Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Encouraging words

I have been uber stressed between grad classes, my best friends wedding coming up and school - with my crazy class. I have barely had any time to even look at Pinterest or blogs and its upsetting to me since I had SO much time this summer. Anyway, I have about three minutes before I need to start researching again but I wanted to share this with the blog world. Sometimes you just have one of those days - a lot of my days are like that for me this year - and you need something - or someone - to pick you up. I got this email from my mom today and it was so uplifting and wonderful. If you had one of those days use these words as your inspiration to keep going strong. It was exactly what I needed.....

Hi sweetie!  I just want you to know I remember when you were in kindergarten and how important your teacher was to you. Mrs. Anderson/Jones set the tone for you to love school, and become who you are today.
Remember, even on the days when everything goes wrong, when it feels like you are talking to the walls:  You are making a difference in the lives of these little people.  You might be the only one who listens today, the only one who sees, the only one who loves the unlovable, even for just a few hours. And if YOU can't do that, God can, through you.
I love you so much, and I am so proud of you.
♥ Mom

Monday, September 5, 2011


It is amazing how quickly my time disappeared once school started. This will be a VERY quick post. I haven't even had time to 'stalk' other people! I have survived my first two weeks with Kindergartners and although it has been crazy and busy and stressful and frustrating all wrapped into a big knot, I am learning to love them! :)

Tomorrow starts our full schedule - we have heat schedule. I only pray that the heat goes away with the heat schedule. It is absolutely miserable right around lunch and until the end of the day. Now that the day is longer.... we'll see what happens.

Anyway, I am looking forward to actually TEACHING them starting tomorrow. Till now we've been just learning how to be in school and wow, I forgot how HARD that was.... It's a lot of work and reminding and REPEATING yourself over and over again. I know that will have to continue, especially after the long weekend but we start our reading and math series tomorrow. I get to introduce them to our writers workshop journals and we start into our normal routine... wow, a ROUTINE!? What's that? lol

I have to say though, most of my class is awesome. I have two boys who are going to really give me a struggle throughout the year but I am already starting to figure out their triggers and their motivators which is great. We practiced literacy centers last week and I was amazed by how quietly they worked and did what they were supposed to. I KNOW they did not do that last time I taught Kindergarten. I am hoping they keep it up so I can start pulling groups.

Ok. That's all I have time for.... I have to get back to classwork and schoolwork. I am hoping once I get back into the rhythm of things I can continue to post. I took some pictures of my kids working in their literacy centers and I want to post about it but, alas, I have no idea where my plug is and I have no time to dig for it.

If you made it through this, thanks for listening to my rambling! :) I appreciate the audience.....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

NEW classroom pics!!

Well, after the LONGEST week of my life, I have come to terms with my situation and have made the best of it. I have also gotten a LOT done including, but not limited to.... taking apart my old room, taking down my bulletin boards, moving ALL my stuff down the hall (with some help from our custodian - props to Dave), figuring out where to put all my stuff in a MUCH smaller room :(, organizing my room for Kindergarten - not second grade, putting up bulletin boards, getting ready for meet your teacher and attending a Handwriting without Tears workshop - which was WAY pointless (as I have already blogged about before).

Anyway... after all of that, I took some pictures before the parents came on Thursday night and figured I would share my room with you all.

Instructions for what to do when they come in. I had labels around the room for the each of the supplies - like a treasure hunt! It worked well two years ago but wow, this year was a mess! They were all very confused. The other two teachers had no problems with this of course but oh well. I got it all put away! :)

My hallway bulletin board. It seems so empty and I would have added more but it was one of those things that got put aside for other things that needed to be done... :(

My teamie's bulletin board. I thought it was clever and cute! She is getting married soon so this is the last year she can use that! :)

The view from the door.

View from the door (straight in). You can see my kidney table and my math manipulatives. That adorable little circle table will be my word work station but I have mini crates there now to collect supplies.

