2014 | Teaching in the Tongass

Thursday, September 18, 2014

can you help me put my socks on?

I've got 8 weeks to go and then....newborn time! We're just pluggin along and awaiting baby #2...I'll be sure to keep you all posted when it gets closer :)

Our desks have been jam packed for the last couple of years. We have been using Math in Focus for 2 years now, which includes 2 books per student (a workbook and textbook), and we switched from Storytown to Reading Wonders this year, which includes a whopping 3 books per student! And because I'm not about to waste any of my own cabinet/cupboard/shelf space to store things like this, we had to figure out a way to fit it all in a desk. So...this well help keep the desk fairy happy!

I made these visual direction cards to help list the steps after giving them verbally. I HATE repeating myself #teacherproblems and love being able to point to the board anytime. You can find these here. 

Every so often, I get an email from Shutterfly with a special code for FREE stuff! I just have to pay shipping (about $5) and that's it! I ordered some thank you cards to use this year :)

Cheeks popped in with my mom the same day we had school photos being taken. So...of course he got his taken since he's not camera shy AT ALL :) He flirted with the camera lady the whole time haha!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

dirty dibeling

We are in our second week of school now and I am feeling super excited about this year! We've played the gettoknowya games and are all "communitied-up" and ready for the year! So, what have we been up to?!!  A lot!

1.) I did another fingerprint tree (these are great keepsakes!) and made one for you to use as well (click below to grab this FREEBIE!):
2.) We went over our classroom rules (another FREEBIE!) and I framed this chalkboard classroom rules poster to coincide with my current chalkboard and burlap obsession:
3.) We arranged our desks into table groups and set up a reward system (this is super helpful if you can get peers to remind each other to be on-task---one less reminder from me is always a good thing!) and put it in my lil store as a FREEBIE for you!
4.) And one of the all time favorite games (my go-to for Sub Plans)...Coin War! Click below to download this FREEBIE!
5.) We are in our 6th year of PBIS, so I didn't waste any time introducing this Behavior Matrix (click below to check it out) and of course, Think Time (an integral part of our behavior system):
6.)  Soooo now we're on to assessments (side note---a friend of mine pointed out today that dibeling sounds like a dirty word...she's sooo right! doesn't it?!).  So, I got my Back to School Centers ready and after a quick intro to each one (I keep them in binders and put a binder at each table group of 4-5), the kids were eager to get goin and I was able to get a TON of assessments done (a teacher's dream, right?!)! Here's a sneak peek of a few of the math games they played today (sorry for the glare in some of these...page protectors don't photograph well but they sure work well with dry erase markers!):

Click below to get a glimpse of what else we've been up to!

Friday, August 22, 2014

chalkboard and burlap classroom...again

First week of school? Check. Great class? Check. I have a feeling this is going to be a GREAT year. Seriously. Maybe the best ever. Ever. I got bored watching a movie with Mr.Craftypants, so I made this little sign to go with my chalkboard and burlap decor.

Here's a peek at what my room looks like now....the inside is exactly the same as last year (you can see that post here).

I updated my hallway bulletin board to match my little decor thing going on...I found the white fabric roses and little wood chalkboard flags/jute string at JoAnns and used a liquid chalk marker to write student names. 
As you can see, I left up my schedule, chalkboard quote globe, turn-in box and burlap bulletin border, but it appears I need to tighten up the fabric backing of our word wall :) I'll get right on that #promisespromises
And I framed this printable (that's not burlap--it's digital burlap paper...yes!) I made to go outside the room:
I'm finally embracing my boring self and although I really like seeing so many colorful and bright classrooms, this is really my style at home, so why not bring it to work? I'm there all.day.long. We'll see if it stays up and for how long...who knows! If you are wanting a chalkboard theme room, click below to check out what I used:

Monday, August 4, 2014

back to school is here

And, just in time for my new school year to start (I have about a week before I'm back in the classroom), I created these Back to School Math and Literacy Centers!  If you're like me, you end up having to do a ton of 1-1 assessments with your students right away (i.e. "Did your teacher last year really mark you at that reading level?! I need to verify this for myself....") and need the rest of your class to sit down and shut up be occupied so you can quickly and quietly get things done. Enter my new lifesaver:
Last year, the random holiday/assessment times I pulled out centers (we mainly stick to our reading program), I figured out that I prefer binders over tubs/buckets/whathaveyou.  I just stick the master in the clear front pocket and the rest inside (sometimes I remembered to hole punch on the copier, other times I just stuck them in the pocket part of the binder).  If the center had cards or other parts, I put them in ziplocs or in a binder zipper pouch.

