Thursday, November 1, 2012

Assessments, Assessments, Assessment!!!

Are you in the midst of crazy amounts of assessments?! We are too!! I also try to create my own tools to save time, and I'm here to show off some of these tools, along with some of my ideas!

At my school, we use the Fountas and Pinnell BAS Tests to assess reading levels, so I've created a few templates to use along with these for a couple reasons: to save time, paper, and energy!!!  

These templates I created to match the Foutas & Pinnell BAS Assessments but can really be used by any teacher for running records. 

The first two pages are standard running record form, with the addition of a strategies box at the bottom, the final page has boxes for teachers to record accuracy rate, fluency rate, and comprehension scores. 

This template specifically matches the Fountas & Pinnell BAS Assessments for the levels A-K and this template matches the assessments for levels L-Z (due to changes in the comprehension scoring). 

What I do then is the following... I created a binder with a page of my template for each student. I record the running record on my template page - including marking strategies I noticed students using, rating a fluency score, calculate the accuracy and self-correcting rate, and noting the student's comprehension. 

I then keep a copy of the F&P running records for each level A-Z in my binder as well. I refer to these pages for the specific questions for comprehension and the calculations for the accuracy score. 

Please contact me with any questions, this turned out a bit more complicated sounding then I intended...! Please check out my templates and leave me a rating if you purchase/use them!

Have a great Friday :-) Amanda

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Word Work Ideas

Hello friends!! It's been a long time! 

I never anticipated the HUGE change I would feel when moving grade levels. At the end of last school year, I had second graders.. second graders who were almost ready for third grade!! Fast forward through the busy but lazy summer.... I meet my new (WONDERFUL) class of firsties - but they seem to be a bit more like Kindergarteners!! This all translates to me, feeling a bit crazy! 

I absolutely love my first graders, I love teaching first grade, it's just taking a while to adjust. 

Anyway, my firsties seem to need a lot of practice with word work. I've set up stations and a rotation for my kiddos to use during my guided reading time. Each rotation is about 15 minutes, with about 4 students at each station. 

My rotations include:

  • Read to Self
  • Read to Buddy (or "stuffed buddy" - they love this!)
  • Listen to Reading - Listening center and Computers on ABCya or Starfall
  • Wikki-Stix
  • Magnet Letters
  • Salt Boxes
  • Letter Stamps
  • and most recently PLAY-DOUGH!!!!
So my post today is to walk you through the recipe that I used to make my play-dough!

Ingredients include: 
1 c. White Flour
1/4 c. Salt
2 Tbsp. Cream of Tarter

1 c. Water
1 Tbsp. Oil
1 tsp. food coloring

Combine all ingredients in a pot on medium heat and stir. 

It will start looking nasty and clumpy [yes, that's the technical term ;)] It kind of smells at this point too! 

It will only take 3-5 minutes before it starts to clump into one solid ball.

Turn out the ball of play-dough onto a floured table-top. Knead the ball to work out the stickiness; use floured hands. The color will lighten up.

Each "batch" made one large ball or two orange-sized balls of play-dough. I made three batches [purple, green and blue] and separated each batch into 2. 

I packaged each ball into a separate zip-lock bag. I am looking for the *PERFECT* sized containers to store these in; ones that are easy enough for 5, 6, and 7 year olds to open and close on their own. Students will use play-dough to spell out their spelling and word wall words. This play-dough is "edible" but NOT tasty... so hopefully to deter students from snacking while they spell!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Being handy!!

So, my latest project... 

Started with an awesome garage sale find ($20 for the bench and bins w/ casters):
I sanded down all the surfaces with an orbital sander so that the paint would take. 

Then, I painted the bench with a textured grey spray paint, and then again with a solid grey paint. Gave it a great texture which will hopefully keep dents from showing!!

 Then... I painted the boxes blue!! I left the insides their original color (pink/purple) because you wont really see it!
Enlisted my wonderful hubby to help with the construction parts.. :) Using OSB we made an "H" frame to fit inside each box... this frame will hold the cushion up to the top of the box. Hubby is cutting with a Circular Saw:

And I am cutting the slots with a Jig Saw!

