Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What to do??


I hope all of you are posted up at the pool enjoying the sunshine, outdoors, and stress-free beauty that is summer.  It is well-deserved!  There is nothing quite like the feeling of having NOTHING to do.  It starts out as amazing-I can clean my house, go to the pool, walk the dogs, read a few books, etc. But then, after 2-3 weeks....reality sets in.  I am bored.  I dislike LOATHE being bored and feeling unproductive.  So, I have compiled a list of "things to do" for teachers of the restless variety.  You know you all secretly love having the opportunity to spend some quality time just brainstorming creative new ideas for your classroom-even if it is during the summer.  I always enjoyed having enough time to COMPLETELY revamp, refresh, and update my classroom.  So without further ado:

8 Summer Projects for Teachers

1.  Work on a long term curriculum map.

Evaluate what went well, and what needs revamping from the previous year.  There are a plethora of free templates on teachers pay teachers or that you can find by just googling "free long range plan templates".  If you are moving to a new grade level or subject area, familiarize yourself with your new curriculum, and begin developing a long range plan for yourself.  This WILL HELP you in the long run.  I always found that a long range plan would help me remember special units or books that I wanted to use with certain skills.

Check out these amazing resources:

Scholastic Long Range Planning Guide
More ideas from Scholastic
Mandy's Tips for Teachers **This teacher has some amazing stuff!!**

Feel free to download this sample long range plan that I used with my team:

2.  Create a floor map for rearranging your classroom.

Tired of the same ole' thing in your classroom?  Take measurements of your room, and brainstorm ways to rearrange your class while maintaining an effective flow.  There are several online tools that you can use to help you, and an infinite number of classroom photos online to help you form new ideas.
3.  Create a Reader's and Writer's notebook to use as a model for students.

Check out my post HERE.  I made these models during the summer, so that they were ready to go during the school year.  I also made several extras, so that when new students joined us late in the year, they would be able to use the same type of notebook as their classmates.

4.  Read or Reread The First Days of School or some other motivational/inspirational teacher book.

Whatever teacher book motivates and inspires you...read it!  I reread The First Days of School every year.  It helped me reset for the upcoming year, and reminded me that I set the tone and expectation on day one!  Another inspirational read is The Freedom Writers Diary.  It has been a while since I read this one, but I remember loving it.

The First Days of School

The Freedom Writers Diary

5.  Create or organize learning centers for use during guided reading.

This can be EXTREMELY time consuming during the school year.  I like for my centers to be very tactile, which means finding a lot of resources.  It can be a challenge to change up centers during the school year.  To help yourself prepare, think of center ideas during the summer, and gather up materials so that you can have them ready to go!

Click HERE to see some ideas for literacy centers that I have used in the past.

6.  Create new procedures posters or rotation charts.

You know they fade.  Just freshen up!

7.  Develop a new integrated unit.

Have you always wanted to teach fractions and plants together?  Go ahead and think through an integrative unit now, so that you are less overwhelmed when the times comes to plan for the unit during the year.

8.  Use Donors Choose to create a project for funding.

I have had many projects funded on Donors Choose, and I posted most of the projects during the summer.  It can take a little while to post a project on the site, but once it is there, you don't have to do anything!  Also, Sonic does Limeades for Learning during August/September, which is a great time to get your family to enter votes for your existing project for FREE.

Donors Choose

Sonic Limeades for Learning

I hope that you find this list helpful for you if you are the kind of person who has to be busy **like me** ! Please include any other ideas that you have in the comments box:-)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Come Back Song

Well hey there teacher bloggers!

I have taken some solid time off from contributing new posts to this blog.  Solid, like, a year long.  My reason for "stopping" my posts was that I was leaving the classroom, and felt that I would be out of touch with things that were going on, and that teachers would not want to hear from me.  As it turns out, that couldn't be farther from the truth.  I have decided...it's time for a come back!  Cue Darius Rucker come back song:

To refresh your memory...
Last year I made a decision to leave the classroom when I applied for the NC Principal Fellows Program.  This decision was extremely hard for me, because I love teaching.  Now, after a year of being in my program, I can honestly say that that decision did not become easier with time.  There are certain things that I just genuinely miss about teaching and being in my own classroom.  Consider this a don't forget to "be thankful" post.

