Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Must-Haves & Tech-Tip

There is less than a week until school starts and just thinking about it makes my head spin. Since today was the first day I could get into my class, I'm feeling a bit frazzled. With most of the decor for my room in place, I decided to tackle the closets, which have been the bane of my existence for the past five years. Looks like I'll be there every day this week.. bye, bye summer!

On to the real reason for the post, it's Teacher Week! As if I needed more of a reason to be attached to my laptop.

I get so many fabulous ideas from you all and I am a list-making fool this week! So many great ideas to try out! So many fab things to buy! In true procrastinator fashion, I have left too many things to be done this week so I am piggy backing Monday & Tuesday's post. Sadly, tomorrow's classroom reveal won't be ready until at least the weekend. I'll just have to drool over your rooms until then!

My must-haves in the classroom are simple...

Let's be serious... this is on everyone's list.
Although according to the source of the image, it's not such a great idea.
They obviously are not teachers.

These are my fave for making anchor charts.
 I love the color choices and stock up when they go on sale!

I have upgraded to the Erin Condren Planner this year! Watch out!
Hopefully it will be here soon!!

Finally, my teacher binder is my bible.
{Sorry, no pic!}
 I am re-vamping it and it will be better than ever.
I'll definitely share it when it's finished! :)

Ok, on to my Tech-Tip Tuesday. I wish I had more to share but there's not much technology available in my room, with the exception of a few things..

This machine has drastically changed the way I teach.
I use it for everything from showing the nooks and crannies of a sedimentary rock to showing off student work to enlarging text for read alouds. Yes, we read aloud constantly in fifth grade and this machine helps make it work.

This website is my new favorite math site:

My students can go on to practice their multiplication facts from school or home and I receive email updates with their progress. It is beyond student friendly and the best part? It is FREE!

I also just begged my principal via email, with links and selling points, for an interactive white board or a Mimio {which is portable!!} and I'm hoping that there is some money in the budget. My life would seriously be complete.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back to School Shopping

You know it's summer when the only blog posts have been Currently link ups! This summer has been a whirlwind that has included some major events such as raising our new puppy and honeymooning in the Dominican Republic. It really hasn't included any talk of school. Like, not even a little bit. I haven't even talked to my TBFF's much. Teacher BFF's, according to my students. I'm kind of contemplating a big change, that I'm really not ready to talk much about on the blog, but it has explained my absence even before the summer started. I'm hoping that I will receive some sort of guidance in one direction or another and that I can get back into the swing of things soon.

So, I recently experienced that first night of laying awake in bed with a million thoughts running through my head that need to be checked off the list for the upcoming school year, as well as the looming deadline for unchecked items from the summer list. We don't go back for another three weeks but I started trying to get back in the groove today. I hit up Staples and the Dollar Tree with my lists, and the miracle of all miracles happened.. I didn't buy a thing. Strangely enough, I then went into TJMaxx and walked out with more cash than I had when I went in, after returning a few items and um, not buying a thing. Seriously, I then stopped at CVS to pick up a script and it was free. The stars aligned or something because this never happens. Obviously, I then went into Panera and proceeded to spend $15 on soup and a sandwich. Eh, I guess you win some and lose some.

Ok, my point is coming. Usually when I go out to buy school supplies, I spend the remaining portion of my summer savings and load up my living room and then my classroom with goodies. Then I try to convince my husband that I really need hot pink post-its with zebra trim because it makes me a better teacher. Sound familiar? :) Well, something went terribly wrong this year.. Staples changed their teacher discount policy. I'll give you a minute to let that sink in, if necessary....... 

I heard the rumors but didn't believe them. Did you know this?? Ok.. old policy = teacher limit of extreme deals (1 cent filler paper, 10 cent folder, etc.) is 25 versus the two or five or whatever low number they choose. New policy = regular low limit of extreme deals and the remaining amount, up to 25, that you paid full sale price for (99 cents instead of 1 cent.. um, huge difference!) you get back in Staples Rewards, which is essentially a gift card to Staples in the amount that you spent. Sounds lovely, right? Yeah, well it takes about 5 weeks and comes in your email.

