Thursday, August 15, 2013

Taming the Wild

I love today's title for Teacher Week Thursday: Taming the Wild! Such an important part of establishing the beginning of a successful year. During the beginning of the year I do many things to not only learn who my students are, but to give them structure that will allow for social and emotional growth. I always start day number one!


We learn what it means to be a bucket filler! A different staff member will take a day reading to our little ones and discussing what it means to be a bucket filler. When it is more than just yourself reading and discussing, it brings together a greater sense of community and they know other teachers know the first grade expectations!

Our building has a school motto - PRIDE. Each letter stands for something: Perseverance, Respect & Responsibility, Integrity, Decision Making, and Excellence.  We do social stories, skits, and review this but it carries through from K - 5. Our classes buddy with an older class and they do some fun activities here too. It's ahhhhmazing. We even do a little craftivity!  Look these redbirds showing PRIDE!

Students take home PRIDE stickers throughout the year and it's fun to see them track them on their takehome folder!

The biggest thing we do throughout the entire district I teach is to help build inner wealth through the Nurtured Heart Approach. Have you heard of it?  The best. thing.ever! As a teacher, you recognize the good in your students encouraging them to make better decisions and they build up self esteem. I recognize the students for what they're doing right in a situation and they build off of that. For instance, even if a child is refusing to do their work I might say to them "I notice you have your pencil out... that shows me you're ready to begin your work." I don't say "get to work."  It seems corny but it totally works. If students are not doing what they need to, we "reset" just like in a video game. I'll model when I need to reset. Soon students begin noticing postives in each other and we share them as a class.

 It does seem a little corny, but I swear it works! I studied with one of the authors of the Nurtured Heart Approach and the feedback I recieved was amazing. I had a troubled student and it helped make him not only aware of what he was doing but he wanted to change it on his own. He wanted to be noticed more. 

The key thing about this approach is not to be a negative nelly! Focus on what's going right, not wrong!  PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE for what's going great!  It could even be a class or group "notice" or "reset" too.  It's easy to focus on the bad, but when you think about it, so much is going well. I realized I  became a better and more relaxed teacher when I started implementing this.

Have a great night... see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Classroom Organization

Oh wow! Has this been a crazzzy two weeks for me!  I'm excited to finally have the time to blog and link up with Teacher Week at Blog Hoppin'! I've been all about organizing this summer so here I go!

Last year was my first year in first grade and boy, did I learn a thing or two! I was thankful to purchase so many wonderful units off of TpT, and spent so much time and effort printing, cutting, laminating, and cutting some more and putting the pieces in the bags!

Then when I gave them to my kiddos.... oh boy was it a disaster. "No that's my piece" "No mine" Oops, this piece fell out.  Seriously, it was the worst.  Could I get mad at my little ones? No - I was the dummy who learned I needed to label more. 

In order to keep pieces together, I began labeling each set of pieces:

And then put the pieces in a labeled bag. Each bag in a plastic sleeve.

I also put a paper copy of the item in the sleeve as well so I knew what it was later in the year.  This took me an extra 5 minutes, and I know it will be so worth my time. This above unit is Susan Moran's Numbers to 120 set. It's awesome! I even sent some of it home for parents to work with their children on. Love!

For some other of my units I invested in some binders and more plastic sleeves. Why did I print them out? Because too often my computer is projecting and I remember seeing something! It's much quicker for me to get grab my binders (all stashed by my small group table) and ask a kid to run and get something copied. It's just what I found works for me.
(I cannot get the picture to rotate..grr... it's Reagan's I LOVE LITERACY pack!)

 Now this time I have all the pieces that I could use for lessons ready to go in the sleeves:

Now I can just whip them out when I'm ready to teach!   This is the best organization system I've found that works... and hopefully will allow me to keep some of my sanity too this year.

See you back tomorrow for some more Teacher Week '13!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Made It and a Freebie

I can't believe summer is winding down and the push to get everything ready for the classroom is upon us.  We go back in just a few short days and whoa! I'm not exactly readdddy!

But to help me get ready, I'm linking up with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics. If you follow me on Instagram you might know what I'm about to show... but I worked on some giant numbers that go along with my "Wild About Learning" theme. 