Be thankful for your opportunity to carry out a REALLY important life's work.  Be thankful for the open, honest conversations that you can have with children.  Be thankful for the feeling of accomplishment that you have at the end of each day. Be thankful for your colleagues. Be thankful for those moments when your students tell you how special you are to them.  And most importantly, be thankful for the time you have, and the kids that you are privileged to teach.

*Sniff, sniff, tear.*

Now I know that being out of the classroom can definitely tint my rose colored glasses, but these are some things that I truly came to miss.  The hardest times have been holidays and "special" times of year.  I cried during the first week of school.  Not being there, and feeling like I had lost my purpose was challenging for me.  I do not regret my decision to start this program, but it is hard to make such a drastic life change.

Time for the silver gold lining.

The Principal Fellows Program started for me in late August.  Throughout the program, I attended classes twice a week, and worked as a graduate assistant.  There were 7 other students in the program with me, and we dove in headfirst to learning what it means to be a school leader, from an administrative standpoint.  I have LOVED this program.  My professors are all super duper supportive, and my classmates are a joy to work with.  Here's a picture of my PF class:

If you live in NC, and are considering going to route of school administration, I HIGHLY recommend that you look into the program.  As a HUGE part of our course requirements, we complete what is called a Service Leadership Project.  Basically, we go to a school of our choice, and collaborate with the Principal to decide on a project that will help us hone our leadership skills, and offer some kind of service to the school.  Long story short, my Service Leadership Project was starting an intensive Beginning Teacher Support Program from the 20 beginning teachers at the school I selected.  After getting things going with this program I realized that if I thought I was going to be out of touch with teachers and classrooms, I was dead wrong.  I spent over 150 hours working on this project:  training teachers, observing teachers, and coaching teachers.

Another exciting element of this program is the opportunity to observe administration at work.  I visited about 15 schools, and was able to practice observations, walk-throughs, and participate in meetings with teachers.

After giving it some thought, I have decided to come back to this blog.  While I personally am not teaching in a classroom, I definitely see ALOT of creative, fresh ideas in the classroom, and want to share these ideas with all of you.  Hopefully you will welcome me back with open arms;-)

Have any of you ever made career changes that were challenging?  I'd love to hear about your changes-tell me about it in the comments box!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fresh Beginnings

Happy Tuesday!  I told all of you yesterday that I am making some pretty significant life changes, and in keeping with that, I have decided to start a new blog, called Life in my Sneakers.  It will follow more of my personal life changes and accomplishments since I won't actually be in the classroom anymore.  **tears**  Please follow me by using the link below to check out what's going on "in my sneakers"!

Life in my Sneakers

Monday, July 22, 2013

Changes are coming!

Hello blog world!

It has literally been 7 months since I posted anything...slacker much?  Things were just really busy and crazy with school, and I needed to prioritize my time.  Unfortunately, that meant blogging took a backseat.  When I logged on today, it felt good to find out my followers have almost doubled during my absence!  Wow-Thanks to all of you for your support!

Part of the reason that I have been absent is that I have been in the process of making some life changes-one being that I am leaving the classroom.  I decided to pursue a degree in administration, and I will be going back to school for the next 2 years with the North Carolina Principal Fellows Program.  This has been a REALLY exciting change for me, but I also find myself sad at the thought that I won't have "my kids" anymore.  It's kind of like that bittersweet feeling that you get on the last day of school, but a lot worse!  I LOVE teaching, and I will miss it TERRIBLY.  But, I think that a degree in school administration is the best decision for my family in the long run, so that is the path I will take.  Hopefully, I can work in an elementary school, so that I won't be too far removed from sweet kiddos.  I also get time with little ones at church on Sundays, and that helps!

There have been a few other changes and events in my life too-Here are the last 7 months in a flash!
My litte bro graduated from college!  Arrgh!  So proud of him!

One of my besties and I ran the Flying Pirate Half Marathon in Kitty Hawk, NC.  I beat my PR by 30 minutes, and lost 15 pounds while training!

My husband and I revisited our honeymoon destination in Gatlinburg TN, and did some hiking-Both of these are photos from one of the hikes that we did.

I am actually standing at the edge of a cliff in this photo, but it is so hard to tell because of the giant CLOUD that blew in when we reached the jump off!

My mom retired from a lifetime career in education!  Talk about inspiration!

So, with all of the changes that will be going on in my life, I do intend to continue to post about the goings on that happen, but I will no longer be a third grade teacher, so the content may change a bit.  Thank you so much for all of your support over the past couple of years.  Get out there and enjoy some of that summer sun!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Trying to Get Ahead...