Now, I don't know about you, but I certainly appreciate only spending 25 cents on 25 packs of filler paper for my 25 students who usually come to school without it even though it's on their list. I definitely appreciate someone helping me out a bit when I'm buying school supplies for children that are not my own. I don't get it. I told the very nice man (seriously, he was so nice that he almost had me loading up on Staples Rewards) that I just didn't understand and he said, "yeah, it turns most people off". Um, ya think? Why do I want to come back in 5 weeks to pick out full price items? Then, I'll end up seeing star shaped Post-its or damask filing folders and spend even more money. That's if I even see the Rewards coupon in my inbox. In early September, my personal email is swamped and I usually have what I need to start the year, because you know, it already started and all.  I'm onto you Staples. I just may adding to my Walmart list, where they price match, and apparently have delicious steaks, too. Well, according to the commercials.

Really, though, it's off to Target next. You all know what happens when we go to Target. Ugh! I need time to mourn the loss of Staples but Target never lets me down :)

What are you going to do? Are you still loading up on filler paper this week? Should I go back? I'm so torn. Especially because it smelled SO good in Staples today. Fresh notebooks, new pencils, and Post-its, oh my!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August Currently

I love this link-up! Obviously, since it's the only time I've posted this summer.

I missed out on July because I was a crazy lady trying to get ready for our trip but I like Farley's new rule of 3. Go to the two blogs before you and the one after and comment. LOVE it! :)

It's huge because I didn't realize how small my font was!

Ok, my B2S must haves are all things I have on my list for the year that I still need.

1. I'm pretty sure that Post-It chart paper will save my life. Nothing like being able to move those anchor charts all over the room!

2. Flair pens are my fave! I'm not into Sharpies the way that a lot of teachers are but I loove Flair pens. Maybe this is weird, too, but our math workbooks have kind of greasy paper and the Flair pens write so smoothly on them when I'm correcting!

3. Since we now use our gorgeous new coffee maker that we received for our wedding, at home, my Keurig is coming to school with me! Even though I don't have a sink in my room, I will make it work. I have to lay off the Diet Coke.

Is it Fall, yet? I am so over the summer.

Go play!

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Friday, June 8, 2012

June Currently

I am one week out until summer break and I am dog tired. I've never used that expression before but I'm pretty sure it means what I'm feeling. Everything is just go, go, go! and I'm definitely ready to start yelling stop, stop, stop! I have zero energy for just about anything but I did find time to plop myself down on the couch and link up with Farley for the June Currently. I wish my brain was functioning enough to write about the fun stuff we are up to in class, but just thinking about my day today makes me want to take a nap. One more week... I think I can, I think I can...

Thankfully there is almost always a light at the end of the tunnel and I will definitely be sitting poolside with a cold drink in my hand, most likely with an umbrella in it, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in FIVE WEEKS!! We had to wait for the summer to go on our honeymoon, such is the life of a teacher, and the hubby surprised me with a trip to DR. 10 days of beach side nothingness, sprinkled with ziplining, exotic snorkeling, and catamaran cruise. SO worth the wait.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Update! & 99 Reasons Teachers Rock!

In fear of breaking the law, we asked the student to bring the bird eggs back home and return them to their nest in the backyard. We told him to have his parents help him because we couldn't do anything for him. I hope that they make it!

Funny story... we were working in class yesterday and we heard birds chirping very loudly. I stopped and looked towards the windows because it almost sounded like they were in the room with us and the kids said, "It must be the baby birds!! They made it! They made it!" Too sweet!

ps. I just have to share this... 99 Reasons Teachers Rock!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Day gift? It's for the birds.

Ok, ok. I know it has been forever since I posted. The sheer craziness that has been my life has left no time to blog. It's really the saddest darn thing. I LOVE blogging and I LOVE my new friends made through blogging. I feel like a part of me has been missing! I swear I have lots to update you on and that is coming soon, but for now.. I need your help!

On this fine morning of Teacher Appreciation Day, in the midst of pre-MCAS chaos, one of my darlings handed me a tupperware container. What surprise could be in this container, you are wondering. That would be this...

Those are five baby bird eggs, from God knows where. He told me that his house was having renovations done and the nest was pulled apart and abandoned and he took the eggs in. Apparently, he thought his science teacher would know what to do. Well, she doesn't.

