Sunday, August 28, 2011

What to do about spelling homework?

Hello all my bloggy friends! I am stuck in a little conundrum about what I should do with spelling homework for this year. OK, first off let me just say that I HATE homework. As a parent and as a teacher. I guess it is probably because, when you have two sons with pretty tough learning disabilities homework was like torture. Anyway, I want to make it as easy as possible but still effective as a form of practice. I do not grade homework because I do not think it is fair to grade them when they don't all have the same support at home. I actually had a parent last year whose child was not doing well in class at all, she just didn't get the concepts, and at the end of the year the parent was very angry with me because I was recommending the child for retention and he said to me "If you would grade her homework she would be an A B student" well of course she would because he was helping her with every single step and telling her exactly what to write. It wouldn't be fair to grade it, so I just save myself the headache and I don't grade it, I check it for completion.
Anyway, wow, did I digress, last year I used a spelling choice board for homework. I had like 9 -12 squares and each square had a different spelling activity and the students had to choose one activity to complete each night. They seemed to do well with this. But then over the summer I read how someone else did homework by assigning a different activity every night but each week it was the same activity, so like every Monday the kids would write the spelling words in ABC order, on Tuesday they would write them 5 times each etc. SO I thought that would be simple for my kiddos to remember what to do. Now I am wondering if they are going to get bored and not get anything out of it after a while. So I thought I would throw it out here to all you great teachers and see what you all do for your spelling homework! Please share

Friday, August 26, 2011

Total turn around since yesterday!

Well, if you read my post yesterday you saw that I was having a mini melt down LOL I was doubting myself as a teacher and really worried about if I was actually making a difference. I realized that my problem last year was that I was trying to do too many things differently which totally threw me out my comfort zone. SO as I said yesterday I was making some changes. I had to go back to what works for me, I LOVE Daily 5 but last year I let me students have free choice for each round. I can't do that, I need the structure so I totally changed the way I will conduct my reading block. Well I stayed up until like midnight last night working on a new plan for my classroom and then I got up early and I went in early to set it all up. Then, today I introduced the more structured rotation to my students, still using the Daily 5 components. I had them practice the rotations today, instead of coming to the teacher table they went to the computer, so I could monitor the rest of the class. It went SO well!!! Oh my gosh, I could almost hear the birds chirping and the sun shining down on my classroom, and the angels singing the hallelujah chorus LOL
So the lesson that I learned this week was that I have to be me. No matter what else I implement into my classroom I have to make it fit MY comfort zone and not the other way around. I can implement new ideas and new strategies in my classroom without stressing myself out. I have to do what works for me and I have to use the structure that works for me. I can't be any other teacher except me. All in all I just gotta be me. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A LOT of stress and self doubt going on (sad face) - I need to make some changes

This is only the beginning of my second year teaching 4th grade. I have taught most of my career in Kindergarten, and I know this sounds like bragging but, I was good at it. Well I needed a change last year and I made the move to 4th grade and I loved it and I still love it and I thought I was doing a pretty good job especially for someone who had never taught this grade level before last year. Well, today in my mailbox at school I find a peculiar looking paper that has the names of my kids from last year and these "bubbles" on it. I stuffed in the pile of papers not knowing what it was. I got back to my classroom and took a closer look at this paper. This paper was a data sheet showing me the kids in my class last year who made learning gains in reading and in math. Well, I was devastated because very few of my kids made large enough gains to be considered as actual learning gains and some of them actually fell back a few points. I sat at my desk for a long time just looking at it and wondering what I did wrong. I was able to come up with a lot of things I would have done different but none of them were really wrong. I began to really sit there and wonder if I had made a mistake moving to 4th grade. Again this is going to sound bad but when I taught kindergarten I was used to being the top of the heap, I was the teacher who had the highest number of kids making gains, I was the teacher other teachers came to for advice, now I'm sitting here staring at this paper that tells me I basically made little to no impact on my kids last year. What am I doing in 4th grade?? I have been thinking all day long that maybe I should have stayed put, even though I was not happy in kinder anymore. For the first time in my career, since my very first year teaching, I felt like I was not a good teacher and I don't like that feeling at all.