Hey bloggies!

With our school switching to common core this year, I think that **finally*  after about 1 1/2 weeks off of work, I have caught up.


Maybe Not.  

But, I feel ahead of the game because my math games for February are all made and ready!  (and my house is clean!!!)  I created a Valentine's Day Math Centers packet that is for sale on TPT for only $4!  Check it out!  The games review the topics of multiplication, multiplication and division fact families, rounding, and telling time.  Anyway, I hope that your break was wonderful and that you did NO work, like I wish I could have!

Valentine Math Centers


Sunday, December 23, 2012

3rd Grade gets Grinchy....without a camera!?!?

It's the most wonderful time of the year!!  And no, it is not summer break!  I actually enjoy Christmas break a LOT more than summer break, for quite a few reasons:

1.  I only need about 2 weeks to regenerate....2 months leads to boredom and unnecessary spending.
2.  Time with family
3.  My husband is off work for a few days
4.  Fun dresses for parties
5.  Pea Coats
6.  Presents:  hubby's birthday, our anniversary, and Christmas
7.  The crazy chance that there COULD MAYBE be a dusting of snow

Need I say more?  Christmas break is just my favorite!  

Over the past couple of weeks I have been doing a lot of super fun different Christmas activities from my classroom, and unfortunately, have not had a camera to capture every moment...blah.  That being said, here is the recap of Christmas in 3rd grade using pictures from the actual creators of the ideas!  Click the link below each picture to visit the website from where I got my idea!

Grinch Day!!

I decided this year to give "Grinch Day" a try, and it actually ended up being more of "Grinch Week".  I had to spread out the activities so that I could spend an adequate amount of time on each one!

Math-3rd grade is currently working on multi-step problem solving (I know you feel my pain here...), and it is so hard!! I chose to use a homemade powerpoint using Grinch themed questions and images to help motivate.  The kids thought it was a hoot!  

Reading-  We started out with a lesson on character traits, and I took this idea from Teaching in High Heels. First, you read aloud the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and then you work as a class to come up with character traits to describe the Grinch.  In the idea online, she used adjectives:

Grinch adjectives
The next day, we had a mini-lesson on similes and metaphors from the song "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch".  LOVED this activity!!  That song is full of metaphors, with a few similes too!  The students had a paper copy with the lyrics from the song, and had to highlight the similes and metaphors in two different colors of highlighters.  Then, each kids wrote an acrostic poem using the letters GRINCH, and writing similes to make up the poem.  They had a great time with this, too!  We also made paper grinches to go along with the poem.  In case you need a refresher:

On the last day of school, we had Grinch punch, which is just sprite, vanilla ice cream, food coloring, and some green sprinkles, and also we made Christmas trees from Whoville, which were sugar cones, white icing, made green with food coloring, and small candies for the ornaments.  We enjoyed all of this while watching the cartoon version of the movie.

idea from:  Kids Creative Chaos

Grinch Punch Recipe
idea from:  Taste of Home
We also spent some time doing holiday writing, using apple cinnamon ornaments and The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg as inspiration.  The kids always enjoy these activities.  To visit my post about apple cinnamon ornaments, click HERE. To see my polar express writing unit on TPT, click HERE.

HO HO HO!  Merry Christmas!  I hope you all enjoy the Holidays as much as I will!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Man on the Moon Timeline

Hello blog world!

It's been a hot second since I posted last.  I know you all feel the pain.  It seems like no matter how prepared you THINK you are during the summer, there is a massive amount of catching up to be done as soon as school starts back.  But, the good news is that I have a fantabulous group of kids this year, and it has been nothing but fun to head into work every day.

This week, our focus reading skill is sequencing, and today we were doing some sequencing with nonfiction work.  Integration is being pushed big time at school, so we first visited a website to learn about Neil Armstrong and the first space visit.  After that, we made one large timeline as a class.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well my kids delegated tasks!  Here are a few pictures from the lesson:

Each group was assigned a specific date from the events involving the first lunar landing.

Then they delegated tasks:  who would write the sentence, who would draw what part of the picture, who would add the color, etc.

They were so sweet to each other during the work, and were definitely constructive in their suggestions!

We also FINALLY finished up our book boxes today.  They are still in need of some modge podging by yours truly, but the kids have glued down their magazine clippings.  
**Future advice I wish I had known:  Give the kids at least an hour.  30 minutes is really just not enough time:)

That's all for now!