Friday, July 18, 2014

Have I done anything this summer?

6 more weeks of summer... It sounds like a lot but I know it's going to go fast!  And when you start counting that fact that the last week is really the "getting ready for school" week... and then dentist and doctor appointments... it's really less than that.

At the very beginning of the summer I blogged over at Who's Who about my plan for professional reading.  I also had plans for lots of projects, road trips, etc.  Let's check in and see how I'm doing.

Not so good.

Professional reading:
Notice and Note:  This reads like a TEXTBOOK, people!  I did start it, and I'm sure it is full of ideas.  But Janet Evanovich was calling on my Kindle and I just had to see what Stephanie Plum was up to.  (And if you have no idea what I'm talking about - check it out on Amazon.  GREAT reads!)

Guided Math - nope.  I decided I'm happy with what I do and even though I'm sure I'll pick up lots of tips from blogs and pinterest, I'm just not interested in reading the book right now.  I'm good.

Teach Like a Pirate!  - This one I DID read and I loved it!  It really got me motivated to be even MORE creative and engaging with my teaching.  I stuck Post-its everywhere in this book.  Love!

Ok, I'm 1 for 3 in professional reading.  Not good, but it's a start.

Did you see my only most recent "Monday Made It" post?  The one about the wave bottle.  That's all you get folks.  That's as creative as I have gotten so far this summer.


I do have ideas for the rest of the summer.  And, knowing my track record is not so good lately, I'm keeping those projects small.  Here are my plans:

1.  Move my word wall.
My word wall used to be here
(photo from my back to school room post last year)

and I have a bulletin board above my sink that I hate...(you can read about my love/hate relationship with displays here)

The plan is to move my word wall to the bulletin board over the sink.  I hate that board.  It's hard to get to and not really "user friendly."  It is, however, perfect for my word wall because it can be seen from just about everywhere in my room.

To do list:  buy fabric (I want the board to have a black background so the words stand out and the fabric I have from the old word wall is not big enough), staple it up, make boxes with ribbon... easy peasy.

2.  Set up a space for anchor chart displays.
This is something I REALLY want to dot this year.  I have used anchor charts a little, but they have always been projected on the Smartboard.  Great for when we are using them, but not so great for later reference.

This one was going to be easy since I was just going to use the space from where the word wall was.  EXCEPT

when I took the fabric off the wall I was left with lines of tape - REALLY STICKY TAPE - that is hard to get off.  Definitely need some elbow grease here... and some Goo-Gone... and some prayers.

To do list:  buy Goo-Gone, get a scraper of some kind and get to work!

#3  Classroom library display
I have been reading everyone's posts about they organize their classroom libraries.  Lots of colorful crates with ribbons and tags and stickers for book levels and systems for checking out books and putting them back... really, people, how DO you DO it?

I have lots of books out for kids to choose from everyday - they are usually related to a theme we are doing or a topic the kids are interested in, etc.  But I want to put out a bigger variety.  And let me tell you, I have a TON of books

Right now they are organized by theme, author, level.... just depends how I use them.

The plan is to have 4-6 baskets out of books of a variety of genres and themes at a time.  NOT leveled.  I know, shoot me.  I'll talk more about why I made that choice later.

Until then, think of this as the "before" post.  I'll be back later this summer (promise!) with the "after" post. And I'm telling you now... it is not going to be anything on a grand scale.  But it will work for my students. And that's what's important.

So we have established that I have not gotten anything of great importance accomplished yet.  I have spent time with the family, enjoyed being with friends and just relaxed.  Which is probably what I needed most. Now it's time to keep enjoying summer... with an eye towards back to school!

And just in case you're in the shopping mood... a TpT friend of mine just uploaded her 100th product!  She's celebrating with a sale this Sunday (July 20) and Monday (July 21).  Check our her store and celebrate with her!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Simple Science Ideas

Hello Monday!  I spent a little time this week thinking about my plans and ideas for the coming year.  I LOVE integrating science into my day in any way I can.  I'm the one who has dead bugs, a giant wasps's nest and a preserved baby shark (yes, you read that right!) in their room.  I'm the one who takes the kids into the hallway so they can see the huge praying mantis on the window... the one who adds some science fun to Halloween (check this out!)... I'm the one who volunteers to team up to teach science/social studies to all the second grade classes - I'll do the science!

