Friday, August 23, 2013

One day down, One billion to go! Parent letter, expectations & Number Line Giveaway!

Well I survived my first day in fifth grade and it went so well. I was so impressed with my students and let me tell you. That usually doesn't happen the first day;) I have high expectations. The building I am now working in is extremely structured. The rules are practiced and practiced and practiced and followed to a T.  What I have noticed about this building verses other buildings is that all the teachers are on the same boat. I have never seen such unity in behavior management and it really makes a difference. I remember previously being so frustrated at other classes that didn't have the same rules as mine and my kids as well. They notice when other classes are wilder than them and it is refreshing to see a school wide expectation followed. Our Matrix is a HUGE part of our building. Today we went over it and the kids could point out where things were updated from the previous year!

I know I should have done this before but I wanted to share my first day parent letter as well as my expectations list. I modified my co-teachers list so I can not take credit for her work. She is amazingly organized and a fantastic educator. You can modify your own by clicking on the GoogleDoc

Have you seen this amazing video? This lady is such an inspiration.

I really want a class motto to say each day. I love hers:"I am somebody, I was somebody when I came and I’ll be a better somebody when I leave.  I am powerful and I am strong.  I deserve the education that I will get here.  I have things to do, people to impress, and places to go"

Don't forget to enter my Kim's Number Line Giveaway! It is over on the 26th. 

And this is me after two days of school!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sound it,Found it Game Review!

At the beginning of the summer I was approached by the creator of Sound It, Found it, a guessing game based on sounds made by the friends you are playing with! What I love about it is that it comes with so many different game boards the you really can never possibly play every single opportunity it offers and to me that is important. It continuously offers students a different experience each time they play. Also it makes kids get creative. It isn't rolling a dice and moving a game piece. It is giving them a chance to come up with a noise in their head and gets their little wheels turning with a different approach to learning.  It gets the students giggling of course because making funny noises is the best way to act silly with friends.

Check out this video for a view of everything included.

It is a great game for inside recess and I'm extremely excited to add it to my game cabinet this school year. I would totally recommend anyone looking for a way to capture students excitement and enhance their creativity to purchase this game. I think it would be great for the beginning of the year to get kids to act silly while building those classrooms relationships or even at home with your  children. I want to put my game board up on the SmartBoard this year and play as a class! They have even come out with a Sound It, Found It JR for those little friends who are still associating photos with noises. You can find all of that here!
Has anyone else played?

&& Don't forget to join my number line giveaway!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kim's Number Line Back To School Giveaway!

Well, we start school in four days and it is crunch time for sure. One of the first days I was back I spent about an hour hot gluing my old number line to my wall. As soon as I was finished (of course) I was handed a brand spankin' new Kim's Number line. At first I was crushed because that meant removing the old number line that I perfectly centered along my west wall :( but then after checking out the product I quickly realized why Mr Principal had decided to purchase these for every classroom k-5 in my building. I (as fast as my legs could walk to the library) laminated it and placed it perfectly on my wall. And it looks fab. Out with the old in with the new.

It creates a great visual for students that can be seen at any spot of the room- It is large enough so no one should have to get out of their seat which is a plus! It is also color coordinated for skip counting, multiples, and factors which makes it the best number line I've ever seen.

So Immediately I knew I had to share this special number line with someone lucky so I talked to Kim and she graciously is giving a lovely number line for one lucky classroom!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
You can learn more about it here!
Anyone already have one? I'd love to know how you use it. Enjoy and good luck.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Made it last Monday and ramble jambles

I've had a pretty productive week in my classroom and next week will be even better. Right now I'm procrastinating homework for my Master's class...bleh I'm in school law this month and lemme tell ya nothing is fun about it.
 I really did make this stuff on Monday-swear
Linking up for my Monday Made it of course!
So yesterday I spent the morning at Hobby Lobby and Big Lots buying fabric and crates. I had leftover wood from last year so no trips to Lowes (DARN;)
Tried to make a few "boyish" ones. The polka-dot one is more masculine that it appears and the back corner one is a nice "boy" plaid.

I had a TON of fabric.. I have to go buy three more crates!

I'm even putting them by my computers
Got my lovely posters hung up! Love them!
Another view...