Not only do I have no idea what to do with these eggs, I have no idea what kind of eggs they are, where to put them, how to keep them warm, and what the heck I will do if they really hatch. I have already researched if there is somewhere I can bring them and I'm not having much luck. I know that you aren't even supposed to have wild eggs without a permit but I really have no clue what to do. I teach in the city and bringing the container out to the recess yard on a cold, rainy morning just feels worse than trying to keep them warm while I figure out what to do next.

Right now I have tissues covering them because we tried a heat lamp from the iguana in sixth grade and that was too hot. What would you do??? Where do I bring them??? Help!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

I'm linking up with Jamie at This Kind of Love  for one of my favorite link-ups... What I'm Loving Wednesday! Teacher Edition! (I made up the Teacher Edition part. Although, sweet Jamie is a teacher, too!)

Here's what I'm loving today...

I should first say that I'm loving that I am updating my blog today!!! I've missed you all! I definitely have a poor track record of blogging when I'm super busy but I'm loving that you're still blogging when I'm not and that leaves me with an abundance of spring things on everyone's blogs!

I'm loving that today was the final day for state-testing and I have had 100% attendance both days and my kiddos worked SO very hard!

I am loving this spring  summer weather!! 80 in BOSTON in MARCH! Bring. it. on.

I am loving my professor, and that she has decided that the majority of our work should be completed in class! Such a different vibe than my last two classes. I can breathe again!

I'm loving that we will begin working in small groups next week! It is so hard to teach in leveled groups with only one teacher, but I need to bring it back!

Download photo.JPG (35.7 KB)

I'm loving my sweet class! They are hard-working, motivated, kind, funny, caring... the list just goes on. I just love them all too much for words and I am already dreading having to say goodbye to them in just a few months.

What are you loving today? Go link up with Jamie to share!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Day in My Shoes

I am linking up with one of my favorites, Katie from Adventures in Sixth Grade, for her first linky party! You know I can't turn down a good linky! This one is to share what a day in our classrooms look like. I can't wait to see what everybody else is doing when they're not blog-stalking!

Here is how it works...
1. Right click and save the button below to put in your post.

2. Share a typical day in your classroom. You can share as little or as much as you would like.
3. Go back to Katie's blog and
link up.
4. Visit the other links to see what a day is like in their class!

A couple things you should know about my day:

1.) I teach at an extended day school and our teaching time is extended by 1.5 hours, which means the actual school day is from 7:45-3:30.

2.) We are on a 4-day rotating schedule but this is kind of a blend of days because our schedule was changed this week for Grades 6-8 midterms. We had 8am exploratory every day this week and were with kids from 9-3:30, with only lunch to break up our day; exhausting!

5:00am - My alarms (I set two on my alarm clock & two on my phone because for some reason, I never hit snooze, I just shut them off) go off. Those are my warnings. I turn them off until the last one.

5:20/5:30-6:15am - Shower, get ready, check the traffic, make lunch, etc.

6:15am - I head out the door and pray for no traffic.

7:00-7:15am - I arrive to school. There's always traffic.

7:15-7:45am - My cafeteria duty begins. I had the crazy idea over the summer to take a position as a morning monitor (part of our extended day funding). The extra money will be nice in July, when I'm not getting paid, but I didn't realize how noisy and smelly it gets in there, especially when it's raining or snowing. I really don't mind it too much because I like interacting with the kids and work with a fab colleague in there, but it is a loud way to start my day.

7:45am - I pick up my students outside in their line and head to our homeroom.

7:50-8:05 - Homeroom - The kids settle in, do their lunch count, I take attendance and make my coffee, greet my kiddos, listen to their stories they want to share, and get them ready to be out the door for our first class.

8:05 - 9:05- First period Math - The students come in, get out their homework, copy the objective from the board, and begin their Headline Story, which is their "Do Now" or warmup activity, in their binders. My homework checker (a student) goes around and checks the homework - this is a lifesaver because SOMETHING always needs my attention when they first arrive. I'm usually checking emails and finishing what didn't get finished during homeroom. We then review homework, review the Headline Story, and get started on the lesson. Our lessons are very scripted and I have to follow the outline in the book. This week, we are graphing coordinates on a grid. Once the lesson is completed, the students work independently in their workbooks and I circulate to help out. At the end of the period, which is always dangerously close to the time that we start independent work, the students write down their homework, pack up, and switch classes.