 Didn't take any pictures of the upholstering process, but I basically upholstered (with foam, thick ugly fabric and thinner cutsie fabric) a rectangle piece of OSB. These cushions fit right inside each bin, and is supported by the "H" frame. *Also, used a hole cutter (drill with a giant circular drill "bit" on the end) to cut two holes in the back. 
I plan to use this in my computer area, the 2 monitors, keyboards and mice/mice pads will be on the bench top, while the towers will be tucked underneath. The holes in the back of the bench are for the cords to pass through. 

I just LOVE it, but what do you think?? Any crafty blogger friends out there? 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Craft of the day!

Reading is TOAD-ally awesome, especially when your classroom has a great reading bench!! 

I was inspired by Pinterest (original pin and post by Ms. G in Grade 3, found here ) to make a bench out of crates for my classroom. 

How did I do it? Found crates for $3 at Target. It doesn't matter that they are cheap, the weight of a child sitting on the bench is not put on the individual crates. Got the fabric from my mom - she made me some great curtains when I first started teaching, and had lots of cute teacher fabric left over. Using zip ties, I connected the three crates together - it only took about 6 large zip ties. Next I cut a piece of OSB wood to fit over the top, with a little bit hanging over the edges. I actually upholstered the wooden piece twice - once with an ugly but tough fabric, and a second time with my cute frog fabric (which is a little bit more light-weight). The bins are Martha Stewart from Home Depot or Lowes (can't remember..) 2 for $8.

Here's my final project, what do you think?? 
 Do you have any great furniture in your classroom that you love? 


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Classroom Updates

Ok, so I am totally over the whole moving classrooms thing (three times in three years) BUT I do have to say that each time I move, I get a little more organized with my classroom, I get a chance to be in a different part of the school, I get to try out another room and I find wonderful things that I had forgotten about! :) 

Most recently, I found an old plastic set of drawers. They were dusty, grimy and kind of gross. The plastic drawers that are supposed to be transparent... are not so see-through anymore! As soon as I found it, I was inspired (by Pinterest of course!!) 

I went to Hobby Lobby to find some scrapbook paper. I wanted some fun designs that kind-of matched. This is what I picked:
Four designs - I bought a bunch of each kind: dots, bunting, monsters and ABCs. 

Then I got to work with some Mod Podge. I ended up covering the front and sides of each drawer, plus I put one page on the top of the whole unit, because like I said, this set of drawers was pretty icky...! 
Here's my final product!! What do you think??

I think they turned out pretty cute, and to be honest, I am just glad that I started and finished my project!! 

Have a great Sunday,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Calling all teachers of FIRSTIES! :)

Well I am super pumped to be teaching first grade this year!! I just LOVE first grade, something magical happens there! In Michigan, we are implementing coooooooommon core! Are you? So far we have standards for ELA and Math. We're still using GLCEs (Grade Level Content Expectations) for Science and Social Studies. 

Every year, I always print off the standards and they are just so lengthy, or wordy, or in some weird format... so this year, I created checklists for each subject - Reading/Literacy, Writing, Math, Science and Social Studies. All the standards are listed, with a shorter, para-phrased meaning along with a place to mark the date and lesson/unit when the standard was focused on. I plan to put these into my subject binders and refer back to them for planning. This is my very first NOT-free TPT item... so, please, if you're interested, it's only $1 for all the subjects, buy them?! I don't usually beg ask but this is my first one and I am so hopeful that it sells! They are so-not-creative, just excel spreadsheets turned PDF files, but the font is pleasant and they work for me, so I hope they work for you :-)

As a preview, AND because you're all so wonderful, here's the Writing Standards checklist as a freebie! 

Happy Friday, all!! 


Thursday, July 5, 2012


I won't pretend that I've been trying really hard to get caught up on my blog... in fact I haven't even checked out my FAVORITE blogs in like weeks!! Since school ended, I spent a few days moving my classroom (back downstairs, just down the hall from my first classroom two years ago), I co-led a mission trip of 32 high school students from my church to Marquette, MI to work on three Habitat for Humanity Homes, I traveled for a second time to Marquette with my husband and a friend to do some more work on the houses a week later, and I've helped my parents begin building their garage that we demolished over Memorial Weekend. WHEW. Is it summer for real yet??

