Saturday, December 29, 2012

A New Year, A New Way

Let's Get Organized, Organized...(sung to the tune of Let's Get Physical) My room has become a dumping ground. Changing grade level assignments each year leads me on the path to disorganization. Yes, I chose to loop with my amazing class, but I lost 2 floor-to-ceiling cabinets and several feet in the length of my room. You don't think it sounds like much until you're in there and using it! So, like most, I've taken to look at all those lovely classroom organization pins I have pinned (you know, the ones I had planned to implement, but they remain just on my pinterest boards). Ta da! I am pretty proud that I did a few of them...maybe, not the most productive ones, but baby steps, Melanie, baby steps.

I saw E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. making "Teacher Toolkits" in the summer so I set out to make my own. I am a pack rat so I need 2. Now that the school year is on, I need about 10. :) Here are my first Pinterest projects.

Next, I pinned and actually made these after seeing them from Charity at The Organized Classroom Blog at the start of the school year for my cubbies. I always labeled with their numbers, but I liked the aesthetic appeal so I made these in DJ ChunkM font with their name and number:
I also pinned and sorted my bulletin board letters this from Marg at MargD Teaching Posters which really helped me see how many of each letter, what patterns or colors, etc. I had.
I also pinned and organized -- but does this really count? Yes, I think so since it was a pinned idea and I actually followed through! Something so basic I never thought of from Jami at Two Things in Common was simply sorting construction paper by color. The best part? My fast finished frequently replenish this so I use slave student labor to help keep the class creativity flowing with momentum. :)
I used these cute money for school notes from Angela at Hello, Cuteness in my P.I.R.A.T.E. notebooks this year and it has helped SO MUCH and kept most kids from bringing in pockets of coins and not knowing why they have to give it to me. *smile*
And hey, I even bought the bag from Thirty-One Gifts (below) and had it monogrammed...but that's about as far as I got....with this pin from A Bowl Full of Lemons.
I attempted these after pinning them from The Frugal Teacher, but they were a nightmare since we have to stack chairs at the end of the day -- E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y.! Great idea if chairs could stay down or could be stacked on the desks, but we can't at my school. Boo!

So for the New Year, this is what I want to do...
  1. Get my guided reading area organized
  2. Find 18" x 12" baskets for my class library
  3. Organize lesson materials, scan more often, and save them to save me TONS of time
  4. Force myself to enter CSCOPE test answers the same day
  5. Start MY way of charting the scope and sequence for next year with links to YouTube videos AND which books based on skill, etc.
I am taking baby steps here. I could rattle a list off that's 40 miles long...but I want to be able to accomplish it! How about you? How is the organization in your classroom? Is that one of your teaching resolutions for the new year?

Saturday, December 22, 2012 - Free Stuff for Your Class

Free stuff for your class! Yes, you read that correctly. If you're not new to teaching, you know how much money you have spent on your own classroom resources, materials, and supplies. I know I have spent thousands over the past 9 years. I then learned from an advertisement that I was spending money on things that I could be getting for free from DonorsChoose.orgI continue to put money into things I need, but now some of the higher end items are supplied and it has saved me tremendously. allows you to post projects for classroom needs. When you first register, you are supplied with 2 points. The amount of points a project costs you depends on the project's total cost to donors. They make it super easy with easy to fill in boxes, a "shopping mall" for you to shop online at specific vendors, or once you earn additional points, you can post items from outside sources, class visitors, and even field trips! If you haven't checked them out, be sure to go now. It doesn't take much time, but you will be amazed at the support you will receive from outside sources! They often have $1 for $1 donor matching and you can link it to your Facebook page for additional promotion. I mean, could it be any better? 

Want to see some of the 17 projects I had funded? Check them out HERE. Everything from Leap Frog Leapsters, Hot Dots, headphones, flash drives, digital cameras, Apple TV, headsets with mics, color printers, a laminator, digital microscope, hand lenses, and more. Did I mention I just had a project funded to take all 22 of my kiddos and 8 adults to Sea World during our animal unit in April??!!

Have any of you ever posted a project? What are your experiences with DonorsChoose?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Elf on the Shelf

Have you seen this?
Let's just say it is A.W.E.S.O.M.E. for behavior management prior to the winter break. So, my students are not original at all. As you know, I looped with my kiddos and our Elf on the Shelf has been the same both years. Well, I always introduce it with the book and video (the video helps A LOT with non-believers). In the video, the elf's name is what do my kids name our Elf? You guessed it, Chippey.

Chippey has been taking some amazing adventures and the kids look for him the second they enter the classroom. Where has he been? What has he done?

He's gone ziplining....
He got caught in our net....

He peaked out of one of my kiddo's stockings...

He goes fishing for our beta Flipper...

He hides out by our learning games...

He eats popcorn and watches a movie on our class projector...

He does Christmas seek-and-finds (notice the name of this page is searching in the "Elves' Workshop")...

Now, the best one was when they were riled up and Chippey left for a day. He left them a note clipped on the Christmas tree naming each child and how they've either clearly been on the "nice list" or if their behavior should improve to be on the "nice list". It helped get them ALL back on track. :)

Where has your Elf gone? What has he done? I saw adorable ones with pepperpint "patties" in the toilet and toilet paper wrapped trees. Did you do anything creative?

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Pencil Sharpening Dilemma

I *LOATHE* sharpening pencils.