These are Amy Lemon's Classroom Number Words! I loved them in the chevron but sad because they didn't match my theme. She included a blackline copy (can I tell you how high I jumped... this 5'2" girl soared to at least 6'!).
 I bought scrapbook paper at Hobby Lobby then copied them. Easy peasy!  I laminated and cut them out.  I wanted the letters to "pop" so I bought black glitter glue and traced the word letter.

I cannot wait to hang them up! I'm in love with them.

I also worked on some animal ten frame posters to match my theme. They're smaller than a 8.5 x 11 paper because I won't have that much space but I think they turned out pretty darn cute.

Aren't those borders cute? They're Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs and they're on sale!  Get your free version of htese animal ten frames here!
Go enjoy the rest of your day, and thank you Tara for hosting again!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It and a Math Freebie!

Did I make it for Tara's Made It Monday? I'd like to say my delay for posting this week’s Monday Made It is clearly because I was waiting for this: 

But in reality, I was really laminating and cutting all of this:

and this:

But I did manage to get Miss Nelson’s Braggin’ About Behavior Beads ready to go. I love my caddy I found at Hobby Lobby for $1.99! I also got the chain that was originally $7.99 with my 40% off coupon. Score!  I also picked up a small bag for each bead string so the students will get them on the first day. Can you say I’m super excited about these? I had some kiddos with major behavior issues last year so I think this could really help me out this year. Too bad I didn’t have them last year!

I also created Cube in a Tube!  

All you need is some duck tape and a paper towel roll.  Take it to your classroom with 5 or 10 snapcubes and you’re set!

This activity is primarily K-2 based and adapted from Minilessons for Math Practices.  This algebra activity allows students to gain experiences with identifying, describing, and extending patterns. Although it uses snapcubes, you’re exposing students to the same algebraic thinking they’ll need as they move on in their mathematical careers.

Simply put in a cube train of 5 or 10 cubes. They should have a pattern with them. This could be an AB pattern, AAB, ABC, etc.., just don’t make it too complicated at first. Show the students the tube, and have them make predictions what color they think the first cube will be. They can share aloud or even record their ideas on this recording sheet I made. After they share/record, show them, and repeat the next steps.  As an extension, have students try and make their own trains and have their peers make their predictions. 

I keep thinking of more and more ways to use these tubes do you have any ideas on how they could be used? 

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Are you coming to Chicago?

Are you going to Chicago for the Extraordinary Educators Conference?   I'm so excited for the conference and to have all these fabulous educators just steps  from me.

Yes, you read that correctly, I'm fortunate to live just a few steps, okay 3 blocks, from the hosting hotel, and I figured I'd help you out with places to go, eat, shop, do on your downtime or any other time you come to Chicago!

As I’m walking the dog, I usually get asked where to go by tourists, so I figured I could be your little concierge and help you find some place to eat and things to do! There are SOOOOOO many yummy places, but these are some of the possibilities! I stuck a small area around the hotel since it’s been SOOOOOO hot out and I don’t want you to melt.


That's Riley on a walk at North Bridge!

Places to stop for a quick bite near the Marriot Hotel.

Chipotle (Grand  & State)

Northbridge 4th floor Food Court (this is the Nordstrom’s building).



Vertigo Lounge at Dana Hotel(State and Erie) – swanky but fun!

Rock Bottom (State and Grand) – local(ish) brewery  

Zed451 (Clark and Superior) – great vibe and place to relax.

The Wit – great views of the city, but go early before the crowd turns.


Suggested Restaurants

Quartino (State and Ontario) -  yummy Italian tapas. Worth the wait!

Bub City (Clark and Illinois) – BBQ with great live music (Sun, Mon, Wed & Thur) and karaoke on Tuesdays!

Sunda (Illinois between Clark and LaSalle) – great sushi place with celebrity sightings!

RPM (Dearborn and Illinois) – Giuliana and Bill Rancic’s Italian restaurant. Typical to see him, but can be a long wait.

Frontera Grill (Clark and Illinois) - Rick Bayless’ restaurant. It’s closed on Monday’s. First come, first serve if you don’t have reservations. Lines usually begin by 4:30! His XOCO restaurant is excellent and not as long of a wait.

Paris (Hubbard between Dearborn and Clark) – great food and upstairs is Club Paris!

Live concert at Bub City!

