Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Made It: July 6

It's Monday Made It!!! So excited to share with you what I've worked on this week. After you finish reading my post be sure to head over here to check out all the other awesome Monday Made Its!

Harry Potter House Point Containers

As I mentioned in last week's post, my classroom theme for this upcoming year is Harry Potter. One of the things I'm working into my classroom management as part of this theme is house points, just like in the HP book. To keep track of the points, each house I bought glass gems in each of the house colors (red, yellow, blue and green).
You can get the gems at most places like Michael's or Hobby Lobby, but I bought mine on Amazon because I didn't like the color choices at my local Hobby Lobby. The brand I found were called Gemnique Glass Mini Gems. While I was at Hobby Lobby however, they were having a 50% off sale on all of their glass containers, so I did buy my 4 containers (they're about 5 inches tall and 3 inches wide) to put the gems into as the kiddos earned them. The bonus is that I only spent $10 all together for all 4 containers! After I brought the containers home, I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the crests for each house in vinyl that matched each house's color. Then I applied it to the containers and this is how they turned out:

Harry Potter Name Tags

Like most things for my classroom theme this year, I need to make them since there isn't much really out there in the way of HP classroom decor...including name tags. I went hunting on TpT and on Etsy and found some HP graphics that I liked. The etsy shop I got the graphics from actually has graphics for all sorts of themed graphics so I'll definitely check the shop out again. After I downloaded the graphics, I used photoshop to make the name tags. I had them printed at Staples on cardstock and then laminated them with my Scotch laminator. Now they are ready to go to be labelled with my kiddos names once the school year starts and then attached to their desks. 

Math File Organization System

My last made it this week is more so just a reinvention of my organization system for math, since it was really more just me finding and buying folders to make a new organizational system. At my school, my 4th grade team and I use interactive notebooks for alot of our math instruction. We also have different task card games, tri-folds, center work, and independent work for our kiddos to do as well. This all means I have TONS of master copies of things that are bound to get lost at some point or another. While out shopping, I stumbled upon these nifty file folders:

I thought they were nifty because of the 3 pockets they have on the inside. Now, my school is also a school that uses standards based grading, so I like to keep my materials organized by standards whenever possible, and I thought these would be great for math. I took time this week to go through ALL (yes, an entire year's worth) of math instructional materials, sort and organize them by standard and then make folders for each standard. In each folder, I now have spots for INB pages, assessments, additional support materials/homework practice sheets, and skill review trifolds...basically any and every resource I have for that particular standard. Now, if I have task cards or any games specific to a standard, I just notated that on a post it and stuck that onto one of the pockets as a reminder since I keep all of my task cards and games in one of my storage cabinets in my room. Hopefully this is going to make all of my math planning for the year easier since I'll have basically all of my materials in one place. Here is what one of the files looks like with my materials in it:

I hope you enjoyed these made its as much as I enjoyed sharing them. Don't forget to check out the rest of the made its from this week too (link at the top of the post)!

Also, I'll be posting this week to share about the SDE Differentiated Instruction Conference (since it's held in Las Vegas and I live in Las Vegas, I've gone every year that I've been teaching). If you're going to the conference, leave a comment and let me know!

-- Stephanie

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Made It: June 29, 2015

It's Monday! Plus, I finally had some time to get some stuff done and share for Monday Made It! Remember to click this link here after reading to check out all the other awesome Monday Made Its too.

Alot of my Made Its this summer will probably be related to my theme switch for this year. This past year I went with a fish theme, but I've decided to finally take the dive and go with a theme that I know I will be happy with for several years, so I have decided to use Harry Potter as my theme for my room (nevermind that I'm a HUGE HP nerd). So, here are my made it's for this week:

New Class Rules Display

I'm a firm believer that classrooms don't need a ton of rules to function well. In my classroom, I use the acronym ROAR as my class rules - which works well for my kiddos since our school's mascot is a lion. The acronym stands for Respect, Organization, Accountability, and Responsibility. With switching to a Harry Potter theme, my mind immediately went to the educational decrees that Umbridge starts putting all over Hogwarts during HP and the Order of the Phoenix. So I found a way to word my rules so they fit into the way the educational decrees were written and made the actual educational decrees in photoshop. Then I printed them large enough (11x17) from Staples and framed them for display in my room. A note about the frames...I went with frames from Target that were $10 each, which I loved because they are lightweight and the glass isn't actually's plastic which makes me feel better about what would happen if one of the frames somehow accidentally got knocked off the wall by a wayward 4th grader. Here's a picture of the finished product...

Also, I have the PDFs of the educational decrees here for you to download free if you are interested in using them for your own HP inspired room.