 I did feel a little better after a few of my team mates were talking about their papers and how they were not happy with their results either so I had a little glimmer of hope that maybe it wasn't all me LOL - grasping at straws there because I am the type of person who believes it is all me. Anyway I really started to reflect on the way I taught last year. I know that we have a new math series and I had the ESE cluster so I did take a minute to celebrate the small victories that were showing up on that page, hidden between all the defeats.

So, me being the type of person I am, I have spent almost all day long reflecting on this information and trying to figure out what I can do better this year. This is what I came up with:

In Reading: Last year I used our basal series for whole group instruction (which was awful - all we did was read the story basically) and I used Daily 5 and CAFE for small group time. I did not pull small groups as often as I should have because I was trying so hard to conference with students individually and I couldn't get to them all and there was just not enough time. So this year I am going to do Daily 5 ONLY not CAFE, I am going to do Daily 5 as my "centers" and I will pull reading groups to my table daily. The only thing I'm not 100% sure about is exactly what I will do with them once I get them to my table. In Kindergarten we played ABC games and phonics games and ready phonetic books, I don't think that will cut the mustard in 4th grade though LOL. So I was thinking that in whole group we will be doing shared reading of a class novel and doing activities that go along with that, like flow maps, character analysis etc so in small groups I will focus on one benchmark strand at a time and find and pull activities to use to work on that strand in small groups. I have been looking on The Florida Center for Reading Research website (great website for lots and lots of reading of activities) and I have found a lot of great activities to use in both my whole group and my small group time. My only problem is, in a 90 minute reading block I have 30 minutes for whole group and 60 minutes for small group which means only 15 minutes per group. Now I have been really looking at my schedule and first thing in the morning we have a 30 minute intervention block, then followed by an 80 minute instructional block before lunch time which is where I was doing my writing and my science/social studies (because it wasn't enough time for my reading block). Well, the students that are being pulled out of my classroom for intervention are my lowest students so I was thinking about taking that 30 minute block and 80 minute block and combining them to make myself a 110 minute reading block. I would start with small group instruction and start with my highest kids, the ones not being pulled for intervention, and go from highest group to lowest group and then end with my whole group shared reading time. I mean who says whole group has to come before small group? So I was thinking about changing my schedule to look like this

8:55 – 9:15 Blue Group (while red group and some of yellow group are out of the room in intervention)
9:15 – 9:35 Green Group
9:35 – 9:55 Yellow Group
9:55 – 10:15 Red Group
10:15 – 10:45 Whole Group Shared reading
then I go to lunch at 10:50 (or as I like to call it BREAKFAST!!)

I'm thinking that it just might work out. Instead of doing two 30 minute rounds of Daily 5 my kids could do 3 20 minute rounds, and one "round' at the my table. Then I would just switch the Writing and Science/Social Studies to after lunch. 

Ok after hashing it all out in my little bloggy world I am feeling a little more confident. I just need to set up a few management tools in my room and I know just how I'm going to set them up too. I'm feeling better already! Now, I just need some more ideas on what to do in my small groups so if you know of any great websites please let me know!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pods and Reading Notebooks

First off let me say that Day 2 of the 2011-2012 school year was a really good day! My class is full of great kids and they are all eager readers which I LOVE!
After getting some advice from some fellow bloggers and thinking a lot about it I abandoned the U shape for pods. I have 20 students so I made 5 groups of 4 students and I love it!! The kids did so good with it today. I was leery because last year's group of kids would argue and fuss and chatter all day long if  I put them in pods (or table groups) so I was worried this group would do the same but they didn't, they did a good job of working together. I was also worried about space but the way I was able to set them up I don't feel like I have lost any space, and the room doesn't feel cramped or crowded.

