Monday, May 27, 2013

Must Have Mondays- Clipboards, Sticky Notes, and DP

Today I am linking up with a Touch of Twang for Must Have Mondays.

1. Clipboards

It doesn't matter what subject I am teaching, clipboards are a MUST have item. The students become super excited when they find out they get to use the clipboards during class. My one rule is that you can sit anywhere you want with your clipboard as long as you are working. They will work so much harder when they get to pick a spot and use the clipboard. They are also super helpful when students are working in small groups.


2. Sticky Notes

I love my sticky notes! I use them for everything. I have sticky notes of every size, color, and shape. I use them more than you would think possible. One small confession: I rarely share my sticky notes with my students. I know, I'm so mean.

3. Dr. Pepper

Most people need their coffee to make it through the day. My must have drink is my Dr. Pepper. On a good day Diet Dr. Pepper will do just fine, but on a bad day I need the real thing. For teacher appreciation week I received MANY Dr. Peppers. My favorite was this huge one that one of my most needy students brought me.

Those are just a few of my must haves. What is on your list?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Summer Bucket List

I've finally processed my last week of school and have come to terms that it is officially summer break. I'm linking up with the Summer Bucket List Linky Party to share my summer goals.

I'm a list maker, so I sat down and started my to do list. After about ten minutes, this is the list I have come up with so far. I decided the reason teachers need a summer vacation is to catch up on all the work we have neglected the rest of the year.

1. Wedding

I'm marrying the most wonderful man in January, and I have very little actually done. My goal this summer is to get as much wedding planning done before I return to school. I know that more I get done this summer, the less stressed I will be as it gets closer.

2. Household

I'm not sure about you, but my house begins to become a mess about a week after Spring Break from pure lack of time to take care of it. I need to do some organizing and deep cleaning! There is NO WAY I would ever show you a picture of the mess I call a home right now.

3. School

You can see from my list above I have ALOT I want to get done for school this year. One of my top items on my list is to work on my Interactive Reading Notebook. I started it this year before I even knew it was called an Interactive Notebook. I want to spend some time finding really good resources to add to it for each of the Common Core skills.

I also want to start a TPT store. I have an account and frequently download other teacher's fabulous ideas, but I have yet to start adding my own things. Any advice on how best to do this would be greatly appreciated. I also plan on really committing myself to blogging and blog stalking to get some great ideas for next year.


4. Fun

In addition to cleaning, wedding planning, and working on stuff for school, I really need some fun time. My biggest need right now is sleep! I could seriously sleep a week straight, and I MIGHT begin to feel less exhausted. I also want to get some reading, sewing, and crafting done. In addition to fun time for me, I also plan on spending at least one day a week (if not more) volunteering to help my fellow Oklahomans with tornado relief. I have several coworkers and many more students who lost homes in the storm and can use as much help as possible.

Whew, my Summer Bucket List is a little scary with how much is on it. Maybe I should throw the whole thing away and just sleep this summer?!? Nah, I guess I'll go get started on some of my items on my Bucket List. What's on your Summer Bucket List?

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Journey with Organization

I'm pretty sure I have said it before, but I will say it again. Organization is my biggest enemy. Each year I try a little harder to make it all work. I figure by the time I retire I MIGHT have everything in my room an organized masterpiece. Okay, probably not even then. With that said I am linking up with Fun in Room 4B for an Optimum Organization linky.

Most of the ideas I'm going to share I got from Pinterest last summer. Some worked really well, and others would be considered an epic fail.


No Name Board

I can't even begin to describe how this simple board has saved my sanity. All I do is clip the no name papers to the board. No more trying to play detective, having to ask each class if it belongs to one of them, and somehow keeping up with the paper until it's claimed. I can't believe how simple, yet truly helpful this has been.

Teacher Desk Organizer 

I love, love, love my teacher crate. I have a file for everything I could possibly need during my day. It makes it super easy for me to put something where it goes as soon as I get it and avoid large piles of paper on my desk. I made the mistake of putting it on the side of my desk at the start of the year. Since it was out of sight, out of mind, I rarely used it and had the dreaded pile problem. However, once I moved it to the front of my desk, I have been so happy I made it.


