Friday, July 20, 2012

The To-Do List

Maybe this will give me some accountability...

I wish, Patrick!!!

There are only 5 realistic days left on my personal calendar to work in my classroom. I really can't count pre-planning because with the adoption of Common Core, I'm pretty sure we'll be in meetings. Here it goes.

  • unpack desk boxes
  • write a list of supplies needed before supply money will be given
  • make curtains
  • punch out polka dots and place them on the accent wall. Make sure to measure the space between them. Did you know that there is a difference between dappled and polka-dotted? Learned this the other day when I went to buy fabric. There is an exact pattern to polka-dotted. Dappled is without order. The woman advised me not to, but I bought the dappled fabric. It was on sale.
  • Complete outside classroom display (Think Australian photo exhibit)
  • Print, blow-up, and hang banner
  • Make red "SCI" for standards board. I'll have to teach science this year, so I have to make some adjustments to my standards board.
  • Print science standards and hang them
  • Hang my "around the entire room" number line
  • Create AR names for AR incentive board
  • Take down the stack of desks
  • Make desk name plates
  • Label door display with students' names
  • File the papers in my "To File" bucket. I still have papers in my bucket from last school year. Pretty sad, I know
  • Re-label file cabinets to reflect the changes in materials inside of them. I have Math in my SS cabinet. I need to take care of this
  • Organize SS files. I just threw the files in the cabinet. Don't judge me. The American Revolution file sorta imploded. I just stuffed everything back inside and shut the drawer.
  • Facebook strips. This is an iffy. I really like this idea, but my students are more into Facebook, so I thought I could make a Facebook wall instead. This item may get scrapped for time reasons alone. 
  • Make play dough and buy food coloring. They can mix it up at Open House and then they can create and write on the 1st day of school. It will give me a chance to get that private word in with mom/dad at Open House and deal with the unexpected on the 1st day. Pinterest!
  • Don't forget to buy apples and goldfish or Cinnamon Toast Crunch for Open House. Pinterest again, what can I say? I can't decide between the goldfish activity or the owl bag with cereal inside ("Owl" see you Wednesday!) Which one do you like better? Please leave a comment... It would be really embarrassing for me to leave with this question and have NO COMMENTS still showing right down there. 

Q: Where Have You Been? A: In My Classroom!

Wow! It's been a while since I've blogged. I've missed it honestly. Where have I been? In my classroom, of course! 

I have only been to the school 3 times this whole summer. I'm actually quite impressed with myself, yet disappointed. I usually spend much of my summer at school, so in that right YAY ME!. My co-workers have already decorated their door and one even has posted her students' names on cute little fish in the hallway YOU'RE SO BEHIND JOY! 

I still have boxes sitting on my desk, just to give you a picture of what's going on in my room. 

In my 3 days I've learned a few things, and I am willing to share.
1. What you don't pay for in money, you will pay for in time. I saw this really cute scrunch border idea on Pinterest. Super cute! Well. It took more than an hour to get it on the board. Cutting strips, folding, then crumpling. Then uncrumpling (is that even a word?) and scrunching and stapling. Yes, I saved money, but I lost a total hour of my life. It was all spent with paper and a not so friendly stapler.
2. I have focus issues. I don't need to come to any more realities about myself. In my profession, I've already discovered that I am a stress eater. I have OCD. Now I have ADD. I'm the total package, I know. I still have boxes on my desk, but I spent this afternoon making posters and laminating them. Something seems a little bit wrong with this approach. I have a bulletin board complete, yet I can't even locate a roll of tape. I mean, I started unpacking the boxes on my desk, then I just wanted to do something else, and like you already know, an empty classroom is an ADD teacher's dream. There are a billion other things to do. So... I worked on the bulletin board, then I walked to the poster maker, then I designed another poster (here it is) Does the cute factor earn me some forgiveness. Just wondering...

 then I re-numbered the computers, then I... you get the point-the boxes are still on my desk. 
3. Don't look at other people's classrooms. Just when you start feeling really good about your progress, you venture down the hall and discover that a teacher has already stacked textbooks on her students' desks and another has completed a faux rock effect to compliment her Avila, Spain theme. 

