Monday, September 16, 2013

My First Classroom

This post has been a long time coming. I am not sure why I never posted the before pictures. Enjoy a picture overload!


Small Group Area and Independent work table

Computers and a look at my old desks! 

Old desks.

Front of the room where the teacher's desk used to be. It took four people to move it to the back! 

I love how much whiteboard space there is along the front, but unfortunately it isn't magnetic. The last teacher glued a few clips to the board to attach papers. 

Kicking it old school with a chalkboard. 

 About 12 billion hours later: 
My objectives and required school engagement plan information

Math, religion, centers, and LA posters. Also, we sat on cushions the first day! We didn't have desks until day two. 

My desk and teacher area. I love having it in the back of the room! 

My Math and anchor charts board.

My take on crate seats (thanks mom for the cushions!) 

My door. It melds my sock monkey theme and the required school ocean theme. 

View from my desk. You can see our carpet, library, and front of room.

Now With Desks:
Each desk has a pencil gripper on it. I hardly ever hear pencils drop! 

My WBT rules and scoreboard. 

Back of my door (Sign is free here!) On the first day of school we made self portraits. 

We don't have bulletin boards in the hallways, so I covered clothespins with polka-dot washi tape and hot glued them on the wall outside. It is so easy to change work out! 

View from the door.

I know it is a lot of pictures, but I am so proud of my room! It is so wonderful to finally have one of my own.

Monday, September 2, 2013

September Currently

I can't believe that it is September already! A classroom reveal post is coming as soon as I remember to take my camera out and snap some pictures. There never seems to be enough hours in the day, especially at school! Does anyone else's day seem to end late? We don't get out until 3:30 and I am usually working with dismissal until almost 4, and by that point I am almost ready to fall asleep! Last year the school district I was in ended their days at 2:45, so I am still adjusting to the switch. 

Speaking of late days, it is time to get ready for tomorrow! Our lone four day week of September. And since it is the first of the month, it is Currently time! 

I grew up around cicadas and am used tho their noisy existence, but the ones in Memphis are much more intense!  They are SO LOUD that I could hear it over the TV last night! Currently there is one making noise while viciously attaching my kitchen window. Hopefully when the weather cools down they will too! 

I adore three day weekends. This weekend I spent one day with friends, one day doing things for myself, and one day for prepping for school. I am so relaxed and prepared for this week and I am loving it! 

I love centers, I want to do centers, my curriculum tells me to do centers...but I am terrified to start them. I know what I want them to end up looking like, but I'm not sure how to get there. Tomorrow I am going to officially make the plunge into it since I really need to start digging into my curriculum. Wish me luck! 

If only every weekend was three days. My problem is that on a two day weekend I spend one day prepping for school and the other with friends, which doesn't leave any time for me! Which then bottles up until I spend a Friday night in my room alone just to recharge.

My college coffee maker died and I have yet to buy a new one. I realize that they start at like $10, but I really want a Kuireg and just have yet to convince myself that I can afford one. For the past two weeks I have been cold brewing on weekends and drinking iced coffee all week (which I love), only this weekend in all of my excitment of having extra time I forgot! Thank goodness for kind neighbors that offer me coffee! 

Loving Myself
1. Sleep. Getting up early is very unnatural for me. I am a natural night owl who will stay up until 2am just because I am most awake then. It was great in college, not so much now. So I have been trying very hard to go to bed early, but no matter how hard I try, 5:30 comes all too soon. I need to use my time better so I am not up late getting ready and can instead get so much needed (and deserved) sleep! 
2. I loved getting and sending mail, but I have neglected it greatly over the past several months. Writing letters is relaxing and brightens another's day, so win win. 
3. I had a rough end to my week and have been doubting myself since then. In order to love myself I need to believe in myself and who I have know myself to be regardless of what others say. I am smart, kind, caring, and will be (and already are) a good teacher! Now to take that from just words to truly believing it. 

