Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back to School BASH Linky: Classroom Setup + GIVEAWAY!

Today I am linking up with some of my amazing blogger friends to bring you a 4 week linky series of helpful tips as you venture back into the classroom for a new school year!
This week I am going to be discussing some ideas and tips that I have for classroom setup and organization!

Before you even walk into the classroom, it is really a great idea to draw a diagram of how you would like to set up your room. This will be a MAJOR timesaver in the future for you!
***Another important helpful tip: Prepare ahead of time!! 
I know a lot of people don't want to give up their summer by working on anything school related, but it will really help you when you are crunched for time during preplanning and in meeting after meeting if you have most of it prepped and ready to go. Here are some ideas that I prepped over the summer for when I go back to school in a few weeks:
 I always make inspirational quotes based on my classroom theme:
 I place these table numbers in the middle of each table. I make them based on the school theme that we have this year. This year we are doing a space theme!
I have printed my new classroom decor, and I am already laminating away so it is ready to be hung.
I also prepped my birthday cups for the year. This is an idea that I started a few years back. I give each student one of these cups on their birthday and it is a HIT!! They love them!

Here is the blog post about the birthday cups if you want more information! Click HERE to read!
I also made these privacy shields for students to work independently. My teammate gave me this idea last year, and I loved it! They do have some "helpers" on them to aid during math, reading, and writing specifically. I took triboards and cut them in half to create these.

*** When you consider your classroom environment, make it warm and friendly for your students. I want my students to be excited about our classroom. I want them to WANT to come back to school everyday!
I like to make everything crisp and clean looking. Since I haven't returned to my classroom yet this year, here are some pictures of my classroom from last year! 

 As you can tell, I love colorful and bright! Last year our school theme was a rock star theme, hence the zebra stripes. My students were so excited about our classroom from the minute they walked in the door at Meet the Teacher! This is the vibe you want to establish.
As you can see above, I hang my word wall on ribbons. I like the presentation that the ribbons make and the words are super easy to hang on the ribbons.

***Make everything user friendly and accessible for students.
There is a caddy in the middle of each table with pencils, a box of crayons for each student, their scissors, and glue sticks for each student. This provides quick and easy access when you ask students to get out their materials.
I also make Tidy Tubs for each table for students to put their scrap paper in after they do any cutting. Let me tell you that this idea has worked wonders for keeping all of that scrap paper off of my floor!

*** Have everything set up in student desks for Meet the Teacher!
I have all books in their desks ready to go and name tags already on their desks. I attach their nametags with velcro dots in case I need to make any adjustments. This is an easy way to be able to switch any students around. 
I also have a welcome goody bags on their desks, which of course are a hit with my students! The most important thing, like I said above, is that they walk in your room and feel like it is HOME! :-)

Please hop around and read about other classroom organizational ideas from these fabulous bloggers! Also please link up and share any FAB ideas that you have to start our new school year off with a bang!
And that's not it... we are having a GIVEAWAY!!! You have a chance to win some amazing prizes below.

 Please enter in our Rafflecopter below!!

Monday, July 13, 2015

What Happens In Vegas Changes Your Life!!...

Hi everyone!!

I just had the most life changing and fulfilling learning experience this week.
I did something out of the norm for me. I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone. 
What did I do, you may ask? 
I left everything familiar, hopped on a plane, and went to meet a bunch of people that I did not really know in Vegas. Today I am linking up with Mrs. Plemons' Kindergarten and the Elementary Entourage to tell you about my life changing experience in Las Vegas!
I knew last year when I saw how much fun everyone was having and how much they were learning that I had to go to the TPT conference this year. My youngest daughter was only 9 months old last summer, so I couldn't swing it. Around early February this year, I discussed Vegas with my husband and he said to go for it. So I booked it!... cue scary music.
Let me explain myself and the scary music. I am introverted. I am not good with introducing myself to others. I get easily nervous around everyone, especially people that I don't know. Will they laugh at me? Will I be shunned? Would anybody talk to me? AHHHH!!!
As the days approached to the conference, I was very excited, but I was so nervous to the point that it was making me sick. I know it sounds silly, but that's how nervous I get. I had NO idea what to expect. Things changed when I finally got myself into the mind set that I was going to "put myself out there".
July 8th- 7:30 am...Here I am boarding the plane. There was no turning back now.

By the time that I got to Vegas, my mind set already was beginning to change. I was more excited than nervous as you may be able to tell from this picture. 

I met my friend Amy at the airport and we took an airplane shuttle to the hotel. All was quiet on the shuttle and then I said the magical acronym... TPT. All of a sudden all of the TPT'ers on the shuttle started talking and new friends were being made. We ended up meeting up with some of them in the food court for lunch after we checked in. So far so good!

Then I met my awesome roommates!! I knew Amy from Learning LessonsWith Mrs. Labrasciano already, so that helped. Then I met my other 2 roommates, Cassie from Adventures in Teaching and Tanesha from Raising Rigor and Readers-- and we got along great!! 

As I walked through the Venetian, I started meeting SO many people. AND they knew me...lil' ol me! I didn't think anybody would give me the time of day and I couldn't be more wrong...everyone was SO nice!! I met up with a bunch of other 1st grade teachers that I collaborate with & every single one of them were AMAZING!!