I bought these tubs initially to solve my math manipulative problem I had in my second grade classroom. However, I decided to use them for something else in Kindergarten.... supply boxes! :) They were 97 cents at Lowes and snap apart and together super easily. They will go on the shelves (you can see the empty shelves in the back) when we are not using them. The red folders underneath are their take-home folders we do each year. I had all the information they'd need inside them.

My word wall. I made these letters before I even started teaching - by hand! I didn't have a cricut then and although I do now I thought I could still get use out of these cause they still look so good! :)

My center board. The rotation for each group will stay the same each day. Although, I don't know what I was thinking putting a teacher center in there... I am going to pull them. So, I have to change that to something else or just take it out and only do four rotations. 

Calendar and makeshift carpet. My books are sorted by topic but I did it for second grade and its something I haven't had a chance to do yet so I am going in tomorrow to work on that before the first day. I want them to be able to use it as soon as possible.

Another view of my 'carpet' with my awesome easel and rocking chair. That chair was my grandmas and its still rocking away however i'd like to jazz it up a bit. Its wood and a little wicker. Any suggestions?? I haven't found anything like it on Pinterest. My desk is behind that colorful shelf that my hubby built.

Cubbies... I had to make a makeshift 3 because they go so high on the sides so the kids can't reach! I will have to see if the crates work and figure out something else if not. I am only having them put their coats and bookbags in there so it should be okay... The colorful bins in the middle are going to be for their Handwriting books, their writing journals and their 'not finished' folders. Behind my beautiful 'curtains' (fabric folded in half and hanging on a rod - im not a sewer) are art things, reading things, etc.

My counter with all of the curriculum and my daily organizational tools that I need to keep myself sane.

Shelf next to my desk. Fan is a necessity - there is no air! Scentsy is also neccessary.... I have my sub tub up there and some books for our reading series. I bought one of those organizers I've been seeing all over Pinterest but I haven't had time to make the labels. I am glad its yellow though cause its bright and cheery... I love it! The sad, or good? thing about it is I've used it so much I know where everything is without the labels so I guess I can wait until I do have time. :)

My desk is a bit of a mess but not too bad considering the insane amount I've been doing lately.

The view from my desk... Its small and its not where I thought I'd be this year but .... Its growing on me. :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

No more crying, suck it up!

Yesterday I felt like I was grieving someone, I kept crying over the littlest thing - like realizing that I created something that I can't use or that I can't watch Andy Griffith this year (we watched it on Fridays and discussed it).

Yesterday as I was moving my things down the hall I had waves of being okay and waves of being angry! This is what I found out yesterday... they are making the higher grades bigger classes instead of the elementary classes - which is good. However, that means that some of the older grades lose a teacher or two and since we lost two teachers to different schools this year we needed more teachers. I just assumed we would hire for K and 1 but nope, they moved me. I taught Kindergarten my first year and I am guessing the teacher who is taking my room taught some higher grade so they wouldn't want to move her down. They were going to wait until today to tell me or even Monday because it doesn't become "official" until then... I would have been very angry but my principal fought to tell me sooner so I really do appreciate that.

After talking with my mom she told me to make a list of all the positives about it and look at it when I am feeling down. (My mom was moved - at the end of last year - from High school to first and second grade. She teaches special ed and went through the same thing as I did... and she was teaching HS for 24 years!) Making the list helped her a lot so here it is. Before I start, I tried to do this yesterday but every time I thought of a positive, it made me think of three negatives. I'm hoping today will be better....

-No grading papers
-I love the Kindergarten team
-I am closer to the bathroom
-I have already taught K, at least they didn't move me to the open first
-I'm in the same building - they could have moved me to a different building.
-I have an amazing support of teachers in my building who have offered help or anything I need in the next few days
-Meet your teacher is before school instead of after so all the kiddos bring all their stuff and I get to meet them. I love that!
-I have tables - I don't like desks! :)

Its sad but that's all I can think of. I didn't mind K my first year but I am way more of a second grade teacher. If you can think of anything that I can add to my list please comment and let me know. I have decided to be as positive about this as I can be.