9:10 - 10:10 - Second period Math - Same as first period. Whichever group ends up not being my homeroom group, is way chattier and lessons always feel more rushed.

10:15-10:30 - Recess - I have duty on Thursday, Friday, and every other Wednesday.

10:35-11:20 - "Reading Workshop" - This is our middle school intervention block. It isn't actually a workshop format but the school calls it this. 10 of my students leave for ELL and 2-3 for reading/math intervention. This leaves me with 12 kids, so there is "no teaching allowed" during this block. The students remaining read independently and track their reading in their library logs. This is the runner-up for least favorite block of the day.

11:20 - 11:50 - Math/ELA Enrichment - After reducing our Math/ELA time to make more time for Social Studies and Science, we ended up with the same amount of weekly SS & Sci, and extra Math & ELA. No idea how that worked out because my schedule proposal wasn't considered. I alternate classes (the block happens twice a week, so I see each group once) and we usually play the math games that go along with the chapter I am teaching at the time. This week we were working on our 2012 resolution maps, which I will have up here sometime this week.

11:55-12:25 - Lunch. By the time I drop the kids off to the caf, check my mail, and get back to my room, it is never enough time.

12:30-1:00 - Writing Workshop - I don't teach writing so my students get a mini-lesson during their ELA block and the independent portion happens back in their homerooms. We rotate during this block so that the ELA teacher can check in with both groups and not just the homeroom all the time. This is my least favorite block of the day and when Diet Coke starts flowing.

1:05-2:05 - Exploratory - For the first twenty minutes (again.. drop off, check mailbox, nonsense) I barely have enough time to check my emails, forget planning or sitting down to grade papers. I have 50 students and the curriculum is too much in fifth grade to get anything accomplished in this amount of time. I usually try, though. I also photocopy, set up for science, return emails, drink diet coke, make phone calls, blah, blah, blah. The second half is a mandatory team meeting with my grade level team. 98% of the time this is a major waste of a prep period. We mostly complain, listen to others complain, go to endless data meetings then never have time to look at the data again, or hear about students that we don't see. The fifth grade is split up so that each teacher has 50 students, so sometimes when names are brought up at meetings, it's not even your own student. I do like being able to check in with my colleagues but this doesn't seem like the most efficient way to do it. We have one day to ourselves, which usually means that I can get a set of tests corrected during the school day. If I'm lucky.

2:10-3:10 - Science - I teach two science blocks and the kids rotate. Two days they have SS & two days they have Sci. We start with the objective and then go right into two-column interactive notes. Sometimes they partner read and make their own, sometimes I give them a starter question or prompt and they finish it, sometimes we do a lab in a two-column format, sometimes it's just whole group teaching with activities to break it up. I should probably do a post on my interactive notebook format. I love science at this age!

3:10-3:30 - Write down HW, pack up, check agenda books (& checklists for some), kids go home at 3:30.

3:30-4:30 - I'm usually here until at LEAST 4:30 doing the usual - prep, plan, copy, email, repeat. Sometimes I get to pee for the first time all day but usually wait until I get home. This time is making up for my missed prep.

5:30 - I get home & finally get to pee. Then I make dinner & Mr. P cleans up :), hang with Mr. P, snuggle with my cat, blog-stalk, wedding plan, correct papers, read for grad classes, repeat. Depending on the night, I either have Weight Watchers (that reminds me I need to check in for my 2012 resolutions!) or our small group bible study.

I try to get to bed at a decent hour, but I am such a night owl.

I hope I'm not too "complainy". I DESPISE my schedule this year because it just doesn't work. There is too much time where kids are working independently on something that doesn't correleate to what I teach and not enough time spent on what I do teach. I am only actively teaching for 3 hours a day (anyone notice that?) and no one seemed to be too concerned with that when I brought it up to admin. We've already changed our schedule once this year and I think it's worse than what we started with. 