Today was the first day that felt like I am truly "off" work, and I spent 5 hours this morning trying to get organized for my first graders... yes, first grade! I am so very excited to move back down to first grade for next year, just love those firsties!! I do have to admit, I didn't JUST work today... I also began shopping with my birthday money from my hubby, parents and in-laws. Got a great pair of running shoes (hopefully they will encourage me to get up and run in the mornings) and a fantastic one-shoulder bl
black dress for a friend's bachelorette party only 1.5 weeks away..!

I really did miss blogging, as you can see my first paragraphs have nothing to do with blogging, sigh... I just had to catch you all up on my life (cause I know you're dying to know everything I've been up to!)

OK. but now I need some help. My first year teaching, I taught a 1st/2nd split class... and being in my first year, I really had no clue what I was doing, I mean I tried my best, and they all turned out ok, but looking back... I was very unorganized. :-/ Last year I moved to 2nd grade, which was great, but I also got married last summer (so another excuse to be unorganized)... but now, I'm breaking the cycle. I WILL be organized! I am having a hard time prioritizing my time though. I want to begin unit planning and long-term planning - what is the best way to do this though? Do you use calendars? Separate binders for each topic, or all your planning together in one place? How detailed are your plans before the school year begin?

Being that I am moving to a new room and a new grade, are there any things you wish you had done "in the beginning" that would have helped organizational-wise.. does that even make sense?

I also want to make sure my classroom is organized. At the moment, all my belongings are shoved into my closet space, and hopefully in a few weeks I can get into my room to organize. Does anyone have any brilliant organizational suggestions.

Where do I start??? Well... this post was not so productive... I swear, my next post will actually have something of importance, not just spewing questions LOL :)

Glad to be back! Hope you're all having the most wonderful summers!!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bathroom Expectations?!

WOW! Have I been away for a while, or what? Life sure got busy there, but I did miss blogging. I’ve been checking in on all of your blogs during my absence.

I am here for some help. We are really struggling in our second grade hallway with bathroom expectations. Each of the three teachers has a pass for girls and a pass for boys, and we are all SO conscious of who’s going when… BUT all of a sudden, so-and-so will have an emergency and HAVE TO USE IT! Or we’re busy tending to some other classroom issue when so-and-so asks and gets permission when someone else is already out. Some how, every day, it happens. The kids escape to the bathroom, there is someone drawing on the stall, there is someone peeking at someone else, there is mass chaos.

I am begging for you best ideas about bathroom management. We have three girls stalls and two for boys, so really just enough for one from each class. What can we do??!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Quick Post

Ok... I promised myself that I wouldn't go so long in between posting, and I guess the important part of that all is that even when I'm sleepy and falling asleep on the couch, a quick post is better than no post!!

We had our presentation today for our district and state. I was so nervous but it went wonderfully!! We had created (over the past exhausting weeks) three tri-fold boards with our data for Reading, Writing and Math and then we presented to a group of our peers and our evaluate-ers! We received really wonderful remarks about our work on the boards and our presentation, which is awesome!

Not too bad for my first year on School Improvement!!

Tomorrow, I'm off again for a Numeracy conference. I am thrilled to have this opportunity because I am *TOTALLY* in love with math. I cannot wait to share some things with you about what I learn!

Currently, our district (and most neighboring districts) is using Everyday Math. But we're finding a lot of lessons that don't apply to common core, and also a few common core standards that aren't taught (or aren't taught very well) in our curriculum. I have been doing a lot of supplementing! 

[If you teach second grade, make sure to check out my TPT store- all free unit reviews for our math curriculum]

Anywho.. excited to learn about more ways to supplement my math program! I am currently developing my math journals (and math workshop program) for next year!!

Happy Wednesday :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Paging Mrs. Olson....

Ok. I'm still here... these past few weeks have been so incredibly jammed packed (and a bit overwhelming) so unfortunately the things that suffered were blogging, working out and sleeping... great plan, huh? I don't know who's still out there but my stats say that I've had a few visitors over the past weeks when I've been "gone", so I know you haven't given up on me!!

I'm on School Improvement and we've been preparing for a data presentation - so that's been... well, I would have really enjoyed doing it, if I wasn't trying to teach and plan simultaneously. That's on Wednesday, and I'm a little nervous because I'm part of a four-teacher crew doing a 30 minute presentation to our peers in the district and geez, can you believe it, but I'm not a fan of public speaking?!?! :) 

I feel so lucky to have been able to meet the WONDERFUL Debbie Miller - if you haven't read her book (Reading with Meaning), DO IT! She gave a fantastic presentation, and I was just in awe the entire day... Truly one of those PDs that changed me as a teacher. The following day, I revamped my Reader's Workshop, hopefully I can post on that sometime soon...!

