Thursday, August 30, 2012

Monday Made It - Where we Learn...a Tour of my Room

Monday Made It has never been so satisfying. I'm going to give you a little tour so you can see all the things I've been making!

It's taken fo' evah to get my room close to being done. I finally snapped some shots today. Wanna see?

Ha! That's not my room. That's ME. And this is what our beginning of the year photos looked like. I wish I had looked in the mirror first, because that 'stache is spread really far apart! And check out that gross vein on my color bone. Creepy!

What? 'nough 'staches? Ok, onto the good stuff.

This is my door. Do you like the lime green paint? I do! Because my room is this crazy color I decided to make all of my borders the same color and pattern. I used my Mustache Fun Classroom kit. The boards are for assignment notebooks, jobs and that sort of thing. I made the cursive alphabet, the job chart (which you can hardly see) and the tags for the assignment board.

I have a thing for Albert Einstein. Not a weird sexy thing, but like, a thing. I think he's the cat's pajamas. Even though he is the father of the atomic bomb.

This is clockwise from the last photo. My smartboard is acting up so I'm not very happy with it. It's lucky it made the photo shoot. I would put it in the corner on a stool if I could lift it. The rack below it is my "Hot Reads". Those are the books I read over the summer, and I loved every one. Next to the smartboard are the handsignal posters I created. Next to the clock is our birthday board. Close ups and directions on how I made it will be coming soon!

I ditched my sweet 1940's wooden desk because I'm a "desk hoarder". I never knew my affliction had a diagnoses. When I have a desk with drawers I fill the drawers up with crap until I can't get the drawers open. I went to IKEA and bought a $20 table and put everything I need into organizer drawers.

I feel a B.Y.O.O. comin' on!!

Did you notice the speakers? I have a sweet pair of Rolands because I l-o-o-o-v-e to listen to Pandora.

This is the same corner where my table is, and you can see my small group table. See the organizer drawers behind the chair? The CAFE posters are part of the OWLS classroom kit I designed. The flowers are from my garden. The giant piles of sh!t are from Scholastic. Thanks for the duplicate  triplicate catalogs!

I created two display spaces on the back wall. This one says "How Pinteresting". We are going to use this space to categorize and sort. We will put whatever it is onto posters that look like pinboards. I'm loving this idea! After all, why would we all love Pinterest so much if it wasn't for the fact that we need to sort and categorize because that's how we make sense of the world.

See Albert?

This is the space that holds my classroom library/ The neon bins are all non-fiction. I spent a great deal of my budget on those red baskets, and wouldn't you know I ran out of money without being able to house all of my books in them? The are from Really Good Stuff and they are actually Really Bad Bins. They were expensive and are more cheaply made than the bins in the dollar aisle.

I mean, they look nice from afar. They just don't look $3 apiece nice up close.

I just realized that I forgot to take a photo of the reading area in front of the library. I have an old couch, lots of pillows, and it is college-dorm cool.

This is a little nook that will be a flex space. It will serve as a quiet working area, a small group instruction area, and a computer lab. Our fish Mrs. Smith, Mr. Behnke, Bubbles and Kirby live here, too. The buns will be back here when they return from summer vacation.

I made the crate seats, and they hold our clipboard and other junk.

Almost done! We are back to the door. Our mailboxes are here, stacked on top of two cement blocks painted red. The tub is for box tops. The magnetic boards are cookie sheets, done up with a little Mod Podge. There is one for notes, and the other is our "bathroom/nurse/errand pass". Let's look at it up close.

Each student has a number, and each number is glued to the underside of a flattened glass bead with a magnet on the back. Whenever a kid goes anywhere, they put their number on the corresponding tag. This way I can quickly look and see where all my kiddos are and I will never lose a pass to the toilet again.

That's it! It seems rather small and unimpressive after being chopped up into little photos. But it's really very nice. It will be even sweeter when it's filled with my kiddos on Tuesday.

A big shout out to the following bloggers who have created linky's for showing off our rooms. Thank you!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Aye yi yi!!

Is that how you spell it? You know, I'm not really sure. And I'm not even really sure if I look it up I'll get an answer. Let's try.