I will take pictures. I promise! It was on the list, but like the box unpacking thing, I lost focus. Sorry! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A (not so) New Idea!

While I was writing this I stumbled across another post from 2009 pretty much outlining the same thing, so I immediately re-titled this post to "A Not So New Idea". 
I went to my classroom today for only the 2nd time the whole summer. The first time all I did was unpack boxes. I am really proud of myself because I usually spend countless days up there working on things. I will admit that being up there today was a reminder of how much needed to be done and how much time I really didn't have.
So, I decided that I wanted to use my same slogan from last year to post outside of my classroom. We are not pirates at this school, and we change the theme every 2 years. 

This year we are Australia. So instead of the pirate monkey, I have found the cutest picture of a koala bear making a funny face. When we change the theme, I'll just swap the koala out for some other animal or creature that matches. (cartoon alien for outer space, cartoon funny fish for deep sea, etc.) Can you tell I have already put some thought into this? I have also put some stock into the fact that I will be in the small spot for a while *fingers crossed*. 
Ok, now to the post... I threw away my letters from last year (NOT SMART!), so I'm starting from scratch. I made a set in black and one in red. I went with black, and I left them for my teacher friend moving into my classroom. Just changed the name. I threw the red set away. EPIC FAIL! I always get questions about the font for my bulletin board letters. Most of the the letters in our school are either store bought, or from the Ellison machine. It only takes a second to realize that my letters don't match either description.
About 7 years ago when I was student teaching, I noticed the same thing about the bulletin board displays in that school. They all had these great fonts, but you could tell that they were traced onto construction paper. How? I wondered. They didn't match anything from our local teaching supply store, or from an online store, and they didn't match the very signature font from the Ellison. They were created using a little ingenuity. 
Here it goes.
First decide what font you like in Microsoft Word. The fluffier the font the better. It will make it a lot easier to trace once it is cut out. I can't exactly remember what font I used, so I searched for one that was similar enough. The one I found years ago was an outline type font, but it doesn't make a difference. 

Of course, type out the alphabet. Make sure you have the letters the exact size that you want them. Place the thickest card stock that your printer can handle in the multipurpose tray. I think the paper I used years ago was about an 18pt. card stock. About the thickness of a really impressive business card. Our local paper mill donates it to the area schools. It was thick enough to make a pattern from, but also still flexible enough to get through the printer. Once the letters printed, I cut them out and I had my patterns.
Just for tonight's example, I'm making a red ELA for my standards board. The letters for the outside display will be taken care of in the morning. Flip the letters over when you trace them so you won't have to look at the stray marks from tracing. Once you cut them out and flip them over, the pencils marks are on the opposite side.

Not the best tracing job. That's why I trace it flipped over.
Flip them over and VOILA!

The added benefit. While I am cutting and tracing, my middle daughter is having a great time matching the cut out letters to the patterns. Yay, she matched the Es!
I started this post earlier. She is off to sleep at this hour. I promise!

I enjoy using my patterns because...
  • they make my letters look different from others.
  • I can make letters in my pajamas.
  • I don't have to worry about color choices or running out of a letter. I make the decisions. I can use scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, etc.
  • No cost.
  • Invents a very educational game for my precious child. 

  • Time consuming, but it is free and the flexibility to do it whenever I want to trumps that. Plus, if you teach the upper grades, you always have a great helper who has the gift of phenomenal tracing and cutting skills.

Just sharing! 

Friday, July 6, 2012

*Sigh* The Wish List

There are some items that I have just been pining over for the last few weeks. Of course some of these items I will definitely buy and others will remain in my wish category. Every place I look, I've always heard that blogging was some sort of outlet. A way to vent to the unknown world, and possibly a way to get over things. Well maybe this will work for some of these items.
Have you ever looked at items on-line and reasoned yourself out of them, but you still seem to end up back at them a few days later? Well this list is for those items. Maybe blogging about them will be the farewell exercise I need to purge them out of my system, or maybe blogging about them will be the extra push to make me buy them. Here they go. 

