Monday Made It #2 of the Summer

Monday, June 27, 2016

I am back for another Monday Made It!  As promised last week, I am showing some things that I have made for my new classroom theme!  HARRY POTTER!  Here we go,..

I like to group my students into teams.  Well, having a Harry Potter theme is perfect for such an endeavor!  I am going to sort the students into the 4 houses.  I have decided to make some simplistic signs for the 4 houses and found these on the Warner Bros. website for FREE!  :)

The next item I made was for a bulletin board.  I want the bulletin board outside my classroom to be an introduction to the theme.  I was shopping at Michaels and found some wooden owls that would be a cute addition.  Unfortunately, there were only 17 available, so I had to go back and find something else that would go well with the owls.  I want to be able to reuse the owls, so I found some white dry erase paint.  It took several coats, but I was able to spray paint them white and I plan on writing some of the students' names on the owls.

For my next made it, I found some jars in the Target Dollar Spot.  3 jars for $3!  Perfect!  I also found some printable labels, so check out this creation!  I am going to add some things on the inside to make it look like the potion.  I also have some more labels, I just need more vials!

Okay, so I think this is my favorite item!  The Monster Book of Monsters

That is all I have for this week.  I am looking forward to making some more items in the next couple of weeks.  I can't believe that I start school in 5 weeks!!

Also, today is the last day for my giveaway from last week's creations.  Enter the giveaway today!

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One Word

Friday, June 24, 2016
Let's face it, teachers can't always unplug their teacher brains. I know that I have a hard time disconnecting and relaxing over breaks. Summer break is especially difficult for me, because of all of the time I have to myself. Since my boyfriend works all day, I have a lot of time to think. Even with TV show binging, I have a lot of thoughts going through my mind. On the plus side, it gives me a lot of time to read! I pleasure read, but I also like to read and reread professional books. I recently read Matt Miller's "Ditch That Textbook". I went through and made notes of things that I want to remember. One thing that stuck out to me was coming up with one word that I want to focus on for the school year. In the past, I have written several goals, and while I achieve the goals (or most of them), I want to focus on one word that I can keep coming back to throughout the year. The word I want to keep reminding myself of this year is...


Okay, I guess that is technically 2 words.  It seems like everything I read about education and PD sessions that I have attended are about making the classroom about students.  That may seem like a DUH moment, but have you really thought about what that means?  We know that education is about the students, but how much of the school day is designed for the students to make choices and learn what they care about?  When I think about that in my classroom, I have to think long and hard about the choices they get to make.  Here is what I came up with from the past school year:
  • Recess games (sometimes not due to behavior issues)
  • STEM projects (with some guidelines)
  • Seating (end-of-the-year)
Sigh!  When I really sit down and think about it, they don't have much choice at all!  So how can I change this to make it more student-centered?  Am I going to be able to go in on Day 1 and give up control and let the students decide?  No.  I don't think that is going to be feasible for any teacher, and it is not going to help the students learn.  However, I do have some ideas that I want to implement this year to help give the students more choice in the classroom.

Alternative Seating
  • It seems like alternative seating is all the rage right now.  I think social media has made things we have done for years more global.  I have offered other seating options for years, but it has been great to see other options that teachers provide.  I have always had pillows for students to use.  They love to choose a pillow and find a comfortable spot to read.  So I thought, why not let them have more choices?  This year I added Kore Wobble Chairs and stability balls.  I started with 2 Kore Wobble Chairs that I received through Donors Choose funding.  Two chairs and 27 I chose 2 students each day to sit on the chairs.  Luckily, out PTO gave me some grant money to purchase 2 more chairs and 4 stability balls.  I decided to let the students choose their seats for where the wanted to sit for the whole day.  I was able to handle that for a few weeks, before we went back to assigned seats.  Next school year I will be keeping my traditional assigned seats, but I will be giving the students more choice on where they want to complete work and sit/stand.  I think this will be a good compromise and I hope that it works out well.
Genius Hour
  • I wanted to implement genius hour last year, but I just couldn't find the time in the schedule.  I now realize that I need to make the time.  I have been doing some research and looking for others that have implemented genius hour into their classrooms and I think the students will enjoy having some choice in what they learn and being able to share it with others.
Book Clubs
  • I want my students to have more choice in their classroom novels.  I have read a lot about book clubs (literature circles) and I want to implement those into the classroom as well.  I did it once last year, but I think I need to work on my approach to it and how the students will read and respond.  I still want to do whole class novels, as well.
  • I didn't do any centers last year!  I am ashamed of myself.  Teaching a split class left me exhausted and I had to spend some time thinking about how to make it work.  I have an idea of how I can implement mini-lessons and centers, so that I can work with small groups.
  • The last thing I want to try is a classroom makerspace.  I currently have a Donors Choose project to help fund this idea.  I want the students to be able to explore and learn and create on their own, so I thought this would be a good way for them to do just that.
Well, those are some of my thoughts on how to make my classroom more student-centered.  If you have to choose one word to describe how you want your year to go, what would it be?