And with the NGSS being implemented in my building (and ME being the one who is responsible for teaching my students those science concepts!), I'm looking for as many ways as possible to integrate science into my day.  I have planned in to my year when I'll do full science units, and I will add science to my writing time, as well.  But I always like to throw some science in to anything I can.

So today I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It.

We always start the year with an introduction to being a scientist.  We talk about what a scientist does, the tools they use, etc. and we do some easy center activities to practice careful observations - the heart of being a scientist.  The favorite center, without a doubt, is the one with the wave bottles.

Here's a finished bottle.
wave bottle

You've probably seen them before, they're nothing new.  But they ARE fascinating to second graders.  Here's a quick how-to.

You need a clear plastic bottle - any size is fine.  I use a 2 liter bottle.  A bottle of baby oil (you can use any oil as long as it is clear) and blue food coloring.
wave bottle

Fill the bottle halfway with water and add food coloring.  Shake it so the food coloring dissolves all the way.  Then, fill the bottle the rest of the way with the baby oil.  
wave bottle

That's it!  The oil sits on top of the water so it makes "waves" when the bottle is moved.  Shake it and see what happens.  Roll it across the floor. (I wrap tape around the bottle cap to make sure it stays closed.)  

You can take this activity a step or to farther by trying different liquids - corn syrup, vegetable oil, etc.
Or, add some fizz!

I created a quick little freebie for you to use with your kiddos.  The cards are great for a center and you can use the recording sheet if you want.  Just click on the image to download the sheets.
free sheets to use with a wave bottle

If you're looking for more on being a scientist, check out my new "Being a Scientist" unit.  I use these activities at the start of every year to kick-off our adventures in science.
being a scientist unit

being a scientist unit

being a scientist unit

being a scientist unit
Click on the pictures above to hop over to my TpT store and find out more details.

My plan is to share more simple science ideas with you throughout the year.  Sometimes it's easier to plan a full unit than it is to sneak in small ideas.  Share your simple science ideas with me!
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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Two for Tuesday... for real!

Happy July!  I hope you're enjoying your summer so far, whether you're at the beginning, middle or close to the end of it (please say no!).  Today I'm doing a real Two for Tuesday - TWO link-ups in one post!  Double the fun... I know, I'm just great that way.

Since it's July 1st, I'm linking up with Farley and all the bloggers sharing their Currently for the month.
All the windows and deck doors are open and the fans are running.  It's going to be a hot one around here today!  I'm trying to keep that little breeze going for as long as I can!  I have only been out of school for two weeks, so I'm just settling in to summer... LOVE!

Of course, with summer comes big plans... which don't usually all happen,, but it's fun to think about it! Beach days, ice cream, fishing, boating and just general fun.... and of course some work on TpT products and things for my classroom!  I have a whole list of ideas around here somewhere.... not sure where I put it...

Getting dressed in the summer is soooo much easier than during school.  Grab a pair of shorts, throw on a tank (everything seems to match better, too!) and I'm set for the day.  I've realized that in order to keep those shorts fitting the way I like, I'm going to have to keep moving!

My plans for the 4th are up in the air right now, thanks to Arthur.  Hopefully it really will turn out to see and not bother most of us in New England, but even showers all day would cancel my plans.  We'll just have to wait and see!

Now on to linky #2!  It's Two for Tuesday over at the Teaching Tribune.
You can find some great products on TpT at half price just for today!  I know it's summer, but when September comes, you'll be happy you thought ahead!  Now because I'm still so in love with my new blog design, I'm putting my "All About Frogs" nonfiction mini-unit on sale for half off!

