Sunday, September 1, 2013

Routines - Unpacking and Packing

Whew! Last week was a wirlwind! I "finished" decorating and setting up my room. Well, to be truthful, it looked nice enough for the meet and greet, but nothing is really the way I want it. I think I need to get the year started to get in gear with organizing my materials and making the room functional. I am finding that I want to keep some things from first grade and some things from third grade in second grade. I'm just not quite ready to wrap my brain around it yet without feeling dizzy and a little bit anxious.

One thing I have resurrected from first grade is my little Build-a-Bear backpack. I have a stuffed frog collection and one of them gets to teach the kids how to pack and unpack their backpacks using the set. I did a little makeover today so that I have the appropriate materials to somewhat match the kids.

I take the kids step-by-step through the process of unpacking in the mornings and putting everything away. Then we make a chartkf the expectation and they practice. Theni do the same thing with the end of the day. The updated pieces are not super cute, but they'll get the job done!

We also talk about snack routines and keeping ourselves occupied on the bus while riding to and from school with the backpack. It works wonders!

Off to enjoy the last few hours before the first day!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Back to School Shopping!

No, I'm not talking the TPT sale, but I was there too!  I am notoriously bad at packing lunch for work. I've tried. I just end up tossing a bunch of stuff in a plastic bag, if anything, and call it a day. To be truthful, most days, I make it through the day on two cups of coffee and maybe a handful of something. Not good! In the spirit of trying to change old ways, this are my recent purchases:

I have never had a lunch bag! Isn't this a cute one? It was super cheap at TJ Maxx. I guess I'm into bright colors  this year!  I found the water bottle and containers at an area grocery store. The containers are Ziploc and were on sale.  Love that they are glass.  I have growing concerns about using plastics to store any foods. Likewise, the water bottle is glass. I found one I loved at Starbucks a few months ago, but lost the rubber gasket in the top and it leaks terribly. Alas, I never found another one at Starbucks. I did buy a ceramic travel mug there and just forgot add it to the picture.

Hopefully the bright cuteness will convince me to back a good lunch this year.

I was also inspired to try making my own flavored waters by The Yummy Life.  I really dislike bottled water and the idea of putting powders in my water, while tasting yummy, are not something I want to do either. So, I love the idea of using fruit and herbs to flavor water. I tried strawberry and mint yesterday. This could be a really good thing!

Don't they look lovely?!? Next DIY: flavored creamers!

The Huge Sale!

Yes!  It’s coming! The big sale at TPT starts tomorrow and everything in my store will be on sale!

Click on the banner to go to my store. Thanks Krista for the cute graphic!

You might notice that most of my products have my old logo and blog name on them.  I had a huge tragedy with my jump drive where I stored ALL my products.  Let’s just say I had to wait to get back to work before I can foot the bill of $500 to get that little guy fixed.  Lesson to all – do not keep everything on a jump drive!

I am linking up with  Fifth in the Middle for the

Back To School TpT 2+1 Blog Hop


Graphics by Megan @ I Teach. What's Your Super Power



The winner by far!  This is a great way to add poetry to your classroom in an easy to run center.

It’s a tie!

Multiplication Sticker Book


This a fun little book to help your little mathematicians master their facts.

Retelling Gloves


Love this one!  This is a great way to support retelling skills.  It is a research-based method and is my version of written research published in The Reading Teacher Journal several years ago.


You can check out my whole collection through the page linked at the top of the blog!

Oh my!  My list is really long! Plus I always find things I  “need” after the sale!  Then I have to wait until Christmas!

2nd Grade Common Core Morning Work

2nd Grade Common Core Morning Work by Second Story Window

Writer's Workshop Folder Printables

Writer's Workshop Folder Printable by Teach-A-Roo

We Are Authors: Launching Writing Workshop!

We Are Authors: Launching Writing Workshop! by One Extra Degree

Guided Reading Detectives - CC Aligned Grades 1 - 3

Guided Reading Detectives - CC Aligned Grades 1 – 3 by  Simply Skilled In Second

Happy shopping!

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Classroom - It's Current State!

