Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Seven Random Things About Me and An Award!

I want to extend a BIG thank you to Pam at Pocketful of Centers and Carrie at the Common Core Classroom for giving me a new award!

I am enjoying blogging so much that getting awards from fellow bloggers is like icing on the cake...it just makes it better!

In order to accept the award I have to:

1.  Thank who nominated you. (done)
2.  Include a link back to who nominated you. (done)
3.  Include the award image in your post. (done)
4.  Give 7 random facts about yourself in your post. (see below)
5.  Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award. (almost...just 4 short!)
6.  When nominating, include a link back to their blog in your post. (done)
7.  Let the bloggers you nominate know by leaving them a comment. (done)

So let's start with the seven random things about me:

The first love of my life was Bruce Sprinsteen, I was four years old when I saw his Born in the USA video and declared to everyone that he would be my husband one day!

I was one semester away from graduating Mars Hill College with a degree in communication when I finally opened my heart to my true calling.  I switched my major, added 3 more semesters to my college career, and became a teacher within a year and a half of my epiphany!   

 I am a proud alumni sister of Sigma Alpha Chi.  To this day (eleven years after graduation) some my sigma sisters are among my closest and dearest friends.

I was born in a tiny town called Pahokkee, Florida but grew up in the GORGEOUS blue ridge mountains of N.C. and am SUPER proud to call myself a Mountain Girl! 

 I have my own Jack and Jill!  Jackson just turned 4 and Jillian is 18 months old. Being a mother is the most amazing blessing ever and I am so thankful for my two sweet bundles of joy!

I was named after Raggedy Ann!

This remains one of my favorite movies of all time!

I met my husband in a hip-hop dance club! Little Jon's song From the Window to the Wall was blasting and my husband says "the dance floor parted and there you were!" He was wearing a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and a horribly tacky belt buckle the size of his fist.  All my friends tried to make me stay away because they thought he must be crazy.  I just laughed and said "Awww...It's not like I'm gonna marry the guy!"

There you go, seven random things about me.  That was kind of fun!  Now on to the next step...

Here are my nominees:

First Day Jitters Blog Hop and TWO $25 Giveaways!

I am joining the blog hop going on at Fierce in Fourth!  Moving to a new grade level and a new school was apparently exactly what the doctor ordered because I have spent more time thinking and planning things for the school year this summer than ever before (with the exception of my very first year of teaching!)  I am also more excited about teaching than I have been in a very long time which is saying a lot because I have always loved my job and will miss my firsties in a big way! So I have a lot to be jittery about but here are my top 3:

1. Whole Brain Teaching.  I don't know any other teacher in my county who uses this (although I am sure there has to be at least one person).  I am so nervous that everyone in my school will think I am a nut and that I will quickly earn the reputation for being the annoying and overly-excited new girl.

2. Who am I going to sit by at lunch on the first day of school?  Yep, not much changes from the time you're a kiddo...what if the teacher table is full by the time I get there and I have to sit all by myself?

3. Crying kids and moms.  I haven't had to deal with that in a long time.  What am I going to do?  

So many more but I'll stop here:)  I am just so glad to have all you fellow bloggers for support, it's like the biggest and best collaborative team EVER!!!  Click on the image above to join this blog hop!

I am also headed over to this awesome teaching blog:
to join in on her $25 itunes giftcard giveaway.  I would be so excited to win!

But wait...there's ANOTHER amazing giveaway at
for an awesome and super exciting $25 dollar giveaway for TPT!!! I was so happy to find this blog, not just because she is having this great giveaway but also because she has some of the the cutest things that will go great with my monkey theme!

