Second Full Week Complete!

Happy Friday! I think I’m officially labeling Fridays as my posting days. It’s a nice way to rethink about the week while also venting if I need it. It’s also a way for me to relax and decompress.

This week I didn’t go overboard with anything crazy like art projects or special assignments. My main goal for this week was to keep things as consistent and routined as possible. (For myself and the kids.)

Monday started the week strong. My kids came in ready to learn (which still blew my mind) so it was a nice easy way to start the week. The next few days were like that but then Thursday came.

Thursday was the day we had to take our fall reading benchmarks test. The assessment we take is about 40 questions but the poor kids have to read multiple passages (that are not exciting) so it takes up to 2 hours for them to finish. Needless to say, they were not in the learning mood after lunch.

The afternoon on Thursday was the first time this year I started to get frustrated. (Now I know what I’m about to share is literally nothing! I know, I’ve had tough classes in the past! But after having such an incredible 2 weeks of no issues, I was shocked that they weren’t listening and being a bit disrespectful.)  They came back from lunch, and usually they know my expectation is to grab a book and read to self right away (they are amazing at this) but they came back and would not stop talking! I tried to get them to settle down but for some reason it wasn’t sinking in.

For my discipline system I have a “strike” board. If their name is on the strike board by Friday,  they owe me 5 minutes (for each time their name is on the board) of their morning Friday free time. I usually only have to give a single warning for them to settle down, but Thursday it took multiple warnings and a few kids who got official “strikes” for them to calm down.

The rest of the afternoon was just like this. They were so chatty. Luckily they are such good kids that saying they had to write their name on the strike board was enough for them to stop whatever it was they were doing.

Today was very similar to yesterday. They were high energy and chatty. We had to stop and have a talk about how they had been doing such a great job the first few weeks and how my expectation of them is to continue that since they are more than capable. (I know, they’re 9, they are going to talk and have high energy but just telling them that I was disappointed in the past few days, was enough to get them to settle down.)

I do love this class. So far, I can tell it’s going to be a much easier year than it has been in the past. But they’re kids and I’m a teacher, there will be days that we both drive each other crazy. The last 2 days, were those days. I do love them with all of my heart and I am excited to go back and see them on Monday!

To make today so much better, however I was eligible for an upgrade on my phone, so last weekend I preordered the new iPhone 11 Pro Max. When I came home from work today, there it was sitting in front of my door waiting for me! (I’m a nerd who LOVES Apple and technology, so new Apple products are my toys that make me as excited as a kid on Christmas morning!) It was the best Friday surprise!

Until next week friends!

For more day to day adventures and pictures, go follow my school instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!

First Full Week With Some ELA Fun!

The first full week is complete and I am SHOT!! Don’t get me wrong, it was a great week but man I am exhausted with this new sleep/work routine.

I love my class! I knew that last week was great but that was only 2 days. I got to have a full week of “normality” with them and was able to see their real personalities. I have a few chatty kiddos but after my overly emotional class last year with multiple chatty kids, this feels like nothing! They are also super sweet and thoughtful! I had one of my amazing kids bring me a little pick me up this morning. (His mom is a teacher so that was a major part of it but still, it made my whole day!)

IMG_5764

This week we started our first official reading unit/lesson. The main focus of this week was to talk about story structure/elements. Because these are 4th graders, most of them are pretty familiar with characters, setting, and plot. (Last year, even at the end of the year, some of my kids didn’t know what a setting was???) I didn’t want this week to be too dull and boring for them. I obviously love projects and doing something other than boring worksheets whenever I can so I had to look into my giant reading resources binder.

**Side note: My first year at my old school, we didn’t have the best reading curriculum (in my opinion of course.) The main idea of the curriculum was that there was one main target taught for 3 full weeks in a roll. Meaning that if the unit was on main idea, we taught main idea for 3 weeks. The down side to that, the curriculum gave us NOTHING to use for those 3 weeks. I spent many hours searching TPT and Pinterest that first year finding hundreds of activities, projects, and graphic organizers for each unit. It was a lot of work that year but I have so many great resources to use now!**

One thing that I found in the binder was a graphic organizer that I actually got from my mom (who has been teaching for 23 years.) She copied it from one of her reading resource books she bought from some teacher store (life before TPT and Pinterest.) The organizer was in the shape of a quilt square. I’m not exactly sure what it was originally made for but my mom used it to share books and certain chapters students would read. I used it as a way to share story elements from different books they have read to practice our week’s topic strategy.

