Saturday, August 31, 2013

Five for Saturday? ~B2S2013

Hi there! If you’re one of my FB fans, you know I posted a quick…brb…yesterday after school. WEllllllll, let’s just say that little nap turned into an all night affair! There is absolutely NO tired like teacher ‘Back to School’ tired! After gulping down the normal Friday night pizza, this teacher was too pooped to party and if I had tried to type a post, I promise you, you wouldn’t have been able to read it!

Soooo, here I am on this lovely Saturday afternoon ready to share about our very first week of school! We had a blast. I am totally and I mean to.ta.lly smitten with my new batch of firsties. They’re all just adorable and jumped right in, ready to get started….well, after they got used to having to be up so early again. That first day was a bit of a wake up call for all of us, lol! Hellllo!


We ended day one with a glass of jitter juice that helped us to be just a little more perky on Tuesday. The classroom has already started to change just a bit to accommodate the kiddos. You know all of those great plans you make, that get tweaked just a bit when the kids come in and add their perspective? Well, our daily schedule was the first thing to change!

It started out looking like the image on the left (facing out, of course), BUT the kids wanted a way to be able to tell what was going to happen next or just to know how close we were to going home! =) Sooooo, as we completed a portion of the schedule, we decided to flip it around to show how much work we’d already done. They love it and you better bet they won’t let me forget it….after all, this is a procedure they put in place!

Now, our schedule is all hashed out and looks like the image on the right….ready for us to tackle again on Tuesday. This is my first year teaching Reading first thing in the morning, but I do believe I like it! The day goes by pretty darn quickly when you’re having fun!


We also practiced, and practiced and practiced…..AND practiced building our stamina for Read to Self! They did an AMAZING job. It took us a couple of tries to knock out those first 3 minutes, but by the end of the week, we had doubled it to 6 minutes and 40 seconds! Whoop whoop! If you haven’t seen our very first anchor chart of the year, you can check it out HERE! By Friday, my kiddos were singing the expectations for Read to Self and very pleased with how well they had done building those muscles for reading!


We also successfully implemented our morning routine. We start with working by lamp light. Most of the overhead lights are dimmed and soft music is playing to create a calm atmosphere. This helps to minimize the distraction of class friends who are arriving tardy to the party.

Directions for morning work are projected onto the whiteboard. They begin very simply (see above) in order to build routine and confidence. For the first two days of morning work, paper was placed on table groups, but beginning next week, they’ll be using their journals in their book boxes to reflect on reading. The directions will remain simple for the first couple of weeks or so, but after we’ve begun to firmly grasp them, the instructions will go a little deeper into reading skills.

The dots indicate Go and Stop….draw on the left, write on the right. Green and Pink….why pink? That’s easy! I was all out of Red! Ha!!!


Though our little small group table won’t see much action until we finish learning the expectations for Daily 5, its all set up and ready to go with vowels to help our words stick together like glue! I’ve just added these little guys as the fan freebie over at the FB page {I think}…LIKE and grab them if you could use them too! If you try to download them and the Fans tab doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll come back and add the link here.

Thanks for stopping by to see what our first week was like! We had a lot of fun and did so much more that I’ll be sharing a little later! Enjoy your long weekend! It’s going to be an exceptional year! 


Friday, August 23, 2013

Five for Friday~Organizing and Labeling

Hi, Friends! How are ya? I’m linking up with Kacey at Doodlebugs Teaching for this week’s Five for Friday. It’s been a whirlwind of a week all wrapped up in one big pre-service bow! Our first week back was filled with lots of learning, fun, and laughter…..but went by much faster than expected!

The name of the game in the classroom this week was ORGANIZATION…check out a few more of the details that have been added over the last few days!


Prep for our math stations routines have begun. You can read about what we did last year HERE. We, generally have 6 stations in place to practice math skills. One of those stations, includes computer games. Each tub is labeled with the same number card that is on the chart. Once we’ve completed our whole group lesson, and independent work and/or {re}teaching at our desks, then student groups take the numbered bucket to the designated area of the room marked by the matching number hanging on the wall.


