Saturday, August 30, 2014

Five for Friday on a Saturday CLASSROOM REVEAL Pt. 1

Hey everyone!!  So sorry I couldn't post yesterday, but I was knocked down flat by a migraine.  I had to lie down as soon as I got home from work, and I slept until this morning.  Luckily I woke up migraine-free today, thank goodness!!  Those things are THE WORST!!!!

Since I couldn't yesterday, today I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky party.  I am going to share some of my Classroom Reveal with you!!
These numbers are a creation of Krista Wallden.  She's awesome.  Go check her out on TPT!!!

Here is my Dragon Alphabet Line.  I know it's hard to see, what wit the glare of the lights and the fact that my phone doesn't have the greatest camera.

I tried to crop it so it would give you a closer view, but it's not all that much better, sorry!!  I have all of the vowels in red and the consonants in black, and each vowel poster has a picture for the long and short sounds.  Plus, 'C' and 'G' have a pic for the hard and soft sounds. I placed the alphabet line on the cork strip that is attached to the overhang part of the ceiling.  This overhang marks the spot where the floor of my classroom turns from carpet to tile, and my kiddos walk underneath of it every time the line up at the doo. My kinders are getting a kick out of how many dragons I have around the classroom!!

I also created a Dragon Number line this summer.

Here is a zoomed in picture of part of the number line.

I have Lil Dragon holding the numerals, and each is rainbow-colored.  I also have rainbow-colored letters to match the numbers, and used the letters to spell out the number words.  I also have a ten-frame (or double-ten frame) on each poster, and inside the frames are different gems and jewels.  We all know that dragons LOVE all things shiny and sparkly.  I have a poster for numbers 0-20, and they are in a line along the top of the wall above where my SMART Board is located.

Something else that I completely changed in my room is where I keep my word wall and schedule board.  For the past three years, I've used the chalkboard at the back of my room to display my calendar, schedule, and objectives for the day.  My Word Wall was displayed on the bulletin board attached to the right side of the chalkboard.  This year I decided to swap the two.
Here is the bulletin board that used to hold my Word Wall.  Now, it has my calendar, schedule tags, and objectives.  This calendar is really for display only, as all of my calendar activities occur on the SMART Board.  I use a Wikki Stix to create a circle and show them what day of the month it is.  My schedule tags have a dragon theme (of course) and are labeled with the name of our activity as well as a picture to go with it.  For example, the 'Lunch' tag has a picture of the cafeteria and our 'Music' tag has a picture of our Music teacher.  The black frames are going to be where I write my daily objectives.  Oh, and on the left side of the schedule tags is a rainbow ribbon with Lil Dragon at the top and a Castle at the bottom.  I move the dragon down the rainbow as we get to each part of our day.  My kinders can 'see' how much of the day is left by looking to see how much rainbow the dragon has to travel until he gets home.  This system has really helped answer the 'when are we going....' questions.

The new schedule board was relatively easy to create.  The most time-consuming part was putting black construction paper inside the frames and hanging them with ribbon.  Now, the new Word Wall was a bit trickier to create.  First, I wanted to give it a border.  I used painter's tape and hot glue to attach the border.
This part was tricky because I had to make sure I got the border attached to the hot glue before it cooled, while at the same time not getting any hot glue on the chalkboard.  It took a while, but I like how it turned out!
I used a rainbow border, since it fits in with my room's theme and I sort my sight words into groups that I label with colors.  I also created headers with rainbow letters and a rainbow border, and attached a magnet to the back so I could put them on the chalkboard and easily move them around.
Our district is currently working on choosing 150 sight words and arranging them into groups/levels.  I am so grateful for this idea, since we will ALL be teaching THE SAME WORDS AND IN THE SAME ORDER!!!  How helpful for kinders who switch schools mid-year, and how super to have it already organized for me.  Once the final decision is made and the lists are given to teachers, I will be adding the words to the wall.

