Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weekly Newsletter with *EDITABLE* Text

Hello everyone! With less than 3 weeks until school starts, I am officially in panic mode! 100 degree heat plus 3 stir crazy little boys =  LITTLE TIME FOR WORK.  Remember the quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt, "When you feel like you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."  My knot is tied.

On a more positive note, I finally wrapped up my Weekly Newsletter.  At first glance you might think there isn't enough room to really COMMUNICATE all the classroom happenings, but I did this on purpose.  There is a method behind my madness. :)

Since I am encouraging my parents to use my CLASSROOM BLOG as the primary resource for school information, I was able to significantly downsize my WEEKLY NEWSLETTER. If I gave them everything in the newsletter, why would they need to look at the blog?  The newsletter has a space for upcoming important events and key learning highlights, but the rest is devoted to the the behavior report, which correlates with my Camping Clip Chart.

Here is how it will work in my classroom.  Each day, I will record their clip ups and clip downs on my behavior compass spreadsheet, along with notations as to why they clipped down.  On Friday, I will record this onto the Weekly Behavior Compass chart by putting an X in the box next to each day, and if a clip down occurred, the # from the behavior codes box.  The codes correspond to my classroom rules:

1- Follow directions quickly
2- Raise your hand for permission to speak
3- Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat
4- Make smart choices
5- Keep your dear teacher happy

In the comments box, I will record extra little notes of praise or a specific note as to why they had to clip down.  I am trying to keep this system as simple as possible so that I am worker smarter, not harder.  

How do you communicate student behavior to parents?  Feedback is always appreciated!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Our Writing VOICES!

While exploring Pinterest, I found oodles of adorable VOICES headers, but none of them matched my camping classroom color theme.  In order to keep my overall class design cohesive, I created a VOICES bulletin board kit to match my room.  

Writing is a BIG, ENORMOUS, HUGE (you get the idea) focus for me this year, and deserves to be showcased in my room.  For the individual skill cards, I am going to have students write them for me on on the matching paper vs typing them, which keeps it more student centered.  I really want my classroom to reflect student learning, not my decorative style.  

Now I just need to figure out which bulletin board will be VOICES worthy!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

THINKING about Non-Fiction

One of my summer professional development reads was Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, & Karin Morrison.  

This book was a quick, easy read for me, and the authors provided many excellent tips and strategies for getting students to THINK in the classroom. Many of the strategies presented are ideal for COLLABORATIVE  group settings because students come up with the most creative ideas to problems when they work as a team.  

In order to encourage thinking skills and collaborative group discussion in my own classroom, I created a choice board that can be used for collaborative groups or independent practice.   Templates are provided for use in Interactive Reading Notebooks, or however you see fit!  

Let me know what you THINK in my comments section.  Constructive feedback is welcomed.  

8 days until my classroom is open!  Hurray!!!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Liebster Award

Thank you to Turtley Love Teaching and A Kindergarten Life for Me for the Liebster Award nominations. I apologize for taking so long to answer the questions required for the nomination, but have been completely swamped trying to entertain my 3 boys and get ready for my return to teaching debut.

My questions and my answers from Turtley Love Teaching:

1. What is something that you wish you had more time for?  At this point, I wish I had more time for sleep. :)  8 hours a night would be great....or 7 would work.
2. What is your favorite meal to make? I am a big fan of Barefoot Contessa and love to make her lasagna recipe.  It is beyond delicious and a crowd pleaser.  Pioneer Woman is also my go to gal for recipes.  Tonight I am making the Sour Cream Noodle Bake, and am sure it will be a hit!
3. If you had a ticket to anywhere, where would you go? This is a tough one because there are a lot of places in the US that I want to see.  If I could go ANYWHERE, it would probably be Paris for the food. :)
4. What is your favorite teacher item in your classroom?  My Barstool Director Chair.
5. What is your favorite book to read to your class?   I am looking forward to reading The Lemonade War aloud to my class...
6. What is your favorite product on Teachers Pay Teachers? If you are referring to my own product, it would be my M.O.O.S.E or C.L.U.E Binder.
7. Where did you go to college and what was your best memory?  Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  My best memory is graduating.
8. What do you plan to change for this school year?  More student collaboration, less teacher talk.
9. What is something that you're really excited about? Returning to teaching in a progressive, 21st Century, Catholic school environment, and bringing my 3 boys with me.
10. What did you watch on TV last night?  I watched Curious George reruns with my boys.  LOL.  