This week is a big week for conferences!! I am going to the Numeracy Consultants Workshop in Troy (any Michiganders out there going to this one?? I am truly excited to go to some MATH Pd :) I <3 Math!

AND next weekend, I am going to MRA!!!!!! As a second year teacher, I just know it's going to be an incredible experience (that I am really lucky to attend). I KNOW some of you fab Michigan teachers will be there! I would love, love, love to meet some of you! Please contact me if you'll be in Grand Rapids for MRA - what a great networking opportunity too! 

Ok.. this was kind of a boring post, but at least it's a post!! :) Have a great weekend, I'll try to post again SOON!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Snowy Day

Good Morning!! We got a WHOLE bunch of snow last night... and by that I mean like 2 inches of powdery, fluffy, white stuff!?!

Wow… it’s been a while, but in my defense, it has been CRAZY busy in all areas of my life. Ok, I’ll try to keep this to one main teaching idea… but I know that won’t last long :)
We've been working on our running record assessments this week. On Wednesday, we had PD in the morning about the Fountas & Pinnell BAS assessments we’ve just begun using this year. The district gave us each a whole day sub, so I was able to test ALL afternoon in a quiet room without my lovely 25 other students asking questions and interrupting! I was able to get almost all of my class tested, and between the last two days I have finished all but one who has been absent! WOOHOOO!

Last testing window was back in … November? Anyway, I was sick of wasting TONS of paper, each assessment is a packet of at least 3 pages (front and back) and often you go through a few packets. I created a template to use for this round. Well, now that I’m done with this round I’ve made a bunch of changes and I would LOVE some feedback! If you have a moment (yea, right?) to look them over, I would so so so appreciate! Feel free to take use it, if it will align with your testing too. As a second year teacher, I feel like I’m missing some of that experience that would tell me what exactly I want my template to look like. Some of the things on the template are specific to F&P or to our district, so if you’d like the publisher file - so you can tweak it to what you need - let me know and I’ll email it out :) 

I am so bummed to say it out loud (and through my blog) because it means that it’s real. My hubby’s job situation has changed and it looks like I will need to start job searching on the other side of the state for next year… UGH! I know that my *two years* experience should help a bit, but I’ve got no contacts over there..! Any advice?? I’m trying to start now, early enough, to hopefully eliminate some of the stress, but I’m not sure that’s working too well!

Thanks a bunch to all you wonderful ladies!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Feeling Blessed?

Ever just stop to think about your life and feel blessed? Not saying that your life is perfect, but just that your optimism outweighs your pessimism. I don’t really have a great, inspirational teaching post… and to be honest, I have been slacking MAJORLY when it comes to blogging… but sometimes life just gets too busy. 

My hubby and I just started a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class at our church. We just got married in August and we’ve been doing ok since - but I’m just hoping that thinking about our finances together and making that plan for the future, we can set ourselves up now with good practices for the rest of our lives. Anybody else do a Dave Ramsey seminar?? I have heard wonderful things :)

I was feeling pretty icky this weekend but we finally got the good weather we needed for flying, so we went!! This is the first time I’ve been up with my pilot-man in THIS plane.. let me tell you. It was tiny! I mean, elbow to elbow, you move so I move tiny! It was great fun though… beautiful weather! We actually flew over our hometown and both our parents' houses. His parents were home, so I sent them a text and they came outside on the street! It was SO cool to see them, and know they could see us up in the air! I took control once, but this is an old plane (1978) so no radar, no electronic panels with all the gauges, just those old-time, tough to read gauges. I could tell I just didn’t feel as comfortable as I have in the past (he used to fly much newer Cirrus out in Battle Creek) so I didn’t really want to have the controls very long!

Not a great pic - remember I have been feeling sick lately!

A picture of the neighborhood where our parents live!

Last night, we stayed in to watch the game. I tried my hand at Crab Rangoons and we just hung out and played with the kittens - I had that overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the blessings in my life. Sometimes we get so busy and stressed out by the tasks we have each day and it was nice to just sit back and think about all the GREAT things in my life!