Our gathering place for class meetings has been established. Supplies are close at hand to use with shared reading and writing. I try to keep the books that I’ll use for the grading period close at hand. These books are ones that I will read aloud. Students may browse these books as a class reward, but do not get to select these as “good fit” books. Our easel will also house objectives written as our morning message, in kid friendly language.


Labels, labels, labels are popping up everywhere….

…including in our guided reading area!

ANNNNND, last night was THE night! I got to meet my new batch of “littles”! I am absolutely head over heels in love with my new class! Meeting the new crew and having so many former students come by to visit made the night very fun and exciting!


Now, I’m off to go plan for routines and lots of fun to kick off the year on Monday morning! If you think you might be able to use any of the labels pictured above, click HERE to grab them! The file includes each of the sets of labels above, including the math stations rotation chart.

Have a great weekend!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Five for Friday~Teacher Tips

Hi, Friends! How are ya? Today was our teacher work day and when I walked out of the door at the end of the day, I think even my brain HURT! It was an amazing day and I accomplished a lot. My classroom is all set up and now I can move on to the details of what and how we’ll begin our learning journey for the year. With that in mind, I’m going to kill two birds with one stone….or post! =)

I’m linking up with the ladies of Blog Hoppin’ to share a few of the quirks that work….or teacher tips AND with the talented Kacey at Doodlebugs Teaching for Five for Friday.


Ready?….here are a few of the quirks, perks, tips, and tricks that work well for my firsties….


First and foremost….organize, organize, ORGANIZE! This morning started with me sorting and labeling my books and read alouds for the year. LABEL EVERYTHING…not only will it help you to remember where things are, it will essentially create a print-rich classroom environment for your kiddos. Don’t be afraid to use small spaces. I try to use every nook and cranny to the fullest. If your materials will be visible within the classroom, make your labels attractive. Nobody wants to look at ‘ugly’ all day. Functional and cute is a winning, inviting combo.


If its not something you need to see every day, PUT IT AWAY out of sight. Out of sight doesn’t have to equal out of mind. Put things away neatly and arrange them in a manner that’s logical to you. Arrange like items together. And for the love of all things instructional, if its junk…if you haven’t used it in the last year….if you don’t recognize it or know what it is…if it was created before YOU graduated from high school, lol……get rid of it! Think you might use it one day? No, you won’t…chunk it! Classroom space is important real estate. If it’s not going to add value to your learning environment, get rid of it. Always leave a little room for the things you’ll make, create, or collect throughout the new year.


Create charts that you may use with student names easy to change. Students may come and go, move in and move out. Transportation modes may change, dependent upon parent needs. Using numbered clips or laminated labels that are easily erasable to edit helps to change things easily and quickly. Did you know that you can erase sharpie by writing over it with an Expo marker and wiping it away? Me either! Until one of my coworkers shared that little tip with me.  {More clips are on my list of things to pick up this weekend.} 
Rotate HELPERS weekly. That way students get to know the responsibilities of classroom jobs well. The chart for CHAMPS is to establish consistent, positive, campus wide expectations {language}. Thank you to Amber Polk for creating and sharing the wonderful freebie pictured above. Click HERE to visit her store to download it. The behavior clip chart will help students to monitor their individual daily progress toward meeting expectations.


Keep THINGS that you’ll need for transitions or whole group instruction close at hand. “Pick Me” sticks, flip chart markers, chart paper, sticky notes, pointers, Expo markers, and other misc. supplies are all great to have in the meeting area. Firsties have short attention spans…(and so do teachers who have worked with firsties for a long time=).

Maximize every minute by having the supplies you need within arm’s reach so that you don’t have to waste learning time in search of materials.  LABEL, LABEL, LABEL everything. It will help to create independent learners. If you don’t have to look at it, cover it up. Use curtains to close in book shelves to keep materials out of sight. It minimizes classroom distractions and allows for surprises when you pull out materials later in the year. If you have to maintain open shelving, make sure your items are arranged neatly and labeled attractively.


Leave plenty of EMPTY WALL SPACE to display learning. You don’t have to decorate every single inch of your classroom. As you build classroom routines and work to create a classroom community, have students help to complete the look of the classroom. This will allow students to take ownership of the room and consequently take better care of it. (I found #19. It’s hanging on the wall now! Thanks, Amy Lemons!)