I am lucky enough to have several bulletin boards in my room that are 'real' bulletin boards, attached to the walls of my room.  There are two large ones on each side of the two chalkboards in my room, as well as three long, thin boards.  I use each one for something different, and am very grateful to have them!!  However, I quickly realized I would need even more.  So, I decided to make some.  The yellow board in the picture is one of the large bulletin boards that are attached to the walls of my room.  The blue board is one I made myself, by using painter's tape, hot glue, bulletin board paper, and borders.  I have, so far, made four of these types of boards in my room.  In this picture, the large yellow board will be my ELA board, and the large blue board will be for Math.

Does your classroom have bulletin boards and/or cork strips?  Did they 'come with the room' or did you have to buy/make some of your own??

Don't forget to hop back over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see who else has linked up for her Five for Friday linky.  There are some really great tips and tricks being shared, plus some great pictures and stores!!  :-)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

First Week FABULOUS!!

Happy Friday!!  Well, technically it is Thursday, but it is MY Friday.  We have a county-wide teacher inservice day tomorrow, so no kiddos.  We also have off for Labor Day, so the littles have a four-day weekend to relax and recuperate from the first week of kindergarten.
When my kinders came for Entry Conferences I let them pick a Dragon to get their picture taken with.  I used the pictures for their locker labels.
Since we started on Tuesday and there is no school tomorrow, our first week of school was actually only three days.  Oh, and one of those is our county-wide 'early dismissal' day.  Next week is a four-day week, so we won't have our first full five-day week of kindergarten until the second week of September.

Even though it was only a three-day week, I can't believe how HECTIC it was!!  It's amazing how, every year, I seem to forget just how little my kiddos are when they first start kindergarten.  Everything is so new and big and strange to them, and they need you so much more at the beginning of the year than at the end, when they are becoming more independent.  I am very lucky in that most of my kiddos this year were in a pre-k class last year, so most of them are comfortable with using pencils, scissors, glue, and other 'tools of the trade'.  Many of them can write their name, and most of them are able to recognize their name.  Plus, most of them can count to 20 and recognize the numbers 1-10 AND are able to use one-to-one correspondence.  Attendance at pre-kindergarten is not mandatory in my state and there are requirements that must be met before a student can be enrolled into a pre-k class (at a public school).  I wish that we had mandatory pre-kindergarten.  Not only would it provide more jobs for more teachers, but so many more students would be able to receive the building blocks of education that participating in pre-k provides.  Ask any kindergarten teacher out there if they can tell a difference between students who attended a form of pre-k and those had no type of school-setting, and I highly doubt any of them would tell you no.  Oops, I'm headed off into a tangent...  :-)

I am happy to say that we have already packed a whole lot of learning into this first week!  We have practiced having a fire drill, how to eat breakfast in the classroom, how to eat lunch in the cafeteria, how to walk in the hall, how to behave in special classes, and how to handle dismissal.  That's only SOME of what we've done this week!!  :-)

This weekend I'll be posting my Classroom Reveal Part 1.  I've decided to do this in 'parts' since I quickly realized my goal of Extreme Classroom Makeover is going to be more of a year-long process, instead of the few days I had originally thought it would take.  Silly me, dunno what I was thinking!!  :-)  I hope you enjoy this holiday weekend and take some time to rest and relax with family and friends.  Use this time to re-energize for the coming weeks ahead!!  :-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Day of K!