Ugh! I so wanted to join in Teacher Week 2013 at I'm Blog Hoppin, but this is what my room looks like:

This is the back of my room with the fire door to the right. If you pan left, this is the next corner:

The bathroom and sink area. Still panning left, this is the entry:

The black plastic is covering the coat cubby where TONS of books are currently sitting.
This is the front area in my room. I'm thinking of putting my guided reading table in that corner where the filing cabinets are. The window is to the left. It is the same layout as my previous room, just flipped. I think I will set it up in a similar fashion.
My carpets have not been done so it would be a waste of time to set anyone up. I have visions what what ths room will look like, but my summer brain refuses to work on it! Hopefully I'll have an update next week.
Hope everyone is have an amazing weekend!

Monday, August 12, 2013


So, I have been working on this crazy paper forever! I have it done...mostly. I just need to proofread it and try hard not to change too much. It has been a rough seven weeks with this class folks!

We also got some results back from state tests and I think just about every teacher in NY is feeling beaten down. The results were not good. And not because the teachers didn't do their job and the kids didn't put everything into it that they had. Really it's just because the state moved the bell curve down about 30 points, putting a child who really is a four at a three or even a two. See, after the results come in, the state then decides where their cutoff points will be. Since their agenda is to show amazing growth over the next few years and impress those that hold federal funding, there will be an amazing steady growth over the next few years. 

Yes, they are playing a game. We all do it. The song and dance observations, the super pretty and packed portfolio, the extra sparkle you add to your lesson when you know you're being watched and when what you do it great without the extra glitter.

I don't think there are too many teachers out there who are feeling stellar about returning to the classroom in a couple weeks.

What I'm getting at is that I just haven't felt teachery this summer. My priorities are shifting with going back to school. The state scores meant to create motivation are doing just the opposite for many teachers that I know. I haven't touch BlogLovin in about two weeks, but have been pinning like mad...clothes and food that is. I cringe when I see all the teachers things that come up on my Pinterest.

You know what I realized? My obsession with blogs, Pinterest, and all things teaching have created a lot of stress in my life. It's always about finding a new idea and making things super cute. When I didn't have the time to spend on reading every blog out there and obsessing over my classroom, I found that I was more relaxed and had more of a life. When I started thinking about this, I realized that after thirteen years of teaching, I am still open to new ideas but I don't need to recreate everything all the time just because someone did it better.  What I do works and I don't need to "fix" everything.

I think teachers can be very competitive. It's in our nature. We all want to think of the best ideas and do their best lessons. But who says new and shiney is always better?

In this crazy season of winding down summer and gearing up for the new year, remember to take stock of what you already have and what you already know.  Don't feel like you are lacking because you don't spend your life on school, standardized testing tells professionals to do ever more, or to can't keep up with the cuteness all over the Internet. 

Feel great about who you are as a person and a professional.

Know that it is about what you say and do as a teachers that makes a difference. It's not about how much you have, how much you spend, or how cute your room is.

It's about the kids and helping them grow as little people.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Purging the Classroom

So, I have a question for folks. I know we are living in a digital age, but there are still tons of print products out there. What do you do with the teacher resources that you personally bought, but no longer want or need? I have thought about Ebay, but every time I read all the fees and guidelines I fell like it would be too much work for what I would get. 

Has anyone eve posted print times on TPT? 

I was also thinking of just putting them on my website to see if anyone would want to buy collections of resources on my blog.


It's time to clean out and down size! What do you think I should do with all of these great resources?

BTW, I have dozens of books waiting for a new, good home!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Teacher Haul

We're have I been? I realized that it has been a while since I posted! I taught two workshops last week and I was exhausted! This week I finished my final class of my most recent course, and if I am going to tell the truth, this post is actually part of my plan to avoid finishing my paper today! (It's hot and muggy in NY and I just don't want to work!)

Any woo... I had a mini teacher haul yesterday. Yes, I was procrastinating! I scored big time! I had been looking at stools from IKEA for my reading table but was not thrilled with the idea of having to be home for several days to catch the delivery. Joann fabrics to the rescue! I went to buy fabric to make new living room curtains and cruised through the college area and found these babies!

So cute! They are perfect and were 50% of, plus my 15% teacher discount. So, I got six super cute stools for $50.98! Less than IKEA plus delivery! They also had black and red and maybe pink. I seem to be on a turquoise and lime kick, so I went with it. Plus, I can always paint the seat if I want to make changes. Buh-bye beat up ottomans! I might go back and get a few more for a computer station.

