August 2013 | Teaching in the Tongass

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Guess who and 2 Giveaways!

Amazingly, I've had some time to work on this lil cutie.  Who is the celeb?? Make your guess and the lucky winner will get THEIR OWN CUSTOM MINI from me!

And in case you didn't already see this...I'm having ANOTHER GIVEAWAY! 

These awesome Etsy stores are sponsoring this FANTASTIC giveaway!
Here are the goods!

Need something FASHIONABLE to hold that boring old ID badge at school?!
Have a full Teachers Pay Teachers wishlist?!
Need a CUTE way to display your class birthdays year to year?!
Who doesn't want this ADORABLE teacher necklace?! I wish I could win it!
Or perhaps you would like a GORGEOUS pair of stone earrings?  I have a similar pair and wear them 5 days a week!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

totally over tattling

If you're a teacher, you know the tune. The familiar tune of "Ms.___, so and so "fill in the blank!" might really irritate you. Or maybe you're one of those teachers who is more patient and smiles when a student does the sing-song of tattling. If that's you, I applaud you. I had to go a different route.

A few years ago, I bought a small digital recorder, named it "Bob," and taught the class how to tell Bob their problems instead of me.
This worked out really well for a couple of reasons, but the main was that, after Bob lost his novelty, students learned that the person they were essentially trying to get in trouble, didn't and they didn't get that sneering satisfaction most of them were looking for (neener neener, neener neener). So, I only ended up getting a few students who actually had something to tell Bob. And, since it was a digital recorder, I got to save them on iTunes and laugh about listen to them years later. Then, I lost Bob and decided not to replace him and just go a different route.

I got a beaver (our mascot) stuffed animal and a spiral notebook and had the kids write their problem to the beaver. That pretty much nips it in the bud for a lot of kids (especially ones that hate to write!). You can do the same, or just buy something like this (

But, a couple of years ago, I discovered one simple tool to use: a book.  Well, that and a discussion.  At the beginning of every year, I read the AWESOME book, Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal by Jeanie Franz Ransom. We discuss the sound of  a tattle, the 4 instances from the book that you should tell an adult (our school identifies these as "Big Problems") and all of the "Little Problems" that don't need adult help.  I give situations and the class identifies each as a "Big" or "Small" problem.  This book really has been a lifesaver. In the past, I've done a few different things, but nothing seems to end tattling faster than reading this book (and consistently reminding them "Is that a big or small problem? Did you use an I-message to the person you are upset with before you came to me?").

Click below to snag this I-Message FREEBIE (I put mine in a page protector right outside my classroom door so if any recess issues are still unsolved they can do talk in the hall quickly as we settle back in).
There are plenty of ways to curb this habit and save you more time for teaching/learning and less time putting out little fires. Is there a great tool or activity you use? Comment below! I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


First. Week. Back. Blegh. I don't have the energy to go all-long-post here, so let's keep things short and sweet, shall we?

I made this bad boy! I am so excited to share it! It's just plain chalkboard, which means it can be used with any other color/theme you already have or want to change up any time!

I cut and cut and cut some more. My hand hurt like a kajdlfjaldkjfa;d. But in the end...things looked good and I was happy.

The Word Wall words and Alphabet headers are from here:
Mr.Tongass finished painting our house. We went with good ol Benny Moore in "Storm"...whadyathink? It looks more exciting in real life, so I don't expect you to jump out of your chair with excitement, but I will! They were taken with the exact same camera, so it must just be the time of day I took each one that makes the grass look so different.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Burlap and Chalkboard Bulletin and Classroom Decor

For the first time, I am working on a theme for my classroom. I decided against animals or a particular title, just because I know myself and I would be sick of it within a year (that can't be cheap!). So, I originally planned on chalkboard and red.  However, after about a week of mulling that over, I changed my mind. Again. I am still sticking with chalkboard (and adding burlap), and going for a home-y feel for my home away from home.

