Friday, August 1, 2014

#CREATE2EDUCATE WITH MICHAELS

 Few things get me more excited about starting a new school year than shopping and crafting new projects for the classroom. So I was thrilled when Michaels asked me join in their #create2educate Back To School Sweepstakes and head to their closest store to get my craft on!


I decided this was the perfect opportunity to create something that's been floating around in the back of my mind for awhile. This "Gold Pencil" frame is going to be the perfect way to highlight my young authors throughout the year and let them show off some of their best work! I also think it will help show just how serious Mrs. Stewart is about writing in the classroom!!

It's an easy project to re-create.

1. Head to Michaels and visit the frame, wood, and acrylic paint aisles. Also grab some velcro.


 2. Lay it all out and start painting. Not pictured- wood glue & velcro I had at home.
{I got a little ahead of myself and painted that little frame yellow before this picture.}


 
3. Paint the letters. I did two super sloppy {clearly} coats of metallic. Then one coat of the glitter.


 4. Now glue your letters using a glue gun or wood glue. And adhere the yellow frame on with velcro so it can easily be removed and put back when you change out the author's picture. The last thing I did was add a glittery-gold pencil to the side. :)


I had to scrounge to find some kid writing from last year since it's summer still and they took it all home. It got my wheels turning though of all the different ways a child's work could get put in the frame for the week. Good handwriting, complete sentences, a detailed sentence, and working up to short paragraphs and stories. Every child will have their week in the frame featuring their personal best work!

Now it's your turn! Want a chance to win a $50 gift card to Michaels?
Instagram a picture of one of your projects Aug. 1st- 15th.
Use the hastags #create2educate #sweepstakes
Come follow me on Instgram @fallingintofirst
And don't forget to use your teacher ID to save 15% at Michaels!! 

#Create2Educate is a sweepstakes to keep you inspired all year long! 
Create an originalback-to-school project and upload a picture of it to Instagram, using #Create2Educate and #sweepstakes. While you’re there, tag @MichaelsStores too. The contest runs Friday, August 1 through Friday, August 15. A random winner will be selected daily and will receive a $50 gift card to Michaels. All entries will be shared on Michaels.com/Create2Educate. 


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Setting Up Your Classroom

It's time to set up shop!!! Again. My district reports back in three weeks. This year I moved rooms. So I'm starting over with a BLANK as blank can be canvas. It's daunting and exciting all at the same time. I also thought, it's the perfect time to do a mini blog series on classroom set up. For those of you who are setting up a classroom for the first time, or like me an constantly looking for new arrangements, this one's for you! So grab the hall pass and come on over!! I'd like to welcome you into the beginning of my new digs for the school year.


 The above picture is a panoramic view I took of my room from the one corner that kinda lets you see the whole thing at once. PANORAMIC people-!! As in I had to slowly guide the phone from left to right following the straight line my phone gave me in order to fit this view into one picture. So if it looks extra huge here, that's why. That said, I am blessed to have good sized classroom. I know this because my first three years teaching, the school I was in had much smaller sized classrooms. But I can assure you that today's post has little to do with the size of your space. It is all about the purpose of your arrangement and being very intentional with your set up in the space that you have. You want to create a space that will promote learning and engagement!

 {Sharing these pics feels a lot like having guests over when your house is messy. #eek}

This is how my room looked after we moved all of my stuff into it from my old room AND after I spent a good hour moving most of the loose tubs of books, center, supplies, and every other random thing you could imagine off to the sides. The closets and cabinets are also stuffed to the brim too. {Notice those cabinet doors that can't even be closed right now, ha!} I will spend way too much time finding a home for each of those items later.  ;) But for now, they're at least out of the way so I can focus on creating the arrangement.

It's easy to get distracted thinking about how you're going to decorate your room. What posters you want to hang on the wall, what borders you'll buy. These are the parts I get most excited about too!! But before you dive into all that, you'll want to arrange the space, and that means  you have to think about your instruction. Will you want to work with small groups? Do you want your students to collaborate with their peers? If so, what will those spaces look like? Do you run centers in your room? Then you are going to have to carve out a places for students to collect materials that are easily accessible to them. So before you even begin to push around the heavy stuff, jot down a few spaces you know you're going to need. Your non-negotiables, regardless of space or class size. Draw out some potential arrangements using the things you know you have. That way when you do step in your classroom, you have a few tentative game plans to try. 


Once all of the smaller items were out of the way, it was time to temporarily remove any larger items that didn't  need to have a permanent spot. Also remove any items that you're thinking of {gulp-!!} letting go of. Here are a few of my storage drawers, a fan, a pocket chart stand, and a huge partially broken wooden organizer. Some of those will find a spot later on. Some will go in the closet and only come out when they're needed. The broken organizer is probably going away. Sticking these items in the hall freed me up to "see the big picture" when I was moving things around.

