Saturday, August 18, 2012

"I Make a Difference..."

I'm sure we've all seen or read the poem "I Make a Difference" when a teacher is asked at a dinner party what they make. I came across this video on pinterest, and I absolutely loved the way the graphics are and the rhythm of hearing Taylor Mali read his own poem.

So true, fellow teachers! We do make a difference. And sometimes we get so bogged down with all of the things we are responsible for, that we forget the big picture.  

Check out the video below... it's a quick one, just about 3 minutes. I think you'll enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Almost there!

So, there's only 7 days until I officially go back to work, even though I've been in my classroom a lot this summer. Thankfully, my room is looking pretty good! I've still got a to-do list that's pretty long, but most of it is stuff I can't do until I have my class list. Unfortunately we still don't have those... and it sounds like 5th grade is pretty impacted at our school and we all might start with more than 33, which is supposed to be our cap. This has happened in the past, so I've started making sure I have at least 35 or 36 of important supplies. I hate being left one short on something!

My school is TRIBES school, so each classroom has to have a bulletin board with the TRIBES agreements. I created these for a pop of color.

And I'm also a huge Sharks fan, so I like to have some fan memorabilia up. That's my favorite player, Ryane Clowe, in the picture.

This is part of my classwork/homework station. I really liked the idea of having the kids highlight their name, and I got the tags for the homework bins from Clutter-Free Classroom!

On my white board, I like to section off a part of it with blue painter's tape to create a homework section. I like to have it big and visible for all the students to see.

All of the tags I put on magnets so I can switch them out when I don't have a particular subject as part of the homework.

I also do the same thing for my daily schedule, preps (specials), and calendar. Unfortunately, I don't have those portions done yet!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Linky Party

I'm linking up with Lindsay at My Life as a Third Grade Teacher to talk about the things I desperately need for Reading and Writing Workshop! And since school starts in T-minus 18 days, I have to really narrow this down. I don't have a super structured RW or WW time like I did a few years ago when I taught second and third grade, but even teaching 5th, I do like to give my students time to read amazing novels and become great writers.

Reader's Workshop

#1 - An easily accessible library. I used to level my library, and I've also tried sorting it by genre. My main problem has always been that no matter how I start it off at the beginning of the year, it slowly becomes a mess. This year, I've organized my library pretty simply... alphabetically by the author's last name. I bought the wonderful tags from Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files and I absolutely love how it looks. 

#2 - A three subject notebook for every student. I like having the three divided spaces which I have the students devote to these three things: mini-lessons, comprehension, and reading observations. The first two are for what I direct, and the last is where the students can jot down notes about whatever they are reading.

#3 - Post It notes, or sticky notes, as my students call it. I make sure each student has a pack, that way they can make notations in their book, ask questions, look up words... I'm constantly amazed at how useful post it notes truly are. 

#4 - Bookmarks, highlighter, pencil, and eraser.... I think those are pretty obvious!

#5 - Sometimes my RW is when the students get to read whatever they want... and other times it's with a novel we are reading as a class. 5th grade has a lot of awesome literature and my current favorites are: Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone and the Seeds of America trilogy by Laurie Halse Anderson (specifically the first novel: Chains). 

Writer's Workshop

#1 - Another three subject notebook which my students divide by: mini-lessons, vocabulary & spelling, and grammar.

#2 - A black and white composition notebook. This is the journal my students use in class, for Quickwrites or power writes (A concept I recently came across in Jeff Anderson's 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know). 

#3 - A plastic folder with pockets and a fasteners. I usually give the students a variety of handouts that I want them to keep with them whenever they are working on a writing piece whether it be a story or an essay. I'm a huge fan of Five Star folders, and I'm always looking for a deal on them. 
Mead® Five Star® Stay-Put Folder (Item # 34030)34030

#4 - Post it notes! Love them! They are great for editing and revising.

#5 - Pencil, highlighter, and a blue pen. I like my students to use blue pens when they are in the revising stage, as it lets them see things clearly. I've used red in the past, but I've found that the blue doesn't look as drastic. 

#6 - Music. I love playing classical music while my class is writing. I alternate between Bach, Beethoven, Pachibel ... as long as it is soothing. My students always ask for pop music, but I only play that during art time. Writing takes a lot of thinking, and classical music helps them relax. 

What about everyone else? Any must haves?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I have to say, I'm really loving creating files for my Teacher's Notebook shop, especially using Powerpoint! I might be a total nerd, but I love making more creative ways to display the information we all seem to need.

