Tuesday, December 11, 2012

#5thchat Penpal Form

Calling all 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers!

After our most recent (and rather exciting) #5thchat on Twitter, we have decided that we need to start a global penpal project! We were discussing how to engage our most reluctant writers, and teachers from across the nation and other countries agreed - the best way to engage reluctant writers is to give them a more authentic audience.

When our students write for someone else, the writing becomes more meaningful. When we open our students to global connections, they feel more like this great big world is becoming open to them. We all want this for our students, don't we?

Now, in my classroom, we connect via Edmodo and Kidblog with kids from all over the place. We're about to start Skyping students in other states and countries. I connect via Twitter and Facebook with teachers from ALL OVER! However, when it comes to putting pencil to paper, we don't do that much connecting with other students. One of my Twitter peeps, @MrBillySpicer said it best when he said, "We do so much tech integration, it'd be nice to have some 'old-school' pen pals."

Someone suggested starting off with postcards because it'd be a faster introduction and it would be a little less pressure at the beginning. I loved that idea, so this project was born!

You don't have to be a 5th grade teacher to join up. We're also encouraging 3rd and 4th grade teachers to sign up. Once you sign up, I'll match you with a partner and send the contact information to all the teachers who have signed up to participate.

Now, if you teach firsties or second graders and are gung-ho to start, go ahead and sign up - I'm sure I can find you a penpal somewhere!

Don't hesitate! Sign up below!


PS - a suggestion for if you sign up before the end of 2012, a good topic would be a top 12 countdown of 2012. The kids could list their top 12s from this past year as a way to reflect on the year and let their penpals know more about them.

12 in '12

Found this linky party and wanted to join up! One reason is because I've been home sick for half a day and I'm bored. But mostly because it's a great way to reflect on the year!

Thanks to Miss Kindergarten and A Teeny Tiny Teacher for hosting!

12. Favorite Movie You Watched
Welllll... since I have an eight year old son, I usually see kid movies. Rarely see "grown-up" movies. But, here's my faves this year from both categories:
Kid: Hotel Transylvania (cracked me up!!!)
Grown-Up: Skyfall (usually not my cup of tea, but so glad the hubby suggested it! great date night!)

11. Favorite TV Series
Castle! I just love that show! I'm so happy Beckett and Castle are together, but oh, the drama! Love the time that Josh and I spend watching the show together, predicting who dun it.

10. Favorite Restaurant
Always Kiku. I love Japanese food, especially Habachi-style!

9. Favorite New Thing You Tried
Skype! And I just tried it yesterday (Skyped Josh at work), ha! Can't wait to Skype with other classrooms and experts around the world!

8. Favorite Gift You Got
Since I'm going to Zambia in May to teach English to orphans, my favorite gifts this year have been donations from all my friends and family! They have really answered the call to help. I've needed to raise $3,600, and now I only have $650 to go! So blessed!

7. Favorite Thing You Pinned
I am going to list two here again. I love pinning stuff I find hysterical, and I also love pinning recipes. Here's my favorite of each:

Recipe: Oma's Chicken - THIS IS A MUST MAKE!

Hysterical - probably because a) it's true, and b) Mr. Bean kills me!

6. Your Favorite Blog Post
My favorite blog post I've written was about text-mapping. That's probably because it changed my life when I read about it on someone else's blog. I modified it to fit my needs and shared with my followers. So far, it's one of the most popular things I've written. I'm so glad that others find it useful too!

5. Best Accomplishment
I have been blessed to have been called to be a Deacon in my church (First Presbyterian). I was ordained in November. I am excited to be called to serve others in a new way!

4. Favorite Picture

I have a lot of favorite pictures, but I like this one because it's of my cute little doggie, Jaqq, and he just looks so at peace! I imagine him thinking, "Ahhh, this is the life!"

3. Favorite Memory
This may sound crazy. We were at Ashton's 8 year checkup at the pediatrician, and I was DREADING it! He has never liked the doctor, and I just knew it was going to be the pits. We laughed so hard the whole time! I just thought it was great laughing with my sweet boy at the silliest things (namely, him having to pee in a cup. And him telling the nurse, "I'm ready to bust outta this joint and get a sticker." All hysterical, I tell you). It was a day that reminded me that it's possible to find joy in even the most routine situations.

2. Goal for 2013
Spend more time with the family. I get so caught up in everything that I'm doing. The time I spend just hangin' with my guys (son and hubby) are the sweetest, and I need to build in more time for that.