They took the organizer and put the title, author, and rating (that they gave out of 5 stars) in the middle. I then had them share the setting, characters, and plot from the book. Finally, they wrote about their favorite part. Once they were finished they got to color and decorate there squares. I did this last year and took all of their quilt squares to make a giant quilt on the wall. I have yet to post their squares this year but most of them finished and did an AMAZING job. (Again, incredible kids!)

This week was a little crazy trying to get back into the groove of things but these kids made it so fun and easy. I am so excited to get back and see them on Monday!! I just have all of my fingers crossed that they stay this sweet and awesome!

Happy Friday friends!!

 

Because the summer is over and we are officially back, I am now back to posting as much as I can on my school’s instagram page! Go follow me at @lifeoftherookieteacher to see all of my day to day stories and pictures of my awesome class and our adventures!!

First 2 Days!!

Happy Friday everyone (and happy back to school week for those who started like me)!!! Oh my goodness, I love my new class! The past 2 days with kids has been crazy and chaotic but just because of the housekeeping that had to be done. My class was amazing with listening, and following directions on what needed to be done. It’s only been my 3rd official first day but this was by far the most well behaved my classes have been with the crazy.

The first day was filled with a few get to know you activities and A LOT of organizing and housekeeping. Our school does this fun thing right away where the entire building meets in our gym before anyone goes to any classrooms. We get to see all of the kiddos, all staff introduces themselves, and then the principal gives everyone a welcome back message! I’ve really enjoyed the kick off.

When we came back to our room, before we got anything out and organized, we sat in our morning meeting circle and I did one of my favorite get to know you activities. I found this on Pinterest a few years ago and have used it ever since. I show the students a roll of toilet paper. (Cue the laughter!) I don’t tell them what they need it for but I do tell them they are going to take off 1, 2, or 3 squares from the roll and then will pass it on to the next student. Most class clowns will pick the 3 (one year I let them choose 1-5 and most of my crazy clowns picked 5) because they think it’s funny. I then tell them that the number of squares they have will represent the number of things they will share with the class about themselves. Super fun and a big hit!

Of course I had to read 1st Day Jitters by Jane Danneberg because what teacher doesn’t read that fun book the first day back? We then did a silly activity where they worked together to draw a silly face. It was a perfect team building activity to break the ice and a way for us to talk about how everyone is different.

The rest of the day was mainly full of getting things put where they were supposed to go and explanations given on all of the little things around my room, like jobs and lunch, and how I do them. Overall, it was an easy first day.

7F7EFA75-0C9F-4FAA-999B-E866FD3024D4
Classic first day of school pic!

Today was still crazy but we got to do a lot more fun stuff. I always have a morning message on the board explaining morning jobs that need to be completed. I tested them this morning by just seeing if they could follow the directions without me prompting them. (Just so I can see who can and cannot follow those directions.) Most of my kids knew what to do! It was amazing!!

Our morning meeting game was a get to know you Bingo. We also used this as a way to talk about how it’s okay if you don’t win, it’s just fun to learn about your new classmates. Again, they did awesome.

I then read a fun new book by Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos Jr. called, When Pencil met Eraser. The main purpose of the book was to focus on friendship and team work. That lead into a discussion on what we look for in a friend. They each got a sheet that had them brainstorm what they want in a friend and what friendship looks like, sounds like, and feels like. We talked about it together and then they started our first writing activity of the year.

img_5657.jpg

I wanted them to write a letter/wanted ad to explain what they were looking for in a friend. I gave them strict directions on writing the letter/ad, where to put it when they were done, and to read to self when they were finished all in silence. I honestly said this one time and they did it! Without me having to ask more than once or redirecting anyone. Seriously, my jaw is dropping just thinking about it now. They displayed their ads on our awesome work wall so everyone in the class could read them.

We then took some time to talk about rules and consequences. I’m big on having them come up with their own rules and their own consequences for the classroom. That way they have ownership in how our room runs and ownership in the consequences for not following their own rules.

We spent some time brainstorming rules and consequences they have had in the past and decided on 6 main rules and 6 main consequences for our class. I created 2 posters and then had them sign both saying they agree to the consequences and rules they created. (If you saw on of my original posts, you’ll know that I also do this when we come back from Christmas break to kickstart the second part of the year.)

