Sunday, August 13, 2017

Planning, Planning and More Planning!!!

Hey, Hey!!!!

It's been a super long week! On Monday, I finally gained access to my classroom and let me tell you, it was a MESS! This year, I am switching classrooms (again), so I spent all Monday and Tuesday deep cleaning and organizing my classroom. Needless to say, it's almost ready for my Big Reveal, so stay tuned! We started back to school PD's on Wednesday and it was great seeing my coworkers and meeting my new coworkers! I also found out that I will be stepping into the role of Mentor Teacher which means I will have a student teacher for the entire year! I'm so excited to have a co-teacher for my new babies this year!

Beginning of the Year Planning

At the beginning of each year, my team starts by planning out the year long scope and sequence of Common Core State Standards. Backwards planning helps us decide which standards are not covered very well within our curriculum. We utilize the Houghton Mifflin Reading curriculum, the Engage NY curriculum for Math and Write From the Beginning and Beyond for Writing. Year long planning helps us fill in the gaps. 
After we create our yearly scope and sequence, we begin quarterly planning. Here we focus on the specific skills within the standard we will teach and how long we will teach each skill. Finally, daily lesson plans are designed to actually teach within the skill. All of the front loaded planning sound exhaustive, but is necessary to ensure no CCSS stone is left unturned!

First Week Resources

Of course, I do not jump right into teaching curriculum on the first day of school! I use the first two weeks to build the classroom community, get to know each other, sight word test, and fun back to school activities. Thankfully, in our district the first day of school is a half day, so we will spend much of the day getting re-acquainted to the school and each other. I have several read alouds planned as well as fun back to school activities, such as a classroom hunt. I created this "First Day of Second Grade"sign for students to color and complete. You can grab your free copy below!

Well, I'm off to spend the rest of this beautiful Sunday in my classroom. My kiddos return on Wednesday, so I want to make sure our room is picture perfect!

Have an amazing week! 


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Growth Mindset!


This is officially my last Sunday of summer vacation 😢. Today, the staff received our first official "Welcome Back" email from our Principal (even though we do not start until Wednesday). All in all, I'm pretty excited to start this new school year and to meet my new babies! I've used this past week to begin planning the first few days of school, writing out my routines and procedures and checking out my "Back to School" books from my local library. This has been a pretty busy week to say the least!

Growth Mindset Read-Alouds

My favorite thing to do within the first few weeks of school is to teach about Growth Mindset. What is growth mindset? Well, it's the belief that your abilities can be developed through hard work and perseverance. It entails the belief that a student can succeed in any subject area by working hard to attain goals. My favorite idea behind Growth Mindset is "the power of yet". This means, I may not be able to do it yet, but I will keep trying until I learn. 

I highly recommend teachers to learn about and teach growth mindset. There are many, many resources on Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers to use. Also, there are tons of books dedicated to "Growth Mindset" and the idea of never giving up. Here are a few I plan to use this year: 
These books are great from community building and teaching Growth mindset! I can not wait to read these books to my students and create our classroom decor based on what we have learned (you can check out my Do Unto Otters blog post and grab a freebie here!). Growth mindset is a magnificent way to teach students that it is OK not to know how to do something and that they just may not be able to do it yet! 

What resources do you use to build your classroom community and to promote Growth Mindset? Use the comments to share! I would love to hear from you! 

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Until next time, have an AMAZING week!


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Back to School Teacher/Mom Hauls

Hey everyone!!!

Welcome back! I just had to stop what I was doing and tell you all about the great deals I found this week on school supplies!!! I did to mini haul shopping trips this week, one on Monday and the other today. I scored some great deals on school supplies for my kids as well as Teacher supplies for myself! Keep reading to find out how!

