Tuesday, November 4, 2014


I'm not sure what I was doing on October first, but apparently not blogging! I thought my first year of teaching moved quickly, but the second year is flying back even more quickly. We have encountered a lot of changes recently at my school, but of course the most important piece is the students, and my energetic little learners are too distracted by their own selves to notice anything else going on.

Okay, so this one is equal parts smelling as hearing, but it is what I am thinking of! I think every meal should start with some sauteing onions. 

I have been ready for cold weather for a while now. Bring on the scarves, jackets, boots, tea, and blankets! Being a true southerner, I think anything below 60 is cold, so this weather in the 50s has been perfect. 

I have realized recently that some of my lessons just aren't working because there is no schema. How can I teach coins when students have no concept of skip counting? Or 3d shapes when not all of my students know the difference between a square and rectangle? Time for some major reteaching, but it is tricky when we are so tied to our curriculum. 

When I started this currently, it was Sunday. Even today, I still wish we had a few more days to recover. On Friday we were all dressed up in costume. Our school had a fashion show, class parties, and my students' teacher from last year came to visit. What a crazy whirlwind day! 
Halloween costumes with a coworker! 

Two of my students from last year that come and help me clean before school. One of them asked if I would take a "shelfy" with them. :)

My MEd thesis is due in a month...AHHHHH!! 

Wonder is a wonderful book. I was reading it to see if it was appropriate for 2nd grade, but I don't think so, at least not for my class this year. What I love about this book is that it is told from several different perspectives, which would be great for point of view discussions! 

Make sure you check out Farley for more currently fun! 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Apple Week

We had a blast with apple week this year! We spent every afternoon learning about apples, Johnny Appleseed, and incorporating apples into all types of activities!

Practicing math with apples from Sunny Days in Second Grade. After we made our apples, we cut them up and took turns putting them back together. Their favorite part? The fact that they got to use markers to go over the pencil! It is the little things...

After we read a poem and several books on Johnny Appleseed, we used this freebie to show what we had learned. Since we read everything from tall tales to non-fiction, the focus was pulling facts out of all the stories. They did great! 

Ready to eat apples! I saved apple week until I hit this lesson in our math curriculum. Granny smith apples won by a landslide, much to my distaste. Gala apples are my personal favorite!

Applesauce! Not the most attractive thing to photograph, but oh my goodness, it was SOOOO good! We wrote a recipe and mixed it together in the morning, then let it cook all day. My classroom smelled incredible all day long. We cooked in the crock-pot on high for a few hours, then on low until almost the end of the day. My kiddos ate every last bite! We made a graph about who liked it and who didn't, but it wasn't a very helpful graph because everyone said they liked it. 

The hallway this week. I adore the ease of changing these out! It takes about two minutes, and then the hallway looks totally different! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Currently September

It is the first of the month, which means it is time to link up with Farley for the September Currently!

To Criminal Minds while I work. I think the psychology of the show is fascinating. 

Three day weekends need to be a regular thing. Who do I talk to about changing the law? Every weekend needs a day to rest, a day for chores, and a day for school. 

Last year was my first year teaching. I am using the same curriculum again this year, and it is kinda fun/sad to see how bad my plans were at this point last year. At least I can be amazed at what a difference a year makes! 

I am going to a wedding this weekend and will be out from school for a few days. I hate writing sub plans! Teaching is absolutely more work to be absent for than to just show up. Now I just need to get these plans done so I can focus on being excited for this wedding! 

I am almost done with my master's program! This semester I will present my research capstone, which of course means I need to be making significant progress right now on my capstone! Just another reason why my three day weekend thing is such a great idea. 

Three Trips
I lived in Rome for a semester in college and got to see a lot of Europe. The one place I didn't go that I really wanted to was Sweden. I've always been interested in Russian history and architecture, although I am not sure how wise it is to go to Russia right now. I'm not sure I can narrow it down to one country I specifically want to visit in South America. Brasil, Chile, and Peru are all high on the list. 