I probably won't win either of these because I have the most horrible track record with raffle-related prizes but hey...it's worth a shot right???  Keeping my fingers crossed:)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Linky Party- Favorite Classroom Songs

So I have decided that I want to use this blog as a virtual time for hallway chat.  Do you know what I mean when I say hallway chat?  I am talking about all the invaluable discussions and collaboration that happens in between classes, during transitions, before school, and after school when you meet up with colleagues in the hallway for that unplanned and informal collaboration time.  In fact, as I was taking a shower about two days ago (this is where some of my best ideas come to me...lol), I thought about changing the name of my blog to "Hallway Chat" but then decided that was entirely too much work and would require more time than I was willing to give!  But I think it would be a fabulous name for a teaching blog since really that is exactly what we are all doing here.  We have created the largest and busiest hallway, full of excited, talented, and creative teachers who LOVE to share.

So, today I am stepping out in the hall to ask: What songs do you use in your classroom on a regular basis?  I am particularly interested in good morning and transition songs.  I started thinking about this yesterday during my daily (or weekly...but who's counting?) run.  I heard an awesome song by Mandisa called "Good Morning".  I can just picture my little kinders starting the day by dancing to this song after or during our morning meeting...of course we would probably only do a portion of the song since it's kinda long but serioulsy, don't you think this would be a great start to the day?  I think the kiddos would especially enjoy the part featuring TobyMac rapping!

So anyway, the best way to have a virtual hallway chat is with a linky party!  So let's do it! Be sure to use this image at the top of your post to create a link back here so others can join in:  

This party is linked up to the Teaching Blog Addict's Ultimate Linky Party!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Amazing Mrs. Meacham

I wanted to take the time to make sure you have been as lucky as I have been to discover Mrs. Meacham!  I actually ran across Mrs. Meacham's website YEARS ago...way before the wonderful world of blogging.  I am not real sure why she hasn't joined in as a "newbie blogger" but perhaps it's because she already has a phenomenal website, facebook, pinterest, twitter, etc...

She has been bookmarked as one of my favorites for a long time for a variety of reasons.  She is just loaded with amazing ideas, all of which are incredibly organized, and are you ready for the best part?  She shares it all for free!!!

Among the many things I have "taken" from her website is her idea for the daily organizational binders.  She refers to them as BEE books, because it serves as an acronym for Bring Everything Everyday.  You've got to go check it out!  I know you will be as thrilled as I was, and then you will probably spend hours scoping out and downloading all the other wonderful things she has.

This is the page that can be placed close to the front of the BEE binder as an explanation to parents.  Mrs. Meacham has it as a link on her website, you can download it as a word document, change it so it works for you and save it.  This is my copy, after I made some changes to the font and what I wanted to include.  You can click on the image to download a copy or just hop on over to Mrs. Meacham's Classroom Snapshots and get her original.

In these pics she uses a folder but I like to use a three-ring binder because the little kiddos can be easily trained to take out and insert things throughout the year! I also use a plastic sleeve protector in the front rather than a pencil holder.  I leave many of the things out of the BEE binders but use quite a bit of what she has.


 See all these pages?  She gives you a copy of each one for you to use and edit as you wish.  AMAZING!!!:) Thank you Mrs. Meacham for being so willing to share and for making such an impact in my own classroom:)

She even has her own youtube channel.  This is one of my favorite videos on her channel!


She also has an entire page full of amazing mini-offices you can download and create for your own classroom:


And last but certainly not least, I follow her pins on pinterest and let me tell you, I might as well not even worry about pinning anything for myself.  I just go to her boards and find just about anything I need!:)

So Jessica, if you happen to read this post...don't worry I'm not a stalker!  Well at least not in the scary way, just in the -teacher anxious for fabulous ideas-way:) 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

Wow!  I feel so honored.  I got nominated for the "One Lovely Blog Award" by two of my fabulous new follwers! Huge thanks to Ms. Pasqua's Kinder and Ms. G in Grade 3!

For receiving this award I have to...
1. Follow the person who gave me the award...
2. Link back to the person that gave me the award...
3. Pass to 15 new bloggers and then let them know they have received the award...

I am passing the award to these WONDERFUL bloggers...

Krazy Fun Teaching with Mrs. Kacz

Splish! Splash! Ms. Lander's Second Grade Class

Write on, Fourth Grade!

