list. While managing the iPods can be a little overwhelming at times, especially in the Summer when I reprogram and update ALL SIX INDIVIDUALLY (roll of eyes), I thoroughly having them and enjoy seeing my students engaged all year long with them.

Okay, Okay, enough of my jibber jabber and on to the best part. Some of my favorite all time apps are below:

1. QR Code: Since others have posted about this I won't spend a lot of time on it. However, I use this app almost everyday. Any website I want my students to visit from my personal webpage to Big Universe, we have a QR Code for them all. They love scanning the code and they also love making their own code. It's excellent for self check activities also.

2. Trading Cards: Our lead teacher found this app last year and I am addicted to it. If you have never seen it, you seriously need to check it out ASAP and the best part about it is it's FREE!! (I love that word)! You will love it, I promise. Students are able to pick an option of the type of trading card they want to make from a fictional character, to objects, to yes, even vocabulary words. Then, they are prompted on how to fill the trading card out and they are able to add a picture. Once they are finished, they can Bump the trading card to your main iPad, or you can email it to yourself. Here is an example one of my students did early this year when we were studying the American Revolution.

3. PhotoCard Lite: This app is a great way to get your students to write. I used this in my classroom when I taught third grade when we were studying Past and Present lifestyles. We taught this unit using Little House on the Praire as a reference point. At the end of the unit, we had our students write a post card to one of the characters from Little House on the Praire explaining the difference between current times and past times. They LOVED this activity and it was much more engaging for them than simply just writing an essay on the difference. You can also have students take on the perspective of a particular character in a book and have them write a post card to another character.

4. StoryKit: This app is just a great one that allows your students to write their own book. I use it a lot when my students finish a writing piece to allow them to "publish" their work. We upload them to our class website and they show them off any time they get. This app is designed for an iPod/iPhone but will work on an iPad.

5. StoryLines: This is just a fun and engaging way to get group work and writing all in one. Ideally this app is designed for students to complete one part of the process and pass the iPad to their partner to complete another part. You can choose to have a group of 3, 5, 7, or 9. Each person will have a job to complete and when all jobs are complete, it plays it. It can be extremely humorous because the third student can't see what the first student did and so forth.  I use this when I teach idioms.

Okay, so far all the apps I have mentioned are FREE. I will leave you with one to purchase that is, in my opinion, well worth the money. It is called POW! Strip Design.  When given an option my students 95% of the time always pick this app to create a project. It is just an app that creates a comic strip that reminds me of the graphic novels kiddos oh, so love. They are allowed to upload their own pictures or pictures from the web and add text and graphics. Go check it out, at $2.99, it's really a steal!

I could literally go on and on forever about APPS (well, maybe not literally) but a long time! I hope this has been a little bit helpful for someone out there. I also want to give a HUGE thanks to  iTeach 1:1 and Learning to the Core for hosting this linky, great job guys! :) I will now go through all the link ups with my iPad in hand and download all the great ideas! :)