That's all folks! Hopefully I will remember to snap some pictures this week and finally show you my room! 
Don't forget to link up with Farley for more currently! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

They Rave for a Reason

Today we started the second week of school! I am really starting to fall in love with my little class. They LOVE when we do Whole Brain teaching. In my spare time (HA!) I am going to start a series on WBT. If you haven't heard of it, go there now! But enough about my class, back to the reason for today's post...

Ok, so I bought this pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies on a whim over the summer when I was desperate to get into my classroom but still wasn't allowed. I just set in a bag and didn't think about it much until I got to school two weeks before the kids came. First morning in my room and I was so overwhelmed by the mess in front of my that I decided to try out the sharpener. WOW was I amazed! It worked beautifully and I loved that it is idiot proof. There is no over-sharpening with this little beauty.
(please ignore the mess background! Cute class pics to come!)

Beautifully sharp pencils...every teachers dream. 

Now on my second week of school I love it even more. My kids get picked up from inside the classroom and I sharpen our pencils from the day while we wait. It is so quiet that some kids didn't even realize what I was doing until the third day! and I rarely have to give the kids new pencils during the day, most can make it through on one. After a pencil nightmare in student teaching, it is so nice not to have to worry! 
I highly recommend getting one for yourself! The entire teacher-blog community can't be wrong! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blogger Exchange Linky Party

Summer really does fly by for a teacher. I start school on Monday! Technically I suppose I am ready, but I'm not totally sure that one is every ready for the first day of school, much less the first day of school as a first year teacher. But before I reveal my adorable (if I do say so myself) room, I need to link up with Adventures of Ms. Smith and Covered in Glitter and Glue for the Back to School Blogger Exchange!

We were paired up and email info about our partner, then got to send and receive a little goody in the mail! I have always loved getting mail, but it's even more exciting now that I live so far from home. 

I was paired with Sarah from First Grade Buddies. She sent me some adorable sock monkey stuff! Name tags that I am using for the kiddos the first day of school, a sock monkey notepad, certificates, stickers, and an adorable sock monkey key chain. Thanks Sarah! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

And the Award Goes To...

Me! I feel so honored to have been nominated for a Liebster Award by not one but two fellow bloggers! Both Memories Made in First and Mrs. Jones Teaches nominated me around the same time, so I figured I would answer both of their questions! 

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, what is a Liebster?  The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Isn't that sweet? Blogging is about building a community and it's a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs.

To accept this award I must:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about myself
5. Create 11 questions for my nominees
6. Contact my nominees and let them know I nominated them

Questions for me to answer: (From Memories Made in First)
1.  Who inspired you to start blogging? I have been a blog reader for about two years and actually kept a blog when I lived in Italy. I started this blog when I found out I had my first teaching job. I wanted to document how the summer before teaching and my first year went! 
2. What blogs should I add to my must-read list? My favorite blogs for teaching are Clutter-Free Classroom and Sunny Days in Second Grade. Favorite personal blog is Enjoying the Small Things. 
3. Shoes, purses, or accessories? Accessories all the way! I have more scarves than shoes. 
4. What has been your favorite grade to teach and why? I really like 2nd-4th grade. I student taught 4th and was a longish term sub in 2nd, but I think that 3rd is my favorite just because it is a combination of the two. 
5. If you weren't a teacher, what would you be? I would own a bakery. Baking has always been a passion of mine and I think it would be fun to own a business! 
6. Top three things on your bucket list? Go back to Europe, see snow (well, more than the 3 inches I have seen before!), and learn sigh language. 
7. What is something new you want to try next school year? I am really excited to integrate Whole Brain Teaching this year. I can't do much of it because of my school's engagement plan, but I want to as much as possible. 
8. Children, pets, or both? Both! I come from a large family and would like one of my own. But at the same time, I adore pets. I am working on a pet grant for my classroom right now and can't wait to be at the point in my life where I can have a dog. 
9. Movie star crush? Any man with some scruff and a southern accent.
10. Favorite book of all time? The Education of Henry Adams is my favorite adult book. A Series of Unfortunate Events is my favorite children/ya book. 
11. Favorite read-aloud story? Hog-Eye