With that being said, I will need to read up on all the Kindergarten blogs because I have gotten so many ideas from 2nd grade blogs this summer that I need to now backtrack. So, if you are K and have any advice for me... HELP! :)

Alrighty, on to shower and head to school. I've got lots more to move and put up and decorate and plan and........

Thursday, August 11, 2011

After some massave sobbing....

....I have gotten myself under control. I just recieved a phone call that I am moving back to Kindergarten this year! (we go back next thursday).

I was REALLY looking forward to not moving anything this year, I loved my room and it was ALL ready!!! I have so many frustrations that go with this but I am not going to be negative because I don't have time!! I am getting ready and heading in to work to move my classroom and figure out my life and will probably be there the majority of my life so.....

See you all on the flip side!! (All the exclamations are me trying to keep a happy face on)

I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.......

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What I did this summer; an ode to making me feel better

In the last month I've been getting excited about going back to school - especially with all the blogs I've been stalking following and Pinterest which is ruling filling improving my life. Then, it occurred to me - today actually - that I essentially have one week left!! AHHHHH!!!!! I've spent my last few weeks on my laptop, creating, watching TV, relaxing, etc. and now I realize that I am cutting it close for planning time. On the plus side, two weeks ago I spent lots of hours in my room and I pretty much finished it minus a few details. I need to figure out my schedule and label items with student names but I don't have either one so at least I feel comfortable about that. I just all of a sudden feel like my summer flew away from me...

So, to make me feel better, here are some things I did this summer.....
We redid our main bathroom.... love the colors, they're SO relaxing! (I can't get it to turn, sorry)

My new 63 gallon tub.... its AMAZING.... I can't wait to use it after a long day of teaching!

My amazing (little) brother was commissioned into the Army as a Second Lieutenant... I am uber-proud of him! He is getting married memorial day weekend too!!

Went to the zoo with my parents... this is my hubby and my dad.... typical.

We went to Vegas and had a FANTASTIC time! :) (again, can't get it to turn - boo)
I also painted our bedroom/bathroom upstairs but apparently have not uploaded any pictures.... Oh well. I feel much better about my summer now. :) I also tutored and took two masters classes (which I also start up again next Thursday).

So, here is my plan for the next week and the one day.... I have a gyno appt tomorrow... boo. But, then I have a mani/pedi in the afternoon. I think I'll go into school in between. Then on Thursday I tutor for the last time - probably will go into school then as well. Friday I have a haircut/color! VERY excited about that. I'm going boating this Saturday with some close friends and people I don't know. :) Then I've just got next week; Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to figure everything out.

What have I been doing with myself??? Oh, besides all the above pictures, I've mostly been cuddling with this adorable guy.... It's going to be hard not to see him all day. I can't imagine how its going to be when I have kids!!

Oh, for those of you who read my last post - Teresa is doing a little bit better. Her kidneys have not shut down, they are just 'thinking about it.' She will be up at Mayo for a while but it was good to see her and spend some time with her. I am glad it is not as bad as I thought it was however, she is going to take a lot of prayers and healing to get better! Her good attitude and resilience amazes me every time I see her. She is constantly joking around with the nurses and her family and always has a smile on her face - even when she rates the pain at a 9! You would never guess how much pain she is in! She always makes me put my life into perspective and she will never know how much that really means to me!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My 4th R; Randomness.....

Today was a CRAZY day!!

-went to school to drop off my new buys from Target and my room is HOT! I know I said this on my last post but OMG! My classroom is rediculous.... We are going to have some fainting kids - or teachers - if it is like this when the kids come!!

