Monday, July 23, 2012

Follow Me on Pinterest

A few people asked me about my Pinterest projects on my last post so ... I added a Follow Me on Pinterest button on the right side of my blog. I also added links so you can click right on the project in my to do list to see what I'm planning on doing! I hope that helps. We are off to Oklahoma!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"To Do" Linky Party

We are getting ready to go visit family in Oklahoma so this is the perfect time for a "To Do" linky party as I will have some down time in the middle of the day when it will be way too hot to do anything outside. Summer is FLYING by...I have 4 weeks before I get back into my room to set up!!!! I can't believe it ... I thought I would be bored HA! So I'm linking up with Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies for a "To Do" linky party!

Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies

So here is the on-going list of to do's. I'm hoping if I post them it might light a fire underneath me to get moving on some projects. I also stopped the list at 20 items...because we all know this could go on forever. I love Pinterest but I think it has actually made my list longer! Here's to getting stuff done in the next 4 weeks!

1.    Classroom Rules and corresponding read alouds
2.    Calendar bulletin board (decide on pieces, print, laminate, cut)
3.    New word wall (print, cut, laminate, cut)
4.    Revamp literacy work station signs (w/ Daily 5 concepts)
5.    Plan out first 9 weeks lessons (with emphasis on expectations for EVERYTHING and science/ss 10 day lesson plan format)
6.    Writing center (materials, bulletin boards “What Can I Write?”; “Rate Your Writing” from Pinterest)
7.    Make birthday treats (glow bracelet balloons, homework pass) Birthday bulletin board (Pinterest)
8.    Classroom Expectations Binder
9.    Inspiration Welcome Sign (Pinterest)
10.  Door d├ęcor (Pinterest)
11.  Standards of Learning signs with clothespins
12. Early finisher jar with popsicle sticks (Pinterest)
13. Science notebooks
14. Morning work
15. Writing Presentation for staff development
16. Science Presentation
17. Labels for writing folders journals, science notebooks, homework folders
18. Organize teacher binder (decide on tabs, create, print, compile)
19. Repaint rocking chair, new pillows
20. READ (or reread): Daily 5, The Leader in Me, The First Days of School (Wong), The First 6 Weeks of School (Denton/Kriete), Questions, Claims, and Evidence (NSTA), Science Beyond the Classroom (NSTA), Start Young: Early Childhood Science Activities (NSTA), Scholastic $1 downloads 

Illustrating Class Rules through Read Alouds

I recently finished The Leader in Me by Stephen Covey. It was a great summer read for several reasons, but most of all I was reminded of the importance of explicitly teaching students how to be their own leaders. Isn't this the purpose of classroom rules when it really comes down to it? One of my favorite phrases is "Do the right thing!" My students need to be constantly reminded of this; however, it has taken me a few years to realize that you have to very carefully teach and model the "right" thing to do in various situations. The 7 habits provide a great framework for teaching students how to be responsible and effective leaders in their own classrooms and hopefully in life.

I really liked my rules this past year; but I came up with them and they were posted before the first day of school. This year I want my students to have some ownership, so I think I will have a brainstorming session with them and then fit their ideas into my 5 pre-established rules. (I also would like to come up with a mission statement together with my class this year, as suggested by Covey).  Here are the rules I used last year:

  1. Be kind
  2. Be respectful
  3. Be a good listener
  4. Be a hard worker
  5. Be safe (This year I'm changing this to "Be responsible.")
I was inspired by The 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey. I decided to take the language of the 7 habits and see how they aligned with my 5 rules. I'm not ready to fully jump on the 7 habits leadership boat because I think it would be hard to 100% implement it without the whole school participating. But there are cetainly parts of the 7 habits that any teacher can use within his or her classroom. What I found was that looking at the language of the 7 habits helped me define my rules and what I mean by them. I  matched each habit (except Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw) with one of my rules and then used the explanation of that habit to help define my rule. I liked the simple language of my rules and didn't want to fully adopt the 7 habits yet. Hopefully this reflective work will help me explain and model each rule to my class this year. If you are interested in how my rules fit with the 7 habits check it out below.

The other thing that I did while thinking about my class rules and how to teach them was to make a list of read alouds to illustrate each rule. I did this last year, but needed to find a few more to beef up the list. I figure the more exposure to each rule the better. Here are the read alouds I am planning on covering throughout the first 6 weeks.