Would You Rather's for me to answer!: (From Mrs. Jones Teaches)
1. Would you rather write with a pen or a pencil? Pencil, but a mechanical one please. I am left handed, so pen gets all over my hand. 
2. Would you rather have recess duty or lunchroom duty every single day? Recess all the way. I really like having lunch to myself. 
3. Would you rather teach Math or Reading? Science or Social Studies? Reading and Social Studies. I am getting my masters in reading right now and history was always my favorite subject in school, and now one of my favorite to teach.
4. Would you rather eat 5 whole bags of M&Ms or 2 bugs? M&Ms, I cannot even look at a bug, much less eat one. 
5. Would you rather get a brand new car or go on a vacation with your mother-in-law? I don't have a mother-in-law, so I cannot be sure...but I in general would rather travel than have things. 
6. Would you rather go skydiving (free fall) or rappelling (hug a rock)? Neither, my feet stay firmly planted on solid ground at all times! 
7. Would you rather walk with a pebble in your shoe for a week or go without shoes for a week? Without shoes. I grew up barefoot and it is miserable having to wear shoes all the time! 
8. Would you rather eat out every meal for a month or eat in every meal for a month? Eat in. I enjoy cooking and don't go out more than 2-3 times a month anyway. 
9. Would you rather be a salesman or a librarian? Both! That is why I loved working in a bookstore. 
10. Would you rather live right across the street from the school you work at or live an hour away? Right across the street. I hate getting up early and having to factor in commute time! 
11. Would you rather lose your voice or have nonstop verbal diarrhea?  Lose my voice. Then I will force myself to learn ASL! 

Eleven Random Facts About Me: 
1. Throughout my K-12 education, I was educated via public schools, private schools, and homeschooling. 
2. I cannot whistle. I have tried and tried for many years, but it has never worked! 
3. I won a cooking contest in highschool. 
4. In junior high I wanted to be a chemist that made make-up, so I would experiment mixing beauty products to make new ones. They never worked. 
5. I have had straight, wavy, and curly hair in my life that has ranged from white blonde to light brown. None of this was in my control. Thanks a lot hormones! 
6. My favorite show of all time is Gilmore Girls. I have watched the entire show through several times. To quote Scrubs, "They talk so fast, but they talk so true!" Gotta love it. 
7. I can mirror wright with my right hand (I am left-handed). 
8. Scrap-booking is one of my favorite crafts, but I don't do it often because it consumes me once I start. 
9. I took 5 years of Spanish and one semester of Italian, yet I am much better with Italian. 
10. I love random facts about everything from history to politics to crafts. 
11. I am so excited and terrified to start teaching!! 

For My Lovely Nominees: 
1. What is your favorite first day of school activity? 
2. Have you always wanted to be a teacher? If not, what did you want to be? 
3. What is your craving: salt or sugar?
4. How do you see your life looking in 10 years?
5. What is your favorite blog (teaching or otherwise)?
6. Coke or Dr. Pepper? 
7. If you could pick any city/state to live in, where would you life and why?
8. Describe your perfect afternoon. 
9. What is the one beauty product you can't live without?
10. Who do you admire most?
11. When is your favorite time of day?

My Nominees!!

I hope you enjoy answering my questions as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Don't forget, answer my 11 questions, share 11 random facts about yourself, and nominate up to 11 blogs with less than 200 followers. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Made It

What a week! Last week I spent every day either in my classroom or at an in-service. Trying to get ready for the year is hard work! Since I don't have keys to the building yet, I used the weekend to make a few thing for my classroom.

Project #1
First up, I made a teacher toolbox that I have seen all over pinterest. The project is one that I've wanted to do for months, but I decided to wait until I saw my classroom. Once I did and realized that half of the drawers in my desk are stuck shut, I knew it was time to go shopping! I got the organizer at Lowes for $16 and change.