Mini Target Haul

After viewing the Target weekly ad, I noticed some great deals they have this week on school supplies. I also was able to stack some Sunday Paper coupons to go along with the sale. Here is the breakdown: 
Sharpie Highlighters- on sale for .99, bought 3 packs = $2.97, I used three .75cent off coupons making the total .72cent for the highlighters
PaperMate Pens- on sale for $1.49, bought 3 packs = $4.47,  I used three .55cent off coupons making the total $2.82 for the pens
Elmers Glue- on sale for .99cent- bought 3 packs = $2.97, I used three $1off coupons making the total $0. FREEBIE!

My total Target Oop was $3.54 Yayyyyy!!! 

Mini Walgreens Haul

Again, I was able to combine some great in store sales with the coupons from last Sunday's paper. Here's the breakdown:

Mr. Sketch Markers- on sale for $7.99 (with card), bought one pack, used one $2off coupon, making the total $5.99

Ticonderoga Pencils- on sale for .99cent (with card) bought 4 packs = $3.96

Wexford Pencil caps- on sale for .29cent (with card) bought 3 packs = .87cent

Expo Markers- on sale for .99cent (with card) bought 2 packs, used two $1 off coupons, making the total FREE

My Oop for this haul was $9.72

Awesome-sauce!!! Have you found any great deals on school supplies?? If, so comment below! 

Until next time,

Friday, July 28, 2017

Back to School Tips and Read Aloud (((FREEBIE)))!!!

Hey, Hey, Hey!!!!!

It's almost time for back-to-school! Summer break is over in 2 weeks (for me, at least) and it's time to begin thinking about all things back to school. I've taught for over 5 years, so I'm pretty set with the things I will need to start the school year. For new teachers, however, this time of the year can be overwhelming! I want to share a few tips that I have learned over the past five years, for the newbies who are just starting out!

Tip 1: Create the class with your class

I know this time of the year is very exciting! We love to visit our favorite teacher stores, Target, and Amazon to buy all of the cute posters and bulletin boards to decorate our classrooms. I've been guilty of wanting to have things perfect on the first day of school! Well, let me tell you, STOP!!! Creating your class decor with your students is much more meaningful to them and it will be to you as well. Sure, store bought class rules are cute and easy, but creating and discussing class rules will have a better effect on your classroom management. Also, I allow my students to help me setup the classroom. This includes the location of desks, community supplies, and resources. After all, they will be using these resources so they should have a voice in our class setup. This year, I will begin with blank bulletin boards so that as a class we can decide how we want to use the space.

Tip 2: Buy on a Budget

Let's face it, buying for a classroom can be pretty expensive. My school does a great job with providing us with funds for the Big Flexible Learning Environment, but, there are other things the teachers must buy if we want it. My first go-to for classroom needs is Donor's Choose. This organization is heaven sent. You can submit a proposal for the items you need and people are able to donate until it's fully funded. The key here is to promote, promote, promote! Next, I check out all garage and yard sales in my area. You can find some pretty great classroom items. I visited a yard sale across the street and found out my neighbor is a retired teacher who had a garage full of classroom items to sale or donate! Finally, I go to the Dollar Store or Target Dollar Spot. You will find amazing items here for dirt cheap too!

Tip 3: Focus on Classroom Culture

This is the biggest lesson that I have learned thus far. Yes, decor is important but, building an effective classroom culture will CHANGE your school year. Begin the year focused on growth mindset, positivity, classroom manners, and getting to know each other. By doing this, your students will be excited to come to school each day and eager to learn. There are some great read-alouds and activities for building a positive classroom culture. Keep reading to find out which ones are my favorite!

Back to School Read Alouds!

