Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Classroom Decor

Hello all!

I saw this fabulous linky from Courtney at Swimming into Second about the Top 10 things you would want for your dream classroom.

1. I-pads for each of my students.

I would love to have an I-pad for all my students. I have one that I was able to get with a Donor's Choose project. My students really love using it.

2. Chair Book Storage

I would love to have tables instead of individual desks. I feel like desks are black holes and everything gets lost in them no matter how hard I try to keep them organized.

3. Student Computers

I have one teacher computer in my classroom. We have a computer lab in our building but we have to split the time with our media teacher. So it makes it hard to get in to get anything finished.

4. Yoga ball
I love the idea of using the yoga balls instead of traditional chairs. It lets the students move around in their chairs without the risk of falling out.

5. Storage
I think every teacher wants more storage in their classroom. I know I am struggling to find room for all the things I have bought and created in my filing cabinet. Let alone all of the random items, like toilet paper rolls, I have saved because you never know when you will use them.

6. Scholastic News

I love all the non-fiction stories they publish and my students really enjoy reading them. Unfortunately we don't have money in our building budget this year to get them.

7. Books

I love getting books for my students. I always get really excited when my students discover books they really enjoy. I have to say this is one of my favorite parts of being a teacher.

Don't forget to link up with Courtney at Swimming into Second for your own Top 10 list.

Imagine from Anna Brantley.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I got bit by The Whole Brain Teaching bug

Hello all!

Have you heard about Whole Brain Teaching? If you haven't, it is the brain child of Chris Biffle. The idea behind Whole Brain Teaching is "based on cutting edge scientific research, Whole Brain Teaching recognizes that students learn the most when they are engaged in lessons that involve seeing, hearing, doing, speaking and feeling." (Taken from the Whole Brain Teaching website:

Last year I moved into a new school, in a new city. Half way through the school year I realized I had used and exhausted all my "teacher tricks" and I felt that I was still not getting through to my students. At that point, I blogstalked my favorite blogs and tried to figured out how to incorporate strategies to connect with my students. This is how I stumbled across Whole Brain Teaching.

Here is an example of Whole Brain Teaching.

Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher, Amanda from Teaching Maddeness, Stephanie from 3rd grade Thoughts all have wonderful information on their blogs about Whole Brain Teaching. (Plus freebies to help you get started.)

After reading a couple of blogs and watching a tons of videos online, I decided to try some of the strategies in my classroom. I had immediate and positive responses in my classroom. My students loved it! The best part...the behavior was down to a minimum because all of my students were too busy doing the movements to talk to their neighbors! Whoop Whoop! Last year I only introduced the scoreboard, the Class Rules, and Class, Yes?.

This is a great video on introducing the WBT basics to your class. In my class, I probability won't introduce ALL of those concepts in the same day, instead I would spread them over the course of the week or two depending on how fast your students are catching on to these routines. This year I am going to try to incorporate more of the movements within the lessons and the Student Improver Wall. Chris Biffle does a wonderful job explaining the Student Improver Wall in the video below.

I really like this idea because it allows ALL my students to work on the skills that they need to work on while still being successful. The only concern I have is I am going to have a big class of 28 students next year and I don't really have a whole lot of room on my classroom walls. So I made these small name cards so I would have enough room to have all my students in the same spot.

As Chris Biffle said you can have the levels be named anything that will work with whatever theme you have in your classroom. I used the free Super Improver levels from Tara at Little Minds at Work. So the cards that I made for each student align with her levels.

Hopefully this made some sense. I am excited to get started.

As a side note: I am not getting anything from Chris Biffle or the Whole Brain Teaching organization. Nor am I an expert in any of these strategies.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

10 Things I've Learned From Teaching

Hell all!

The lovely and talented Hadar over at Miss Kindergarten is hosting a wonderful linky all about 10 things you have learned from teaching. I have LOVED reading everyone's responses to this linky so I figured I would add my two cents.

1. If you hoard save everything (like I do) make sure you find a good way to organize it so it doesn't drive you crazy. I have found most teachers save random items like toilet paper rolls or Crystal Light containers because you never know what project or activity will come to you that will require these items. I save toilet paper rolls for a measurement lesson that we do in the spring. My family, boyfriend, boyfriend's family, and all my students helped me collect the rolls. In no time flat, I had plenty of rolls. I am still trying to find enough space for all the rolls I collected.

2. Along with number 1, find a place to store (and be able to find) all your spare papers you get at IEP meetings, staff meetings, Professional Development, etc. This is my goal this school year. Last year, I did not do that. I just tossed papers into a box for the last 3 months of school. I don't suggest this because then you have to go through it later. Which is what I am still in the process of doing.

