Back to School Goals: Linky

Hi everyone!

I really need to get back to blogging earlier in the day! It is almost August, so I thought I'd link up {for the first time ever} with I {Heart} Recess for her Back to School Goals!

Personal: I'd really like to get a workout routine going. My cheer season doesn't start until November and I really want to be in shape when it comes around so I can do some conditioning with my cheerleaders!

Organization: As a beginning teacher, and first year in elementary, I really want to get my classroom library organized. I have finished writing out all of my labels; now I just have to stick 'em to the books! I hope to have this done next week when I go see my new room for the first time!

Planning: When I taught middle school, I had several planned absences {state wrestling, school wide BRI testing, brother's wedding}, but it was pretty easy to have sub plans, because I did the same thing for 6 periods. Elementary is just a tad different, so I really want to plan my lessons well, so a sub can teach them with ease! Anyone have great ideas for sub plans?! PLEASE SHARE!

Professional: I'm not sure if this is personal or professional...hmm, but I want to create more TpT products and not just freebies! Although, everyone loves freebies; I want to make a little bit of money, too!

Students: Coming from a reading position, where the majority of my students hated reading, I really want my kiddos this year to have a passion for it. Third grade is the year they transition from learning to read to reading to learn and I really want them to find great books that they get lost in!

Motto: I have a huge passion for learning and hope to instill that passion and excitement in my students. I love when my students get excited about learning...doesn't every teacher?!

I hope to post some DIY items tomorrow, including my Open House magnets!!

until tomorrow,


The Learning Post

Good evening!

This past weekend I was in Des Moines and I took the opportunity to stop by The Learning Post. I could spend all day in there...and all of my money, too! I was on a mission for a monthly calendar for my room. I found a display of a black, gray, and white chevron themed one that matched some library pockets, classroom job cards, and bulletin board trimmer that were already in my hand! SO cute! It had pops of color on the background of the calendar days and the font for the months. So, I went over to the calendar sets, but I couldn't find it..not even the place it was supposed to be if they were out. I asked an employee, and he brought me the sad news that they were out and expecting more in. He said he might have a blank calendar in the theme. He brought me back one and said he checked for the month cards, but they were out of those, too. So, I decided I'd attempt making my own cards to go with my calendar.

So I started working in GIMP {similar to Photoshop, but FREE} to create a background. I just downloaded GIMP Sunday night and I'm already in love with it! I've been working on some TpT products and I'm really excited about my progress! Anyways, I used the bulletin board trimmer I got as my "model".

After quite some time, I finally got my end product...
Click the picture to grab them for free from my TpT store!
If you haven't already, go swing by my store to check out my freebies!
If you read my last post, you know that I'm going to start making products! Follow my store so you know when I add new things!

What would you pay money for and what would you really love to see as a freebie?!

What things have you purchased from TpT?

Here are some things I got at The Learning Post: blank calendar, calendar days, library pockets, classroom job cards, stickers, pumpkin trimmer, snowflake trimmer, colored striped trimmer, and a FREE poster, which I have yet to determine what I'm going to do with.

Until tomorrow,


Teachers Pay Teachers

Hope you had a terrific Monday!

Awhile back, I started a Teachers Pay Teachers store, because I created something for student teaching that I couldn't find anywhere. However, I quickly learned that my products were not that great, so I kind of gave up on it. Then, when I started blogging, I thought, I should look into looking at making products again. I found a great seller on TpT, Teacher Tam (click to check out her store), who not only has great products, but also 5 Video Tutorials to start teachers on the site!

So, I give you one of my first, nice looking {in my opinion} products!

Click the picture to download it from my store...for FREE!

I hope to post a lot of products this week...what would you like to see in my store?!

Do you have a Tpt store? Are you thinking about it?!



Shop 'til I drop!

I'm so excited to blog have no idea!

I want to share a couple of things I bought yesterday.