In the summer sale aisle, I found these cute little signs for 75% off:

I thought they would look adorable on the wall in my classroom.

I'm not sure if this little guy will go to school or not:

The ipad is not great for pics, but I found this little coffee maker with a reusable filter in the college section at a large grocery store. I was bummed they didn't have anymore purple or lime, but the red is cute. It is like a super cheap Keurig. Don't get me wrong, I love my Keurig, but my big one is leaking water like crazy and I'm worried my counters and cabinets will get ruined. I don't want to shell out the money for a new one. Anyway, this little one does not have an auto shut off and that's what I like about my little Keurig at school.

I picked up a few other treats for myself, but nothing related to school.

So, I'm going to pretend that I can sit and do nothing for a while longer and maybe I'll run out of excuses to finally wrap up that paper due Monday!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: My Dream Classroom

Courtney at Swimming into Second is having a Top Ten Linky on what a dream classroom would look or be like!  What an awesome idea for a linky!Swimming Into Second

I posted a wish list a couple days ago, but I can always add to it!  I have a relatively new room, and it is completely new to me this year.  However, it is the same layout as my room last year, so I have a good idea of the issues I face.
1. Classroom Carpet – I didn’t have a carpet last year with my third graders, but I still feel like second graders need a defined meeting space.  This is the one I am thinking of.  I love the great colors!


2. IKEA Stools – I was going to make the bucket stools after my ottomans from Big Lots died a quick death last year, but realized that it would be worth the money to order IKEA stools and have them delivered.  I started making the bucket stools and it would take days! I’m planning to buy these and paint them in bright colors to match my room. You can never have enough seating.

3. Tables!  - This is a hard one.  It is like the file folder versus binder debate for me.  Which is better?  Tables or desks?  I love the ability to move and regroup desks, but I love the clean lines of tables.  I think I miss tables. I love these small round one for 4 or 5 kids from Lakeshore.

4. Coat Storage – Preferably with doors that I can close on the mess!  I had cubbies in first grade, and they had their issues, but it was better than the open hooks I have now.  Ugh!  What a mess!

5. iPads – I would love to have a class set, or even a half class set of iPads.  They are so amazing to use in the classroom!

6. A Pretty View Smile - I had a view (and the sound) of the playground last year.  I think my shades were closed almost all day.  So sad!  This year I will have a view of a storage garage and the parking lot.  I miss my view of the woods from the other building!

7. Storage – I’m not sure what my ideal with be, but the metal cupboards with sliding doors that come of their track are just not workin’ for me. At one school I had a 12 foot wall of 4 deep cabinets that went floor to ceiling.  They drove me crazy then, but I did not have nearly enough stuff to fill them back in.  Now I love to have them!

8. Bright and Cheery D├ęcor – I would love to have a picture perfect room.  It is hard to keep up with all of those beautiful rooms you see on blogs.  I would love to have that decorators touch!

9. Organized and Beautiful Classroom Library – The library is the most challenging part of  the classroom for me to organize.  I would love to have a large and beautiful library with all the current books!

10. A Teacher Area – I would love to have a personal bathroom and little kitchenette type area.  I will be closer to the restrooms this year, but wouldn’t it be great to have your own little area. I have a little shelf with a kuerig and some snacks, but it would be lovely to have a little refrigerator and microwave for those long days, late nights, and weekend jam sessions!

I know I will think of a million things as I go about my day, but these are the things that would make a dream classroom for me!  Link up with Swimming into Second and share your dream room! 

I am off to teach a workshop on digital writing and publishing today!  Wish me luck!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party

I'm linking up with Latoya for the Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party.  This week's topic is about about personal goals for the upcoming school year.