Days of the Week Organizer

I did not want to pay for a simple container with the days of the week on it, so I created my own. I have really enjoyed having this. I can put the supplies for each day in the correct box and have my whole week ready at my fingertips. One problem I have been facing is I don't always fully clean it out from the week before so sometimes the containers get really full.


My Teacher Binder

I like so many of you decided to create a really cute teacher binder for this year. I have super cute labels and dividers between each section. However, unlike many of you, I have HATED my teacher binder. First of all my two inch binder has probably three inches worth of "stuff" in it. I also rarely have the time to put each new thing in it's spot, so it just gets shoved in the front. Then I have to sit down and spend at least an hour reorganizing the thing. Also, I have such a hard time finding things that go in multiple categories. For instance CRT and Gates scores, did I put them under Student Info or Assessment Info? I finally gave up lugging the thing back and forth about February.

Even with all my trials and tribulations with my teacher binder, I will not be giving up on it. I brought it home to clean out this summer and spend some time perfecting my system. A few things I have learned to help those of you who decide to create one.

1. Limit the scope of the binder to only things you really need portable. Did I really need the master copies of each assignment and the answer key in my binder? No! I should have never put the master in it and removed the answer key when I was finished with the grading.

2. Create categories that are clearly defined and be consistent. Don't put one set of test scores in one section and the next in a different section. You will drive yourself mad!

3. Organize it EVERY DAY. Do not wait until you have an inch of unfilled papers in the front to organize it. Otherwise you will spend more time looking for what you need.

These are just a few new ideas I tried this year to solve a problem/problems I had been having. I'm sure I'll be looking (stalking) to try to get some new ideas for next year!

Five for Friday May 24th

Normally I try to stay pretty upbeat and positive as I am blogging, but today I am giving myself permission to be a little less than happy. I'm going to preface this entry with saying that I am a teacher at Moore Public Schools. The same Moore Public Schools that has been in the news all week for the terrible tornado that tore apart two elementary schools. My school, luckily, was NOT one of the schools destroyed by the storms. With that said, we had a few very scary moments and a less than ideal last week of school.

1. Monday Morning- Our last Monday morning of the school year started off great with an upper grade monthly assembly called "Cub Call." At this assembly we give out awards, honor each homeroom's "Cub of the Month," and have a grade chant. (My grade won the chant contest!)


2. Monday morning after the assembly- I don't have a good picture of our activity for class that day, but it was our final step in our Bill to Law simulation. My dad came in and acted as our President to sign and veto the laws our mock Senate and House of Representatives had passed the previous week.
I do have some cute pictures of the voting and such that I will post in another post later.

3. Monday Afternoon- During my last class, the sirens went off warning that a Tornado Warning had been issued. My students are used to hearing the sirens so they didn't freak out too much. We got in our tornado procedures along the inner most wall in our classroom and waited and waited and waited. The kids stayed pretty calm while waiting. We talked about how the sirens go off ALL THE TIME and nothing usually happens.

Other teachers and staff were keeping track of the storm, and we soon realized a tornado was on the ground and headed straight for us. I threw the kids the pillows out of our covered wagons. And we waited some more hoping it would not reach us. Then the power goes out. And we wait and discuss how the power goes out all the time during storms. The last report we get of where the tornado is located before all cell phone internet is gone, is that it is headed straight for downtown Moore. My school is in downtown Moore.

With that news we start grabbing backpacks and covering the students with those as well. It was pretty obvious when the tornado reached us as the atmosphere completely changed, and we could actually hear things hitting our building. We knew it was over when the wind died down. On the map below the red shading is the path of the tornado. My school is the yellow star.

We got extremely lucky as the tornado got drastically smaller as it reached us. With that said, you can see how close it really got to us. It was actually only eight blocks away. My school only got hit by debris and some high winds. Later I found out that some of my students completely lost their homes and even more had some sort of damage to their homes. However, most importantly, they were all safe! I can not even imagine the heartache and loss of the teachers and families who lost their kids during the tornado. My heart just breaks for them.

