Friday, August 31, 2012

My Week In Pictures

What my room looked like last week!

Monday was the first of school for students and we all hit the ground running!  I am amazed at how well students did with adjusting after almost 12 weeks of vacay!  They immediately got into the groove!

As a specialist, I do not have my own class, and my small groups have not been formed yet.  I have been spending time modeling lessons, "pushing in" to kindergarten, and teaching writing to second graders whose teacher unexpectedly had to miss the first week of class.

Here's a peek into my week...

First my classroom... yes, I am blessed to have a mega large room!

Before school started!

Cleaning out the closet!

The vowels are sticky letters from Carson Dellosa that I LOVE! LOVE!

My small group teaching area!

Pinterest- inspired!  graphics:  KPM Doodles

I started my focus wall!!

Graphics:  The 3 AM Teacher

I have the polka dot header cards listed in my TpT store

My alphabet is always mounted at "kid level".  I place it under this bulletin board.  I want students to be able to touch the letters and interact with them.  They can't do that if it is mounted above my chalkboard!

My middle son- working hard on the first day of school!!

Notice his tongue!!

My youngest... still in shock that summer vacay is over!

The view from my window.  It looks out onto the playground.  The picturesque farm, the sight of kids playing, hearing the giggles and squeals of children, and being able to watch my own children play soothes my soul!

Next time, I'll share my incredible week with second graders and how my husband thought outside of the box and made me a pocket chart stand!

Woot!  It's Friday and a l o n g weekend!  Enjoy!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lunchbox Love Notes!

Hooray!  It's the first day of school!  I'm stopping by just for a minute to share the "lunchbox love notes" that I made for my two young sons.  I like to write them love notes and place in their lunchbox to let them know that I am thinking of them and to offer encouragement.  Sometimes I write the notes on napkins.  I just made these little notes for this first week of school.

 If you have daughters and they don't like Star Wars, these are for you!

 And finally, these will work for boys or girls!


Just print, sign your name, and place in your child's lunchbox!

Click here to grab your FREE copy of these love notes!

If you have a special request for a lunchbox love note, leave me a comment, and I will do my best to make one just for your precious little one!

Have a great week!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit

Tomorrow is the first day of school for students. With excitement and anticipation, I am looking forward to seeing returning and new students.  My oldest son, a freshman in college, starts class, and my youngest two sons begin kindergarten and first grade at the school in which I teach.  My husband returns to work after a two week vacation.

I choose to begin the new school year in prayer.  Not in fear of the unknown, not with worry, not with negativity, not with impatience, not with a bitter attitude, and not with a heavy heart.

It used to be a common practice for a group of Christians in my community to have a back to school prayer service for the public school students.  They would then walk the halls of the public schools praying for the students, teachers, and  the classrooms.

As I was remembering this and preparing my heart for a new school year in my private Christian school, I was reminded of Galatians 5:22-23.  As we near the season of autumn and of the harvest, it is appropriate.  What fruit am I bearing and harvesting? Am I bearing fruit? Is the fruit evident to all: my family, my students, my colleagues, my neighbors, strangers?  Where is my joy?  Do I have joy? Do I have peace?  When the storms come raging in, when the drought leaves me weary and thirsty, is my fruit still evident?  Not only that, but is the fruit mature, ripe, and evident to all?

As I reflect, I pray for myself, but more importantly, for my family, my students, my colleagues.  I pray that they will bear much fruit.  I pray that their joy will be found in the Lord and not in fleeting moments of happiness and contentment.  I pray that their faithfulness will prevail no matter what the circumstances.

I made this little mini-poster to hang outside my classroom door as a daily reminder for me and my students.  Click the pic to grab a free copy!

I pray for you, my sweet readers, that you will have a blessed school year!  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Focus Walls, I Need Your Help, and FREEBIE!

Just a week ago, this is how I was spending my days...

Taking a vacation late in the summer, just a week before in-service, was a refreshing respite, helped me to adjust my focus, and prepare for back to school. 

 Speaking of focusing, did you read Martha Moore's excellent guest blogger post on focus walls?  If not, you can read about it hereShe inspired me to take the plunge and begin designing my own focus wall.  

As a reading specialist, I work with varying grade levels  both in a pull-out and push-in setting.  My plan is to adapt the concept of a focus wall for my pull-out groups this year.  I will not know the students I am working with until the beginning of the year assessments are completed.  However, I started designing my focus wall cards around a polka dot theme that will match the owl theme I have going in my room.  Here is a sampling what I have so far:

Frames:  The 3 AM Teacher and Ms. Fultz's Corner
 Graphics:  www.mycutegraphics,com
This packet as you can see includes the header cards and a variety of genre and reading strategy mini-posters.  There are a total of 19 slides.

