Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where it All Goes Down Wednesday

This week is Teacher Week 2011!!!


Join in the fun by clicking below and hopping over!


Today is Where it All Goes Down Wednesday. I had really hoped to have pictures to show and have been working on my room all week – actually I have worked for 6 days.  (Teachers go back next week and the kids begin the following week.)  Sadly, I’m just not feeling like my room is ready.   I had hoped to be done by now! I actually spent one full day just moving large furniture around because it was all in a pile inside the door. I changed some things around and have been agonizing about the flow and where things are going to go.  In a word, I am stressed. 

I needed filing cabinets, but have very little full wall space, so adding 2 tall cabinets has been a process.  I also have a paraprofessional joining my class this year, and a student teacher in October.  I literally have no space for other people. To top it all off, I had these great visions for my bulletin boards, and after 3+ hours of work, they did not turn out as I had planned.  I don’t have space for book boxes and I have still not solved to problem of not having a cubby space for each kiddos things.

I am frustrated at having spent this much time and feeling like I am just hitting my head against the wall.  I had sincerely hoped that I would have it down this year and be done in a couple days.  Instead, I again feel like I am starting from scratch.

Sorry for the bummer of a post.  I hope that I can get something worthwhile done tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday

This week is Teacher Week 2011!!!


Join in the fun by clicking below and hopping over!


Today is Teacher Talk Tuesday. The assignment is to give new teachers advice about teaching. I have worked in 4 districts, so I have been a new teacher a few times! (I just saw a commercial about a t.v. show on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and it hit me that 9/11 occurred on the 2nd week of my first year teaching – what a way to start! I plan to post about my experience later.)

As for the new teacher advice, I did a post for a linky party a while ago, so click below to check out my advice.

Advice for New Teachers Linky Party

Classroom update: I spent 6 hours in my classroom today! Can you believe that I pretty much worked on bulletin boards the whole time?!? I REALLY dislike bulletin boards!!! I have a huge board running the length of the back of my room above a counter that also runs the back of the room. I am trying to make better use of the space this year, but when all was said and done, it just looked cluttered. I may just need to live with it for a while. I realized 3 important things while working today:

1. You need a lot of balance and grace when you are walking all over your counters to work on boards.

2. I really need to take a level - when I backed up nothing was ever straight.

3. A stapler will bounce when it falls off the counter onto the carpet. Watch out! I am hoping I didn’t break a bone in my foot.

I actually went in with a plan today. I had printed a bunch of banners to top my boards and a list of things I wanted to do. I was really hoping to not go back tomorrow, but it looks like there will be a day 5 after all! Shouldn’t this get easier after a while?!? Maybe I should just not change everything every year!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Giveaway Winner and Meet the Teacher Monday!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! The winner of the whiteboard give away, chosen by the Random Interger Generator is:

Comment number 2: Barbara from Grade ONEderful!

Grade ONEderful said...

And I just blogged about your giveaway :)
Grade ONEderful

AUGUST 17, 2011 9:07 PM


Barbara, please email me at with your information and I will be sending you the whiteboards and a few fun goodies!

Thank you to everyone who participated!!!

This week is also Teacher Week 2011!!!


Join in the fun by clicking below and hopping over!


Meet the Teacher!

My name is Christine. I am a small town girl from Western New York. I still live in a neighboring small town with my husband, 3 cats, and dog. My husband works with his family on a dairy farm.


Schooling: I attended a very small school and went on to attend college at a New York State University. My undergrad degree is in Special Education with dual certification in Elementary Education. My graduate degree is in The Reading Teacher Program (literacy with a certification to teach reading.)

Teaching: I have taught for 11 years in 4 districts. My resume is a bit crazy, but that is path I have taken! I started out as a long term sub where I taught special education for a half year. I then went on to teach kindergarten for the rest of the year. At the end of that year, a section of kindergarten was eliminated and I moved to 3rd grade. I looped with my class to 4th and then back down to 3rd. (Every teacher 3/4 looped up and down). At the end of that year, I took a literacy specialist position where I taught reading and was a literacy consultant and coach for teaching as students k-4. I loved some aspects of this, but was stressed beyond belief. I decided to switch to a larger to be closer to home and get a substantial raise for the same work. I taught a k/1 multi-age class where I team taught with another multi-age teacher. For a variety of circumstances, this was just not the spot for me. I again switched districts where I have finally landed! I am going into my 5th year teaching first grade!

Whew! Teaching can be a crazy road and I have learned so much from every place I have been. I would not trade the experiences for the world (well, mostly), but I am glad to have finally found stability in where and what I am teaching.

Hobbies: I love to read, decorate and remodel my house, cook, garden, and be crafty. I bead, quilt, and sometimes I like to scrapbook. Oh, and thrift shopping – I LOVE great bargains!!!


Goals: First, I am hoping to work on developing some things to put on Teacher Pay Teachers this year. Secondly, I am planning to apply to go back to school for a post grad. degree in education. (I have actually printed the application and have a list of people I would like to ask for recommendations – that is progress for me!)

