Happy Thanksgiving From 4th Grade

Happy Thanksgiving blog friends. It has been a wonderful day for my family and myself, so I really hope your day has been fantastic too. Even though we are on Thanksgiving break, and when we get back to school on Monday the holiday festivities will begin, I still wanted to share with all of you the fun things we did at school and the great resources I found.

For our school, we only had classes on Monday and Tuesday this week, so it was a quick couple of days. Because it was such a short week, I didn’t really want to start anything new in reading or math so I had 2 days to fill.

On Monday we spent our reading time working on our letter writing skills. I wanted to implement the theme of thankfulness into the week so my plan was to write thank you letters to our Scholastic book sponsors. Every month, Scholastic book clubs have $1.00 books. This past summer I was looking for anyone who would be willing to donate $9.00 so one student in my class could get a free book every month. I was fortunate enough to find 24 sponsors so each of my kiddos have the chance to get a free book every month this whole school year. The kiddos were all super excited to give their thanks and share a little about themselves to their sponsors. The writing took most of our reading time and the rest of our “down time” during the day but it was so worth it! I’ve sent out a few of the letters so far and the response from my friends and family is amazing. They think it’s super sweet that these kids wrote to them to thank them for their kindness.

For math Monday (and Tuesday) I wanted to do something fun. We finished our 2nd math unit last week so I didn’t want to start anything new when the kids won’t be back for almost a week. I decided to search TPT for Thanksgiving math activities and created 8 different Thanksgiving themed math stations for them to do throughout the 2 days. I had small groups of 3 and gave them 15 minutes at each station. They got to 4 on Monday and 4 on Tuesday. I wanted to review the skills we’ve learned so far this year so my activities ranged from multiplication to place value.

The best part about all of these activities is that they are all FREE!! The first activity I found was from Elementary Excellence’s page. The students did 2 different Thanksgiving Math Problem Solving sheets. They had calculate how much food they would need in order to serve dinner to 40 people.

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The 2nd activity was a multiplication game called Thanksgiving Multiplication 5-in-a-row I found on Teacher’s Planet‘s page.

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Activity 3 was a super fun and cute craft called the Turkey Craftivity from More Time 2 Teach. Students solved math problems that were written on turkey feathers. They then got to color a turkey and the feathers to make a math turkey!

The 4th activity was a perimeter and area problem solving sheet called the Turkey Farm made my Mr Frasier. The students were given different perimeter and area problems while they drew out the dimensions of an ideal turkey farm.

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The next activity was a multiples/skip counting activity. Students connected dots that were numbered with multiples of 3 to create a turkey. It was super cute and fun and who doesn’t love connecting dots? I found this activity called Skip Count by 3 Thanksgiving Turkey on Mister Reed’s store.

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Activity 6 was non other than missing factor Thanksgiving task cards. I LOVE task cards and use them all the time! Students worked together to solve 24 different multiplication and division problems that had missing factors. I got this activity from Renee B – City Girl in Third.

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The 7th activity was a problem solving sheet with a variety of 4th grade math problems. The fun part to this activity was that they gave 2 options for the answer for each problem. Each of the 2 answers had a different color. Based on what answer the student got, they used the color correlated on the sheet to color by number a turkey. If they got all of the answers correct the turkey would look like the picture below. If they got an answer wrong, something would be colored incorrectly. The activity was called 4th Grade Thanksgiving Math Color by Number and can be found on Mathmatic Fanatic’s page.

Finally, my last station was multiplication bingo with me, because who doesn’t love bingo?

They did super well both days on these activities and had a blast.

Tuesday morning, before our math stations, we worked on writing again. I handed out a fun writing template that had the words “I am thankful for…..” in the center of the page. I shared with the students what I’m thankful for. One of my teacher friends gave me this AMAZING idea for a poster. I hung it up for them all to read. They felt so special to see their name and I had so much fun watching them react.

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I then had them watch a Kid President Youtube video on things to be thankful for. They then spent the next 25 minutes writing out everything they’re thankful for! I told them that I wasn’t going to collect or grade their writing. Their job would be to bring it home and share their writing with their friends and family. They worked so hard on these and were super excited to bring them home to share.

After our second day of math stations, we finished our afternoon with both Charlie Brown Thanksgiving cartoons. It was a great ending to a fun short week.