Here is a before picture:

and here is the after picture:

Now I am a little bit frustrated with a couple of my little darlings. Yesterday I introduced the 40 Book Requirement, and this morning I gave them all their reading notebooks. In their reading notebooks the first page is a tally page where they can keep a tally of the books they have completed based on the genre requirements (to see the tally sheet check out THIS previous post). Well, around noon today one of my little girls comes up to me to ask me where she should put the tally mark for a book she had finished (my 40 book requirement contains 5 picture books to help build their confidence and let them get 5 books under their belt rather quickly) I told her that it would be considered a picture book, I went to point to her tally sheet to show her where to put the check mark and I noticed that she had already checked off a realistic fiction chapter book, all 5 picture books, and all TEN (yes 10) free choice chapter books!!! I asked her why she had check off all those boxes and she said "Because I read those" I asked her if she knew that 11 of the ones she had checked off were supposed to be chapter books and she said "yeah I know" so I said "OK let me get this straight, you are trying to tell me that since 9:00 this morning when I gave you this notebook, you have read 11 chapter books and 5 picture books?" and she says "Yep!" when I told her that this was not possible she then says "Well I read one of the chapter books last night" when I again told her that it still was not possible she added in that she had read a chapter book over the summer. GRRRRRR!!! So I explained to her again that it still was not possible for her to have read 9 chapter books and 5 picture books in just 3 hours. Then I found another one of my students who had done the same thing. I am planning on having a talk with them tomorrow and make it a requirement that before they can add a book to their tally sheet they have to take and pass an AR test for that book, and if it is not an AR book then they have to come and tell me about the book. I was so worried that all of them were doing this and just checking them off for the same of checking them off, so after school today I pulled all of their reading notebooks and I am glad to say that those were the only 2 who did it. But I am wondering if I should make the AR tests a requirement for them all before they can add the book. I don't want to set too many "rules" because then that defeats the whole purpose behind the independent reading but for those 2 I have to or else they will show up next week (or tomorrow LOL) saying they have read all 40 books and they don't have to read anymore. Any advice for these two darlings??

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School 2011!

Another first day under my belt, this makes # 12 for me. All in all today went pretty well. My new class is very excited about being in 4th grade and they are going to be a fun group. I launched Daily 5 today and did a mini book frenzy which went really well. I had kids snatching up Wayside School  Gets a Little Stranger, and a few of them asked me for recommendations. As soon as they had chosen their books they filed back to their seats and read silently until lunch time. I also introduced the 40 book challenge/requirement today and it was met with some groans but once they started reading they were eager to get started. I plan to give them their reading notebooks tomorrow, they kept asking for them today. We did 3 short rounds of Read to Self to practice and will continue to practice that tomorrow. They LOVED their book luggage too. They couldn't wait to fill them up. I had them do a reading survey and told them I would use those to make book recommendations for them. It looked like they were pretty honest on the survey. 

The best quote of the day came from one of my little men at the end of the day today, he came up to me and said "Mrs. Foreman, guess what! I read from the beginning of this book all the way to page 169 in only one day! I have never done that before! I am gonna read MORE than the 40 books if I keep finding good books like this!" The best part was earlier in the day I asked them to be honest with me and raise their hands if they liked to read, this young man was not one of the ones who raised his hand, so this just made my day.

I took a couple pictures of my new munchkins doing read to self. I didn't know whose model release forms I had so I tried to take pictures of the ones whose faces were buried in their books (excuse the mess on the table in the background that is where they piled their supplies when they came in) LOL

Tomorrow we will continue with read to self and I will introduce them to their reading notebooks. Since the majority of my kids came from a class that did Daily 5 last year as well they already sort of have the hang of it so this roll out has started really easy. One of the parts of my day that made me really want to laugh was when we were doing the Read To Self I-Chart my kids did a great job on the section of what students should be doing but when we got to the part about what the teacher will be doing some of them had some quite interesting ideas from "doing paperwork" to "building your own stamina" they were quite funny. They listed; copying files, reading on my Kindle, doing paperwork, keeping an eye on the kids to make sure they don't act up, and (my favorite) checking my email LOL

All in all it was a good day and I am looking forward to a good year. 

OK on another subject I am thinking about rearranging my desks. Right now they are in a U shape but I am thinking about putting them into groups of 5 or 6 instead. I used a U shape most of the year last year. Before that I taught Kindergarten and we had tables so this was a nonissue. Any suggestions or comments on the U vs the "pods"??

Friday, August 19, 2011

Meet The Teacher

First off let me say 

I now have 70 followers!!!!