Apparently I'm not the only one wondering. By the way, while I was doing the screen capture I realized that my downloads folder was wayyyyyy too full. So I started deleting files, and that was 10 minutes ago. I have now not only digressed from my original thoughts for this post, I have digressed from the digression. Do you know what that means? 

School is starting back up! September is scatter-brain month for me. 

So how would you spell Aye yi yi? 
Warning: if you are curious enough to google it yourself, do not, I repeat DO NOT click on the Aye Yi Yi you tube video. Aye yi yi is right. 

Digressing again.

Today was our (as in teachers) first day back. We have Open House tomorrow night, and my room is SO not ready. I am SO not ready. I know I will be, because we always are, right? 

I was really hoping that today I would be taking pics of my room to post "Where I Work", but since it still looks like a bomb went off I passed. Maybe tomorrow? 

I hope everyone out there is groovin' the new school year. Even if you are just in-servicing it. Even if you are just getting your room ready. 

Holy Tamoles, have you seen Tonya's Give-away at Tonya's Treats for Teachers? Holy Schmizoles!!

500 is a pretty rad number. I'm so totally in awe! Seriously, go check out her site. You won't regret it! You might win something B-I-G (see my little logo in there??!!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Freebie Friday - Blog Hoppin' Linky

What's better than FREEBIES??!!

Yes, yes I know...chocolate. But let's stick to the subject.


Click on the photo and it will take you where you want to go!

Make words with long vowel sounds in kit. Perfect for D5!!

The CAFE posters in my OWL Classroom Kit Theme....
and it's matching sister....

I Spy with my Writer's Eye editing posters

Get fluent with those "doubles" addition facts!

Pencil Toppers "Birthday Balloons" in my Mustache Fun Classroom Kit theme

Happy Freebie Shopping!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Hab a Code

Summer cold, oh how I hate you. Why do you ignore me all summer, when I can sleep and rest and lounge? Why, oh why, do you come to stay the two weeks before school starts?

Stuffy, sleepy, congested, miserable.

To make matters THE WORST, I took Nyquil last night to see if it would clear my sinuses. M.i.s.t.a.k.e.

Silver lining: better today than two weeks from today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Novice Blogger #3 - time delayed posting

Staci (a.k.a. Miss Squirrels) from over at Going Nutty in First Grade tipped me off to this super cool option in Blogger.

(this is how I picture her at Christmastime)

You can time delay a post to publish later, automatically.

Think of the ramifications. The time saved, the panic averted.

I'm not even writing this up on the day I am going to post it. Sneaky shenanigans!

This is how it works.
See the list of options under post settings?

Click on Schedule. Select "set date and time". Choose the day and time you want your post to publish!

Want to know a secret? I think this is how the Super Bloggers roll. My suspicion is that they write up a bunch of posts, polish them, and then set them to publish during a time when they know they will be too busy to write. You, too, can roll like the big dogs!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Made It

Oooooh, my favorite time of the week! A big shout out to Tara at 4th Grade Frolics her
marvelous Monday Made It linky!

There is a reason everybody is doing them.....

I couldn't resist making birthday pencil toppers. 

Here is what I needed:
  • bin ($2.50 Target Dollar Aisle)
  • florist foam ($2 Dollar Tree)
  • Pencils ($2 Dollar Tree)
  • Mod Modge
  • tape
  • printed and laminated pencil toppers
  • printed bin label
Total Cost: $6

1. I Mod Podged the bin label to the front of the bin

2. I glued the florist foam into the bottom of the bin

3. I taped the pencil toppers to the pencils (on the back!)

4. Then I stuck the pencils into the foam, like a bouquet


Now I know you are dying with curiosity about the mustache in the frame. It's a singing mustache card. We had given one to my Olivia for her birthday, but she wouldn't give it up to me. I bought my own at Target for a whopping $7. $7 for a card?! Only for a singing mustache would I pay that kind of money. 

I tore the back off the card. Then I put some 'stache scrapping paper in the frame without the glass. A few dabs of glue later and THIS is what my kids will get to play on their birthday (no regular old "happy birthdays" in my room, no sir).