First...I've been trying all summer to find sand chairs at a reasonable price. Last night I was at Walgreen's looking at school supplies when my boyfriend found the best thing ever in the clearance aisle. SAND CHAIRS 75% off; making them $3.74 each! WOO! I really wanted sand chairs for around my room for reading spots. I grabbed one of each color: blue, lime, and orange. Feel free to snag some up at your Walgreen's!

Second... I really want to recreate this image with my kiddos during the first week of school:

So I picked up a new black dry-erase board at Wal-Mart, along with a pack of Crayola Dry-Erase Bright Crayons. While students are holding up their dream job, I will be holding up something that looks like this:

Cute, right?! I know, I know. The link on Pinterest took me to a photographer's blog, so I can't credit the teacher, but what an awesome idea! I'm sure the parents will appreciate it so much when I send their child home with a 4x6 of their class' "When I Grow Up..."

Third...isn't something I purchased, but something I'm in the process of making. At Open House, I want to put these bad boys out for parents to take home and stick on the refridgerator! I picked up some flexible magnetic sheets {3 pack} at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon so it was only about $6. I plan on printing them right at home. I may tweak it some before I I'll post a pic of the final product when I print them! They print 10 a sheet, so I will have 30! I may print more depending on how many students I have. You never know how many divorced parents you will have and some parents may like one for work, too!

I want to share a couple more things, but not until they're fully finished. Maybe I'll get them done when I get back from Des Moines tomorrow, then post in the evening.

Until then, have you found any amazing buys for your classroom or made anything from Pinterest that you're just in love with?! Share by commenting!



Classroom Decor


Today I want to talk about classroom decor. As a beginning teacher, I think that's one of the many things I'm excited for. If you've been reading my blog, you know that I bought my first house this summer. I keep telling people I don't know which is more exciting, decorating my classroom or house!

Now, some of you may be thinking, "she started teaching in January...didn't she have her own classroom then?" And you would be correct, technically. I did have my own classroom, however, it was not intended to be a classroom. I was lucky enough to work in a brand spankin' new building! It was completed last summer in time for the first group of students the 2012-13 school year. The problem was, this was the first year they had a supplemental reading class, and they did not plan for it in the building design. So, I was actually in a big closet. Yes, a closet. A great space if it was attached to your master bedroom, but not so much for a classroom. I had no windows. Not even a window on the door to look out in the hallway. It was hot on warm days, and cold on cool days. I don't think they anticipated heating and cooling a closet. Here are some pictures of my classroom, when I first decorated. Over spring break I rearranged furniture, because I wanted  my desk to act as a boundary for the 2 student tables.

When you enter my closet classroom
Student bookshelf...which was completely full from top to bottom by the end of the year.
I tried to implement Cafe strategies...but it wasn't too successful.
My desk, including a giant bowl of candy! :)
Just adding a little color and support for the panthers!
Bookshelf behind my desk 
My inspiration! If you haven't read Taylor Mali's book What Teacher's Make, you need to check it out. This is where this poem came from.

So, as you can see, I couldn't do a whole lot to my room. For my 1st year in 3rd grade, I thought about doing a theme. I really love love love chevron print, as do a lot of people right now, it's kind of in at the moment, in case you haven't noticed! But then I decided I just have lots of fun colorful things, so that's what my theme is going to be this year: color! I know, not much of a theme, but I'm just going to focus on making my room a great learning environment. Besides, if I pick a theme, I will probably buy every thing and any thing that is in that theme, even if I don't need it. However, I am going to make a back to school bulletin board. I haven't decided what it will say quite yet. I'm going to Des Moines this weekend and I'm planning on stopping by the Learning Post to grab some things, so I'll see what I find there!

I found out yesterday that I can get into my room August 5th, so I'll make sure to post pictures of it {before & after} when I get in there!

So what is your classroom theme this year? Share your thoughts and ideas by commenting! I really love hearing from you!

Happy Weekend!


Morning Routines: Avoiding Worksheets

Hello all!