Have a great Labor Day and don't forget to check out Farley for more Currently fun! 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Back in the Swing

This three day weekend is perfectly timed! We just finished up our third week of school. Routines are starting to flow, but my to do list is a mile long! Yesterday I didn't touch anything related to school for the first time since school started. Now I can tackle my list a little more relaxed. Since I am still relatively new to the iPhone world, I keep forgetting that I always have a camera around. I have managed to snap a few pictures.

Day one and already hard at work! It is amazing how attached I was to last year's class, but this new class is sneaking its way into my heart! Overall they are a very sweet class, though I am already racking my brain for ways to control my little chatterboxes. 

We love Go Noodle! Seriously, I use it just about every day. We have a three hour block of instruction time in the morning to do math and ELAR, which is great, but so hard to keep little minds and bodies focused for so long! Depending on our needs we usually do a Zumba or Airtime break in the morning and a running one in the afternoon slump. They adore it as a reward for good behavior and it always perks them up when we are having a bad day. I usually can't help but join in, it is so much fun! 

My Whole Brain Teaching rules. We say them every day after morning prayers and again after lunch. This is my second year incorporating some of the WBT methods, and I am always impressed with how well the kiddos retain our lessons. 

I have a confession to make: I am not at all artsy. Crafty? Yes. Capable with a marker in hand? Absolutely not. To make anchor charts I find the one I like, project it on my board, and start tracing! I usually trace the basic outline and then add in my own flair. I found this image here, but there is no blog post to it. If it is your anchor chart, please let me know so I can give you credit! I made the punctuation names and people before the lesson, then we described each type and wrote examples together. 

Our tattling vs reporting chart. I got the idea here, but then added some of my own. This one the kiddos directed me in the difference between the two with some gentle guidance. I also have a tattle box for those who can't help but tattle. Whenever they come running up during recess my first questions is always "Is this a tattle or a report?" and for the most part, they have gotten the difference. 

Original chart found here
Between making this chart and doing WBT motions, everyone in the class rocks at identifying nouns! I was so happy to have everyone pass the grammar assessment this week. 

Happy Labor Day! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014-2015 Classroom

School starts in less than 24 hours and I am ready to go! At least, I think I am. Today I am linking with Swimming into Second Grade to show off my classroom this year. As I mentioned before, I am in the same classroom, though with a different set of desks. It was nice to walk in and already have a few things on the wall or at least know where I wanted them to go. Sticking with my polka dots and sock monkeys was an easy choice. I love them both and already had the decorations! 

The outside of my door. Each year my principal picks a theme that we have to incorporate into our doors. This year it is weather. I love that I was still able to use my sock monkeys! This door stays the same all year, but since I usually keep my door open and against the wall, I am the only one that gets to enjoy it. 

The inside of my door. In theory, each time we read a book we will put it on the door. I haven't decided if it will only be for whole class books or not because I am afraid of opening a Pandora's box with a million umbrellas. Since we don't have bulletin boards in the halls, this door changes for the seasons. Hopefully this door will last me until Christmas!

The view when you walk through the door. I only have sixteen kiddos right now, but last year I had twenty-three, so I am holding my breath to see if I get to keep this delightfully small group. On each desk is a new book, their crayon bag, and the Welcome Back Pack from Sunny Days. 

My Conduct, jobs, objectives, and school-wide engagement posters. Across the school we use the same language in behavior so it is consistent from year to year. Most of my students will be used to this system coming in day one. 

My carpet, word wall, and genre posters. I love to read aloud, so we spend a lot of time here. I mostly use my word wall for math and reading concept cards, which I will hopefully finish soon! The genre posters can be found here. We talk a lot about the genre of the books we read in small group and on the carpet so we can check them off of our genre bingo cards. 