My Silly Firsties

Our Future is Bright

The School Potato

Moore News: Hoppin' Into Second Grade

From the Desk of...

Diary of a First Year Teacher
Spotted in First Grade

The Groovy Teacher

Primary Paradise

Teacher's Toolkit

Darling Little Learners

Second Grade is Sweet

Thanks again for the nomination.  It puts a smile on my face!:)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Classroom and Behavior Management

I'm linking up with The Lesson Plan Diva to share my classroom and behavior management system.  You should head on over there...she has some great stuff:)

The Lesson Plan Diva

Let me begin this post by first stating how incredibly important I think it is to realize that what works for one teacher may or may not work for another.  So for any new teacher reading this post, learn to pick and choose.  Find what works best for you and make it happen.

Although there have been MANY things during my teaching career that I have been unsure of (ideas, lessons, certain books, parent communication, etc.) my ability to run a smooth and well managed classroom has never been one of them.  In fact, I've always taken a little pride in knowing that this is the one thing I do really well.  Don't get me wrong, I have some doozy stories about "crazy" kids and I have had many nights where I have gone home and quickly reached for a tall glass of wine my prayer journal, but those are the kids we will always remember and who have made an everlasting imprint on our hearts!

First I will preface by saying The First Days of School by Harry Wong was incredibly influential during my first 9 years of teaching.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I read that book thoroughly from cover to cover before ever teaching my first class, I had sticky notes and highlights through the whole book and then every year before returning to school I would pull it back out and read over all those notes and highlights.  Last year was the first year that I did not pull it out because at this point I am pretty sure I have it memorized!  I left it laying in the middle of the desk (sticky notes and all) for the teacher who is taking over my room.  She will be a first year teacher and I hope it will be as valuable to her as was to me.

I firmly believe that it is much easier to "lighten up" as the year progresses rather than "tighten down."  It is important to set a calm, organized, comfortable and welcoming environment from day one.  I use a friendly but confident voice that rarely raises to a volume that could be considered "yelling", in fact the only time I ever yell is when I need to be heard over a large crowd.  I form a relationship with my students by letting them know who I am.  I speak to them as people rather than little kids who have no business knowing about my personal life.  They learn to think of me as a friend.  I spend time at least once a week during morning meeting (usually Monday) telling them about what is going on the Ziegler house.  They hear all about my two kids and my crazy husband.  They know them all by names and could tell you at least one funny story about each one.  I frequently have past students from YEARS ago come up to me and say "How's Charlie" or "How's Jackson".  My family becomes theirs (in a sense).  Comrade is an important tool, my kids are respectful towards me because I am their friend and the last thing they want to do is disappoint me.

Okay, so enough about my personal philosphy on this topic.  Let's get to the stuff you really want to hear!

Thanks to the inspiration of my AMAZING mentor teacher with whom I did my student teaching, I have used the same system every year in every grade level (1st -3rd) with just a few tweaks each year. I will write about the way it was used in my first grade classroom:

I use a fake money system.  It used to be called "Cordell Cash" (my maiden name) but then it turned to "Class Cash".  I think this year it will be "Class Coins" because as a K teacher we will deal mostly with pennies.  Students earn money for a variety of things but the most common way is by being responsible.  They get a penny every morning for showing up and having their daily calendar initialed.  If they don't have it, they don't get paid.  No big deal.  No big fuss.  They just don't get paid.  I explain to them that I have to be responsible for my job if I want to get paid.  If I don't do the work, I won't make the money.