Today I want to get some of your ideas for morning routines, more specifically morning work/bell work. I really dislike the idea of having students come in, sit down, and get started on some type of worksheet. I'm currently re reading my Daily 5 and Cafe books and I completely agree with the sisters when they say they were so tired of students doing busy work and even more tired of grading it. So, I'd really like to have a paperless morning work or if I do have to use paper, I want it to be of high engagement. I've seen some teachers just have students read, some do worksheets, some play games, etc. I don't like the idea of having students just come in and read because I plan on having my literacy block in the morning, so I feel that's a little overwhelming for some students in the amount of reading time. Also, in my building, students can start coming into the classroom at 8:15, but the tardy bell doesn't ring until 8:30. So some kiddos might be working on something for 15 minutes before some even get in the door! Then, if I start instruction right away at 8:30, whatever students were working on from 8:15 to 8:30, the poor kiddos that were tardy don't even have an opportunity to work on the task. UGH! Can you see my frustration?! Please tell me you're in the same boat!

I also really want some variety in my morning work. I would like to have a "theme" if you will for each day, or at least 3 different ones, Monday/Wednesday, Tuesday/Thursday, and something fun on Friday. 

For example, "Magazine Monday", "Technology Tuesday", "Wacky Words Wednesday", etc. Just so it changes it up a bit. I know I always got bored with my bell work in elementary because my teachers didn't have any variety or choice for students. 

So what are your thoughts? If you are doing worksheets, what kind are they? What else are you using for morning work and how do you make sure all students get an opportunity to do the task(s)?!


P.S. Someone wanted to say hi to you all today. Say, "Hi Maxwell!"


Classroom Library & New Favorite Children's Book

Happy Hump Day!

Today I want to talk about classroom libraries. I am a huge lover of books, especially children's books! I mean, honestly, what teacher doesn't love books?! When I decided to go into education, I was extremely disappointed to find out that my mom had gotten rid of all my children's books from growing up! Who would have known her little girl would have needed all of those wonderful books as an adult!? Well, since I had a non-existing collection, I started to build my library in college by purchasing books from Scholastic book orders my professors distributed in class. I may or may not have gone a little crazy overboard.

Then, I found out about my local public library's book sale that they have a few times a year. At this book sale, they sell discarded children's books for 25 cents for paperbacks and 50 cents for hardbacks. UH, HELLO! I LOVE CHEAP THINGS! My first sale I went completely crazy and my mom (who graciously went with me) thought I was crazy, too! When we got home, my mom had the best idea ever! She decided I needed to start making a list of all books I had so I could have some type of reference to my quickly growing collection. She started entering all of my books into Excel, listing the title and author. So, every time I picked up a new stack of books, her or I would just enter the new titles and VOILA! I knew exactly which books I had.

 When I started teaching middle school reading, students were constantly asking me the Accelerated Reading levels and point values of books from my shelf. After awhile, I finally decided I would enter those values into my spread sheet. So, I spent a good week or so entering every title into the Accelerated Reader database to get the reading level and test point value of each book. Then, when I got new books, I just simply updated the list and looked up the information. So, when a student asked, I just searched the book in my spreadsheet. It was starting to be a real slick system.

Towards the end of the year, I had the idea of making spine labels for all of my books that had the 3 letters of the author's last name, reading level, and point value. I didn't get too far in this process. I have recently bought my first home, and am slowly taking school things from my mom's house to bring to my house. I don't want to bring too much though, because I know it will just be moved again into my new room next month! (EEEK! NEXT MONTH!) Well, yesterday, I stumbled upon my labels, and have decided to make it my goal to finish writing out all labels for all...wait for it...691 BOOKS! Well, actually I only need labels for 499, because those are the number of books I have that have AR tests. Also, I had 3 students lose a book each at the end of the year, so really 496! :) Obviously, after teaching middle school, not all of my books will be appropriate for 3rd graders, but I still want to do them all in case I switch grades in the distant future.

