Friday, August 10, 2012

Quick Update

I only have a few minutes. My sister and I are going out to do some dancing tonight since it's my last official weekend of summer. I spent all day in the classroom and things are finally coming together! I uploaded this cute writing process pencil poster on TpT last night and thought you might be interested. You can get it by clicking on the picture below!

Make sure to come back soon to see pictures of my completed classroom!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Classroom Website

I have been working diligently the last few weeks to get my classroom set up for my new group of kiddos!  I cannot wait to meet them! A few days ago, I sent out my "Welcome!" postcards and included a link to our classroom website so that students and parents could get a head start looking at what the year might be like. Of course, the "flavor" doesn't come until the kids do - but it's up to us teachers to get them excited about going back to school.  I hope the website does just the thing.

You can click on the graphic above to go to our class website.  I've included a welcome, class supply list, and information about me and my assistant on the website.  One thing I added at the last minute and really built up was my Classroom Expectations page.  Since this is my second year teaching and I struggled with classroom management last year, I spent a lot of the summer getting my plan together.  I though sharing it online with my students and parents might be a good idea.

I also added a classroom blog so that the students (and I...) can update with pictures and words about what we're working on and learning in the room.  It's a perfect way for parents to see what we're doing!  And I have a feeling the kids will love getting on there to show off their stuff!

Do you have a classroom website?  How do you utilize it?  Is it mainly for student use or home communication?  I'd love to see it/hear all about it!  Share!

Click here to see my class website.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Back-to-School Fever

It's getting close!  And while I've been spending all summer settling into my new house, back to school time is creeping up on us.  When I first walked into Wal-mart a couple of weeks ago and saw aisles and aisles of school supplies, I almost fell to the floor.  No way it can be here so quick!  I felt like I haven't had a second to sit back, relax and even enjoy the summer.

However, it started to hit me last week.  I am getting into back-to-school mode, which means making things, for the classroom, planning lessons and activities and, of course, school shopping!  Staples has a penny sale this week!  :)

I also started thinking about my kiddos and hopped on over to and whipped up (and splurged on) these cute little owl postcards to send them before school starts.  I hope they love them as much as I do!

Stay tuned for more back-to-school fun!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Summer!

It's over!  I really can not believe it.  My first year of teaching is over.  It was a very trying year, but I made it.  And more importantly, they made it.  I am so proud of my kiddos.  When I think about the kids that they were when I started the year (a month late, of course), I am amazed at how much they've grown up!

Our last day of school was a blast.  The kiddos planned their summer vacations and shared with the class.  We enjoyed lunch in the classroom with a movie.  We had an award ceremony where I passed out their Candy awards (so cute!) and gift bags.  Then we celebrated with a dance party.... they had a blast!  And I won't lie, I did too.  I love breaking it down!

I got a little sappy at the end of the day, in our dismissal line I hugged them all one by one and told them I loved them.  I said I love you again as they headed out the front doors... and I meant it.  I really do love them.  The little guy that I will worry deeply about over the summer gave me the biggest hug I've had all year and his email address so that I could email him.  It brought me to tears.  These kids and I have been through a lot... and I am pretty sure that this is one year no one will ever forget!

Packing up my classroom was a little sad today.  It looks so empty and silent - where just yesterday it was bursting with life.  But, that's the life of a teacher... one class gone so that another can come!  We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we could keep them forever.

Good luck, class of 2021!  It's time to prepare for the class of 2022.  But first, SUMMER!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rounding the Final Stretch

I can't believe it.  My first year of teaching is coming to a close!  Only four days left!  It went by so quickly and while part of me is starting to get nostalgic and mushy, another, REALLY BIG part of me is ready to say sayonara! I've been spending a good part of the last few days cleaning up my room and packing things away.  I've also been trying to come up with the perfect end of the year gift for my dear friends.

I've decided to do a few things.  First, I used my points from the Scholastic book orders to order all of them a new book.  At least I'm encouraging them to read, even if they don't do it!  I am also taking a few ideas I found from other blogs and making each of them a word cloud with adjectives describing them on Wordle.  Today I gave each student a class list and had them write an adjective for each person.  I can't wait to see how these turn out.