Because I am a happy mustachio I am throwing this out there for free for all my mustachio-ed friends. 

Because, really, who doesn't want to have a Magical Mustache Day?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Novice Blogger #2 - comments and links

This one took me for-EVAH to figure out. I actually went out and scoured the web looking for the answer.
(yes, like I put on my coat and grabbed an umbrella and went out to scour the web. The internet has obviously become a very real for me.)

How does one get their blog link to  show up in as a signature in comments?

See how below my name it says the name of my blog? That's a hyperlink to my blog. Just in case someone wants to come visit me, see who this weirdo commenter is.

I thought for sure there was some setting, but I could never find anything. Since signatures happen to be such an important thing for us bloggies, you would just think that Blogger would have some built-in widget that makes it all super easy. Not so much.

But it really isn't hard. Here's what you do.

When you are finished writing your comment and have signed your name, you copy and paste this into the comment:

<a href="">Peacocks & Penguins</a>

But....don't leave it like that. Unless you want everyone to think my blog is yours. To fix that, you change peacocksandpenguins to your blog name. It breaks down like this:

<a href="">Peacocks & Penguins</a>

The part in red should be your blog address. The part in blue is what you want the text to say.
And that is how you get a hyperlink to your blog in your signature in comments.

I keep the tag on a post-it on my desktop. That way I always have it available to copy and paste.

Just double check your work when you are done, so that if you ever need to go back and take a screen capture of one of your own comments for a blog post, you don't get something like this:


Saturday, August 18, 2012

B.Y.O.O. #2 - B.ring Y.our O.wn O.rganization

Now if only my laundry could organize itself.

Curriculum and Cupboards

Let's start with some perspective. This was my counter last year. Look at how gross it looks. 

I showed you my ugliness in hopes that my swan-ness while shine ever brighter when you see my pics below (No! Don't Peek! Shenangins!)

It's not so bad, right? Except that those bottles of green juice had been sitting there 2 weeks. 2 WEEKS! And that stack of paper? Like, months

How many times have you had to dig through cupboard after cupboard, swearing under your breath that "I know I put it in here!", while a colleague stood by and waited for you to find what she needed to borrow?

That is the story of my life. 

Before brand-new-chances, that is.

When I inherited my brand-new-chances classroom it was delightfully empty. In this photo you can see the few things that are in the room, and they are actually mine. 

But look closer. Look in the bottom right hand corner. Those are boxes of curriculum. From storage. They were all brought down for me. All? "But," you say, "there are only 7." well, the boxes were like an iceberg. You can only see a small portion. The rest is hiding off camera, waiting to take me down. Like the Titanic.

There were 20-some boxes in all. Just curriculum. Boy, 4th grade sure does teach a lot of stuff!. It needed a home.

Goal: To have things *findable* in my classroom. No Map Required. No digging necessary.
Objective: Teaching materials have a home

  • I started by checking the cupboards to make sure any last little thing had been taken out.
  • Next I opened boxes and made piles. Math over here, writing here, social studies there.
  • I threw out the stuff that looked like junk. (This later was cause for dumpster diving.)
  • I looked at my piles, and then at my open cupboards. Piles, cupboards. Piles, cupboards. It was like a tennis match.
  • When I knew where I thought things should go, I marked each door with the subject. There would be no mistaking where things were going to live, and I wouldn't accidentally put math where writing should be.

It was easy to stick things in the right cupboards. But what about the right shelves?

I labeled those, too.

(I am almost vibrating with glee just looking at these pictures!)

Everything was put away. I wanted anyone who came into my room to be able to find what they needed. I made labels for the cabinets, and then for the shelves.

Boy, looking at these makes me feel all tightened up like a squirrel. I've never been so organized EVER. '

This may seem like a little thing, and it is. But little things eventually add up to big things.

Soooo.......FREEBIES for you!! 
Ahem..let me clear my throat and put on my best Vidal Sassoon voice.

"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful. These too can be yours, dahlings."

Teachers Pay Teachers is an excellent avenue for sharing the items we all create. I love that I have a website store that was so simple to set up, and is straightforward and easy to post items.  Interested in sharing or selling your own items on Teachers Pay Teachers? I'd love to see you there! Please use my referral code if you decide to check it out!

