Thursday, August 28, 2014

Totally Random Proper Noun Activity

So have you guys ever just looked at your plans in the morning and said, "Man, that is just going to be boring." Sometimes I do that. Sometimes I'm so rushed to get plans made on the weekends that I don't plan the most spectacular activities ever. Just being transparent here folks! Luckily, I'm pretty good about going over my plans before I teach them and if something isn't sounding super awesome, I just change it up. Don't get me wrong: I love lesson plans. And I'm super organized. But when it comes to teaching, some of my best lessons have been lessons that I spontaneously came up with right before teaching them. Sometimes you just have to flexible, y'all!

Language can be boring. So I knew that I wanted to get my kids up and moving while still reviewing and discussing proper nouns. So on the fly, I threw together a little activity to get us moving and having fun! Some people call these little activities gallery walks. Mine tend to be a little upbeat and loud for a gallery. But there's nothing wrong with that!

I made a few simple posters like these on colored copy paper:

Super fancy....I know. But hey, when you're more worried about getting a fun activity together before your kids get back from P.E., fanciness is not a priority.

Next, I posted the signs around the room. I put some on tables. I also, taped some to the doors and walls. An activity is always more fun when stuff is hanging from the walls. Am I right?!

My next step: choosing sticky notes to use! Please tell me I'm not the only sticky note hoarder. I literally have them located in about 5 different places depending on what they are used for (my own personal sticky notes, small sticky notes, large sticky notes, fun shaped sticky notes, and sticky note overflow). Check out this collection:

Ha! On a side note that has nothing to do with this post, please look at these adorable pig sticky notes that I got from Wally.....

So stinking cute, right?! I bought two packs. I'm thinking a Charlotte's Web activity?? I need to make that happen.

Anyways, back to choosing sticky notes. I settled on the small ones. I think they're some random 1 7/8 x 1 7/8? Or something like that. Perfect since we're just writing one word on them. And as you can see, these are Wally brand sticky notes. Ain't nobody wasting precious, brand-name Post-It notes on this sort of activity. Just sayin'.

I gave each student 5 sticky notes (even though I made ten posters, I wanted this to be a quick activity). You can make this activity as long or as short as you want! I turned on the Kids Bop Pandora station and the students rotated from poster to poster turning the common noun on the poster into a proper noun. Here are some fun examples:

Then we went through the results as a class. As you can see, some of us need reminding that proper nouns get capital letters. We'll work on that.

I also need to inform our social studies teacher that the kids definitely do not know the difference between a city and a state. Ha! See example below:

Gotta love 'em! Hey, look! I integrated a S.S. assessment in with my Language assessment! INTEGRATION, Y'ALL!!

This activity was fun and quick. It took very little prep. It was also a great assessment tool, as I could see if we needed more practice with proper nouns or not. I think we've got this one down (with the exception of a few reminders that proper nouns get capitals)!

Just a fun little activity that I'll definitely adjust for my needs and use again! The kids loved it. I loved it. It was fun!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

2014 Classroom Reveal...Warning: Photo Overload!

Y'all. Can you believe we are back at school?! I'm sorry, but what happened to June and July?? I think summers get shorter when you're a teacher...just sayin'.

Anyways. Back to business! Back to school means classroom reveal photos, guys! I'm so excited to share my classroom with you guys! I love decorating my classroom almost as mush as I love teaching itself. Seriously. It's just fun. So if you're all cozied up and we go!!!!

Here's my classroom from the door. As you can tell, I don't have the biggest classroom in the world. But guess what? I make it work for me and my students, y'all! There is not one inch of my classroom that goes untouched! Ha!

Here's my actual door. Simple, cute, and colorful!

As you enter the door, I have my command center. Here you'll find lunch envelopes, tissues, disinfecting goodies, and a three-drawer organizer that my students use to turn in anything and everything (remember I'm departmentalized). I also have my reminders sign (perfect for jotting down little notes about transportation changes and announcements). Then I have this adorable 4S line posters that I got from Valerie King for FREE that you can find here.