I just uploaded some Welcome Signs for grades K-12. 

The picture above will take you to the file where you can see a few examples. I'm also thinking of creating one for those of us who teach specific subjects. If you have a certain subject you'd like to see included leave me a comment below!

Friday, August 3, 2012


I'm linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade and as summer comes to a close, here's my Currently...

I still have three weeks until I have to report back to school, officially, though I've been in there sporadically organizing as much as I can. I'm meeting up with a grade level teammate next week to start planning. It's officially the end of summer.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Teachers Notebook

I'm sure you've seen this on other blogs, but Teachers Notebook is running a large Back to School Bonanza to help raise money for teachers, so that they may purchase great school items from fellow teachers. I recently opened up a shop on Teachers Notebook, with both free and items for sale... and I've bought several things from other teachers' shops. It's a great marketplace for teachers!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sign Up Genius

I may be late to the party on this one, but... have you guys seen Sign Up Genius? How fabulous is this site?

If you're like me, you're probably already thinking about all of the various things you need to have ready for your Back to School Night. Usually I have several clipboards floating around my room where I ask parents to sign up for various activities, volunteers, conference times, the list goes on and on and on.

I also already made one for Parent Teacher Conferences which we have in November. I've always liked to allow parents to sign up ahead of time, simply because if they can get it on the calendar early, their more likely to remember to come!

Another thing I love about this site... you can send automatic reminders to your parents, a select amount of days before they are scheduled to be there! I'm sure we've all sat in our classroom when a parent forgot about a scheduled conference, so to have the site handle it for you... without you having to remember! What a relief!

You can also use it for parties, letting parents sign up for certain food or drinks to bring in. Your room parent can also utilize the site, if you want them to be in charge of important events. The possibilities are endless... Needless to say, I'm a huge fan.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Linky Party

So this is my first Linky Party! I decided to jump on the one started by Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies because we all have so much to do before school starts! I've been in my classroom this week, so I've accomplished a few on my list, but there is always more!

  1. Finish setting up my teacher binder
  2. Order my lesson plan book. I keep waffling on whether or not I want to purchase one from Erin Condren. Thoughts?
  3. Setup my classroom Elmo and projector
  4. Get Back to School stuff ready
  5. Finish my classroom website
  6. Set up class blog (about 50% done)
  7. Year at a Glance planning
  8. Set up Writer's Notebook mini lessons and layout
  9. Organize students' supplies 
  10. Anchor chart binder (Pinterest)
  11. Set up homework section of white board
  12. Set up class schedule
  13. Meet with fellow 5th grade teachers to plan 
  14. Wilcox Crew sign for front door
I'm sure there is more that I'm forgetting but those are the ones looming large in my head!
Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies

Work in Progress

I finally was able to get into my classroom this week! I moved grade levels from kindergarten, back up to 5th grade! So I wasn't necessarily looking forward to unpacking all of my belongings. One nice thing was... my classroom was empty all last year so my principal let me keep up all my paper and borders! What a time saver that was! So the paper you see is the same fadeless paper I've had up since the 2009-2010 school year! I do love fadeless paper, especially because my classroom has such huge walls.

While I'm no where close to being done, I've at least made progress. My main focus was unpacking all the boxes and getting them put away.

Once I did that I was able to work on setting up my class library (a huge undertaking every year!), class supply area, and homework area. I love the look of it so far, the labels really make the area look organized and put together!

I've also discovered some of the letters had an abundance of books, like "R" and "M", while others like "I" had zero. I ended up combining quite a few so that I could utilize more space. I still have a lot of books that I didn't even have room to put out, but I figure I can switch some out around the holidays so my class can have more choices.
I'm so glad I found those labels at Ladybug's Teacher Files... she has great stuff!

I had to adapt and add some of my own, like Rick Riordan and JK Rowling. Their series, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are hugely popular in 5th grade and I try to have multiple copies so students can read them. I also included a couple of bins for storybooks, because I know sometimes my students just want to relax with a quick read, rather than a chapter book.

I still have quite a bit to do, but it's slowly coming together. Between putting my classroom back together, and working on finishing my Masters, I'm busy but it's worth it!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Teacher's Notebook

I've recently opened my own shop at Teacher's Notebook. I only have a few things up so far, some are free and some are fora small fee. I'd love you to check it out! Hopefully you'll find something on there that you can use.