My computer area is a work in progress

I am learning very (very very) slowly how to use the cricut I purchased last year.. I totally didn't use the vinyl the correct way but I got it up! The transfer paper was a huge bust so I just used my fingers and carefully placed it on the door.. I was so happy with how it turned out!
Banner is precious too BTW.
I'm so sad that summer is ending soon. I seriously don't think I could ever work in the summer again after being a teacher. It is meant to enjoyed for sure.

See why I don't want summer to end at this place?

360 Bar in STL (See the stadium)
Many of our evenings have been spent on the porch, glass of wine, with my piggy and boy!
AND my week old niece made it to town tonight! It was love at first sight.
Here is here in her jammies, wide awake of course!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My advice to first year teachers

This is a post that originally was posted about a year ago. It has been updated and modified to my new advice. Enjoy.
1- Books
Collect books from garage sales, retired teachers, or goodwill. Remember books are only new the first time you open them and they will never look that way again. Put on Facebook that you are needing books, post it at church, send e-mails to family members and look for ads on craigslist or ebay. People love to give books to teachers and lots of garage sales will GIVE you items when you tell them you teach.

2- Parent Contact

Befriend the parent. Befriend the parent. Befriend the parent. You can also never have enough parent contact. And of course that needs to start on a positive contact. You want the parents to be on your side---REMEMBER that. Introduce yourself. You can see my introduction letter HERE. Everyone is nosey and wants to know what their child's teacher is about. Keep it professional but let them know that you are in fact a person that functions just like everyone else. When I wrote to parents I always signed my first and last name..never Miss Janes. Not sure why but I think I thought it made them think I was more of an adult than just their child's young new teacher. (You made have a different opinion on your signature)

In my building we do something called Pay It Forward. Every payday we send a note or phone call phone praising at least one child. You don't want parents to think that every time you are trying to get a hold of them it is because something bad has happened. It gives you brownie points too- who doesn't love to talk about their child's successes?

3- Newsletters
Always have a newsletter that is easy to read and right to the point. NO ONE wants to read 3-4 page newsletters! I kept mine to upcoming events, vocab/spelling list and math/science/communication art topics. You can also list birthday shout outs and parent thank yous. It should be useful you don't want to waste anyone's time. Parents are busy and if you start off my making your newsletter full of junk they will assume it is junk every week. The truth hurts right?

4- Discipline

I sent two kids to the principal's office all year. I think discipline should be dealt with inside the classroom until you A)Run out of options, lose total control and need backup or B)Run out of options, lose total control and need backup. Don't send kids to the principals office for everything. They will remember that and so will your principal. The first time I sent someone to the office was because he brought a knife to school. The second time was because another child (with extreme issues) lost control of himself. When my principal came to get him she told him that she knew he must have broken a lot of rules because "Miss Janes takes the principal's office very seriously". I was so happy when I heard that. Don't forget to be consistent in discipline and follow through with discipline. But have patience--you will learn several students learn slower than others and need more reminders.

5- Build Relationships
One of the best things I did this year was give up my lunch time to eat with 3-4 students each day. We sat in my room and got to know each other. It was so rewarding and really built a connection between students and also myself. It is important for kids to get to know you as someone else besides their teacher. You will gain respect for them and they will gain respect for you. I got to know so many things about my student's lives that I would never find out from just teaching math. Another thing we did was go around each Monday and share one thing we did in the past weekend. The kids LOVED it. We even came to the point where we could predict what each other did. It really build great friendships.

6- Make The Time For it

Whatever you put into this job is what you are going to get out of it. If you don't do research, don't get to know your kids, and don't make engaging lessons etc. you better kiss it goodbye. You won't enjoy work, your kids won't want to be in your class, and basically you won't last in the teaching field. I was so proud to say that all my kids told me they would miss my class at the end of the year. I can't say that they would have all said that back in December but with lots of hard work I did whatever I could to make everyone happy(most of the time of course).
Don't forget to work early because by the end of the day you will DIE and be emotionally drained. The first weeks or even months your bed may turn into your best friend. I'm pretty sure this is acceptable as long as you pull yourself together by December or so:) The first 2-3 months of school I was there over an hour 1/2 early to prepare and left the MOMENT I could! I needed the quiet time to organize and prepare myself for the day.

