Monday, July 30, 2012

New {School} Year Resolutions link up!

I am linking up with Amanda at Teaching Maddeness via Inspired Classroom to share my school year resolutions.  I will be the first to admit that, although I don't verbalize my resolutions. . . deep in the recesses of my brain, they're floating around! LOL

So here are my school year resolutions:

  1. Keep up with this blog.  My goal is to write at least once a week during school (aiming for 2x).  I think that it's a reasonable goal and if I find time to write more . . . bonus!  Resolution #1 meshes well with #2 which is:
  2. Take more pictures!  I am sooo bad for taking pictures . . . not just at school, but anywhere and everywhere.  I think it stems from when you used to have to get film 'developed', which got costly so you were picky about what pictures you did take.  Now that I have my iPhone, I have no excuse for not taking pictures.
  3. Keep my classroom Clutter-Free!  I hate clutter, but it inevitably weasels its way into the class and then it's always there, niggling at me.  Because I only work 1/2 time in my classroom, I don't have as much time to spend organizing the clutter.  My motto for this year is:  "A place for everything, and everything in its place". 
  4. Keep my desk tidy (inside & out!).  I have discovered that I am a stacker and not a filer. :(  It doesn't really work with my new motto, so I am going to have to be very vigilant in NOT stacking things on or in my desk.  I'm compromising on this one by having a basket on my desk, where I will put stuff that needs to be filed and then once a week, actually go through the basket and file! . . . we'll see how that one goes.
  5. And last, but certainly not least, I'd like to do a better job of touching base with parents on a more regular basis.  This becomes especially important when you work part time, like me, and parents can't get in to see you on the days you work.  I have a confession to make . . . I hate dislike phoning parents (not sure why, but I don't like having to phone. . . period).  I'd much rather talk to them in person or send them a quick email or text message.
 so there they are and now that I've written them down and they're floating around in cyberspace, I guess I'll have to keep them! LOL

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fabulous Find Friday Link Up!


I am linking up with Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B for my very first Fabulous Find Friday.  Up until now, I haven't really found anything worthy of this linky (well, I did find this absolutely cute stuffed gorilla, but he's at school and I don't have pictures, so you'll have to wait until I can get back into the school to see him!)

Anyways, on a recent to trip to Port Townsend, Washington . . . one of our most favourite places to visit, hubby and I drove past this very cute thrift store and I spied this director's chair (something I have been wanting for quite some time) sitting outside the store.  "OMG! . . . STOP THE CAR, STOP THE CAR!" almost gave my hubby a coronary (geez, you'd think he'd be used to me saying things like that?! LOL).  He did turn around and stop in front of the thrift store (I knew he would, 'cause he's a sucker for thrift store finds . . .more than me! Ha!)

Faded blue cover
New black cover
The seat and back were originally a faded blue, so I went online to Everywhere Chairs to get a replacement canvas cover . . . in black to match my decor (of course).  It was $17.95.

Only $8.95!!

So, for $27, I got a very snazzy, comfortable director's chair that will be perfect in my gathering place beside my chart stand (which I have yet to get, arghh!).  I know that this will be a popular place with my students to read during Daily 5.

Now, if I can only figure out how to turn this
into a chart stand...???

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Teaching Notebook

Do you have a book where you jot down anything and everything to do with teaching?  For the past few years, I have been using a spiral bound notebook where I keep pretty much anything to do with my classroom.  I know I should probably move into the 21st century and start using a program like Evernote (which I have on my laptop AND iPhone) but. . .  I don't know  . . . there's just something about writing in a notebook that appeals to me.

Last week, I was at WalMart and picked up my new teaching notebook.  It's a far cry from my previous year's book which looked like this:

and had scribbles and messy writing like this:

This is my lovely new notebook
The only problem is . . . my new notebook is so lovely I'm afraid to write in it and mess it up! LOL.  Definitely have to get over that.
You'll notice I've got an entire section devoted to "TO DO"
Actually, one of the things I AM going to try this year (thank you to Clutter Free Classroom for the idea) is to stick the many post it notes I jot things down on INTO my notebook.  Maybe I should have a section (there are 3) just for for my Post-It Notes? . . . hmmm??

What are some of the ways you keep track of your thinking, to do lists, classroom shopping lists, lesson plan ideas, unit ideas...???

Feelin' the love . . . with another award!