Holy Moly, today was our first day of kindergarten!!!!!  Can I just say that I. Am. Exhausted.  I think that my kinders had a good day today!!  I snapped this picture right before I went to get them all from the buses/cars and bring them down to the classroom.
Everybody had a carpet square waiting from them, and the SMART Board was up and running (thank goodness, since I had a few last minute issues!!)  They are responsible for moving their names into an empty box every morning to let me know if they are here or absent.  Plus, it gives us an opportunity to practice identifying our names, which I quickly realized that some of my kinders could do and some could not!  Our day kind of flew by, which is awesome for the first day!  I made sure that the classroom door was ready to welcome my newest Dragons!
It's a bit hard to see in this picture, sorry!  I've been taking pictures with my phone since my camera went ka-put, and I have a new camera on my wish list, but for now I'm glad I have a phone that can take pics!!  It is a bit hard to see, but each of my kinders has a dragon holding a crayon, with their name on the crayons.  The sign at the top of the door says 'Kindergarten Dragons', and below the window says 'Where Learning is Magical' and is decorated with different dragon and sparkly stickers.  My kiddos got such a kick looking for their name on the door!

Today we organized supplies, learned about the many rules, and got to take a tour of the school! We also ate breakfast in the classroom and lunch in the cafeteria, which is a HUGE change for them.  I think some of them were overwhelmed with the noise and bright lights, but they did a GREAT job!!!!  We also got to play on the playground, even though it was so hot the little darlings kept asking to go back inside!!  We learned that we can't have a drink whenever we want, and that mulch is not okay to throw at our friends.  We also go to have our very first special of the year, Art!  They were able to learn about primary and secondary colors as well as show how they can color in a picture.  I can see we are going to have to work on staying in the lines as well as using more than just one color.  To finish up the day, I had a kinder whose birthday was today and her grown-ups brought us cupcakes to celebrate!  Nothing like having cupcakes on the first day of kindergarten to make it even more awesome!  Dismissal was a bit hectic, so I can see that is something we will need to work on.  All in all, I think we had a fabulous first day!!

I know that today is a Book Talk Tuesday day, but it was the first day of kindergarten and I am EXHAUSTED!!!  Also, this is the first time in my life that my mom wasn't here to ask me how my first day of school went.  So, I'm trying to deal with that bit of sadness at the moment and am not handling it as well as I thought I would!!  So, I'm going to shed a few more tears over how much I miss that incredible lady, and I will ask you to stay tuned this week as I try to iron things out and keep up with blogging as well as everything else!!  I'm gonna go spend some time remembering my mom.  I hope all of you have had an amazing time at school so far!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Five for Friday on a Saturday

Goodness Gracious, where did the week go???  It was my first official week back to school, which means 3 days of meetings and prep work and then two days of kindergarten entry conferences.  In our district, grades 1-12 return back to school 3 days before pre-school through kindergarten.  This allows we Early Childhood teachers to have entry conferences for our incoming kiddos, since many of them have never been to school before.  I am very grateful to be given this time!!!

It was definitely a busy week for me, and my kiddos haven't even arrived yet!!  I missed quite a few posts this week, and I do apologize for that!!!  I am getting myself 'Blorganized' by using the 'Organizing Bundle' for all things blog and TPT created by the amazing Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd, and that should definitely help me be more organized and on-schedule with my blogging!!!  :-)

Even though it is Saturday, I am gong to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly Five for Friday linky party!!  I am going to share with you five different things from my week, then you'll get to hop on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to check out all of the other Five for Friday link ups!!

(Rainbow Scribble Numbers from Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs)

One of the things I'm carrying over from last year is the way I set up my student-data folders.  We are not required to keep folders on our kiddos, however I like being able to have info on my kiddos that I can easily access.  Each student gets a hanging file folder.  Inside each of those are 5 different colored file folders.  The plain manilla folder is for student information, including their medical concerns as well as parent contact info.  Red is for work samples, which can be referenced throughout the year to demonstrate growth or to record progress.  Yellow is for assessments, which is where I store the paper copies of the various math and language arts assessments we give the students throughout the year.  Blue is behavior, which is where I keep copies of any office referral forms, parent contact for behavior forms, as well as their monthly behavior calendars.  Lastly, green is where I store any and all parent notes that are sent in throughout the year.  Everything from requests for information to car rider notes.  I make a copy for myself and send the original to the office.  This picture has last year's kiddos, which means on Monday I'll be working on making folders for this years Dragons.