I hate when the wood starts to splinter!
I hate when it canoes with the lead on one side and wood on the other.
I hate when the lead breaks and falls out and you have to start again.
I hate how expensive pencil sharpeners are and then they still die every.single.year.
I hate how loud they are!
I hate those metal crank styles I grew up with because the outer part always falls off and shavings go everywhere and smeared lead is inevitable!!!!

Well, let me tell you how I really feel. :) ha. ha.

I start the year out great, sharpening them before school, using my neat little “sharpened” container and eliminating the need to sharpen during the school day. Then school stress sets in, time slips away, and it appears as if my kids are eating the pencils! I know, I know, someone like me should get mechanical pencils, but did I mention I hate those, too? LOL I hate how they rip paper, snap off and smear, etc. So, back to good ol’ pencils. I {heart} Ticonderoga. I buy tons, but my students don’t generally bring these at the start of the year.

So, back to my pencil sharpening dilemma. I have a class job to be a “pencil helper”. This person sharpens our pencils whenever they are done with work. This is only possible since I splurged on the:


And guess what? Lori over at is having a giveaway for one! Click HERE to visit.

Want to win the pencil war? Check out The Wise Owl’s Winning the Pencil War HERE. It is FREE and may just be what we need! ;)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to take this moment to say thank you, to all of you who have touched my life through blogging. My bloggy friends are a constant inspiration, provide unparalleled advice, and remind me of the positivity and love within my chosen profession. All of your ideas inspire me and make me a better teacher each and every day.

I know I don't have many readers as I am just starting out, but I wanted to thank you. Thank you for always being there. Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog (the one I am transitioning to this blog). I appreciate your words of encouragement and I cannot express my gratitude enough.

I am thankful for the blogging community and the opportunity to collaborate with such wonderful educators.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Turkey Image from free clip art

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pets in the Classroom

I will be honest no matter how badly this makes me look. I hate do not like animals. No matter how much I try and even hearing people say bad things about people who don't like animals, I just can't do it. My mom had a dog when we were growing up and I was never attached to it. I am terrified afraid of a cat scratching me, a dog biting me, bunnies attacking me, etc. Yes, I know it sounds silly. I even attempted to have pets for my son and we made it with 2 hamsters whom I never held and barely touched with one finger since one was fat and furry. We even attempted a cat and a dog until we found them new lifelong owners (for other reasons that weren't because of me :) )
I know, so what is the point of this post on my teaching blog? Well, I am a real trooper if I do say so myself. I always have classroom pets for the kids. I get a little hesitant since the cost can be a little overwhelming in the beginning, but I take one for the team the class and have had hamsters (I never touched!), fish, turtles, frogs, and now hermit crabs (because I didn't know it was all a lie that they were easy to  maintain)

So in July, I found this grant called Pets in the Classroom. They give grants to classroom teachers to allow them to obtain a classroom pet! How cool is that? The program is through The Pet Care Trust. There are two different ways to do it. If you are getting a typical pet from like Petco or Petsmart (the animals are listed) they just give you a voucher. Since Petsmart stopped offering the hermit crabs this way, I had to purchase the animal and supplies and get reimbursed for $100. Yes, the whole $100. I had an aquarium donated by a student and her family so I was able to use the extra for additional shells, food, substrate, etc.
Therefore, enter Hermie & Hermietta....

and we can't forget little Flipper (who is one hungry fish)!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Common Core, TEKS, Standards, Blah, Blah, Blah

Source: MindMissions
So, we are all responsibility for teaching the standards. ALL of us no matter where we're from. However, the standards vary from state to state. Take it from this teacher of ONLY military children - there are HUGE gaps in the standards...or at least what is being taught from state to state, duty station to duty station.
Source: Moore Farms
Source: CCSSI
In Texas we have what are called TEKS which means Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills which is Texas's equivalent to the Common Core State Standards. There are only four states that have chosen not to adopt the CCSS and wouldn't you know, Texas is one of them, which shouldn't come as a surprise since they always want to be difficult different. I am not surprised that Virginia is another, but I am by Alaska and Nebraska just based on my own opinions, observations, and whatnot. Truly, the TEKS aren't that much different from the CCSS. The CCSS language is a lot more teacher and family friendly, but I wanted to save time and not do a side-by-side comparison if it was already done. I know, I am lazy trying not to reinvent the wheel. :)  I found an article from the Texas Association of Business (notice, that isn't an educational publication or anything) that was a bit intriguing. While it isn't the true side-by-side I was looking for, it does compare TEKS to CCSS in Mathematics. I think the CCSS versus TEKS debacle all comes down to politics and greed money. I would prefer if we were able to switch to common core because the goal of CCSS is depth and not just breadth. There is simply not enough time when we have PLC time (45 mins) AND conference time (45 minutes) daily to cover each of the TEKS individually to the depth that they warrant, but such is life.

Texas teachers, or concerned others (that sounds like I am referring to something from Lost --remember that show? But I digress...), HERE's the link if you're interested.  What are your thoughts?  Anyone else teach military children and wonder the effects on them as they PCS (permanent change of station for you non-military folk).

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hey Texas Teachers....

I am just curious. Does anyone else have to teach with CSCOPE? Have you logged in and navigated the new website? Are you required to use it as your core curriculum or just as a resource?

I found some Pinterest Boards and websites for CSCOPE which may be helpful for you. 
Happy Summer!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It's 'Maddeness', Pure 'Maddeness'!

Amanda over at Teaching Maddeness has reached 100 followers in just ONE week!  She's having a phenomenal giveaway.  Her blog is absolutely adorable and I've already stolen grabbed some great ideas! 

Hurry!  Click the picture, check it out, and enter!