7- Resources
When you get to the your new school you may be alone and that is okay. But you won't be alone for long. Your team should be people that you can turn to in time of need rather it be for a laugh, vent, or educational resource or question. Find someone who has been in the field that you can turn to and trust. It may not even be your mentor. Mine wasn't and that is perfectly fine! It also was great that I had a few friends teaching across the state that I could also call or e-mail when I needed someone outside my building to relate to. (shout out to Katie HOLLA) Save everything but not in paper form...Beg, borrow, steal,--- use resources like teacherspayteachers and google. Start a Pinterest account and start pinning!! Also get a Googledocs account to back up EVERYTHING you find. Organize all your files on your computer and upload the files to Googledocs. You never know when your computer will crash-it happens. You can also share files easier that way with other teachers AND search them. It's like having a secretary find all your papers for you whenever you need them.

8- Reading
Find a reading program that is structured and allows children to read what they CAN read and what they want to read. I wish I would have found this out last fall when I started school. My kids made amazing improvements in reading and I know it was because I finally put a limit on what they could or couldn't read. I really pressed that reading too easy/too hard books is a waste of time because it doesn't make them a better reader. I drilled this into their little brains until they were able to pick out just right books and maybe scared them a little bit. I took books away from kids allllll the time and gave kids books that I made them read and take test on. I really focused on teaching the kids how to help themselves and I know all my kids benefited. I only hope they take this to fourth grade. I also told them if their teacher didn't have books for them on their level to come back and I would help them. Read this post and be sure to send home book bags with your struggling readers. Make sure the child knows how important these bags are and so do the parents. You may have parents that are not involved in your kids reading (unfortunately) and that is when you must make sure the little person knows the responsibility is on them. Celebrate the small successes in this! If you assign books to kids they can't read they will hate reading. You have to find ways to make it fun and spark their interest:)

9- Technology
You will realize that technology is your best friend. KIDS LOVE technology and most of them already know how to use it. Don't be afraid of the computer lab. The first couple times it may be rocky but you can use it to your advantage if you are using it properly. Don't waste time in there, get straight to work, and practice it often. Some of the best learning tools can be found online.. You just have to look for them:)

10- Enjoy Your Life
Don't forget the real world and don't get offended when people talk about your job and say it is easy. Most of those people can't handle kids or had bad experiences in school. Go to happy hour, online shop on your lunch break, and if someone asks you on a date don't use an excuse that you have to grade papers or something. It makes the rest of us look bad;)

11- Donor's Choose
Donor's Choose is your best friend. Trust me, the moment you become a teacher create a project to invest yourself into. Make sure you are passionate about it because that will show in your writing you submit. Share it to facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram--whatever you can! Tell all your relatives. They will love it because you are a first year teacher and everyone thinks that is just precious! My first year I earned a kidney table for my classroom and this year I got an i-Pad mini. People are generous when they love you. And wait until double donations start for your parents and yourself to donate. They always happen you just have to wait for them. So don't get to carried away! Last year they did it right before Halloween. So get one ready and wait for donation match time to come up.

12-Be Mean, Be Serious, Be Stern, Be loving
In every class you will have that one student who pushed your buttons the first week of school. Push theirs right back. Students like this will test you the first week and don't cut them slack. Blow it off, ignore bad behavior but let them know it comes with consequences as well. Take away recess and lunch, don't just threat. Let expectations be clear and consequences clearer. Students will respect you for this. Pick your most troubled student, the one who is hardest to like even (it will happen) and spend time with them. Make sure they know that you care about them. Every child wants love but some have different ways of showing that. But let them know who is boss. It is hard to discipline children. I've nearly cried after seeing children apologize to me who I can tell actually mean it. I always give them a hug and tell them I forgive them but let them know I am disappointed in their behavior. You will thank me for this;)
13- Start a TeachersPayTeachers Account
My first year of teaching I made a lot of simple resources but I never saved them to sell. This year I took those resources and modified them for TPT. Upload your freebies, make your simple items a little better and put them on there. The income you get will cover items you want to purchase yourself. I don't make much on there because I don't have a lot but It is always a nice surprise to get a little chunk of change in your account. Think long term on this, a TPT success story doesn't happen overnight. For help with this check out this awesome blog post by Mercedes.
AND use the restroom even when you don't think you have to. Because something will come up.