I love these table group supply tubs.  I bought them at Walmart my first year of teaching (in the laundry aisle!) and use them almost every day.  I assign one student at each table group the job of "Tub Person" and they are responsible for making sure it is stocked and organized, as well as retrieving the tub and putting it away when they need it.  I put glue, glue sticks, crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors, stapler and tape dispenser in each tub. I also took a picture of an organized one and taped it to each tub so the kids knew what it should look like each time they put it back.  They are awesome. The only downside is that they are turquoise. A perfectly great color, but not black/burlap. So...spray paint time!
 I brought them outside (we have had a BEAUTIFUL summer and it happened to not be raining, which doesn't work well with spray paint).
A couple of coats of Krylon Fusion gloss black and!
And while I was at it, I decided to fix up my lil coffee table I already had in my room.  He served as a mailbox stand for the last 5 years, but now it is his time to SHINE as an actual coffee table.  Ladies and gentlemen, get a load of this makeover! Is he a whole new table or what?!
And if you didn't already know, Chalkboard comes in SPRAY PAINT FORM. Halle-frickin-lujah for this or I wouldn't have done it. I stuck with good ol Krylon and wasn't disappointed. The top is chalkboard and the rest is just basic black.
burlap chalkboard decor
So, my saint of a mom, always "knows a guy." She's the person people (not just me) call to ask for help with just about everything. So, instead of going to JoAnns and buying burlap, she hooked me up with some for FREE. I got a big ol bag of burlap bags from her friends' son who works at a local coffee company here. 
The goods:
 So, I laid the bags out and cut them to open them up, and cut off any colored parts while I was at it. 
And here they are on my Word Wall bulletin board! I scrunched and stapled like a mad lady for what felt like hours (probably took me about 30 minutes total though).  The black background is actually fabric on top of doesn't fade all year and you can reuse it over and over!
burlap chalkboard decor
And here are the bulletin boards with stuff on them!

 The Word Wall words are from my Chalkboard Sight Words pack (editable of course!).
Our daily schedule:
burlap chalkboard decor
 And here are the tubs all filled up and put back.
burlap chalkboard decor
 A view from the door. Check out the huge area rug I scored at a garage sale this weekend!
burlap chalkboard decor
I also purchased a few matching black pocket charts (yes, they do exist!) to go with my chalkboard theme. Click below to check them out.

 The chair was a gift from my host teacher.  It was red...until this weekend when I attacked it with flat black spray paint and added a burlap cover with my Mr.Tongass' staple gun. The horseshoe table doubles as my desk and small group area. If you haven't already thought of getting rid of your desk, I highly recommend it! I got rid of mine a couple of years ago and love it!
burlap chalkboard decor
I also spray painted my mailbox and this old globe. I plan on writing inspirational quotes with my white chalkboard marker (if I can find it...did you take it?!).
burlap chalkboard decor
And a close up of the Bathroom checkout system (sign-out sheets found in my Editable Teacher Binder Essentials pack) after jazzing up the hand sanitizers...
burlap chalkboard decor
And a close up with the binder-clip labels.
Supply table.
If you're looking left and right from the door.
burlap chalkboard decor
And with my line-up spots (also found in my Chalkboard Classroom Decor pack)
burlap chalkboard decor

My Turn-In Box area.
burlap chalkboard decor
I'm trying to go for a home-y feel, which is why my library has a couch, chaise, coffee and end tables! Doesn't the chalkboard coffee table look great there? I love it.  Wouldn't you want to read a book in this little library area?
burlap chalkboard decor
And I just updated the book tubs to include these Chalkboard Reading Level labels.
And we are a PBIS school, so I had to make a PBIS matrix with Velcro pieces we could build and refer to throughout the year. You can check it out here.
pbis behavior matrix

Do you have a reading program? Does it take up as much space as ours? Check out how I organize my weekly sight words, vocab words and sound spelling cards. They all have velcro so it's a quick switch each week!
And the outside of my room is a sneak peek of what's to come!
And I even made my own personal sign for the hallway--cute, right?
burlap chalkboard decor
And even my Calendar area got a chalkboard facelift!
And we added important days and holidays cards to add the the dates and count up to:
I laminated a few of the pieces to make them dry-erase friendly (the pieces that aren't in a pocket chart have sticky magnet strips on the back so all of the pieces are easily moveable).
 And here's a snapshot of the desks all ready for Tuesday. I got the hats on sale after New Years a few years ago and the Play-doh mat and worksheet are from my Play-doh pack on TpT.
first day of school ideas
Click below to see what else is included.

If you're looking for a fun little matching chalkboard photo prop to do with your students (I made this to use with my own kiddo), you can grab this FREE editable first day of school poster by clicking below.
first day of school editable poster

And now that my room is put together, you better believe I'll be printing and cutting for the next few days! If you're thinking about a Chalkboard and Burlap (or really any other color), you can check these resources out by clicking below. 

Grab this FREE EDITABLE chalkboard desk nameplate by clicking below:

Pin below for later!
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