Which brings me to a question...What do you think about having students take classroom library books home? I was okay with middle schoolers, because I thought they would be responsible. They did pretty well; I'm only missing 3 of my books (that I know of). However, 7 and 8 year olds are a totally different ball game. I want them to take books home, especially if they are interested in them! However, I don't want to keep buying books over and over again to replace lost or damaged ones. We all know how big teachers' salaries are. So what are your thoughts?

Also, what are you going to use or do you already use for your classroom library?

Next, I have to tell you about my latest book purchase from Barnes and Noble. It was recommended to me by the cashier... The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt.

It is an adorable story of a boy named Duncan who goes to open his box of crayons, only to find a stack of letters written by the crayons. Each letter is written by an individual crayon who feels over worked, under appreciated, neglected, etc. The illustrations are child like and the story tells a great message. If you haven't seen this book, you must check it out! I plan on reading it the first day of school, then bringing it back later for a writing project! :) Also, if you don't already have one, you should get an Educators card from Barnes and Noble. It is completely free and you get 20% off your purchases for your classroom, including toys and games. There are some exclusions, but I always purchase books so I haven't ran into any yet.

If you've made it through all of this post, WHEW, good for you! Thank you for reading! Don't forget to comment your thoughts and ideas! We're all in this together!



The Daily 5: Listening to Reading

Happy Tuesday!

Today I want to focus on Daily 5, specifically Listening to Reading.

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to attend the Iowa Reading Association's annual conference where "The Sisters" were keynote speakers. I was so inspired by listening to them sharing their ideas and how they've changed Daily 5 and Cafe since they started it.

I've had some experience with Daily 5. I got to see how to launch it in a 1st grade classroom in student teaching. In my 5th grade placement, I got to launch it myself. This was really stressful, but very rewarding as well.

All summer I've been collecting things for Daily 5. I feel pretty prepared with all of my ideas for everything BUT Listening to Reading. Since this will be my first year teaching elementary, and I have yet to see my classroom, I don't know what kinds of materials will be left for me. I've seen a lot of teachers use portable CD players and use the Basal books on CD for their listening centers, but I don't even know if I will have any CDs.

So I'm asking all of you out there what you are planning to use for your Listening Centers?


The Beginning

Only 4 weeks until the 2013-14 school year begins! HOLY MOLY!

So as most of you, I've been on Pinterest a lot! I come across all of these teacher blogs with helpful tips and inspiring ideas. I also come across beginning teacher blogs. Then it hit me; why don't I start my own blog?

I feel extremely grateful to have graduated in December of last year, because I was given the opportunity to start teaching at semester. I was offered a position as a Reading teacher at a middle school in my hometown. As the reading teacher, I had small class sizes of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who were at least 2 years behind in reading.

Fast forward to the present and here I am preparing for my dream job! In the district I work in, they do a "bidding" process to fill open positions. So, if a teacher resigns or retires, their position goes up for bid to internal employees. The position then goes to the bidder with most seniority and meets the criteria. I decided to bid on all elementary positions, not knowing if I had a chance getting one because I was the lowest on the totem pole. I found out that I didn't receive a position from the first round of bids. The next round began, and I again bid on all elementary positions. I then received the best phone call ever from my Human Resource Director telling me I could have my pick from the three positions I bid on, because I was the only internal applicant on all of the positions. I quickly decided to accept my dream job: 3rd grade at North Hill Elementary.

Let me explain why this particular position is my dream job...

1) I always saw myself teaching 3rd or 4th grade.
2) I wanted to be in the Burlington Community School District, as Burlington is my hometown, and I am already employed by the district as the Winter Cheerleading Coach for the high school.
3) North Hill is where I attended 2nd-5th grade. Some of my teachers are still teaching there.
4) North Hill is where I did my first student teaching experience in 1st grade.
5) The above means that I will have some of my firsties in my class for the 2014-15 school year!

Needless to say, North Hill feels like home to me. I know the staff well, and they have welcomed me in their building from the beginning!

Okay, enough about me...If you're reading this, first of all, thank you, second of all, I want to hear about your jobs! What makes your position a great first teaching job for you?!

Back to Top