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First Day of School – 2017

Back to School

I wanted to share with everyone what we did on our first day yesterday.  We had a great first day full of lots of fun and learning – mainly procedures and expectations, but we did start with a little math and writing today.

Check out what we did below….

Here was our schedule. It was weird writing all of this on the board again. I need to get back in all of the routines!
Our Morning Message during Morning Meeting was focused on things they’re excited to learn this year. As you can see, many are excited to work on division. They were not as excited when I told them we don’t go over that until January.
For Morning Meeting Activity, I always start with this Finish the Picture activity. Unfortunately there is no copyright so I’m not sure where I got it. I love starting with this because it gives the kids a chance to be creative and work on something with no right or wrong answers. They can turn the doodles into anything they want and then I have them share their picture with the table groups.
I did give a test yesterday morning. I’m going to be doing Math Rotations this year so lots of small group work.  For this, I’m going to be giving pre-tests before we begin a unit so I know where each child is at. I’m hoping this will help me differentiate more and meet the needs of all of my learners.
Of course we did a first day of school picture – although I’m kicking myself because I totally forgot to get a whole class picture. I decided to jump in and get a picture too. Although – this is not my first day of second grade lol.
In the afternoon, I had the students work on a tower building challenge. Each table group had the same number of cups and their goal was to build the highest tower. The winning group gets to pick our GoNoodle Brain Breaks the next day. Each day this week I’ve found a challenge/STEM activity that we’ll work on. I like these because it gives the kids a chance to work together, practice teamwork, and it’s great for me to observe them in different situations.
**The winning tower!

We did work on some other things but I was unable to get pictures of everything. It was a whirlwind of a day that started with a thunderstorm and rain and also had a solar eclipse!  Check out my Instagram and Facebook throughout the week for more first week ideas!

Friday Favorites – Back to School Books

Back to School, Reading

Every Friday this summer I am sharing some of my favorite things with you! The month of July is focused on technology and academic areas.

Check out past Friday Favorites…
PD Books
Read Alouds
Kids’ Favorite Series
Book Studies
Tech Apps

PBL Activities

Today I’m excited to share with you some of my favorite books for the first week back to school! I’m sure some of these will be old favorites, but I hope to introduce you to maybe a new one or two as well.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg – This one surprises me every year. This is always the first book I read to students and I think it has been since I started teaching 11 years ago. Every year I ask students if they have heard this book before (I teach 2nd) and surprisingly the majority of the class says no.  Great book to discuss the jitters and nervousness that accompany the first day! It shows students that teachers also have some first day jitters too!

ish by Peter Reynolds – One of my favorite back to school books! This book discusses that it’s ok if things aren’t perfect.  As long as you are doing your best that is all that matters!

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein – This book is great for the perfectionist child.  I was one of these and am still one as an adult. It’s a funny story, but covers the important life lesson that it’s ok to make mistakes and no one is perfect.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires – I use this book to introduce Project Based Learning. This is a great book that also focuses on growth mindset.

Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook – This book has been one of my favorite back to school books for many years.  Kids love, love, love to tattle. It does a great job covering what is a tattle and what is actually important to tell. It even has a cute little chant!

The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill – I love this book! This book is a great book to use when going over recess expectations. It covers sharing, being kind to one another, etc.

Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a Big Deal by Jeanie Franz Ransom – I use this book the first week to discuss tattling.  Tattling is a big deal in the lower grades and discussing it using picture books tends to resonate more with the kids.

And I got two new books that I haven’t used before…

Spaghetti In a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy – This book has been recommended by many teachers and I’m excited to use it the first week to discuss how we’re all different and unique in our own ways.

Back to School Rules by Laurie Friedman: I’m planning to use this book when we discuss creating rules during my Johnson Elementary PBL.  To learn more about that PBL project – click here

What are some of your favorite back to school books? Comment below….

Next week, I’ll be sharing some of favorite community building activities to use the first few weeks of school.