View of my room from the carpet. My lovely shower board only looks clean from this far away! I mostly use my document camera that I was able to get last year through Go Fund Me. My projector will hopefully be installed this year, but currently it lives on a cart that I wheel around. In this picture you can also see the Home Depot bags tied to each chair. Students keep their crayons, scissors, glue, dry erase marker, and sock (for an eraser) in a quart size bag in one pocket and a chapter book in the other pocket. 

Visible thinking wall. I went to Project Zero last spring and was able to incorporate some strategies last year, but I plan on doing more now. 

Anchor chart wall on my other cabinet. My math curriculum has a lot of graphs we will make throughout the year and I love making charts for reading, so this will stay pretty full! 

Small group table and phonics wall. I use SMILA methods, which is an offshoot of Slingerland, to teach and review phonics daily. Once I get another pocket chart, our weekly spelling patterns and rules will go next to my phonogram chart. 

This is the view from desk in the back corner. You can see all of my calendar math up on the front wall. On the right is my station table with crate seats. 

My classroom library! Between Go Fund Me, Scholastic Book Orders, and several expensive trips to the used book store, I have a pretty large library for a second year teacher. All of the basket colors match the school library coding for the different AR levels, which makes picking books easy in both places. Most of my students take 1-4 AR tests a week. 

Panorama view from the door. If only the room was as big as it looks here! I love walking in every morning and am so excited to meet my new class tomorrow! 

Swimming into Second

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Slowly but Surely

I have been in a flurry of preparation this week! We start school Monday morning. My room is (mostly) ready, just a few quick fixes tomorrow and I am ready to go! Starting my second year of teaching, I am really blessed to be at the same small school again and to already know so many of my students. 2nd grade does lunch and recess with 1st at my school, so I have a good idea of the little (and not so little) personalities in my class this year!

Yesterday I looked at my first week plans from last year. Oh my goodness I was a first year teacher! I had to laugh at how little I understood about second grade and be amazed at what a difference a year makes.

Since I am in the same classroom this year, the last two weeks have been more about refining last year's arrangement and decor to make it work better.  Last summer I was also just getting into designing, so I had to update a lot of my posters as well.

 Here is a quick peak at some of the organization in my room this year:
My new crayon drawers! I am already in love. Each student has one box of crayons at their desk, and the rest of them will be divided up into these drawers. I am putting the drawers around the room on the second day of school and we will explore the classroom as we put away the colors. Now instead of digging through cabinets or buckets, I can easily find a color.  I got the box at Home Depot and the labels can be found here in my TPT store. 

A drawer of blue. I already have over 30 crayons in there and it can hold so much more! 

Another project this summer was updating my weekly drawers. I made labels for them last year, but once I made a copy, grade, file set I knew I needed to redo all of them. I am loving the streamline look. 
My sister painted the tree above the drawers. At the end of the year, I had my kiddos put their fingerprint on the branches. The idea is that each year my class will add their fingerprints in different colors. I got the idea here

Check in tomorrow to see more of my classroom! 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Currently August

Where did the summer go? My school started in-service last Monday and we had a meet the teacher day yesterday. This week the K3-K5 have a staggered return and then my kiddos come back the 11th. I'm so glad I still have a week left! Last week was all about meetings and classroom setup, so this week is focused on prepping for the first few weeks of school. I was sad to see my summer cut a little short, but am grateful to have a full week to focus on curriculum.  

Since it is the beginning of the month, it is time to link up with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade

Gilmore Girls is my favorite show of all time. I have watched every season several times, and I still love it!

I spent all of last week setting up my room. I am in the same room again, so I was able to leave a few things up over the summer. Although I am sticking with the same theme, I think the room looks a lot different this year, but I love it! Much more practical and streamline. Look for a classroom reveal soon. 

I have wanted to start Daily 5, but have been apprehensive about starting it this year. Last year the only piece I really did was building reading stamina. Hopefully I can really get it off the ground this year! 