Definitely included in the great things category would be this supportive and kind bloggy family! Thank you to each of you for your thoughtful comments and inspiration. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Quick Update - what day is it??!

I don't know what happened this week... I didn't even blog this weekend, it has just been CRAZY! When I woke up Tuesday to a flat tire and a ride to work from the hubby on the worst day to be late (staff meeting with the superintendent) ... sigh... I just should have known. 

I saw a post on Christina Bainbridge's blog about Lunch Bunch and I just had to post a quick update about my new program!

This week, I started a program with my students called Munch Math!! I am super pumped about it... and day one went well, so I've got that going for me! I've noticed that many of my little guys are really very low in math, missing a lot of of basic math skills. To help these kiddos, I decided to start a lunch-time math tutoring program. We do Munch Math three times a week, and each time students are invited to work on a certain skill. 

Today was my first day and as soon as I sat down with my little sweeties, one of them (mouth full of Pizza bread) says to me, "So, Mrs. Olson! Why don't you tell us about yourself!". Haha, she just cracked me up! The whole time we ate, she facilitated the conversation, asking people questions and what not :) Too dang cute!

Tell me about any lunch-time programs that your school offers, OR if you have special prizes your students can win or earn like lunch with the teacher!


oh and ps. I know I was tagged... I promise to post on that soon!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Aw, you just warmed my heart!!

Goodness, gracious! My heart has just been smiling all day!!! (well almost all day, but no day is perfect, right?!)

My kiddos had a great morning! We had a big discussion about how to treat others, how to get along, and especially how we respect people we might not quite get along with ;) That last one is a biggie! We've started practicing think-pair-share again and I teared up when I saw my 2nd graders including everyone and using the kindest words! My heart sure smiled!

And then....

...the wonderful Deb over at Oh, My Little Classity Class [what a CUTE blog name] awarded me the FAVORITE FOLLOWER AWARD!! I've noticed how much all of YOUR wonderful comments make me smile, so I have been working much harder this week to make more comments on the wonderful teaching blogs out there! Thanks, Deb!! You are super sweet!

Now, to award my *TWO* fav followers :) This was tough because there are SO many kind, sweet bloggers out there who really deserve this award.

Just love those email notifications that someone has commented on my blog! Often, it's this lovely lady who always has something nice to say :-) 

Stories From Second

Next, is someone who ALWAYS makes sure to leave a note and it means so much :) It's always feels so important (to me) to know that someone out there is reading the nonsense ideas and updates I send out there into the bloggy world. Thank you for being so wonderful!!

Jennifer aka LaughinBrunette @ First Grade Blue Skies

First Grade Blue Skies

Big smiles all around today :-) Thanks to all my wonderful followers, each and everyone of you is appreciated!! Your kind words, encouragement, and ideas mean so much to me! 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Math Night!

Don't you just LOVE it when you work hard on something and it turns out fabulous... :)There were a few times this year when I've worked with other teachers on school events (or even open house) and I've been disappointed in what we as a school offered/presented or in the turn out of families. But this time, we had much more success! Now I'm not going to actually tell you how many parents we had show up from our three 2nd grade classes, most of you will probably laugh because it's not much, but I just feel so happy that my, and our, hard work paid off!! 

Here's what we did: 
In the hall we had a sign in sheet, some snacks, an estimation station and a raffle table. We did all of our parent "stuff" inside my classroom and had a super awesome game in the hall (my teaching partner, who was hired the day before Winter Break, is fantastic!! She's worked so hard already in the < 3 weeks she has been here and we just love her!)

Anywho - here's my "welcome" table. I found these great white (cheap) gift bags at Hobby Lobby. Any kiddos who came with their parents could decorate their goody bag at the purple table. The parents were also able to pick up their folder here. Instead of stuffing alll the papers into folders, I decided to put out the handouts. I feel like this way parents will at least take a glance and ask questions if they have any!

The red table had some teacher created handouts about some of the concepts we are covering in math. I made some handouts for parents about: Rounding, 2-digit addition, base-10 blocks, and ballpark estimates. If you're interested in seeing handouts I created, leave a comment... seems like too much work at this point to upload them all :-)

The blue table was my *fav*! We created some math games, copied games from wonderful teacher-friends, and found/made some manipulatives to send home too! Ooo and we laminated 100s charts for the parents to take home, too. 