I am exhausted (and I’m really sorry if some of this doesn’t make any sense) and ready to get a nap in before the fun of Black Friday shopping begins! Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope you had a wonderful day. It’s this day that makes me remember how thankful I am for my life and for my job. I love being a teacher and love being able to share our class with you.

 

For more day to day action, go follow our class Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher

 

Tenured then Masters or Masters then Tenured?

Recently I’ve come across a dilemma that I didn’t think I’d have to think about for at least another few years. That dilemma is when to start my Masters program.

I am currently in my 3rd year of teaching and my 2nd year at my current district. In Minnesota a public school teacher has to teach at their district for 3 full years and be contractually hired for their 4th year before they are officially tenured. Earlier this week I heard from a friend that her and another (tenured) teacher were looking into starting their Masters programs next year and wanted to create a cohort with younger teachers from our school. They reached out to me to see if I’d be interested and it ignited a series of questions and thoughts in my mind that I didn’t think I’d have to worry about or think about for awhile.

I didn’t think that starting my Masters would even be an option for me at this point in my career. Growing up as a teacher’s kid I’ve heard the stigma behind getting your Masters before your tenured in Minnesota. I always grew up with the notion that you don’t go for your Masters in Education until your tenured. In the past, it has been known that if you do have your Masters, or are in the process of taking classes towards it, school districts will let you go because you might cost them more money. My mom is in her 24th year of teaching and said that she wasn’t able to think about her Masters until she was tenured because she knew she would not have a job if she did.

Currently, at least in Minnesota, a lot of schools are now offering a 5 year program that gives students the opportunity to graduate after those 5 years with their Bachelors and Masters in education. Many of my classmates (from high school) have recently graduated from some of these schools and have gotten jobs without a problem. My college did not have this program, so I didn’t even know this was a thing until after I graduated and had my first teaching job.

After getting the email from my fellow teachers, I started wondering if this was even possible for me. I talked to one of my close friends (who was also part of the original email) and she suggested I talked to our principal. We have a new principal and a new superintendent so she suggested I reached out to find out the new policies on the process.

I talked to my principal and found out that he is totally for whatever I want. He talked to me and told me that the stigma I grew up learning about wasn’t true anymore. He told that me that if I think I can handle it, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t go for it.

What do all of you think? My whole blog is based on being a rookie teacher and I definitely feel like one now because I don’t know what to do. When did you get your Masters in education? Was it before or after you were tenured? What is your advice for me?

After I heard this great response from my principal, I started to get super interested and excited that this is a possibility for me at this point in my career. The only thing is, I’m kinda nervous to get this all going! I could really use some experienced advice.

 

For more day to day action and activities, go follow my teacher/class’s Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!

Adjective Aliens and Nighttime Aligners

Happy Friday!!

This year I am currently teaching grammar to my class along with 2 other classes. When I was growing up I HATED grammar so as the sole teacher teaching grammar to 75 students this year, I wanted to make it as exciting as I possibly could.

This week started the second round of grammar with my class. We are started this round by focusing on adjectives. Now these kids should have been working with adjectives since they were in kindergarten BUT for some reason adjectives, adverbs, even verbs and nouns are hard for them all to remember.

Yesterday we started by reviewing what nouns are followed by practicing describing nouns, AKA using adjectives. I then went on Youtube and played the School House Rock “Unpack your Adjectives” song. I shared with them how I listened to that song and watched that music video when I was their age and sang along with them.

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Once we finished reviewing nouns and adjectives I handed out an adjective challenge worksheet I found for free on A Classroom for All Seasons‘ TPT store. They had to fill out all the adjectives they could think of that fit certain categories.

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Today we did a quick review on what we talked about yesterday and then I handed out a fun activity I found on Pinterest when I searched “adjective activities.” They got to create their own “Adjective Alien.” They each got a sheet that had them fill in different adjectives to describe how many body parts their alien would have and what certain body parts would look like on their alien.

Once they finished filling out their sheet, they got to draw their own alien based on their information sheet. It was so fun and they were so cute! It was a nice easy way to end our Friday.

It was a long week and I’m so happy it’s the weekend. A fun cold has been going around the classroom and I finally caught it. I am ready to lay on my couch all weekend!

Sidenote: My Smile Direct Club nighttime aligners have officially come in the mail and I’m 10 months closer to my teeth being straight again!