Here's an example of what I mean (using these Iditarod centers):

I used my Teacher Binder Essentials all year last year and looooved it! I think I'll be binding it at OfficeMax this year (have you ever done this? let me know how it went!):

If you haven't seen my classroom remodel from last year where I used this Chalkboard decor and first day set up using play-doh, check it out here!


Monday, June 2, 2014

end of the year creations

Oh blog. How I've missed you. This is my first week of summer...can I get a WAHOOO?! I have many plans, but most of them consist of being lazy so I won't bore you (I know you have similar plans anyway).

I have 4 awesome mothers this year who have graciously volunteered for just about every job I've asked. If you don't already take advantage of asking for help...START! Most parents are looking for a way to help, but have a 9-5 job like the rest of us. If they can't come into the classroom, they might be willing to look over papers for mistakes at home, or cut laminated things...you know, those highly engaging tasks you looooove to do on a Friday night? I had 3 parents jumping the gate to help from home this year, so I sent home all sorts of stuff on a regular basis. With 1 month to go in the year, a student moved and was placed in my class...usually this is something we all sort of dread...but this was a SWEETHEART and came with the most awesomest mom ever. She came in 2 days a week for several hours and was up for whatever job I could throw her way. My kinda volunteer. I owe these moms so much for allowing me to spend time with my family and not get sucked into staying extra hours at work...the very least I could do was get them a gift. So, I found these ADORABLE mugs at Walmart for around $4 and bought some coffee beans (took me 3 different stores to find these expensive suckers, so if you see them on sale--grab them!).  I whipped up some tags to go with each cup and planned on hole-punching and tying a cute string, but this seemed to be easier and cuter anyway. You could do the same for coworkers, friends, etc. You can grab it here.
Next up, waaaay back at the beginning of May, I used some BP Teacher of the Year Award money I had received to buy some gifts for the teachers I work with. These are the same people who come in on the weekends, stay late on the weekdays, and put in all kinds of extra effort and time out of their contract hours. They deserve at the very least a raise (we had a very rocky contract negotiating couple of years), but since I couldn't do that, I decided to share my award with them. So, I found the coolest cups around, used my Silhouette Portrait to label with last names, threw in a $10 Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate, some highlighters and waited for the official Teacher Appreciation Day to arrive (May 6).  
And finally, I whipped up some signs for my students to pose with and when I put them altogether, they revealed a big secret to the class! I blogged about this already {here}.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

how to tell your students you're pregnant

I knew I wanted to do something special for my second pregnancy. But, there isn't exactly a tutorial on how to tell your class you're pregnant, so I knew I had to get creative. I took a photo of each student holding a sign and will show what it spells out when put together on Monday to tell them...none of them figured it out yet! I think this will be way more fun than just telling my students like I did the first time around! I can't wait to surprise them!
Telling your class you're pregnant
If you can't see that photo on the bottom very well...I found the shirt on Etsy (I recommend ordering a size up though...I wasn't able to wear it for very long).
Yep! We are super excited and can't wait to complete our little family with one more!  We aren't going to announce the gender, or any name ideas we have floating around, which is how we handled my first pregnancy. It's about the only secret I've ever been able to keep! I have to try really hard to not let "he" or "she" slip out in conversations, which takes extra effort with pregnancy brain...

If you're also a teacher expecting and looking for something to do with your class, I've made this fun packet--My Teacher is Having a Baby! It also includes baby shower printables if you'd like to use them for yourself or another teacher in your building--they're perfect for decorating the staff lounge and include a few quick activities.
How to tell your class you're pregnant

What about you? How did you handle your pregnancy with your students? Did you share the news with them in a special way? Please feel free to tell me about it in the comments below! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

swap til you drop...a giveaway!