I am SO excited to see what everyone's day looks like!! Maybe I can use it to help me convince the powers to change our schedule!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fun for Fifth, too!

Y'all know how I feel about the lack of upper/middle school blogs and resources. Let's not go there again.

With that said, I was literally jumping up out of my seat to grab my debit card when I saw these cuties from Ginger Snaps. Super adorable, yet cool enough for fifth grade math vocabulary cards AND they line up with the Common Core?? Shut the front door! Seriously, they are so fun. You've got to get over to Ginger's store and get some of these! She's already done second, third, and fifth. It's like she knew I was getting bored with my Word Wall. I can't wait to set mine up this week!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Here we go!

Okay, it's Week #1 of Jodi at Clutter-Free Classroom's attempt to de-clutter the classrooms of America's finest. Brave woman that Jodi! I'm surprised she can even handle looking at all of the clutter! :)

I am so excited to participate in this project because my room is really hurtin' this year. This summer, I moved my desk, round table, and big rolling bookshelf, rearranged my computers, and added a library with seating and a rug. I didn't realize how much I relied on the space I had before because it's a little tight now and I find that it's just easier to drop a pile on my desk than to squeeze between something to put something away. My plan is always to put it where it goes when the kids leave but for the first time ever, I started just piling it on my desk. I'm not at my desk often so it seemed like a good piling place. Nope. Not good. My brain hurts when I look at it, which is usually at 3:30 when I'm ready to collapse.

I am getting queasy just thinking of uploading this pictures because it is so embarassing. It's happening though because I've made some really big attempts to stay organized and it is just not working this year. I'm hoping that making these cringe-worthy pictures public, checking out other teachers' classrooms (and hopefully breathing a sigh of relief that we are all in this clutter together), and hearing from you, will give me ideas and inspiration to make some much needed changes. Here we go!

I'm starting with the half of my closet that IS completely organized.
Mostly so that you won't think I'm a hot mess. :)
These bins are organized by item and labeled.

Sidenote: All shelves are in closed closets.

This is the top part of the same closet. A slightly different look to it. 
The majority are books that were left behind by the previous teacher.
This is also where I store extra binders, notebooks, and folders for the kids.
The whole top shelf is multiple class sets of novels.
My first two years at this school, I used them all.
Now I don't use any of them.

Brace yourself. Or close your eyes. Things are taking a turn for the worst.

In the tall closet...
The left side is where I'm supposed to store my jacket & personal items.
But once I saw a mouse jump up inside of it and that was the end of that.
The bottom has plastic grocery bags and empty baskets.
And a bunch of backpacks my mom scored for 97 cents each.
The bag hanging on the hanger is plastic cutlery and paper goods.
If it's hanging on the hanger, the mouse can't get touch it. Right?
The rest of the shelves are labeled and mostly everything matches the label.

The bottom two shelves are for math supplies.
The very bottom shelf is geoboards - too many geoboards,
unifix cubes, calculators, and mega flashcards.
With the exception of the geoboards, I use everything else.
I've never touched the geoboards. Except when I got rid of 50.

This shelf isn't as bad as it looks.
The yellow crate is released MCAS questions organized by standard.
Behind that is 2 of the sets of teaching manuals I got for our math program.
I still have 1 set at home, 1 on my teaching table,
and gave 1 to the SpEd teacher.
There are science kits next to books. Not math stuff.
This was just the only place that they all fit standing up.
I use the flashcards and game cards in the basket,
but I could totally use a better system.

The next two shelves are dedicated to science materials.
The labeled bins are about the only organization in here.
I use the colored buckets and random papers on top for labs,
so those come in and out all the time.
Behind everything is about 30 beakers. For what, I don't know.
I use 6 of them. For 1 unit. We have about 500 in our supply closet.
I don't even have a sink.

This shelf is mostly what I use for lab demonstrations.
And more beakers, obviously.
I also keep my supply of pond scum in here.
I haven't used the pond scum in a few years but I just couldn't part with it.
My friend has been collecting baby food jars for me.
These are some of the collection. (more on that project later)
Oh, and you're right if you think you see the top of an overhead projector.
When I got my document viewer,
that thing is just lucky it didn't see the trash first.

