Thursday, July 23, 2015

Then & Now

So, I'm waiting like a kid at Christmas to get into my new classroom at my new school! Here's my Timehop showing how nice and decorated my room was 4 years ago, and how it looks today. (Of course, it's not the same room...)

Look at how clean and shiny it is! And look how empty it looks! It's just BEGGING me to come in and set it up!

Tomorrow's the day, so I'm spending some time cutting out some last minute pieces of lamination to hang up in the room.


Do you get that way when it's time to set up your room every summer? Or do you dread having to get up early and climb up on step ladders?

I'll post pictures as the room starts to develop... woohoo!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Why Instagram Is Good For Your Classroom

I pinned something early this morning about 5 ways that Instagram is good for your business. It reminded me of the ways I use it in the classroom! So, being the nerdy, nerdy, nerdy teacher that I am, I whipped this up to show you 5 ways that Instagram is good for your classroom! Feel free to ask me questions, and share it with other teachers, too!

To read the original post I wrote about how I started using Instagram in the classroom, click HERE.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Gearing Up for Interactive Notebooks

As we're gearing up to start a new school year, I'm getting ready for interactive notebooks (INBs) for my middle schoolers in ELA this year!

Today, I'm going to let you know a little bit about how I'm getting ready. There are so many blog posts out there about how to create an INB - my recommendation is to look at Erin Cobb's stuff (I'm Lovin' Lit on TpT, and you can visit her website HERE). She's amazing, and she has INB products available for ELA for 4th-8th grades.

If you're looking for math INB products, check out Jennifer Findley (find her TpT store HERE). She has math products for 3rd - 5th grade.

I do a little combination of cut-and-fold interactive items and some creative artsy designs in my notebooks. I do like the foldables, but sometimes, if we need something quick (and you know some days are like that), we take notes and I allow students to draw pictures, comics, or diagrams that help them process and understand the information.

So before my kids come in, I make INB kits. Last year, I had them in clear plastic shoebox bins with lids. This year, I'm putting them in zipper pouches. I like these because you can see in them. I purchased these at Walmart for $0.97 each. I have 14 of these, so in a class of 28, they can share a pouch for every two students.

I've included skinny markers (or do we call them "thin" in this day and age?), colored pencils, and scissors. I will include glue once I purchase some. Walmart and Target both have Crayola skinny markers for $0.97 a box. At Walmart, you can get the 12-count Crayola colored pencils for $0.97, or you can get the RoseArt brand for $0.50 a box. At Target, the 12-count Crayola colored pencils were more expensive (I don't remember the price - sorry!), but the Target brand for 12-count was $0.74. Maybe you're like me and you price shop!

I have a great Thirty-One bin that I'm going to put these in. I'm hoping I can swing by Home Depot and Lowe's to grab some paint stirrers for free so my students can use those for straight edges when needed/wanted. I'll toss those in the bin along with these kits. On days we need the kits, I'll post a note on the board, and kids can grab a kit and have a seat, getting ready for class to begin! I think the zipper pouches will be easier to grab than the plastic bins, and they take up MUCH less space.
*I actually have multiple of these bins. You can view them on the Thirty-One website HERE. I love these because they are really large, and if you buy the lid, they are stackable! I also like the fact that you can see into them. Visibility is huge in the classroom so you (and the students) can easily figure out where things go. (If you don't have a Thirty-One consultant, just let me know and I'll hook you up with mine - Kaitlin is awesome! Visit her page HERE.)

For the covers, I love to have students decorate their notebooks and make them their own! You can see mine above, and my son made this one this summer. (This is not a school INB for him - he just wanted to make a personalized notebook!) I purchased full-sheet labels off Amazon for $11.64. (HERE's the link.) You get 100 labels in the box. For ours, I printed out logos or pictures of the things we love. We colored them, cut them out, peeled off the back, and had instant customized stickers!

When the students decorate their notebooks in class, I'm going to give each student a half of the label page. They can draw, write, or decorate to their hearts' content! Then they can cut and peel too, and they will have beautiful, personalized notebooks. I really believe that if they make them specific to their interests, they take greater pride in what they put in the notebooks.

If you look closely at the picture of my INB, you can see a ribbon coming out of the bottom. It's so easy to tie a ribbon to the top of the coil, then let it be used as a bookmark for their notebooks.

So that's how I'm setting up my INBs for this school year. Do you use them? Feel free to share your tips below!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Summer of Waiting

If you read my last blog post, you know that I'm leaving 5th grade to teach middle school language arts next year! I am very excited about it, but this has definitely been a summer of waiting!

I don't know which grade I'm teaching yet. I don't know what room I'm working in. I don't know much of anything... except that I have a job! (I am very grateful for that fact, by the way!)

This time of year, I'm usually already in my classroom setting up. (Teachers go back in our district on July 30th this year.) Since I can't do that, I've been doing some projects at home and hanging out with my ten-year-old son instead!

