Monday, September 05, 2016

Classroom Reveal!

Happy Labor Day! I am happy to have a day of rest after two weeks of teaching. It's been a whirlwind but it has been a good start to the year. This is the second year I am teaching third grade math so it's nice to have experience with the standards and topics. In my school, we have had two teachers in third, two in fourth, and two in fifth. We are departmentalized so one teacher would teach math, science, and social studies and the other teacher would teach language arts. 

This year in third grade, we have three teachers, one for writing, one for math, and one for science/social studies. We all teach guided reading groups, which I am happy about because I love reading! We have tried to make the transition to three teachers as easy as possible for our students. They have certainly rose to the occasion! We had to make space throughout our rooms to hold all of the students' notebooks and folders so they won't have to switch classes with an arm full. That has helped significantly with switching classes and not having issues in the locker area. 

Ok enough about the back is the tour!

 Every student has a locker, which really cuts down on the clutter and helps with organization.

This is the view from the locker hallway. My penguin statue is a staple in my classroom for the last 11 years. I also have a little wall of inspiration with pictures of former classes and all the amazing teachers and bloggers that I have met this year. 

This is the view from my teacher desk. I have a separate office, which is great to keep all my personal stuff behind closed doors. The hallway is to bathrooms and to another third grade room. 

This is the view from the bathroom hallway. We still have chalkboards in our classroom so I like to cover them up and use them as bulletin boards. 

These pictures are looking at the back of my room. This is where I will have my small groups for reading and math. I also have a door to the outside, which really helps for fire drills and getting out to recess.

Since we are trying to keep everything in the classroom, I had to come up with some creative ways to store everything. For guided reading time, the students need independent books for Read to Self. One of the teachers in the school was giving away bags with handles, which was perfect for the students books. Then I had all these bags but no where to put them. So I took out the shelf in this bookshelf and replaced it with a shower tension rod...

Ta Da! This is a great place to keep the books and easy access for the students. The only bad part is that the books can't be too heavy or the poll falls off. I keep the bags that are too heavy in a separate box. 

Well, that's the end of the tour for now. It's definitely not a Pinterest perfect classroom but it's a cozy space that I like to teach in. I am excited to grow with my room and have it reflect my students' learning!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Summer of Inspiration

Today is the last official day of summer! Year eleven of teaching is about to begin! Before starting a new school year, I want to reflect on my summer. This summer has been full of great opportunities!

This is one of the few summers that I haven't had a summer job. It was nice to have the freedom to make plans with friends, create products, and spend time with my son. My husband, son, and I were able to get away for a couple of days to Dewey Beach (a beach in Delaware). I enjoyed our time just the three of us! 

Little Man used a crayon box to pretend to take a selfie of us...Amazing what this generation knows!

My friends and I had the opportunity to go to a free concert in Baltimore City to see Koo Koo Kangaroo! It was crazy because we thought that it would be packed but there couldn't have been more than 75 people (and most of them were teachers!) They put on an hour show that was jammed packed with my favorite songs and plenty of opportunity to dance! Then, Bryan and Neil were available to take pictures and sign autographs! I was able to talk with them and have them sign their cd. They are a lot of fun and I am so excited to tell my new students about them!

Then, at the beginning of August, six of my friends and I traveled up to Penn State Altoona for an education conference featuring the one and only Ron Clark!!! Ashley from Schroder Shenanigans in 2nd was the host of the conference and a speaker as well. She hosted a meet up the night before, which was great to see so many other teachers and bloggers who are passionate about their job! 

Ron Clark was the first speaker and he spoke for two hours! I have read most of his books and heard a bunch of his stories but there is nothing like hearing them in person. Ron certainly practices what he preaches because he was bouncing all over the place, standing on tables, and definitely keeping us engaged. I appreciated his transparency with his reflection of his teaching the previous year. He admitted that he lost some of his excitement last year when the hustle and bustle of the job got in the way. He spoke about how he knows what went wrong and he will do everything he can not to let that happen this year. That was encouraging because if Ron Clark can have an off year of teaching, so can the best of us! It totally motivated me to reflect on what I did last year and how I can improve this year. On top of speaking, he signed autographs and took pictures with everyone that was in line. My friends and I were seriously at the back of the line and it took over an hour to get to the front. But you know what? I did not mind one bit because I GOT TO MEET RON CLARK! Even though he had been speaking to so many people before us, he made us feel important and he didn't lose his sparkle. It was such an amazing experience!