Finally, the last activity we did today was a fun time capsule activity. Each student got a packet full of different things they write about now and will see if they changed by the year. The packet had some fun things like, your hand size and foot size that they loved!! It was so fun watching them. I also had them take an empty map of the US and fill in as many states as they could (in 4th grade they learn all the states and capitals) so they can compare it to what they know the last day of school. They then wrote a letter to their last day of 4th grade self that they get to read when they get their time capsules back.

Overall, it was a fun couple of days. Don’t get me wrong I am EXHAUSTED but it was fun! I am so excited for the year. These are great kids and I know great things will happen! The first 2 days are done! Year 3, here we go!!
IMG_5673

 

Assessment/Welcome Back Days

We are officially in full school mode again! School technically began for me on Tuesday but tomorrow is the first full day with the whole class together.

When I was growing up, we would have an open house the week before the first day to meet our new teacher. We could go in anytime we wanted within a 2 1/2 hour period of time. Being a teachers kid, when I got older I would help her during those couple hours. It was quick and easy and then school started one week later. My district now (and most districts in my area) have something called assessment days or welcome back days in place of open house.

Basically what we do is the week school starts (the Tuesday after labor day) those first two days are filled with one-on-one conferences with each kiddo and their family. Families book a conference slot for a 30 minute period of time where I get to connect with them, fill them in on the basics, and then sit with the student and go through all of our back to school assessments. The main assessment we have focused on is just finding their reading level and their words read per minute.

I enjoy the post assessment part when I get to sit and get to know my new kids. I try my best to build a relationship with them from the start trying to know what they like and what they may be nervous about. Most kids come in SUPER nervous and shy! (Of course not all of them, you know what students I’m talking about. The ones who have no idea who you are but are immediately comfortable with you the second they see you.) I don’t blame them in the slightest. If I had to go sit with my new teacher and read to them in an empty classroom right after I met them, I would be terrified. By the end of our 30 minutes, I’m usually able to get most of them out of their shells a little bit.

I have mixed feelings about these days. Like I said, I love getting to know my new kids and getting leveling and testing done outside class time is super nice, but I don’t like meeting all the new families one-on-one because you never know what you’re going to get. I could not sleep Monday night because I was so nervous to see what kind of families I would have. I lucked out this year with some awesome families, but I’m still not a fan. I liked how open house was only a couple hours and then you still had a whole week to prepare for your class. I finished my conferences and had to spend another 2 hours organizing all of my data and getting my room set for the kids tomorrow. But, I got it all done and it’s done for another whole year. Now I get to worry about what’s really important!

 

Here we go! I am ready and excited to start the year with the new kiddos! 4th grade, let’s do this!!

 

New Classroom, New Grade, New Challenge!

Uff-dah (yes that is the Minnesotan in me but that is how I feel!) It has been one insane week with some BIG changes!!

Last Friday I posted about finally finishing my classroom but then was hit with the bombshell, someone in our grade level would have to move from 3rd to 4th grade. Well fast forward to Monday and that bombshell hit me especially hard. Because I am the rookie on my team, I drew the short stick and was told by our new principal and superintendent that I would have to be the one to move.

This was a lot to take in! They were both super nice about it when they came to talk/comfort me. They told me that they were going to make this change as easy as possible for me. I told them that I had just finishing moving into my new room (in the 3rd grade wing) 3 days prior so they told me I could stay in that room if I wanted to. Honestly, that day was all a haze. I had originally thought I was going to move over to the empty 4th grade classroom but as the day progressed instead of worrying about the new curriculum and my new students, all I could think about was moving into a new room. I realized my priorities were not in the right spot so I shouldn’t move.

I talked to my 4th grade team about that decision and they told me they would have made the same choice and there was no reason for me to add that stress! Of course other staff in the building didn’t agree with that choice so I was bombarded with non stop opinions for 2 days. I kept hearing from other staff members that parents will be upset and students won’t like “sharing bathrooms and locker areas with 3rd graders.” I get that some families might not be thrilled about the location of the classroom but at the end of the day it’s what happens in the classroom that matters the most. Finally, I told another team mate about the constant “advice” I was receiving and she stopped it in its tracks. She literally saved my sanity!

After all of the drama dust subsided I finally got to meet with some of my new teammates and spent many hours replanning my first few weeks of school. I definitely spent more time at school this week than I had planned (especially considering it was workshop week so I knew I would be there everyday anyways) but I left today feeling like I can do this. I taught 4th grade 2 years ago, so I know what to expect. It’s just sad that I don’t get to work with the same awesome people again. I was also excited to know what I was teaching for once but I guess I’m made for the challenge.