4. Tuesday and Wednesday- Tuesday and Wednesday were supposed to be full of fun last week of school activities like going to the park, awards ceremony, and kickball tournament. Instead, school was cancelled as many of my students and so many people in our community needed to begin the process of picking up the pieces after the horrible tornado. When I walked into my room Wednesday after a very sad, yet uplifting staff meeting, I was greeted with a mess left from our pillow protection and desks that were still in the middle of a lesson.


5. Thursday- Last Day of School
Since school was cancelled for the rest of the year, we did not get to have a Last Day of School. The kids were invited to come to the school to pick up their belongings and say goodbye to their teachers. Normally, I am super excited for the last day of school, but a quick come and go session was NOT the way I wanted to say goodbye to my kiddos.

One of my co-teachers came up with the idea to give each of our students a bear to take home that last day telling them how proud we were of them and glad they were safe. We all posted the idea to facebook to get a few donations. Boy did we get a few donations! We not only got teddy bears, but also backpacks, coloring books, and Frisbees. We got enough for every child and all their siblings to take one of each thing home.


It was very bittersweet to say goodbye to my students. There was a lot of hugging and even a few tears. Overall the parents were so grateful for how we took care of their kids during the storm. To be honest, I didn't really know how to respond to the parents. A simple it's my job really doesn't cover it. I heard another teacher on the news today whose school got hit talk about how those kids are her kids too. That's the answer. I protected their kids because they are MY kids too.

Sorry for the pretty negative post, but I thought it was time to share my story. Now that I have the words out, maybe I can begin to move past this week. I'm not sure what my summer entails, but I do know that I am going to be spending a good chunk of my time helping others who lost so much during the terrible tornado on Monday. Thank you for all of you who have posted with your support for our schools and kids!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teaching in Moore

I have always been proud to be a Moore teacher. Yesterday was one of the scariest days of my teaching career. We were very close to being hit by the tornado that ripped through our city. We felt it coming, but we were very lucky that it passed us with just some huge wind and the debri ball. So far we have had several staff members who have lost their houses, and I have no clue how many students have lost their houses or even if all my students are okay. My heart aches for my fellow teachers and students in my district who were not as lucky as my school was. We are out of school today as most of our schools have no water and no power and many of our patrons in our district have no home or school to go back to. Please keep Moore in your thoughts and prayers as we face the process of digging out, mourning, and rebuilding.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Five for Friday...uh Saturday

In a perfect world, I would have posted my five for Friday yesterday. Unfortunately, exhaustion hit yesterday evening by the time I finally got to sit down at like 11:00. I decided my bed needed my company.

I have loved linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday linky. Now for my five fabulous events from this last week...

1. Teacher Appreciation Week

Our PTA spoiled us this week with breakfast one morning, a great bbq lunch another day, a candy bar, and tons of other little things. They also came up with themes for each day like sticky note day and soda day. My kids obviously realize my favorite drink is Dr. Pepper because I got a bunch of them. This pile is mostly from one kid who to be honest is a HANDFUL. It makes me feel good that all the extra time and attention I give him is appreciated so much by him and his family.


2. Louisiana Purchase Lapbooks

My students have been working on these lapbooks to finish up our study of the Louisiana Purchase. They are turning out really cute, but I way UNDERESTIMATED the time it would take for us to get them done. I'll probably do a post with more pics and details on these in the future.


3. My school's 65th Birthday Party

I posted last week the cute decorations my students were making for our birthday celebration. The final displays turned out really good.

One of my co-teachers and I went a little crazy decorating our hallway. I think it turned out really cute.

Our students also picked a piece of artwork they had made to display as well. I have some awesome artists.

4. Focus Questions

I got an idea from my Student Teaching Mentor Teacher recently. (Yes, I have taught for seven years but still value my mentor teacher.) She started this year teaching her Social Studies using Focus Questions with each lesson. I loved the idea and decided to give it a try with my Westward Expansion Unit.