Monday, August 5, 2013

5th Grade Freebie Finds..

If you have followed me for a while you probably already know I'm pretty cheap. I don't like spending a lot of money on classroom stuff that isn't of excellent quality. I throw together many of my own resources and then splurge on the goodies. This year is even going to be more tough! Last year in the district I worked in, all teachers were given $200 to spend on resources. This year in my new district: ZERO.  So with that in mind I have to be fruggle. I've already spent way too much money on curtains, organization carts, and books so it is time to be smart until I'm paid again!
So snatch them up while they are still free.

This Welcome Banner can be for any grade level and looks great outside your door.
 Math centers are great at every level. These task cards are just for that and are common core aligned.

Classroom jobs are important to me. I give all my students a job and this year they will be paid each week with coins if the job is completed. Fail to do your job? Then you don't get paid. This Job application is student friendly and easy on the eyes as well.
All fifth grades are fluent in M & D on the first day rightttt? They aren't!? Just kidding. We all know they need that review. These are perfect for that filler at the beginning of the year. They provide excellent opportunity for "thinking". Something some students may have forgotton over the summer ;)

I feel so lucky this year to have 5 classroom computers as well as an Ipad. With all the technology in my room is going to come some hassle. These will provide students with a friendly reminder while they surf the web.

This will also be on wall. How many times must I say on Kidblog is is not okay to write 'hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii" as a comment on everyones blog? It must be revelant to the post:)

A handful of sassy door signs.
What are some other great freebies I need for 5th?? I'm basically starting from scratch. With common core on the rise we are making our own units of instruction. No curriculum is given to us and my classroom comes with basically a handful of books and that is it. It stinks.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mastering Math Facts Multiplication and Division...A Laura Candler product

I was thrilled when Laura Candler's team offered me an opportunity to review a new product- Mastering Math Facts. I was even happier when I opened it and saw really what it was made of. I've used her other products when I taught multiplication for the past two years and really loved what she had to offer previously---so I knew this one had to be great.
First and foremost this product is available through an Ebook on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can find it HERE. You can also find it bundled with other resources on their TPT page for a discounted price. Check them all out before you make your purchase. This is something you don't want to miss out on for sure!
Before I get started, this ebook is a whopping 209 pages and is:
Aligned with these Common Core Content Standards
Aligned with these Common Core Practice Standards:
It gives an excellent breakdown of how it aligns to each standard..however I can't share everything can I?;)
Chapter one starts out with a short preassessment by "showing what you know" (actually it has two) and the book explains the concept and importance of understanding and not just memorizing. One of my biggest pet peeves while teaching third grade was having my students tell me, "I don't know 7x6 (blah blah)". Hello friends, what strategies have I taught you?? Those foundational skills are so important and this book gives you tools to teach that within your room.
It also provides you with an outline of what order you should teach your whole unit of multiplication and division in. It is so user friendly! Chapter one has about 80 pages of activities.
Chapter two is all about mastering math facts. It starts with a teacher breakdown and provides you with a game plan. It then goes into testing fluency and motivational programs. I love the award at the end that you give students upon completion of their fluent facts. I always make a huge deal out of those students and they love it.
Chapter three is probably my favorite. It provides an ample amount of assessments that gradually introduce more facts. The book also provides you with online resources to visit.
I was really impressed by the hands on activities that this ebook provides. It really makes the students involved and provides excellent resources for learning the foundations of M&D NOT just mastering facts.
Last spring I have a new girl in my class from a nearby town. She knew all of her math facts as quick as a whip. We were so amazed by her and her ability to recall this information. She struggled in all subjects but was the multiplication queen. Once, she did fail a quiz and I asked her to redo it. She immediately broke down in tears telling me she didn't know how show her work on multiplication she just knew the answers. I was amazed and heartbroken. This poor child had no idea even how to show her work for 3x3. She just knew the answer was 9 because that is what someone told her. It is so important as educators we do not let this happen. I wish I would have had this resource then to help her learn everything I had already taught. It would have made life easier.
Check out the ebook here!
*This is a review of my own thoughts and beliefs I was not paid for this post.
 Check back next week to see the progres of my classroom and for an AMAZING back to school giveaway!! Happy Sunday!