Saturday, July 30, 2011

What I have been working on all day today - Book Basket Labels

Book Basket Labels

Friday, July 29, 2011

Reading in Room 209


Last year was my first year teaching 4th grade after teaching kindergarten for 8 years. The first year in a new grade level is all about getting your bearings. Well I have always considered myself a really good reading teacher, but I was teaching kids how to read the words, now I have to teach them to understand the words. I was nervous and I followed the basal series like it was my bible and I used Daily 5 during my small group time.

Well now that I have a year under my belt I am ready to step out on my own and make some changes. I had originally planned to use novel units in place of the basal series. I was all set to make up these wonderful novel units to go with some great novels!

That is until I started reading teacher blogs and was introduced to the book The Book Whisperer. I was SO relieved and happy to have found this book BEFORE school started because I would have spent SO much time planning these novel units and I am sure they would have been somewhat effective but after reading just the first 5 chapters in this book I am totally on board! I feel like I did when I read Daily 5, I spent a lot of time saying to myself  "this makes SO much sense! why didn't I think of this?" LOL

SO I have some changes I need to make (as soon as I can get into my classroom on the 8th) the first thing I need to do is rearrange my classroom library. I currently have my library set up by AR reading levels and I want to change it so that they are organized by genre so they will be easier to find books for their 40 Book Requirement.

At my school AR is a big deal and most of the teachers on my grade level require their students to have a certain number of AR points every so many weeks. I was going to do this too but I think that if I do the 40 Book Requirement then my students will be reading plenty and they can take AR tests on those books, and I won't need to include an AR requirement as well, I think that will keep kids from reading books they want to read if they are not AR books so while I will keep track of AR points I won't make a certain number of points  requirement.

Another change I plan on making is I am really going rogue, I am going to do away with the book log and replace it with a Reading Notebook. I have already started putting these together for my kiddos (5 done 15 to go)

 This is the first page, it is their Tally List where they will tally the books they have completed towards their requirement

 This is the Reading List pages. This is where they will write down the title, and author of each book along with the date they finished it and whether they felt the book was easy, difficult or a Good Fit

 This page is their "wish list" the page where they will write down the title and author of books they just can't wait to get their hands on

This page is the page that signals the beginning of their reader responses. Each book they read they will write a response to it. This page just gives them some ideas about what they can include in their responses. 

I am really looking forward to my reading block this coming year. I can't wait to see the gains my students will make when they are allowed to choose their own books instead of reading what everyone else is reading. 

Reading Notebook

Shopping with my Daughter

I was super excited that the Hubs got paid today, that meant I could go to the store and pick up the things I have been thinking about and planning to make for my classroom. I was a little bummed though because I was missing my daughter and was wishing she was here to go shopping with me. My 23 year old daughter Ashley, who I am VERY close to and who teaches first grade moved 2 hours away back in November. So I anyway I was missing her and wishing that she was in town so that we could do our teacher shopping together.

Well, as I was heading out the door my baby girl called me and GUESS WHAT!! SHE was out shopping for her classroom too!! So we totally shopped together on the phone (thank goodness for unlimited mobile to mobile)

It was really kinda neat because we would describe what we were thinking about for our classrooms and we would give each other ideas and tips. We even helped each other find some great deals! Mostly I bought things I needed to either make something or enhance something in my room but I did find these really cute cones at Dollar Tree and I am going to use them as a quite way to positively reinforce my students just by simply placing a cone on their desk to reinforce their on task behavior.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pinterest Linky Party!

Michelle over at Michelle's Math in the Middle is having a Pinterest Linky Party head on over and check it out!

I'm on Facebook

I made a Facebook page to go with my blog. I'm not sure how I will use it yet but at least its there.

Check it out!

I am joining in theFacebook Mixer Linky Party at Kinder FuN! Go and check out her blog and see how many education pages are on Facebook!

Getting Anxious!

