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Friday, June 30, 2017

Target Dollar Spot Excitement

The big girl had Vacation Bible School this week, so little girl and I hit up three area Targets to scope out the Dollar Spots.  Instagram was filled with amazing back to school finds and I couldn't resist seeking out some of these items for my own classroom/personal happiness!  A few of the items were left over Summer Items and on clearance with 70% off, some items as low as 30 cents.

I am super excited about these colorful trays.  Trays are a must in the science classroom, and these are the perfect shape and size.  In the past, I used crawfish trays, and they were too big and more difficult for fifth graders to carry around the classroom.  I can use these trays to divide up lab supplies and center activities for each group.

File folders galore! You can never have enough of them and when they are cute and brightly colored they just make working at a desk a little more enjoyable.  One of my three professional goals this year is to stay organized, and I am hoping cute office supplies will also help me achieve that goal.

I found a cute binder with a great motivational message: Just Get it Done!  I may use it as my teacher binder this year, or a place to hold IEP and 504 paperwork.  I also found cute dividers that I am excited to add to my binders for the year.

Pencils, pencils and more pencils.  I am absolutely obsessed with Target Dollar Spot pencils and I buy new ones every season.  I also snagged a nifty pencil pouch because I need something for my scented felt tip pens!  I am starting work on my principal certification and homework will be a lot more interesting with scented pens, cute page flags, and YESSSSS! and NOPE notepads.

Teach, Learn, and Think letter signs to add more color to my classroom.  I don't have a theme in my decor, but I do like to incorporate as much color as I can.  My classroom is very BEIGE--floors, walls and cabinets.  The only color is the navy blue counter tops which just seems to make the beige stand out even more.  I have been trying for 2 years now to figure out how to make the classroom more welcoming and slowly I have been making progress.

I have created pennants for I will statements that I hang in the classroom to demonstrate how much we have learned.  I found a spool of twine with 25 small, colorful clips that I am going to use to hang the pennants at the front of the room this year.

A unicorn themed Follow Your Dreams desk pad planner!  Super excited about this item and can not wait to add it to my desk.

I also managed to score 6 mini Steve Spangler's Energy Sticks that are always fun during our energy unit and electrical circuits unit.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Positive Preparation: Enjoying Summer and Still Getting Things Done

I love my summers!  Quality time spent with my two beautiful girls.  We visit the zoo weekly, run around at the splash pad, play at the park and read at the library.  Staying busy in the morning and cooling off from the summer heat in the afternoons is our life.  Luckily I still have one little who needs her afternoon nap and during that 2-3 hour block I find the time to be super productive.

During this block of productivity, I like to prepare for August and the upcoming school year.  I search Teachers Pay Teachers for great products, read blogs, and update resources I will need during the first few weeks of school.

This past week, I was able to update my class syllabus.  Last school year was the first time I had developed a syllabus for my class.  I was inspired by the adorable syllabus Ms. Leslie Ann at Life in Fifth Grade shared on her blog and used that as a guideline for my own classroom.

I handed it out to parents on Meet The Teacher Night and posted it on my website.  I found it to be incredibly helpful for parents, and saw a huge decrease in emails from parents asking about dates, how to find information and general homework questions.

Last year's syllabus was really geared towards parents and I knew for next school year that I wanted to develop a version that was for the student's and formatted to fit in their interactive notebooks so they had the information available at all times.  I spent one of my moments of productivity updating and creating a pamphlet style syllabus that could be easily glued down, and I am really happy with the outcome.  Below are images of the syllabus has currently designed for the parents to receive on Meet the Teacher Night.  Now, considering this is still June, changes may be made,  but so far I am happy with the outcome.

I also am very happy with the student version of the syllabus

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Setting blogging goals...and failing miserably.

Why can I not do this blogging thing!?!

Is it because I am committed to so many other things?  You know, important things like reading, sleeping, watching television...

Is it because I have poor time management?

Is it because I don't really know what I want my blog to be?  

If I really want to be successful, I really need to figure out what I want to get out of the blogging experience, so here is my goal:

1. Decide what I want this blog to actually be--what is my purpose.  What I think would be beneficial is to actually blog about what I am doing, sort of a journal of a teacher in the classroom.  It would also be something I can share with my students and parents so that they are updated on what we are doing.  The blog would provide insight that my district required web page does not allow.

2.  How often will I blog?  Weekly is probably possible.  What I really need to do to be successful is decide on a day of the week to blog and then a time and day to have the blog post.  This way I know it is coming and it isn't a AAAAAHHHHH moment when I realize it is June and my last post was in August.