Anyways… after all of that fun stuff I wanted to share my new classroom that was prepped for 3rd grade but was transformed for 4th grade!

First things first, it might look plain but I love to use tables instead of desks. I HATE clutter. Tables don’t completely solve the problem but nothing gets buried inside. They are also a great way to promote groups and collaboration between students throughout the day. I also added little buckets on each table filled with a mix of markers, crayons, colored pencils, and pens. I found these adorable buckets (confetti themed) at Target for only $1.00 a piece. I have 7 tables so I have 7 buckets, each with a sticker number on them so I can have numbered groups.

The front of my room is not the most exciting but I centered it around our reading curriculum. When I thought I would be teaching 3rd grade, I was only going to be teaching reading. I found many word work, spelling, and writing activities on TPT over the summer to go with the curriculum, so I didn’t want them to go to waste. I LOVE the Teacher Resources confetti theme! I used it last year so I built off of it this year. I found those cute confetti circles with positive affirmations. I am BIG on positive mindset in my classroom so they were perfect!

Next is my new reading corner. I don’t have all of the space I would like for this area but I made the most of it! Our school does AR to encourage reading. The school gives away prizes for students when they earn a certain amount of points but to encourage taking AR tests more and having point goals, I have my own point/incentive program. Last year, AR was new to me so I didn’t have much set up. This year I wanted to have a bright and fun display of the points each student has next to a sign of the incentives for each goal. When a student gets 50 points they will get to take a clothes pin (they are all numbered so students find their class number) and clip it to the sign. As they get more points, they get to keep moving their pin. I found these amazing confetti/neon labels for $3.00 on TPT from Cherry Workshop‘s store. I used the signs in this file for many labels around my room.

I bought these mini confetti labels from amazon for $6.99. They come in a pack of 30 and I love them for my lunch count/attendance taker. I used them last year as well. It’s a quick and easy way for me to see what the lunch count is and if anyone is absent. Last year I struggled with organizing papers for each subject that was handed in throughout the day. This year I decided to buy these drawers from Target for $9.99 each (not the cheapest but worth it) and label them for each subject. This way when my students hand things in, they will already be sorted by subject for me. I also wanted to spruce up my dull walls (I like to put fabric in the background to brighten things up but the walls are so high in this new room that I can’t reach the top) so I put up these 3 positive mindset posters from the teacher store Lakeshore Learning. I love their messages but I also find them super cute!

The back of my room is my favorite. Again, most of these are all from the confetti themed section found at Teacher Resources (also their store on Amazon.) My schedule was made using the neon labels I bought on TPT that also had the signs I used for my AR display. I love the teacher hack of using a push pin wall to display student work in a quick and easy way. I hot glued a push pin to the back of a clothes pin and a number tag to the front of the clothes pin to make the mounts. That is all the work I have to do there. Now as the year goes on when we have a project, I won’t have to waste time stapling or taping up their work because they can easily do it! Growing up with a teacher mom, I would usually be the one to put up and display her students’ work. I hated it and it easily became my biggest pet peeve. So seriously, this is my favorite time saver!

 

Oh man it has definitely been a week and the kids aren’t even here yet. I’m just hoping it’s all is up hill from here. To help take care of with my newly added stress, I got a sweet little surprise today. I have one student this year that I also had in my class last year. Luckily, she was one of my all time favorites! Today I got a sweet little gift and card from her saying she was excited to have me again. It’s those little things that make all the difference! I seriously started to cry when it showed up at school today! Now to enjoy the last official weekend before the year begins.

d455400b-c721-4960-88ca-67dd13f231b8.jpg

 

New Admin with a Bombshell….

It is the Friday before our workshop weeks begins and things are insane already….

Last spring we were told (the beginning of May) that our principal would be resigning for a new job, a few weeks later we found out our vice principal was going to retire a year early. On top of that, the district had just hired a new superintendent for the next year because ours would be retiring at the end of June. This rocked our boats. The school that I work at is a VERY tradition orientated school and a place where family is everything. Our principal and vice principal were clear to me when I was hired that family comes first and building relationships with kiddos is more important than test scores. (Their philosophy was that if you give the kids a positive fun environment where they feel loved, their test scores will reflect that and it did.) Hearing that they were leaving, the same year as the superintendent, was a shock that sparked anxiety for the changes to come.