I created a birthday display that fits my dragon theme.  I used some super cute birthday cupcake graphics from the ever-amazing Krista Wallden.  I really like how they turned out!!
I just love how January's cupcake sparkles!!  

St. Patrick's Day is my favorite holiday, and I love this cupcake!!  The wonderful fonts by Lidia Barbosa are from her Phonics Fonts for Teachers Bundle!!

I love September, since it's the start of school AND my birthday month!!  :-)

Here is a pic of one of the many 'lamination graveyards' that showed up on my floor this week.  I have to tell you a bit of a horror story, though.  When we were first able to get into our classrooms the week before last, we learned that the school's color printer AND laminator were BOTH BROKEN!!!  This gave many of us severe heart palpitations.  However, this story does have a happy ending, and no I did not have to go pay someone to laminate everything for me.  Our district has this AMAZING department called Print & Distribution, and I was able to email them PDF files of my classroom set up stuff, and they printed it out in color, then laminated it, and then trimmed off the edges!!!  After that, they shipped it off to my school.  We have a school-to-school mail delivery system called 'The PONY', which is delivered and picked up every morning.  When I came to school Monday, I had my first delivery.  Throughout the week, more and more of my stuff came to school and I could get it cut out and put up.  On Thursday our laminator was fixed, and Friday morning the color printer started working.  I'm hoping to get caught up on my printing soon!!  :-)

I have been able to get all of my entry conferences completed, with only four no-shows.
This is the table where I had my parent conferences.  The kinders came too, and I had different special educators and interventionists working with my new kinders.  They were given a VERY BRIEF assessment, which only included numbers, counting, shapes, colors, and had them write their name.  We do a much larger assessment, the ELS, starting in the first week of September, so we didn't need to overwhelm them with letters and sounds when they'll be assessed on those in a few weeks.  You'll notice my table is COVERED with papers and forms.  I tried to make them in as many different colors as possible.  This way, I'd be able to see if the parents got all the colors.  And yes, that is a frosty cold Coke sitting next to me.  My first conference was at 8:15, so I needed the caffeine jolt!!

My last number has been saved for a non-classroom related photo!

Watch out world, we have a CRAWLER!!!  My Little Lilly is now mobile!!!  There is no stopping this baby girl now!!!  I just hope we can keep up with her.  She will grab WHATEVER she can get her little hands on, and then it goes right into her mouth!!  Love her so very, very much though!!!

I hope you've enjoyed my randomness from this past week.  Please don't forget to head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see who else linked up for Five for Friday!!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

BOOST SALE & Entry Conferences

Hump Day!!  I've been uber busy this week, as I'm sure so many of you are!!  I forgot my Book Talk Tuesday book, so that'll have to be a Book Talk Thursday!!  :-)  


Tonight our school had our 'Cookie Social', which is an opportunity for students and families to visit the school and take a 'walking tour' where they can visit their classroom, the specialist classrooms, the cafeteria....pretty much anywhere they want to visit.  We hang out in our rooms and talk with any families that show up, show them around the room, and try to talk to them to see how comfortable they are with coming to school. I get a chance to see the personalities of my kiddos before they come to me ready to learn. No assessing or conferencing or anything like that, just a chance for students ad their families to visit school before they return for the year. Tomorrow is the first day of school for students in grades 1-12.  Early Childhood grades will have entry conferences with students and families.  Early Childhood students will start school next Tuesday.  Tomorrow I have a day full of entry conferences, which is always exciting yet a bit stressful too.  Exciting because I get to meet my incoming kinders and briefly assess them on some basic skills, yet stressful because there is always SO MUCH information to fit into the short time given for each conference.  I'm always afraid I'm going to forget something!!!  This year I made myself a check list to keep me on track!  Here is what I will be trying to fit into 20 minute entry conferences tomorrow.
 This is the front of my checklist....