In addition to Mr. Clark and Ashley speaking, Chris Pombonyo from Famous in Fourth gave an amazing presentation! He moved around the room with excitement, used music to get us up off our feet, and inspired us to have a more engaging classroom. I was blessed to meet him at the Get Your Teach On conference in Orlando and I was so thankful that I got to see him again. I was able to speak with him individually and get some ideas for our school. Such a cool guy and said he remembered who I was (which was so exciting!)

Chris and I seeing each other again!

It was an amazing day of learning and getting excited about teaching again. It certainly came at a perfect time because the new school year is right around the corner. I am so thankful that my colleagues and friends came to this conference and were inspired as well.

My amazing friends that I work with each day!
(Michele, Cheryl, Jessica, Lisa, Shanna, and Kim)

You would think after all this my summer would be done...guess again! Last weekend, I was able to apart of the first annual Maryland Blogger Meet Up! I have watched so many bloggers have the chance to meet with others in their state and I was so happy to have my chance! The event was hosted by Susie from Shafer's Shenanigans, Michelle from Pocketful of Primary, Ashley from The Sassy School Teacher , and Caitlin from Cait's Cool School! We met at Langermann's in Baltimore and enjoyed brunch together. They had amazing giveaways and I was able to meet a lot of great people. I sat next to Heather from Recipe For Teaching, which was a blast to get to know her! She is definitely further along in her blogging journey so it was nice to get encouragement from her!

A great turn out of ladies for the Maryland Meet Up!
My friend, Kim, from Flipping Into Kindergarten, Heather, and I.
I was so glad that my friend Kim and I went to the meet up together. Kim has been in the blogging world for the last year and it is so encouraging to have a friend to do it with. We completely geek out when meeting all of these amazing people and she is my instagram contest entering buddy! We are determined to get to the TPT conference next year and learn from more amazing people!

I am excited and pumped for the new year! I know that it will take hard work, a lot of positivity, and encouragement from those around me to make this year the best year ever! I am ready to set the stage to engage and I can't wait to do it with my teammates, Cheryl and Shanna!

Are you ready for your best year ever? Do you still need some more materials to help you out? Thankfully, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a one day sale tomorrow, August 22nd, only! My store in addition to many other stores will be on sale. Don't forget to enter the promo code ONEDAY to get up to 28% off! Happy Best Year Ever!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Set the Stage to Engage, Part Two: Engagement Island!

Welcome back for part two of my engagement posts! Sorry for the delay! My computer was sick (and thankfully fixed without harm) and I was away for a couple of days at the beach. 

When my three coworkers and I came back from Get Your Teach On Conference, we were asked to give a PD on what we learned at the conference. We were really excited to share what we learned but we were only given two hours to share so we hoped we could fit everything in that we wanted to say. After some brainstorming and planning, we were able to pick out the most important things that we wanted to share and in the time constraint. 

In true Hope King fashion, we wanted to transform the Media Center (where we were having the PD) so that our staff could have the true experience. We wanted our staff to find their teaching paradise so we came up with an island theme and called it Engagement Island. 

Here are some pictures of how we decorated our media center. We made flight tickets and put them in everyone's mailbox the day before. We covered the windows and made sure that no one could see in while they were at school. We wanted to peek their interest and get them excited about the PD. We wouldn't open the doors until the time on their ticket and wouldn't you know...people were lined up at the door 5 minutes early, just waiting to get in!!! Not many people are early for meetings so it was great to see that everyone was eager to join us! We played island music, gave everyone a lei as they walked in, and gave them a tropical snack. 