Wowza!. . . I'm really feelin' the love this week . . . received another award. . . this time from Elizabeth over at Mrs. Hodge and Her Kindergarten Kids.  Thank you sooo much!

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Include a link to their blog
3. Include the award image in your post
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award
6. When nominating, include a link to their blog
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated

So here are MY 7 random facts:

Like any good Canadian. . . I am a hockey fan! Go Canucks!  Although I don't get to any NHL games (too far, too expensive) My hubby and I regularly watch Junior hockey.
My favourite musical of all time is The Sound of Music. I even have My Favourite Things as a ringtone on my phone. (...raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...) 

 I have a very restricted diet . . . no gluten, dairy, corn, and I have to limit my sugar and saturated fat intake.  People often ask me how I find foods to eat? . . . let's just say you have to think outside the box! LOL

  1. When I was in high school, I was recruited to play basketball (back then, I was considered tall 5' 10") without really knowing what the heck I was doing! LOL

  1. I LOVE the smell of freshly roasted coffee . . . I think I'd love to work at Starbucks just to smell the coffee . . . BUT . . . I HATE the taste of coffee . . . and anything that has a coffee flavour.  Is that weird??

  1. Needless to say, I am a tea-toter (sp?) My favourite tea is NUMI's organic Jasmine Green Tea. . . I think I might be addicted to it?!
  1. When I was a kid, I watched a very scary vampire movie (by myself) and for the next 30 years could not sleep with my neck exposed . . .seriously!

Here are my nominations for the Versatile blogger Award:

 Ms. Shope's Class
Polka Dots & Pencils
The Inspired Classroom
The Teacher Garden
Glitter, Glue, and Teaching Too

 Congratulations to you all!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

A big thanks to Mrs. T at Teaching Mrs. T for bestowing upon me the One Lovely Blog Award!

I must be doing something right, as this is the 2nd one I've received. <grin>

The rules for the award are as follows:

1. Follow the person who gave you the award  
2. Link back to the person that gave you the award
3. Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers. 

Letting you know right now, that 15 bloggers is A LOT, sooo, I'm going to choose 5  lovely blogs.  Here they are (Congratulations!):

Another Fabulous Giveaway

Corinna at Mrs. Allen's 5th Grade Files is having an awesome giveaway to celebrate her 50th follower, although at the rate she's going, she'll be celebrating 100 before she's done! She's also got some really good boards on Pinterest organized according to grade AND subject. Check her out!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kiss First Day Jitters...Goodbye! Linky Party

I am linking up with Mrs. Saunders' Lovelies for the Kiss First Day Jitters. . . Goodbye! Linky Party.  A most relevant topic as we start heading back to school or think about heading back to school.  Having been a teacher for the past 17 years, I don't really get first day jitters but that is partially mostly due to the fact that I have learned to plan and overplan exactly what I will be teaching for the first few days (and teaching procedures figures prominently!)

Having said that, I remember, quite vividly, the first couple several years, having 'teaching' nightmares a couple of days before school started.  You know. . . the ones where you come to school . . . . LATE,  and have nothing prepared or forgot what you were teaching, or the kids don't listen to you. . . AT ALL, or, my personal 'favourite'. . . you lose a student! I'm sure you can all relate! LOL  Phew!. . . thank goodness, I don't do THAT anymore!

So here are some of the most important procedures (although they're ALL important) I teach that first day:
  • morning routine
  • quieting the class 
  • hand signals
  • recess and lunch dismissal
  • end of day routine
  • lining up
I wrote about classroom procedures a few posts ago and am posting a link to the document I created here.  Check it out if you get a chance. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Liebster Award!

Wild About Words
Thanks to Heather from Wild About Words for the Liebster Award!  So what is a "Liebster?"....

This award is named for the German word "Liebster," which translates to "beloved" or "favorite," and it is given to "new, up and coming bloggers."

The rules:
1.  Link back to the person who gave it to you.
2.  Post the award to your blog.
3.  Give the award to at least 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
4.  Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to  let them know that they have been offered this award.

Here are my picks :)

The Hip Teacher

CAFE Book Study - Reflections on Ch. 1

We Read, We Blog, We Teach

I wanted to share my thoughts about the CAFE book on the We Read, We Blog, We Teach site but because I tend to be long winded and didn't want to hog the space, I've decided to do my own post about Chapter 1!

First, I absolutely LOVE the CAFE book . . . mainly because it puts all those seemingly disparate bits and pieces I was doing in the classroom into a very succinct and focused manner.  And it's written in a very practical, hands-on type of way.