Now on to my day. Have you ever had one of those days that started off just terrible and you could not get back on track no matter how hard you try? Well that pretty much describes my day today. 
It all started when my phone made a little noise this morning, a very quiet noise that normally wouldn't have bothered me but, thank you Lord, this time it woke me up. My first thought was "ugghhh I hate when I wake up before my alarm" which was immediately followed by "why is it so light out at 6:30am??" Then my eyes focused and I saw the time on the clock by my bed - it read 8:04!!!!! My alarm had not went off!!!! I couldn't believe it! I had 11 minutes to get up, get dressed, do my hair and make up and get to school before our 8:15 meeting which would be followed by our very first session of Meet The Teacher. I began to panic and scramble. I was brushing my teeth and putting my make up on at the same time! I literally ran out of the house at 8:20 thanking God that I only live 5 minutes from my school. I got to school at 8:25 and was relieved that the meeting had run late and hadn't started yet. Being SO stressed out first thing in the morning is NOT a good way to start your day because the stress just doesn't go away. 
I was relieved when they gave us out updated class lists and mine hadn't changed - that would have been all I needed was changes in my list after I had just finished writing names on everything. Then began our first session of Meet The Teacher. I had 7 of my 20 little darlings show up for our first session and all seemed to go well. Then later on our second session begins (at 4pm mind you) and the second student through the door is a student who is not on my list. Mom says she registered him that morning and that he was on the list they posted downstairs. So now MORE STRESS I am scrambling to get this child everything he needed, I was SO thankful that I had taken the advice of a fellow blogger and I had made New Student Bags which had one of everything in it so I was able to pull one of those out and have everything I needed for this new child. I had a short lull in the action so I ran downstairs to see the posted lists to make sure this student was in the right place and lo and behold there is his name handwritten on the bottom of my list AND there was ANOTHER name written under his. So not only had I had this student added to my list but another student as well. I was so glad that I had went down to check, I would have been scrambling again on Monday morning to have everything for her. Now when she comes in on Monday her name will be on everything just like everyone else's. I was so frustrated and I know that it was mostly because of the stress that had built up throughout the day. So anyway, I am now at 20 students, as are most of my team mates. Our state has a class size law that caps our classes at 22 students so if we keep adding students we are going to have to add another teacher to our grade level - and that's a whole lot more stress LOL All in all today started off terrible but turned out to be a pretty good day. 

I learned two things today. 
1. My class seems to a group of sweethearts, there are some really great kids, several that were really excited about the 40 Book Challenge/Requirement. I am looking forward to a great year with some really great kids!

2. If you want your alarm clock to go off in the morning and wake you up, you must remember to turn it ON before you go to bed LOL 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Feeling MUCH Better!

Tomorrow is Meet the Teacher so the craziness that is pre-planning is almost over. Then begins the craziness that is the first week of school LOL I look forward to September for 3 reasons #1 my son's birthday, #2 football season starts, and #3 school becomes routine and the kids are settled in.

Well after my last post full of me whining I am happy to say that I am feeling much better. Come to find out I wasn't the only person on my team who had concerns and felt the same way as me. Our problem was we didn't have an alternative. Well today one of my team mates came to me with a great idea for our intervention time. So now we are not going to be switching classes - Yay!!

I have been working on my lesson plans for the first week of school and they are all finished. The 2nd week (and beyond) has had me stumped though. Last year I felt like I was always rushed through my whole group reading lesson and barely had time to really teach anything. I didn't have time to really introduce the weekly vocabulary words or spelling patterns. SO after talking to a couple of my team mates I have decided that I am not going to do Daily 5 on Mondays. Mondays will be my whole group day where I will introduce the weekly vocab, spelling, story, and benchmark strand. Then on Tuesday - Friday my students will have Daily 5 rounds. I FINALLY feel good about my reading block. I finally feel like I know what to do in reading this year.

I am thankful that I have team mates that are so eager to share ideas with me and each other.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Preplanning Stress Out!