Some things you can control and others you can't. For example, I have tables, which I happen to really like. But even if I didn't like them, desks aren't available to me right now. So one way or another, I have to make these work. While it's nice to try and carve out a large gathering space or library, {two spaces we'll visit a little later.} I would settle for making those areas smaller in the name of traffic flow!! I want students to be able to move around easily from one spot of the room to another. There are clear paths for students to reach the drinking fountain, the library, the front door, the gathering space, etc.

My kidney table is where I will work with students in small groups during guided reading, guided math, and writers workshop. It's one of my favorite spots in the room!!  From my chair I can see my whole room with one swooping glance. It's where I was standing when I took the first panoramic picture from the start of this post. There are not blind spots. That's important because I need to see what my crew is up too even when I'm not directly working with them. You want them to know that you can see them from here too! ;) This year my table is located very close to the drinking fountain. No water fountain shenanigans will be getting by this teacher. #sorrynotsorrykids  Behind my table is going to be my teacher work space. It's still a work in progress right now. I think I'm going to swap that table for small desk from Ikea that I have my sights on, but I'm not sure yet. The size of my teacher work space has evolved greatly over the years. I started with a big traditional teacher desk, moved onto an even bigger crafting desk that helped me get organized, but ultimately downgraded to a small table. I prefer to free up the space to create better traffic flow and more available space for the students to work aside from their seats. {That's the next topic we will visit here.} I'm only ever really at my desk when the class is out of the room. And if we're honest, it ends up becoming more of a place for me to collect papers throughout the week. #realtalk #teacherproblems Still, I like having a small space that's just mine.
 {Ikea table pictured above, here}

Another thing I always have in the back of my mind, regardless of desks or tables is, do I have spaces where the students can work independently? They don't have to be large spaces. They don't even have to involve furniture. I always map out a few floor spaces that are designated for students to sit and work. One space is always underneath my two main white boards. I can usually sit 3 students under each board with enough space for them to spread out and not sit right next to each other. Another floor space I use in the same way is right in front of the closets. Students can lean against the closest while they write with a clipboard, play a math game, or read a book. I won't push furniture against the closest, so it would otherwise be wasted space. These same floor spots can become partner spots too. So if I have six floor spots between the closest and under the white boards, and a pair of students are sitting in each spot...that's 12 kids that can work somewhere other than the tables! This can prevent tables or clusters of desks from being too crowded and noisy. Clip boards, small lap desks, and even that $20 table from Ikea are thrifty and practical solutions that work well in small floor spaces. I have a bucket of clipboards my students can grab when they need to work somewhere other than their table spot.
 Above, you can see that I push my writing center right up against the library. They're both quiet work spaces. But note, the library can also be a spot where individual students and partners go to work. So can the gathering space. If you have any small tables or extra desks, these are great for a designated center or just another space students can feel free to pick up their work and move to throughout the day.
 A whole group gathering space is just as important to me as the small group instruction space. I've listed just some of the times you will want a gathering space throughout the day. Much of my whole group instruction happens here. I love this carpet that I received last year from Mohawk Homes. It helps define this space.  But not everyone had a carpet and the good news is, you really don't need one!! Corners naturally define a gathering space. I once observed a first grade teacher who had 33 first graders in his very small classroom. {Bless.} When you walked into his room there were three obvious spaces. His small group instruction table, all the student desks {yes, all 33 of them - eek!!} in the center, and his gathering space in the only available corner! If you don't have an open corner or space, carve out an area that can be split between students on the floor and students in their seats. You can allow the kids to take turns when it comes to who sits where.


This was how the room looked when I last left it. I still have oodles of hours of work to do before it's the finished space I want it to be. Also, you never know when inspiration strikes and I decide to move things around again. But now that the foundation it set, I can start moving onto things like decorating, organizing, and my next project...