Chicago Food

Garrett’s Popcorn (Michigan & Ontario) go during the week because it’s a much shorter line!

Portillo’s (Clark & Ontario) – the best hot dog and beef sandwiches. Don’t forget to try the chocolate cake shake!

Pizzeria Due (Ontario and Wabash) – the same restaurant as Pizzeria Uno but usually half the wait! So delicious!


Grab a Drink

Pops for Champagne (Ohio and State) – love this place for a glass of bubbly!

Redhead Piano Bar (Ontario between Dearborn and State) – great old time feeling bar open late night.

Public House (Kinzie and State) – busy bar with a great food and drink menu

Howells and Hood (Michigan Avenue in the Tribune Building) - great drinks and food! Can't beat the location!

Sierra Tavern (Kinzie and Dearborn) – new bar with a great feel.

The bars on Hubbard Street or Rush and Division


Need a workout? Check out Yoga Loft Chicago! Take one of Tim’s fit blast classes and you’ll leave feeling amazing!  Or simply go for a walk/run along the lake on the path and you can even rent a bike.

Don’t forget to check out Millennium Park for a free concert or to see the sights.  The best tourist thing – take the architecture boat cruise!  Navy Pier has fireworks on Saturday and Wednesday nights. The best place to view them is from the boat docks across from Navy Pier. Take the Chicago River Path out towards the lake and you’ll see the Fireboat building. They shoot them off from there.


If you’re parking, many of the parking garages on Ohio have discounted prices if you’re in by 9 AM and leave by 6 or 7 PM.


If you’re here tonight, don’t forget to check out the Jason Aldean concert at Wrigley Field!  I’ll be there and cannot wait!

If you have a question, feel free to E-mail me! I love showing people around the city. J

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Blog Design and a Freebie!

I finally took the plunge and got a new blog design. I really like the design and it was due! I thought a new design could inspire me to continue blogging once the school year begins, because lets face it - I'm not good at that!  This year, I have no excuse!

Less than 15 days until I can get into my classroom to set up for the next year and I've been working to get stuff done. I've been busy revamping some of my old files and thought I'd share this one with you.

Do you have a list ready for fire drills? I keep one right by my door as well as 2 pieces of construction paper  - red and green. I hold up a red paper if a student is missing during the (I hope) drill because they were in the bathroom. I hold the green paper if everyone is there. This communicates to our principal if everyone is there or not just by glancing.  Sometimes the best communication is just a simple color.

Well here's my freebie! I hope you can use it! It's saved as a PowerPoint so you can just add a textbox to add your students names.

Have a great day and I'll be back soon with more! I've been working hard!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Made It #1

Thank you to Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for hosting one of my favorite linky parties! I loooove making things for my classroom. I kind of took June off (whoops!) so I have to get myself in gear to be ready for the school year to begin.

I first made my ribbon wreath to hang by my door! Of course I found this idea from a fabulous K teacher on Monday Made It!  It didn't take me too long... I just sat on the couch while watching some tv and cut my ribbon then tied it on! Easy peasy!

 I also worked on redoing my clips from last year. I first tried to spray paint the the clips, but that didn't turn out so well.  Apparently spray paint and I don't get along. Sad day.

But oh my word, what did work amazingly was staining them using RIT first. I saw this on Pintrest, and it could only be better than my failed spray paint attempt.  I used a little bit of the dye mixed with hot water and let the clips soak for about 20 minutes (I put 12 in at a time).

I left them to dry over night then I used modge podge and glitterfied them. I applied the one last coat over the glitter to keep the glitter in place.  I really like how the black is all over rather than black in just one spot like my past year glitter clips. I even contemplated not glitterfying some of the clips and keeping them just the plain black because they turned out so well!


I've spent some time cutting out my numbers. These come from Mrs. Pollard's TPT store.  I love that they're free! I used them last year too,  but I wanted to reprint them on fresh cardstock for next year. I must loooove cutting circles out.  To get the different sizes I just printed the PDF's by the number of pages on a sheet.  Hopefully I won't have to do this again!

I also worked on a baby shower gift.... cupcakes made from baby washcloths! So easy. I followed this link off of youtube from Cleverly Inspired. Now I'm craving some cupcakes!

I hope you have a great day and I can't wait to see all the other great ideas.  Thank you Tara!