Saturday, July 30, 2016

Five for Friday - Operation Classroom Setup Style!

Well, the last week of July has come and gone...this is typically the week when I get my classroom all setup so I can relax a bit for the coming weeks (you know...the calm before the storm). 

And honestly, I tried. 
I spent four days there.

And I have made progress. 
Some progress.
But I am far from done.
I seem to be moving slower than usual.
I blame the shoulder surgery recovery. :(

Anyway, that means I do have some fun pictures for you this week.
So let's get started!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs again!


Dear Mr. Maintenance Man...thank you for the new ceiling tiles. They look awesome, however, this is what I call a half-job in my house and/or classroom. :-( 

I have no idea what all these cords and wires are, but I guess I get to figure it out. #Annoyed


So my slow progress also had to do with our new reading curriculum. It took me a whole day to purge my old files and organize my new materials. I was so excited the big, awkward cards actually fit in my filing system though! 


If you follow us on Facebook, you know I shared this post from Kristen with Easy Teaching Tools. It inspired me to make these copy clips. #Genius #SaveTheStickyNotes

I'll makes some with numbers needed after final enrollment, but for the most part this is done. #TeacherTimeSaver


 Remember the post about my teaching failures? Some of my mistakes were due to jumping into things. 
Well, Whole Brain Teaching is something that I have eased into and feel pretty confident that it fits my teaching style. I have incorporated parts of WBT into my teaching for the last few years.

This year, I'm using the Super Improver Wall for the very first time. Here's how it turned out:

Yes, right now I'm only planning on 14 students. With one class per grade level, my class sizes fluctuate from year to year. The most I've had is 23. If I don't get any new kiddos, this will be my smallest class. It is nice, but makes me worried for our little K-2 building... Remember if you want the editable name cards free, you can grab them in our TPT store.


WBT Power Pix Grids
Speaking of WBT, my most engaging lessons are ones where I have an action for the concept I'm teaching, but I struggled to always come up with an action. 

As I browsed the WBT website for more information on the Super Improver Wall and Genius Ladder (the two things I knew I wanted to add this year), I stumbled onto Power Pix. 

If you are a WBTer, you're probably thinking, "Duh!" 
I had no idea! 
WBT has done all the work of coming up with actions for you. Seriously.

Check out their website if you are interested.

Now, I'm trying to convince myself that I do NOT need to go to the classroom on a Saturday in the summer.

I do NOT need to go.

I do NOT need to go.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wisdom for Wednesday-Anchor

Welcome to another week of:

I love this song because when you are facing hard times in your life, it reminds us that no matter how hard something may be God has it and remains in control.  There are just times that the hope of God being in control is all we have and it can get us through those tough times.  I'm so glad he is my anchor in the storms when my sails are torn!  

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Nonsense Words Games-Discounted!!

It is getting close to school time so we decided to offer our new Connect Four Nonsense Words Game Set 1 for $1 and our 
I Have..Who Has...? Nonsense Words Game Set 1 for $1!!  You can get them for this discounted price today only for #bhbdollardeals!!  The Connect Four Game set includes 4 games and the I Have...Who Has...? Game set includes 2 games.  

We work a lot the first semester on nonsense words and I'm always hunting for ways to practice them.  I don't know why it took me so long to think of making connect four games with them and I have who has games.  My kids love these games and Crystal and I have made several of these.  So, I couldn't figure out why I didn't think of it before.  But, I finally thought of it and finished up with them the other day!  

Have a great day!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Little B2S, a Freebie, and a Little Fun...

Hello there!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday to give you some random pictures from my week.


I don't know about you, but I have to ease in to working in my room. I typically stop by a few times and look at the mess that awaits me before I actually decide to dive in. Ha!

I stopped by one day last week and worked for a just a bit. My daughter helped with some bulletin boards (so thankful--could not do them due to the shoulder surgery).