#operationwallspace

...mapping out the wall space!!! But that's a whole different post for a whole different day. :)

{I'm making a mental note to come back to this wall space topic though.}

If you found these set up tips helpful, please feel free to PIN so you can come back to them!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

waking up in vegas- tpt 2014

Teachers take over Las Vegas!!! It happens every year, but this year was a whole new level. When hundreds or teacher bloggers and Teachers Pay Teacher get together at the same time...it's the kind of experience you just need to re-live again when you get home. I promised I'd share some hilights with ya'll...so here we go! #vegasrecap


I flew in Wednesday and started the trip off having lunch with some of my fave girls. From there we headed up to the exhibitor booths and started running into lots of familiar friendly faces. :)



This was my third year attending the annual Blogger Bash hosted by What The Teacher Wants. Every year, it's just a little bit bigger than the last. Well this year surpassed "just a little"...cuz the room was BUZZING with over 500 teach bloggers and blog readers!!! Electric energy and conversations! It is always such a fun time meeting the faces you know and love from the internet. I had a blast catching up with old friends and meeting new ones!!! The majority of the people there just wanted to exchange gratitude for the things we've learned from each other via. blogs over the years. It was crazy to think about how much as a group all the people there (and those who couldn't be there) have added to the teaching community!!


 Thursday we got rained out of the pool, so we wandered around the Venetian for about an hour...lost...trying to find I Heart Burgers for lunch. For those who have never been the Ventian/Palazzo are like a city within a city. What do bloggers do when they don't know what to do? #takepictures.

  {I wanted that  sign for my classroom.}
 We eventually made it and met up with Hadar, Traci, and Annie for a delicious lunch.
If you ever have a chance to eat at I Heart Burgers...order all the fries and share. 
They.Are.To.Die.For.

 #thankyou

Keeping with the theme of losing your way around the Venetian/Palazzo, in attempting to wander back to my room myself that afternoon, I had a little celebrity sighting. Paul Edelman...walking straight towards me. So I stopped him and said. "I'm sorry but are you PAUL...from TPT!?" Luckily Paul couldn't have been nicer! He stopped to talk to me  listen to me babble at him for a few minutes. What can you say to the man who founded the thing that has blessed your world in so many ways other than, THANK YOU. He was so nice, he offered to take a selfie of us!!

That night the fabulous gals from GoNoodle hosted a little #Champyhour. It was awesome to meet Holly, the girl behind the screen that introduced me to the GoNoodle phenomenon, and  helped save my afternoons earlier this year!

Then it was out for a little fun on the strip with these two!!! At the top of the city on the newly built Highroller in Vegas - the world's tallest observation wheel. 
Then Friday we were up bright and early for the first ever TPT Conference. 


 The hilight of my day was the keynote from Amy, Paul, Deanna, and John. Amy got the crowd pumped up, John wowed us with the stats, Deanna made us laugh and tear up sharing her story, and Paul cried because he loves us so much. Which in turn I'm pretty sure had every other person shedding some waterworks too. I left feeling so blessed to be a part of this incredible organization.


My blogging bestie & roomie Kelley presenting at her session. She rocked it!!!


After a day full of sessions, we wrapped with the little Happy Hour...TPT style!!

I was EXHAUSTED.  It's a whirlwind three days...but I wouldn't have it any other way!

 {A little tribute to Paul & Team TPT from the sellers.}

Hands down the best part of this TPT jounrey has been the friendships I have made along the way. If you're just getting started, don't be afraid to reach out to fellow bloggers, collaborate, host giveaways together, guest blog for each other, join Facebook groups. These are where some of the strongest and most unexpected friendships can be born.

 #tptvegas15'....I'm already ready for you!!!!


 
This blog post is coming to you live from ocean side MAUI! I hopped home for just 24 hours in between Vegas and vacation with the hubs. Just enough time to throw in a load of laundry and jump right back on a plane. When I get home this time...Back to School prep will be in full force. I promise to dive into all of that with you...after I soak up just a little more fun and sun. ;) 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fireworks Flash Sale

Happy Independence Day!!! 

Today reminds me of BBQ, Pools, and triffles with berries. 

In honor of the day, I'm  having a little *FIRECRACKER FLASH* Sale here,  in my store


Have a safe & happy Holiday!!! Catch ya'll soon from Vegas!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Falling Into Summer


About to wrap up week number three of Summer Break over here. How does it even happen so quickly!? At the same time I have teacher friends who just finished this week and others who are still in school through the end of June. I never realized how truly all over the place school year's begin and end across the country until I started blogging. Usually I end the year with a last week recap of sorts, but time just kind of slipped away from me. Field Day, Awards, Memory Books, then BOOM. The last day came and went in a blink.

 So I thought I'd do some catching up with a little Five for Friday action.


1. FITNESS FEVER


This year fitness was always falling to the bottom of my priority list during the school year. Sad but true. So this summer, it's at the very TOP of the priority list! I signed up for an 18 week plan with an online trainer and have begun lifting weights and cleaning up my eating. I'm totally hooked!! I wake up everyday, strap on my sneakers, and hit the gym. In three weeks I've already seen changes in my body, dropped 7 pounds, and feel amazing!! During the summer I'm blessed to have that extra bit of 'me time' to really create new routines and habits and I'm taking advantage of it for sure.