Another market tote. I love my market totes. I currently own two by Reisenthel and absolutely can't live without them. They store all my classroom papers, odds and ends, and even my laptop. Put your purse on top and you're on your way. One basket and you're out the door. My husband may refer to it as my walking trash can and I may have to agree at times, but I still love it. I may also be guilty of taking it places that it shouldn't go, like the doctor's office or to the bank, but it's fabulous. It's like a little treasure chest. You almost forget all the stuff you packed in it. Like discovering that stack of ungraded papers under your checkbook while waiting in the doctor's office... GENIUS! I want another one. One in polka dots to match my black, white, and red polka dot theme.

Can you imagine this basket with a black curly monogram? To die!!!
PROS- It would match my classroom theme.
CONS- Not a necessity, two already functioning baskets and a closet full of tote bags.

The polka dot accessory list.
That's polka dot chart paper, polka dot letters, polka dot scotch tape, bulletin board border, desk accessory set, balloons for open house, and file folders to go on my desk that beautifully match my theme. Ahhhhh... so nice! I would definitely be the coolest teacher in my hallway. Just google polka dot ____________ (insert item name in the blank) and the results are endless. 
PROS- My classroom would DEFINITELY have a pulled together look.
CONS- Could build my collection little by little (but I really don't want to), I already have every item in the picture in abundance (but it's not in my polka dot theme- *pouting*), Cost...  2 Chart Tablets (I go through these like water), 2 packs of letters, 3 packs of tape, 1 desk set, set of file folders, and 24 balloons cost $141 without tax or shipping, and it's not even really instructional material. With a little creativity, Powerpoint, scrapbook paper, paint, I could make a lot of the items. 

Honorable mentions...
The polka dot rug
Classic Dottie Rug, 5x8, Black
PB Teen Dottie Rug
The polka dot curtains
Polka Dot Valance- Ebay 

Polka dot wall stickers... A few sets
 Funky Polka Dots Wall Decals
CQ Wall Decals and Decor

The polka dot back to school dress with the red accessories. Demi looks like the perfect 4th grade teacher, doesn't she?

A classroom set of mailboxes. I have a system for storing papers in preparation to send home with students. I currently use a file box and file things along and along as the week winds down. In the past I have also used a hanging pocket chart. The hanging pocket chart can be tricky... stuffing your hand in each pocket to make sure the papers aren't hanging out all willy nilly and dealing with the amount of papers that I file that don't quite fit, can become cumbersome. The standing and stuffing part became and unpopular activity of mine as well. I switched to a file box that can easily be pushed under my desk. No one has to see it and its appearance is not so important because it is not on display on one of my classroom walls. I really want a set(or 2) of sturdy classroom mailboxes. 
OfficeMax Literature Sorter, Oak
In fourth grade the number of students we have can fluctuate between 21 to 30, so I would need two sets just to make sure I never run out. I could figure out what to do with the other 18 slots quite easily I can imagine. 

PROS- would replace current file system. Children could place their things in their own folders. Students could help me file more easily. They are not an eyesore.
CONS- None really except for the $120 price tag... This may be the one splurge purchase... Practical. Not really stylish or brag worthy, but definitely practical...

Award and New Followers (Hi!)!

Wow! How excited was I when I checked my phone last night at dinner and found a comment that my blog was nominated for an award. My little ol' blog... yes... my little ol' blog. I could barely contain myself. The other nominees have amazingly beautiful blogs. We'll get there someday. My ultimate goal is to pay someone to design my Haagen Dazs blog for me with all the little features figured out and discussed back and forth. It's in the works.  I know the custom work can get expensive and I am a cheapskate so let's see if I can stick with it first.
So without further ado, I have been nominated as a...
Yay me! How exciting and gracious of Olivia at Classroom Craft to consider the new kids on the block. So exciting. When you get a chance be sure to check her blog out. Even in her few posts, it is very obvious that she has AMAZING ideas.

Hi, new followers! I make it my mission not to disappoint you all. Speak to you soon! 