I liked the blue it came in, but it didn't really fit with my decor, so I decided to spray paint it black! I just used regular spray paint, I decided it wasn't worth the extra money for plastic-specific paint. I spray painted the entire thing, let it dry for 24 hours, then painted the front and top with an extra layer. 

Once it was painted, I was ready to decorate! I used Kristen Doyle's polka dot labels and just edited a few to suit my class (like no magnets, the only magnetic thing in my room is my file cabinet!). I just used regular green tape to tape the labels on the inside of the drawers. 
I really love the way it turned out!! So cute and practical!

Project #2

In one of the classes I subbed for in the spring, she had drawers like these for each day of the week. I thought it was a great idea, but I knew I would need them to be cuter than just plain paper! I whipped these up on power point and taped them in. I also added just the polka-dots to the sides since they can be seen. Again, easy and adorable! My AP walked in and was gushing over both projects, turns out she too is a dot lover! Good to know I am not the only one. :) 

Project #3
My school requires our lesson plans to have Bloom's Taxonomy verbs in our lesson plans. I was given a printed list, but all those verbs in black and white was just overwhelming! So naturally I re-typed the list, made each level a different color, and added a little pizazz. My desk has a glass top, so I slid the page under the glass so the list is on my desk at all times, ready to help plan at any time! 

What a busy weekend! Later this week I will post about pencil sharpeners and awards! 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

July Currently

WOW! I cannot believe it is already July. I go between feeling like I have been living in Memphis for forever and feeling like I just got here. As of Thursday I have been here a month. It is already a grand adventure and I have learned so much. This currently kinda snuck up on me. I was mindlessly on the computer and went over to check blogger only to see post after post of currentlys! Quickly I headed over to Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade to join in the fun! 

Listening: I have been into Country music for about a year now, and moving to Memphis has not helped to lessen the obsession! Right now I am listening to my Zac Brown Band playlist on repeat. Perfect for summer! 
Loving: For graduation I received a Cricut Mini from my aunt, and am really enjoying messing around with it. It is very easy to set up and use, and I appreciate is speed in cutting. I already have a list of things to cut on it for my classroom! 
Thinking: Although I really enjoyed going to SMILA all of June, the end of summer is rapidly approaching and I am nowhere near ready to school! I am able to go to school the second week of July and hopefully get my curriculum and start planning and decorating my classroom! 
Wanting: In college I used printers on campus for papers and projects. It was never an issue to only have an option to print in black and white. But now I would love to have the option to print in color for my classroom, but my room does not have a printer. My computer prints directly to the copier, which is great for making copies, but not so great for my color-loving heart. So now I hunt. If anyone has a printer recommendation, please let me know! 
Needing: Even though I moved in a month ago, I still don't feel totally settled. Part of that is because my room is a mess! Books, pocket charts, binders, and classroom decor everywhere. I really need to get it into my classroom so I can figure out how to organize my own things! Fortunately, my roommate has been wonderfully understanding of the boxes of early chapter books sitting in the living room. Only one more week! 
Tip: I feel like a lot of teachers I know spend their summer gearing up for the next year or taking care of their families. While that is well and good, taking so personal time is important too! Get a pedicure, read a non-school related book, go out with girlfriends, or watch a cheesy chick flick. Time spent on yourself is needed to be able to give to others! 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and make sure to link up with Farley for more Currently! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Multi-Sensory Magic

This month has been so long, but such an amazing learning opportunity. I have been in an in-service class called SMILA from 8am-3pm Monday through Friday for the last four weeks. SMILA stands for Simultaneous Multi-sensory Institute of Language Arts and is a method for teaching children with specific language deficiencies how to read or improve their reading. It was designed for work with dyslexic students, but can be used with any child.
Each day we have lecture, watch a SMILA teacher teach a whole group lesson to students, work in small groups with students, eat, have another lecture, then plan for the next day. A long day for sure, but broken up enough to keep you going. I love that we get to watch an experienced teacher use the steps with the whole group and then I get to try with my two students. Also, to be able to work with real students and watch them improve over the last four weeks has been amazing! One of my girls is an ELL entering 4th grader who went from not knowing all of her letter sounds to knowing all of her sounds and many of the blends and phonograms. I wouldn't have believed the improvement if I had not been a part of the process. 