This is the bulletin board across the hall. I typically choose something I can keep up all year, so  I'll be posting student work here.

In preparation for starting the Super Improver Wall, I'm rereading my Whole Brain Teaching book. I have added several elements of WBT over the last couple of years and love them all (so do my students). I was hesitant to start the Super Improver Wall because it seemed like a lot of work to me. 

Last year, I realized my management system was already a lot of work and I ended up abandoning parts of it and talking individual goals with students anyway. So this year, I'm keeping it simple with the Super Improver Wall--no other "fluff," in line with my core beliefs, and focuses on individual improvements!

This quote is the motivation for me to go for it:

I have found a ton of free Super Improver Wall headers on TPT, but what I couldn't find was name cards like I wanted. 
I wanted editable so I could type in the names, and I wanted the visual of how many stars they needed to earn to move to the next level. 

That means a freebie for you! 
If you snag it, please be so kind as to leave feedback. :-)

If you don't use the Super Improver Wall, I think you could use them for punch cards as well.


I first saw these craft keepers in April, and I knew I had to have them to organize my "I have...who has...?" games and task cards.
I was thrilled to see them marked down at Michael's and a coupon that could be applied. I picked up two of these for $16 each! 

I plan to use one for reading and one for math. LOVE it!


We didn't get to take our home missions trip to MN, but since the my husband and kids were off work we took a quick trip to Oklahoma City. 

We went to Riversport Adventures. 
I was seriously bummed that I couldn't participate with them (that shoulder again), so we will have to go back next year. Although, I will avoid the high stuff (yikes)!


My birthday is on Monday, so I scheduled a Stitch Fix to get some back-to-school clothes. I've told you before...I hate shopping, so paying extra is worth it to me AND it gets me out of my comfort zone (as I am fashion challenged). :-)

I was so excited to get it early, and it is definitely a 5/5 so I get the 25% discount too! Happy Birthday to me!

Not pictured: a necklace. 
I LOVED this fix! I probably wouldn't have tried on any of this if I were out shopping on my own, but I was able to put together quite a few outfits with these pieces plus what I already own. 

Disclaimer: If you use the Stitch Fix links in this post, I will receive a $25 referral credit (and I thank you!).

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! 

My plan is to bombard you with classroom pictures next week (if I can get in gear). I love to be set up in July, so when I go back in August I can focus on lessons and paperwork...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wisdom for Wednesday - Kindness

Happy Wednesday!

I hope you're having a wonderful week.

 This week's wisdom post comes after reflecting on recent events in our country and studying about kindness in True Woman 201 by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary A. Kassian.

What would the world be like if we all aimed to demonstrate these aspects of kindness?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Learning about Bats!

This morning I took my dog outside and the next thing I know, she is in the yard messing with something.  I figured it was some kind of bug or maybe a toad.  So, I headed over toward her to stop her from messing with whatever it was and to my surprise it wasn't a bug or toad.  It was a bat!!  Yes, you heard me right.....a bat.  Now, I don't know a whole lot about bats, but I guess I had always assumed that they stayed in dark places like caves, not in someones yard.  My neighbor happened to be walking by and saw it.  I was informed that they live in trees as well and they eat the insects.  So, he graciously picked it up off the ground (with a stick of course) and placed it back in the tree.  Today, I learned a little more about bats!

You better go and check your trees and see if you have one of these creatures living there! 

 Have a great day!

Friday, July 15, 2016

6 of my BIGGEST Teaching Failures :(

I am getting ready to begin my 7th year teaching. 

Seven is the number of completeness or perfection, so I’m pretty sure I should be a perfect teacher this year. Go ahead and laugh out loud, I know I am! 

However, I thought it would be fitting to share six of my biggest teaching failures. 


A few reasons…

  • I’ve learned a lot from those failures and maybe reading about them can be beneficial to others.
  • Teachers have exploded on social media—which is a great thing—but it can also be intimidating, overwhelming, and discouraging (to be explained further below).
  • I think I am finally finding “my way” as a teacher.