Earlier I spoke about creating a positive classroom culture at the beginning of the year. I cannot stress how important this is! My favorite way to cultivate positivity is through read alouds. Students are engaged through each book and are excited to apply the lessons that go along with the story. One of my lessons are based on the book Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller. This is a book about manners and how we should treat others the way we want to be treated. My students love this story!! It is so relatable and fun for students to read. After reading, we discuss how we want other students to treat us within our classroom. I ask students to share how they want me to treat them, and I share how I would like for them to treat me. It's a great experience hearing the ideas of my kids and watching them think of ways to show good manners. After our shared discussion, students write or draw about good manners (I use their drawings as our class rules bulletin board).
Finally we wrap up our discussion and activity with a "Show What You Know" comprehension worksheet based off of the book. And wa-la!! A fun, engaging lesson on Good Manners that builds a positive class culture at the beginning of the school year! (FYI: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link, I may receive compensation. This compensation comes at no additional cost to you, and as always I only recommend products I trust!)

As promised, here is a sneak peak freebie from my "Do Unto Otters" lesson! Click here for your Freebie!
If you like the freebie, you will LOVE my "Do Unto Otters" full lesson.
 It includes a Good manners circle map, a drawing page for each good manner discussed in the book and comprehension questions! Click here to check it out!

Welp, I hope this post was informative and helped someone out there! Please comment what resources you use for back to school! I'd love to hear from you! 

Have an AMAZING Week!!!

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                   Teachers Pay Teachers

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What is Personalized Learning?


Hello All! Welcome back! Lord, July is almost over already! You know what that means? Back to School! Arrgggghh! We official go back to work on August 9th (Very early, I know). But, I work at a charter school so it kind of comes with the territory. Anywho, by this time of the year, I’m pretty much ready to go back to work anyway. The kids are out of camp, and I am over washing dishes every hour on the hour!

I received some pretty AMAZING news this week. My classroom has been chosen to transform into a model personalized learning classroom. What does that mean? NEW FURNITURE! Yayyy! I was blessed with $5000 worth of awesome furniture from a model showroom as well as $2500 worth of furniture from a top flexible learning designer. How cool is that? I cannot wait to show you guys this great transformation we are about to undertake. The only drawback is that the furniture will not be available until after the first few weeks of school. At first I was a little bummed, but then I realized that would give me the chance to introduce flexible seating and class routines without the overwhelming excitement of brand new class furniture.

As I began to think about my new class design, I decided that I want to dive deep into the personalized learning realm. By this, I mean true personalized learning (not just groups of highs, mids and lows). I give student interest inventories at the beginning of each year and by October they are gone by the wayside. However, the information I can gather is significant in getting to know what each child likes, their strengths and areas of improvement. Although, I love these, I realize I teach 2nd grade and the inventories are more times than none completed by the parent, read by me once and never seen again! Last year, my school started to redesign our framework to better support PL. We implemented student learner profiles! This is a digital record of the student’s academic data, goals, strengths, areas of growth and parental notes. I conducted 1:1 interviews with each student and gathered as much information as I could. During parent-teacher conferences, I shared the learner profiles with parents and added any extra information they provided.

My favorite part about our learner profiles is that each student has access to their learner profile and may enter any goal setting or goal tracking data they want to share. Yes, we did this in 2nd grade! My students were so excited to show how much they have improved in their area of growth and develop plans on how they want to work. It was truly amazing.  Here are a few resources I have used to help develop my student Learner Profiles:

Now I am at a crossroad; I have the flexible learning environment and I also have the learner profiles. My question is what is the next step? What do I do what all the information I have gathered? How can I implement student interest when I have a set curriculum that I must follow? This year, I want to think outside of the box and allow the students to drive their own learning with me as a true facilitator. But, where does that begin?

If you have any experience, insights, thoughts, comments or questions about personalized learning, please share in the comment box below. I would love to hear about your classroom and where you are in the PL journey!

Until Next time!


Sunday, July 16, 2017

TpT and Teacher-prenuar Update!!!

Hey Everyone!!!
Welcome back! This week has been a whirlwind in the land of TpTing and teacher-prenuarship, I'm so excited to share what I have learned so far! Let's jump right in!

