I Went Back.

I went back to school today.

I am looping with my 2nd graders and I have a new/old room. It’s new because I was teaching across the hall in 2nd grade for the last six years and it’s also my old room as I taught 3rd grade in that room years ago. I’m on my 16th year and I’ve been all over that school. I guess that is good and bad, just like my new/old room.

The good part is that I enjoy a new adventure. Switching up grades is fun for me, and especially fun when I get to have my same class from 2nd grade! We are going to have a fantastic year. The bad part is that I had to move to the new/old room. I have to go through cupboards and stuff. I need to learn new curriculum and plan out my year. I just need to do a lot of stuff. And today, I felt all of that. I walked into the new/old room and looked around. One of my friends at school has the best way of saying how it feels when we go back into our rooms after the summer. We move one pile of sh*& to another pile of sh*&. The piles get moved around, put away, thrown away, stored in a box, or put into the infamous “up for grabs” pile in the teacher’s lounge. Pretty soon, the piles get smaller and the room starts to come together. Today, I was in the “moving one pile of sh*% to another pile of sh*%” stage. You see, I have too much stuff.

See that picture? That is the trunk of my car. All that stuff was in my garage taking up space. It took me about five or six long walks into the school balancing all that stuff to get it all into my classroom. It looks real cute in the store and then I get it into my room and think…”Hmmm…did I need that 3,735th container?”

I started with the cupboards. I went through each one and organized the contents into piles. I had math piles, science piles, social studies piles, reading piles, junk piles…Then I cleaned out the cupboards and put everything back in.

This is a cupboard full of multiplication and time materials. No, it is not placed into beautiful containers and labeled accordingly. But it is arranged nicely and I will be able to go and grab materials out pretty easily because it is more organized now. When I first got my new/old room last spring, it was two days before school got out and kids were helping me put away stuff. They did a great job of helping me, but we kind of just threw everything in there. We were ready for summer!

After I went through all of the cupboards, I put up a sticky note of what is in each cupboard so I can make a label for it. Once that job was done, I tackled the mess behind my desk and moved some furniture around. I’m coming up with a plan for tomorrow!

 

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What Do You Teach the First Week of School?!?

 

About the third week in July, our town always hosts a county fair. For some reason, I’ve always started working in my classroom right after that weekend of Maria’s Fair Fun Time! I don’t know why I started doing that, but I guess I’ve made it a tradition. I think to myself, “If I go in now, I can everything done and have the last couple weeks before school starts to be at home!”. It never works that way, though. I always find some new room theme, or read a book that makes me want to switch things up with one of my programs, or I keep on finding cute stuff at Target and bringing it in to rearrange. It’s an ugly cycle, but one of my favorite things to do. Plus, my husband farms and my kids go out to help harvest during that time so it is just me around here and I need something to do!

Back in the my olden days of my teaching ( this is my 16th year, OMG! that went fast) I found a terrific website called ProTeacher and found so many helpful teachers on there that were willing to share their plans and ideas for a great school year. I learned about classroom themes, planning, and of course, the almighty crate seats that have been circulating the teacher sites for the last ten years. I still have mine that I made back in 2008! 🙂 The kids love them and they are still my old jungle print from when I had my jungle classroom!

I did learn about how important it is to have procedures and rules in the classroom and to start teaching them right away. I wish I would have had the resources that I do now like outstanding resource books and super awesome teacher blogs to follow! Speaking of great resource books, you MUST buy this one! You can also find a great little PDF of the first 25 or so pages of this book here.

 

 

After teaching procedures the first three days only for a few years, I realized that the first three days of school was not enough to fit all these procedures and drills and rules and so much more! I extend my procedures out to two to six weeks. I think there are procedures for doing everything in the classroom and they all definitely need to be taught over and over, especially the lower grades. To make the procedures fun and to have some buy in, I usually include a book or activity with most of the really big ones. Like, problem solving with friends or how to act on the playground or how to say please and thank you. I will start highlighting some of my favorite Back to School books on my blog and the reasons why I love them so much.

Here are my back to school lesson plans for the first few days to give an idea of how I teach my procedures, rules, and mix them in with some fun activities and stories. You can find them The First Week of School Lesson Plans (1)

My lessons aren’t anything special, just a bunch of things that have worked for me over the years. Could I add more academics the first few days? Heck yes I could, but I don’t do a whole lot until the next couple of weeks. I am teaching seven year old children for goodness sake! They’ve just come off the high of summer and they need to ease in to the school year. More plans or ideas? Comment below and tell me what you’d like to see. Have a great rest of the summer!!!!

 

 

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Gluin’ and a gluin’ and a gluin’!!!!!!

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After many hours laminating, copying, and GLUING together all these gems, I finally feel like I got somewhere getting my math ready for the school year. My goal this year was to be as prepared as possible so I don’t have any setbacks or stresses in the first few weeks. Last year I wasn’t as prepared with many of my materials that I could of done WAY ahead of time and it really stressed me out.