Behind my door, the command center continues (because of security reasons, my door has to remain closed and locked, so this area is very accessible). Here I have my class schedule, gifted pull-out schedule, special of the day, lunch calendar, and.......

MY JOB CHART! Y'all. I love my job chart. I just think it's so darn adorable (but I may be biased). Last year I hung my job chart up with pretty patterned duct tape instead of using the border. I love it both ways!

On the back of my door, I have necessary forms, a clip board that has a "How We Get Home" chart on it, and a pocket chart that I use to manage absent work (which can be very overwhelming in a departmentalized classroom, especially during cold and flu season). You can read more about how I manage my absent work HERE!

Moving is my Daily 4 rotations board! On it I have 2 pocket charts: one for weekly tasks and one for my rotations schedule. I know, I know. Choice is the foundation of Daily 5. I know. I get it. But in my classroom, it just works better for me if I choose their rotation (because I group my kiddos). More on that later, though. Under my rotations board is a bookshelf that houses stuff (games, dictionaries, supplies).

Here is my pencil station. Now guys, I see tons of posts about trying to keep pencils around and managed, but no one understands the nightmare that is the great pencil battle better than a departmentalized teacher. At the beginning of last year, I started the week with 50 pencils in the can and ended the week with 5. It was insane how quickly my pencils vanished. Every time students switched classes, they took my pencils with them! Now I have figured out the most fabulous system. All it takes to keep your pencils in your classroom is a little bit of fun patterned duct tape! I just put a small flag on each pencil. Now it is really obvious when a student accidentally takes a pencil to another room and they are almost always returned as soon as possible! I started this last year (using the same tape) and now the 4th graders (my babies from last year) can spot my pencils in the hallway quicker than anyone! They've even returned a few pencils that they have found in the hallways! Love them! No more misplaced or lost pencils for me!

Next up is my technology. My precious little computer from the early 2000's :) Hey, better than no technology right?? I also plan to bring in old iPhones that I snatched up from family members to up my technology factor :)

Beside my computer desk is my writing area (which is sadly naked right now). I just can't decide how I want to set up this giant writing table. I have two milk crate stools under the table so that students will be able to write at this table once D5 really gets going. The bulletin board above the table will be strictly for writing "stuff." I got my VOICES board from the Down Under Teacher and you can get that here. I really hope I do it justice! Above my VOICES board are my writing process posters (which you can find in a fabulous pack HERE). Also, if you're wondering, those green curtains hide the ugliest AC unit you have ever seen. I just couldn't look at that thing all year. When I first moved into my room last year, it was the first thing I wanted to hide. Mr. Cain is responsible for hanging those curtains. He's the best :)

In this corner, I house a bunch of different stuff. The plastic drawers house extra supplies (I have literally no storage). The black shelf houses all my Word Work stuff. The tubs house my different Word Work stations (they're still leftover from last year because we haven't started Word Work yet).

There's my homework board! I write down all of our weekly homework on this board. Obviously, I have a BUNTING OBSESSION.

In this corner of my room, I have a shelf over my coat hooks that houses our Reading Street readers and workbooks. The white wire shelf holds all my small group goodies (I use table 4 as my small group table since we do D5 scattered throughout the room). Below the coat hooks, I have my book baggie storage for D5. You can read more about my resourceful book baggies HERE!

I numbered my coat hooks because I am too OCD to leave them unnumbered (is that a word? Whatever.).

And next you have my whole group meeting area. Love my cheetah rug! I got it for a great deal at Ross when I was still a broke first year teacher :) The meeting area is of course, centered around my Smart Board.

Now. Notice the beautiful background behind the Smart Board?? Well it didn't always look like that. This is what it looked like before.....