We did our award ceremony today and each student received a certificate honoring their special talents and abilities!  Third grade is never the year for a promotion ceremony, but I decided that I'm going to print out promotion certificates and give them out on the last day of school.  My friends are so worried about going to fourth grade! I attached the document I created in case you're interested in customizing it for your own.

What is something fun/special that you do for your friends at the end of the year?

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Classroom Full of SMART COOKIES!

I've been wanting to do a classroom data board for a while now.  I think the students really benefit from knowing exactly where they stand and are motivated to improve their own scores.  I have just been so busy that I've never gotten around to it.  I saw the board below on a few days ago and I just haven't been able to get the idea out of my head.  I pinned it on Pinterest and it moved to the top of my to-do list.

Here's my version:

I used the large board above my sink.  I figured it was out of the way enough to not be distracting, but was also a good browsing place for students while they're washing their hands.  I heard somewhere that kids benefit more when you focus on intelligence and not effort, so that's why I chose Smart Cookies.  Did I make that up?

My board shows students' monthly progress on our online reading assessment program, Istation.  It also keeps track of students who get 100% on their spelling tests (motivation, I hope!) and where students are at on their memorization of the times table and quizzes.  The board also features how students are doing on each of the district proficiency assessments in reading, math, science and social studies, with a rubric in the middle.

My favorite part of the board is that fact that all the data is done by the students' numbers, so they know theirs but unless they know other students numbers, they can't make fun of others or feel like anyone is looking at their scores.  It's almost anonymous!

Tell me what you think!  Do you have a data board?  Any chance you want to do one?  I'd love to see other boards!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Font Stencils for Bulletin Boards


I don't know about you, but I hate the die cut lettering machines at school.  First of all, they are old and they never seem to cut the paper all the way through and secondly, all the letters look the same!  Two different sizes but the same boring serif fonts.  As a first year teacher, I want my bulletin boards to stand out from the rest of the school - and to excite the kiddos that I teach!  (And me, too!)  I know that you can buy die patterned letters from the store, but who has money for that all the time?   Not this first-year teacher, that's for sure! However, an idea came to me this afternoon and I haven't been able to shake it... so I got to work.

 I have a ton of old scrapbooking paper that I never use and got to thinking about cutting letters out of the paper for my bulletin boards.  But I was worried about my freehand skills not being quite up to par, so I decided to take some of the wonderful scrapbooking fonts that I've found online (like "Wish I Were Taller" at and use those and my handy laminating machine to make.... FONT STENCILS!  Yay!

I'll admit.. it took me some time.  But I think they turned out very well and I'll definitely be able to use them for years and years to come.  Here's how I did it:

First, I downloaded the font I wanted from  I chose "Wish I Were Taller" because the letters are thick, all one height and I think they would look really good up on a bulletin board.

Then, I typed up the alphabet on Microsoft Word and set the font to outline so that only an outline of the letters would show up.  I could have printed it normally, but that would have used a lot of ink and those cartridges can be expensive!  To set it to outline, all your have to do is click on the small arrow to expand the font options and click "Outline" - simple!

I printed my letters and cut them apart.  I will say this - they printed very lightly, so if you use colored paper (which I did) make sure you use a light color.  I did mine on a bright pink.

Then, I used my small laminating machine at home to laminate the letters I had cut out.  This worked out well considering the laminating sheets are very think and will hold up for years and years to come.  (I used Scotch Thermal Laminating pouches that I bought at Walmart for around $14, if you're wondering.)    After I laminated the letters I cut them out again.  Again, time consuming, but WORTH IT.  If I had not cut the letters out before I laminated, the lamination would not last nearly as long.

And there we have it - brand new, long-lasting, font stencils.  I cannot wait to cut out my first set of letters from the scrapbooking paper!  The process took some time and hard work, but I think it will pay off in the long run and will be a sight for sore eyes after looking at those boring die cut letters for so long!  When I get my first bulletin board put up with the letters, I will let you all see.    I know the kids will love it too!

Is there any special tips you have - things you've done that might take some time in the beginning but eventually same time later on... I'd love to hear them!