BE NICE to the custodians and office staff! More often than not, you’ll need them to help you with little things… making sure all of your desks are leveled, lol! (Mine are now. =)

Above all else….beYOUtiful. Don’t compare yourself to the teacher next door. Work together with your team, collaborate openly…never be afraid to ask questions. Teachers are life long learners. No one knows it all and the best teachers are those that share, beg, borrow, and steal ideas from others! Be transparent. You never know how something little that you take for granted may be a big piece of the puzzle that someone else may need. Support the vision of your campus and exemplify the same level of excellence that you will expect to receive from your students.

If today was any indication, this is going to be one awesome school year! I hope you enjoy yours as well! This tired teacher is off to sleep until noon! Enjoy your weekend!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Teacher Week~The Classroom

Hi, Friends! It’s Teacher Week at Blog Hoppin’.  By no means is my classroom ready or for that matter anywhere near being finished. (Is it really ever?)….but these are the bones, our start…the foundation….

WELCOME and come on in……

I love the combination of green and blue for my classroom. Each year, I tend to use a “landscape” backdrop by incorporating the sun and sky somehow. I guess after having spent a number of years in a classroom without a window it made me want to bring a little of the outside in….I don’t know. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. I just like it! I’ve never really had an over the top theme, but prefer to create a backdrop for student work…


I’ve changed campuses this year and now have a “sunshine” wall. I’m in no way a fan of the color yellow. In fact, I almost never wear it because I think it makes me look I’m getting ready to hurl, BUT I absolutely LOVE this accent wall! In person, it’s more of a’s darker, not too bright…just right. I LOVE it!!! The only thing I would change about it is moving it to the front of the room. You never leave decorating to men (unless it’s Nate Berkus), lol! I’m sure they just chose a wall to get ‘er done without even thinking of which wall it really should’ve been…This is the view of the room from my small group table. From where I’ll sit, I can look out and see the entire room.

Oh, and the second set of curtains for the shelf have been ordered and shipped on Saturday. Target’s been stock of them has been out for the last two weeks!


Details, details, details….are falling into place. Last year, I used the colorful numbers from A Cupcake for the Teacher. This year, I used them as inspiration for these little cuties to continue the chevron craze taking over my room. Didn’t I JUST say that I don’t do themes, lol? Anyway… HERE to grab them and labels for your filing cabinet, if you think they’d fit in your classroom too! In order for them to fit on the clip chart, I printed two slides to one page to shrink them.

Our classroom library is shaping up. Bins are in place….ready for labels and books. Deja put all of the student book boxes together. After arranging the different boxes into a pattern, (Yes, I’m that anal.) I used labels from my chevron classroom set to add student numbers. The numbers will help with classroom organization and to practice number order. Students will have to place their book box back onto the shelf in number order each day. 

The blue strips of painter’s tape on the floor are to designate “read to self” spots for Daily 5. It gives the kiddos a little help in spacing themselves out to build stamina.

Our helper chart is ready for student names. I prefer not to type them because our population has the potential to change frequently.  Writing station is ready for labels and activities…students will have a choice ‘I CAN’ statements/activities in the white bin, vocabulary and/or sight words on the pocket chart and poetry journals in the large blue bins. In the buckets, will be choices of pens, pencils, crayons and erasers. One of those chairs will also disappear because I prefer for my kiddos to work in sets of 2. Two’s company….3’s a problem!

Schedule cards are in place….but in need of updating. The blue bin just below it will be our ‘borrow box’. In it will be basic supplies that students might need throughout the course of the day they can borrow and return like crayons…scissors, glue and glue sticks. I do not allow my students to keep bottled glue at their desks. That will be housed in the borrow box and pulled out, as needed. Supplies that are found on the floor also get tossed into the borrow box too.


There’s no alphabet hanging in my classroom yet, because well….it’s still sitting on my dining room table, lol! Today, I discovered how to print all the way to the edge of the page and got so excited that I began creating and never got back up to school to hang it! It’ll be hung just above the whiteboard at the front of the room. I shared this picture earlier today on Instagram…if you’re not already, follow me there to keep up with quick pic posts. If you’ve followed here for a while…you know that I LOVE pictures and snap them constantly. I learn something new every day and LOVE to share!