Click on the link for a few more facts about me from the:

10 Things About Me Linky Party

Hmm – that’s about it, I think. If anyone wants to know anything else, just comment and I’ll share!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Teacher Week 2011

Just a reminder that my give away of a class set of 24 Double-Sided Word Strips from the Target Dollar Spot (and a few fun surprises!)

There are two ways to enter this giveaway:

1. Follow my blog - leave a comment that you either already follow or have become a follower.

2. Blog about this give away on your blog and link back – leave a comment that you have blogged and a link (I would love to check out more blogs!)

This giveaway closes on Sunday, August 21st at mid-night. I will announce the winner on Monday the 22nd.

Next week is also Teacher Week 2011!!!


Join in the fun by clicking below and hopping over!


I have a short staff development in the morning tomorrow to introduce us to our new math series!  I am beyond excited!!! It is a first for our grade level, as we do not have established programs for many things.  At times this is good because we can use the materials we want and teach in a way that meets our style.  On the other hand, when you have piles and binders of resources, it can be more overwhelming than anything else.  The new series complements the new CORE curriculum and I am hoping that curriculum writing will be easier after I get my hands on the materials!

I am planning to spend the rest of the day in my classroom.  Hopefully I can get some things accomplished!  I broke down and did a lot of printing on my home printer last night.  I hate using my own ink for school things, but I was much more productive in my family room!  I also dug out some fabric to put up on my bulletin board.  I was surprised to find some that I could use and not have to buy new.  I spent SO MUCH this summer on school materials that I am trying very hard to save money for the upcoming school year!

I will be introducing myself a bit more on the post for Teacher Week 2011 tomorrow and announcing the winner of the whiteboards!  Have a great Sunday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

1st Giveaway!

Whew! I am beyond tired!!! I spent 5 hours in my classroom today and it still looks like a tornado hit my room. Hence, the lack of pictures – nothing really to show yet and they are waxing hallways tomorrow, so there will be no class pics. until next week. On the up side, I am finding it much easier to pitch a bunch of things that are falling apart or I really don’t need! I also stuffed envelopes with our open house letters, printed labels, and moved files from my old crate system to my “new” filing cabinets. I am falling asleep as I type!

On another note, I am excited to share my first give away for one lucky winner. This giveaway is for one class set (24) Double-Sided Word Strips from the Target Dollar Spot (and a few fun surprises!)

There are two ways to enter this giveaway:

1. Follow my blog - leave a comment that you either already follow or have become a follower.

2. Blog about this give away on your blog and link back – leave a comment that you have blogged and a link (I would love to check out more blogs!)

This giveaway closes on Sunday, August 21st at mid-night. I will announce the winner on Monday the 22nd.

I’m so excited to be sharing with you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

D5: Leveling Books

I did a recent post on leveled books and my “Just Right” library. Check out that post by clicking here or on the picture of the library. I thought I would share how I level the books.


1. First, I accumulated a pretty big collection of books through library sales, yard sales, thrift shops, and looking through teacher cast offs. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of books, just keep on the look out and collect as you go.

2. I put those round garage sale stickers on the top left corner of every book, where I write the level. The students know that any book with a sticker is from the “Just Right” library and needs to go back in the matching container.

3. I used my parent volunteers to put levels on the books using a few resource websites. When I can’t find a level, I look for books with similar characteristics (vocabulary, number of lines of type, level of picture support, and so on)

4. I periodically have the students go through the baskets and reorganize as needed.

This system have been pretty easy to maintain. Sometimes I have to reteach students how to put the books back.

Here are the websites I use for leveling:


  • Leveled Book Lists - This site is more list based, organized by grade, title, and author.

Happy leveling!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Technology Updates!

Oh my! What I have learned in the past few days! My mind is literally spinning and my eyes are blurry! I have been seeking out ways to steam line my blog and add some privacy to my life on the computer. Here’s what I have been working on and how you can do it too…

1. I created a gmail account to go with my blog. I have been reading some posts about the dos and don’ts of teacher blogging. One of the dos was to post you email for blogger to communicate with you. I have to say that us teachers love to put rules on things and I don’t necessarily agree with all of them, but as I am beginning to communicate with other teacher bloggers, I realized that I wanted an e-mail that wasn’t my personal one and wasn’t my school one. I created an account through gmail and connected it to my regular e-mail so that I still get the messages in the same place, but have a separate account.

2. I linked the new e-mail to my blog through this tutorial:

3. I moved all my teaching blogs to Google Reader with my new account. I know that it is another place I will need to check, but the fact that I can check my blogs at work without having my other subscriptions open for everyone to see is an advantage. I don’t check the other blogs at work, only teaching ones, so it made sense that I separate them. Here’s how I did that:

4. Next, I learned how to blog through Windows Live Writer! I like Blogger, but the window to type in always annoyed me. I learned about Windows Live Writer from Mrs. Carroll at The First Grade Parade! It is so intuitive if you use other Windows programs. I am just figuring out the tricks now.


5. Next, I learned how to make blog buttons scroll through this great tutorial:


Love, love, love this! I stopped adding buttons because the page was getting so long, but this is a great solution!