What would you like to see included in a focus wall packet?  Leave a comment and I will do my best to include it!  My goal is to have this finished and listed in my store early next week.

Now, this is totally off-topic and some of you may think I've totally lost my focus (but you already knew that!  HA!)... I want to learn more about WBT (Whole Brain Teaching) as one of my professional goals this year.  Have you been trained in WBT?  Do you use WBT?  What is one professional book that is a must-read on this topic?  If you have a minute, leave me a suggestion!

As a thank you, I would be happy to send you a FREE copy of my focus wall set if you leave a comment on one or both of the questions above.  Just leave a comment by Monday (8/27/12) morning. Don't forget to leave your email address!

Thanks for your help!   I know I can count on you for wonderful ideas!

Have a great weekend... get some rest, enjoy spending time with family, and savor every minute of these fleeting days of summer!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wise Owls-Posters & Writing: My Gift to You!

Last week while lounging pool side (which comes to a screeching halt in 2 days!), I had a brainstorm (which are few and far between these days). My new theme for my classroom is owls with a little bit of popcorn thrown in.  Strange, I know.  But once I explain it will make perfect sense; I'll tell you about that later once I have my classroom completely set up.  :-)

Anyway, I wanted to create a few motivational mini-posters using an acrostic for my classroom. I used the words WISE, OWLS, and HOOT.  I created an acrostic poem for each word.  

This one reminds my students of good, Godly character that is expected in our school.  I teach in a private Christian school where Bible teaching and principles are integrated into all curricular areas.  I also made a more secular one for use in public schools:

Here is a reminder for my wise owlets of some beginning of the year reading strategies I teach.

And finally, a little motivational poster to let all those cuties in my nest know how much I love them, believe in them, and support them!

The whimsical graphics are from KPM Doodles.
I adore her work and her unique, fun style!!

From there, I designed a quick, simple quick write and owl topper for students to complete the first week of school.  I only have a small amount of time with my intervention students. This quick write will allow students to share something about themselves that they are proud of (a character trait, talent, an accomplishment).  I will use it to assess their writing skills.  Finally, they will decorate the owl template to reflect their personality using favorite colors and designs. This also relates to the grade one, unit one, Treasures reading program theme of "We Are Special". Have students share their writing and owl as a "get to know you" activity and to create a community of learners!

Finally, I included a short poem I wrote to inspire my students as we begin the school year!

I began my blogging adventure in May, and have met so many wonderful friends.  I am so very thankful for all of my followers and appreciate you all!  You have taught me many new things, shared creative ideas, and have inspired me to be a better teacher!  Recently, I hit the 200+ followers milestone.  My goal was a 100 followers by the end of August, but thanks to you, I surpassed that!  
As a token of my appreciation, please click here to grab your FREE copy of my owl writing packet!

May you have a fun and smooth start to your school year!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Where’s the Focus? An Introduction to Focus Walls

Please welcome my TPT friend,  Martha Moore, as my guest blogger today!

I don’t know about you, but about two weeks after school lets out, I already start thinking about the next school year. I always try to ask myself what I can do to make next year even better than last year. This usually leads to a lot of Googling and Pinning.
In this summer’s internet hunt, I came across the idea of a Focus Wall and fell instantly in love with the logical simplicity of this idea. I decided that this is definitely something I need to do in my classroom.

What is a Focus Wall?
A Focus Wall is a bulletin board that displays the specific topics and skills you are currently focusing on. Focus Walls could be created for any subject, but they are most often used for Language Arts/Literacy. 

What are the benefits of a Focus Wall?
1.               Focus Walls are helpful for students (as well as teachers) because all of the information is organized in one central location. Instead of having to look all around the room, or in a few different spots, students know exactly where to look when they have a question.
2.               It can also be used as a teaching tool as you are reviewing different topics or introducing new topics.
3.               Focus Walls force you to keep your classroom up-to-date as you will be changing out most of the Focus Wall on a weekly basis.
4.               When parents or other visitors come into your classroom, they can quickly find out what skills your students are currently learning by looking at the Focus Wall.
5.               It can help create more independent students. Since there is a centralized area for students to find answers to their questions, students can simply go to the Focus Wall to find answers instead of asking you! For example: if you are focusing on question sentences and a student is wondering if the word “can” is a question word, they could simply walk over to the Focus Wall to find their answer.