Today was the first day of preplanning for my district. We began at 8:30 this morning and I have had a stress headache since about 9:30 this morning. I am just feeling so overwhelmed and stressed out by all the new mandates that are coming down the pipe. I just feel like it is all assess, progress monitor, assess, progress monitor, throw in some intervention, lather, rinse, repeat. Well if I am spending all my time assessing, progress monitoring, and intervening, when do I have time to actually teach them what I am assessing them on??

I feel this way at the beginning of every year, and this focus on assessment, progress monitoring, and intervention isn't anything new I just find myself wanting to scream "I HAVE TO TEACH THEM BEFORE I CAN TEST THEM!!!!"

Then on top of all that I am worried I am going to end up being the "bad guy" on my team because several of my team members want us to switch kids around during our school wide intervention/enrichment time. Sort of like ability group them for intervention/enrichment. I am not a fan of this idea. I have never liked sending my students to other teachers. I feel like my name is on their learning and therefore it needs to come from me. Now that my state has instituted a Merit Pay system that mandates that 50% of my evaluation rests on my students' test scores, I really don't agree with sending my kids to other teachers and them sending theirs to me. I am accountable for the students on my roster, not them. I know that we have awesome teachers on my team, I'm not saying they aren't great, I am saying that it is not their responsibility to teach my students, and it is not my responsibility to teach theirs. That may sound harsh or selfish but when it comes down to it I don't want my evaluation to be based on someone else's teaching and I certainly don't want someone else's evaluation based on MY teaching. It is a big enough responsibility making sure my students do well, but now I have to worry about other teachers' students doing well too? I don't want to do this but I also don't want my team to think of me as the outsider or the "trouble maker" I have no problem speaking my mind and saying no I'm not going to participate but I don't want to look bad :-( I feel stuck. Do I do what don't believe in and what I am not comfortable with just to make other people happy? OR Do I stand up for what I believe in and stand my ground no matter what other people may think? Ughhh why does this school year have to start out so stressful...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Daughter's Classroom

I spent all day yesterday and most of the day today helping my daughter set up her 1st grade classroom. Her classroom is really tiny so it was a challenge to find a way to make it all fit and make it all work! She has only had 3 days to work in her classroom and she has Meet The Teacher on Tuesday! So she was in a bit of a panic after she spent most of the day on Monday just getting everything into her room. So of course mom had to make the 2 hour drive to go help her and calm her nerves. Below are some picture of her bright and colorful classroom!

View from the front door

View from her teacher table

the removable wall to the left of her door

Her calendar, job chart, birthday poster, and morning check-in

Another view from the door. 

her word wall and reading area

her reading area

Listening center

Her class rules

Bookshelf and Easel

There's my baby girl working at her desk

The view from the back of the room - That's my "baby" boy sitting at her desk
He came along to do the heavy lifting for us

an "aerial" view ( I was standing on a counter)

Another shot from the top of the counter - That's my girl sitting at her desk!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Clickers are here!!!

At the end of last year I received a grant from Beyond Question for a student response set. It is basically a set of remote control looking things that the kids can use to answer questions I post using my teacher presentation station! It records their answers they give with their "clicker" and then it creates a grade report for me! Well the secretary told me today that they had come in!! I am SO excited!! The funny this is she was too, she wanted me to open it in the office so she could see what they look like LOL There is a receiver I have to attach to my computer, and some software I have to install and that's it, they will be ready for use. Hopefully there is a users manual on the CD because I have no idea how to set up the questions but I am sure I will figure it out! I can't wait to use it! I had to take my son to the doctor today so I didn't have time to do anything with it except to open the box and look at it. I am SO excited!!