6. I also learned how to provide a code for my blog button! Everyone else has one and I had no idea how to do it. Done! Here is the tutorial:


Next, I want to create a Linky Party, but I was too frustrated last time I tried to create one. Alas – I’ll save that for another day!

I hope someone finds this helpful!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Linky Party: Top Three Things

Mrs. Morris at Simply 2nd Resources is having a “Top Three Things” Linky Party.



1. Math, math, math!!! – I was/am a curriculum writer for grade level in math.  It has been awesome because I am not a math person and it has forced me to learn and think more.  Combined with the Math Work Stations blog book study, I am pumped with tons of ideas and info to try out!

2. Writing Workshop – I want to get back to doing more of a writing workshop approach.  How to integrate this with our current writing program AND have time do everything in our day is the question. Writing was my professional goal last year and I want to keep moving forward and experimenting with WW and technology.

3. Organizing – Ahhh!  I want to be an organized teacher. My goal is to tame the paper monster, and it’s computer file monster cousin!

So what are your 3 BIG goals this year?  Join in the linky party!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Advice for New Teacher Linky Party

Fun in 4th Grade is hosting an “Advice for New Teachers” linky party.

Fun in Fourth Grade

Here is my advice:

1. Work hard, but not too hard – be sure to take care of yourself and have fun outside of your job.

2. Be wise in how you spend your paycheck – you can easily spend all of your pay on your classroom, but be careful that you buy things thoughtfully. After all, you never know if you will change grade levels or have curriculum changes.

3. Be flexible – with your students, adults, curriculum, lessons

4. Know that you will always be a learner – no matter how much you know as a teacher, there will always be more to learn and other ways to do things.

5. Be friends with support personnel – your custodians, nurse, secretaries, librarian, and so on can be some of the most helpful people in your job.

6. Find a great support buddy – having one really good friend you can vent to and work with makes life so much easier!!!

7. Develop your organization and planning habits early – this comes from someone who didn’t and, 11 years later, I am desperately trying to figure out what I have and purge what I don’t need. Get control of your papers and materials and try to keep up with it.

8. Survive it – I know this sounds negative, but one of my best teaching friends was a first year teacher when we were hired in the same district and I was going into my 6th year, but first at this district. She asked for my advice and I said “survive”. She said to me at the end of that year that my response had puzzled her, but she truly understood at the end of the year. The first year in any job is rarely easy and sometimes you just need to move through it and move on. You will laugh and cry your first year, but you will make it through and learn SO much!

Friday, August 12, 2011

D5: Just Right Books

I am rereading The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser to think about the upcoming school year. In the 3rd chapter: What's the Difference: Key Materials, Concepts, and Routines for Launching the Daily 5, one of the topics the authors discuss is " just right books".

They use the acronym "I PICK" which stands for I choose, Purpose, Interest, Comprehend, and Know (words). I like this as a teacher, but have found it to be too much for my 1st graders. They give an example of finding just right books through a lesson about shoes. It is a really cute lesson and I have had classes that have loved it. I also have had classes that look at me like I am insane! I do talk with my students about choosing just right books, but part of me thinks this is a difficult concept at any age, so I do not focus on it too much. I know parents have tons of questions about choosing JR books, too.

Amanda from One Extra Degree posted a great complimentary acronym: C.O.W. that makes the whole concept of choosing just right books a bit more manageable. Check out her great idea and poster!

One Extra Degree

I have also used the whole Goldilocks idea to choose books that are just right. I have found myself revisiting this in the late fall when we really are into reading and students are making rapid progress with their skills. I think that it is most important to acquaint my students with books that are at their skill level before jumping into teaching them to choose "just right books." I like doing this after kicking off guided reading groups.

We also talk about reading books through reading pictures and reading words as part of D5. While I introduce this concept, I think it is a bit of a contradiction to focus on such a specific way to choose a "just right" book and I am not sure that they have the foundation quite yet and they can gain great deal from reading the pictures. I'm still thinking this through.

In my classroom, I had 2 libraries last year. One was our classroom library and the other was a "Just Right Library." We use DRA levels in my district and they become a HUGE focus for students and families. To minimize this in the classroom, my "Just Right Library" is leveled by Fountas and Pinnell or guided reading level. I tell the students which basket they are choosing from each week in their reading group. They choose 5 books from the "Just Right Library" for the week and 2 from our classroom library for their book boxes.

The "Just Right Library"
(I plan to redo the labels this summer.)

How do you teach students about choosing books at their level?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Planning Sheets

I made a few planning sheets that I thought I would share. I needed to put together some long-term planning items to make weekly daily planning easier. I have included sheets for:

Monthly Planning

Supplies for Next Year/Student Supply Lists

Weekly Planning

Weekly Ideas/Centers

Volunteers Jobs

My thought is that I will put these in the front of my planning binder and jot down things as they come up. That way, in future years, hopefully I will be able to plan ahead a bit more and utilize my time better.

Click here to get the planninng sheets. Hope they are helpful!