Fast forward to yesterday and a week before workshop begins. My team and I are sitting in a planning meeting getting logistics planned for the new year. We are doing something totally new this year (that was approved by our principal last year.) There are 4 of us on my team (9 total 3rd grade teachers) so we are going to do a 4-way switch between our 4 classes. 3 teachers did this last year but one left to go to 4th grade so myself and another teacher are going to join in on the fun. The way we proposed our switch to our last principal was that we would do 4 45 minute switches during the day. We would split all of the kiddos into 4 math leveled groups so we would have the high of the high together and group down from there. This would allow us to have super differentiated instruction for every kid. I would be teaching reading while the other 3 would teach math, science/social, and writing/math review. During our meeting, which lasted 3 hours, our new principal walked in to talk with us. I hadn’t met him yet so it was very scary to see him in person. He knew what we were doing and told us it was good to see us planning together.

We left the meeting having everything planned out. We had our 4 groups made based on their 2nd grade spring test scores, we had our first 2 days all planned out on how we would get our kids ready to start the switches, and we had a good idea on what the first few months of school would look like in each switch. What I learned is that, in order for this to work, we all have to be on the same page. I left feeling super overwhelmed but also extremely excited! I love teaching reading because I want to instill the love for reading in my students. What I didn’t know is that my anxieties would only increase within 24 hours.

This year I’m in a brand new room so I went in early this morning to get all of my busy work done. I left feeling confident I was ready for Monday’s meetings and for the craziness to begin. Then the bombshell. At 1:50 this afternoon we got an email from our new principal…..the numbers of our upcoming 3rd grade class is low (which they knew last year) and a 4th grade teacher has just resigned. That being said, they will be dropping a section of 3rd grade in order to have that teacher replace the 4th grade teacher who resigned. The email said that if no teacher requests to be the one to move, a teacher will be reassigned by the administration. Surprise!

My team (and myself) LOST it. Within seconds of the email, my phone was blowing up with different messages from everyone. We were all freaking out. Honestly, the week before workshop begins you drop this on us. Are you serious? What a way for the new admin to introduce themselves. Oh and like I mentioned before, our principal saw us planning everything yesterday. Why was nothing said?

At this point no one on my team has said anything about taking the spot. The scariest most anxious part of this whole thing is that I’m the newbie. This is only my second year at the school so if no one says they’ll move, the odds are saying it’s me. I’m freaking out. I’ve spent my summer preparing for focusing on reading and finding new things to do. I was so excited to have a year where nothing is new for a change. Granted, it’s only my 3rd year teaching but my first 2 years were in 2 different schools which meant that everything was new both years. I wanted a year where the curriculum was the same so I knew what I was getting myself into. Now….who knows. Honestly, I’m freaking out.

We were told we will find out what will happen Monday afternoon. I’m praying it won’t be me. That sounds selfish but I just want a year that will make me feel like a competent teacher. My only hope is that since the 4 on my team put so much effort into our switches plan (and since the school put together a special schedule just for us) it might not be me. Who knows. All I know is that this weekend will be filled with anxiety instead of relaxation. Not exactly the way I wanted my final weekend of freedom to be.

The Life Saving Planner

Happy Friday friends! It’s been another great couple of weeks wrapping up summer while also prepping for the year to begin.

One thing I like to do right when I get my official class list is to organize the basics. The main thing I like to take care of right away is to put all of their birthdays in my planner. I like to have them written down ahead of time so I remember in the middle of February that Suzy’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day. As the year goes on I will then transfer those dates as I write my weekly lesson plans. It’s been a great system but because my lesson plans and my planner have been two separate things there were days that I almost missed a couple half birthdays. This year, I found the perfect solution.

I was searching different teacher hacks on Pinterest (because, of course) and I found the BEST lesson plan/planner a teacher could ever want. I found the all in one lesson plan planner made by Erin Condren. These planners are EVERYTHING!

I purchased what is called the “Life Planner.” The name says everything.

IMG_5434

The planner has EVERYTHING you need all in one place. Obviously, it’s a regular planner. There is a section on the calendar for each month and then a spot for each day of that month.

img_5453.jpg

What is special and different about this planner is that it has a whole layout for teachers for your day to day, class to class lesson plans. It also has another whole section for grades and keeping track of special month to month events like birthdays! Perfect for me!