Friday Favorites – Teaching Supplies

Back to School, Organization

Every Friday this summer I am sharing some of my favorite things with you! The month of July is focused on technology and academic areas.

Check out past Friday Favorites…
PD Books
Read Alouds
Kids’ Favorite Series
Book Studies
Tech Apps

PBL Activities

Today I’m excited to share with some of my favorite teaching supplies! I’ve always loved office supplies. Even when I was a kid I loved looking at all of the pretty pens and papers in the office supply stores. Maybe that was my early calling to be a teacher as we get to work with office/school supplies often! Below are some of my favorites that I use every school year….

Scotch Laminator – This is a must have and I don’t know what I did before owning one. Yes, you can use the school laminator, but we all know how that goes. There is a line, it’s broken, it’s out of film, etc.  Having your own makes life easier and everything always looks pretty laminated!
Image result for scotch laminator

Flair Pens – This is another must for most teachers I know. Flair Pens are the best pens in my opinion. They are bright and colorful and write so nicely! I love using them for everything at school and at home!
Image result for flair pens

PaperPro Stapler – This is one of the best staplers I’ve ever bought. A simple push makes it staple easily! Hanging things on the wall is also easier too, but you have to be careful because it opens up to staple on the wall in a funky way. But, once you get the hang of it, it works so well!
Image result for paper pro stapler

Ticonderoga Pencils – Best pencils ever! We have different pencils that we have to use at our school and they drive me crazy. They’re always breaking and take forever to sharpen. Ticondergoa are the best ones. And, they even have packages where they come pre-sharpened!
Image result for ticonderoga pencils

Chart Paper – I love to use Anchor Charts in my classroom and my bulletin boards and walls are typically covered with them. So, chart paper is a necessity! I know some people like the sticky post-it chart paper, but I personally prefer they regular good, old plain chart paper.
Image result for chart paper

White Board Kidney Table – So I know you can’t see the whole table, but this shows you how awesome it is to have a white board table. It makes pulling small groups so easy and the kids can do their math work, writing work, phonics work, etc right there on the table. The kids think it’s fun too!  They have different sizes and shapes.  I have a kidney shaped and rectangle shaped white board table in my classroom.

Post-It Notes – I use Post-It’s for everything! We use them to respond to our morning message, as bookmarks, to write notes, to do lists, etc. I can never have enough!
Image result for post it notes

Sit Spots – I had been a classroom rug user before, but after getting Sit Spots this past fall I’ve switched over to Team Sit Spots.  These are easier to keep clean than a rug and you aren’t tripping over them. I can’t tell you how many times my old classroom rug would get a bump in it or get stuck on something and I ended up tripping over it.  The Sit Spots are bright, colorful and you can position them wherever you want!  Love it!

Plastic Storage Containers – Oh Sterilite- with how many plastic containers I own, I should buy stock in your company. I know I’m not alone in the hoarding of storage containers, I know there are many teachers who join me in this obsession. And, you can never have enough! If you see them on sale, you have to buy them because you never know when you’ll need it. I have containers in all shapes and sizes and they are amazing for organization!
What are some of your favorite must-have teaching supplies? Comment below.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my favorite supplies! Next week I’ll be sharing my favorite Back to School/First Week of School books.

Quick Tip – Student Computer Log-Ins

Back to School, Organization

For some reason…and I have never understood this…each computer program at school has to have a very different log-in for the kiddos.  Some are first initial, last name.  Some require half of the last name. Some require capitals and numbers etc. I have a hard time remembering my eight billion log-ins and I know it’s no different from kids.  Last year I started a log-in card system that worked beautifully! I’m using it again this year and it is a lifesaver!

I start out by printing out labels for each program we have. This year we have AR, MobyMax, Pearson Realize, and Spelling City.  I have one page of address labels per app.  I label it with the title of the app and leave a blank spot by username and password. Then, I fill in the eight million different user names and passwords on the labels and stick them to the cards with the student’s name label on it. Voila- easy access. I hang it by the front white board and students can refer to it as needed, take it to their seats, etc.  It has saved me a lot of time and makes it easier for kids to be more independent with logging in to the computer program.