So without further delay, let’s begin.

1. Being too strict.

Yes, it is possible to be too strict. My first year teaching, I expected complete and total obedience at all times and when I was teaching those little kiddos better have their eyes on me and not being playing with anything! I was consistent and fair—no exceptions!

Positive: My students were very well-behaved and attentive during lessons. 

Negative: One of my best behaved students got in trouble for playing with something while I was teaching and I had to spend weeks rebuilding her trust.

2. Following the curriculum too much.

I was given teacher’s manuals and resources (for which I am very thankful), but it is against my nature not to “finish” something. I kept to my lesson schedule no matter what! I taught the terms quarter-to, quarter-till, and quarter after to first graders who were not ready for it. They became frustrated. I became frustrated. After introducing these terms, my students seemed to lose the ability to tell time to the half hour and the hour. But I stuck to the curriculum!

Positive: We completed the curriculum and covered everything it said I should, even things not in my standards (like those pesky telling time terms).

Negative: It caused unneeded frustrations for my students and me.

3. Communication – lack of it and too much of it!

There really are no positives here, so instead I will present the alternative of each failure.

Early in the school year, I did not communicate my expectation and consequence regarding a certain procedure in my room well to my students which resulted in a HUGE misunderstanding with one student and her parents.  I should have been willing to slow down when explaining new rules/expectations to ensure understanding.

I have at times not communicated enough (or soon enough) with my administration regarding problems in the classroom. Better to over-communicate with your administration so they don’t have to be surprised when contacted by a parent.

When I saw an “Oops” note on Pinterest, I thought it was the greatest thing ever! As a parent, I would have appreciated getting them. However, in some special situations parents don’t want or need to know every time their child has a problem at school. You know the ones I’m talking about…the ones that would be getting an “Oops” note all the time. This would be the rare occasion when it is possible to over-communicate. The notes were part of my management plan—no exceptions! I’ve since realized that all students are not the same and behavior management involves taking that and the actual behavior into account before deciding on the severity of the consequence.

4. Implementing too many new ideas at one time.

You may have realized by now that I don’t do anything half-way, so when I saw interactive notebooks all over social media I jumped in head-first. We had a reading INB, a math INB, and a science INB! Fortunately, that was the year I had a well-behaved, academically high class who could handle the craziness. I loved watching them actively engaged in their notebooks and taking pride in their finished work. I hated the time we wasted cutting and gluing. I knew that it was too much for my next class, so I went down to two INBs: reading and math. I then watched that class slop through their INBs and perform many of the activities in a meaningless way. Did I scrap INBs completely? Nope. I still use a math notebook in the way that best suits my particular class.

Positive: Remember I mentioned how teachers have exploded on the internet. It is awesome to have so many new ideas at our fingertips. In fact, I think we should all be willing to try new things from time to time.

Negative: Sometimes those new ideas that are popping up all over the internet will not work for you or your students (we’ll come back to this) and you certainly don’t have to try them all at once!

5. Implementing ideas because others were doing it.

In order to explain this, I have to give you a snapshot of my classroom management plan. I have always used some sort of clip chart. When I first started teaching, the chart only went down. Then I added the ability to clip up. As Class Dojo became popular, I gave that a try. I liked it for the positive reinforcement (did not take away points), so I began using it with the clip chart only going down again. As a side note, let me make something clear about my clip chart. It was used with love and compassion. I spent time talking to students about misbehavior, consequences, and how we could try to do better next time. It was not used in an unfeeling way that shamed my students (as I’ve seen some blog posts portray). You need to know that I liked my management plan. In fact, I’m pretty sure my administrators and coworkers would agree that I have good classroom management.