Our goal was to teach our coworkers about what we learned at the conference but to make it applicable to our students and school. We incorporated some of the call and responses that we learned throughout our presentation and our coworkers responded well to that! Our favorite one is the teacher yells "Shark Bait!" and the students yell "Hoo Ha Ha!" and slam their hands on the desk and give their attention. We use a school wide call and it has started to lose its magic so it's nice to have more options.

As we prepared for this presentation, we realized that we all identified with different methods of engagement. Hope King had shared that we didn't need to engage students the same way and that was clear within the ladies I teach with. My friend and blogging buddy, Kim (from Flipping Into Kindergarten), likes to engage her students with games. She shared several different ways that you can use common board games in class and how to differentiate them for all learners. The students' excitement for the game helped them learn the content in a fun way. My friend, Jessica, likes to engage with songs to teach content. She loves taking songs and trying to change the words to help students remember information. I remember last year when I was at a conference, she taught my students a song from Ron Clark that helped them understand area and perimeter. They were so excited to share it with me and it helped them when completing tasks in class.

My friend and teammate, Cheryl, likes to engage with storytelling. She loves to be dramatic and she can really get into a character. She is a relational and open teacher with her students so being able to tell stories to help students connect with content is so powerful. I like to engage through room transformations. I love that my students could be transported somewhere else in order to completely experience content. Many students aren't able to travel and may not have a lot of background knowledge about different places, so this is a great opportunity. 

In a couple of these pictures, you can see that we all took turns standing up on stools and chairs throughout the room. This was a technique that we took from Hope as well. If you move around the room and unexpectedly get up on chairs, the students will have to track you and be ready for anything. This is an easy change to make and a powerful one as well!

We packed a lot of information into two hours but our staff did a great job participating with us. In the four years I have been at my school, it was the most attentive I had seen people be and they also seemed excited! As the weeks went on, we had teachers using new call and responses, transforming their rooms, and stepping out of their comfort zone when teaching. It was amazing to see that our staff really took what we shared with them and tried to incorporate it into their own craft. 

I am so blessed to be surrounded by amazing, reflective educators that want to be the best that they can be. I am so glad that Kim, Jessica, Cheryl, and I went to the Get Your Teach On Conference and that we are there for each other, pushing each other to greatness!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Set the Stage to Engage, Part One: Get Your Teach On Conference!

Happy first week of summer for me! Teachers finished last Friday but could I just be done with school after that?!?! Nope! I went back to school on Monday and Tuesday. I know, crazy right?!? Our school is a STEM school and we have four STEM days throughout the year on our early dismissal days. So, we planned lessons for those days, which was fun and productive!

Since I have time now that school is over, I can finally blog again! I definitely need to manage my time more this year with school and the blogging world but I will get there! I know this post is long overdue but I can't help but share it!

At the beginning of March, my three coworkers and I went to the Get Your Teach On Conference in Orlando, FL. It was run by the great Deanna Jump of Mrs. Jump's Class and Hope King of Elementary Shenanigans and a teacher at the Ron Clark Academy! It was amazing to learn from the best and I am not going to lie, I was a little star struck! 

It was a whirlwind of a day and I soaked in every moment I could. I loved that it was a professional development that showed you how to incorporate engagement but also allowed you to try it for yourself. The conference was split with Deanna in one room with K-1 teachers and Hope was in another room with 2-3 teachers. I have watched Hope's periscopes before and knew that she talked fast but she certainly talked faster in person! She didn't want to miss telling us a single thing and I was grateful for that! 

Hope has so much energy and it is definitely contagious! She would bounce from one end of the room to the other and would stand on chairs and tables. This is a method that is common at the Ron Clark Academy but can definitely be applied in any classroom. As soon as you are unexpected, you have the students' attention! She taught and used several call and response chants to get our attention throughout the conference. She expected that 100% of us would respond and when we didn't, she made us do it again. It was a great model of what we should expect with our students. 