Here are a couple pictures I snapped before I ran out the door - they are blurry iPhone pictures

~~~~~~ Cindy ~~~~~~

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I have seen the book luggage tubs on several blogs and was totally kicking myself because I bought several of those type of tubs 2 years ago to store books in but I only bought like 10 of them. After using the corrugated cardboard magazine boxes from IKEA last year I knew I had to find a better way to have book boxes. I actually looked at those sitting on my shelf and thought they would be great but I knew I didn't have enough. THEN I started stalking, pinning, and blogging and saw how right I was about how handy they would be as book boxes! I went back to Wal-Mart, where I had found my original 10... No luck. So I started stalking more and came to find out that these were being found at the dollar store, so hubby and I ran out to the local Dollar Tree, they only had 2 left, I was so disappointed. Well today I decided that come hell or high water I was going to find those cute tubs and find enough to have a class set. I went to a total of 5 stores, I went to Dollar General (where they had tie on seat cushions on sale for 75% off so I bought a cute set - for $1.78- as a back up for when the ones on my new seat crates get icky), Family Dollar, and THREE different Dollar Trees. I finally found them at the very last Dollar Tree, I was out of ideas and was getting frustrated but I walked into the 5th store and there they were, I could almost hear the Hallelujah chorus when I saw them. I ALMOST bought ALL of them but decided against and just bought the 13 I needed. I bought some yellow ribbon and then came home and used my new found computer crafty skills and made luggage tags for each of them tied them on and now they are ready to go to my room on Monday and be filled up in my very first Book Frenzy the following Monday. I'm getting super excited about this year, and all the new "stuff" I have found on all these great blogs!! I can't wait to see what else I will learn as the year progresses!!
Here are a couple pictures of my completed Book Luggage (they didn't have enough in all the same color so I had to get a couple different colors.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Another day in my room...

OK so it was really only about 2 hours in my room, not another whole day. I started off the morning stalking some of my favorite blogs and I knew it was not a good idea. I ended up running to Wal-Mart before school to pick up crates and seat cushions. I saw on several blog pages this summer about making the seats out of crates but I have to admit I am NOT a crafty person when it comes to stuff like that. I want to be crafty when I grow up but I just haven't gotten there yet. Anyway, I figured the crate/seats were just out of my league until I saw what Becky over at Fourth Grade Fanatic had done! She just took the crates, turned them upside down, and tied a seat cushion to them!! How stinkin' easy and cute!!!! I knew I could do THAT!!! Sooooo off to Wal-Mart I ran. and here's what I ended up with!

After I threw together 4 of these I adjusted my writing table height so that they would be a perfect fit and I added some writing related posters and viola my writing area was complete!

After I finished that all I had left to do was hang up my motivational posters, my genre posters, and the heading on my AR Incentive chart bulletin board
 Here are the motivational posters - I put them around the clock because they are always looking up at the clock to see if it's time for lunch or specials LOL

This is my job chart and my Comprehension Strategies posters

My genre posters above the white board

My Incentive Chart bulletin board

While I was there I kept looking at my Daily 5 bulletin board and it just wasn't speaking to me soooo I had to revamp it.



Finally at the end of my time in my room, I went to the rooms of 2 of my kindergarten friends. Since I had taught Kindergarten for 8 years before moving to 4th grade last year I had a TON of primary teaching resources. These two wonderful friends stored all my primary resources in their classrooms (and of course they were permitted to use them as much as they wanted) so that I would not have to store it all at home. I didn't want to get rid of it becuase I wasn't sure how much I would like 4th grade AND my daughter had just graduated from college with her degree in Elementary Education and I didn't know what grade level she may get a job teaching. Soooo these wonderful friends gave up space in their classrooms for my stuff Well today, they got to get back quite a bit of that space. Since my daughter got a job teaching 1st grade I am taking her quite a bit of my primary stuff for her to use in her own classroom. The entire back of my SUV is FULL of stuff and it will have to stay there until Friday when my youngest son and I head to Port St. Lucie to help her get her classroom all ready for her little munchkins.  This is what the cart looked like that I took to my car

Well that's all I have for now. I am going to spend the rest of the day today, all today tomorrow, and all day Thursday doing NOTHING school related (we'll see how that goes LOL)

~~~~~~ Have a great day!! ~~~~~~

Monday, August 8, 2011

Top 3 things Linky Party!

Simply Second Resources is having a great Linky Party about what are the top 3 things you want to work on in your classroom! I think this is a great idea and wanted to throw my hat in the ring!