Last week, I created and uploaded my first paid resource on TeachersPayTeachers. I must admit, I'm very nervous to see if others will buy it, and more importantly if others will like it! I wanted to make sure I created something that I have experience in using to share with the world. I also made a "snippet" of this packet as a freebie to introduce my paid resource. Well, after about a week, quite a few people have downloaded the freebie, which is AMAZING!! I've had others preview the paid version (which is also Amazing!). This tells me that others are actually viewing my work and visiting my page! That's more than I can ask for since I am a beginner, so I am totally stoked!

This week, I browsed the TpT website and came upon a little jewel called "TpT University". This forum is truly magnificent if you are just starting out and are completely OVERWHELMED. It gives step by step directions and advice from fellow teachers and TpT leaders about any and every possible topic or question you may have. You will also learn more about creating resources, copyrighting, securing and flattening clip art, and so much more. Any question I could think of, I found an answer in the TpT University forum. I strongly suggest new sellers begin by reviewing this forum.

I also discovered the TpT seller's forum. When I say, OMG!!! I mean, OMG!!! I needed a space to talk to other teachers and ask for advice about this journey. There are veteran seller's who are more than willing to review, advise and mentor newbies like myself. The only downside is that once I posted in the forum, my thread got "lost" amongst the others. I'm not sure if there is a way to search for only my thread so that I can see the response from the other fantastic teachers. I asked for other teachers to review my store and to give feedback on anything I should improve. The great teacher-contributors did not disappoint! Within hours, I received great advice on how to better the look of my store and how to copyright every page of my products. I even had a teacher-contributor send me a personal email with GREAT advice and she offered to answer any other questions I had. This type of support is often unheard of, (especially coming from perfect strangers) I am so glad TpT offers this type of forum.

As many have stated, TpT is not a get-rich-overnight type of business. It takes a lot of dedication and meticulous work in order to begin to make money. As for me, I'm ok with putting in the work. I am even more confident in my decision to become a teacher-prenuar after witnessing the large amount of support given by fellow teachers! It is simply amazing. If you are just beginning your TpT journey (like me!) I highly suggest you get acquainted with the TpT website, TpT University and the Seller's forum.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Number of the Day + Freebie!!!!

Happy Sunday!!! 

On my last entry, I spoke about my decision to jump into the world of teacher-preneurship. I must say I have really enjoyed learning more and more about creating and selling products! It gives me a way to think outside of the box. More so, thinking about what would other teachers need if they were using this resource. I have tons of things I have created in the past, but they were made especially for me by me!

Well, this week I've learned about clip art and fonts and how to make your product look desirable, interesting and fun! Since I am just starting out, I do not have the funds to buy as many fonts, backgrounds, borders, frames and clip art images (a lot right??) as I would like. So, freebies have been my friend this week! Bless the wonderful artist to have helped beginners like me with a few freebies of their work. If you are just starting out you may want to check out some of these wonderful and thoughtful artist: 

I've spent some major free time this week (mostly while the kids were at camp) creating a great product to use this school (or shall I say next school year)! Every year, my class starts really strong with practicing basic math skills such as counting and cardinality, making a ten, and writing numbers in word form. We practice this using one of my favorite activities NUMBER OF THE DAY!!! 

At the beginning of each year, as we are introducing and practicing routines and procedures, I like to roll out certain classroom staples that we will use for the entire year such as NoTD. I love this activity because it gives students a chance to practice how numbers work and expressing numbers in different ways. However, year after year, I always ran into ONE major problem: the kids simply got bored doing the same thing day (even though the numbers were different. 

Soooooo..... I decided to create number of the day practice sheets that enhanced what we were already doing in our Math curriculum. If we were working on decomposing with number bonds our NoTD practice was to decompose with number bonds. 

This simple tweak to NoTD changed my Math block! My students loved showing what they have learned in our math lesson using NoTD. As the year progressed and we learned new skills, I would let the kids choose which sheet they would like to do for NoTD. They loved it! 

To grab a free snippet of my super awesome Number of the Day Packet click here!
If you would like the full version of my uber awesome Number of the Day Packet click here!

Have an AMAZING week!


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