Sunday, August 20, 2017

Let it all begin! - Classroom reveal, beginning activities, Future Fridays, and a class update!

 WELCOME BACK!!! All my educator friends know that by the 8th day of school, it all starts to feel real.  You get in a groove with your new class.  I am loving my new first graders this year.  They are full of spunk and very very lovable.  I have enjoyed those moments when I am in mid-teaching sentence and my little guy Eli just comes up randomly to hug me and say "this is the best class ever" (💓💓 how can I get mad at that EVEN if he DID just interrupt me??😊)  Or my little Gracie who literally just wants a hug any chance she can get one!?  (Yes please!).  I love the unknown with them.  They are eating up every bit of first grade because there's still so much more they haven't learned about me and our room and how everything works.  There's a reason why I became a teacher, and my firsties this year remind me every day why I chose this job.  So, how about a classroom reveal?!

Classroom Reveal

I love to have an inspirational door that can last
the whole year. 
It is not a secret that I love to decorate my classroom.  I love how a nicely decorated room makes me feel and also makes my students feel.  Last summer, I wrote a blog post about classroom design and why it really does matter in a classroom.  Check it out HERE.  I know lots of educators feel that going out of your way to decorate a classroom really nice isn't necessary, and they're right.  It's not necessary in order to have a fully functional and prosperous year, but everything I do in my room is purposeful and I feel strongly that the things I have in place (color scheme, lighting options, seating options,  family photos, bulletin boards, etc) helps in a certain way for the kids.  Here's a look at my room this year.  You will notice my sunshine theme.  This is the third year I have had this decor.  I feel the colors really make the room cheerful and calm.  I got most of my classroom design printables and ideas from 3 summers ago when I redid my room.  Check it out HERE!!
calendar area
blank boards for each subject to start the year.
Book boxes and my new "friends" Piggie, Gerald, and Pigeon!
Some of my new seating options and technology.

Classroom library area and word wall
New and improved interest library!

Class Yoga

I got these class yoga posters on TPT.  Click HERE to check them out.  I use Yoga as a brain break between reader's workshop and writer's workshop.  They have been loving it so far!

Leveled Library
Extra supplies/ word work materials

take home folder slots


Word bird board - track sight word progress.

writer's workshop paper

If you want a link to those parent handbooks, I bought them from TPT last summer.  Click HERE to get them too!

Hallway bulletin board.

Odds and ends that we use for engineering/ makerspace

First days of school

We have had a great start to our year!  One of my favorite things we do at the beginning of the year is get to know each other.  This year, we did something called a "Show and Share".  I have an amazing teaching partner.  And I'm pretty sure she came up with this idea on her own.  We decided to have the kids bring in a family photo, and also their favorite book to share with the class.  Here's the letter we sent home for the families.

Here's a look at some of our kids showing off their families and sharing their favorite books.







I took their family photos and hung them around the room.  I thought it would make them feel more at "home" during the school year.

Future Friday!

This year, I decided to try something a little bit different for my students.  I have been through some very intensive STEM training through the STEM TQ institute partnering with Washington University for the past two years.  One of the big pushes for STEMcapable teachers is to let students see themselves in a role or career that they will one day pursue.  So many students do not see themselves in a STEM role for many reasons. Many times because there may not be people of their gender/race/identity that are in those positions in their lives, so they do not identify with those as being "capable careers" for them.  So my goal is to start FUTURE FRIDAY!  Every friday, the kids will fill out their "future friday" paper for morning work.

  Then we will BECOME that person for the day.  I made little name tags for them to wear for the day.

That way, when I call on them on the carpet I can say "Rockstar Kori" not just "Kori" or "Teacher Clara", not just "Clara".  I also used it as a behavior management tool.  I said things like, " Wow Chance! You are acting just like a builder would act because you are being a real problem solver right now!" or " Zoie, if you are going to be a soccer player, you have to never give up - just how you are not giving up on your writer's workshop story today."  "Alexandria is showing so much patience, just like she will need someday to be a babysitter!"💓

The best part is that they can choose to be something different next Friday or decide to stay the same.  The kids really loved it!  They said it was their favorite day so far in first grade.  (It was mine too 💙💙💙)

Class update

There are so many things I am learning about the class already.  Here are some highlights so far:

  • Chance is going to have a baby sister soon.  Her name will be Evie!
  • Jackson K is having his birthday party this weekend! He is very excited to celebrate!
  • Toula is going to watch the Solar Eclipse Monday at the park with her family!
  • Mrs. T had a birthday party at her house this weekend!  Her daughter Abby turned 13!
  • Gianna stayed the night with her grandparents 3 nights in a row this week!
That's all for now!  I hope my other fellow educators are also having great starts to the year!  Is there anything that you always do to start the year off right?  I'd love to hear it in the comments!  


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Back to Blogging - Getting ready for year 10 of Teaching!