And this is the back.  The lines are there just in case I forgot something.

Tomorrow I will share with you the different forms I made for parent/student information.  I can't wait for you to see my 'conference table', which is one of my kidney tables set up with all of the papers I need to go over.  It's pretty colorful!!  :-)  If you are back in school with your kiddos, I hope that you have a wonderful end of the week!!!

I had such a great time at the Cookie Social meeting new kids and visiting with former ones.  Does your school/grade level do anything similar?  Maybe an 'Ice Cream Social' or a 'Meet the Teacher Night'?

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Amazing Race & Markdown Monday

Happy Monday everyone!!!  How many of you had to head back to school today??  I did, I did!! We had our first official day back today, which meant lots of meetings but also several hours in our rooms.  SCORE!!  One of my favorite things from today was a team-building exercise that we participated in as a grade level team.  Since there is only one pre-kindergarten at our school, they teamed up with us.  We had to race around the school grounds searching for clues and completing tasks!!  Luckily we were told last week to make sure to wear sneakers and comfy clothes today!! Our Amazing Race clues were in pieces, so once we found them we had to put them back together again.  One of our tasks was to work as a team to make a pan of brownies, another was to dribble a ball down a line, and several more.  We had a lot of fun, even though we did get really sweaty and our team came in no where near first place.  We weren't dead last though...almost, but not quite!!  Lots of laughter during this activity, which is great for a Monday!!

Today I am linking up with Kelly and Kim's Kindergarten Kreations for their Markdown Monday linky party.  In case you didn't know, this linky party involves marking down a product or two in our TPT store for the entire week.  This week I am going to continue with the products I marked down last week, which works because they are great beginning of the year activities!! <And I'm also really tired from the Amazing Race today, so this is my 'Easy Button' for Markdown Monday ;)> You can read all about these great mark downs (yes, there are more than one!) by clicking on the picture below.  It will take you to my last week's post about these products.

Please don't forget to head back over to Kelly and Kim's Kindergarten Kreations so that you can see who else has linked up and are sharing various products at marked down prices.  There are all sorts of educators who link up, from many different grade levels.  I'm sure you'll be able to find something to interest you!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peek at My Week

Hello everyone!!  I've been busy school shopping with my sister today in order to get my nephew ready for school on Thursday so I'm linking up late tonight!!  Gonna be a short one tonight because I am officially back to school tomorrow, and it is almost past my bed time!!!

Tonight I am linking up with Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten for her Peek at My Week Linky.  My kinders don't come to school until August 26th, so I don't have any lesson plans to share. However, since this is my first official week back to school, I do have a schedule for the week. Here is a peek at what I will be doing this week!!

I know that there are some gaps in this schedule, however we haven't been told what we'll be doing during those gaps.  In past years we have been able to work with our team/in or rooms, but that could be different for this year.  Also, I am not required to attend every scheduled meeting.  For example, the CERT meeting on Wednesday morning is not one that I am involved in, so I'll be working in my room or with my team during that time.  Wednesday night is our Cookie Social, where students and families come to check out their classroom and school.  Plus, they get a fresh baked cookie from the cafeteria!!  Thursday and Friday are mostly taken over with Parent/Teacher/Student Kindergarten Entry conferences.  On Friday afternoon we're headed to some training sessions, and in one of them we get a brand new iPad!!  Woot-woot!!!  We have never had one before and I am EXCITED!!!

