Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Things I love...

I'm so excited about Mrs. Snowden's Giveaway!  I'm wanting to start my own little blog for my classroom and am in LOVE with how cute her blog is!!  You should definitely do yourself a favor and stop by!
I'm also in love and OBSESSED with Pinterest!!!  Have you become addicted as well?  My word!  I could spend all night on there! 
I'm also loving my new classroom theme..pirates and can not wait to get back into my room and start setting things up.  Okay, I can wait but it is exciting!!  If you have any adorable ideas/pictures/links/etc... that have to do with pirate/nautical themes I would LOVE to hear/see them!  I've already snagged so many ideas but would love some more!
I'm currently working on repainting a stool and I must say... I'm going to be giving myself some major props in the next few days!  It's turning out so good. I will be sure to share as soon as I finish! Woohoo!  Guess this is my second "what I'm loving Wednesdays" post :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ahoy Mates!

I'm SOOO excited!  After months {and I mean MONTHS} of pondering what theme I wanted to incorporate in my classroom this year, I've decided on Pirates!!!  I must say it was the inspiration of the creative mind of Jodi from Clutter Free Classroom that finally helped me in deciding on a theme!  She is just amazing!  If you have not stopped by her blog you just MUST!  I can spend hours on her blog alone!

YAY!!  On another note I can NOT put down Debbie Diller's book!  I'm excited to begin her Spaces and Places book next.  Her books are filled with so many wonderful ideas that are EASY to incorporate in the classroom.  If you're looking for some amazing FREE math station games and such head over to Lory's Page!  She has some wonderful resources!  

And finally .... I've reached 200 followers!!!!  Never thought that many people would be interested in reading about me and my adventures in teaching but I'm so excited and honored!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Are you Built.

My amazing husband {whom I will celebrate our 4-year anniversary with next Thursday...woohoo} has taken on a business adventure that seems to be really growing wings and taking off.  A year and a half ago he started his own clothing brand.  As of right now it's just set up for men, however, he's in the process of creating a woman's and kids line right now!  I'm so excited about this little endeavor! 

His clothing brand is called Built. and was created after years of dealing with horrible fitting clothes.  My husband is a very average - athletic type guy, average height and weight.  He had trouble with his shirts fitting him well.  They were always too wide and too short and were thick and uncomfortable.  Enter Built. Clothing.  He has created an awesome brand that is simple, sleek, and comfortable and the shirts are slimmer and longer.  This means when your husband raises his arms his belt buckle {or tummy} won't show!  I'm so excited for him and really wanted to brag a little on my amazing man.  

You can check out the website HERE!  It's not your typical website and I recommend you have the volume on your computer turned on.  There's lots of silly humor on it as well.  Just a little bit of his personality {and his business partners} mixed in. 

Check it out and tell us what you think!  We're always looking for ways to improve!!  :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Math combo game

I have been reading like a mad woman this week trying to catch up with the rest of you ladies participating in the book study for Debbie Diller's book Math Work Stations!  I'm still in the heart of Ch. 5 but just had one of those light bulb type moments!  After reading about Combo Games I got to thinking about a better way, well more sturdier way, for kids to place clothespins.  Having the kids match the correct number of clothespins to the correct number of dots is a great way to for them to grasp an understanding of number value and one-to-one correspondence.  While this is going to be a great station for the beginning of the year with my kids using a laminated piece of card stock will just not last in my room!  For whatever reason putting clothespins on a piece of paper has proven to be quite an obstacle for most of my firsties.  So, I'm going to use paint sticks!!!  I grabbed a large bag full from my local Home Depot last year and was going to use most of them in literacy centers but thought this would be a great use for this math station as well. 

While I do not have a picture of them {sorry} they're quite easy to make!  I just painted the paint stick a solid color {since there's writing already on them} and then placed the dots across the top.  I'm excited because now I know I'll NEVER have to worry about them getting ruined after a couple of uses/years!  YAY!!!  Any other amazing tips?!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Motivating students to read!