 To introduce our Iditarod unit, I showed this Arctic Animals Powerpoint Lesson from Creative Lesson Cafe. Confession: I hate Powerpoint presentations. BUT, I loved this one! The kids were so ENGAGED! The level of information and interesting facts about animals, paired with the high quality photos were just what they needed! Instead of me reading each slide about each animal, I had volunteers come up and read. We just loved this activity so much! There were lots of neat facts I didn't know either...and I won't spoil them for you so you'll have to check it out yourself! The kids were talking about it for the rest of the day...it was so cute!
Next, I partnered kids up to read these Arctic Animal Poems. Again, a huge hit! They took turns reading sentences and switching off, practicing reading with expression and perfecting their phrasing. After choosing a poem to perfect, they each got to recite to me. CUTEST thing EVER. I had them keep this in their reading folder and we'll be using it throughout our Iditarod unit!

So there you have it! 2 awesome Arctic animal activities that you can incorporate into your literacy or social studies lessons with ease! 
Creative Lesson Cafe is just about the cutest blog around, so please make sure you stop by and give Jeannine some love. She tried out my Iditarod Dog Craftivity and Adopt-a-Dog Journal...

but you can go check out her post about that yourself by clicking here!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

alaska teacher at heart

As you probably already know, I live in Alaska. Which means I am super fortunate in the fact that we have some pretty neat scenery right in our backyard.  For instance, last year I took my class on a whale watching cruise and we saw a ton of orca, humpback and some loud seals. FUN!
And I went on a hike today with some of my friends from work (let's just call them my friends though, shall we?) and we walked across a glacial lake and up the side of the mountain and then back down again into the glacier. Yes. You read that right, we went inside the glacier. Observe.

 The walk out there and the butt sliding down into the cave (these are my lovely hiking models Carolyn and Meg):
 Me inside the cave and looking up from the same spot:
 Iceberg, right ahead! Couldn't resist.
And being the Alaskan that I am, the Iditarod holds a special place in my heart. When I did my student teaching (4th grade), my required integrated unit was on the Iditarod. I lived, breathed and dreamed Iditarod for 6 whole weeks. Craziness.

Fast forward 6 years later and I'm still slightly obsessed. If you live here in Alaska (907 holla!), chances are you know all about the Iditarod and it's hardcore-ness (or maybe you don't and could care less?), and if you're a "lower 49er" you might also know a lot about the Iditarod and be a fan of the fun! This dogsled race is called The Last Great Race for a reason!  It also happens to make for some highly engaging content and literacy/math/science/social studies for teachers worldwide. Enter: my Iditarod unit. 

I used my MEGA Alaska clipart to create this laminated anchor chart and as we learn, fill it up with important info we could refer back to throughout the unit. 
I also made this checkpoint map with both the Northern (even years) and Southern routes (odd years) so students could have easy access to the names of each checkpoint of the race.
 And of course, we have to have a word wall anchor chart! You can find the clipart I used here.
Here the majority of my Iditarod books...I buy any I can find!
 We're waiting for the snow to melt a little so we can collect rocks to make our Iditarocks!  This is my sample from 2008 when I taught about the Iditarod during my student teaching...had to reglue some of those eyeballs on fo sho!
 Aren't these fingerprint doggies adorable?! Another page from my unit:
And I laminated the bookmarks so they should last a few weeks...hopefully! I found some cute paw print ribbon at JoAnn's...can't wait to give those out next week! These are also found in the Iditarod unit.
I printed out my entire unit and store the masters in page protectors in this binder for easier copying.

After searching 3 different stores for a paper tray that wouldn't be a lot of storage (I have lots of rubbermaid totes in various sizes already) and that I could put at each table group, I realized I already had what I needed. For the centers we used this day, I put one page in the front sleeve (so they knew what center it would be at that table group) and then put the rest inside in the pocket...next time I'll just run them in the copier with the hole punch option so they stay put better (pockets don't work so well when they're turned upside down!).  Anyway, you might be able to try this out sometime...let me know how it works for you if you do!
 Each table group got a binder and students rotated through the centers when they finished each one.
 Digraph sorting and unscrambling sentences:
Story writing and labeling:
Adopt-a-Dog Journal writing has been a huge hit! They looove it! Each student has a Webkinz plush husky (I use the same ones each year) and they can choose to write to their dog, or write as their dog...either way is fine with me!

We still have lots more to do in the next week or 2 (including following our mushers, some math activities and more dog journaling), and my favorite....a husky craftivity!
You can find all of the Iditarod printables included in this post in my Iditarod BUNDLE below:
What about you? Do you teach about the Iditarod? What sorts of fun activities do you have planned?

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