What do I put on a Focus Wall?
You can pick and choose what information you think would be useful on your Focus Wall. Here are some possible categories:
1.               Spelling Words and or Phonics for the Week
2.               Sight Words- only the ones you are currently working on
3.               Reading Strategy- you can put up the one you are currently learning about. This might remain up for more than one week.
4.               Comprehension Skill- such as prediction, connection, inference
5.               Word of the Day- would be changed daily
6.               Story of the Week- Title, Author, and Illustrator
7.               Story Genre of the Week- also might remain up for more than one week
8.               Part of Speech- could be a definition and examples
9.               Grammar Focus- could be punctuation, capitalization, types of words, etc.

Here is an example of how I plan to set up my focus wall this year. I picked the information that would be most important and relevant to my first graders. I didn’t want to overwhelm them, so I stuck with only 7 categories.

If you are interested in making a Focus Wall for your classroom this year, check out these awesome Focus Wall Cards in my TpT store!
Busy Buzzy Bee Focus Wall Cards

 Also, here are the reading genre and story element posters I will be using this year as well.
 Spectacular Story Elements Bundle Pack
I hope you can help your students FOCUS this year with a fabulous Focus Wall!

I want to thank Lauren for allowing me to be a guest blogger. It was a ton of fun! Thanks for the opportunity!

Thank you, Martha, for such an informative and timely post!  Be sure to check out Martha's Facebook page!

Cover Photo

Friday, August 17, 2012

Huge Giveway: Perfect for Back to School!

Have you heard?  Patti, author of A Series of 3rd Grade Events, is celebrating 300+ followers in a B I G way!  Many other bloggers and Teachers Pay Teachers store owners have donated prizes totaling over $130.00!!
Enter to win math, literacy, behavior management, and clip art resources- everything you need to start the year off right!  I am so very excited to help Patti celebrate and am offering my Persuasive Writing Oreo Style packet as part of the giveaway!
Persuasive Writing-  Oreo  Style!

Hop on over to Patti's blog to check out her amazing prize package for yourself!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Please Welcome Second Grade Nest!

Hey guys! 
I am guest blogging for the wonderful blog of Teacher Mom of 3
My name is Jessica Tobin, I teach second grade in Kentucky and my blog is called Second Grade Nest.

Back to School and Children's Literature  

Today, I've decided to talk about including Literature on the first few days of school!

I was inspired to write this blog entry because of this amazing deal!
These are all available at Kohl's! For only $5 a piece! Getting a hardback book for $5 is hard enough, but I got a stuffed animal for $5, too!! So for $15, this could be yours! Check out your local Kohl's for your set of Skippyjon stuff!

Anyways, including reading on the first day of school is very important for the younger (and older) set of students. 

Here are some fun, popular back to school reads:
Back to School Fun
Teaching emotions on the first day
Back to school fun
Teaching manners and behavior on the first day
Teaching how to be a good friend
Teaching how to be a good citizen

Those are all fabulous books for the first few days of school. Of course, there are zillions more! Don't forget the classics, like The Kissing Hand, If You Take a Mouse to School, Office Buckle and Gloria, Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten.

Tying activities and games into these books is fun, as well. One of my products on TPT ties in No, David and The Rainbow Fish. 
David in Andy Warhol-style artwork

Paper plates with finger paint! 

I would like to give a big thanks to Teacher Mom for 3 for giving me this opportunity to reach out to her audience, too!! It was fun, enjoy the first days of school! 

Thank you, Jessica, for sharing these adorable picture books!!

Make sure you check out Jessica's blog!  She has pictures of her classroom and wonderful organizational ideas.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Giveaway Worth Roaring About!

Whew!  All that TPT browsing and shopping!!  Kind of like this poor gal-

 I was able to scoop up some incredible goodies at unbelievable prices during the sale!  Going back to school is going to be so much fun as I prepare to use all that I bought.

However, there is still more fun to be had! Nicole, author of Lanier's Lions, is having a celebration to mark 200+ blog followers!  YAY for Nicole!  Head on over to her blog to enter a giveaway to win a Starbuck's gift card (yippee!), a Teacher's Notebook store gift card, and a variety of classroom products/packets to make going back to school a breeze!

I am very happy to be part of her celebration and am donating my #1 selling item, The First Day Jitters Activity packet:

First Day Jitters Story Book Unit Lesson Plan

Click the button below to visit Nicole's blog and enter her giveaway!  Congrats to you Nicole!!

Lanier's Kindergarten Lions
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