Right now I'm working on decluttering... oh my word, do you ever look around your house and think WHERE DID ALL OF THIS COME FROM?! That's kind of how I'm feeling this summer, so I'm using my downtime to get rid of things I don't love or use. That can be a pretty big undertaking!

I'm going to share some of my declutter plans for the rest of this week. This is the kind of stuff we don't make time for once the school year starts. If you're anything like me, you're going ninety miles a minute once you set foot back in your classroom!

Clean out your medicine cabinet! (For me, it's a drawer.) Get rid of any medications that are old or expired. Do you have big boxes of tablets, like children's medicine or OTC sinus meds, and they only have a couple of tablets left in there? Get rid of that big box. I have tons of big boxes of children's Tylenol and Benadryl, but the boxes aren't full anymore. By getting rid of the big boxes, I have a little more space, plus I know to stock back up on those things. You'll definitely need lots of cold and headache medicines once school starts back, so if you spend a little time decluttering, you'll be able to purchase those important items before you really need them (and are likely too sick to go out and get them!).

Declutter your makeup drawer. Maybe you're like me and have about 7 or 8 similar shades of lipstick but only stick to one or two signature colors. Repeat after me: IF I DON'T LOVE IT OR USE IT, IT'S OKAY TO THROW IT OUT. I used to have the hardest time doing that. I'd say to myself, "Oh, but I spent money on that..." Now you're just taking up space - get rid of it!

Sort out everything in your dresser drawers. I mean everything. This terrifies me. I've moved to the dreaded land of plastic bins all of my closet to contain everything from scarves to extra pajama sets. IT'S GOT TO STOP. I am pretty ruthless when it comes to getting rid of clothes I no longer wear. (I went through my hanging clothes last week and took two big bags to Goodwill today.) Now it's time to tackle the drawers. I think this is so hard for me because I have so many drawers and so much foldable stuff. I have to conquer this!

Closet time. I've done this already - but if you haven't worn it during this season, get rid of it. You're a creature of habit, and you probably won't wear it in the future. Stop lying to yourself. I know. I did it for years.

Declutter that nightstand. Why is mine so full of crap?! I think I just need to chuck it all in a garbage bag. I'm fairly certain I haven't used the drawers in months.

Those are the things I plan to tackle this week. Next week will *hopefully* be my last week not knowing what I'm doing for school next year, so it will be my last ditch week to declutter. Here's what I'll probably tackle then:

*Kitchen junk drawer (God help us all)
*Linen closet (I feel like I do this all the time and it NEVER EVER gets better)
*Laundry room (It's truly a disaster. I don't want to. But I really should.)

Do you get the urge to clean out and declutter during the summer? If you have any advice or tips, I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Moving to Middle School

I fully realize that I haven't blogged since October 2014. HOW ON EARTH do all you other bloggers balance teaching, living, AND blogging?! I am in awe of you all!

I have contemplated committing myself to one day a week to blog, but then real life pops up, and then I think about blogging, but then I say to myself, "I have nothing interesting to write about!" But I don't let my students take that attitude when it comes to writing...

So here I am. I'm going to blog more often. Hopefully. Will you hold me to it?

At any rate, here's my first blog post of 2015!

Big announcement... I'm moving to Middle School!

I've spent the entire 8 years of my career at the same elementary school. I taught 3rd grade the first two years and 5th grade for the last six. I have L-O-V-E-D teaching elementary, I loved the people I worked with, and I loved my school. So why the move?

Have you ever just felt a deep yearning in your heart for change? A desire for something different? A want for challenge?

Yup. That was me. I really found myself loving literature and teaching writing, and I felt in the deepest parts of my soul that I wanted to do that - and only that - all day long. I wouldn't have that opportunity at the elementary level, so I knew I had to move up to either middle school or high school. High school scares the bejeebers out of me, so middle school it was!

I took the GACE for middle grades and interviewed for an ELA position, and voila! Here I am - about to embark on a journey as a 7th grade ELA teacher!

Do any of you use Timehop? According to the app, I have noticed in the last couple of days that around this time in summers past, I have been working on classroom decor, new classroom ideas, cutesy organizational tools, etc. This summer is a bit different.

I don't know which classroom I'm going to be in yet. I don't know which exact classes I'm teaching. I don't really know a whole lot! For the first time ever, I'm having a hard time finding things to do this summer.

I do know that middle schoolers aren't going to want any of the cutesy-wutesy stuff of elementary school. I am, however, a firm believer in a classroom being a comfortable, beautiful place to be. I've switched my organizational tools from my sweet primary colors to more grown-up designs in red, black, gray, and white. But for other things... it's hard to plan when I haven't seen my classroom yet!

Even though I am waiting on the details, I am thrilled to become a middle school teacher. The teachers are so welcoming and fun at my new school. I am sarcastic and love to be a little crazy, so I am hopeful I will be a good fit with 7th graders.

For those of you who teach middle school, do you have any advice for me? It's a kind of surreal going from knowing the routine to embarking on something new. Any words of wisdom would be welcome!

Til next time,