3. Does design matter?  I think one of my biggest issues is that I don't like the way my blog looks.  So many amazing teacher blogs out there and mine just doesn't measure up so I avoid it.  I need to get over that and realize that I need to focus on the content first.  Once I have established that, then I can become concerned with aesthetics.

I feel better already!  Thanks for letting me share my personal, blogging pep talk.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Back in the Classroom!

I am officially back to work.  Friday was the "official" campus work day and I am happy to say that my classroom has been ready to go since Thursday! Of course I just added a piece of furniture so I am going to have to make some changes, but I am so happy with the way it is looking.

Here are a few before pictures I took two weeks ago when I first started heading up to campus.

This is looking from the door to the classroom.  Desks stacked up.  Everything packed and stored on top of cabinets and counter space.  Do you see how ugly this classroom is?  It is so...BEIGE!!! I hate it.  We are allowed to paint one wall with an approved color and a promise to paint over it if we leave the classroom, but with two little ones "helping me" in my classroom--you can even see baby toys in several of the pictures--painting was just too big of a job for me this year.  Carpets are also a bad idea in a science classroom--just ew.

From the back of the room looking towards the teacher corner.  We were allowed to leave the fabric and border on our bulletin boards which was super helpful. 

So this is what I started with on August 1st.  I will be doing a classroom tour once everything is exactly how I want it.  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ham it Up in Science is Having a Sale!

I try very hard to never pay full price for anything, so I love a good sale!  Nothing makes this teacher happier than a sale on awesome products I can use in my classroom.  Teachers Pay Teachers is having their Best Year Ever Sale for two days only, products in my store are on sale! Save money and get awesome items for your classroom.  Ham it Up in Science is here for you, :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Thank you Donors Choose!

Fidgeting Funded! Alternative seating with alternative funds.
I am so excited to share with you that my Donors Choose project was fully funded—and just in the nick of time too!

If you are not familiar with this remarkable organization, is an amazing resource for classroom teachers.  A teacher develops an idea or project, writes a short description of what they need, why they need it, what their students are like, what their campus is like and it is posted on the website.  People are then able to search through all the projects and make a donation towards helping the teacher acquire the things they need for their classroom.
I created my first Donors Choose project my second year in the classroom.  I have been blessed to have 6 projects fully funded in my 9 years of teaching.  The most recent project is the one I am most excited about.
This project is going to allow me to start introducing alternative seating into my classroom.  I will be receiving 15 bouncy bands that will fit on student desks, 4 exercise balls that can be used in the place of chairs, and 5 seat rockers that go in a student’s seat and let them sort of wobble to and fro.

In addition to my Donorschoose project, I also received a $600 grant from my district’s Education Foundation to purchase an additional 40 bouncy bands for desks in my classroom and the classrooms of my partner teachers.

My goal is to continue to expand alternative seating every year.

I can’t wait to share with you guys how these additions to my classroom change things!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Starting Class in the First Five Minutes

As a fifth grade teacher on a campus that is departmentalized, I see four science classes each day.  I struggled the first few years with transitioning smoothly from one class to the next.  Kids would be rushed out the door so they made it to their next class on time, papers would be left in messy piles all over the room, and lab equipment would be hastily shoved into containers for the next class.  I would quickly work to get things ready while students surrounded me with questions, requests, late work, etc.  It was enough to make me want to pull my hair out!

In my attempt to alleviate the stress of transitioning from one class to the next, I created one of my most successful classroom management techniques, simply called “The First 5 Minutes”

The most important goal I wanted to accomplish was to have the students come in to my classroom and get to work independently so that I could have 5 minutes to prepare everything they would need for that day’s activity. 
I start “The First Five Minutes” on the first day of school.  When students enter the classroom, I ask them to read the screen.  I project a list of things they need to accomplish. This list always reminds them to sharpen their pencils, use the restroom, get water, and to set themselves up for success.  I might also include directions to get their homework out, turn in their conduct card and take home folder, or copy the agenda from the board.  By the end of the first week, my students know that as soon as they walk in to my classroom they need to read the screen and get started on accomplishing the tasks I have listed.

I also explain to students that during this 5 minutes they are not to ask me questions or hand me anything.  I let them know that I need the first five minutes of class to get everything ready for them.  Once the five minutes has passed, I always turn to the class and ask them if they need to tell me anything and then we get started.

This simple technique has really helped me deal with the transition between each class and has really helped me keep my sanity during the day.