11 Random Facts About Me

1.  I am a collector of Starbuck's You are Here Coffee Mugs.  
2. Golden Girls is still my favorite TV show.
3.  When Harry Met Sally is still my favorite movie.  
4.  I am obsessed with my Macbook Pro computer, and actually hide it in my house when I leave for fear someone will steal it (strange but true).
5.  My favorite place to visit is Napa, not for the wine, but for the FOOD.  
6.  My favorite Starbuck's drink is a Dirty Chai (Iced Grande Nonfat Chai Tea Latte with an add shot of Espresso).
7.  I love my Breville Panini Maker.
8.  I love my dog, Lucy, way too much.  She is a rescue, and has been the best dog ever.
9.  I am secretly plotting a way to get another dog (Basset Hound perhaps).
10. Talbots is my favorite clothing store.
11.  I have 3, very active, sons.

My questions and answers from A Kindergarten Life For Me:

1. How long have you been teaching? 10 years.
2. What is your favorite state to visit and why? Oregon, because of all the beautiful trees.

3. Do you like cake or pie the best? Hands-down PIE.  A good strawberry, peach, or chocolate mousse.   

4. What is your favorite cereal?  I don't eat a lot of cereal because I prefer heartier meals in the morning or my green smoothie, but if I had to eat cereal it would be Grape Nuts.

5. What is the best advice you have ever been a teacher...or in life? "Whatever you are be a good one!"

6. If you weren't a teacher, what would you want to be/do? A Chef in a quaint breakfast restaurant.

7. What is your favorite TV show? Parenthood (if we are talking about new shows).  Golden Girls is my favorite older show. 

8. Do you like Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays the best? Why?  Fridays.  I like Fridays because there is a rush of optimism you feel about what lies ahead for the weekend.  
9. Facial or Pedicure?  Facial.   
10. What was your very first car? A BMW 320i.  This was not a new BMW by any stretch of the imagination.  My mom passed it down to me.
11. Are you the oldest, middle, or youngest? Oldest.

 My Nominees:

Questions for the Nominees:

1.  What is your favorite coffee drink?
2.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
3.  Are you a dog lover, cat lover, or both?  
4.  If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?
5.  Favorite TV show?
6.  Favorite professional development book?
7.  Favorite holiday?
8.  Favorite technology tool to use in your classroom?
9.  What is your homework philosophy?
10. Favorite quote? 

 Procedures for the Nominees: 

1.  Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2.  Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3.  Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4.  Share 11 facts about yourself.
5.  Create a list of 11 questions for your nominees.
6.  Contact your nominees with the news.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Vistaprint Stamps

A big thanks to Maria @ Kindercraze for her Vistaprint Stamp Tutorial, as I didn't even know you could make stamps on Vistaprint.  I decided to make two stamps for my classroom with a Groupon I purchased a month or so ago. Here they are:

Both of these stamps are self-inking, 3 x 1.5 inches in purple ink.  I went to Stamps & Ink, then Self-Inking Stamp.  The key to successful stamp creating is to click the ADVANCED EDITING option pictured here:

A little fiddling around and you will get the hang of it. Rocket Science this is not. :)  The HARDEST part for me is to STOP making stamps!  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Leader-In-Me Inspiration

Seeing is believing in my world, otherwise...out of sight, out of mind.   I created these posters for my Camp Leader-In-Me themed classroom as a visual reminder to myself AND my students to reach for greatness.  At this time in my life, these quotes are highly motivating to me and with school starting in roughly one month, I need all of the inspiration I can get!  

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Camping Theme Classroom Bundle

As I have said many, many times, my classroom theme for 2013 - 2014 is going to be Camp Leader-in-Me (camping theme + 7 Habits of Happy Kids).  If you happen to be on my same page in terms of themes, check out this *BUNDLE* of classroom materials I made for my room.  The book bin labels and calendar numbers are not all represented in the collage below.  Also, there is a calendar topper that isn't displayed but is included in the bundle.