Now the moment of truth...the big blogger meet up. And when I say big, I mean 1100 people big...YIKES!! Way out of my comfort zone. Would this be my moment of disaster?
Well... The blogger meet up was EPIC!!! Never in my life have I had more fun! Everyone was fantastic!!! It was so great meeting blogger friends that I have communicated with via social media for years. Like I said I would earlier, I just put myself out there and walked up and introduced myself to people! It couldn't have been a better night.

YES that is Cara Carroll from The First Grade Parade!! Starstruck!! I was also so excited to meet Vera from The Tutu Teacher and Jillian from The Star Spangled Planner!!!
Katie from Little Warriors

This amazing girl right here is one of the first girls that I ever got to know virtually...Stephanie from Falling Into First ! Sweetest girl ever!

The next day, the TPT conference began and I already had the confidence built up from the day before. It was no longer a big deal to just be able to walk up to people and introduce myself. Here are some more people that I was lucky enough to meet from the networking session in the morning!
Jennifer from First Grade Blue Skies and Susan from Thank God It's First Grade!!

And this truly made my day...
I {Puffy Heart} love this girl right here...Kelley from Teacher Idea Factory! She is such an amazing person!!

All of my faves right here! Love you girls!!

What was just as amazing was the TPT conference itself. I couldn't be more inspired or grateful to the TPT team. I was lucky enough to get a picture with Paul, the founder himself!

Rachel Lynette was so inspiring in her keynote. Her story as one of a struggling single mom truly touched my heart as she worked her way up, and it was especially interesting to know that she started on TPT due to an ad on...Craigslist!! It's truly heartwarming to know as educators and creators, that TPT came from being on Craigslist to the company it has become today.
I went to so many inspirational sessions and picked up new tips and tricks from each session. Everything was so valuable! I loved my session with the Deanna Jump and Deedee Wills. They did wonderful presenting together!

My 3 days in Vegas were a whirlwind! I went to meetups and made the most of my Vegas experience. I even won a giveaway from The Primary Pack's meetup. Woohoo!!!
and I met this awesome gal who I've been talking with for years!!!

As quick as it began, my time in Vegas was over. However, I am forever grateful for this experience in so many ways! 
I learned that:
1) Stepping out of your comfort zone is something that you won't end up regretting. It truly changes your outlook on everything. It has changed my perspective on putting myself out there and meeting new people!
2) Hard work and dedication to my creations will pay off in the long run.
3) Find your tribe... this saying has been going around lately and I have found my #teachertribe of friends who I can collaborate with and talk to about anything. We have each other's back and not only are we teachers, but friends.
4) Empower everyone who is around you! This is not only about you or me, but we are all in this together.
As happy as I was to come home from Vegas, I felt a little empty inside to leave after meeting so many inspirational people. Until next year, #tptvegas16!
On that note, I leave you with this final thought as I prepare to move on with my summer...

Read about other Vegas experiences here at the Elementary Entourage!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

It's a Shark Week Blog Hop!!!

All teachers know that kids learn more when they’re excited and engaged. Today a team of bloggers come together to help your students take a BITE out of learning with a theme your students are sure to love! 
  My Shark Week freebie is a word sort that helps students to practice reading words with  r-controlled vowels, specifically /ar/ words, in a fun and engaging way.

Students will read each word card and place it on the mat that it belongs on. This would make a great center activity for students in grades K-2 and allows for students to practice independently. Following the word sort, students will complete a page where they write the words into the correct category to show you what they know.

fintastic freebie

Click the picture above to download this freebie! Thanks for swimming by!

Be sure to continue swimming and visit Adventures of Room 129 next. Click on her button to take you there!

Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a jawesome freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, July 12  : )

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Currently July!!!

Woah! I've blogged twice in a must be summer time!! :-)
Today I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for Currently!!!

July is an insanely busy month for me...but in a GREAT way! I am going to meet a ton of my best bloggy buds in Vegas next week. This is definitely a new, exciting, and a bit of a nerve wracking experience for me. Will everybody like me? Will I get lost? Will I be sitting in a corner by myself? I've decided to go and just put myself out there. I am as down to earth and nice as they come, so why should I be nervous, right?...Right- I hope I can keep myself convinced of that.

I'm listening to HGTV on Hulu right now. The hubs and I just took a leap of faith & decided to get rid of our cable TV. Our cable company raised our bill to $200 a month, so I said no way! We canceled our cable, upped our internet speed, and just have Netflix and Hulu. And you know what? I couldn't be happier about that. There is so much to choose from, so I have no regrets!

I'm LOVING that TPT Vegas is exactly 1 week from today! OMG!!!! However, I need to pack, pack, pack and all of my outfits are currently being shipped in the mail. Here's hoping that they will be here in time! That's what I get for being a procrastinator.

I'm wanting this headache to go away! This annoying headache that I've had for 3 days now! I suspect it's because I've been on my computer a lot lately for one reason or another. I think my brain needs a break!

I NEED to desperately organize my house. We would love to sell our house soon, but being that our house is 17 years old, it's starting to show it's age. We have a lot of painting & cleaning up to do and quite honestly, I haven't been the most motivated lately since I'm trying to reap all of the benefits that summer break has to offer!

My All STAR trait: I am a great listener.
Maybe I should consider being a therapist as my second career if teaching doesn't work out. I love to listen and help people solve their problems! So if anyone needs a friend to listen in Vegas, here I am!! (or anytime if you're not in Vegas!)

So what is going on in your life Currently? Link up with Farley and tell us about it!