3. You can never have too many pencils. I think my students must eat the pencils. I sharpen a whole pack of them and within hours they have all disappeared. I tried writing my name on them. I've tried marking them with a permanent marker. I have tried writing student's name on them. No luck.

4. Document all interactions with parents. These notes can help you remember what you talked about months later. Make sure to include the date and the time, as well as, anyone else that is there. (Just to be on the safe side.) It is sad but true, we all have interactions with parents that don't always go as planned. This will hopefully help clear up any miscommunication.

5. Love what you do. We all know that teaching can be a thankless job and it can be easy to be bogged down with meetings, evaluations, standardized testing, etc. In the long run all of that doesn't matter. It's the connection with the students and the relationships you are building with them that mean more.

6. If you teach primary students you quickly have to refine your definition of personal space. I don't know how many times I have had my feet, toes, anklets, and pants played with. I understand that my feet are usually right in front of them when we are at the carpet or rug but it grosses me out when they play with my feet.

7. Have a backup plan. Some days your carefully planned lessons do not quite go the way that you wanted or they go faster than you expected. I always try to have "go-to" activities that students can do to prevent chaos from erupting.

8. Along with 7, try to be as prepared for your day as possible. Any little time students have to sit while you are trying to find that one paper or book will be used to their advantage. Many times it will be in a way that you didn't intend.

9. Try to incorporate activities you enjoy doing in your classroom. Your love for the activity will grab your student's attention and help them enjoy doing the activity. Here are a couple of my favorites...

10. You have great ideas and there are people that want to hear about it! There are so many teachers out there that are doing wonderful things but there is always another way to do it. This is one of the main reasons I decided to start my blog. I loved reading all the other blogs other there and I wanted to share some of the ideas that I was doing. I am constantly saying "Why didn't I think of that?"

Don't forget to head on over to Hadar's blog to read everyone else's advice.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday Snapshot

I'm back! For those of you that just started following my blog, I have been enjoying the sights of Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, and Vienna for the last 14 days. Phew! There is so much to see and so much history to adsorb. I found this wonderful linky from Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera where all you have to do is share some of your favorite pictures or videos from the week. Since my week was spent in Europe, you get the pain pleasure of seeing some of the pictures from my trip.

We started the trip off in Amsterdam. The canals are beautiful. I would highly suggest a canal boat ride if you ever get the chance to go.

I got to ring these 400 year old bells.

Canal ride

Anne Frank's house. HUGE line so we didn't go in.
Next we headed to Berlin. Outside of Berlin being heavily bombed during World War II, I didn't really know much about Berlin. I was pleasantly surprised. The entire city has changed so much over the last 30 years. Every where you looked there where a ton of cranes and construction going on. I'm sure 10 years from now, Berlin will look even more different.

Brandenburg Gate 

Checkpoint Charlie

These are called ampelmannchen. They are on all of the East Berlin traffic lights.

Berlin Wall
We went into Prague next. In the last 20 years or so Prague has really been growing and gaining more tourism but it has still kept it's old world feel.

Best beer of the trip!
We finished our trip in Vienna. Before coming to Vienna, I had envisioned the scenes from the movie Sound of Music. Sadly we were not in the right part of the mountains but it was still beautiful.

Melk Abbey

I have a ton of other pictures but I will spare you from having to scroll through all of them.

Monday, July 8, 2013

It's Giveaway Time!

The next couple of weeks I will be enjoying the lovely historic landmarks of Europe. If I don't respond to you in  timely manner, please be patient. I am not sure what type of internet connection I will have but I will definitely respond to all of the emails and comments when I get back.

I really wanted to let you know about this wonderful giveaway that I am participating in while I am away. Jamie from Bright Concepts 4 Teachers and Aimee from Primary Speaking have reached 500 followers! Congratulations ladies! They are going to have a giveaway spanning over several days. Who does like multiple chances to win? Make sure you enter before it ends.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Vacation: Out of Office Reply

Hey all!

The day is finally here! I am officially on my way to Europe. I have no idea what kind of internet connection I will have once I am over there. So I am apologizing in advance for any delays in responding back to your emails and comments. I will definitely get caught up when I get back in a couple of weeks.

Take a look at a few of the places I will be going.




Be safe and I'll talk to you when I get back.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

I hope all of you are staying safe and having fun on this 4th.

Don't forget to check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store to get some great deals on all of my products. Today is the last day!

In other news...

Go Sounders!

I had a great birthday. Thank you for all of the birthday wishes.