Here's where I was at BEFORE I decided to embrace Daily 5 and CAFE:
  • used a workshop approach in both reading/writing
  • had a reading assessment binder where I recorded student reading levels, reading assessment test results, books they were reading (Status of the Class) and individual conference notes
  • whole group mini-lessons (which weren't so mini and sometimes took up a reading period)
  • individual conferences (when I found the time to squeeze in students...very inconsistent!)
  • occasionally pulled groups that needed help with comprehension (I tried the Guided Reading thing, but just couldn't figure out how to make it work)
Here's what I DID NOT like about what I was doing:
  •  not enough time for individual conferences (which I totally believe are invaluable)
  • "loosey-goosey" ongoing (formative) assessment structure
  • mini-lessons that weren't mini
  • no structured group/guided reading
**After reading CAFE, I actually felt like I was not doing a very good job teaching literacy**  Can you say "feelings of inadequacy"

After reading CAFE --
Here's what I'm most excited about:
  •   The Pensieve! Although I used an assessment binder to keep students' reading data in, the Pensieve just totally kicks it up a notch . . . I actually went to the Zazzle website and ordered a custom made one! . . . that's how excited I am about it!

 Here's what I'm most comfortable with:
  • whole group instruction - despite the fact that many of my mini lessons tend not to be so mini and that is something I will need to definitely tweak,  I have a good repertoire of mini-lessons (especially if I break them down even further!)
Here's what I'm cautiously optimistic about:
  • meeting with students on an individual basis - implementing Daily 5 will allow me the time (which was so desperately lacking before) to conference regularly with students which they actually loved to do, too. :)
Here's what I'm downright scared most concerned about:
  • strategy groups!  I didn't feel comfortable with Guided Reading, so this area is totally outside my comfort zone and will be the one area that I will stress about.  Having said that, the CAFE book gives lots of suggestions and examples of what it looks like AND I'm sure there will be lots of suggestions from fellow bloggers about how to address this . . . I HOPE! :)
Feel free to leave your 2¢ :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Classroom Procedures

I've been tempted to link up with the To Do List linky that is going around but I was afraid that if I started to write down ALL the things I wanted/needed to get done for school,  I'd start panicking! LOL. . . and I've just started my summer break . . . I don't go back until after Labour Day!  I am feeling a little under the gun though, because I'm going away in 2 weeks for a fab 3 week vacay to Europe (OMG,OMG!) which leaves me a week after I get back to get organized before school starts.

So. . . I've started by revamping my classroom procedures & routines (thanks to the influence of Clutter Free Classroom) into a more cohesive and thorough document that I can keep in my teacher binder AND in my sub binder AND in a copy for students to access. :)

It took me 3 days (they were leisurely days, but anyway...) but I'm quite happy with  what I ended up with.  If you'd like to check it out and perhaps use part or all of it you can download it here.

Up next. . . revamping clipboards, start putting together my Pensieve, teacher binder and sub binder, revamp an old easel into a clip chart stand, create Daily Math lessons for the SMARTboard. . . oh, geez . . . I'm making a list! . . . NOOOOO!......LOL

Friday, July 20, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop!

If, like me, you are relatively new to blogging, you may want to link up with this blog hop.  A great opportunity to meet bloggers who are still trying to figure out this blogging 'stuff' (like:  how to create a grab button, how to link up <grin>, how to create a cool signature...) LOL.  For all the details, check out the link above to Grade 3 Is The Place For Me.  You have to do a little bit of work, but you're on summer break, right?! LOL

    1.  what state you are in I'm actually in a province (British Columbia)

    2.  your current teaching position   Gr. 3/4
    3.  your teaching experience  I'm going into my 17th year having taught  
             everything from Gr. 3 to Gr. 7 with a bit of Learning Assistance thrown in :)
    4.  when you started blogging  This blog in March, officially 2010
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource Pinterest is a great way to
             find great teaching resources/ideas AND teaching blogs. Participating in Linky parties is a 
             great way to get your blog out there and to find new blogs. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blog Design Makeover Giveaway

I'm linking up with Christi over at Ms. Fultz's Corner.  She's giving away a free design blog package!
Who doesn't need a makeover?!  I know, I could use one! LOL  Check it out!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study Ch. 6 Questions/Musings on Word Work

We Read, We Blog, We Teach

I've been following the Daily 5 book study hosted by We Read, We Blog, We Teach, anxiously waiting for discussion about Chapter 6 and specifically about Word Work.