They will earn another penny at the end of every day if they have followed classroom expectations all day.  So each student gets 2 pennies every day...unless they didn't get the initial or they didn't make good choices throughout the day.  Part of our classroom discussion on the first day of school when we are going over procedures, etc. is how important it is for them to get a parent initial each night.  The initial is my way of knowing parents are looking inside the daily communication folder EVERY DAY.  I teach my kids that it is THEIR responsibility to have it signed, if they have to "chase their parents around the house with the calendar at night" then so be it.  For the nay-sayers who are reading this and shaking their head and thinking it is completely unfair of me to expect such a thing of six year olds...I have 9 years of documentation to prove that is is possible and it does indeed work.  You have to have faith in your kiddos. Your students will almost always rise to your expectations...so make them high:)

They earn additonal money throughout the day for various reasons.  They can also LOSE money throughout the day.  Students keep track of their behavior with the following behavior "chart":

I tried the trendy idea of moving clips up for good and super behavior one year.  It was a complete disaster for me.  I would always forget to move clips up so it ended up being an "ambassador" of favoritism.  I applaud those who make it work!

The yellow warning is nothing more than just that...a warning.  The other two speak for themselves.   I can say with complete honesty that it is VERY RARE for a student to ever get to "STOP".  Time out of recess means the student would pace for the first 5 or 10 or 15 minutes (depending on the severity of the crime) rather than play.  Pacing is wonderful because the student is being active by walking but not getting the free play time that he/she loves the most!  I don't' know how it works in other states but in N.C. there is a law that says all students must receive 30 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis.  This means no "sit-outs" in N.C.!  Students who have their clips on GO at the end of the day get a check in their daily calendar.  Students who are on Oops or Stop will get an X with an explanation for their parents to read and initial.  This is a copy of my daily behavior calendar (click on the image for a link):

Students have two weeks to save their money.  At the end of every other week we have a class auction.  This is the BEST part of the plan.  Kids love it!  I fill a bag with enough items for each student in the classroom plus two or three extras.  Items come from donations and or things I bring from home that would have been trashed at some point.  Items also come from those gifts you get from people and you have no idea what you would ever use them for....well now you do!  They can go in the auction bag.  You would be surprised by things that get the kids excited.  Picture frames (the cheap paper one from the dollar store that come in a pack of three), shower loofahs, calculators, the fake credit cards we all get in the mail and throw away, and Yoo Hoo's (those fake chocolate milk drinks) are always a HUGE hit with my kids.  Class made coupons for things such as "sit at the teacher desk" and "keep a bottle of water at your desk" also make AWESOME auction items and they are completely free.  In fact a few of my colleagues who had decided to adopt the same management plan ended up using ONLY class coupons for their auctions and they were apparently a smashing success:)  So, you present the items up for auction to your students, one item at a time and then leave them laying in sight of the class.  Hold the extra 2 or 3 items in the bag until the very end.  After they have seen all their choices you begin by holding up the first item and asking for a bid.  The student who is willing to give the most money for that item...wins!  Each student gets one item and can no longer bid until every one in the classroom has something.  Once every student has an item you can reveal the last 2 or 3 for those who may have money left over.    So they learn the concept of saving, they learn that is important to earn their money and not lose it for being irresponsible or for making bad choices (the same lesson we learn fully as adults), they learn about exchanging 5 pennies for one nickel, or 10 for a dime, etc. , It builds coin recognition and money counting skills.  The life lessons built into this behavior management system are endless!   

The money also works wonders for bribery!  For instance: "If you bring your field trip permission form back TOMORROW you will get 3 extra pennies!", "Any child who gets their mom, dad, babysitter, older sister etc, to comment on our class blog, you will earn an extra penny!", "An extra penny for every person in the group who shows the best collaboration and listening skills!"  The mere sound of my hand going into the class coin container can make my class completely silent in just a matter of seconds.

TIP: I use a vegetable tray with a lid similar to this one to store my coins... 

This is a copy of the paper I send home at the beginning of the year explaining this system and my expectations to the parents.  Click on the image for a link to the document.  Hope it's helpful to you!

This will be the first time I've tried the fake money in Kindergarten so I am sure I will have to tweak it quite a bit, especially in the beginning.  Any thoughts from you?

WOW!  This post has a lot of words!  Sorry if I said too much, I have that problem sometimes:)

And the Winner Is....