Ok here comes the fun part, you get to personalize your planner with your favorite design and your name with you school!! Come on teachers, who doesn’t love that!? The other fun part is that the Life Planner comes with stickers for every and any special event you can imagine! It’s literally a teacher’s dream!

I LOVE this planner and I am so excited to use it!!!!! It makes me excited for the year to begin! When you click on the link I provided, you’ll get to see the awesome planner choices from Erin. They are a bit spendy but, personally, I think it will be worth every penny!

With class lists there is one more thing I love to do when I get the updated version. I want my kiddos to come into the first day feeling comfortable around me. I want them to feel like they know what is going to happen and that they know who I am. At my old school, the school sent out letters to the students written by their knew teacher as an introduction to who they would have for that upcoming year. At my new school, we have something called “move-up day” where at the end of the school year in May, students get to go to meet their next year’s teacher and spend some time with them. Sadly, I wasn’t there this past year to meet my new students. Because I didn’t get to see them, I decided to send out a letter (like the one my old school would have sent) to my new kiddos to help them know who I am! I am so excited to send them out so they can get to know me!

0820B8DB-0329-435F-9DFB-1211E260014A

 

Hello August

Happy August everyone! Holy Hannah, how is that even possible? Now is the time of year when school starts to creep back into the mind and DIY classroom projects begin. I’ve slowly begun with a few fun projects I’ll be sharing with you soon but today I’m going to tell you all about the final trip of the summer before all of the work starts.

This past Tuesday my mom, myself, and a couple family friends hopped in a car and drove 12 hours to the Middle of Nowhere (literally.) We drove from central Minnesota to Glasgow, Montana. The part I love about this cute little town is it’s referred to as the Middle of Nowhere, you even can buy shirts with that saying and the town on it.

IMG_5404

My mom and I went with her best friend and her best friend’s daughter who are close family friends. My mom’s best friend’s son lives out there and has recently gotten engaged, so we hopped int the car to go and celebrate with them.

When we reached Glasgow Tuesday night we walked around to take in the small town and then ate dinner at a 50’s knock off Dairy Queen diner called Flip. It was an adorable small town restaurant with only 3 people on staff at a time. We had the classic burger with fries and a shake. Amazing!

Wednesday we met up with the son and fiance and went golfing in the desert like grounds of Montana. It was beautiful but HOT. It was a nice 100 degrees that day. I had never been golfing ever so it was quite the experience but super fun. The scenery was incredible. We were surrounded by rolling hills and mountains with little to no civilization. We then all went to another small family owned restaurant and had fresh deli sandwiches for dinner.

That night we also went to get some groceries and I found the BEST homemade soap ever! I had to take a picture because they were so great!
IMG_5407

On Thursday we took a 20 minute drive out to Fort Peck, Montana. We walked over a bridge that has a dam right underneath. At the time, they had 2 “doors” open from the Fort Peck lake to the opening of the Missouri River. It was crazy watching the flow of the water rush through the gates and into the river. The bridge was pretty but SUPER high off the ground. There’s something about bridges and height that don’t mix well for me. The 4 of us were having fun trying to make a joke out of our actual fear.

We also went hiking around the area to take in more scenery that leads into the Fort Peck Reservation. A few years ago I traveled down to volunteer in the Dominican Republic and there was something about that scenery and this one that looked almost identical.

We then drove back to Glasgow and went to all of the local shops. I love a good family owned home store. Looking for little trinkets are my favorite. I found the best magnet that really seemed to resonate with me!

img_5427.jpg

Coming home we luckily got to chunk it into a 2 day trip instead of all in one night. (I seriously hate car rides.) We got back into the state yesterday and then had to rush right to a wedding of an old friend of mine who also happens to be a daughter of another one of my mom’s close friends.

It was a fun filled mother daughter week. My mom and I never get alone time together so it was awesome to get to experience so many new and fun things with her. I know I’ve said this before but my mom is my best friend and role model in life. She’s the reason I became a teacher and a coach, I wanted to be just like her. It was one of the best weeks of my life and for sure the best week of the summer.

Happy August again friends. For some of us that means we’re a month out from the start of school, for others you might be starting this week, and for some you might be in the middle of your years right now. No matter what August means to you, enjoy it and live it up. I know I’m going to make the most of my last 30 days of freedom!

 

With the school year around the corner, I’ll be back updating my instagram account more frequently with back to school projects, hacks, and classroom decor. Go follow me @lifeoftherookieteacher to be apart of my back to school journey.