PS... I'm in the process of looking for other blogs that I love that haven't been nominated. I'll be back... *published post and continues to blog stalk*

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

OCD and CheapSkate

Well as I mentioned in my previous post, I am going to share some redesigned posters with you. First off, I am a cheapskate. I love spending money, but I don't like the feeling I get when I sit down and look at how much money I've spent on things. Once again, I am not a tech professional, but I have learned to use Powerpoint quite efficiently. Top that with the fact that our school has an amazing poster maker, I figured that I could learn to spend less money. That is when I started to make my own posters. It's really no different than making a Powerpoint slide. I print it out on the color copier and scan it into the poster maker, and VOILA. I have a poster. Send that bad boy through the laminator, and I have saved money! This has worked perfectly in the past, so when I decided to change my theme to black and white polka dots with red accents, I figured I had the "know how" to get things done. 

This works perfectly with the OCD. I know you've found posters in the past and just hoped that maybe a few things were different, or they added it the way you say it, or that's too big for that wall or too small for the other wall. This is where this whole creating thing gets fun. I can find several places of inspiration and put them together to make me happy. 

Here's my poster of rules. I have adopted these rules after working at another school with a fabulous team. They use these rules throughout the entire grade level and the kids have to document which one they've broken if they are cited for misbehavior. It gives the kids a sense of ownership, and decreases the number of parent calls and letters with "What did he do?"
Typed up the rules added my own decorations and here we go...
Now if I decided to change my theme to... let's say rainbow colors... It would take a few clicks and...
another theme in less than 10 minutes. 

Here are a few others I've created...
I've used this layout for years now. I give the students homework challenges. I count homework on a weekly basis. Their packets have to be turned in complete by Friday, but  the assignments for each day are expected to be done. They never know when I'll ask to see last night's homework. I love the idea. If a student has bible study or baseball practice, they can go ahead and not have to worry about it. Anyway, if they have 9 stars by the end of the grading period, I'll reward them with a picnic, if you only have 7, you'll get a snack from the picnic.  
I changed the slogan on this one. I used Spotacular to match the polka dot theme. We were pirates last year, so it said... "Do the work, or walk the plank". It had a really cute wood background (get it... plank) and I used Blackadder ITC for the font. 
Table numbers, computer numbers, etc.

A blank sign for daily announcements, class schedules, notes to the class, journal prompts, quotes, etc. 
I can't wait to show you how they look in my classroom.

Happy 4th!


So, let me try this. This is my first attempt at anything this cool. This is my attempt to link up with Farley at her site. Wish me luck...

First... the link...

Did it work? YES! Making progress... Now the CURRENTLY...
So... I think this is about right. It's probably sticking out some, but I've yet to figure that out.  I'm not the blog professionado that I one day hope to be. I did this in paint... *hangs head in shame*... any tips would be greatly appreciated.
So it's currently after 12 and I am still on my blog. I guess the idea of getting a blog, and trying to make sure it looks like something is consuming me a little. Before I started my blog, I had great plans. I have hit a few stumbling blocks. Putting a button on my page took well over 30 minutes. That HTML code stuff can get pretty confusing. All it takes it one wrong character and it's all over.
I am so ready to get in my classroom and really start getting it together. I have already unpacked, but I want to re-organize and re-label everything. I am changing my class theme this year to black and white polka dots with red accents. This will be the first time in 6 years that I picked a theme/color scheme that I plan on implementing fully in my room. I have redesigned posters and everything! I'll post a few tomorrow for you to see. I'm pretty excited. Can't wait to take pictures and share.
I love Writing! I always have. I use Daily 6 Traits Writing. I have used it in my 4th and 5th grade classrooms. Kids need writing instruction everyday, and this is a good way to make sure that they are getting it. By no means is this the only writing we do, but if I forget to journal or cross-connect, I know that we have spent some morning time talking about, and actually writing.
Well... that's about it.
I'll leave you with a list of things that just from reading over my entry that I plan on sharing with my blog community.

  • Share redesigned posters
  • Pictures of my classroom during its makeover
  • A really cool writing lesson that I love called "Popcorn Writing".

Stay tuned!

UPDATE: I just linked up with Farley... Put my name instead of my blog's name... You live and you learn. 
Until later... Joy