YAY!! 25 followers! What a great way to start my morning. As promised, it is time for the Picture Book Giveaway.  Out of my 25 fabulous followers, 16 left comments and/or links so I made a list of those 16 followers (starting with the first comment/link back to this giveaway as number one) and then entered the number 16 in the random number generator to see which follower would win.  And the Winner is...
The 16th follower to leave a comment and link and guess what, that just happens to be my 25th follower!  Congratulations to Tina at 

Laugh Live Love LEARN

I am so excited for you.  The books will be shipped ASAP, hope you enjoy that new book smell as much as I do!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

First Day of Kindergarten Linky Party

Okay, all you marvelous Kindergarten teachers out there; I am calling on you for help!  I still have a whole month before school starts (and most of that will be spent setting up my new classroom) but I can't stop wondering about those first few weeks of K, especially the very first day.  So If you have a post on your blog about your first day of kindergarten plans then this party is for you!  If you don't have a post yet, take the time to write it all down and share with the rest of us.  I can't wait to read all of your fantastic ideas!

I know it is most common for the creator of a linky party to post her own thoughts and ideas but I haven't taught K for YEARS so I honestly have no idea what my plans will look like for the first few days!  That's why I am creating this party.  I have also linked up with the Teaching Blog Addict's Ultimate Linky Party. Be sure to copy the image above at the top of your post and link it back to this post so others can join in.  Let's see how many link-ups we can get!

Picture Book Giveaway Reminder

I'm almost there friends! Just 7 more followers to go before I can do the drawing for the picture book giveaway. I am so excited about meeting so many new and fabulous teachers!

The Liebster Blog Award

Wow!  A big thanks to Mrs. Kacz at Krazy Fun Teaching with Mrs. Kacz for awarding me with the Leibster Blog award.   This is an award for new bloggers who have less than 200 bloggers. It's hard to build up your followers and I really appreciate the nomination!! Now here's my chance to pass it on to some other fellow bloggers...

Here are the rules:
1. Copy and paste the award onto your blog.
2. Thank the giver and link back to them.
3. Reveal 5 other bloggers and let them know by commenting on their blog.
  I would like to pass the award on to these awesome blogs:

I'm joining up with another linky party! Grade 3 is the Place for Me is hosting a linky party for new bloggers! All you have to do when you link up is to answer the following questions:

1. what state you are in
2. your current teaching position
3. your teaching experience
4. when you started blogging
5. share a blogging tip / blogging resource

Here are my answers: 
1. North Carolina
2. Kindergarten
3. This will be eleventh year of teaching. I have taught in four different schools and have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach all grades K-3!
4. I started blogging two weeks ago and added this blog hop on July 22, 2012
5. Blog Hopping is the best way to learn! There are so many blogs with tips and pointers. Many blogs will even have tabs at the top for "techy things".

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Symbaloo Who???

Oh do I have some awesome things for you!  I went to a SMART conference today.  The goal of the conference was to give you training and resources to use in a SMART ready classroom.  What I mean is...a room with a SMART board, SMART response, etc..  But guess what?  You don't have to have a SMART board to use all this stuff.  Anyone with a projector (for the classroom) or a computer (for at home use) can enjoy the things I want to share with you tonight!

How many of you have heard of symbaloo.com? Surely I am not the only one who heard of it today for the first time ever.  It is so AWESOME and will definitely be helpful to me this year.  It's like a pinterest board for websites, but it looks like the screen of an iphone or ipad with all the apps just ready to be tapped.

I haven't had the time to set up my own for sharing yet, but trust me, I will have my own symbaloo very soon!  This is a picture of the symbaloo created by one of my trainers today.  You can click on the image and it will link you to her symbaloo.  This particular one is set up for interactive white board activities.  But notice that the top of the page has several tabs so symbaloo can be used for any category you'd like!

I want to tell you about some other great resources but think I will have to save those for tomorrow because my eyes are getting a bit droopy.  Little man came waltzing into the my room at 6am this morning, wide awake and ready to party, 6 am was a long time ago...