I hope you find this useful. My vision is to incorporate these read alouds into my reading block as well as throughout the day, especially during that first week when they schedule is still being taught. My next project is revamp my literacy work stations using elements from the Daily 5. I am almost done with "The Sisters" book and can't wait to strengthen my work station time.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ikea Finds and Other Randomness

I have finally started working on my endless list of summer projects for school. It took me June and most of July to compile the list, so I better get moving! Today my Mom and I took a trip to Ikea. I forgot how great the prices are there for everyday stuff that I use in my classroom. Here are two things I picked up today. I can't wait to use the hangers (which were only $1.50 a set) for my Pinterest inspired poetry hanging system. Last year I used a 3M adhesive hook and one of those skirt hangers with the clips. It worked well, but you could only hang 4 poems before it got too heavy. This year I'm thinking of getting some more 3M hooks and using this Pinterest idea. This would also be great for anchor charts if you are low on wall space.

My other great bargain was this lamp for my classroom library. My old lamp bit the dust this past year and my kids felt so bad. I am a big fan of lamps in the just makes it more homey feeling. I picked up this little white base and colorful lamp shade for $12! I don't think you can get much cheaper then that. I also decided that I am going to go with a black/bright color theme for the room. Other bloggers have shared such cute ideas for this color scheme that I can't wait to get started. 

 My other bargains came from the 50% off aisle at Michaels. I plan on using this bright orange tub for clipboards and whiteboards or maybe for my listening or buddy reading station...not sure yet. I also loved these lanterns to hang somehow. 

Here is the look I'm going for ...

You can check out the rest of this great blog by 2 sisters here. I love the black bulletin boards and simple use of color. Now onto finishing The Daily 5 book...I can't wait to try some new ideas in my work stations this year!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Great Room Building Website

Look at me back again in the same day. I couldn't resist. I found this awesome resource on Pinterest and had to share. I loved my room set up this year, but wish I had more space for a big calendar bulletin board. Unfortunately my bulletin boards are at the back of my instead of drawing out 2 rooms I created each version on this great website, UrbanBarn (I know weird name). If you go to the site you can drag over and design rooms of varying dimensions all for free. Although its not meant for teachers, they have enough variations of furniture that I didn't have any trouble finding a kidney shape and all kinds of squares, rectangles, and circles. You can even add color if that makes you happy. It was super easy and together both of my designs took about 20 minutes to complete. Here is how they came out! (Sorry they are blurry...they look clear in their original form).

 Design your own classroom or play around with a new design here.

This Year's Class Set Up (with the carpet in the front of the room)

Version #2 with the carpet in the back of the room with more space (for some reason the carpet isn't showing up but it should be in the lower right hand corner.)

Leadership Theme for 2012-2013 School Year

I had high hopes of being on some type of blogging schedule this summer, but it seems I just can't hold myself to it. Oh well! I am reading a great book called The Leader in Me. I'm sure many of you have read it or heard of it. The premise is how schools across the country have adapted Stephen Covey's 7 Habits as their school theme/culture. I love this quote;

"At my school we are all leaders. Leadership is doing the right thing even when no one is looking."

I think as teachers we all know how important it is to teach this lesson, but it's hard to find the time to work it in. What I love about the stories in The Leader in Me is that they show how schools have taken on a leadership theme rooted in the 7 Habits and Baldridge principles and used them to create a positive, win-win culture where students, teachers and administrators are all working together for the same cause. 

I sat in a meeting this past year where we were discussing our school's mission and vision statements. Honestly, I have never gotten too excited about working on mission and vision statements and wasn't too into it that day; however, after reading this book, I realized how central this work is. It creates the springboard for all change that will hopefully come in the future. However long it takes, change can only come when there is a clear goal in mind and EVERYONE knows it and is on board with it. I was impressed with how a small number of faculty at AB Combs Elementary in North Carolina got the rest of their colleagues on board by showing them how effective taking on a leadership culture could be. The Leader in Me is a hopeful account of how schools are creating change in a time where a lot of the stories about public education focus on the negative aspects and how it must change. This provides clear examples that change is possible. I highly recommend it if you haven't read Steven Covey's The Leader in Me already. 

With that said, I'm going to work on my Leadership Unit for the first 6 weeks of school. Since we spend the first 6 weeks establishing routines and procedures anyway, I'd like to kick it up a bit and incorporate in some leadership language and activities. I'm thinking of going with a Leadership theme for the 2012-2013 school year, but for now I'm going to focus on the first 6 weeks. 

Teachers, administrators, parents, community members all want the same thing..."for children to grow up to be responsible, caring, compassionate human beings who respect diversity and who know how to do the right thing when faced with difficult decisions." {Stephen Covey, The Leader in Me}