These are my goals:

  1. Conquer the Paper Piles – I am a piler!  I end up stacking paper everywhere and  sometimes, I hate to say it, but I have to move a pile so I can teach groups.  I end up stashing piles on shelves, in cabinets and other various places.  This bad habit quickly leads to feeling unorganized and sometimes not being able to find things. (How many times have I  made a new copy rather than try to find what I have?!?)  My goal is to prevent that paper pile from starting!
  2. Use my planning time!  I have been better at this the last two or three years, but my goal is to get more corrections done during this time and to not take that gigantic teacher bag home very night!
  3. Utilize parent volunteers!  I have never been great with having helpers in my room.  To be honest, it has been my experience that helpers want to hang out with the kids and not actually help them or teacher.  I plan to avoid the dance and let parents know that I need them to help with copies, hanging displays, and other specific tasks. (Here’s to being assertive – I think I’ve earned it after 13 years of teaching!) I teach my students to be independent and have never found the need to have adults help with centers and such.  I find I get distracted and sometimes the supported activity does not go as well as it would have if the kids were doing it on their own.  I also think it would be helpful to have parents in during technology time – 22 second graders and laptops is not a pretty!
  4. Leave work between 4:00 and 4:30!  I will continue my college courses this year, so I know that I can do this!  Here’s to not going to school on the weekends too!
  5. Get to work earlier!  I pushed my home time in the morning up to the very last minutes the last few years.  I hope to get in earlier and get started to reduce stress during the day.
  6. Spend less of my own moolah!  I have gotten a bit out of control the last few years. Part of me feels like if it makes my life easier, buy it.  However, I would hate to total what I spend on my classroom every year.  I also have tons of things stored in my home that I no longer need in the classroom. I want to think carefully about my spending and set a budget to limit what I buy.
  7. Eat better!  I am one of those teachers who works through lunch and inhales a bit of something while prepping.  I’m just not a person who packs a lunch and I avoid the teacher's lounge like the plague.  It just doesn’t help me to stay positive. However, I would like to eat more balanced and healthy “meals” at school – and not buy the student school lunches!
  8. Keep working on balance!  I have worked really hard the past few years at creating a life for myself outside of school.  I want to continue to do things that I enjoy and not let work take over every minute of my life.


What a list!  I could probably come up with a few more goals, but I’m a *little* OCD too!  I can’t wait to read more blogger goals.  Link up and share!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Smorgasbord



I'm linking up with Michelle from Fabulous in First for a Sunday Smorgasbord! I know that I’m just in time this evening!

I am about half way through summer and have been trying not to think too much about school and my classroom.  Summer Rec is happening in my room this summer and I have no hope of getting in for 2 more weeks!  The idea of setting up a new classroom is both exciting and daunting!  I have a bit of a wish list going:

IKEA Stools – I was going to make the bucket stools after my ottomans from Big Lots died a quick death last year, but realized that it would be worth the money to order IKEA stools and have them delivered.  I started making the bucket stools and it would take days! I’m planning to buy these stools and paint them in bright colors to match my room.

Classroom Carpet – I didn’t have a carpet last year with my third graders, but I still feel like second graders need a defined meeting space.  This is the one I am thinking of:


Chevron Borders – I have the Dots on Turquoise theme that was all the rage last year, but I am thinking of adding chevron to my decorations, using the same colors. These are from Creative Teaching Press – but there must be very popular, because they are all out of stock!


I don’t know about you, but I know that my spending habits when it comes to school related items has gone cra-zay! (Bad, bad Pinterest! Bad, bad Dollar Spot…need I go on???) One of my fav fashion/style bloggers, Franish, has a “Budgeting Bloggers” feature. 


What do folks think of doing a monthly link-up on teacher budgets – you know, those Dollar Spot cutesies, TPT items, and great decor items that you just can’t resist? The idea behind it is that you establish a budget and show what you buy each month. Who will join me?

Book Study Anyone?

Yes, a book study!  I completely spaced on the amazing books studies this summer.  Packing my 7th classroom and moving to my 8th, followed by the most challenging college course I have ever taken, I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything more than necessary the last few weeks.

So, I was thinking of reading Spaces and Places by Debbie Diller.  I bought it several years ago and never really read it.  I thought moving into that 8th classroom might provide me with an opportunity. There are 5 Chapters – anyone interested in hosting one?

Spaces & Places

Speaking of professional books, what do you do with all the books you don’t use?  I have been purging and Amazon ad Ebay just don’t seem like they would be worth my time. Some fashion bloggers do “Shop My Closet”, maybe I could do “Shop My Bookshelf.”  Or do you think TPT would be a good place to put collection of books (i.e. a set of sight word resources, a social studies collections, etc.)?

Please email me if you are interested in working on this book study!

Well, that was certainly a smorgasbord of topics!  Like up with Fabulous in First and share your randomness!

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