The SMILA method's goal is for students to be independent readers and writers, but it gets there by starting with the basics and moving on from there. I have been coming home every night to my roommate so excited about this or that. My favorite parts of the method are the decoding and that it is a method, not a curriculum! I can take it to my school and use what I have learned within the curriculum I have to teach. 

To spend an entire month of the summer in summer school is not necessarily my idea of fun, but I am so thankful for the last month of learning. The teachers I have been working with have talked about children they regret not being able to reach that may have been helped with SMILA, so I am grateful that I am learning about it now! It is now in my tool belt of teaching strategies that engages students, helps a variety of students with different learning styles, and most importantly, helps every child learn to read! 

SMILA is mostly in the Tennessee and Mississippi area of the south, but it is based off of the Slingerland method. SMILA is also (soon to be) featured on if you school is a member (if not, see if you can convince your principle! The state of Virginia got a membership for every teacher in the state.)  

Now that SMILA is ending, hopefully I can start blogging more and start gearing up for my first year of teaching! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A New Look

I am so excited about my new blog look! Tessa from Tales from Outside the Classroom designed the site. I love how willing she was to work with me and patient when I took a long time responding! I am still working on settling into the design, but I adore it already. It also gives you a peek into what I am working on for my classroom!

The in-service I am in this month is really great. I have already learned so much and it isn't even half over yet! But they are very instant on using cursive to teach children, which I haven't really encountered. Do schools still teach cursive? The school I student taught in didn't, nor did the rest of the district. If it is better for a child's memory to use connect letters, then why doesn't everyone do it? I still haven't made up my mind on that one. I need some more training and research before I make up my mind!

Monday, June 3, 2013

June Currently

June has snuck up on me. I am amazed it is here yet the first of May seems so long ago. I spent the day in my first grad class and this evening attempting to unpack my apartment. I broke down boxes and hung a lot of art! It is starting to feel like home.  Since it is the beginning of June that means that it is currently time! Link up with Farly for more currently fun!

I have only been in Memphis a week and am already saturated in country music. There really is something delightful about country music and summer. 

I haven't had time to unpack or decorate in the past week and it has been killing me. I finally spent about 5 hours today cleaning and hanging up all of my artwork. It is starting to feel like home! 

I am amazed by how much I need for me classroom. So much planning, prepping, decorating, and purchasing to do. 

I have had my eye on a laminator to keep at home, but haven't taken the plunge yet. Any suggestions or advice? 

A printer! I have had free printing all through college, but now that is gone and I have nowhere to print. My classroom doesn't come with a printer (it has wireless access to a copy machine) so I have no way to make color copies.

Vacation Essentials
1. Sunglasses. I love wearing sunglasses mostly because I hate bright or strong lights. 
2. A book. Anything that will catch my attention. I read a lot of young adult fiction because it is faster and has less bad language in it. 
3. Sunscreen. I am so incredibly pale that sunscreen is a must!  

Have a lovely week and don't forget to link up! 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

What a Whirlwind

What a crazy few weeks it has been! I graduated and moved to Memphis. This past week has been about exploring the city, but grad classes start tomorrow. I was able to see my new classroom this week and cannot wait to get started! Hopefully I will get back to a regular blogging schedule soon.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lesson Plans, Finals, and Graduation Week

In just a few days I will be in possession of an undergraduate degree! I am so excited, but sad to leave my school behind. We already had Convocation, and now have finals this week and graduation next weekend. But to get to graduation I have to first take finals! I am having trouble finding motivation to get work done. I already have a job and am doing well in all my classes, so even failing the finals I would still have passing grades.