Hello blog world!  Some of you may have noticed... I have taken a bit of a break from my blog this year.  This was not on purpose at first, but became something I needed to do in my life.  This new year, I made some goals for myself professionally and personally.  I hung them up on my mirror in my bedroom so that I see them every day.
 As you can see, some are personal and some professional.  Basically, I decided this year that I needed to make time for the things that matter most in my life - My family and God.  I know that some other teachers probably struggle with this too.  The balance between doing what's best for your "school kids" and meeting other school demands/deadlines tied together with meeting the demands of YOUR LIFE!  I really felt that pressure this year.  I felt like I was not being a very good wife/ mom/ spiritual leader, and in turn, it wasn't making me a very good first grade teacher either!  Funny how the more time and energy you spend on something, doesn't make a change!  The change comes from within!  Anyway, so long story short, I decided to take less time to blog about my teaching experiences, and spent that time on other things.  The good news is... I feel as if I am renewed... rejuvenated!  

Me at Oxford University!!
I recently just had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Europe for 10 days with the Horatio Alger Association, and it helped to reset my mind, my body, my attitude, and... Just EVERYTHING!  I am so humbled by the experience, and so thankful for what it has done for me mentally.  I have never felt so ready for the school year to begin!  Everything is sort-of falling into place in my life, and THAT is a good place to be my friends :)!

Getting Ready for year 10!

WHHHHHA?  Yes, that's right.  I am old enough to have double digits in my teaching career!  I'm not mad about that!  More wisdom my friends!  This year is all about the books!  Last year, our school was lucky enough to receive a HUGE amount of money from the local Methodist church.  They decided to give us their ENTIRE Christmas Eve offering donation.  Doesn't that give you chills?  We received over $17,000 in a most generous donation!  I am so thankful for their generosity!

 We thought about what to do with that money, but it all boiled down to - BOOKS!  Many Lincoln teachers have a pretty substantial classroom library, but we needed new titles, diverse titles, and just some fresh, new copies!  I was so excited to make a list of books that I wanted for this school year (ANY BOOKS I WANT!) It was like Christmas!  I ordered so many new titles and genres that I know my first graders will love this year!
Here are just a few...

But, with new things, comes lots of work!  And that's exactly what I've been doing.  I have been working long hours this week and last trying to get my new and improved classroom library ready for the new year.  I have been organizing, printing labels, purging, labeling, measuring, labeling.... See a common theme here?  :)  I hope to share some of my techniques and ideas with you about how I decided to organize my classroom library (this time lol).

Classroom library Redo

I have taught 9 full years in first grade, and this will be the 4th time I have redone my classroom library in some way or another.  My first year of teaching, I just gathered up any books anyone would give me and tried to put them into labeled tubs that were divided by genre.
2009 classroom library
The kids had no idea how to put them away, and by the end of the year, I had a huge mess!  The next year, I moved classrooms and gained some new books.  I kept the same topic bins, but just added labels to the books so the kids could put them away in the correct spot!  (The only problem is that some of my kids can't read sooooo.....)  Then my 4th year of teaching, I added a leveled library to go along side my interest library.  This is when I started the "Number system".  The number system is more like a number and color system.  It works because even if the child cannot read the topic on the label, they can most-likely connect the color/ number combo to find the correct bin to return the book to.  It worked for 6 years up until now!  I am revamping the same combo with some new books and topics for my library!  I am beyond excited!!!
2011 Classroom library

I have some color/ numbers and sticker labels with pictures so the kids can easily identify bins and put the books back.  I have 62 topic/ character bins and 38 leveled library bins!  Did I mention I used the book money to buy all new bins for the library too!?  Aren't they sharp and pretty!?  I printed the topic labels on regular address labels

Then, I printed the numbers on these cute little labels.  I found these on Amazon.  color coding dot label

There is a template you can download and then just put these babies right through the printer!  It was easy!

Then, I just had to label the books!

WHY Leveled AND Interest?

Now seems like a good time to tell you my "WHY".  Why choose a leveled library AND an interest library?  What's the point? I have always been a firm believer in choice when it comes to children.  If they don't like it, they won't do it.  Period.  Recently, I have felt a huge swing in the way reading instruction is given.  We swung really hard in the direction of only giving kids "just-right" leveled books and limited them on their choices.  I saw problems with this because kids were limited on what they could choose and what they could truly get excited about.  I recently read a book called Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller.  It really opened my eyes to some things and disservices teachers are doing to diminish the true love of reading.  One of them is defining a child by a level.  A child is so much more than a reading level, and if you define them that way, so will they.  So, to answer my question, Why?  TO GROW A CULTURE OF READERS WHO CHERISH AND LOVE LEARNING, READING, AND GROWING TOGETHER.  We are all readers.  It's time ALL kids know that! :)

In other news...

In other news, I just made a fresh new batch of flower pens!  /classrom-design-matters-also-flower-pen.html.  To see my post about classroom design and my flower pen tutorial!

I love them and they brighten up any room.  They put smiles on the faces of writers :)!  To read more about how I make them, check out my blog post

Here are some pics from my trip to Paris and London!
Eiffel Tower
Under the Eiffel Tower with friends!
Omaha Beach

Point 0 of Paris

London Skyline

Thanks for reading friends!  More classroom pics and updates to come!

~ Shelly