YIKES! I got my Smart Board back in March (PRAISE THE GOOD LORD!). But there were literally THREE (ONE, TWO, THREE) boards layered over each other where I wanted my board to go! Well they could only remove the front whiteboard so the other whiteboard and the chalkboard behind it had to stay. So they just installed my Smart Board over the old, nasty whiteboard. And from March to May, that's what I saw up there. And it made my skin crawl. So my first project this summer was covering that nasty board! So after some poster board and a little boarder, I have a gorgeous Smart Board backdrop (fancy, huh)???

To the left of my board, I have 3rd Grade Thoughts' Whole Brain Teaching Rules which you can find for FREE here.

To the right of my board, I have my happy face board (also part of Whole Brain Teaching). I keep tally of the happy faces and sad faces and the kids compete in a little class competition which I also keep track of here. The classes compete for a whole class prize every month (this month we're working on a homework pass). Finally, on top, I have my Class Dojo rewards! You can read about how I use Whole Brain Teaching and Class Dojo in my classroom and snag my Dojo Rewards Menu for free HERE!

In the next corner of my room, I have random junk (just kidding). I have a cabinet that is literally my only storage in my classroom. You don't want to see inside, trust me. I use anchor charts in my classroom so an easel is a must! When I was a first year teacher, fresh out of college, I couldn't afford a fancy pants easel. So how did I solve this problem??? Mr. Cain made me one! And even painted it my favorite color! In case you haven't worked this out yet.....he's the greatest.

Along the wall, I have three ottomans and two pillows pushed together that I call "the couch." We can pretend, right? Above the couch is my focus wall. I think it's really important that the students start learning with the end in mind, so I like them to know what standards we are working on each week. I made the bunting and I got the focus wall headers and standard cards (not pictured) from One Extra Degree HERE. They are fabulous!!! Beside my Focus Wall, I have my learning scale which you can learn more about HERE!

Next up, we have my teacher area! I love the stuff on the wall, y'all. My OU flag shows my Sooner pride, my Mrs. Cain bunting is adorable, and eventually my whole wall will be filled with "happies" from my students (I've got a great collection started for only being back for 2 weeks)! I also have my teacher toolbox and a giant printer (ignore him. He's a big, ugly monster). I'm so mad that I forgot to take a picture of my day of the week magazine file organizers! You can see them to the right on top of my filing cabinet. I store all my books and activities for the week in a magazine file for each day of the week. I glued Monday through Friday labels onto clothespins and clipped them to the front of the boxes. Totes adorbs and totes orgs (as in, organized). Just kidding. If I ever talk like that again, slap me.

And now guys......for my favorite part of my classroom.....MY CLASSROOM LIBRARY!

I just love my library. Seriously. Love. I could sit in it all day and just soak in all the beautiful, book happiness. I've got a few different book bins that I use. Chapter books are in plastic shoe boxes and baby milk crates and picture books are in dish pans (remember, last year I was a first year teacher on a BUDGET). Eventually I'll invest in pretty book bins, but for now, these work for me! I have all my books labeled by genre or topic so that students can easily find what they are interested in. All the levels of the books are on a sticker on the back of the book but I don't want students to pick books solely based on levels or points. I want them to read what they're interested in and learn to love reading! Each book has a circle garage sale price sticker on it with a number that matches the number of the box that it goes back into. This makes it easier for the kidsters to return the books to their proper bucket!

On the wall in my library, I have a few fun things. Above the bulletin board, I have Rachel Lamb's genre posters which you can find here. I just love them! So adorable! On my bulletin board, I have my CAFE board (which I'm trying for the first time this year). I mix and matched my headers and strategy cards. The headers are from Cute Classroom Creations and you can find them here and the strategy cards are from Down Under Teacher and you can find them here.

And here's a few whole class pics! Don't mind the child in the library. He is a teacher's child and was in my class last year. He was in my classroom pics last year, too :) Love him!

And there you have it, friends! That is where I teach and love and learn! I love my little piece of elementary happiness!

If you're interested, you can find all my chevron decor pictured as well as a ton more in this fabulous little chevron-y bundle! You can also purchase many of the pieces individually so make sure to explore my store! Enjoy!