After reading several other teacher blogs about how to motivate students to read {and snagged some great ideas}, I decided to share {again} my own little trick! :)

I previously wrote about this trick of mine when I first started blogging.  It is the most simple kind of trick.... "magic reading glasses!"  I purchased some reading glasses at the dollar store {you can also get packs of 2 for cheap at Micheal's} and popped the lenses out of them.  I tried them with my first grade class this year and they went bananas over them!  I also knew that this class loved anything that allowed them to 'dress up!' So my real test on these fun little "magic reading glasses" came this past week.  I was hired for the Summer Reading Academy program that is held in my district yearly to allow for intense instruction with struggling first and third grade readers.  This is my first year in the summer program so I spent the first half of this week figuring out what's going to work and "mesh" well with my kids.  I was placed this year at a Title 1 school where I am teaching nine boys.  These boys not only are struggling with reading but so many other life challenges.  These boys weren't interested in my puppets or silly games that I tried initially to excite them about reading and/or working with words, however, when I brought out the "magic reading glasses" they were SOLD!  They now beg me at least 30 times a day if they can wear them!  
With their embrace and excitement I decided to try it with the 'big, bad, third graders!'  I stopped by one of the third grade classes and my class and I showed them how the glasses worked and how much we love them...... SOLD!!!  The big kids could not be more excited to read with them on either!

I love that something so small and somewhat of a silly ideal can be so effective! These sweet little boys don't know it, but at the end of our intense 20 days together, they're going to get to take their magic reading glasses home!  My hope is that they will continue to be wrapped up in reading when they go home with them.

Now onto my first summer read: "Math Work Stations" by Debbie Diller!!!  My book just arrived in the mail!  I've got a lot of reading to do to catch up with the rest of you wonderful teachers! :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Parent-Teacher Communication

So for the past three years I've used these nifty little binders to help with parent-teacher communication.  I can not express to you how much I LOVE them and so do the parents.  They are a great way to organize information, communicate to parents, keep students on track, and hold students accountable!
They have been called many things, BEE Book, STAR Book, etc., however mine is the FISH Book {which totally goes along with my beach theme}!  FISH stands for Family Involvement Starts Here.  
Of course I wouldn't have any pictures handy of these cute little binders in action, but they are simple three-ring binders that have a pocket on the front to place the cover.
This is the FISH Book Cover!  I place this on the outside of the folder/binder.  I also put a label on the side of the binder with the students name so that when I'm looking to place something in a student's binder I can easily find it!
This is the first page {after a letter explaining each section of the notebook to the parent}.  I place each of the following pages inside page protectors so that they do not get ruined throughout the year.  Behind this page is blank sheets of writing paper. This is where parent can jot down a quick note for me and/or vise versa.  I check these in the morning as students come in {they are required to place their FISH Book in designated baskets that are next to my desk before beginning morning work/activities}.  It's the most simple way for me to communicate with parents.
fishschedulesheet[1]This sheet is next.  This is where I place a copy of our daily schedule and my long range plans for the year.  This is great because parents can easily see what there child is doing throughout the day {if they need to chose an appropriate time for an appointment, etc..} and what their child will be learning throughout the year.  My parents say they love knowing what their child is learning about and what the expectations are.
Fish Reading Log Sheet 2The next section... Reading Log.  In my school, each first grader is required to read for 15-20 minutes nightly as homework {in addition to other things}.  This is a section where I place a table that allows students to take charge of their reading and learning. They are required to write the title of the book(s) read, how long they read for, and then a parent signature.  I give a sheet for the month.  It seems to work best {without a lot of changing out papers}.
fishbehavior&rulessheet2Here is the last section.  Here I place my classroom's behavior plan as well as my expectations for myself and my students.  Behind that sheet is a calendar that I mark daily.  I place the color that each child ended on each day and the parents are required to sign nightly.  This allows problems to be immediately addressed.  There's also space where I can write notes to the parent in reference to the particular behavior.  It's great!

So this is what I create each year for my parents to help with communication... what do you do?!