This shelf is where I keep cleaning supplies and extra tissues, sanitizer, etc.
Clearly, my stock is low.
I also keep a sweet collection of VHS tapes here, too.
The previous teacher left those and I was told not to get rid of them.
I don't have a VCR.

Disclaimer 1: My desk really never used to look like this.
When I moved my room around, I removed some storage from my desk.
I also moved all of my supplies in my desk drawer.
That left a completely clear desk top. Obviously that didn't work.

Disclaimer 2: This picture was taken the first day back after break.
I was in the middle of a serious assembly line to correct 100 tests.
Remind me again why I put essay questions on the unit tests??

This is truly the worst it's ever been.
I may have thrown up in my mouth a little bit while taking this picture.

This is my computer table, which isn't too bad.
Except my phone rings ALL. DAY. LONG.
I am constantly writing down notes and then they are left there in a pile.

This is the other side of my computer table.
I usually have my copies for the day here.
I also keep my teaching book and notebook open here.
We had just finished a project, hence the additional craft supplies.
How do you store your daily supplies?

This is my library area, which is pretty functional.
Except that I got a delivery of science supplies at an inappropriate time.
Where else was I supposed to put them on short notice?!

My back counter could definitely be more functional.
It served as a hot cocoa station the Friday before break.
It usually just has baskets on it with whiteboards, clipboards, erasers, etc.
You can also see the bottom of the unused overhead projector.
It makes for a nice way to display the pumpkin person, no? (Thanks Jodi!)

This place is behind my desk and is okay.
The plant just needed to be temporarily moved during break.
The drawers are labeled by day and I tried to store daily supplies here.
I really didn't like that for some reason. Any other ideas???
More beakers! Hah! I use these to water the plants. No sink, remember?

This is where my science bins go. Above an 8 foot tall closet.
This is about as practical as keeping them in the middle of my rug.
I'm 5'1. When I try to get them down, it's a sight.
The boxes are unused math manipulatives.
They're unused because they're foam.
FOAM manipulatives for kids to share? No, thanks.
I want to make a curtain to cover this. I'm still brainstorming how.

This little gem just happened.
I used to have a TV on a rolling cart in my room.
It did not have a VCR, DVD player, or even a remote that worked.
It was to make up for the fact that my classroom is the only room in the school that doesn't have one installed on the ceiling.
After 5 years and 3 uses, my complaints were finally heard.
I was in the middle of teaching when I got a phone call (duh).
to please send it down to the library.
Uh, right now? Yes, right now, please.
So now you're looking at a pile of student projects and anchor charts.
I use these when I'm introducing a new project or unit.
Oh, and a couple of random bulletin board supplies.
They're all homeless.

I forgot to take a panoramic room shot.
But you're probably not reading anymore and didn't notice.
Apparently in an attempt to cover up my clutter I became very long-winded.

I can't wait to get started. Go link up to join in on the fun!

And if you have ideas for me, tell me!
Just be nice. :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award!

I can't believe that it's already Friday and that I had to wait until Mr. P went to bed to catch up on Teen Mom & All-American Muslim. I had so much fun sitting in my pj's, drinking my coffee WHILE it was still hot, catching up on my DVR in peace, and blog-hopping every morning last week. I guess all good things must come to an end! This week was L-O-N-G and I was glad that came to an end too.

I am so flattered and grateful that these fabulous ladies - Michelle at Making It As a Middle School Teacher, Jena at Caught In The Middle, and Heather at Loose Shoelaces awarded ME the Versatile Blogger Award! First of all, I am surprised that people are even reading my blog. Now they're giving me awards and recommending my blog to others, too! Y'all are too sweet! I have really loved getting to "know" more upper elementary and middle school teachers and highly recommend that you check out their blogs.

I searched all over my newly discovered blogs and old favorites for ladies that have not received this award and I was totally out of luck. I am just going to graciously accept the award and I will be sure to share new finds and favorites as they pop up. If you newly discover my blog, be sure to become a follower or leave a comment so that I can newly discover yours. :)
{Do these awards remind anyone else of the chain letters that were all the rage in the 90's?}

I hope everyone had a fantabulous first week back!!