Tuesday, August 23, 2011

No More!

I don't know about you, but it drives me insane to see backpacks every where. Now I have hooks for them to all hang on, but let's face are messy! Hooks or no hooks they still look sloppy. Last year I came up with a solution. I cover that area with a shower curtain.

Why a shower curtain you ask? A few reasons:
1- it is vinyl and germs can easily be sprayed off.
2- tons of colors to match my decor.
3- the rings help it slide easier along the pole.
4- the main reason I went with a shower curtain as opposed to a sheet or regular curtain...I can't sew!! I can very easily trim off the excess vinyl. No hemming, no fraying.

How did I attach it? I bought 3 clamps a Lowes to clamp to my shelf above the coat hooks. These were under $1 each. I then bought electrical conduit, trimmed it to a proper link (well, my dad trimmed it). Then just threaded it through the clamps. The whole project, including 2 vinyl shower curtains, the rings, clamps, and conduit was less than $20. I did replace the shower curtains for $8 at the beginning of this year, but reused the rest.
I LOVE this solution. Each day the curtain closes. No one sneaks into their (or someone else's) bag. No mess!

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, August 21, 2011

First Week

We began our first week this past week.  I have 23 students this year, and so far it looks like one of the best classes I've have!  I was pleasantly surprised at all of the school supplies that were brought in.  My group last year didn't bring much, and I had to supplement a lot. We've had a busy week, and here is our schedule breakdown.

Day 1-
Started the day with a word search using the student's names for morning work.  This gave me time to greet each student, take attendance, and deal with my first parent issue of the year.

Next came the introductions, of myself, as well as the paras and resource teachers that will be in and out throughout the year.  We went over expectations, and collected the school supplies.

We had our first special class of the year and had to practice lining up.  I am extremely picky with my line and hallway behavior.  I use number order for everything- and number order is quite different than ABC order.  I talk with our specials team and our 4th grade team to separate out the kids who shouldn't be by each other.  I end up with a line order that helps minimize issues in the hallway, or during assemblies.  The kids think it is a random or, but nothing about it is random.

We came back from PE to a math lesson- yes a lesson on the first day.  They have to understand that my room is all about learning and we start on day one.

Lunch and recess follow math, then the afternoon starts with reading- another lesson?  You bet!  Mind you my lessons day one aren't meant to be hard, but we have to start sometime.  I do have a lot of procedures and practice thrown in.  We spend the afternoon reading, learning vocabulary, practicing procedures, and before I know it, it's time to leave!

Whew!  The whole week flew by in much the same fashion.  Maybe it's me, but my body and mind forgot how exhausting the first week can be!!  Getting back into routine with waking up and going to bed, being "on" all day, and having 23 little people around...let's just say there is a reason there wasn't a blog post this week, and I needed this weekend to recover.

Here's wishing all of you a fabulous school year!  I truly think mine will be one of the best yet :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy New Year

Well, this is the week that both my children and I head back to school.  Time for all of the routines to fall back into place.  No more sleeping in, nothing on the schedule days.  In other words, back to reality!

I am really looking forward to the year.  I have 22 students on my class list and with one or two exceptions, they are great, well behaved kiddos!  That will be a nice change from my previous year.  I have been working in my classroom for the past several days and am nearly ready for the students to come. I really need to get some pictures and post them, hopefully I will remember to do so.

I have put into place several Pinterest ideas.  I have zip tied my desks, created a focus wall, made a mind jar for my refocus area, and a couple of center ideas are ready to go.  I have a few more on my agenda to complete before the first couple of weeks are up.

Whether you head back this week, or later (or are already back) I wish you a Happy New (School) Year!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is ADHD contagious?

First the disclaimer: I know ADHD isn't contagious. I also know it is a real disease and this post is not at all meant to poke fun at or belittle anyone. That term is just the best way I can describe the craziness of my mind right now. Now on to my post...

Ever feel like your ADHD students (or personal children) have rubbed off on you? As I prepare my room for the start of school, I feel like my son (who has ADHD) must feel. I go from this project to that project not really finishing much. I put a poster up then get center materials prepped, then organize my files, then...well, you get the picture! At night all I can do is lay in bed thinking of all the things I need to finish before my students return. I assume it is the stress and uncertainty a new year brings, but I better figure out to get a handle on it before the kids start back.