I am so excited for this back to school sale on TPT. I have a full cart and wish I could get more! It is truly amazing all of the wonderful resources teachers have created. 

Although I am in second grade again this year and will be teaching the same core subjects, my school is playing with the idea of rotating our afternoons to teach science, social studies, vocabulary, and religion. I am fine with the way we did it last year or this new way, I just want to know so I can start planning! 

First Day
Teachers started last Monday (7/28) with a full week of meetings and classroom work. Our lower grades come back this week for testing, and then we go with a full schedule on August 11th. 

Have a great week! Don't forget to check with Farley for more currently fun! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Made It

The summer is absolutely flying by! We have professional development days this week and start in-service in just two short weeks! I am flipping between trying to relax and enjoy my last few weeks of summer and preparing for the new year. This week I was able to do both! I am linking up with Tara for my first Monday Made It! 

Growing up my family always had a big garden. It was great getting fresh veggies and herbs from the back yard. I have missed it ever since I moved to Tennessee, but recently my roommate started up a little garden on our porch! Although I am not the genius behind the idea, I have helped! We have mint, basil, tomatoes, and green onions. My favorite thing to make right now is a watermelon basil salad with fresh basil. So easy and refreshing!
Our little garden! 

I finally took the plunge this week and put some products in my TPT store! I have four items so far, and am so excited to finally begin! I have been using TPT for years, but have been afraid to load products. Copyrights, costs, and clip art, oh my!
Before I posted it on TPT, I used my drawer labels to make a copy, grade, file box!
Regretting the fact that my straight cutter is at school...fortunately I cut it (pretty) straight! 

Finished product! It goes perfectly with my polka-dot sock monkey decor! 

Here it is on TPT! Click here to purchase. Please let me know what you think! 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July Currently

I thought my first year of teaching flew by, but it was like a turtle compared to the summer! My summer is only really beginning now because I spent all of June in an intensive reading intervention professional development program. More on that later! First I am linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for a currently.

I am usually a pretty big country fan, but around patriotic holidays I tend to listen exclusively to country. I am a sucker for patriotism and music!  

As I said before, I was in PD all of June from 8:00am-2:00pm, so my summer really only started this week. Sleeping late and relaxing has been so wonderful! 

I told myself I would take this week off from teaching, but that has yet to happen! Not when Pinterest and blogs are so full of wonderful information. All of this thinking about teaching just reminds me that teaching is not a job or profession, but a calling and a passion. 

Our school year ended late this past year and is starting early in August, so our summer is already short! We have almost two weeks of in-service, so it begins the last week of July. I feel like I missed summer. 

I have wide and flat feet, so finding shoes that are comfortable is always a challenge. When I do find a pair I like, I wear them constantly until they die! My favorite pair bit the dust last week and the company no longer makes them. Does anyone have any suggestions? 

4th Plans 
Several friends and I are going to the local minor league baseball game. It is nice to have the minor league team in town because the stadium is smaller, the tickets are cheaper, and you still get to enjoy a life game! 

Have a great holiday weekend! And don't forget to check out  Oh' Boy 4th Grade for more linking fun! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Wrapping Up

Only one day left of school! I can't believe how quickly this first year is ending. We were supposed to go to the end of this week, but our air conditioner is not working, and it is almost 90 in the classrooms! While I am excited to start in-service early (and grateful to end the torture of trying to teach in a hot classroom), I am disappointed that I can't do all of the fun things I had planned for this week!

Snapshots from this week:
Our summer countdown chain! I got the sign from Mrs. Wheeler and made up our rewards for each day. We pull a chain each afternoon if we have had good conduct, and we get the reward the next day. So far the class favorite has by far been taking off shoes in the classroom! They have enjoyed everything (from chalk and painting to a movie), but on their end of week reflection on Friday, taking our shoes off Tuesday afternoon was the most discussed. It makes me laugh to realize what they love! 