In order to spare my very mediocre printer, I have been sending all of my posters, etc., to Kinko's to be printed on Cardstock and then laminated.  Not cheap, but the lamination is so thick that these materials will last FOREVER.  Also I have a Scotch Personal Laminator that I adore, and will use for many of my smaller print jobs. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

M.O.O.S.E Binder - Part One

Finally, finally, finally I finished my M.O.O.S.E Binder.  What an undertaking. :) Actually, I finished designing the contents of the binder, but am still working on the assembly process, which requires a trip to Office Depot.  Triple digits have kept me indoors today, but tomorrow I will brave the heat and put a bow on this project.  

What is the M.O.O.S.E Binder?

A variety of organizational binders are floating around on Pinterest, all of which are equally fabulous, but I chose the mighty M.O.O.S.E to tie into my camping theme.  Also, I am using the 7 Habits of Happy Kids as my classroom behavior philosophy this year, and this binder fits perfectly with Habit #1:  Be Proactive.  

The Contents:

  1. Avery 2" Heavy Duty Binder.  This year I put this binder on my supply list, but in past  years I purchased them for my class at Costco.  They sell these binders in packs of 6 for a phenomenal price.  
  2. Sheet Protectors.  Each binder contains about 14 sheet protectors IF you use them in place of dividers and IF you put your monthly calendars in them.  I do because I am over the top.  Costco sells a huge box of heavy duty sheet protectors, again, for a phenomenal price.  
  3. Pencil Pouch.  In years past, I let them pick out their own but, well, I am a little bit controlling.  :)  Each pouch will have the following: 2 sharpened pencils, pack of Post-It notes, colored pencils, highlighter, personal sharpener, whiteboard marker, & green pen for grading.  
  4. Folder.  Target = $.25 folders at the moment in an array of colors.  I purchased orange ones, again because I am controlling, and wanted them to match my color scheme. Also, I am going to label the inside:  Left at Home, Right Back to School.  The jury is out on whether or not I will laminate them this year.
  5. 1 Single Subject Spiral Notebook.  This is new and will be kept in the HOMEWORK section as a homework journal. Instead of packets going home, I am going to have them cut and paste, or simply write, assignments into their homework journals.  Great resource when conferences roll around, and also a great resource for the students.
The Order & Sections:
  1. Pencil Pouch.
  2. Sheet Protector 1:  Binder Overview & Guidelines.
  3. Sheet Protector 2:  Classroom Rules & Habits.
  4. Sheet Protector 3:  Goals for the Quarter.
  5. Sheet Protector 4:  Lunch Menu/Misc.
  6. Section 1:  Classroom Calendar
  7. Section 2:  Communication.
  8. Section 3:  Classwork
  9. Section 4:  Homework.
  10. Home-School Folder
What is Included in the Listing:
  1. M.O.O.S.E Binder Cover.
  2. Binder Overview & Guidelines. Editable pencil pouch contents.
  3. Whole Brain Teaching Class Rules.
  4. 7 Habits of Happy Kids.
  5. Goal Setting Template.
  6. Parent Communication Template.
  7. 12 Monthly Calendars with editable text.  
  8. Cover pages for the 4 sections:  Monthly Calendar, Parent Communication, Classwork, & Homework.  I included color and black and white versions.  I am going  to print them in black and white on colored paper.
  1. At the beginning of the year, as with all rules and routines, a lot of rehearsal is needed to get students used to using their binders correctly.  Morning meeting might be a good time to look at important dates?  Closing (7 minutes prior to dismissal) is another good time to record  assignments and dates, and make sure all necessary materials are in their binders.
  2. Random and scheduled binder checks.  I am not a "gotcha" teacher, but occasionally a "POP" binder check might be needed to keep the kiddos on their toes.  Also, I am going to have binder check days that count towards their grade.
Once I have assembled the actual binder, I will post a M.O.O.S.E Binder - Part Two, so keep watch!  I love constructive feedback, so let me know what you think in the comments section!