All that said, one of the things I love most about our job is that we get a "do over" each year. We can redecorate, restructure our day, change up our classroom management plans, revamp our lessons. For me, it is this never ending journey toward perfection. Now, I know there is no such thing as a perfect teacher, just as there is no such thing as a perfect person. I do believe, however, that we shouldn't stop trying to become better each year. When I started out I thought teaching would be "same year, different kids.". Oh how wrong was I?!!

I am looking forward to this year, the challenges, the triumphs, and even the hair pulling out moments that I'm sure will happen more than once. Like every year, I have made changes that I hope will provide a wonderful 5th grade experience for each of my students.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Vistaprint Addiction

Hello, my name is Mrs. Kiwi and I am a Vistaprint Addict!  My last order was placed 8 hours ago.  I'm not going to mention how many items I have created, nor how much money I have spent.  As long as the total isn't in print, no one can prove anything!

If you haven't guessed by now, I love vistaprint.  I have created dozens of classroom resources and materials.  I am including a few of my most recent creations, at some point, I may treat you to all of my creations.  But, then again, that would be revealing the depths of my addiction, and I'm not sure I want to do that just yet ;)

These first 3 are all small car door magnets  to label each days topic of our Talk About It posters.

This tote will hang next to my door and contain a first aid kit, flashlight, class list, parent names and numbers, and other emergency information.  

Our school uses CHAMPS and this poster will help me manage the noise level in the classroom.

I saying I like and thought would make a cute poster.

Before I am asked, yes, I did create each of the above images.  I use a combination of mostly photoshop, a little illustrator, and a little MS Word.  I will plan to add some more vistaprint creations in the future, so stay tuned!

Monday, August 8, 2011

My First Linky Party Post

I've seen Linky Parties and have never joined in, so here goes my first linky party post!

Topic:  What are the top 3 things you want to work on this year?

1.  Literacy Centers-  I've wanted to try them for a long time and hadn't figured out how to make it work with the demands of my school.  This summer something I saw on Proteacher made it click.  I've figured out how to schedule them into my day.  I am in the process of putting together some centers and even got my teammates on board!

2. Paper LESS Classroom- I want to start using much less paper.  Hands on and technology based lessons will be at the core of what we do this year.  I know I can't go completely paperless at this point, but I can certainly reduce my use a lot!

3.  Staying Organized-  I start out each year organized, but then as the year progresses, slack off.  By the end of the 1st quarter, I have a mile high stack of papers to grade, file, or trash.  This year I am going to work really hard at staying on top of grading and filing papers as I get them, not waiting until the pile is overwhelming!

Well, that was pretty painless and even quite fun!  I will have to be on the lookout for another linky party to join :)

If you'd like to join in on the fun, visit Simply 2nd Resources  

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Digital World at My Fingertips

I'm trying out Blogpress for the iPhone. As any busy teacher can attest, I don't have a lot of time to sit at the computer and blog. This app will (hopefully) let me take my blog with me- to the Dr.'s office waiting room, my son's soccer game, or my daughter's cheerleading practice. This should mean even more posts for you to read :)

Seems to be working great!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Literacy Centers

I've wanted to try literacy centers for a while now, and was having a hard time fitting what I wanted to do in with the expectations at my school.  Luckily, I finally figured out a system that will work, and I am super excited!  I will run centers Tues-Thurs.  Monday will be all of my intro and whole group stuff, and Friday we test and do test prep activities.  Here is a break down of what I will be doing:

15 minute phonics mini lesson- whole group
15 minute phonics/word study center rotation
15 minute Reading Strategies mini lesson- whole group
2- 20 minute vocabulary, comprehension, and reading strategy rotations
5 minute reflection

We have a 90 minute reading block, plus an additional 30 minute self selected reading time later in the day.

My Phonics Stations are:
Fluency Fun
Working with Words- teacher directed
Word Games
I will have 2 of each station with the same activity, but adjusted for reading level.  Groups will do a single station each day.

My Comprehension Stations are:
Guided Reading- teacher directed
Listening Center
Leveled Readers (twice per week) Para led
Skill Focus

I am scouring teacher blogs, Pinterest, and proteacher for some ideas to put in my centers.  Once I have a list of activities I will try to post them here, as well as how I will manage the materials.  For now, enjoy the literacy center signs I've made.

Literacy Station Signs