1. One Little Word
Blessed. I am truly, truly, TRULY blessed. That's something that I need to remember!

So, those are my 12 in '12! Visit Miss Kindergarten's blog to link up!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Help Wanted: PBL

Hello fellow educators!

I want your help. I have heard of PBL (project-based learning) a lot lately, but each time I looked at it, I thought it would be a lot of work and at those particular junctions in my life, I wasn't looking for "more work."

Well, I still don't want more work (who does, really?), but I think I am ready to give it a try.

Here's what I'm looking for.

Kelly, Heather, and I do a WWII foldable lapbook every year in social studies. If you check out this link about Projects vs. PBL, you'll see that this falls under "Projects" in a major way! This equates to disappointment on my end, folks.

We want to revamp this project to make it more PBL than plain ol' project (POP, my new acronym, if you will).

The first step is to start with the end in mind. WELL, DANG! That's the part I'm having trouble with!

I want the kiddos to "own" more of this project, but I do have a couple of thoughts I'd like to integrate.

Normally, along with our 5th grade social studies standards, we do Number the Stars for a read aloud. We also want to incorporate either all or just parts of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas along with it.

Here's my train of thought...
1) In Number the Stars, the girls know something is wrong, but they aren't sure just how bad or how serious everything is until the end of the book
2) In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the theme is quite similar
3) In Germany, the theme is still there. People were mesmerized by Hitler, only learning later in the timeline how horrible he truly was.

I want to do something with these themes. I want the learning about Hitler, the other leaders of the Axis Powers, and their aggression throughout Germany.

I looked at this site, and it also suggests tying the PBL into community service. Not 100% sure how I'll do that (though a few random ideas are floating through my brain...)

As you read this, does something brilliant pop into your brain? Please send your thoughts and ideas!!!!

Here's one website I'm using to research: http://www.pbl-online.org/pathway2.html

Thanks as always,

RAK Winner!

Hi friends!

As my RAK for December (Random Act of Kindness), I put all of my sweet followers into a (proverbial online) hat and drew a winner for an iTunes giftcard. And the winner is....

Amy Lynn Marshall!

Thanks to all my followers. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Sending lots of love everyone's way!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

December Currently and a Holiday Giveaway!

I love Farley's Currently posts! I haven't done one in a bit, so here's my December Currently!

*Updated note: Apparently I cut off part of my own top line. For listening, it should read: "to my sweet boy playing mario as I'm...updating my blogs, getting ready for church"
My excuse? It's a weekend, and my brain is only operating at 50% ;)

Now to the regularly scheduled post...

The RAK stands for Random Acts of Kindness. Farley was telling us that they had to be RANDOM, not something you do often. I do have a sweet little tradition that's an act of kindness, but it's not random because it's something I do every Saturday. So I had to think of something random that I've never done before.

Well, this holiday season makes all of us feel grateful, don't you think? I'm grateful for a job I truly enjoy, for family I love beyond measure, a Savior (because frankly, I don't stand a chance without Him), and for my blog readers! Each comment leaves a smile on my face, and I appreciate that you take the time out of your busy lives to read the drivel posts I write. I'm thankful for all the times you've shared, tweeted, or pinned my work. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

So as a thank you, I'm going to give an iTunes giftcard (electronically) to one of my followers. I'm going to select randomly! You don't have to comment, tweet, pin, or share anything (but I'd be thrilled if you did). Just sign up to be a follower to win! Thanks to all of my sweet 117 followers I currently have as I write this!

I will draw on Friday, February 7th! Drawing closes at, let's say, midnight EST.

Thank you all!
Merry Christmas!


A Cross-Curricular Christmas

Hi friends!

I feel like I haven't posted in about 400 years (hyperbole). I've been as stressed out about school stuff as a Georgia fan during the GA-Bama game in the 4th quarter with a minute and a half remaining (simile). As you can tell, curriculum is definitely on my brain and I am watching the Georgia game :)

I know I've been needing to post, but I wanted to have something good (and fun!) to share with all of my readers. I created a little activity that I LOVED the other day, and I knew it was just the thing to share with all of you!

I'm not sure about y'all, but I feel like there's been less time for the "fun" stuff this year as we've converted to Common Core. Don't get me wrong - I'm still teaching my heart out and we're having a good time learning, but good ol' fun? Not so much.

Wellllllll, I've got something fun for all of you! I'd like to introduce you to my cross-curricular Christmas activity!

We're studying the 1920s and 30s right now in my social studies class. So naturally, in reading, we're reading about this time period. I have a great series of books with loads of culturally relevant information from each decade (from the 20s up), and I came across an interesting article about the assembly line and Henry Ford. Wouldn't ya know that's in our social studies standards? Love it!