One of my final projects this semester is to adapt a lesson plan to accommodate ELL students. We had to choose a pre-written lesson plan and add to it what different levels of ELL students would need. Having worked in Texas public schools, I was familiar with CSCOPE, but also with many teacher's distain for it. My professor suggested checking out a website called Read Write Think. I spent hours on it looking at lesson plans! Great lessons, all are TEKS/Common Core aligned.

I wanted to chose a lesson that I could use next year, so I looked for second grade lessons. There were so many! The one I ended up picking taught some economic vocabulary using Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique  

An adorable book and a cute lesson to lean some difficult words. I modified the lesson some to accommodate for ELLs and to add a spiral station work, but other than that it was a wonderful lesson as is. I know I will continue to reference this in the future!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted: Teacher Questions

I love LaToya's "Let's Get Acquainted" linky party because it gives teachers a chance to share their hearts and provides a "face" behind the blogger. It is fun to get to know the amazing teachers behind my favorite blogs. 

1.  What made you decide to become a teacher?
Although I was in denial for most of my childhood, I have always wanted to be a teacher. Even as a young kid I was always trying to teach people things. My younger sister says that I will make a good teacher because I am bossy. That is an accusation I can neither confirm nor deny. I more officially decided in high school when I started working with primary grade students in a summer camp. 

2. What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher?
I haven't had my first class yet, but my classroom observations and student teaching have been so rewarding. During student teaching we were working on times tables with the fourth graders and I had one student that just could not get past her two times tables. I worked with her individually and realized that she didn't understand the concept of multiplication! After about 45 minutes with her, and she finally got it! It was wonderful to see the light-bulb go off in her head and for her to enjoy math. 

3. If you were not a teacher, what would you be?
If I wasn't a teacher I would have to decide between being a baker or a costume designer. I have always loved baking and would enjoy owning a bakery (except for that early morning part). Throughout college I have worked at a costume shop making clothes for campus productions. I also worked backstage. If I wasn't moving to Tennessee, I would be working for Dallas Shakespeare Festival as a dresser this summer! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Sale

It is teacher appreciation week! Time for people around the country to take a moment and think just how difficult a teacher's job is. If nothing else, other teachers are appreciating each other. That means a sale at TPT! I have been pouring over the site since I found out what grade I would be teaching. Downloading free files gave me a lot of great ideas, but I had not purchased anything yet. Why not make my first time to purchase a sale!

My first though was that I need to buy some things from the first teaching blog I ever read/followed, the incredible Clutter Free Classroom. Since I will be a first year teacher, my plan is to start with an organized and clutter free class with her help!  
TEACHING PROCEDURES & ROUTINES {Blackline Design} classroo


I bought the Classroom Procedures to help me figure out how to organize what my expectations will be! I would love to incorporate some (or all) or Whole Brain Teaching, but I also need to align with the school expectation. 
My favorite idea I have seen probably in all of blogger world is the Find it/Fix it. When I read the blog post I knew I was going to use it in my class.  A way to have the room clean at the end of the day and no need for a class job chart? Yes please! 

Next, I went over to the shop of my favorite 2nd grade blog, Sunny Days in Second Grade. I have read this blog beginning to end, and am so encouraged by it. I have seen so many veteran teachers just bemoan what is happening in education, so it is great to hear from someone that is viewing the world in a positive light! 
Tasty Tuesday Yearlong Writing Program

This is another one I cannot wait to introduce! Being able to integrate writing and math in a real-world and kid loved way is hard, but not when you add dessert into the mix. Tasty Tuesday does a great job with her kids, and I am sure mine will love it to! What kid doesn't enjoy making (and eating) dessert?! 

I'm still poking around TPT and may buy something else today. I am grateful to my own teachers, and to all teachers that make a daily difference in the lives of students everywhere!