-I was so excited about being in the AIR for registration.... come to find out, the gym is not air conditioned! WHAT? It wasn't as bad as my classroom because the air was seeping in from the hallways but man, oh, man.... it was bad. I was there from 3-7:30! It was supposed to end at 6:30 but there were some stragglers then my money pile didn't match up with my log and I had a mild freak out. Come to find out I counted wrong - 4 times. Guess I need to practice counting money before school starts! :)

-I found out some interesting news about our numbers. My first year there were 3 of each grade... Last year there were not enough Kindergarteners for 3 classes and luckily one of the 2nd grade teachers moved so I got that spot. This year the same thing happened... only enough for 2 Kindergarten classes. (This worried me for next year because my teamies are tenured). Anywho.... we now have enough for three kindergartens!! 60 kids!! AND.... we lost two more teachers (one moved districts and one moved schools - both by choice). So, after ALL of that..... We are going to have to hire TWO MORE TEACHERS!!! We have such a small staff - about 15 - and this is going to be HUGE! (It also helps me relax because that gives me a leg up on two new teachers for next year.) :)

-On a not so great note... my beautiful wonderful sister-in-law, Teresa is in the hospital. She almost constantly lives there with all her health issues. I won't go into all the problems but right now her kidneys are failing. She is on dialysis right now up at Mayo clinic so my husband and I are going to head up there tomorrow.... She is there all the time for all sorts of things but this is different, this is much different. Please say a prayer or send a thought or whatever your beliefs are....

The Three R's: Resources, Registration and Rediculous Heat


Two wonderful teachers have created a page with a wonderful resource - a page full of 2nd grade blogs!!!!!! They just started it up and plan on offering a place for all the teachers to share and collaborate. Head on over and check it out!!


Today is registration and I am SO excited!! The sight of those kiddos coming in, getting all excited about coming to school!! I get to go in and 'work' this afternoon and I can't wait. :) We have always done it at our school in our gym. However, who wants to come into a gym that is 90 degrees??? Not this girl! They always have the doors open and the fans on but no matter what, you get discusting! (none of our buildings have air except the jr.high/district office) So, this year we are changing it up. Registration for all 7 schools (3 K-2, 3 3-5 & Jr. High) is all going to be at the Jr. High! I am excited about being in the air but I am a little curious about how organized this is going to be and how its going to go.

Rediculous Heat....

Okay, I know other people have said this but it is HOT!!! Don't get me wrong, I love summer, I love heat and I hate being cold. But when I have to bring my dog in after five minutes to prevent heat stroke and I am already drenched in sweat, its just rediculous! I feel like I've spent 90% of my summer inside. :(

On that note.... I am going to finish cutting up my laminate stuff, shower and probably head to school. My classroom is almost ready and we start on the 18th! What am I going to do?? Probably blog stalk and possibly create some things from Pinterest.... who knows!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Giveaway - Awesome Bags!!

Finally in first is having an awesome giveaway of one of my favorite things... BAGS!!! And they are GREEN!!! Can't get better than that!

Head on over and check it out!

Handwriting without Tears - causes tears!

I want to start off by saying I am very proud of myself.... I am almost ready for school!! I spent a good 6 hours at school today organizing, laminating and adjusting some bulletin boards and I really don't have that much more to do beyond lesson plans and labeling.... and we start on the 18th!!! What am I going to do till then?? Maybe I'll do some scrapbooking or take on some projects in the "make me" section of my Pinterest page....