Each day I had the students copy down the two to four questions I wanted them to focus on during the lesson. At the end of the lesson I would go over the questions with the students to make sure they all had the correct answer. Yesterday, we had a Westward Expansion Focus Question Quiz. The students had to use only their brains for the first five minutes of the quiz. They were then allowed to use their Focus Questions and Lapbook for the rest of the time to finish the quiz. Overall, the scores were great. They loved that they got to "cheat" off themselves.

5. Lunch with my fiancé

I had a training one morning this week and decided to take the rest of the day off as a recharge day. Considering I have been gone a total of three days this year, I really needed it. My fiancé surprised me by taking the day off too! We went to lunch at an awesome burger place neither of us had been to since we were kids. It was a blast from the past, and the burger we shared was HUGE!
Hope your week was as fabulous as mine!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

End of the Year Crazy

Time is running out on this school year. We have ten total days including tomorrow left! While I am very ready for summer to start, my schedule for these last few days keeps getting more and more full. Only three out of those ten days don't have some sort of scheduled assembly, fun event, or planned interruption.

Somehow in the middle of all the "fun" I still have so many things to teach.
1) Finish our novel: Loser
2) End of the novel unit project
3) Finish Westward Expansion
4) Bill to Law simulation activity
5) Two part Gates testing
6) Brochure for upcoming 4th graders
7) Reading and Social Studies class survey

I think I need another week!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Spark Student Motivation- Brownie Points

It's Saturday, which means I get to spend some time catching up from my LONG week. I'm linking up with Head Over Heels for Teaching for Spark Student Motivation Saturdays.

This week I will be sharing my Brownie Points system I have been using all year. I saw the idea last summer on Pinterest and knew I wanted to use it. Thanks First Grade Sweeties for the awesome idea! I apologize in advance for the poor picture. I couldn't find a more up close picture.

This motivator is used to encourage my class to act appropriately in all parts of our school. My homeroom students earn a brownie to be added to the pan anytime they get a compliment from someone else. Once the pan is full, I make brownies and bring them to class. So far they have only earned brownies once this year, but they are a few pieces away from getting them again.

I love that this motivator is cheap to start. All you need is construction paper, a cheap pan from dollar tree, and an empty box of brownie mix.

My students love when I add a brownie to the pan. If a teacher gives them a compliment when I am not around, they will make sure to ask that person to tell me.

This motivator is by far not my idea, but it has worked well for me this year. I am positive I will continue to use it next year. Hope you enjoyed learning about one of my most yummy motivators!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Five For Friday- May 3rd

Time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday! I had a LONG, but fun week.

1. Counting Down to the end of school

I saw this idea somewhere to count down to the last day of school. Pinterest perhaps? Anyhow, each balloon has a number on it and a slip with a special treat inside it for my homeroom. Each morning we pop the balloon and get to do whatever is on the slip. Since my students switch classes each day I did make the rule that they only got to do the special activity or get the treat if they got good reports from the other teachers. I know that probably makes me look mean, but I REALLY need them to keep their behavior in check for the next few weeks.


2. Tiger Safari

This week the Tiger Safari came to our school. They brought several animals for the students to pet and learn about. The kids got so excited to see all the animals! Sometimes I forget that even my big kids get excited about little things.

3. We got an award

I'm sure it seems silly, but I got so excited the day the custodian walked into my room and said it was so clean she didn't need to vacuum. I was already happy, but when I came in the next day to this certificate it put me over the moon. It's the little things that get me through the crazy times at the end of the year.


 4. The Great Pencil Challenge

I saw this last week on Ladybug's Teacher Files and got beyond excited. My co-teachers loved the idea, so they started it the same day as well. I started this challenge on Monday, and guess what? Most of them still have the same pencil! This is almost a miracle as they were losing a pencil a day and even some losing a pencil per class. Woo hoo!

5. Getting ready to party

Our schools 65th birthday party is next week. Today one of my co-teachers was gone, and we had to spilt her class. So we decided to start working on some decorations for the party. They turned out super cute. My favorite is the one that says "I like Central Elementary because Ms. Bateman is Awesome."


I'm so excited to have some new followers! It makes me so happy to see that other people are reading what I say. I'm also learning so much and getting tons of ideas from everyone. Hope your week was awesome!