We went outside on Friday afternoon and did addition and subtraction with regrouping on the sidewalk with chalk. Each student got a slip of paper with four problems on it, and once they had me check their answers, they were allowed to play with the chalk. One sweet kiddo wrote this and said I had to take a picture! So precious. 

Class compliment books. I have been doing class compliments from Across the Hall in Second Grade all year long, and have loved it. Usually we just draw one person's name and write one compliment, then share them with the class. Last week we as a class each writing a compliment to every student. It has taken a  lot of time, but now I have a booklet of compliments from each student and myself to give out on the last day. Compliments always make me smile, but these almost made me cry. It has been a really great way to finish out our class compliments for the year.

My lovely sister painted this tree for me on a canvas after I sent her this post. Thursday during independent work time I pulled students back to my table and had them put their fingerprint on the tree. I still need to add a few students, but it is exciting to have my first class on my tree! 

This is exactly how I feel! Grades, projects, meetings, clean-up, graduations, summer packets, the list keeps growing! 

Good luck with the last few days of teaching!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Enjoying the Moments

Well, I have utterly failed in posting more often. The first year of teaching really does hit you like a ton of bricks! I have a kind of long commute and will often spend the time planning blog posts that obviously never happen. They were great posts though, take my word for it! :) 
As part of my graduate program, we have to do daily reflections on the day. Each day, we have to list a high and a low. I enjoy doing these reflections, mostly because it forces me to look back at my day. I am an emotional person and sometimes (ok, more times than I would care to admit) my day flies up and down like a roller coaster. But I know at the end of the day I have to pick one high and one low, and having an ultimate high and an ultimate low each day written next to each other helps me remember that overall, my first year of teaching is going well. Is is perfect? Of course not! Nowhere near. However, it is going well. I have gotten my footing and have fallen in love with my class. Now to enjoy the last few weeks with these cuties before the end of the year! 
In other exciting news, I have finally joined the world of smart phone users! The first thing I downloaded is instagram, and I love now I always have a camera ready. 
View from this week:
This winter my entire school went to a Project Zero conference. Amazing! I love the thinking strategies and can't wait to incorporate more into my classroom.  As per a presenter's suggestion, I am sticking with one strategy at a time until it comes easily. Right now we are doing See, Think, Wonders. In my class we look at the picture for a minute, talk with our desk partner for a minute in complete sentences (I see ____.), then write on our sticky notes in sentences and share with the class. Repeat the process for think and wonder.  My kiddos LOVE it. They beg to do one every week and if we haven't gotten to it yet by Friday they insist we do one before the end of the day. It is so fun to see their brains working and soaking up the information from their partners and class sharing. But the best part is that there is no wrong answer! Even my lowest kids find success with STW. I strongly recommend reading the book or going to a conference!  

A poster from Scholastic book club this year. I have it right in front of the tissues station in my room. Now it has been there since before Christmas, but one very observant child asked me this week when we got the new poster and if we would ever read in the trees. I just had to laugh. We spend so much time decorating our classrooms and they just don't always notice. 

My classroom is sock monkey themed, and I have sock monkeys for a lot of different holidays. Students showing excellence get to read to one of my two original sock monkey during stamina reading time. It is always exciting to get to hold one of the regular sock monkeys, but if you are acting particularly amazing, I pull down the holiday one. Who know a monkey with bunny ears could hold so much power? 

We made these cute Earth Day Promises from KTP on TPT this week. Super fun and easy afternoon project! We labeled the continents and oceans on the globe, wrote on our hearts, and colored our hearts out, no pun intended. I let the kids write what they wanted to on their four hearts, as long as one started with "I promise" and another with "It is important to protect the Earth because". 

Some of my favorite responses:
"I promise to keep the Earth clean as long as I live on it."

"It is important to protect the Earth because God made it." 
So precious! 

Have a lovely rest of your weekend and remember to enjoy these last few weeks amid the craziness!