One of the common misconceptions our students have is that Henry Ford invented the automobile. Incorrectamundo, friends! My kids are always amazed to learn that he did not in fact invent it, and they are intrigued by the concept of an assembly line. It's not really something the kids have ever heard of in their short sweet lifespans.

So, it is interesting. Okie dokie. Not necessarily a super fun topic. UNTIL I remembered a fun treat my son made during an Advent festival at church several years ago.

Here, I present to you our Social Studies - Reading - Writing - Science Christmas snack!

We have an Advent festival every year at our church, and I remembered my son making one of these several years ago. It's just a sugar cone, green icing, and candy to make it look like a Christmas tree. How fun!

I decided I wanted to do this with my students, and then a great idea hit me! We could do our own version of an assembly line! The students would be learning about how each worker on an assembly line had a specialized job, and that this was designed to make production faster.

Well, I thought that if the students actually participated in an assembly line, all of that knowledge would be more likely to stick with them. 

The first thing I did was visit our local Bruster's Ice Cream shop. They are FABULOUS there and always try to do anything to help! The owner sold me enough sugar cones at just a little over the cost to her. That was SO much cheaper than going to purchase them at the store.

Next, I headed out to the store to purchase icing and M&Ms. I ended up buying vanilla icing and these little packets of flavoring for icing. The packets made the icing green AND gave it a mint chocolate flavor. YUMMO!

After I got home from the store, I continued to get even more excited about this project. I just knew the kids would have a blast.

BUT THEN I thought that I could even include a science standard in this classroom event! 

The next day, I get into class and tell the kids we are going to have a blast learning about Henry Ford and his famous invention. I asked the kids to write down what they thought Henry Ford invented.

Note: 100% of the students said... the car! (Told you that was a big misconception!)

We then read the article about Mr. Ford and his amazing invention - the assembly line. The kids were shocked and intrigued at the same time! (I would share the article with you, but I cannot do that because it's copyrighted. Dang! But anything you could find in a textbook or online would work.)

I asked the students to talk with their think-pair-share partners about two questions:
1) Do you think the assembly line REALLY makes production faster?
2) How could the assembly possibly line make production faster?

After a few minutes of discussion, I told the students I wanted them to design an experiment to test the theory that the assembly line makes production faster. I showed them the ingredients for the edible Christmas tree and a finished product that I'd made that morning. I asked them to turn to their think-pair-share partners again and discuss how to design an experiment.

As a class, we set up a question: Does the assembly line make the production of goods faster? (See how we're using knowledge from the reading article, knowledge of social studies vocabulary, and knowledge of procedures from science? Gosh, I love this!)

Next, we made a hypothesis: The kids were pretty evenly divided. Half thought that, based on our "research," the assembly line would indeed make production faster. The others believed that the travel time from person to person would slow down the process, so they weren't convinced it would help. So interesting!

Then we designed the experiment. One group would be the assembly line group, and another group would be the control group. They would build the whole Christmas tree themselves, start to finish, one person by him or herself. 

The first group to finish would be deemed the winners!

Note: we had two assembly lines going just because I needed everyone to be working :)

Here's my assembly line working!

Here are the jobs I created on the assembly line:
1) put a cone on a plate, hand it to the next person
2) remove the wrapper from the cone, pass the plate to the next person
3) put two globs of icing on the cone, pass it to the next person
4) spread the two globs of icing all over the cone, pass it to the next person
5) add 15 M&Ms to the cone, pass to the next person
6) safely transport completed product to the "finished" table

ABOVE: My independent group working. They had to do ALL the steps themselves. The assembly line had to make 8 cones. The independent group had to make 8 cones (all the same amount of product).

What do ya know? In both of my reading classes, the assembly line group won by a LANDSLIDE!

After it was over, students had to clean up. Dude, it was a little messy! As they cleaned, I asked them to analyze the results from their data and draw a conclusion. They all agreed that the assembly line was faster. You just couldn't deny the results here! Then I asked students to communicate their results by doing a write up about what they had learned.

After they wrote, the students were allowed to select a cone and eat! (All kiddos washed hands before this experiment. We had a cleanliness discussion - can't touch hair, nose, face, anything while working.)

What a fun day we had! And to make it even better, it included reading, writing, social studies, and science. You just can't beat it!

We probably could've even added in some math using the time it took, etc. However, all our minds were sufficiently blown at this point. But if you're a math teacher, it's definitely something you could use as well!