Classroom Jobs

Back to School, Organization
In an effort to simplify my life and make classroom jobs easier to manage, I’ve decided to only change jobs once a month.  So each student has their job for one whole month!  In the past, I changed jobs weekly.  This was difficult for 2 reasons. 1 – I often forgot to change them on Monday, which would then turn into Tuesday and students only had jobs for a few days.  2. -The kids often forgot what job was their job and didn’t have that down until Thursday or Friday and by that time it was almost time for the new week and time to switch.
I saw many teachers on Pinterest and through blogging that change it once a month and I definitely see the perks! Kids have a chance to become really good at their job.  Kids know exactly what their job is and know it’s their job since they have it for a whole month.  And, it takes one thing off my plate every week since I only have to change jobs once a month.
Since I decided to do jobs differently, I also made a new job chart.  I made the headers/backgrounds in PowerPoint and then used a push pin to put each student’s name up there.
Here are the different jobs and what their task is:
  • Star Student – this will change weekly. Every child has a chance to be Star Student during the school year.  I pick a different child each week. This student gets to take home a poster to fill out about themselves and share it with the class during the week. This student is also my assistant of sorts who helps with any task that needs assistance.
  • Door Holder – this one is pretty self evident 🙂
  • Greeter – This student greets adults who come into the classroom and let’s them know what we are working on.  We often have visitors (staff, admin) and prospective parents and students on tours so a greeter is a great way for them to feel comfortable and know what we are working on in our classroom.
  • iPad Helpers – We are so lucky to have enough iPads for it to be 1 to 1 in our classroom. The iPad Helpers help with distributing the iPads, questions about them, and plugging them in at the end of the day.
  • Snack Assistant – The Snack Assistant goes around and distributes hand sanitizer to all of the students.
  • Lights Helper – Another job that is pretty explanatory. 🙂
  • Library Helpers – These students help keep my classroom library clean and handle returning books to our school library.
  • Homework Helpers – These students help me pass things out and help with organizing our homework bin in the morning.
  • Clean Up Helpers – Clean Up Helpers help make sure everything looks neat and tidy at the end of the day.
  • Cubby Patrol – Cubbies tends to get messy and kids tend to leave things in their forever.  So, Cubby Patrol monitors the cubbies every day so things don’t pile up.
  • Table Captains – There is one table captain per table group in my classroom. They are in charge of passing out papers to their tables.

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Five for Friday – August 26

Back to School
I’m linking up to share what we’ve been up to the first week of school. It’s been a busy one! I always forget how much time and effort goes into expectations, but it does always pay off in the end!  I’m linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.  Here’s what I’ve been up to…

We had our first day of Writing Workshop on Wednesday and I was blown away by how awesome my kids did! The first day (using Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study – Narrative) we talked about writing about meaningful small moments. Not just writing about any random story.  And, they did it!! That is a hard concept for kids to understand. It is also hard for them to pick a small moment! But, most did awesome!! The above sample I loved because this student had a great introduction and incorporated dialogue into it on the first day! That’s not something I normally see with second graders so I know it’s going to be a great year with Writing Workshop and I can’t wait to see what they’re doing in May!