Word Work is the one component of Daily 5 that is causing me some concern.  I've always had issues with the typical spelling program (you know...the one where you give out the list of weekly spelling words to all students on Monday, assign some homework sheets for the week and then give the spelling test on Friday.)  And typically, I found that students promptly 'forgot' how to spell those words, as it didn't transfer to their writing, which is really why we do spelling in the first place, isn't it??

It didn't take me long after I started teaching (many moons ago) to realize that this type of spelling format didn't work for me OR my students and so, over the past 10 odd years I have played around with spelling/word study, searching for the structure that would work for me and more importantly work for ALL my students, not just the middle of the road students (which most spelling programs seem to target).

 A few years ago, I discovered Words Their Way and thought I had finally found a program that would work...well, it worked for the kids, but it didn't quite work for me...I had a heck of a time juggling the four different spelling groups and getting the kids to work independently while I was working with a spelling group.  I know now, in hindsight after reading the Daily 5, that we needed to do way MORE modeling of behaviour and expectations in the class.

Last year, I implemented what I call a 'compromise spelling program' which I based on Beth Newingham's word study program.  It followed the developmental phase outlined in Words Their Way, but all the students followed the same pattern of study, with the exception of challenge word lists for students who got 90% or better on the pretest.  I also made up games & activities to go along with every unit of study (a lot of work on my part!) which students rotated through on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays and created a word study homework packet for each unit that students took home on Monday and brought back on Friday.  It was a lot of work and although the kids (and the parents) liked the program, I was left feeling that:
  • a) I wasn't meeting all my students needs (my lowest students found the words too challenging and my highest students didn't find the challenge words challenging!)
  • b) I was working harder than my students (there was a lot of prep involved)
On a positive note, these were the things I liked about the program:
  • a)  They had a list of 5 high frequency words they needed to learn each week (based on where they were) and worked through the list, highlighting the words they spelled correctly
  • b) They got to work on their spelling pattern words through games and activities regularly through the week
  • c) It DID follow a developmental pattern
  • d) Parents liked the program (Let's face it...half the time we do spelling to appease the parents!)
So, here I am in the summer, stressing over thinking about how I can redo tweak word study in my classroom for next year, within the Daily 5 structure.

Here's what I'm wondering/thinking:
  1. Are teachers doing word work in addition to a more traditional spelling program?
  2.  How can I use Words Their Way (which I really like) within the Daily 5 structure?
  3. Do I really need to have a Friday spelling test and how do I justify NOT doing it to parents?
  4. If I don't do a weekly spelling test, what will I use to assess student spelling abilities?
  5. Can I/should I delegate some of the Words Their Way activities for homework thereby freeing up some time for other word study activities in class (knowing that there will be some students who will not get the support they need at home?)
  6. How can I use  Words Their Way within the Daily 5 structure (I know, I've already mentioned this one, but it's a biggy!LOL)
I will be reading all the comments related to Word Work from the book study, but if you have any suggestions or if you have managed to find a way to meld Words Their Way with Daily 5 I would LOVE to hear from you! Pretty please! :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Made It Monday Link Up Late! some places, it's already Tuesday, but please bear with me's my first real linky! :)
AND. . . I'm not crafty. . . in fact, some of my friends have called me the 'anti-Martha Stewart" <gasp!> I know, heartless wouldn't you say?

Anyways,  since discovering the wonder of PATTERNED Duck Tape, I have been eager to try my hand at craftiness!  Here is my first attempt:

A simple project but I am so pleased it turned out and I love the colourful dot pattern which will go well with the colourful button trim on my BBs.  I've got a few more of these to do before I tackle the CLIPBOARDS!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Theme Day Photos

As promised, I am including a few photos of the various theme days we had for the last 5 days of school.  Only 2 theme days are presented because:
  1. I don't remember to take pictures, hence I have none and 
  2. I had to rely on my teaching partner to supply the photos and this is what I have to work with.


Lady Gaga?

Your guess is as good as mine!?
 The kids really enjoyed the theme days...made the last few days of school a bit more special.  We had a few other classes start doing their own theme day once we got ours going.  It was a nice way to end the school year, it wasn't too chaotic, so I will probably do it again next year! . . . but remember to take pictures! :)