Monday Made It #1 of the Summer

Monday, June 20, 2016
Hello all!  I am excited to link-up to my first Monday Made It of the summer!

I am excited to share some items for my first Monday Made It of Summer 2016!  I have 2 items that I created and added to my TPT store.  If you are interested in either one, click on the picture to purchase it!  I am also going to show a pic of a future Monday Made It for my classroom theme!  Stay tuned to the end of the blog post for a special giveaway!  

I am trying to incorporate more mentor texts into my lessons.  First, I want to highlight The Boy Who Loved Words.  This is a fantastic mentor text for context clues and writing.  The story is about a boy, Selig, who collects words.  However, this does not make him a popular child, so he leaves his home in search of a new place.  Along the way, a poet discovers his words and his perspective changes!  Check out my product that has lots of activities to choose from!

Another mentor text that I read is Baloney (Henry P.).  This is another great book for context clues!  Check out the product by clicking on the picture below.

I don't have anything officially made for my classroom next year, but here is a peek at some of the items that I will be using!  I am doing a Harry Potter theme, and I am very excited!  I can't wait to share all of my creations and classroom reveal with you!

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

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MIA Teacher

Thursday, June 16, 2016
I just looked at the date on my last blog post...

I am so embarrassed to say that I have not posted since last August.  Obviously the school year got away from me!  I was given the opportunity to teach a 3rd/4th split classroom last year, and I was nervous.  I had all of my ideas and I was ready to go for the year, then the first two weeks of school happened.  The moment the students entered the classroom, I knew it was going to be a difficult year!  They were sitting on the carpet with their belongings and talking like it was lunch time!  I could not believe that they were so chatty!  Usually on the first day of school, students are quiet and unsure,  It felt like complete chaos!

Even though the year started out rough, we powered through and the school year ended on such a great note.  The students went from extremely chatty, to usually speaking at an appropriate time.  They also did not work well with others in the beginning, to ending the school year working with all types of classmates.  I am so proud of how the school year ended and I hope that they continue their success.

We were hoping to get to add another teacher to our grade level, but that is not going to happen, so I volunteered to teach the 4th/5th split next year!

The other teachers in my building could not believe it!  Why would I put myself through that again?!  Well, I get to loop with most of my students.  The other teachers and I got together and shuffled some students around, but overall my class list will stay consistent.  I am hoping that will make the beginning of the year an easier transition!

I have been spinning my wheels for the past 2 weeks (since the last day of school)!  I have so many ideas and things I want to implement this year!

  • Genius Hour
  • Book Clubs
  • More alternative seating
  • Updated math/reading workshop
  • Classroom makerspace
I think some of these will be easier than others, but I want to move towards a more student-centered classroom.  I have already begun alternative seating (pillows, Kore Wobble stools, and stability balls).  I currently have a DonorsChoose project for creating a classroom Makerspace.  Feel free to share and donate to my project.  I only need half funding thanks to a generous anonymous donor!  I also have already started rethinking math/reading workshop.  I purchased Ladybugs Teacher Files math rotation board and I am excited to implement a more student-centered choice board.  I also created a new one for reading, similar to her math rotation!

R- respond to reading
E- enjoy a book
A- at your seat
D- discuss the text

I think leaving this more open and broad will give more flexibility in planning and activities. I will also give me time to work with small groups.  I would like to create book clubs, which could be part of discuss the text.  

Lastly, I am very interested in Genius Hour.  I love the concept of it and giving students the freedom to explore and learn about what they are interested in learning.  If anyone has suggestions, please share with me!


The past 2 years I have had themes, but they were more decorations than themes.  This year, I decided I want to step it up and create a theme that I am passionate about.  Well, if you look at my gifs on this post, you might have a BIG hint!


I was about ready to purchase some clip art to make decorations, then I saw this on Instagram from Teacher's Clubhouse.  Perfect!

I will also be purchasing some decorations and making some of my own decorations.  I am so excited to share my classroom reveal this year!

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