I love lists and have found them helpful for my students too. Unpacking and packing up can be quite chaotic times especially the first few weeks of school. I have to say though, my group this year, they got it down quickly (knock on wood)! Day 1 pack up wasn’t even stressful, which is amazing when you’re teaching kids how to use student planners for the first time :-).  Anyways, I put this list up on the board to assist kids in unpacking. Tuesday, we unpacked very slowly as a class following the steps. Wednesday, I had the steps on the board and let them go on their own. I did verbally remind of the steps, but they had it! Yesterday, same thing!
This week students interviewed each other using my Getting to Know You Packet.  They were so cute! Some students even stood to ask each other the interview questions like they see people do on TV.  When students are done interviewing, they fill out a Meet_____ page on the person they interviewed and then get to introduce them to the class. Great way for students to get to know each other!
How cute are these gifts! Some very sweet students and families brought me some first day back goodies! You can never go wrong with caffeine and chocolate…especially the first week of school!
I posted about  my classroom reveal this week.  Check it out here for some organizational and room set-up ideas and tips…

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Classroom Reveal 2016-17

Back to School, Organization

I’ve finally made it to year 10 of teaching. It’s hard to believe I’ve been teaching for 10 years. It feels like just yesterday I was in my student teaching class while attending ASU. And, now ten years have passed!  I will say this is one of my more organized classrooms. I was very lucky that since I taught summer school I didn’t have to put everything away. It also gave me the chance to organize and fine tune some of the systems and things I have in my room. This is my third year in this classroom, which also helps.  Each year I made tweaks and I think I finally have it where I want it. So, without further ado…here is my classroom for the 2016-17 school year.

This is the welcome bulletin in the hallway right outside my classroom. This bulletin was inspired by Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle.
My Instagram Bulletin on the other hallway bulletin right beside my room. This was my favorite bulletin board last year.  I take pictures throughout the month and place them on the board. I also added a hashtag like Instagram that helped describe the picture. This is a really neat way to showcase different things you do in the classroom and a nice way to capture the whole year in a little timeline of sorts.
Right outside my classroom door, I have my class list posted.
This is the view you see when you enter my classroom.  I struggled with ways to set these desks up. They are new and have really cool iPad stands, but since they are angled, they don’t connect. Which I’ll be honest, drives me a little nuts. I love kids in groups.  And, it’s driving my OCD self a little crazy that there is space between the desks. But, I want them in groups, so space there will be.  It actually hasn’t been a problem yet (although we are only 2 days in).
Here I have my Bucket Filling Board.  See how I use that here.
This is my huge shelving unit.  The books are my teacher books. These are the books I use to teach different concepts and they are divided out into those concepts. For example I have bins like – Schema, Characters, Letter Writing, Behavior, Important People, etc. On the floor, the numbered bins are my Math Station bins.  
 On top, I have bins that have my math supplies. I’ll be doing a separate post on this soon.
There is my Clip Chart.  See how I use  my Clip Chart here.
Here is the view from one of the front corners of my room.  I love that my room has so many windows. The window by my kidney table has an awesome view of the Las Vegas Strips.  My room is definitely in an awesome spot!
Here is my math and supply area.  On my bulletin, there will eventually be math anchor charts in that open black space.  I house my math supplies in the bins on the right side shelving unit. I use the other shelving unit to hold extra supplies – crayons, glue, clip boards, white board markers, etc.
Here is my Writing Area.  This table is used for Writing Station during Literacy Stations. This is also where all of the Writing Workshop materials are housed.
Here is my front white board. I will eventually be adding a portable word wall beneath the white board. Stay tuned for info and pictures on that.
Here’s my teacher area.  Less cluttered than normal :-).  We use the stands that are on the kidney shaped table like a document camera using the iPad and projector.
Another view of my teacher corner.  I use the plastic drawers that are stacked to keep material for that day. Great way to keep lessons, papers, and books organized and ready to go for teaching.
One more view of my teacher area. This white board is used for a few things. Currently you can see my homework board. I will also put my literacy station and math station groups on here.
Close-up of the homework board. I use cute washi tape to make it! Brightens up the room.
View of the room from my teacher corner.
I love this table! This is a white board kidney table.  At first, I was concerned that the white board markers wouldn’t erase well, but THEY DO!! And, the kids love it. There is something special about writing on the table that is way more fun than even writing on the white board. I love having this for small group work.
Here is my writing bulletin.  The larger side will hold anchor charts we create in class. The smaller section will be for my writing spotlight.  See more about my writing spotlight…here.