First, Fourth -

Here's a plug for the newest blog I'm following. 

Think for a nice would it be to be able to laminate at home? Seriously. Raise your hand if your school laminator is a dinosaur. Raise your other hand if it requires all kinds of begging, pleading, petting, complimenting, pulling, pushing, and swearing. 

Problem SOLVED. Check out Sara from Swimming in Second. She is doing a {drum roll, please} LAMINATOR give-away! Now rush on over and get yourself entered!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Novice Blogger #1

A-hem.*cough* ((((blush))))

Hello, my name is Heather and I am a novice blogger.  ("Hello, Heather....")

It looks so easy, right? Right. I read through tons of blogs, and it looks so simple. All these gadgets and tricks, am I right? Buttons and links and signatures.

Shhhhhh, lean in close. I'm going to tell you a secret.
It really is kinda hard.

But I'm here to help. The blind leading the blind.

Check out what I learned today?
And this is with a big shout out to Amanda and Jenny. Make sure you run along after reading this post and say "thanks!" to them for enlightening me and in turn you.

No-Reply Blogger.

That's what they called me. As in, "shhhh, I think she might be a no-reply blogger."

How would I know? Well, it's easy to tell once you know what to look for. When you leave a comment on someone's blog they might reply back. It's a friendly and polite thing to do. But will you ever know that they replied back? If you are a No-Reply Blogger, then you might never know. How awful! All those sad, lonely words, floating about in cyberland with no way to find their intended.

Want to know if you are a No-Reply Blogger? Really, it's better to know since you can fix it.
It's like having head lice. It's embarrassing when you find out, but everything is a-ok when it's gone. So head over to Teaching With Love and read this very enlightening and problem solving post.

Really, it's like one of those electric combs. Just turn it on and your problems are solved.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Math Centers and Intervention

The Common Core has got us all thinking through smaller lenses in math; we aren't used to thinking in strands and breaking them down into manageable elements. I am so excited as states start to roll out expectations for the Common Core in math. Here it is, the expectations spelled out for us in detail.

We use Everyday Math; the newest version is aligned to the common core, so we are lucky in our district. As a math committee, we have been breaking down the units and lessons - "unpacking" they call it. It's been like seeing this overwhelming picture broken into puzzle pieces. We can see and appreciate each small piece as it fits into the whole.

Give me a "heck YEAH!" Let's saddle up those ponies and race out into the frontier. We have a map now to help us see where we are going.

There was so much good information and inspiration at the RtI conference I attended last week in Lake Geneva. One of the biggest "a-ha"s I had was the need for students to have a deep and foundational understanding of the numbers 1-10 (let's just let zero rest for a minute). In order to do higher level operations, kids need to have  good fact fluency. One of the ways to strengthen the relational understanding of numbers (and in turn fire up that fluency) is to play with them, and play with them hard. Take those numbers out and explore them with activities, games and videos. Before asking kids to memorize what 8+8 is, make sure they know what numbers add up to 10 (I call this "making 10"). If they know that 8 + 2 = 10, they can jump to the idea that 2 needs 6 more to make 8, so if they add 6 to 10 they have 16.

It's an amazing thing to watch kids do this. Check out this video of kids doing mental math from Singapore math. Think it's impossible? I've seen kids do it here, too. How do we get them to this level? A deep understanding of making tens and place value.

I just love this. It makes me all tingly inside.

A little extra time each day devoted to making 10 can make an enormous difference.  This is a great opportunity to hit it hard with math centers; the learning is purposeful and goes deep.

I created this math kit with that spirit in mind.

There are activities with ten-frames...

Math stories....

Counting-on games...

and Flip cards...

To reinforce each of these activities is a short and fun video. There are a total of 4; to sneak a peek visit my facebook page. I have a little giveaway going with comments for the video.

Here's the snag in this item: because the files were just over the maximum file size I had to split the kit into 2 parts. I halfed the cost for each part of the it, so you are paying the correct whole amount when you purchase both halfs.  Go here for part 1, and here for part 2

What are you doing this year to strengthen math fact fluency? I want to hear about it!