Here's the "Math is Sweet" Cakewalk that my teaching partner did! She put yellow papers on the floor in a circle, just like a cakewalk; she played music, just like a cakewalk; she even had a STROBE LIGHT! Yes, a strobe light... at math night... awesome :) She would call a number out to name the winner of the round, but the spots on the floor didn't just have a number. They were a clock, or a math problem, or a set of base ten blocks, or coins - and when the music stopped the students had to figure out what their number was before the teacher called the number. 

And to top it off, she'd announce "Math is Sweet!!!" and give the kiddos got to pick a sweet treat as a prize - yay!!

WHEW! Ok, I'm done.. long post but a GREAT end to the day, and I needed it. Today was a little crazy and a lot stressful. Hope you all had a great day :)
Oh yea, and to top it off, our staff spirit wear came in today! Looks just fabulous! And the best part, my hoodie sweatshirt has my last name on it. Might not be that exciting to others but I got married just five months ago so my (still) NEW last name is on my sweatshirt! Yipee :-)

Sorry if there are any typos... my kitten Stella tells me that I'm done with my blog for the night :) 

Good night and happy Thursday!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Author's Purpose

Today I had one of THOSE moments... it was a moment that reminded me why I love to teach, a moment that I will use to get me through the times that are a bit tougher to handle, a great moment where I feel like they *got* it!

We were discussing the three purposes an author can have for writing, making sure to apply these to books we read and stories we write. The students made a tree map to show the three purposes - Persuading, Informing and Entertaining (we use the acronym PIE to help remember these). After some class discussion, the students looked through old Scholastic book order forms. They found books that belonged in each category, cut the picture of the book and glued the picture onto their tree map. 

After some independent work time (which was SOOOO quiet!) they gathered in groups to share. No one complained about being in a group with "so-and-so"; they gathered together and found a quiet spot to share. And here's my moment... I heard the BEST discussions (they were even on topic - HA!), kind words to friends about the great job they did sharing, helpful students who reminded others about definitions, it was just great! 

After they shared, one student came up to me to tell me what a great job her team-members did!! I loved it; so I asked the class if anyone else wanted to share about fantastic things that happened in their group - and I heard some wonderful compliments to other students. It might seem little and unimportant, but I was just so proud :-) They got the lesson, they shared their work proudly with classmates, and they were kind and helpful to everyone!

We are planning a Math Parent Night for Wednesday... Lots of manipulatives made, and handouts created for parents... REALLY crossing my fingers on this one! Hopefully everything will go well and all of our RSVP'd parents come! 


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter is Here!! And with it comes a long post...

I realize that many people live in areas of warm(ish), sunny weather all year round and I just have to say I am JEALOUS! As a Michigander, we never quite know what to expect, and apparently, well, today is a wintery, cold and snowy day! (Not a fan). I was perfectly happy with the 40's and 50's we were having for the last few weeks, but oh well!

I wanted to highlight a few friends' posts because they are just great! :) 

Mrs. Reynolds at Oh, my Little Classity Class (love the name) posted some great math games! Ever played the card game called Left, Right, Center..? She found some inspiration to turn it into games for spelling practice and math practice! Love it!!
She has two different files on her blog - one for single digit addition and one for double digit addition! Make sure to check her out and leave some love! :) 

Yvonne at Sassy in Second made ice cream with her class!! She included a great recipe - I think we'll do this next week!! Note to self - take pictures! YUM!

Lisa at Stories from Second posted about her homework policies. I am super interested to hear about what YOU do for homework in your classroom! I know this may  never change but as a second year teacher, I just feel like I have SOOOO many ideas and I can't even get my head around them! I want to do so much, but there is too little time! Last year, teaching a split (and being hired in a week before school began) I never quite felt settled enough to make huge overhaul changes to anything! I kind of just kept whatever policies and systems I started with! I'm not too happy with my homework methods, so I'd love to be inspired by your methods!! 

Here's what I am currently doing:
Spelling: 12 - 14 spelling words a week (including bonus words) that I take from Houghton-Mifflin; I have students practice by counting syllables, putting words in ABC order, writing them out to practice handwriting too, and put them into spelling boxes. Here are some files:
Obviously the word list changes from week to week. So I have to alter the documents. 
Reading: Typically, I try to send home a story with before and after reading activities (often Thinking Maps), I will slip in some Grammar pages or other practice pages; I also include a Reading log for the week.
Math: I don't care for the Math Homelinks included in our math curriculum so I have begun to make my own. I send home 3 - 5 pages that will help to practice skills needed for the lessons of the coming week. This has started to get overwhelming (creating all 3-5 documents - most likely on Sunday night...!)