Anyway, on to a COMPLETELY different subject and the topic of this post - handwriting. Two years ago - my first year of teaching - my district implemented Handwriting without Tears. It is a wonderful, very tactile program for individual students or small groups. When they implemented it the Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade teachers went through the 3 hour training. I paid attention and learned a lot as I was teaching Kindergarten at that point however I know the rest of my staff did not - they weren't teaching it until next year or the year after! (so they didn't pay attention - I know, their fault). Now that it has moved up two years I will be teaching it again - to some of the same kids! :)

Anyway, I just got that wonderful pamphlet that tells you the schedule for the inservice days - we only have two. I found out that we are doing the training again!! Now don't get me wrong, I love learning, I'm getting my masters right now and I am a teacher for goodness sake but some things are just unnecessary! Not only do the Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers have to go through something they already teach but they are making the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers go through it as well. I can deal with it, I haven't taught it for two years and teaching it in 2nd is going to be way different but I would be very upset if I was a 5th grade teacher who isn't going to teach it for four more years or a Kindergarten teacher who has already taught it twice!

I think my biggest problem with this is it is a waste of money. They are paying the people to come for two half days and with all the budget issues going on I feel like there would be a more productive way to spend that money. (Besides my argument that as I said before, it's good for individual or small group but VERY difficult to do whole group).

Anyway, thank you for letting me vent about this... I am a little frustrated. I am going to go look through the Teachers' Manual and see if I can make sense of it...

Would you be upset if you went to an inservice that does not apply to you? (My husband says I'm getting paid either way so I should just get over it but... see my 'waste of $$' argument.) What do you do for handwriting? Do you teach it in the younger grades? In the older grades?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Biggest Pet Peeve - Blog Hop

Alisha over at The Bubbly Blonde is having a Blog Hop that I couldn't resist joining in - if not just to make her feel better. I have pet peeves.... MAJOR ones....

Here they are.....
  1. No names on papers!!!!
  2. Tapping pencils on desks
  3. Mysteriously disappearing pencils....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Library Checkout

I have tried a few different ways of keeping my classroom library organized in my two years of teaching although I have always had them organized by subject. My first year I taught Kindergarten and had my baskets labeled. The kids used paint sticks to 'mark' the basket they got their book from. The students would then put the book back in the correct basket - theoretically.... It didn't work. The kids would forget to get their stick and move it, the stick would fall between books and the kids couldn't find them - it was just a giant mess.

Last year, my 2nd year - first year in 2nd grade - I talked a lot more about organization. We talked about how to figure out where the book goes based on the topic and genre. It worked for a while but definitely was not a good system... I had some students with 3 or 4 books in their desks and I had nonfiction books about turtles in the 'silly stories' basket - what? They just weren't looking at the labels. Another problem was that I just wasn't knowing what books were and weren't being 'checked out' and what books my individual students were reading - and I wanted to know!

So... here is my solution - my library card board!!

Here is my plan... I will put an index card and a popsicle stick in each students' pocket. The index card will be their reading log - students will write down the book they are reading on the card as they check it out. I also plan on having pockets on/by(?) each of my baskets so students can put their popsicle stick in the pocket on the basket. This will allow them to remember what basket they got it from. (Kind of like my paint sticks my first year but I am hoping 2nd grade can handle it better - and some of them are the same kids so that might help!)

My only issue is that I don't know how to attach the library cards on the baskets. I am in the process of making new labels which will probably get hooked on with the key chain things. (I don't know what they are called - haha) If I cannot figure out where to attach these other library pockets I will just stick with the index cards - I love this idea!

Oh, to make this - if you are interested - it was really easy...
  • library cards
  • hot glue gun
  • sharpie
  • ribbon
  • foam board
From start to finish it probably took me 30 minutes. The longest/hardest part was trying to even out the spaces between the pockets!

How do you keep your library organized? Do you keep track of what your kids read through the day/week/whatever?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sweat, Organization and Weirdness

I don't know what is wrong with me.... I was at school yesterday and today probably a total of 4 hours and.... I GOT A LOT DONE!! It's so weird. I am not an organized person and I am not productive. I think all this inspiration from you Bloggy people is helping me to be motivated and inspired! I can finally feel comfortable posting pictures of my room - although its not ready. Notice I am not in ANY of them because it is about 95 degrees in my room!! (NO AIR! - and no plans in the near future to get it) If it is this hot in August I might die... we all will!