Here is my Reading Bulletin. Again, there will be class created anchor charts posted here.
Here is my classroom library. This is one of my favorite parts of my classroom!! Check out how I organized my classroom library, here
Here are my cubbies and backpack hooks. The kids use the cubbies to store their lunch boxes and snacks.  They then hang their backpacks on the hooks.   I also have my classroom jobs displayed on the wall.  A post about the new way I’m doing classroom jobs will be coming soon…
One more view- this one is taken from my library.
Thank you for stopping by to check out my classroom for the year. I’m very excited with how organized it turned out and it has been very functional so far!  Hope it will continue to work so well for the rest of the school year!
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First Day Fun!

Back to School

So I survived the first day of my 10th year of teaching! We had a wonderful first day, but boy was I exhausted.  After being on summer break and coming back and having to get everyone back into a routine – it takes a lot out of a teacher!

It also makes me reminisce about my last class.  While we had our ups and downs, as you do with any school year, they had it all down. They were so well-trained. They knew where the pencils were. They knew how I expected them to sit on the carpet. They knew the hallway procedures, etc. Now, I’m starting back at square one. Which we all do as teachers every year.  And, it always makes me nostalgic for my last class who had it down and we were working like a well-oiled machine by the end of the year.

I have a few pictures to share with you of my first day. Many things went well, a few things did not.  One – my projector bulb decided to die.  No projector for a teacher who uses tech a lot, on the first day of school.  I made it work. I was flexible. But, I cannot wait for that new bulb to be in! Two – I was forgetful.  Guess which teacher forgot to take the individual – “first day of 2nd grade” pictures with the cute frame?  This girl.  Guess which teacher forgot to take a whole class smiling and cheesy picture?  This girl.  So, we’ll try again tomorrow.  We can “pretend” it’s the first day again, right??  And, three – I need to get back in my groove.  I was definitely off in what I was saying.  The kids caught me saying “sit criss-cross apple spot.”  When I really meant “criss-cross applesauce.” And technically, I did want them to sit in their spot that way so I was just trying to shorten my directions…right?  Overall, none of these things were major, but funny little things that made for an entertaining day.

The calm before the storm! I always enjoy the last few minutes of quiet before the new group comes in.
Love First Day Jitters.  I know there are many books out there, but this is still one of my favorite first day books. I read this as a part of our Morning Meeting Share.  Then, everyone shared how they were feeling about the first day of school.
Our first day Morning Message. I like this one because it gives kids a chance to express some things they are hoping to learn and do in 2nd grade.  Good thing all of them are in the curriculum :-).  
Well, here’s our one shining moment with the projector. We got through about two minutes of Pop-se-ko, before it decided to shut off and make weird noises!   Wednesday and my new projector bulb cannot come soon enough!
Selfie sticks! These were a hit! I got this idea from Cara Carroll – The First Grade Parade. She shared in one of her live videos the “Selfie Stick” idea.  It’s a stick, that has a question they answer about their selfie. Super cute, super simple, and they ate it up! I only had time for about 8 students to share today, and they were all wanting to.  After we did a few, kids were asking if we could do two rounds of it.  All students do is come up one at a time, grab a stick, read it to the class, and answer the question. It’s a great way to make connections between things kids have in common and give each kid a chance to be in the spotlight.
Love Chrysanthemum! Another first day favorite! I feel like I almost have this one memorized.  While it’s an oldie, but goodie – kids always seem to enjoy it. It also gave us a chance to talk about being kind to others and treat people how you want to be treated.
I honestly have on idea where I got this page, but it was another hit! This activity is Find Someone Who. There are a billion versions out there. This was my first year using it. I’ll be honest, as I was explaining it to the kids, I thought this might be a little too much for beginning of second grade.  But, I was wrong! They loved walking around and finding friends who had done the different items on it.  Another great way for kids to get to know each other and for them to get up and get moving.
We did do some academics the first day.  I did “Number Bubbles” or “Ways to Make…”  Check out my blog post on it here.  I love using this as quick math assessment. I gave students the choice of using the number 20, 30, 50, or 100. It’s interesting to see what they pick and how they make the number. Great quick formative assessment.