Ok - so what do you do?!

I just had to share some of the inspiration that I found in the bloggy world this week. Gosh, I sure do love seeing everyone's ideas especially when I can use them with my kiddos! 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Classroom :)

Here's a quick peek into my classroom - 

I've had trouble finding places for my anchor charts, so recently I strung up a bunch of twine (via 3M Command hooks) since I can't reach the ceiling in my room.. it's literally 30 feet... OK I'm really bad at estimating but my hubby says maybe 15 feet LOL but still too high unless I have a real tall ladder. 

Here's a few anchor charts that I've pinned up! Do you have any difficult areas (or just difficulties) in your classroom? How do you deal with them?

Next, I LOVED Christina Bainbridge's Teaching Beliefs, so I posted mine in the classroom. I find myself constantly referring to them as I teach, encouraging my students to think about their own beliefs as we learn!

My other picture isn't loading.. I'll try to edit that one in!!

My students are THRILLED to find "naughty" words that don't follow our spelling rules. By calling attention to these words, we begin to see that word as a sight word, instead! Here's our Word Jail for those misbehavin' words!!

We've been finding these words all year, but I finally got our jail up.. I had a little mishap with the laminater... it kinda, sorta, maybe ATE my jail!! I swear, these machines are out to get me sometimes (do you feel like that ever)! 

I fed my (beautiful) paper jail into the laminater and it never. came. out. HA I looked behind, underneath, to the side and it just didn't emerge. It was a few weeks later that a maintenance worker pulled my jail out of the evil-laminater. 

Do your kiddos *LOVE* maps?! Mine do!! I put up a map of the world, and a map of the USA. Also we made a graph of different places we knew and categorized each one as a continent, country, state, or city! I also have a book bin of map, America or other "worldly" books. 

Last but not least... just a picture of my cuddle-bug! Love hanging out on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket with my littlest kitten! Here's Stella :) 

Our bigger kitty, Megatron (yes, yes, I know.. my husband named her) . Well she takes this time to escape little kitty! hehe

Have a WONDERFUL Friday, all my bloggy friends!! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's your teaching philosophy?

Hey there! I am super psyched for the long weekend, especially now that I've wasted a WHOLE day on an awful migraine... don't know if you have ever had one, but they are pretty terrible. My sweet cat, Megatron, cuddled with me in bed, which made it a tiny bit better, but now it's 11:30(PM!!), my migraine has finally dissipated and I haven't done a single thing all day. 

Thankfully, my hubby bought a new video game today (I never thought those words would EVER come from me), so he hasn't minded that we've skipped everything we had planned for today. 

A couple days ago, Christina Bainbridge  posted about her teaching beliefs in her blog Mrs. Bainbridge's Class.

That really got me thinking! In college, we were asked to create a teaching philosophy.. of course that was before ANY classroom experience! I have found that many of those things I thought were so important to a classroom, are still important to me today! 

Here's my philosophy (word for word) as written in my fourth year of undergraduate:

By creating a safe and supportive learning environment and working with students on an individual basis to develop a personal learning plan which fits each student’s specific needs, my students will be able to express their passion and creativity for learning and explore their curiosity through inquiry. 

So as I look at my current teaching beliefs, I've pulled from the above philosophy, other teacher's ideas, and my current 2nd graders! I plan to post these just inside the entrance to my classroom! Please comment, let me know what you think about my beliefs, and tell me about your beliefs!!

1. Everyone can learn (and has the right to learn).
2. Asking for help is a responsible choice.
3. Students are teachers, too.
4. It's okay to make a mistake, as long as you learn how to fix it.
5. Everyone is different and needs different things.
6. To have high expectations for yourself, means you care about your future.

That's where I am for now... I don't know if I will add more, but I'm sure these ones will change (in wording at least) a few times before I print, mount and laminate :) 

Hope you're enjoying your long weekend!! 

OH AND YAHOOOOOO  - 50 + followers!! How awesome is that?? In just ten days, too! You all are just wonderful :)