2. MOVING CLASSROOMS 


This is not something I knew I was going to have to do on the last day of school. Nor was it something I wanted to do!! Never the less, it happened this week. Bless all of you who have to pack up your entire room at the end of every school year. It's a job and a half!!! Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile may remember how overwhelmed I was two years ago when I moved into a room {that was overflowing with all the stuff the previous teacher left behind} less than a week before school started. So at least this time I get a blank slate and I've got more than half my summer to fix it up. If you're wondering if a new room means a new grade, kinda sorta. I won't be teaching a 1st/2nd combo next year, but I'll still be teaching one of those grades! More on that later this summer.. :)


3. SUMMERING

 {Source: Instagram @Fallingintofirst}

"Summering"...it's a verb. It's that time of year when I can wear my yoga pants everyday and just take a moment to breathe!! I've got books to read, recipes to try, a new house to decorate, a yard to landscape, pool hours to log. So while I like to save the blog posts for longer shares, you can catch me daily over on  Facebook and Instagram! Join the conversation for TEACHER TALK TUESDAY on my Facebook page each week and you can check out all the daily "summering" going on via Instagram!


4. CREATE 


After two weeks of shutting off this part of my brain for some much needed R&R, my creative side began stirring again this week.  Today I'm thinking I'll start by finishing this Communities Unit that has been an on and off work in progress since last Fall. After that I have a nice little, okay long,  list of  things I've been looking forward to tackling this summer!


5. VEGAS IS ON THE HORIZON.


Vegas is the first of two summer trips I have planned. I can't waaait to cause some trouble with my roomie {Kelly from Teacher Idea Factory} and all the other blogging buddies who are going to be in town. Chit chatting at the annual blogger meetup, Meeting the GoNoodle crew, and attending the TPT conference are all on the agenda. Also, that pool at the Venetian has also been calling my name since last summer! Just sayin.

http://doodlebugsteaching.blogspot.com/2014/06/five-for-friday-linky-party-june-20th.html

So there's a peek at what I've been up to lately. Now that summer is in full swing and I'll be able to blog a little more often and catch back up on all the happenings each week!!

Until next time... Happy Weekend!!!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

End Of The Year Memory Book


Today was field day! It was a blast but I'm pretty sure the only person who goes home more tiered on field day than the kids is the teacher that partakes in every event right along with them. Ha!! So I'm just stopping by quickly tonight to show you the latest result of my Melonheadz clipart addiction. I got rollin' this week on making this little End Of The Year Memory Book for my class. I like my kids to feel like superstars during our end of the year celebrations so it has a Rockstar theme!!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/End-Of-Year-Memory-Book-K-2-1251148

I'm 28 years old but I still LOVE coloring with my Crayolas. It's relaxing. #justsayin

{Coloring some pages for my teacher sample.}

This cover says First Grade Rocks but there are covers for K-2 and also, a general one.

Back in the day I read somewhere (Most likely a Mailbox Magazine) about stapling  books that students make into folders as a "binding" solution. I particularly love this idea for the memory books because they look more "official" and will have longer durability. These make for some precious keepsakes that your kiddos will have for years to come!!


Keeping with the Rockstar theme...a Papparazzi page where you can add class or student pictures!


Lots of pages to choose from, you can pick the handwriting lines best for your class.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/End-Of-Year-Memory-Book-K-2-1251148
You can preview these rockin' memory books to see everything included. 

 I hope your last days together with your class ROCK!!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Turtle Close Read Freebie


It's Ocean Week!! Today we were focusing on sea turtles. They're a pretty cute creature of the sea by my standards. Especially the babies. My kids wanted to know everything they could about those little guys. I also pulled out this baby sea turtle craft that I've been using for years now. It's also been a FREEBIE in my store for a long time, but I recently updated it. It's now a complete excerpt from my Ocean Life unit but also includes one bonus writing page.


We started off this lesson by doing some reading detective work about sea turtles.
My students know to highlight the "evidence" in the text to show where they got their answers.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sea-Turtles-Common-Core-Classroom-248492http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sea-Turtles-Common-Core-Classroom-248492

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sea-Turtles-Common-Core-Classroom-248492

{Two levels so it's easy to differentiate in your room.}

Then we pulled in some information from the books in our room to gather more facts. 


Each child picked a fact to write on their sea turtle. When you put the whole classes together they can see what it looks like when a freshly hatched group of sea turtles is headed for the ocean together!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sea-Turtles-Common-Core-Classroom-248492

If you're studying Ocean animals too, go grab yourself a copy!! :)

You can also check out my previous All About Ocean Life post, here.