This unit is STUFFED with information about frogs (in all types of formats), text dependent questions, follow up activities, writing ideas and a read the room fact finding walk.

Click either of the images above to hop over to my store and find out more.

I'm also putting my Clip Charts Through the Year on sale just for today.
There are 5 different charts, each with 7 levels.  I like to change things up throughout the year, so putting up a different clip chart can liven things up.  The set also comes with all sorts of recording sheets to keep track of how students are doing and share with parents.  This set is NOT editable, but I do have a couple other sets in my store that can be edited to reflect the wording you use in your classroom. Click on the image above to see the details.

Whew!  That's a lot for a summer Tuesday!  One of the things on my "to do" list for the summer is to really start posting to my facebook page.  I'm just getting started, but if you're looking for ideas, check it out.  I'm off to enjoy the day... maybe I'll find that "to do" list... or not...

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Looking back . . . and forward!

Well?  What do you think?  My froggy bloggy got a fantastic makeover and I am soooo in love with it!  I have looked at it no fewer than a billion times today.  It's so new and fresh and fun!

Courtney, over at Blogs Fit for a Queen did an AH-MAZING job!  This young lady is really destined for great things.  She listened to everything I had to say (and I said a lot!), put up with all my anal changes (can you say, OCD?) and created a blog I love to look at!  If you are in the market for a new design, or are thinking of starting a blog, she is a great person to go to - and her prices are incredibly reasonable!  I noticed she's really starting to make a name for herself - her wait list is pretty long right now, but it is so worth the wait!

I thought I would link up today with Martha from Primary Paradise and her "Tried and True Thursday"

My technology posts have been some of my most popular posts - but "popular" is a relative term when you don't have a gazillion followers... I love using technology in my classroom - really incorporating it into learning, not just as a center activity.  I am happy to say that I now have TWO ipads (oh joy!) which doubles the fun!  Take a peek back at my Ipad in the Classroom post and see if you find some ways to use that one tablet in your room.  Then head on over to the linky party to find more great ideas.

And just for fun, stop by Queen Courtney's site and see what she can do for you!

I'm going to try to get some TpT work done today.  I'm trying to put myself on a work schedule so I can get everything done this summer that I want to accomplish.  We'll see how I do!
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Reading and a Freebie

Hello summer!  We were FINALLY done with school on Tuesday this week (last day for kids - teachers came back Wednesday).. I just may have done a little happy dance when we waved to the kids as the buses pulled away... sigh... another year over...

But, that means another summer begins!  I love to spend time in the summer reading.  My Kindle is full of books I've been wanting to read and I am so ready to turn those pages!  Interesting though, when I read professional books about teaching... I always need to have the actual book.  I just cannot read about teaching and engaging and educating without a book in my hand.

I'm blogging over at Who's Who and Who's New today, with a sample of some great blog book clubs that I've come across for summer.  Looking for a way to improve your math instruction?  I've got you covered.  Want to learn more about close reading?  There's one for that, too.  Looking for ways to increase engagement and just plain teaching fun?  I have just what you need. 

And if you're STILL in school... or go year round... or teach summer school.. or live on the other side of the world :-)..... I also have something for you.  My Summertime Fix-It freebie is a fun way for kiddos to practice grammar, spelling, editing.. you name it.. all with a summer theme.  Click on the image below to download.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Five for Friday fun

It's time for Five for Friday!
I'm linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching to share a peek inside my classroom this week.
 We have been so excited to watch our seeds sprout and begin to grow.  My kiddos were amazed to see that you could indeed "grow" a seed without soil!  Each day we observed, measured and recorded our observations in our science journals.  We also kept an ongoing list of questions that came up.  My little scientists loved reading to find out the answers to all the questions they had.  (I sent them home this week before they started to grow mold... blech.)