So, that is a little snapshot of some of our fun on the first day! Check my Facebook page out for updates throughout the first week of some of our activities and lessons.

On to Day #2!

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Year-Long Planning

Back to School, Organization
Last year I made a long-term, whole year plan, for all academic areas! While it was a lot of work, it was a lifesaver in the long run.  Weekly planning was so much easier because I already had things laid out.  It also was easy to make sure I hit everything because I spent time over the summer making sure each standard was covered in the long-term plans.

I got my layout idea this year from Primary Punch. She laid out her 3rd grade plans in a very easy to read fashion and I made a version like hers, but with our standards, resources, etc.

So…here is my baby…the big project I spent many, many, many, many hours on….

Our school year is broken up into trimesters.  I have two pages for each trimester and each subject area is included.  As you can see some projects, standards, units take more than a week and some take only a week.

In addition to the basic, year-long plan. I also planned out Writing Workshop and Math in much more detail.  I used Lightbulbs and Laughter’s cute year-long calendar and planned out each day.  Again, this takes time, but again will save me time down the road.
Here are my Writing Workshop plans for September:
A close up of my WW plans for September…
Here are my math plans for September. We use a combination of enVisions, Investigations, CGI, our own resources, etc….
A close-up of math plans..

Thank you for stopping by to check out how I plan for the year! I highly recommend doing year-long planning if you have the time.  It really does make the school year run smoother and takes a little stress of your plate.

Happy planning!!

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Monday Made-It – August 8

Back to School, Organization

I’m back for another Monday Made-It with Fourth Grade Frolics! I have two back to school items to share with you today and both are now freebies in my TPT store (Jordan Johnson).

My first made-it today are new cubby labels! My student use their cubby to hold their lunch, snack, or other items.  Since my theme or color scheme is bright colors, I made these cubby labels so that each child knows what cubby belongs to them.  (I use numbers for each student to help with line order and organization.  There numbers is based on alphabetical order by last name.)

Here are what our cubbies look like. I have 20 total to work with and typically 20 students in a class.
I used this self-adhesive hook and loop tape to attach the cubby numbers.  It was really easy to work with!
Here are my bright numbers! I have this up as a freebie in my TPT Store (Jordan Johnson).  You can download my cubby numbers (numbers 1-30), here.  
A close-up of the cubbies all labeled and ready for kids!
You can download my set of number labels as a freebie in my store! They can be used to label cubbies, desks, or whatever items might need numbers! Happy labeling!

My second made-it was my Meet the Teacher treat for my students. We have Meet the Teacher at my school the Friday before school starts. It’s a chance for kids to come in and meet me as well as check out their new classroom. I love to have a little treat waiting for them when they come.  I saw this Smart Cookie slogan on Pinterest and most kids love cookies – so I thought it would be perfect for my student gift.  If you don’t have a Meet the Teacher event at your school, these could also be used at an Open House or as a first day gift to your students.  
I went to Target to buy my cookies. They have many options of small cookie bags, but I figured Chips Ahoy was a pretty safe bet.
Then, I made my little tags.  I printed them on Astrobrights paper so they would stand out.  These tags are now a freebie in my TPT store.  
Then, I attached the tag to each bag of cookies using washi tape! Cute, simple and now all ready to go for Meet the Teacher!
These tags are a freebie in my TPT store.  I have tags for Kindergarten-5th grade. All you need to do is print, cut, and sign your name after the heart.  Well, and buy cookies lol.  
Thank you for checking out my Monday Made-It’s today. Be sure to check out 4th Grade Frolics link-up for more wonderful made-it ideas!

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