I could go on for hours about the things that I learned at this conference but I will share three big take aways. The first one is that we should aim to engage our students but the rigor of our content should be there too. Hope showed us pictures of room transformations, sang songs that correlated with content, and taught us different games that we could use in our classroom. Every single thing she showed us had rigorous content to go with it and she held her students to high standards while they were working. She suggested to use the most boring content that you don't care for teaching and make that into an exciting and interactive lesson. I think many times I have cute, fun ideas but the content of those ideas aren't as rich as they should be. That definitely changed my thoughts on how I planned lessons and activities!

The second take away is that there are many different ways to incorporate engagement, you need to find your gift or expertise. Even within the group of women I went to the conference with, we each had our own preference and comfort level. For myself, I like room transformations. I love the idea that when the students walk into the room, they enter another world of learning and they get excited to learn! I will go into more detail in my next two blog posts about my experiences this year with room transformations.

The third take away is simple but can be lost in the shuffle...choose joy. Unfortunately, we can get lost in the gossip, difficult students and parents, and frustrations with administration or education in general and forget to celebrate the good things. I have been teaching for 10 years and at times, I can get in a rut and lose my excitement in teaching. I am so quick to complain but have to really think about the positives of my job. This concept hit hard for my teammate and I and we decided to do something about it. When we came back to school after the conference, we started taking walks outside on our planning time. We would start by sharing positive moments from our day. This definitely helped us to be in a better mood and was a good break in our day. Now, we still had difficult days and needed to vent but we tried to say something positive first. Just think about how if one or two people in your building can choose joy, how quickly it can catch on!

This conference was a breath of fresh air and got us excited about what we could do in our school! We came back home and within a month, we gave a PD to our staff called Engagement Island. In my next blog post, I will share about that PD and how we applied what we learned at the conference. It is sparking some new and exciting things for our school! 

I will leave you with a couple of final pictures. Deanna and Hope were not the only blogger celebs that were there! While I was waiting in line to sign in before the conference, I met Hope's husband, Wade, who also works at Ron Clark Academy. Of course, I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture with him! Then later, I was able to meet Chris Pombonyo of Famous in First (soon to be Famous in Fourth)! He was his county's Teacher of the Year and Ron Clark crashed his classroom before the school year started. He is super nice and I am going to get to see him again at a teacher conference in August at Penn State Altoona! (Ron Clark is speaking at that conference too! It's going to be crazy!) 

I also met Amy Lemons of Step Into Second Grade with Mrs. Lemons! She was so gracious to listen to me babble when I came up to talk to her. (I was also shaking I was so nervous!)

It was awesome and inspiring to be surrounded by so many educators! I am very thankful for my experience and excited to continue to apply it to my teaching!

Friday, February 12, 2016

We Heart Maryland Blog Hop!

Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog! I am so excited to be apart of my first blog hop! A big thank you goes to Cheryl from Techie Turtle Teacher for hosting this We Heart Maryland Blog Hop!

Let's start off on a good note with a freebie! This freebie is normally a paid product in my store but you are able to enjoy it during this blog hop for free! I am offering one of my favorite products, which is my Homework Club Rewards pack. 

I have used it since the first month of school and I really enjoy it. It's an easy way to reward students for doing homework and they love getting homework passes in return! I have had some students that have earned 6 homework passes so far this year! If you would like your own copy, please click here!

In addition to a freebie, you have an opportunity to be apart of a giveaway! I am giving away my newest product, which is Ginger Snap! 

I know that gingerbread theme tends to be popular near the holidays but I think you can still enjoy the theme throughout the year. This is a spin off of the game Go Fish and uses multiplication and division facts. Make sure enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I have only lived in Maryland for seven years but I feel that there are plenty of things that I love about Maryland. If I only had to choose one thing, it would be that Maryland has a beautiful spring time! I grew up in New England and we experienced summer, fall, winter, and mud. Winter seemed to last forever and when it got warm, everything turned to mud. 

Here in Maryland, it is completely different! Winter doesn't last as long and the warmer weather comes sooner. Flowers spring up everywhere and the grass turns green quickly. When we first moved to Maryland, we lived in Baltimore City. There was a place near the harbor that I would walk to so I could sit and read a book. It had the most beautiful flowers there and became my favorite spot! It was a great way to enjoy my personal time and springtime together! Here are some pictures of it. 