The Math Interactive Notebooks come from Bright Concepts 4 Teachers and you can find the whole pack here

math book

I love this interactive notebook because it is completely aligned to the 2nd grade common core standards so I can use EVERYTHING in the pack and the graphics, activities and directions for the kids are spot on. Now this does take a little “training” of the 2nd graders… Color here, glue there, take your time ( Ok, not that much time). The kids really look forward to working in their math books and they actually get really creative with the pages and make them as unique as they are! The other great part about making these interactive books is that the kids get to have a whole little book that they made themselves to look back on and remember math concepts. Make sure to construct these in a regular size notebook as the composition notebooks will be too small for 2nd graders to work in. Plus they have more room for creativity!

Bubble Gum Math is another product I found that I just love and I think the kids will love it as well! Fluttering Through First Grade made this for First Grade but I think that kids can always use some fact practice and this will be fact practice in a fun way that will motivate them to keep on going! You can find Bubble Gum math at TPT here.

bubble gum math

Basically Bubble Gum Math is timed addition tests that students test on each day and they earn a “gumball” sticker (Avery dots) for each test that they pass. After 5 tests, they earn an actual gumball ( or candy, etc). If they don’t pass the test, they remain on that particular test until the skill is mastered. I am a strong believer in memorizing math facts as they are the base of all math skills. She also has these available for subtraction and multiplication and I plan to use those as well.

Amy Lemons from Step into 2nd Grade is one of my favorite TPT sellers and I use a TON of her products! They are always so awesome, though!!! I can’t help myself! I purchased these cool desk toppers from her TPT store here and I know that they are going to come in so handy! They have everything from place value to time to money… They are just awesome ( and super cute too!)

desk topper

While it did take awhile to get all of these items prepared for my two math groups, I know it will be worth it! 🙂

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And so it begins!

I kind of dread/look forward to the day I head to my classroom for the first time in the summer.  It’s a bittersweet day as summer is speeding by so fast and that first day of school is glaring at me from the calendar. As August approaches, I know my days are numbered to get the 7,435,568 things done before the first day of school finally arrives.

The truth is, I love going back to my room. I love seeing the brand new shiny floors and the desks all piled up in neat rows just waiting for me to take them down and arrange them. ( that is not fun for me, however) 🙂 I love going to Target or Walmart and spotting the 25 cent crayons, the 10 cent folders, and the “not yet marked down enough for me to buy 20 of them” composition books. 10 more cents Shopko, 10 more cents. 🙂 I love my old chair at my desk that is probably as old as I am. I love the smell of my classroom. And I LOOOOOOOOVVVVEEEE to bring the 450 new organizing basket/boxes/chevron stripe plastic doodads that will perfectly hold my crayons in and find new places for them.

Except this year. I have all my new pretties to organize with  but there is no more room in my room for anything. I knew it would happen someday. After 14 years of teaching, which included several back to school trips to Walmart and Target for those 25 cent crayons and beautiful organizers, other teachers putting up the infamous “up for grabs!” box o’ goodies in the lounge that I usually always take stuff from, I  have  come to the conclusion that I have too much stuff.

So, I had a crazy thought! What if I tear down all my boxes of monthly decorations/worksheets/whatever else in the world I might need for whatever holiday it might be… and organize those! I love to organize, and even though my room usually looks clean and organized, it still isn’t enough for me I’ve decided. No, I need to get rid of half my classroom and I’ll be good to go. So I started. I started tearing those boxes down from above my lockers ( thanks Max 30 for the stronger arms!)  and going through every.single. one. I threw away a ton. Who knew I needed 30 copies of every worksheet I needed to save?!? Gah! I made a pile of ugliness in my room that I need to throw away/recycle. I made another pile of ugliness that is the “up for grabs!” pile. It takes up my entire entranceway to my classroom.  I’m hoping the new teachers at my school will be as enticed with the “up for grabs!” pile as I always have been and take it all!

I started going through all my old binders and ripping out all the material that I’ll never use again and recycling the binders to hold my teaching units/holiday worksheets/etc… I made piles of holiday stuff that I will put into new, pretty totes numbered by month instead of my haphazard “stack everything up as high as it will go”  copy paper box and tote method from before.  I went through almost every cupboard and ripped out all the stuff I don’t want anymore. I still have a few of those guys left though, the real ugly ones. The art supplies.

The file cabinets are still staring at me though. That might have to wait until the fall for a weekend project. 🙂

Welp, I better go outside and get that lawn mowed and enjoy the morning. Summer is going fast.

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A Stylin’ First Week of School!

 

 

So this week was the first week of school in my ittle town!My sweet second graders have been super as they usually are the first week of school! I’ll tell you what, though….I am sure thankful for Teachers Pay Teachers! I found so many cute ideas and activities to share with my new little ones! I’m like a TPT advocate, running through the halls of my school shouting, “GO TO TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS!!!!” Pretty much my favorite site aside from Pinterest! I’ll post some pics of my classroom this weekend, and links to the products that I purchased from TPT.

Over at Lime Street Fashion ( my online boutique) I have all sorts of fun clothes for school! Check them out at my site www.limestreetfashion.com

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