 

For more day to day lessons and activities, go follow my school/teacher instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!!

Merry Halloween

Happy post Halloween week friends. I know Halloween and teaching don’t always go hand in hand but I’ve learned that if you embrace the day for what it is, you can still have a successful day of school. I knew what standards/lessons I had to teach the day of Halloween so I did some major planning on how to make it valuable but fun. (We also had some fun activities mixed in that was just for the excitement of the day!)

Kiddos entered the room and had 2 different Halloween morning work sheets ready for them to work on. I got these 2 free morning work sheets on TPT. One sheet was a Halloween word search from Melissa Fjal – Tales of Teaching‘s store. There are a ton of free word searches to download but I thought this was the perfect one for the age of my kids. I also had a Halloween secret message sheet for them to fill out that I got from D Conway‘s store. They were both huge hits and kept my kids silent for the first 10 minutes of the day (which they’re supposed to do every other day with their morning work but it’s NEVER silent.)

 

 

We then had our daily morning meeting. We talked about the day and then went around to share what they were going to be for Halloween. I always start the day with a game so they asked if I had a Halloween game for them after they shared their costumes. I had 24 different Halloween charade cards that they got to pick from. We then played rounds of Halloween charades throughout the day. They LOVED this and it was super easy for me to set up.

Reading this week was all about finding the author’s purpose of stories and texts while also talking about similes and metaphors. We read one of my FAVORITE Halloween books, Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown and found the author’s purpose of the story (which wasn’t too difficult for them but it was fun!)

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After the story we went around the room and completed some Halloween simile and metaphor task cards (that I got for FREE on Teaching with a Mountain View‘s shop ). They thought had so much fun reading all of the different themed cards and totally grasped the different between similes and metaphors.

 

 

Math this week was all about prime numbers and multiplicative comparison stories. I searched the glorious TPT and found a FREE resource that fit BOTH of what we have been working on from I HEART 4th Grade‘s store. It was perfect.

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I am currently teaching grammar to 3 different 4th grade classes and wanted to spice up our lesson on sentence fragments. This was the 3rd time I taught this lesson and wanted to do something similar that I did with my first 2 classes. The first 2 classes did some sentence fragment task cards so I found Halloween sentence fragment task cards for $3.00 on Purple Palmetto‘s store for this group. Once they were done they did a Halloween themed mad lib to practice nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

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Finally, the day ended with the Charlie Brown classic, The Great Pumpkin. I LOVE that movie and show it every year, not just for them, but for me too!

 

 

I also got the pleasure of giving them their second sponsored Scholastic book that came in the mail. They were so excited and grateful for the free gift. Like I said last month, the dollar monthly Scholastic Book Club books are amazing and a blessing. My kids get a free book every month while learning about who their sponsor is and how they are related to me. It was so sweet to see their happy faces. It was the perfect ending to the day.

 

 

I jokingly told them if they brought me candy (specifically Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) I would give them extra credit. Then this happened today….

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I love my job!

Don’t get me wrong after yesterday I was EXHAUSTED and am so happy it’s the weekend, but I had a blast with the day. I love my class. They make everything much more enjoyable and less stressful. With the end of Halloween means the beginning of my favorite 2 months of the year!! The next couple of months will be filled with so many fun activities and lessons that I can not wait to do and share! To get you all in the mood for the most wonderful time of the year, I’d like to share my wonderful tree that, yes, I put up last night because I love Christmas so much! Happy weekend!

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For more day to day activities and lessons, go follow my class instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher. You won’t regret it!

 

Crazy Scheduled Week

I’m a day late but I’m here to share so many different things that happened this week. This is a week that was fast but long at the same time. The week itself went by fast but the days themselves seemed like they lasted forever.

Monday and Tuesday were normal days and went by relatively fast. Wednesday was insane! On Wednesdays, teachers have to be in PLC meetings for an hour, which ends up going 15 minutes past when school starts. For those 15 minutes, students go to the gym and have a mini assembly with our school counselors. It’s a great thing in theory but students leave this assembly hyped and it usually takes another 15 minutes to get them settled in for the day. That right there takes up 30 minutes of our Wednesdays. This past Wednesday I was stressed because I was supposed to be having my 1st observation of the year with my new principal. Luckily, my class was awesome and calmed down right away (I also may have put the fear of behaving in them ahead of time but that’s beside the point.) I had this great lesson for my observation but my principal warned me he might be a little late. I waited as long as I could for him but eventually had to start teaching without him there. He ended up walking in as soon as my lesson was over and my students were doing the activity that went with the lesson.