Ok I am really getting anxious to get into my classroom and start getting things set up. I came up with some great new set up ideas at the end of last year and can't wait to get in my room and start putting things in order. I am really excited about setting up my reading area and I hope it looks as inviting in real life as it does in my head :-) Since I began stalking teacher blogs, created my own blog, and started reading The Book Whisperer I have gotten so many great ideas for my classroom set up and my teaching in general. I know that once school starts again I will be missing these boring days of summer but right now I am chomping at the bit to get into my classroom. I have a meeting at the school next week and I am hoping that after the meeting I can sweet talk my way into my room for just a little bit, maybe just long enough to get the furniture arranged. Then the following week we get 2 days to come in and work in our rooms. I am the type of teacher who wants my room done and all set up before pre-planning starts so that I am not sitting in our meetings after meetings after meetings worried about if my room will be ready for Meet The Teacher. I like to spend my pre-planning time actually planning, well, that's not really true, I usually have my first 2 weeks planned out before pre-planning too LOL. I like to spend pre-planning just putting the finishing touches on my room, running to Wal-Mart to buy one more bin for my books or one more set of folders for another idea I have had or found online LOL My goal this year is to keep the excitement that I have the first few weeks of school for as long as I can.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A great giveaway!!

To celebrate her reaching 200 followers Mrs. Shepherd over at My Second Grade Journal is giving away a gift card for Bath and Body Works! Head on over and check out her blog!

The Book Whisperer

OK, after reading all the blog posts on this book I downloaded it to my Kindle and have started reading it. I just finished chapter 2 and I love the idea of the beginning of the year interest survey and I know I saw one on one of the many blogs discussing this book but I have no idea where it was. Does anyone out there know where I can find this?

BTW this book is AWESOME!!! I have only read 2 chapters and I already have a TON of new ideas for next year that I am oping to implement along with my Daily 5 and CAFE.

A Great Day at the Foreman Home!!

OK this is not going to be about teaching or education at all. This morning I was totally engrossed in The Book Whisperer and about 3 hours ago my son Bobby texted me that he had passed the Criminal Justice Basic Abilities Test!!! This test is the jumping off point for him entering the police academy and you can only take the test 3 times in a year, if you do not pass after the third attempt you have to wait an entire year before you can try again. This was his third attempt and he got it!!! It is so awesome to see God bringing things together for my children. I have always told them that if God puts it in your heart then He will make sure it happens and the hardest part is that He will see it happens on His time not on our time. My daughter Ashley and my son Bobby have both had to learn this lesson in the past year and it has been so awesome to see it all come to fruition. God has laid it on my daughter's heart to be a teacher, she had a rough year and ended up taking a job at a day care while she continued to search for her new classroom. After a very bad experience and several interviews she was getting frustrated but I knew that God had something in mind for her and kept telling her that God did not put it in her heart for her to be a teacher to just leave her hanging. The same with my son Bobby, he has had it in his heart for 6 years now that he wants to be a police officer. Bobby has struggled all through school with a learning disability and when he joined the sheriff's department's Explorers program he just thrived in that environment. He knew he had found what he loved, law enforcement! Again after taking the entrance exam twice and missing that passing score by just a couple points each time he was getting frustrated, again I told him the same thing I had told his sister, God puts these things in our hearts and He will make them happen in His time. I am SO proud to say that my daughter will be teaching 1st grade this coming school year and my son will be entering the police academy. The funny thing is both of them have their orientations on the exact same day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blog Mixer Linky Party!

Yearn to Learn is having a Blog Mixer Linky Party and since I am new at this, I hope that by joining in the fun I will get more followers and find more blogs to follow :-)

1.  A blogger who is a "New Kid on the Blog"
(Let's say someone who has blogged 2 months or less and has less than 200 followers
Hmm well I think that would be ME! I just started this yesterday and am already addicted!!