I go back to the conference tomorrow and will share all the great things they share with me this weekend.  I will go ahead and point you  in the direction of another awesome resource. This is a GREAT site for interactive online actvities for k-2 and are you ready for the best news....they are all aligned to common core...WOO HOO!:)  Thank you Utah!

For those of you who aren't teachers but have young kids of your own, you'll love this one as well!  Again, just click on the image:

REMINDER:  Don't forget to spread the word about the Picture Book Giveaway...the drawing will take place as soon as I get to 25 followers, just 15 more to go!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Picture Book Giveaway!

Alright my friends!  I spent the last two days packing up my classroom and U-Hauling it over to my new school.  You should have seen the janitors face when we rolled the door of the U-Haul up and he saw all my stuff.  It was priceless. He was in charge of finding a place for me to store it all until I can get into my room in August.  He looked at me and said "This is all YOUR stuff to go into the room that already has all that other stuff?"  I couldn't help but laugh!  Then my sweet hubby, his crazy friend/cop buddy, and my friend/neighbor/babysitter all worked super hard to help me get it all unloaded onto three different pallets.  It did not fit.  There was overflow...and a lot of it!

The good news for all my fellow teachers, moms, and friends who love books as much as I do is that I found an entire tub full of BRAND NEW books that have never been used.  I had completely forgotten about the tub of books that I have had since my second year of teaching.  I never put them in my library for one simple reason.  I wanted to add my dot stickers (used for organizational purposes) but just never made the time to do it!  So now my laziness becomes great news for one lucky winner.  I went through the tub and chose six great titles for this...my very first giveaway!

All you have to do to enter is:  

1) Become a follower and leave a comment

2) If you are already a follower, just post a link to this giveaway on your own blog, then leave a comment letting me know you did

3)If you are a follower but don't have your own blog, please share a link (to this giveaway or my blog) on facebook, twitter, or even pinterest and then leave a comment letting me know

I hope that makes it fair to everyone...if you think of something else I need to include in the entry guidelines please let me know!:)

That's it!  My goal is to reach 25 followers before school starts. It's a small goal, I know, but one I am excited about!  The drawing will take place as soon as that goal is reached!:)  I will use the random number generator to choose the winner.

Here are the six books that will go home with the winner.  Shipping paid by yours truly (although I confess that I really don't have to pay anything...I have connections in the shipping world...kinda!)  So here they are....they even have that awesome "new book" smell! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Beach Bummed and Whole-Brain Teaching

Yes, you read that title correctly.  Rather than Beach Bum, I am completely bummed about no longer being at the beach!  Our time there was nothing short of amazing.  I never could have imagined how joyful and magical it is to be with an over-excited four year old boy the first time he sees the ocean and experiences the beach.  I wish I could have somehow taken all that excitement and stuffed it in a bottle for safe keeping.  My one year old little girl was so enthralled that she became exhausted by all the new sights and sounds within hours, and she spent the majority of the time sleeping on the beach.  I was a little jealous.

Although I would like to say I became completely immersed in the joys of our first family vacation, I am sure you won't be surprised to know I spent a great deal of time thinking about my classroom, my new blog, and all the work that needs to be done.  It's what we all do...we can never stop thinking about it completely.  Teachers quickly learn that what we do is much more than a "job", it becomes part of who we are, teaching is not for the faint of heart nor those who simply want a paycheck.

So part of what made our trip so incredible is that one of my nearest and dearest friends joined us with her husband and two kids.  Traci was my roommate after college graduation and we have been "besties" ever since.  I bet you'll never guess what she does for a living.  Or...maybe you will.  LOL!   She is a kindergarten teacher!!!  So naturally I spent some time picking her brain and getting some fabulous ideas.  I am super excited about the plans I made to be in her class on her first day of school.  She lives in a different county and starts two weeks before we do.  So I get to sit in her class and observe (and of course help when needed).  I am overly excited.  Once you get your own classroom, when do you ever get the chance to observe others?  NEVER.  I haven't stepped foot in a kindergarten classroom for longer than a quick minute since I first started teaching ten years ago.  I can't wait to visit Traci's class.  I will also spend some time with one of her close colleagues who uses a lot of the whole-brain or power-teaching methods.  I am really intrigued by everything I have read and watched on whole-brain teaching so am also very excited about observing her! What do you think about whole-brain teaching?  Have you ever used it?  Do you like it?  Does it work?