One of the most common flowers that come out are the cherry blossoms. Most people know about the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. but there are a lot of cherry blossoms throughout Maryland. They are a pretty pink and really liven up a street. My husband's uncle always talks about how it's like pink snow on his street when they bloom and then blow in the breeze. It's a beautiful site and an enjoyable time of the year!

Maryland really is a great place to live and I have enjoyed strengthening my teaching career here. I have had many experiences here that I didn't think I would ever have due to being so close to major cities, beaches, mountains, etc. It's been a great place to call home!

Well that's it for me here, but don't stop now! Hop on over to Heather's blog! Click the next stop button!

Recipe for Teaching

Saturday, February 06, 2016

CURRENTLY February Style

This is the first post of 2016. I don't know where this year has gone but it's moving fast! It is definitely easier to blog in the summer than during the school year. I haven't found the balance between work, home, and blogging yet but I hope I can get in a better groove from now on. 

A great way to get started is with Currently by Oh Boy...It's Farley!

Listening to Fixer Upper on HGTV. I love Fixer Upper! Chip and Joanna Gaines are a great pair and always make me laugh. I enjoy the time and love they put into the houses they create and how they value what their clients want. I also enjoy the love they show toward each other and how they include their children in the process of the design and build. I hope I can visit the Silos or Magnolia Market someday!

Loving all the snow days we had from the blizzard. Last week, we had a blizzard in Maryland and got over two feet of snow! It was nice to be snowed in, eat warm, yummy things, and spend time with my husband and son. As a result, we were out of school basically the whole week. The plus was that we already had a day off and a teacher work day scheduled that week. So we only used three snow days. It was a nice snow vacation!

Thinking about what products I want to create next. This is the third year that I have moved grades. I was in first grade for 7 years and then I moved up to fourth grade last year and then down to third grade this year. I have enjoyed the changes but it has been difficult getting used to the content that I am teaching. It's hard to know what products I need for my students to be successful. When creating products, do I focus on the other grades I have taught or create I as go this year?

Wanting more time to get things done. The weekends are precious time! I love being able to relax with my husband and son and not having to do much. Unfortunately, there is laundry and dishes to be done, lesson plans to be written, and not to mention wanting to enjoy some hobbies of mine. Just a little more time would be nice!

Needing more excitement in my classroom. Ever feel like you are in a teaching rut? I love teaching and I enjoy making learning exciting but sometimes the ideas just don't flow. I am super excited about attending the Get Your Teach On Conference in Orlando in March! Deanna Jump and Hope King are speaking and I can't wait to learn about new ways to engage my students! They have amazing and creative ways to teach and I hope I can bring that back to my students! 

Swooning over my little man. My son is two and growing up so fast! He is learning new things all the time and I love to watch him explore new ideas. The other day, he was able to quote all the months of the year and tell me what month his birthday is in! I was amazed and thankful for the great teachers at daycare who are teaching him all these new things! The best thing is all the love and kisses he gives me and often tells my husband and me that we are his best friends!

Hope this is the start of more regular blog posts!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

TPT Love Back School Sale!

I am super excited about participating in my first Teachers Pay Teachers sale! I have been working hard this week to refresh my old products and post my new products in my store. Please check out my store on August 3-4 and receive up to 28% off!

Here is a quick overview of what you will find in my store!

I am really happy with my new teacher planners! They come in five different color schemes and contain pages for schedules, calendars, lesson plans, and more! There is also a chevron cover option for each planner. 

I updated my Penguin Tags and Posters to include penguin group posters for each of the six different species of penguins. I am continuing with my sophisticated penguin theme for my classroom this year and these are the penguins for the job!

I am also really eager to use my Homework Rewards Club pack in my classroom! I recently blogged about how to use it in the classroom and how it can increase the students' interest in homework. Check it out!

I hope you find my products helpful to your success in the classroom! Don't forget to go to my store tomorrow and Tuesday for the B2S sale!