Friday, August 30, 2013

Five for Friday: Classroom Progress and Birthday Pencil Topper Freebie!!

Hello there!

I spent a few more hours in my classroom with my two little friends...the four year old and the two year old.  Who thinks those were productive hours?  What was I thinking??! 

It actually was okay for the most part.  The biggest pain is alternate side parking, so I had to take them back out after we had been there for an hour and a half so I could move my car.  Annoying. 

While the kids played with EVERYTHING in my room, I put my welcome area together, fixed up my bulletin boards, hung my word wall and started updating my book bins in the library.  Take a look:

1.)  Welcome Area: It's pretty sparse right now, but this DIY bulletin board will also feature our daily schedule, school calendar, word of the day and number of the day.
 Do you spy my super ugly file cabinets peeking out from under that tablecloth??

This is also where I will keep my lesson plan binder, as I got rid of my desk a few years ago.

2.)  Bulletin Board Updates:  Confession - I left up the same black paper I put up last year.  I have a really hard time hanging bulletin board paper and it was still in decent one will notice, right?  Besides, in just a few weeks, the boards will be covered in student work and then REALLY no one will notice!

3.)  Word Wall: I don't use my chalkboard, so I covered it with bright blue paper and I'll use it for my word wall. 
 Ooops...I need to fix those pieces of ribbon!

There's my little girl..."helping."

4.)  Book Bins:  I have a lot of books (I know, tough problem to have!) and not a lot of shelf space, so I stacked a crate on top of the top shelf to add a little bit of vertical space.  I wouldn't recommend doing this if you teach little ones, but I teach big kids, so I know they will be able to reach.

5.)  Birthday Pencil Topper Freebie! Grab this editable file from my TpT Store HERE. {It's a ppt file, so you'll need PowerPoint to edit it!} There are links to the fonts I used in the file, although you can always use your favorite fonts instead!  You will not be able to edit the graphics so as to protect the copyright of the artist who created them.  Thanks so much for understanding! 

Hope you had a great week and have a fab-u-lous Labor Day Weekend!!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to reality!

Yesterday, I was sitting poolside in Ocean City, MD with my family.

This morning, I was trying to organize this mess:

You'll hear no complaining from me though.  This was the nicest vacation we've ever taken.  The kids enjoyed it so much and I'm in love with all of my new memories.  My little gal learned quite a bit of vocabulary on this trip (she pointed out the "corn" while we were in the car this morning.  It was hedges!) 

While we were there, I didn't think too much about school, but knew that I'd need to head into my classroom before pre-service begins on Tuesday.

Getting there!  I can see the beginnings of a classroom in there!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Manic Monday: Calendar, Bunting and Book Baggies {Freebie!}

Hi everyone!  Happy Monday!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
This week I went to a workshop and worked on a few projects :-)

I finally cut out the numbers I made for my calendar!  I kind of dread cutting out circles, but my stack of laminating is getting a little out of control.

 So I made a little mistake in my purchasing.  The Velcro tabs come in packages of 15 sets, so I bought two....which is great for about half of the months.  Sigh.  I'll be back at the teacher's store sometime this week anyway.
 Calendar is already for September!  Sorry for the glare!

I also worked on my book baggies for independent reading.  I haven't made them the last few years, but I decided to go back to them this year.  We are starting a new literacy program and I'm not sure what some of my morning will look like, but independent reading is always important!

 Slider bags are the best kind!!

The kids store their independent reading books, sticky notes, pencil, highlighter, reading log, bookmarks and whatever else in their baggie.  Being that I work in a low income neighborhood, the majority of the kids must borrow books from the school library in order to have something to read at night.  I like to use the book baggies because it's an easy way to check who is actually taking a book home at night.  When they put their things out to go home, it's the first thing I scan the room for.

You can grab the labels for the baggies HERE.  On my computer, a window pops up to print the label as soon as you open the file.  It's annoying and I don't know why it's happening.  So I apologize if it happens on your computer.  Just click cancel if you aren't ready to print.  {Graphics by DreamLikeMagic}

If you'd like, you can also grab just the label image (PNG file) to create a different sized label: HERE.
You can go to the Avery website and use their templates to upload your own image onto a label.

The labels are 2" by 4" address labels, 10 per page.  I use the generic version of these labels  AMAZON LINK.

This next one wasn't much of a project, but it needed to be done.  We keep portfolios for all subject areas, and I wanted to keep them neat this year.  I bought this file tote and a set of hanging folders so each student will have their own hanging folder.  I just hot glued this label on top.

You can grab the Portfolio Sign HERE.  It's editable, so you need to have PowerPoint to open it. It is the PNG file of sign above (to protect copyright, credit to I Teach. What's Your Super Power?).  You can add additional text and clipart to match your room decor!
And last, I finally laminated and hung the bunting I made a while ago.  My guy laughed at the data bunting, but I'm just being realistic!  I know I'll have a data area, so it might as well be cute!