This turned out to be one of the best projects we've done together as a class.  I have been working soooo hard this year to build a sense of community and kindness in my classroom and this group has had a tough time with that.  I gave them two pages with a box for every person in class.  Their job was to come up with 4 or 5 words for each classmate - things they liked to do, character traits, etc.  They all worked so hard thinking of just the right words for their friends.  Today we drew self-portraits and I revealed each person's words.  The smiles on their faces when they heard "their" words was priceless.  Most were grinning from ear to ear!  After sharing our words, we glued the words to or portraits and put them out for everyone who came in the classroom to see.  Easy - simple- but very high impact.
That led into our "Ray of Sunshine" certificates.  We had our positive behavior awards this afternoon.  Four students in each grade level receive a certificate for doing an outstanding job this year showing one of our Husky expectations - respect, responsibility, honesty and safety.  I got to thinking last night as I was typing the words for their portraits.... although we've had a rough road as a class with positive encouragement this year, a few of my kiddos really rocked that area - never a negative comment from them about anything - or anyone - ever this year.  So I decided they needed to be recognized as well.  The little pom-pom guy comes from our "jar of sunshine."  Each time I hear someone make a positive comment, I added a "ray of sunshine"  The ones we added were just plain yellow pom-poms, so I cutesified these a little.  Instant hit! 
I just could not resist taking a picture of this.  We had indoor recess earlier this week and this sweetie created his own "computer" to research crocodiles.  I love how creative kids can be! My kiddos prefer to draw and play checkers during recess rather than build with legos and blocks... go figure.
Ok, completely not school related... I am obsessed with Jamberry nails now.  I've read how wonderful these were supposed to be so I decided to try them - and I am HOOKED.  I have to tell you, they are so easy to put on.  Hit them with the blow dryer, smooth them out with a cuticle thingie and file them off (I actually have been clipping the with nail clippers and they've been fine).  I have the green lotus on my toes now and I'm going to change to the floral pattern next.  Definitely worth a try!
Be sure to visit Doodlebugs and see what else has been going on this week.  Only 7 more days for us - one is a field trip, one is field day and 2 are early dismissals... the end is in sight!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Low Tech Classroom and a High(er) Tech Freebie

Hi there!  6 weeks to go!  Holy guacamole! (as Mr. Skippyjon Jones would say... we are reading all his books this week.. time to get my Spanish accent on...)  I met with my teammates this morning and we planned out when we are doing assessments, end of year benchmarks, added in field trips and Field Day, assemblies.... the end is coming fast!

Unfortunately, the end for my Smartboard is also upon us.  Not really the board, but the projector.  It died.  Stopped working.  Gave up.  Completely shut off in mid-lesson and started making crackling noises when I tried to plug it in again.  (which, of course I did about fifty times because there was NO WAY I was going to believe it really didn't work!).  But it doesn't.

So I had to go old-school.  I now have a rolling whiteboard in the front of my room, with an assortment of dry erase markers - pretty colors, but they don't erase really well.  And I HAVE to be able to erase because even though I can live without the interactive part of the Smartboard (or at least, deal with it) .... not having the projector and board means I have nowhere to WRITE anything... and certainly nowhere to keep it after I use it.  I have gone through almost a full pad of chart paper already and there is no end in sight.  How does everyone else do it? 

Hopefully the projector will be fixed before school gets out and life will go back to normal.  In the meantime, though, I'm going through withdrawl.  We are right in the middle of reviewing spelling plurals - change the y to i, change the f to v, add es, and so on..... and I have a FANTASTIC Smartboard unit to go with it - with companion student sheets, too... which I cannot use.

I decided that since I can't use it, maybe someone else can.  You can download the file by clicking on the image below.
(It's a zip file so be sure you have a program to unzip it.)
This file will only work with SMART Notebook software.

And of course I want to remind you to fill up and empty your carts at the big TpT Teacer Appreciation sale this Tuesday and Wednesday!
Don't forget to use the promo code when you check out - I always forget at least once when I shop the sales!  (Yes, I shop more than once... way more than once...)
Ok, I'm off to make a chart for comparing the folktales we are doing this week.  And one for plural spellings... and one for 3-digit subtraction with regrouping.... sigh....