I just downloaded the trial version of Microsoft Powerpoint 2010, so I could work on making new items, giving them a more professional feel, as well as easily converting them to PDFs. I only have the trial for 2 months, so I'm trying to get my use out of it. Overall I really like the way Microsoft has updated everything. Makes it very user friendly. It's fun to redesign some of my old files to make them more appealing.

Who ever said teacher's have summers off?

Also, I finally ventured to my classroom today for the first time since I moved classrooms. I'm slowly working on unpacking boxes and getting it set up the way I'd like. My mom is coming with me tomorrow to help. Every year she helps organize my desk... what a way to start the year off! Thank goodness!

Once the classroom is all set up, I'll post some before and afters. I've discovered that after teaching for 8 years, and 4 different levels, I've accumulated a ton of stuff. The one good part of moving classrooms so often, I have a chance to downsize a lot, but unfortunately since I'm still not set in my grade level, I can't throw everything from lower grade levels away... because I know when I do, I'll be back there and wishing I had it again.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Wow! What a return to my blog after a very successful two days at the Google Apps for Education Summit! Ms. G in Grade 3 has awarded me the Versatile Blogger award.

There are 7 rules that go along with it. 

1)  Thank the blogger who nominated you!  
2)  Include a link to their site.  
Thank you so much, Ms. G in Grade 3

3)  Include the award image in your post.

4)  Give 7 random facts about yourself.

#1- I am a huge hockey fan. My brother played hockey growing up and many of my weekends as a kid were spent at hockey tournaments. As such, I am a huge San Jose Sharks fan, even when it's painful!

#2- I know tons of useful pop trivia. If my area had a good pub trivia league, I'd be there in a heartbeat.
#3- I come from a really small family. My entire extended family is 17 people. I only have 3 first cousins.
#4- I'm almost through with my masters program. When I graduated in September, I'll have a Masters in Teaching with a specialization in Educational Technology from National University
#5- I have a Diet Coke addiction, like many do with coffee. If I don't have a DC by lunchtime, it'll be a rough day.
#6- My first car in high school was my dad's '66 mustang. When he sold it a couple of years ago, I was heartbroken. Now I drive a 2004 mustang instead!
#7- I have a serious sweet tooth... but mainly for fruit candies. My house always has skittles or starbursts or mambas.

5)  Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
6)  When nominating, include a link to their site.

7)  Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cricut Confessions

About a year ago I inherited a Cricut from one of my friends after she won it as a prize at a craft and scrapbooking party. She had never used it, so she passed it along to me! Now, since I'm not really a scrapbooker, I never found a good use for it.

I've come to realize how short sighted I was! Every since I started checking out all these wonderful teacher blog sites I see how useful it could be to a teacher!

There's only one problem... I don't really know how to use it. I know, I know... it's crazy!

So that's one of my goals for this summer. Learning to use my cricut so that I can find fun ways to use it in setting up my classroom.

Cricut Craft Room

Have any tips or ideas for me? Please let me know! I welcome any suggestions!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Thank You to Ladybug Files

Since I've started working on my blog, I have become hugely indebited to Kristen over at! She is such a tremendous help to a first time blogger as she explains things so well, and her overall design of her own blog gives you something to strive for!

In my Free Files page you'll see I've incorporated her lesson on creating thumbnail galleries. Her steps are easy to follow and the finished product makes your blog much more appealing to the eye! I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so this is right up my alley!

Check our her site if you haven't yet! It's amazing!

Google Apps in Education

One of the best parts of living in the Bay Area is the abundant amount of technology all around. This Thursday and Friday I am attending the First Annual Google Apps in Education conference in Santa Clara, California. I'll be heading down with a colleague, and it's set to be 2 days of lectures and workshops to find ways to utilize all the technology Google has to offer in the classroom.

Since I'm kind of a technology nerd, I'm beyond excited to get to learn new ideas and see the best ways to use them in my classroom. There are 8 different sessions, and we get to choose from a wide variety of topics. Some of the sessions are even being presented by colleagues from my school district. We have two teachers who are Google certified teachers, so they are constantly doing things with Blogger, Picasa, etc. It will be a thrill to learn from them.

I'm teaching 5th grade this year, and I'm always looking for new ideas to get my students more involved. I'll be starting a class blog with my students, which I've been contemplating for some time, and I know this conference will give me a great amount to choose from.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My intro to blogging

I'm brand new to the world of teacher blogging, but I've become so inspired by everyone's exciting ideas. Even though it's summer time I find myself online looking at new ideas and creating my own to-do lists for the upcoming school year. I'd love to hear feedback!