So there are my projects from the week.  Have you all done your B2S shopping on TpT?  Did you get anything awesome??  I'm still working on my narrowing down adding to my cart!

Also, please let me know if any of the freebie links aren't working so I can fix them!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What's On Your Wishlist Linky!

Surely by now you've heard that TpT is having a Back to School Sale from August 18th-19th!  Many sellers are discounting their entire stores by 20% and then you can use code BTS13 for an additional 10% off (remember: 20% +10% = 28% off your order!).  My store will be on sale the 18th, 19th and 20th!

I'm linking up with the Collaboration Cuties to share my two most wish listed items and the item I can't wait to purchase!

My most wish listed item is my Fifth Grade Math Task Card Bundle.  This is every set of task cards in my store, plus any that I add in the future.  It's a huge bargain over buying the cards individually...and even more so after 28% off!  

Next is my Danielson Framework Teacher Binder.  This binder has gotten really great feedback!  I included two options for your binder cover and dividers and an editable ppt file!
So what I am SUPER excited to buy?  The Brown Bag Teacher's iWrite: Monitoring Student Progress in the Writing Process. 

Every year, I've tried making something cute to show where students are in the writing process.  I've done the clippies, the names on magnets, some horrendously embarrassing set up with Velcro...but this is SO cute.  I can't wait to add this to my classroom!  I think this will be perfect for keeping kids on track, especially during performance tasks!

So what's on your wish list?  Be sure to link up with the Collaboration Cuties to share!

Also, I've rejoined Instagram under MissKinBK....leave your Instagram name so I can follow you!!! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reading Programs in the Upper Elementary Classroom

Today is Wednesday...and that would usually mean that I'd link up with Jivey for Workshop Wednesday.  However, my school (and most of NYC it seems) is adopting a new reading program (Pearson's ReadyGen) for September.  And when I say "new" I mean NEW.  As in, books are not in schools yet-new.  Teacher's guides are only available online-new.

In my school, we've use a balanced literacy approach for the last 10 years, so this change feels uncertain to me.  For the last 10 years, I've known which supplies I wanted for the kids and how I want their notebooks organized.  I understand how guided reading works and I know what centers look like in a fifth grade classroom (FINALLY!)  But all of this is going to change with ReadyGen.

On Monday, my partner and I went to a workshop to get a handle on this new program.  I learned a lot about how the curriculum will shift under Common Core (although we taught CCSS last year, so I'm already familiar with the standards and what CC aligned questioning looks like on a state test).  I also got a feel for how a literacy block might flow in this new program...but there's one catch: no guided reading.

Yes.  You read that right.  There is no guided reading component in this program.  The woman delivering the PD actually mentioned the way I contorted my face when she said there was no guided reading component.  And I am *certain* I made a face.  Not to be rude, but because I am a big proponent of guided reading.  Or more accurately, I am a big proponent of small group instruction, particularly for struggling students.  I think small group time is the most valuable part of the day for many students.  In this program, all of the materials are at the students' grade level, not their instructional level.  So whether your student reads at a level V or level L, he or she will be reading grade level text.  Through scaffolding during the reading instruction, students are supposed to gain access to the text. 

She went on to explain that there is small group time, but it is more like strategy groups than guided reading groups.  And groups are created immediately following the whole group reading instruction based on teacher observations.  Whereas with guided reading you would plan to meet with a John, Emma and Anthony on Mondays, with this program these decisions are made in response to the work students do during their independent practice.  A fellow participant gave the suggestion that teachers can observe students and then give each student a card with a color or letter to let them know which group they should join for small group work.

I'm sure this post is a jumbled mess and for that I apologize...the workshop left me with a better understanding of the rationale of the program and how a morning will flow, but also with many lingering questions about how I will personalize the instruction and deliver it in my classroom.  Unfortunately, some of these questions won't have answers until our in-service begins on September 3rd.

So can anyone assuage my fears?  Does anyone follow a scripted literacy program for older kids?  Does anyone not do guided reading with their students?

And any fellow NYC teachers out there: are you implementing ReadyGen in September?  What did you think of the workshop?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tried It Tuesday: Adding Patterns to Your Text

I'm linking up with Holly again for Tried It Tuesday!  Today I'm sharing how I use patterns in text for PowerPoint!  I love adding patterns to make the text look more interesting....but playing around with the text can be a bit of a time suck!

 These images are from a PC, but I used the same method on my Mac from school.  You can also use Word if you don't have PowerPoint!
 It really doesn't matter what WordArt style you choose, because you can change everything about it once you open up the formatting window.  Beware that one of the purples is all caps, so I try to avoid that style.  I also don't care for the ones with giant shadows.

 There are lots of free papers on TpT, but if you are looking for a few great sets check out Teaching Super Power's Store or Collaboration Cuties Sparkly Papers

There you have it! This is also a fun trick for teaching students when they want to make covers for their writing!