Well, gotta get ready for bed.  I have a long day of meetings tomorrow!!  If you're back with your kiddos, I wish you nothing but the best for the week!!  Don't forget to hop back over to Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten to see who else has linked up to share their weekly lesson plans for the Peek at my Week linky party!!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bright Ideas Linky Party

Hi everyone!!  Did you just finish up your first week of school?  How did it go?  Are your littles back in school yet?  I am linking up today with Miss V's Busy Bees for her Bright Ideas linky party.  You really need to check out the rest of the ideas on this linky after you're done reading!!  :-)

I have spent my past week getting my classroom set up.  I am very, very grateful for having such an extended amount of time before we have to 'officially' return to school.  The first few days before the kiddos arrive are usually so filled with meetings and what not that it is hard to get anything done in the classroom.  I am incredibly lucky to have a principal who allows us to plan together as a team and get into the building to set up our classrooms, and I couldn't be more grateful.  On Tuesday, this is what I walked into.

 This is the view from the front door of my classroom.  The top picture shows the left side of my room, and the bottom picture shows the right side.  I decided to totally rearrange my classroom this year, so while having everything piled into the center of the room was trying at times, it was also perfect for moving things into the spots I wanted them.  Luckily for me, I had my nephew Mason to help me move furniture!!

My bright idea is one I saw on Pinterest.  I cannot find the Pin anywhere, which reminds me that I never finished my Pinterest Makeover.  Sigh.  Anywho, I'm sure it's a Pin you've seen.  I have also seen it on Facebook.  This bright idea is for hanging resources up on walls that are painted.  In other words, this is a safe way to hang things on your walls without getting in trouble for destroying them.  It involves using painter's tape, and/or hot glue.  First, you outline the space you need on the wall in painter's tape.  Then you either apply double-sided tape or hot glue ON TOP OF the painter's tape, and attach your resources.
This is a frame I made for my Word of the Day poster.  I applied the painter's tape to the wall after I measured it against the edges of the poster.  Then I put up double-sided tape, and attached the poster.  You have to be extra-sure when you line up the poster, because it's a pain to try and take down to readjust it. The double-sided tape will either stick to the painter's tape or the poster, but of course never just one or the other.  Also, when the painter's tape gets pulled off the wall it begins to curl and twist, which can make it tricky.  After I tried this method, I saw a FB post about a collection of 'Teacher Tips and Tricks', and when I read through them I saw this being done with hot glue in place of the double-sided tape, so of course I had to try that!!
I used the painter's tape to edge out my back chalkboard.  After I finished that, I applied hot glue right to the painter's tape and then applied my border.  It was only after I had already started that I realized the border I was using wasn't laminated and would therefore need to be trashed at the end of the year.  Ah well, I had already started so I kept going.  

While this is not an idea that I came up with, I wanted to share it with you for the linky today.  I had several teachers in my building say they had seen this trick on Pinterest or Facebook and were wondering if it worked or not.  As of Friday when I left, everything I had put up with the painter's tape was staying on the walls.  We'll see how long this lasts, but I was able to create several bulletin boards on my cinder-block walls using this trick.
The blue 'Math' board on the right of this picture was created using the blue painter's tape and double-sided tape trick.  I have since added more resources to this board and so far it has stayed up on the wall!!  (The yellow board next to it is attached to the wall, and most classrooms have at least 3 of these boards in their rooms.)  I also created my Job Wall board using painter's tape and hot glue, but for some reason I never took a picture of that one.  D'oh!!

Don't forget to hop back over to Miss V's Busy Bee's to see who else linked up to share their bright ideas.  Oh, and Miss V is sharing about how she uses Washi tape in her classroom.  I'm dying to try it in my room too, but I'm wondering if it leaves a residue on the walls when it's removed?  I chose the painter's tape because it is supposed to come off cleanly without leaving a residue or removing paint.  I would love to use Washi tape to section off my Word Wall, which is on my chalkboard this year.  Have any of you used Washi tape on chalkboards before?  Does it leave a residue after you remove it?  I don't think I would be allowed to leave it up on the board all summer long, due to classroom cleaning.  I would love to hear your advice on this, or on something I can use instead.  I thought of using painter's tape and then applying ribbon on top of it using hot glue, but that seems like a lot of work...  Would love to hear your thoughts!!!