So what do you think? Would you be able to try something like this in your classroom? Share your thoughts below with a comment!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Literature Circles

Well, it may seem like I've dropped off the face of the earth. I didn't. Promise.

To prove it to you, I'd like to post a few pictures of what we've been up to this year. First, my "stuck on you" door theme. I found a bulletin board picture on Pinterest (click here to see the pin). I decided to put it on my front door. I like it! :)

The sticky notes only stay for a few days. It's one way to be sure that you stay accountable for having the kids rotate out what they are thinking :)

But what I REALLY want to share with you is this: literature circles!

I am LOVING literature circles! I wanted to wait until closer to Christmas to start because I wasn't sure the kids would be ready. Then Kelly said she was going to start, and, not wanting to be outdone, Heather and I decided it sounded like a good idea :)

We got together and read about a BAJILLION articles, ebooks, and documents about literature circles. Can you say OVERWHELMING? Because it was. Then we decided to pick and choose and put our own spin on it.

I learned a lot about reciprocal teaching in my college reading classes, so we used that for a basis. We decided that each group needed between 2-4 group members. Kelly said that in one of the conferences she's recently attended, she learned that research shows that if there are 5 or more students in a group, inevitably one or more end up not doing anything. We wanted to keep groups small, so we had four or less students per group. Here are the four roles we chose:

The first thing I did was bring in lots of books, and I built them up in major way. I chose books I've read and that I know I could get excited about. I have students who are on a variety of reading levels, so I had some books that were for third grade level and up. The books sat there for a couple of days, calling out, tempting the children. It was great :) I then talked them up like they were made of pure gold. The kids were salivating! 

I told them that before they could pick their books, they had to learn a lot about the roles. Here's a quick overview:

Summarizer/Predictor: As the student is reading, he writes a summary. When he finishes his reading section for the day, he makes a prediction.

Questioner: Writes 2-3 questions while she reads, including the answer and the page number on which it can be found. One "right there" question and at least one "thinking" question.

Clarifier: Looks for 2-3 words while he reads that might be confusing to a reader. Keeps a dictionary with him at all times. Writes down the definition to explain to other group members.

Visualizer: Finds a phrase, sentence, or paragraph that really helps paint a picture in the reader's mind. Writes down the passage and draws a picture to share with the group.

Most days, I ask the students to do their "regular roles." Sometimes, though, I give the students a specific question or topic that I want them to write about and discuss. Students have about 15-20 minutes to read independently, and then the whole group meets for 10 minutes or so. Students make notes in their notebooks while they read (according to their roles or the topic of the day) and during their meetings (about what was discussed). 

I've seen lots of printable journal pages specific to roles, and I just want to tell you right now: that's NOT allowed at our school. Plus, it's TOTALLY unnecessary. I just bought a bunch of spiral-bound notebooks from WalMart for seventeen cents each. I gave a lot of feedback on students' journal entries very early in the process.

I teach two reading classes each day, so during Reading I's independent reading time, I read all the lit circle notebooks from Reading II (from the day prior). During Reading II's independent reading time, I read all the lit circle notebooks from Reading I (from earlier that day). I never take them home, and I never look at them after school. On busier days, I just read two or three entries at a time. It really works for me.

Here are some pictures of notebook entries after 2 weeks of lit circles:


Writing to discuss elements of fiction and inferencing based on direct quotes
Inferencing using direct quotes and comparing/contrasting two characters
Summarizing, then two different group members' responses to inferencing based on direct quotes

You can see that students write down the date in the margin, include goals for reading in their notes, and write down how far each of their group members have read. Every now and then, students are who are a little further ahead take a day off from independent reading to blog or make more detailed notes while the other students catch up. This is working really well for us so far!

I think that the students are doing a good job, especially considering this is only our second week of literature circles! I know that as we move forward, I can get the kiddos to write and think even more. This is a pretty good starting point. (I'm not counting for spelling; this is a thinking notebook.)

Do you do literature circles in your class? How do you run them? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. The titles I chose are Mockingbird, Scat, Dying to Meet You, Sing Down the Moon, Sheep, and Storm Runners.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September Currently, and 99 Followers!?

Oh my friends, I've missed blogging so much! If you're anything like me, it's hard to focus on anything other than teaching, eating, and sleeping the first week weeks of school. Now that we've got a few weeks down, I feel like I'm ready to start blogging again. I'm planning a blog post to update with later this week, but tonight is about two things only: my September Currently and holy guacamole, almost 100 followers!

First, here's my currently:

If you don't know, I'm preparing for a two week trip to Africa in May 2013 to teach English at several orphanages. I'm SO THRILLED! We've had a couple of meetings lately, and the excitement is darn near about to kill me.

