Sunday, September 1, 2013

Classroom Photos... Finally!

You've been waiting, and now they are here! Now that my iPads are in my new classroom, my tables have arrived, and it's all organized, I've got some photos to share with you!

Yes, I'm just now all organized even though Friday was the end of our first week. :)

Here is the view as you walk in the front door:

Here is my classroom library:

Here is a bulletin board ready for our creative thinking and brainstorming strategy anchor charts:

Here are the book boxes:

This is where I will display some of the students' work inside the room:

This is the reading tent. It was made by my husband's grandmother. She added fabric to a premade mosquito net.

Here is a picture of one of the student tables ready for Tuesday:

This is where we store supplies and materials since there isn't room at the tables:

This is where I store materials for the week:

Here is my desk area:

Our technology rocks board with rules for using the iPads:

My teacher read aloud books:

This is where the students hang backpacks:

I think that covers most everything. The decorations are ones that I created to match my star theme. You can find them in my TPT store if you are interested.

Hope everyone has a restful long weekend!
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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Back to School Very Soon...

Back to School on Monday to be exact! I can't believe how quickly the summer has flown by! 

Between moving into our FIRST house, getting ready for my kids that I met last Thursday, and getting ready for our North Texas blogger meet up tomorrow, I've been pretty busy!

Over the last two weeks, I mainly focused on getting my room in progress and moving into our house. When I walked into my room two weeks ago, this is what I saw:

It may look like a pretty clean slate to you, but one thing was missing... all of my boxes!!!

Turns out there was a leak in the roof/flood and all of my things got moved into this room along with 4 other people's things. It was quite a task to find all of my belongings among the others.

This is a picture of part of my room as I was in progress.

Unfortunately, I don't have any others for you. Don't know why I didn't think to take them yet. I promise I'll post pictures next week. I have to show you what I did for our Meet the Teacher, too. It was wonderful! I even had all of my kids show up this year. Wahoo!

On another note, I'm sure you've already heard about the big TPT sale which starts tomorrow!

I would highly suggest filling your cart tonight so you can have all of your goodies ready to go!

I haven't said too much on my blog about my TPT items lately, but I did want to point out a few that are new.

If you haven't checked the next few out, you may want to. They are very popular!

I will have my items 20% off now through Tuesday even though the sale only runs through Monday. Get them on sale now while you can!

I can't wait to share my classroom photos, my blogger meet up photos, and my new blogging series! :)
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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Gear Up With Teaching Strategies- Part 1

Here it is! This is part one of my linky party "Gear Up with Teaching Strategies". I wanted to create this linky party to get teachers ready for the year. As tempted as we all are to go straight to decorating and organizing our rooms, it's also good for us to make sure we have some solid teaching strategies in our tool boxes.

Any strategy you use over and over again is a great one to share. I'd love to hear what you do no matter how simple! Feel free to link up or comment to share yours.
I want to share different strategies you can use that all have to do with butcher paper and smelly markers. (Really any kind of markers would work, but the smelly ones are so much fun!)

1. Pre-assessment
One of my favorite ways to pre-assess what students know about a topic is by writing down 4-8 content vocabulary words on pieces of butcher paper, with one word on each sheet. Students rotate around the room in groups writing down everything they *think*  they know about that word. After they have had enough time you can discuss what they knew and find any misconceptions you will need to cover.

2. Formative Assessment
I love to use butcher paper for formative assessment as well. I put questions or words on butcher paper and put them around the walls of the room. Again, the students use markers to answer the questions or show what they know about a vocabulary word. This time, they get to do it more like graffiti. They can add little pictures or use special handwriting to put their answers on the wall like graffiti. Again, it shows you what your students know and what misconceptions they may have.

3. Word Problems
Butcher paper can also be fun to use for word problems. I've posted before about how I paste a word problem in the middle, and students rotate around the room answering the question.You can click here to go to my previous post.

I've also recently heard about a way to do the same thing only the butcher paper looks more like this:

The word problem goes in the middle, and 4 students have their own space to show their work for the word problem.

4. With Pictures

I also enjoy finding pictures and pasting them to butcher paper for certain lessons. When you can find eye-catching photos and students get to use your special markers, how can they not be engaged? I posted about how I did this with Fact and Opinion as the topic here. You could also do this with other topics easily such as landforms, shapes, letter sounds, and more!

I also have to add that I finally finished it!!! My "Not Your Normal Back to School Unit" is complete and packed with activities to do at the beginning of the year that require your kids to think deeper from the start! It also has ideas for almost every activity to differentiate for your strugglers and the ones who need more of a challenge. You can check it out here!