Teacher Hack – Pencil Popsicle Sticks

It’s that time of the summer, the school itch is starting to crawl into my mind. I’m starting to look at Pinterest more and more trying to find new tips and hacks for this upcoming school year. I love finding new ways to make class organization easier in the summer. (And anything that is a DIY project is an added bonus!)

This year I’m going to be teaching reading 4 times throughout the day to 4 different leveled groups. I’ll have my own homeroom but for most of the day I’ll be working with 100 different kiddos. I’m used to having one class for the whole day but trying to organize 4 different classes with 25 students in each is going to be tricky.

A fun hack (and project) I found on a Teacher Hacks Facebook page and on Pinterest is a ways to organize popsicle sticks to know who you’ve picked on so far and who you haven’t. I mainly use popsicle sticks to pick partners to read with or to pick players in certain games. I found this awesome hack of turning the popsicle sticks into pencils.

IMG_5377

This was super easy! I painted a pink eraser on one end, yellow in the middle, and then drew the pencil tip with a black sharpie on the other end.

The fun hack is you put the popsicle sticks in  whatever you are picking from (I use the metal baskets found in the party section at Target) eraser side up. When you pick a name you put it back in the basket pencil tip up so you know you’ve already picked that stick. It’s so simple and yet so useful!

To help me organize 100+ different sticks I purchased 4 different white metal buckets from Target. Each of our 4 classes are given a color to identify their group (another organization tip.) This year we will be having a red group, green group, blue group, and a purple group. I bought colored washi tape for each bucket, the colors being the 4 color names of our groups. I taped the top part of each basket with a certain color so I’ll know what bucket holds which classes sticks.

IMG_5373

I’m super excited for this new adventure in teaching but I’m also really nervous. I love reading but I’m not sure how I’ll feel about doing the same lesson 4 times a day. I’m also not sure how I’m going to keep this whole thing organized. For the next month I’m going to be doing a lot of research on how to teach multiple classes. If anyone has any tricks, tips, or hacks that they use let me know! I would love to hear how you manage multiple classes while keeping your sanity and organization!

Goodbye Break, Hello 3rd Trimester

I don’t know about you but I am ready for spring! We just came back from our spring break and I am now pumped for sunshine, flowers, and warm weather! I’m also feeling the effects of the final trimester feels at school.

This week started our 3rd trimester for the year, which means we are officially 2/3 of the way to the end! That’s crazy to me because this time of the year is jammed packed with so many things and I don’t know if I’m ready for all of it!

We came back slow and easy this week to start the last 1/3 of the year off right. Monday was a professional development day so for the kiddos, it was only a 4 day week. At my school, 3rd graders receive swimming lessons as part of their phy ed curriculum. On Tuesday and Thursday this week, they walked over to our high school (which is right across the street) and had an hour of lessons in the morning. This was during my reading and math blocks. The afternoons were filled with their other specials (art, media, and music) and intervention pull outs, which meant that I really didn’t get to work with my class at all those days. Today, we had our “swimming celebration” at our local community center for half of the day and a movie party in the afternoon.

This meant that Wednesday was my only main day to teach. Because I wasn’t on a regular unit for the week, I decided to dedicate my reading block to letter writing (since writing gets pushed back in my curriculum, we don’t have much extra time to fit writing in.) I wanted a fun and light project to do since we were really just getting back in the swing of things.

I found a letter writing activity using the model text, The Day the Crayons Came Home on Pinterest that was exactly what I wanted. I read the story to my class and then we talked about features of a letter. (We have pen pals this year, so they have some experience with it but not a lot.) They then got to pick their favorite colored crayon and think about what their journey would’ve been like if they were a lost crayon wanting to come home.

IMG_4464

I modeled on the board an example of a letter they would need to write. We talked about including what color they are, why they left in the first place, what happened while they were away, and why they want to come back. They were super creative with their writings and really used their imagination!

 

This has been another crazy week. Starting next week we have to really jump into preparing for our state standardized tests that come up in April. I’ll be sharing different reviews that I use and activities we do in order to prepare for these. My kiddos are in 3rd grade and in the state of Minnesota, 3rd grade is the year they begin their standardized testing. Over the next month, I’m going to have to really dig into test taking strategies and test taking rules they will need to use and follow when the big day comes. Wish me luck!

 

For more day to day fun and live activities, go follow my instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!