Please consider following my blog about my trip to Zambia so you can just learn about what's going on, and if you're a prayer-kinda-person, you can pray for me, the other ladies who are going, and all the children we hope to bless. Here's the link: Sisters of Zambia

My husband performs in local live theater in his "spare time." I use those words loosely because I don't know anyone among us who has time we can just call extra. He doesn't get paid for it, but he sees it as a type of mission, just as all the other actors in the group do. They provide quality, family-friendly entertainment for a very reasonable price. He loves it, and I'm proud of him. However, it means he's gone in the evenings, and quite often! I miss him while he's gone, but I can focus on my work without feeling guilty, and I get extra excited when he comes home :)

I also got my first pair of Toms. They are red. I love them. The end.

NOW.... What's this I see when I log into Blogger? 99 followers?! Wowza!

I feel like it's time for another giveaway. Last time, I gave away a $25 gift card to Erin Condren for 50 followers. Well, that was a biggie. BUT I had a discounted offer laying around in my email, so it wasn't too big of a deal.

What should I give away this time? What would be beneficial? A Target giftcard? iTunes? A set of fun  customized testing confidence posters (see link here)? Your choice of items from my Teachers Pay Teachers store (link here)? All my love and affection?

Tell me what would benefit you. I'm excited - almost 100? Woot woot!

Look out for my blog to be coming soon about reading in my classroom. My students rock. Love!!!

Leave me comments because, well, they make me super happy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A New Year!

This summer, I blogged and blogged and blogged.

Then school started.

And I taught and taught and taught.

Later, I planned and planned and planned.

And went to bed early.

And that was just one day! :) I have put that day on repeat now for 13 days!

But, that being said, I am LOVING this new school year! My students are absolutely precious, I love the subjects I teach (the same ones I've taught for years), and luckily, I love my coworkers, so I don't mind doing all that planning with them.

Thank goodness for common planning - it is saving us SO much work, and it helps make our lesson plans even better. I'm sure there's a more professional word to use here than "better." Maybe rigorous? Why not? Yes, common planning makes our lesson plans even more rigorous. And not in that rigor mortis-so-hard-it-kills-motivation kind of rigor. I mean in the critical thinking, giving kids an aha! moment kind of rigor. And if two heads are better than one, then four or eight heads are certainly better than two! I love bouncing around ideas for lessons, units, and assessments with my colleagues. We make awesome happen on a daily basis.

I've had a blast these first few weeks of school. I can't wait for things to slow down a bit so I can share some of the things we're doing.

I just wanted to check in with all of my friends and tell you that if the first few weeks are any indication, this year is pretty much going to rock my face off.

If you've started school already, how's it going? If you haven't started yet, I'm sending you positive vibes for your upcoming first days!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Classroom Tour

I have told a couple of friends that basically, my classroom is a Pinterest classroom (mostly). Here's the tour of my room, and if I found an idea on Pinterest, I've included the link to what I pinned below each picture. I've also included links to some of my templates and websites I like. Enjoy!

*NOTE: This is a VERY LONG blog post with LOTS of pictures.

This is what students and parents will see when they get to my classroom. 

Not a Pinterest creation - my own idea combined with the way another 5th grade teacher managers hers!
This is directly to the left of my front door. I attached a clear pocket with velcro to the wall and put my attendance list in it. The columns to the right are our 4 lunch options: brought lunch, regular lunch, grilled cheese sandwich, and peanut butter sandwich. When students arrive every morning, they will draw a mark across their names and put check marks in the columns of their lunch choices for the day. Then the attendance manager will come and check for absences.

This is the scrapbook paper pennant banner I made. The top banner says WELCOME and the bottom one says READERS.

Click here to see what I pinned

I made this poster on VistaPrint. I love making QR codes (because, in case you didn't notice, I'm a nerd). The top code takes parents to my website, and the bottom one takes parents to the students' blogs. If you want to make your own QR codes, try this website.

Click here to see what I pinned

This is the display I made for my front door. Click here to download my template for free! Just FYI, I trimmed a half-inch border around all the words. 

This is the view of my room when you walk straight into my classroom. The lanterns above each table have the table numbers hanging from them.

This is the view of the left side of my classroom.

This is the wooden set of cubbies I got from Target for $50. On top is my favorite dark brown basket which will hold library cards and library passes. The frame on the left has two pictures of my husband and me at the beach. The photo on the right is me accepting my college diploma! The top 3 cubbies have our Shurley English student textbooks. The middle row of cubbies have our social studies student textbooks plus several social studies resource books. The bottom 3 cubbies have English workbooks, Constitution workbooks, and spelling and writing how-to guides.