If you have an HP printer…this may be one of your print options. As you prepare to print, go to your printer properties, click the features tab and select borderless…it will enlarge the image to print all the way to the edge of the page…no pesky white border to trim!


Hope you enjoyed checking out how my room is shaping up! I’m off to peek into some classrooms too! See ya tomorrow!


Monday, August 12, 2013

Meet the Teacher~ME!!!

Hi, Friends! How are ya? I can’t believe how long its been since I’ve updated the blog! I took a little time to just live and enjoy my family, but now I’m back and ready to jump into the swing of things. Since I’ve been M.I.A…..I thought participating in a fun linky might be a good way to emerge from my little cocoon.


Each day this week, I’ll be linking up for Teacher Week over at Blog Hoppin’. You won’t want to miss this one. Be sure to stop by and get to know some of your favorite bloggers.
Ready?  Here we go……..LET’S TALK ABOUT ME! You may learn a little more than you every really wanted to know, lol! =)
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1.  I’ve been married to one of my childhood friends for the past 13 years. We grew up in the same neighborhood…on the same street. Our families knew each other before we were born. We joke about not really being sure of when we met because somehow, we’ve always been in each other’s lives. Though time, distance, and military service have changed the nature of our relationship….he is and always will be, the love of my life.

2.  My 3 favorite people on the planet call me ‘Mom’! I have 3 beautiful children…Brelan, Deja, and DJ. Brelan is the supermodel….has never met a camera or picture of Chris Brown she didn’t like! Deja is the sweetheart, genuinely very sweet and trusting. DJ…is the mathematician, ball player, and very protective of his mommy and sisters. Though they’re growing a little older everyday, I still call them my babies and love on them every chance I get!
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3.  One of my favorite things to do is paint. I get so excited about painting projects……right up…..until I get started and remember that its actual WORK! Ha! The process can be painful, but I love the end product. I’ve managed to add a little flair to several walls in my home, so we’ll see where the next paintbrush strokes take me….
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4.  My two favorite colors are pink and green….aside from being pretty and preppy, they’re also the colors of my sorority…Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.

5.  Speaking of pretty…I’d describe my style as comfy prep. I love pretty things, but comfort comes first! I find lots of comfy things at my favorite stores…Kohl’s, TJ Maxx, GAP and NY&Co. I never pay more than $20 for a piece of clothing…..EVER!


6.  I don’t get much time to watch T.V., but when I do, it’s mostly reality TV.  (Don’t judge me.) I know….it’s a horrible habit, but finding a few minutes a week to laugh at other’s lives takes my mind off some of the craziness going on in mine, lol! And who could resist Uncle Si?! I mean really? Something has just got to be wrong with you if you don’t like Duck Dynasty! Until Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy come back on, reality TV fun it is!

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7.  Sunglasses! For me, sunglasses are a must! They’re either on my face or on my head….in my purse and another pair in the car. The bigger, the better.


8.  My church…I love it! I appreciate being planted in an anointed ministry that is thriving, changing lives, and training me to grow in all areas of my life. Walking into the doors of Destiny World Outreach Center feels like being embraced in a hug. Even though there are thousands of members, my pastors know who I am and work to stay connected to the people in their congregation. All things are done in order and with excellence. It’s an awesome place to be and one of the places where I feel most comfortable to be completely myself…the me I was created to be…a worshipper of the almighty God!

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9.  Shoes! Shoes! Shoes! …..and MORE shoes! I {great big puffy heart} *LOVE* shoes!!!!

10. ….and am completely grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with so many awesome teachers in the blogging world! It has been the most beneficial professional development I’ve participated in….teachers helping other teachers! Now THAT’S where it’s at, Jack!

Thanks for sticking around and getting to know me a little better. Leave a comment…I’d love to get to know you too! See ya tomorrow….there may be a FREEBIE in it for ya! I’m in a different classroom and can’t wait to share my new digs with you!
Here’s a sneak peek……




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