I am in the same room but I completely reorganized the layout and organized all of my stuff. My goal for this year is not only to be organized myself but to teach my students organization - something they did NOT have last year. So, without further delay....

My great find from the Dollar Store... Not sure what I am using them for yet but they are color coded! :) One of my mini trashcans is missing a lid so I am going to have to go back and complain! The big 'trash cans' will definately be used for art. I always have scrap paper all over the floor or they get up every five seconds to throw their scraps away. Each group will get a trash can in the middle of their desks then at the end of art it will all get dumped! :) Yay for saving me stress!!

My library getting started... See below for more done.

My cubbies/storage with EVERYTHING in them... This was a big task!

Starting to look at lot better....

I've organized my math manipulatives so I can FIND things! :)

My book baskets - I made new labels but ran out of ink so... thats a different project.

Full library with cushions and my big shelf that I got at Menards - $40!!

The start of my writing center

In front of my desk - A few bulletin boards, a table I use for centers and my behavior managment system (green, blue, yellow, orange and red cards)

Another part of my library. That chart has my library card checkout system. I took a picture of it after I made it with my phone then later realized I didn't have a picture on my camera. That will be the topic of a later blog...

This is how my desks were when i came in. I'm okay with that because it makes it easier to move around while I'm still getting organized... When thats all done I'll set up the desks! :)

My sign in/check out table - not done yet. I have mailboxes (on the floor) which I use to pass out graded papers and flyers that I don't need back. I may not keep it on the floor but I want it by this table and it doesn't fit on it or under it... I have the pink and green things for homework and the big pink bin will be for their take-home folders after they turn in their homework. The fishbowls on the board are for attendance. Each bowl has a number. When the students come in they grab a fish (with velcro on the back) and stick it on their bowl. It takes a quick glance to see who is not here!

My desk! It is mostly organized.

More of my desk area... That crate is full of stuff I need to do... so is that black thing on the shelf by my desk...

The shelf behind my desk... my hubby made it for me! This holds my resource books, binders, my daily papers, etc.

My new mini chalkboard that I stole (borrowed) from my in-laws. The other side has a whiteboard which is facing my carpet/library. It also has a role of paper on the bottom so I can pull up and write about it. It was just sitting in their garage... what a waste! I am VERY excited!!

Well, thats most of my classroom! I am very proud of what I have accomplished in the last few days. I only have a few things to sort through and my hallway bulletin board, and focus wall to put up. Other than that I need my class list so I can start labeling things! With that said, I brought home some Mailbox magazines and a book on guided reading (which I am going to try to implement). I guess I have some planning and reading to do!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Math Manipulatives

Math manipulatives.... awesome, and yet, obnoxious.....

I love using manipulatives in math for numerous, obvious reasons. However, preparing for math each day is such a tedious, horrible task! I am trying to think of an idea to manage/distribute all of those manipulatives throughout the year. These are the ones we use and I would like to include;


Play Money

Linking Cubes

Pattern Blocks
So, here is what I am thinking.... (and here is where it gets possibly expensive). I want to have some kind of bin, bag, box, etc. for each student. Each student will have the manipulatives they would need in their box - maybe a shoe box. They sell them at target for a pretty decent price about now I think. Oh, and I also found those "book bags" which hang up on a hook, that would be good for storage - also very expensive... Then I was thinking maybe I will just put the manipulative for the unit we are on...

Here are the good things,
  1. No wasted time filling up cups or passing things out.
  2. No worry about losing things - I would have an inventory of what is in each box and students are responsible for their items - their box would have their assigned number on it too...
  3. Good way to teach organization and responsibility
Here are the problems
  1. Where do I store them?
  2. Will everything fit in there?
  3. If I do individual units I have to switch every few weeks - also I like to review so I would honestly just rather have EVERYTHING in there together....
What do you do in your classroom for math manipulatives??
How do you distribute them?