Click here to see what I pinned

Here is my teacher closet. I created the big pencil for the steps in the writing process. The eraser is as huge as it is because I needed room for everyone to be on Prewriting at the same time when we start a project, so it had to have room for about 24 clothespins. I measured them and then decided how big that eraser had to be. I know, it's huge. Don't hate. I also have a small spot for some student work that I want to highlight on the left door. I lined the closet with leftover bulletin board border. It makes it look so much better!

This is the inside of the left door of my closet. It's just a shoe holder thingy from Target. I made little numbers to go on each pocket. This will hold our Character Cash for our schoolwide incentive program. They use this money to buy rewards weekly in the classroom or big schoolwide rewards each quarter (movie plus popcorn, a Wii tournament, decorate cookies, tie-dye teeshirts, etc.).

This is the inside of the right door of my closet. It's a bag of bags. I stuff plastic grocery bags in here. The reason I really need this is because my classroom is right by the clothes closet. I often get knocks on the door asking if I have any bags because some sweet li'l thing has wet clothes and needed to get something clean. I'm happy to help, and I kind of secretly love it that I can be helpful :) They come in handy every now and then in my own classroom too.

Here's the area to the right of my teacher closet, aka the sink area. Above the sink are two of my posters. The poster on the left is the hand signals poster using American Sign Language symbols. You can buy it for $1.50 in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Click here to shop. The poster on the right is a list of alternatives for "I don't know." I printed them off and had them blown up and laminated at our local teacher store. I added border around the outside so they wouldn't look so boring. The painting on the far right is the THINK saying I found on Pinterest. I liked it, so I painted it. Note: I am NOT an artist. 

Click here to see what I pinned

This counter and shelf to the left of my sink has a lot of stuff on it. I put a white wire shelf on top to maximize the space. On top, I have my 18-drawer organizer from Lowe's ($20) with odds-and-ends in it, a plant, a large purple amethyst, and my Un Maesto Especial award from Univision. Below that, my 22-drawer organizer from Lowe's ($17) with other doo-dads. Click here to read my post on the organizers. At the bottom, I have my CD player, a container for all my CDs, my hole punch, my pencil sharpener, and two straw holders, one for sharp pencils and one for dull pencils.

Click here to see what I pinned

To the right of the sink, you'll find my calendar, Drop Box, Turn-In Basket, globe, and Box Tops container. I'm planning to add another container with class clean up jobs to this area as well.

Just behind my front door are the coat racks and shelves. On the right, I have the birthday poster from Creative Teaching Press, and under that is my big Lunch Box basket. I love my alligator head; my aunt is a veterinarian, and she did the autopsy on this gator. The Department of Natural Resources tagged it and let her keep it. She is letting me display it in my classroom. My kids LOVE it. Beside that is the colorful picnic basket I got for $6 at Wal-Mart. It has a Books to Reshelve label on it. This will be for the class librarian to use. If a student isn't for sure where a book goes (or honestly just doesn't want to put it up), the book goes here for the librarian to put away in the proper place. I also have my wicked cool tie-dye playground ball and clipboard basket. Above all of that are two more posters I made from VistaPrint. The one on the left is the set of Morning Procedures for my class, and the one on the right is the set of Afternoon Procedures. I love them, and they were inspired by Harry Wong!

Here's a look at the area right beside my door.

I L-O-V-E my Writing Cart! It has all the supplies a student would need to write (minus dictionaries and thesauruses, which are on the bookshelves). The top drawer has pens, tape, and stapler. I have a cheap tape dispenser and a cheap stapler on this cart. My good ones are not available for student touching :) There are blue pens (self-edit) and red pens (peer-edit) here too. The second basket is notebook paper. This is for general use and for final copies of writing projects. The third basket is drafting paper. This is just yellow lined paper from a notepad. All classroom teachers at my school got a $300 budget to buy supplies for their classrooms from our school supply co-op for the entire year. I ordered something like a million notepads. I sat down and ripped the paper (quickly and easily, I might add!) from about 8 notepads and stuck it in here. I will ask a parent volunteer to rip the rest for me later :) This is for the rough draft part of the writing process. Students will be required to write double-spaced on this paper to leave plenty of room for editing. The draft will be stapled to the back of the final copy when it's been turned in. The bottom basket is for copy paper, which is for illustrating if students desire and/or have time. This cart has wheels, so it can go wherever it needs to go. Bonus! 