Here are a few youtube videos if you want to see it in action.  Don't you think it looks like fun?  I know if I were a student in a whole-brain teaching classroom, I would be engaged!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Preparing for the Move

I went into my current classroom the other day to begin the process of packing up.  I forgot how much stuff I have.  Ughhh.  I spent the majority of the time just staring around the room trying to figure out where to start and the rest of the time was spent thinking about where I will put this stuff in my new classroom.  So, I got very little packing done, which is unfortunate because I won't have another opportunity to get back in there until next Tuesday.  Oh wait, did I say "unfortunate"?  Let me suck those words back in because there is NOTHING unfortunate about going to the beach which is the reason why I can't get back into my classroom until next Tuesday!:)

I did have the chance to talk to the teacher who will be taking my place, teaching first grade in the school I am leaving.  I am incredibly excited for her. She is a first year teacher (well...kinda....she has been an assistant for many years and has been the computer teacher for a long time, but she has never had a class of her own).  Regardless, I was happy to spend some time with her and answer all the questions she had about first grade, the curriculum, classroom management, organization tips, etc.  She is feeling a bit overwhelmed (and we can all relate to that feeling) as she is trying to wrap her mind around all the work that goes into getting a classroom ready, in addition to the many trainings she will go through over the next month or so.  My advice to her was this: Just make the classroom presentable and functional for now.  At this time it is more important to focus most of your attention on the curriculum and how you will teach it.  All the rest will come with time.

 I also told her a lesson I have learned about classroom setup as this will be my seventh classroom!  Always start by setting up your "teaching hub" first; this is the space you do most of your teaching from.  If you have an interactive whiteboard (which she does), this needs to be your starting point.  Turn the projector on and set that area up as if you are going to teach a lesson right then.  Keep the projector going as you are arranging the room so that you will be able to make sure it is viewable for every child in the classroom.

These are just a couple of the lessons I have learned over the years:)   I will try very hard to keep these lessons forefront in my mind as I work on setting up my own room.  I have been obsessing over the layout of my new classroom ever since visiting it for the first time on Monday.  So, of course I did what all good slightly OCD teachers do; I made a list.  I used the pictures from my previous post to make a list of every piece of furniture in the room.  Then I sketched an outline of the classroom and played around with the setup....

 I think I actually have a pretty good plan.  I can't wait to get in there to see if it will work out the way I have envisioned it!  The good news is that I can get in there now to start putting things in cabinets and working on wall displays.  The bad news is that I can't arrange the furniture until the week of August 6th.   The situation could be worse....I will still have a full week to work in the room before the workdays begin.  I need to have it all done before the first workday on August 20th because EVERY workday has been reserved for professional development.  Crazy....right?!?!

Well, friends...it's off for a toes-in-the-sand kinda of trip! I'll be back next week:)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Blank Slate!

Oh my, I am so excited!  I just saw my new classroom for the first time and am overly anxious to get in there and start making it mine.  I also found out some fantastic news....it looks like I will be able to get my room set up BEFORE mid-August.  WOO HOO!!!!