I'd love to hear about ANY teaching strategy you regularly utilize in your classroom. No matter how simple it may seem, it may spark an idea for another teacher. Please comment with your strategy or link up! 

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Five For Friday

It's already Friday?!?!? The summer flies by so quickly! I have been a busy girl! Look and see what I've been up to:

  1.  I've been working so hard on my Back to School Unit. I did end up deciding to call it "Not Your Normal Back to School Unit" because it's really not. It has deeper thinking and differentiation ideas throughout the entire thing! Can't wait to share it! (Probably tonight or tomorrow afternoon!) You can check out a sample of it that I couldn't wait to post here.

  2. I've been working with Mrs. Thompson from Adventures in Teaching on our North Texas Blogger meet up. It's gotten huge... maybe the biggest one I've heard of! :) Can't wait to meet these lovely ladies!

  3. I've also been working on my first post for my Teaching Strategies Linky Party. It starts tomorrow, so I hope some of you plan to share something! Read more about that here.

  4. My room isn't ready for me to work on yet, so instead I've been working on creating things for it. I've been working on my star themed decor and have created banners, table signs, and clock labels.You can click on the words to check them out. P.S.- The banners are free!

  5. I've also enjoyed spending time with my husband. I know I posted this picture last week, but for some reason I like the picture. It's weird that I like one with those completely unattractive 3-D glasses... :)

I hope your to-do list is winding down as the school year approaches and that you get your last bits of relaxation in, if that's possible, as you get ready for the year!

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Critical Thinking from the Start of the Year with a FREEBIE

Knowing that I am going to have a room full of not only gifted children but highly gifted children this year has really got me thinking about how I am going to challenge them from the start. It's what made me decide it would be a good idea to have a Teaching Strategies Linky Party starting this Saturday.

So, as I was planning with my team, we had some great ideas that showed me how we could take what we would normally do to another level for these kids. There won't be any back to school about me books happening in my classroom. (Not that there is anything wrong with that for most classrooms, it just would bore these kids I'm going to have to tears.) The "about me" activities they will do will require them to look at it from different perspectives. I have so many ideas swarming that it kept me up the last two nights. My sweet husband waited for me to jot them all down. My "it will only take 20 minutes" somehow turned into about an hour. The time flew by to me, though!

I've started working on my Back to School Unit. I'm tempted to call it "Not Your Normal Back to School Unit" because everything in it will encourage deeper thinking and share ideas for differentiation. I figure that if this is the kind of thing we want from our kids all year, why not start off that way?

One thing I just couldn't wait to share with you is a strategy called RAFT. It's been around a while, and it's nothing I came up with by any means. I originally learned about it when I had my 30 hours of GT training. Read Write Think does a great job of explaining it. They do say that it is for grades 5-12, but I see no reason why I can't do it with my 1st and 2nd graders next year. They just might need a partner to work with.

It's basically a strategy for showing understanding of a concept by looking at it from an unusual perspective. 
The R stands for role. Who are you writing as? 
The A stands for audience. Who are you writing to?
The F stands for format. How are you going to present this? iMovie? Story? Letter? Comic?
The T stands for topic. What are you writing about?

So to present this to kids, you may give them some kind of a chart like this:

From there, they can choose how they want to show you what they know. 

I'm going to introduce it at the beginning of the year as we talk about how we are feeling about school. Some of them may be excited, sad, unsure, etc. We are going to compare those feelings to how inanimate objects might feel. For example, they may choose to be an eraser talking to a pencil about school starting tomorrow. You can probably imagine that the eraser complaining about how they are going to have to work now because of all the mistakes the pencil makes. I love how creative the students can get with this!

If you want to download the PDF version of my RAFT freebie up there, you can grab it here:

Beg of the Year RAFT

If you like this type of thing for the beginning of the year, then you will love my "Not Your Normal Back to School Unit" when I'm done. Can't wait to share it all with you!

By the way, this simple strategy is the kind of thing you could blog about and share at my Teaching Strategies linky parting starting this Saturday. Hope you will create a post to link up!
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Monday, July 29, 2013

North Texas Bloggers Come Meet With Us!

I was so excited when Mrs. Thompson from Adventures in Teaching contacted me about a North Texas blogger meet up.

We decided to pull something together rather quickly right before we all start back to school. 

If you want to travel to the DFW area, or already live here, come and meet up with us! We've already picked out an AWESOME place and have some great goodies from my favorite SUPERSTAR bloggers and TPT sellers. I've also got some great ideas cooking for what special things I should make for you! I kinda think I'd love to be a party planner if I wasn't a teacher. You won't want to miss this!!!

If you are interested, contact Mrs. Thompson at for all the details.
Seriously, you won't want to miss out on this! Can't wait to meet all of you North Texas teachers! :)

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