Under my light switch (which needed a major cleaning, yuck), I have one of my end-of-year gifts from a sweet student last year. It's called How to Really Love a Student. It's so pretty, and I just adore it! The big hanging red pocket chart is going to be filled with forms that the students need to access themselves, keeping them away from my desk and filing cabinet. Nurse forms, missing assignment notifications, self-assessments, group work assessments, book graphs, and things like that.

Click here to see what I pinned

I love my Reminders board! I hot glued ribbon to the back, all the way down, so it would be sturdy, then hung it on a Command hook. (I love Command hooks.) I even tied a really ugly bow at the bottom and hot glued that to it. Here, I will write reminders that the office gives me over the intercom. Example: Billy needs to be a car rider, not a bus rider. These are things I tend to forget and end up screaming at the student as the kids run off to the buses. I am a forgetful person because I'm so busy!!!!! Hopefully this will reduce my panic :) I used two more Command hooks (told you) to hold the boys' and girls' bathroom passes. When a student needs to use the restroom, he or she will need to put the pass at his/her seat instead of carrying it to the bathroom. There is NOTHING worse than having someone knock on your door and hold out a drippy bathroom pass and ask, "Does this belong to you?" EWWW.

This is my teacher desk. It's a small table that the library gave away last year. I've got some sweet pictures of my baby (not such a baby anymore, almost 8!), scissors and dry erase markers (don't ask me why I have a million), my dry erase pockets, and two organizers to hold materials for the week. The little green chair is from the Target Dollar Spot, and it is a cell phone holder. So cute! I also have the bell there, and I usually only use it during Spelling Bees. Don't ask me why. Above my desk is the News board. Students can hang articles of them that appear in the newspaper, or pictures from special events, and I will write down assignments in the calendar.

Click here to see what I pinned

Here's my rolly cart. On top I will have my laptop which is connected to my Promethean board. I also have a basket of notepads.

Under that, I have a big black crate in the back that you can't see; it's got some word puzzle books for special occasions in the classroom. In front, a utensil organizer from Target. I put wide-mouth plastic cups in there from the Dollar Tree. It holds all my highlighters. I use them ALL. THE. TIME. Under that, a trash can.

The filing cabinet is to the right of my laptop cart. On top, I have a mesh file organizer, my teacher guide for Shurley English, and 3 containers from Hobby Lobby. The orange one holds rulers (I liked it because it was tall), the blue one holds all my fancy scissors (the ones that cut fancy designs), and the green one has lotion because, let's face it, all that hand-washing leaves us gals with less-than-silky hands sometimes. I also have a ton of socks from the Dollar Tree. I'll pass those out to use as erasers when we use dry erase boards and markers. (PS - I love my "Bullies NO! Buddies YES!" poster!)

Seen a lot of divided boards on Pinterest, never pinned them though - whoops!
Here's my fiction library and my dry erase board. Notice the labels on the book bins are blank. We're going to organize the books as a class in the first few weeks. I had to cull several books that were beyond repair, so I want to make sure I have the right number of bins for each genre. All the books are already labeled by genre; we're just going to experiment with how many bins we need for each genre. This doubles as an introduction to the titles I have in my class library. Students will be able to look at several different titles in different genres (all the books are mixed up!!). They will have a "Books I Want to Read" sheet at their tables while they work, and if they come across a title that looks interesting, they will record it along with the author and genre so they can find it later when they need a book to read.

Above the library is my whiteboard. It's just a piece of shower board from Home Depot. It's sectioned off; the left section is for the Must Do board, the top middle-ish one is for the May Do board, and the bottom middle-ish one is for the weekly Boggle Board. This is a May Do activity I put up every week for early finishers. It's a great thinking activity, too. Lots of teachers have really cute ones with pretty letters that they velcro up each week. Not me. I just write mine up there. I created a document with 27 different Boggle board combinations using a specially-designed algorithm that produces over 35 common words for each board. Each week, students are challenged to find at least 35 words. It's hard to do! You can buy my list of 27 boards for $1.00 at Teachers Pay Teachers. Click here to purchase.

The rest of the board will be used for whatever I want to put up there :)

My two comfy chairs with pillows underneath.

This is my Spot Our Progress board. Students will put a new sticker up for every book they've finished. We celebrate every finished book in my classroom. If you like this, you should read Donalyn Miller's book, The Book Whisperer. Click here to read my post about her and her fabulous book! (We call it the reading teacher's Bible.)