Don't you just love moving in for the first time, when everything is still so bare and empty?  I have always been a huge fan of any kind of makeover shows because I LOVE before and after projects.  This will be my 7th classroom so I should be pretty good at this moving stuff by now!:)  Here are some pics of my classroom right now.  The room is bigger than the pics portray, it's always so hard to get the different angles.  Can't wait for after pictures!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tour of my First Grade Classroom

Although I will not be teaching first grade this year; I thought I would share pics of my first grade classroom just in case someone sees something they like. One of my very favorite things to do is visit other classrooms (in real life or online) to get ideas. So I am happy to welcome you into mine. These pictures were taken just before Meet the Teacher night so some things look kinda bare since I like to start with a blank canvas (of sorts) before adding things with the kids. You will also notice that everything looks so neat and tidy....if only it stayed like that ALL the time! I added captions but if you see something you want to know more about don't be afraid to ask! FYI: If you click on the picture it will enlarge on your screen:)

Our meeting area

Standing in the front of the room, looking out toward two tables and our meeting area

The teachers corner (my space), students are taught from day one that they are only allowed in this corner if I am with them:)
The Entrance
View from the back
This picture gives you a good idea of just how HUGE my room was!
Side view. In the left hand corner of the picture are the boys and girls cubbies. They are on wheels, which is AWESOME because you can place them wherever you want them to be!

My small group table and our word family wall. This wall was inspired by some word walls at Caleb's Creek Elementary in Winston Salem, NC. I would give credit to specific teachers but I am sad to say I have no idea who actually deserves the credit. My collegues and I were at a workshop last summer at Caleb's Creek and walked around the school during break time to see teacher classrooms and get some ideas. This was one of the fantastic things we saw! I used the idea for my word family wall. It does not replace the high frequency word wall which is in the front of the classroom. I will blog more about what we do with word families in a separate post!
Aghh...it looks so bare from this angle...but remember it was before school actually started! LOL
I just put my donation station on the white board (easy set-up and easy take-down). Parent's could choose from two categories on the board: "Help us meet our needs" and "Make our dreams come true". The sign reads: If you would like to donate one of the items on the sticky notes, please remove the sticky note from the board and send the item in whenever you wish! Thank you.
These are our leveled take home readers. Students go to the basket with their just right level on Monday mornings and choose two books for the week.

I have to give credit to my amazing colleague Mrs. Kacsmarek over at Krazy Fun Teaching with Mrs. Kacz for this one. You can grab her button on the side bar! Use these super cheap photo frames for signs that parents need to see on Meet the Teacher.
Our writing station
This was my first year trying the bucket filling idea. It pretty much went unnoticed (thanks to my own forgetfullness) the first half of the year but boy was it useful when those kiddos came back after Christmas. I think they must have been tired of each other because they suddenly started being incredibly mean. So I rolled this bulletin board to the front of the room and we re-read
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? and started using it. Wow, it sure did make a difference! You can learn more about bucket filling HERE.
Our reading center
This what the student desks look like when they get to see them for the first time on Meet the Teacher
The reading center with easy access from either side!:)

Part of our math station

The reading center from a child's view:)

Our Jobs Chart. I sit my students in groups and name each group after a day of the week. Each group has a "gopher" each week that is in charge of getting any supplies that the group needs for work throughout the day. The gophers are switched out at the beginning of each week along with the jobs for each week.

Our crazy 6 day rotation for specials. I found that an easy way to keep up with it was with this pocket chart. We moved the big red arrow down each morning so we would know where to go!
A posted schedule is essential for little people (the truth is we all want to know what to expect ahead of time). For first grade, I kept it simple by just naming the subject or activity on each card. We would go over the schedule every morning during our meeting.
I promise to have a separate blog explaining my classroom behavior plan. I have used the same one for 10 years, with just a few tweaks depending on the grade level I happen to be teaching. I LOVE IT and it WORKS! Here are our five basic rules. I adopted these rules while teaching at Glenn C. Marlow Elementary School in Fletcher, NC. Oh, how I miss that school! It was there that I spent the first five years of my teaching career and boy was I lucky, it is such an amazing place to be (as a teacher or as a student)!

I can't wait to tell you all about my behavior system. Wait until you hear about the auction...kids LOVE it, it teaches great economic skills, and it's cheaper than keeping your treasure box stocked with shiny new toys all year long. Keep your eyes open for a post on this. If you are anxious to hear about it now, just let me know and I'll get the information to you as soon as possible!