Then I saw a new idea—Brag Tags! Oh, they looked so cute and fun. I was always looking for ways to add in more positive reinforcement. I could picture myself handing those little tags out and my students feeling so special for their accomplishments. I was concerned about the name because I hate to see kids “bragging” to their classmates, but I plunged ahead. I called them Smart Tags and students earned them for making smart choices.

Positive: Remember I mentioned how teachers have exploded on the internet. It is awesome to have so many new ideas at our fingertips. In fact, I think we should all be willing to try new things from time to time.

Negative: Sometimes those new ideas that are popping up all over the internet will not work for you or your students (we’ll come back to this). I was not good at giving out Brag Tags spontaneously, which I think is key to using them successfully. And you know that bragging I was worried about? It happened. It happened no matter how many times I explained that we weren’t competing with one another. And it made me sad because deep in my heart I knew that this particular new idea wasn’t for me and I did it anyway.

6. Making too much work for myself (again, no positives here).

Teaching is hard work! There are so many things demanding our time and attention. It is imperative that we simplify where we can.

Part of the reason Brag Tags didn’t work for me was because it was just one more thing I was trying to do in an already full classroom management plan. I need to simplify and have plans to do just that!

Trouble filling your treasure box? I had one my first couple years. Not needed! Your students would love choices like show-and-tell, no shoes, trade desks, etc. Easier and costs you nothing.

Struggle to keep up with your classroom job board? Make one special helper for the entire week who does all the jobs.

Constantly working on daily lesson plans? Make them by week so that you can make minor adjustments and reuse next year.

I’m pretty sure I could accumulate quite a list of ways I’ve simplified my work here, but I’ll save that for another post.

Let’s wrap this up, shall we? 

This list is definitely not an extensive list of my teacher fails. It is also not intended to tell you that if you do any of these things, you are wrong. I’m a firm believer that we as teachers have to find what works best for us and our students. 

I felt compelled to admit my failures because the season of new ideas is upon us, and you’ll notice a few of my failures were the direct result of jumping into those new ideas. I was susceptible to these mistakes because I was a “new” teacher looking to find my teaching identity among the abundance of information available to me via social media.

Don’t misunderstand! We should try new things in our classroom.

In fact, one of my core beliefs about teaching is that if you think you don’t have anything else to learn and are unwilling to try something new, it is time for you to retire.

I have to say that Tammy from Forever in First really put this in perspective for me. I listened to a podcast of her interview on Inspiring Educators (click here to listen). She said that she considers herself the “gatekeeper” of her classroom.

That resonated with me. 

You see, I’m the gatekeeper. 

It is my job to ensure that anything that comes into my classroom is for the benefit of my students. Those new ideas (dare I call them fads?) that I see need to be examined critically and researched if possible. I need to take it slow and really think things through. I need to know myself, my teaching style, and my students. I need to listen to my gut (also known as the Holy Spirit because of my relationship with the Lord). 

I’m the gatekeeper.

You’re the gatekeeper.

P.S. NEW Teachers – Take it slow. Learn your style. Get to know your community and students. You don’t have to do everything everyone else is doing. You’ll still be a great teacher. Teaching isn’t about following the latest trends. It’s about doing what is best for your students at any given time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wisdom for Wednesday-Hold On

Welcome to this week's:

You know those times, when you just don't understand what is going on in your life?  I believe this quote says it all.  When you are asking yourself why or what is going on?-this is all you need to remember.  God has it and knows what he is doing and will work it out for the best!

Enjoy your day!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Math Groups Help??

I have done the Daily 5 in reading for a few years now and love it.  I am very comfortable with it.  I have always wanted to do math groups as well.  I have tried starting them several times but haven't felt successful with them.  I often feel like I don't have enough time.  So, I was wanting to hear from everyone that does math groups.  How do you do it?  How much time is each group?  Do you see each group every day?  What do the other kids work on while you are working with a group?  I really want to try and implement the math group rotations this coming year and would love to hear how you do yours.  I look forward to hearing about your math groups!

Have a great day!

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