Click here to see what I pinned

Here's my poem dry erase board (left), recess door, and my nonfiction shelf. The two big blue baskets on the bottom are for books that are too large for my smaller book baskets. The top big blue basket is for social studies books (people, wars, historical events) and the bottom one is for science books. I also have my tree and my green loveseat that thekids love. In front of the tree is a green basket with picture books. I don't have a lot of these since I teach 5th grade, but the ones that are in there are ones that I love! Above the loveseat is the reading journal rubric poster I made on VistaPrint.

Right beside the loveseat are my computers. I have a label with each computer number above it. The mats are nonslip placemats I got at the Dollar Tree. It helps keep the keyboards from sliding around. Above that is my His-Tree pocket chart. I'll put sentence strips with major history information in this bad boy. To the right of the tree are the two blogging posters I made at VistaPrint - one for Blogging Guidelines and one for Commenting Guidelines. I love my lanterns hanging in the corner! The blue pocket chart has a list of all the websites we visit frequently. I'm ALWAYS adding new websites. I'm kind of addicted.

My brand new director's chair! LOVE! The mailboxes there are usually used to file student work that goes home in their weekly folders, but I think I'm going to use it for unfinished work so I can see who still has work they need to complete! The green basket on top has my read alouds and bookmarks in there. The blue basket right now is just filled with stuff. I may end up moving the bookmarks into that basket. My kids love bookmarks.

The bulletin board and posters above my director's chair. Guess where I made these? Yep, VistaPrint. The left one is my class rules poster, and the one on the right is the consequence poster.

A view of one of my tables. It has the name plates hot-glued to the table. I only put two name plates on each table. The name plate on the right has the names of all the kids sitting on the right side (plus their numbers, #1-22), and the same goes for the tag on the left. I don't like a lot of tags cluttering up the table. I think this just looks neater. Each table also has a container for pencils.

Click here to see what I pinned

Each table has it's own set of Sterilite drawers with wheels. They are for my homeroom students' supplies. The top drawers are for the independent reading books they are reading, the middle drawers are for their supply boxes, and the bottom drawers are for their composition notebooks and folders. Each table has a table manager who sits right beside the drawers where they open. The table managers are in charge of the drawers, adding or removing supplies and keeping them neat.

Each table also has a little trash can from the Dollar Tree behind the drawers. These are for PAPER ONLY. It's someone's job to dump these into the big trash can at the end of the day. If someone puts liquid or something sticky in here, he or she can spend part of recess cleaning it out.

This is quite possibly my favorite part of the room. This is my guided reading table. I love the storage ottomans - color + storage? Dream come true! They are just the right height for my table, and I have supplies and reading group books inside them. Behind the table are my shelves with my drawers. I love those things, too.

The cup at the top has my numbered sticks for calling on students randomly. On the bottom of the shelves, I have bins for storing envelopes or other things I might need to put somewhere. The drawers have bulletin board border that I trimmed to fit with a 2"x4" Avery label on them. I used double-sided tape to affix them to the front of the drawer. These 6 drawers are labeled: Forms, Returned Forms, Weekly Reports, Weekly Folders, Mrs. Thompson (my keys, chocolate, gum, etc.), and Technology (ear buds, charging cords, etc.).

The blue bin on the right has my reading binders. On the bottom, I have two red crates. The one on the left is going to be for filing student work to go home in weekly folders, and the one on the right has all my Common Core reading resources. The drawers in this section are labeled: Social Studies, Language Arts, Instructional Data, Reading (Now), Reading (Future), and Reading Assessments. The reason I have 3 drawers for reading is because I usually have a BILLION things to use for reading group. I need a place for stuff the kids are using in reading right this minute, things they'll use soon but don't need right now, and any assessments/data I have on their reading progress.

The orange bin has my Guest Teacher Binder and my Everything Binder (click here to read more about these). The bottom shelf holds my rubrics (left) and other files (right). The drawers here are labeled: Parents, Team Teachers, Administration, Office/Copies, Pens & Pencils, Notepads.

I've already posted this picture, but in the front of the room, you can see more black cubbies with fabric bins in them. They have labels on the front, and they are for storing things like DVDs, craft supplies (like crepe paper, my hot glue gun, etc), art supplies (crayons and markers), index cards, pencils, notebook paper, my Sub Tub, and things like that. The reason I don't have a close-up picture of this is because I'm waiting on my shipment of more fancy cards to come in so all of the bins have a label. Right now, it's driving me crazy that they don't all have one, but I ran out. Eek!

So that's it. Welcome to my classroom! I'd love to see pictures of your classrooms, too! If you've blogged about your classroom, send me a link!