Side note:  You should be able to click on the photo and download.  This is my first time doing this so let me know if I failed!! :)  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday...MY edition!

So I was planning on leaving this post anyways, but when I was starting to come up with the appropriate title, this is what came to mind!!!  I am L.O.V.I.N.G. this Wednesday! 
For starters, I attended orientation for this years Summer Reading Academy in which I was chosen among hundreds to teach at {this in and of it's self is a HUGE compliment and achievement}!  I had a blast meeting other fabulous teachers, getting all my materials, and learning how to use them all.  Nothing excites this teacher more than getting new materials, which in turn, sent me straight to my next favorite thing {well... place}:

HOBBY LOBBY!  My town JUST got one {I use to have to stalk up on their goodies when I went home to visit family}!  I'm pretty sure I love this store more than the Dollar Tree and Target!  Ok. Maybe not Target.  But let me tell you my mind started cranking while I was in there and after a solid hour wondering around the many isles I came home with these goodies:

Yes, I know...that's not really a lot!!  I had to limit myself or I would have gone NUTS!  I really want these sweet kiddos to really be engaged and excited about spending the next 20 days with me while we do some intense learning so I came up with some things that I will be able to take back to my own classroom next year.
The big yellow bucket is amazing.  Not only was it only $4 but the black part is a chalkboard! LOVE 
I plan on writing "Magical Reading Goodies" or something to that nature on the front.  Inside I will place their magic reading glasses {already purchased... they are simply fun glasses from the Dollar Tree that I take the lenses out kids go crazy for those things}, fun pointers {I will attach the cute wooden animals and sun to a wood rod}, and eyelighters.
The star bucket will contain smaller "star reader" pointers, stickers, and bookmarks {all which I purchased from the Dollar Tree}.
My favorite purchase is the cowbell!  Every time I look at it or say it's name it reminds me of the Saturday Night Live episode..."Give me more cowbell!" :)  I'm going to write my name on it with puffy-paint and tie a huge bow, with a TON of ribbon on the top!  Not sure how I will use it during the summer reading academy, but I will definitely use it in my own classroom!

I'm also loving that I won my very first giveaway!!!  I swear, much like many of you, I NEVER win anything!  I'm excited because I won THREE fairy tale units from three amazing teachers whom I stalk daily!  This has been one awesome Wednesday!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's all in the name!

I had one of my "aha" moments just seconds ago!  The end of the year wrapped up for me yesterday and I'm now into cleaning and organizing mode {something I'm really OCD about...thanks mom}.  I've been stressing all week about getting into my closet and how I'm going to organize in preparation for next year.  I like to purge and throw/give away items that I know I'm not going to want/need for the following year so that I can make room for new, fun things.  I also just got hired as a teacher for my district's summer reading academy {YAY} and know I won't be able to spend as much time as I would like in the classroom over the summer.  So ANYWAYS... God is amazing in directing me to find certain things just when I need them most.  This morning I was reading about Debbie Diller's book to find some fun things for math work stations and stumbled upon Mrs. M's post on Debbi Diller's other book Spaces and Places!!  Lightbulb moment!  Mrs. M talked in her blog about using file folders and multi-colored post-it notes to create a design for your classroom before even stepping foot out of your house!  I love this because I, like many of us, move my classroom around 100 times before I finally get it just the way I want it. 
Even more exciting... as I was posting a comment thanking Mrs. M for her wisdom, I read Cheryl's comment from Primary Graffiti!!!!  She shared that Lakeshore Learning actually has a classroom designer that you can use for FREE! Shutup!!! This is too good to be true.  You can click the link above to be directed to their site.

Needless to say, this is why I titled my blog "Beg, Borrow, Steal!"  I love learning from other outstanding teachers and grabbing their ideas.  There is no sense in 'reinventing the wheel' and spending hours creating something that another fabulous teacher has already done for you!  I love being apart of a network of teachers that truly inspire me and help me grow as a professional educator!

Here's to all the men and women I "stalk!"  :)