2.  Post a blogger in your same grade level

I have found so many great 4th grade blogs but the one that I have already gotten several great ideas from is Becky at Fourth Grade Fanatics

3.  Post a blogger in a different grade levelThe teacher who pulled me into the world of blogging is a 2nd grade teacher at my school and she has a blog with her sister who teaches 3rd grade at my school as well and they are the Sister Teachers

4.  It's all about the button. Find a cute blog button and post it.
Hmm OK this is new to me so I am hoping I have done it right - I think the cutest button I have seen also goes to my friends Jackie and Danielle at Sister Teachers

Target finds!!!

OK I said I wasn't going to do it, I wasn't going to go to Target's dollar isle but it was calling my name so loudly that I just couldn't resist it. I was really excited to find Multiplication and Division flashcards for $1 each!
 Last year my students really struggled with their multiplication facts and their division facts so my plan for this year is to create an "I'm Finished Flashcard Bin" One for multiplication and one for division. That way when they have finished something early they can grab a set of flashcards from the bin and review their math facts. Also, thanks to Becky from Fourth Grade Fanatic I am also going to implement a nightly Math Facts log into my students' homework. So hopefully all this practice will pay off in the end and they will know their math facts!

I also got a notepad and 2 packs of cute sticky notes. I make a million lists and these will be perfect for that.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What I LOVE this year!

Jennifer over at First Grade Blue Skies is hosting a "What are you in love with?" Linky Party! It's all about classroom decor themes and bulletin board borders etc... check it out and post about your classroom. Join in on the linky fun!!

I have to say that this year for some reason I am just in love with the Monkey Mischief collection from Trend. They are just SO cute!!

I have already picked up a few things from this collection and I am going to use it for my classroom AR theme. I have the monkeys and bananas. On my AR board the kids will each have a monkey with their name on it and then for every 5 AR points they earn they will get a banana to put beside their monkey. I am going to make a header that says something about being bananas for books or something along those lines. I just LOVE this set! I was a little worried it would be to babyish for 4th grade but after really looking at it I think it will be super cute!

Super cute giveaway!

Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics is Giving away a SUPER cute Suess themed bracelet!!

Check out her giveaway!! It is SO cute!!!

The Fun Pen Bin!!

I was so very fortunate to be able to go to a Melissa Forney 2 day conference last week and she had some GREAT ideas to get kids excited about writing and way to bring thei scores up. One of the ideas that she had that I am really hoping to get to use this year is her Fun Pen Bin. This is a bin of crazy and fun pens that the teacher pulls out once a month and the kids get to do their writing with one of the fun pens! I was super excited about this idea but had no clue where to find "fun pens." I went to Staples to hit their 1 cent sale and lo and behold there were some REALLY cute pens. I had to spend $5 to get the 1 cent deals and the pens were only $2 a piece so I got 3 of them. Its not enough for my whole class but its a start. I am also planning to ask parents to be on the look out and to send in fun pens. Hopefully my collection will grow quickly. Otherwise I will use them as a reward somehow until I get enough for everyone to use. I especially LOVE the monkey pen because my theme this year will be monkeys :-)

School Supplies!

Yikes! School supplies are out and going on sale! I have already hit Wal-Mart and Staples. I was able to get pocket and prong folders for 15 cents each, Spiral notebooks for 20 cents each, and composition notebooks for 40 cents each. At Staples they have their 1 cent sale going on right now. You have to purchase $5 in merchandise but then with your teacher ID you can get 25 each of 2 packs of highlighters, index cards, and 8 packs of pencils for a penny each!! The regular limit is 2 per person but Staples gives teachers a limit of 25!! Make sure you ask at your local store though because my friend in Georgia had a limit of 24.

For the $5 purchase I found some really cute pens for $2 each so I bought 3 of them for my "Fun Pen Bin" that I will be using this coming year as part of my writing instruction.

My first post!

Well here we are getting ready to start a brand new school year in less than a month! This will be my 12th year teaching and it will be my 2nd year teaching 4th grade. Last year was a time of learning for me and now I am excited about the coming year. I am hoping to post and share ideas with other fourth grade teachers as well as document my journey through my 2nd year of teaching 4th grade all while working on my Reading Endorsement AND my Specialist degree. This ought to be an interesting year!