1. Independent Reading - Last year I implemented Daily 5 into my classroom and was so focused on trying to get as many "Dailies" in as I could I don't think the kids got much time to really focus on any of them.  Then I read The Book Whisperer and it has totally changed my thinking about teaching reading! I plan to really show my students my own love of reading and provide them with time for independent reading this year. I am doing two 30 minute rounds of D5 each day and the students MUST do Read to Self for one of those rounds every day! That means my kiddos will get at least 30 minutes of independent reading every day. Plus I am doing away with all the "busy work" I have for the kids to do when they finish an assignment early, if they finish early they will read.  Instead of working so hard to try to pull reading groups I am going to focus more on conferencing with my students about what they are reading and what strategies they are using

2. Writing - Since Writing is so important in 4th grade in Florida I am planning to make some big changes to my writing instruction. I was so fortunate to get to attend a Melissa Forney conference last month and I can't wait to implement her ideas and lessons into my writing instruction. I purchased her book Writing Superstars and plan to follow her lesson plans for teaching writing. 

3. Math - While my class did fine in math on our standardized assessments I personally was not happy with their growth in this area. I am planning to make some changes in how I teach math this year as well. I believe that I spent too much time on topics that my students didn't need and then had to rush through topics they really needed more time on. I teach using Envision Math and they provide two Topic Tests for each topic, so I am going to use one of those as a pre-test at the beginning of each topic to see what areas my class is already solid in and what areas they need more work. I think that this will really help me to focus my instruction to exactly what my students need. 

OK those are my top 3 things, so now it's your turn, head on over and join this Linky Party!!

Classroom Update - I'm almost ready!

I finally got to get into my classroom today!! I was so worried that I would be overwhelmed and for a moment when I first walked in I felt a slight wave of panic wash over me when  saw everything piked into the center of the room. I started off like I always do, I take pictures of what it looks like when I first walk in, that way when I feel like I have been working and working getting nothing done I can look back at the pictures of what it looked like when I first walked in and see the headway I have made.

This is what I walked in to see - This is the view from my door

This is my desk area - before

This is my writing corner - before

This is my reading corner - before

A view from the other side of the room

This is all the stuff I brought from home

After spending about 6 hours in my room today I am very glad to say that I am pretty close to being totally ready!! Setting up went a lot faster than I thought. Last year was tough because it was first year in 4th grade and I had to try out all sorts of arrangements with my desks and my teacher table and my reading and writing areas. At the end of last year I FINALLY found a set up that I liked and was really comfortable with the way it "flows."

Today I accomplished quite a bit. I got my furniture all arranged, I got all  my inside bulletin boards done, I got PART of my desk area set up, and I got my reading area all set up. THAT was by biggest worry because I had to go through ALL my books and reorganize them by genre instead of AR levels. I am really pleased with how my room is looking. I only have a few more things to hang up on the walls, plus I have to do my big AR bulletin board in the hallway, and I have to put student's names on things but other than that my room is ready. If I had to teach in there tomorrow I would be fine and that's my biggest concern when I start out. Here are the during/after pictures

This is behind my desk with my great Teacher Toolbox that I hung on the wall!!
P.S. the picture is crooked - not my toolbox LOL

My clip chart with clips all ready to go - just need a class list to put names on them

My calendar, schedule, and Lunch Menu board at the front of my room

Not sure why this came out so blurry but it is my Daily 5 Check-In and my Common Board Configuration

A closer picture of my Daily 5 Check-In board 
Looking at this picture I realize that I need to adjust the two lower side ones, I want to move them up a little 

My updated Reading Area

The view from my door as I was getting ready to walk out at the end of the day 

My writing area with my AR incentive charts on the Bulletin Board - The wall is blank because that is where our anchor charts will be going

Another shot of my reading area - Check out the weather outside the window - it was POURING

My Master's Degree!!

My Wall of Fame LOL - My Bachelor's Degree is at the top, then my Master's Degree, In a couple years I'll have to move everything up to make room for my Ed. Specialist Degree (class starts for that on Sept. 6th)

After looking at my before and after pictures I feel like I made some great progress in the 6 hours I spent in my HOT classroom - Uggghhh I think the AC finally started cooling around 1:00, about an hour before I was finished. Oh well, at least I don't have to run today, I earned my Weight Watchers Activity points by moving furniture and books, and sweating my behind off!