Later that day we had our make up race that we had to postpone from last Friday due to weather. We had our races scheduled for the afternoon. The morning was beautiful but, of course, it started to rain when we went out for our race. After the running, we have a grade level tug-a-war tournament. Each class goes against every other class until we have the tug-a-war champions. This and the race take about an hour and a half. Because of this, I obviously didn’t have our afternoon planned. Because of the weather, we were only outside for the race and had to cancel the tug-a-war. That meant that when we went back inside, we had an hour to kill that wasn’t planned. We had a snack and did some cleaning. I then read to them for the remainder of our day.

**Side note: If you are a teacher, or have kiddos around the age of 10, I have the PERFECT read aloud suggestion for you!! The book series is called The Land of Stories written by Chris Colfer. It’s about these 11 year old twins who fall into their grandma’s fairy tale book (called the land of stories) and have to find their way home. They go through this crazy journey while also meeting their favorite fairy tale characters. The best part is this is a 6 book series. The past few years I’ve read the first 3 books to my classes and they have LOVED it. They get so hooked they want to read the second half of the series to themselves. Seriously, go look it up! It’s also super funny and has a lot of adult humor hidden inside so it makes it entertaining to the adult reader as well.**

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Thursday was a semi-normal day. The only change was that in the afternoon we had our annual walkathon during our kids’ specialist time. Our walkathon is our fundraiser for school activities, playground equipment, app subscriptions, etc. Students are asked to ask 5 different people to donate $5.00 to help their school (we call this “Strive for 5.”) They then spend one hour on our walkathon day walking around the track at our local high school (which is the backyard of our elementary school) as their way to make the most of the money the donated. In my opinion, it’s a fun fundraiser and gives the kids a chance to do something to help their school. They aren’t required to donate any money (which I like because I hate asking anyone for money) but they all get to participate in the walk. It’s a great class bonding activity and a great way to get everyone in the school active for a day. Teachers are asked to walk for half of the hour their students are out there. I love that part. It’s so fun to just talk to your students without worrying about teaching or meeting any standards. At the very end of the grade’s time, our phy ed teachers lead them through a couple different dances to do all together. We did the Cupid Shuffle and the Hokie Pokie. It was so fun!

Friday was an early release for the students so we could have an afternoon of staff development (focusing on our individual growth plans for the year….so much fun) so it was another crazy day. I wanted to do something fun since we didn’t have as much time for things as normal. I decided that we were going to do some major multiplication facts review.

Last year in 3rd grade, they learned all about multiplication. The only problem was that after the summer, some don’t remember their facts. We needed to review these so I thought a half day would be the perfect day to do this.

I set up 4 different multiplication stations for us to do instead of our usual new math lesson. Before we did any stations we played a multiplication “I have, who has” game (I bought the game for $2.25 from TchrBrowne’s store.) I timed them so we could have a starting point on how fast they could get through the game with their basic facts. I then split them into 4 different groups to switch between 4 15 minute stations. The stations included; multiplication bingo with me, an October multiplication packet (First Tries and Sunny Skies store), a choice between 2 different multiplication games (Multiplication Squares from Flying through Fourth‘s store and Multiplication Connect 4, also from Flying through Fourth ‘s store), and 2 different multiplication IXL assignments done on their iPad.

Once we finished the stations we played “I have, “who has” again and they dropped their time by a whole minute. They did awesome! My plan is to continue this game throughout the year so they become experts at their facts.

This week was fast but slow. The crazy days Wednesday-Friday threw it all off. It’s weird because days when the schedule is different, it should seem faster, but in reality the day is so much slower.

I am exhausted and ready to sleep in tomorrow as late as possible. I honestly can’t wait, however to be back on Monday. I love this class. They are so amazing and sweet. I have had 2 hard classes (each hard in their own way) the past 2 years, so this year, compared to that, these kids are a piece of cake. Happy weekend friends!

 

For more day to day action, pictures, and videos, go follow my teacher instagram page @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!)

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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!!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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