If chevron isn't really your style, you can check out my Polka Dot Classroom Decor Mega Bundle! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Running a Smooth Back to School Night

You guys...seriously. School has begun?! We've been in for 3 days now and it has been a blast (but so, so exhausting). I'm still trying to get into a groove for this year but I will tell you about one thing that has gone smoothly this year...Back to School Night! My night went off without a hitch because I made sure that I was incredibly organized and ready for the night! I'm going to share a peek at my night with you and maybe you can share some tips from your night with me!

I'm going to walk you through my room as if you were a parent of one of my students. Ready?? Okay!

I have my Back to School Night set up in stations and I LOVE it!! It frees me up big time so that I'm able to meet children and talk to parents who have finished working through my stations.

First up...Sign in! I put a sign-in sheet at Station 1 so that I know who came and so I have parent email addresses in one place!

Next is Station 2!

At this station, parents pick up their child's information folder. Our school requires that parents sign a form saying that they have received all the forms so that is what the sign-in sheet is at this station.

Now let me give you a rundown on my folders. First of all, they took almost no time at all to put together! I seriously sat down one Saturday night while watching a movie with Mr. Cain and got them done in no time!

First, I glued all the covers onto the folders.

Next, I laid all the papers that go into the folder out on my floor (yikes, that's a lot!).

Then, I stuffed the pages by category. One side is for forms that have to be signed and returned. The other side has pages that are informational and can stay at home.  I put a 'Forms to Return' checklist on the 'Sign and Return' side so that parents can mark off all the forms that they have completed.

Last, I stuffed a business card into the folders that had each teacher's email address and our class website address!

Now, luckily, I was super prepared and made an extra folder just in case a new student came the night of Back to School night. Well, I didn't get a new student that night but I did have one parent walk off with another student's folder (even though they had their names right on the cover :P), so I had to give the folder-less student's parents the back-up folder so his parents could get started on his forms. Always be prepared, y'all!!

While I was stuffing folders, my dog Maggie got bored and decided to go to sleep. 

Isn't she adorable?!

Okay back to the stations... Station 3 is a station where parents tell me how their kiddos will be getting home on the first day of school and throughout the year! This station is super important so I make sure that I'm hanging out near this station so I know how all my students will be getting home.

Station 4 is a station where parents fill out an information card about their student. I don't let parents take these home because this is information that we will need right away. I put a bunch of pens at the station and make sure there are plenty of chairs around the table so that many parents can fill out forms at one time.

Station 5 is a fun station! It's our class wish list! Here I post things that we need for our classroom so that parents can donate supplies if they wish to. I ask for things like disinfecting wipes, markers, post-its, and other fun things we'll use throughout the year. I made cards for this station that are adorable but ran out of time to print and cut them so I just used apple post-its instead :) The key to teaching is flexibility, right?!

Station 6 is my supply drop-off zone. Many students bring their supplies to school on Back to School night so I had to have a way to sort and organize their supplies. I got bins and milk crates out and labeled each one using my supply label tents. I also left 2 permanent markers at the station so that parents and students could label supplies. I also had a checklist at the station so that parents could mark-off everything that their student brought.

Finally, after parents worked through all the stations, I had a PowerPoint presentation rolling on my SmartBoard so that my students and their parents could learn some important information about our classroom!

Well, there you have it! My Back to School night was so stress-free and smooth! It was great! I had plenty of time to interact with students and parents and I spent no time explaining to parents what I needed from them throughout the night!

If you are interested, you can purchase my Chevron Back to School Night Pack from Teachers Pay Teachers! It includes all the things used at my Back to School Night (plus more)! I included signs, forms, PowerPoint presentations, labels, and so much more! It is fabulous! But maybe I'm biased ;) Click the pic below to check out the preview for my pack!

 Chevron Back to School Night Pack!

I hope you found some useful information in this post! I'd love to hear about your tips and tricks for managing Back to School Night!