Great Hall Candles

I also wanted my classroom to feel a bit like the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Usually throughout the year I use ceiling hooks as a way to display some of my students work. Since at the beginning of the year I don't have any work to display yet, I thought it would be cool to use the hooks as a way to hang candles from the ceiling so it could look a little like the ceiling in the Great Hall. Obviously hanging actual candles wouldn't work, so I did the next best thing, and broke out my silhouette machine (I LOVE this crafting invention ever). I searched through the design store for Silhouette and found a cool candle template. I used some cardstock to cut out the pieces and assembled them using my Xyron machine (another awesome crafting invention) to put an adhesive backing on the drippy wax piece. I used the drippy piece as a way to stick the flame to the main candle part. Once they were assembled I ran the whole thing through my Scotch laminator. In total, I made 30 candles to hang throughout my room. Here's a picture of some of the finished ones.

Hogwarts Express Sign

My HP theme wouldn't be complete without a sign for the Hogwarts Express. I went to Hobby Lobby and they had wood sign pieces and I found one that I thought would work for what I wanted. I broke out my Silhouette machine again to cut the template pieces out and then painted a red base coat on the wood. It needed 2 coats to really cover the way I wanted it to. Then I traced all the template pieces onto the wood and painted them in. Lastly, I used the gold paint to do the trim detail around the sign. I also got a clear sealer to protect the sign and sprayed it on after the pain was dry. Here is how the sign turned out:

4th of July Decor

My last made it isn't school's something I made for my house for 4th of July. There is a nifty little local craft place near me that sells precut wood kits that you can buy and then decorate and assemble them to make cute things. I get stuff from there all the time, and this latest piece I got was Uncle Sam. I wanted to go for a bit of an aged/antiqued look to it, so I stained all the wood pieces first:

I let the wood stain dry for 24 hours before doing anything else so that way there was no risk of the color of the stain leeching into the decorative papers I planned on using. I found some Americana themed papers and cut and trimmed them to fit the different wood pieces. I also painted Uncle Sam's face and hair and added in some ribbon trim for a little added flair. In the end, here is how Uncle Sam turned out:

Well, those are all of my Monday Made Its for this week. Again, don't forget to check out all the other Made Its that have linked up this week (link up at the top of this post).


Friday, June 19, 2015

Postcard Exchange Launch

Last year I took part in a class postcard exchange, and I cannot tell you how much both my students and I LOVED it! What is a postcard exchange you ask? Well, keep reading to find out!

What supplies do I need?

50 postcards, 50 stamps, and 50 labels. It may seem like a lot, but it's well worth it, plus sometimes the school secretary will provide you with the stamps since it is a class project. You will receive 50 postcards in exchange!! My kids were beyond excited every time I told them that we had mail.

What do I do with these postcards that I'm supposed to send out?

You may choose to purchase or create your postcards you have signed up for the exchange. I sent a design off to Vista Print since I'm from Las Vegas and all the postcards I found just had to do with gambling or the strip and I didn't think those were too kid friendly. However, it's completely up to you. Some teachers in the past have even purchased the cards and then split them among the students so the students can each personally handwrite some of the postcards. There are so many possibilities for how you can decide to do the cards!

I will prepare a label template with all of the participants addresses so you can easily print and stick them on to the postcards to make addressing them easier for you. I'll email the file to all participants in mid to late August.

Your students should have ownership of the exchange by being responsible for creating the message that will go on your postcard. This will help the exchange be more meaningful when your students receive their cards. Students should put facts about their school and class as well as info about their state in the message.

All cards should be mailed by October 31st. I know we all start our school year at different times, so hopefully this gives you a little cushion to fulfill your commitment to the exchange. Please remember that the students do get very excited about this project, so please only sign up if you know you can commit to participating. My kiddos looked forward to getting all the postcards and were disappointed when a few were never sent to us, and I'd hate for any other kiddos to feel that disappointment too.

What do I do with these postcards that I receive?

As the postcards come in, I usually will use my document camera so the kiddos can see the front and then I'll flip it over and we'll read the message as a class. Afterwards, we will add information we learned about the state into our state notebook, locate the state the postcard came from on our class map, and then add the postcard to it so it is displayed for the rest of the year.
Here is an early picture from last year as our postcards started coming in.
In terms of the state notebooks, there are several good ones on Teacher Pay Teacher that you can find, and some of them are even free. This whole project was a great way for my kiddos to learn about the other states in the US, which tied in nicely as in 4th grade we do Nevada state history so these postcards allowed us opportunities to compare other states with our own.

I love this idea! How do I sign up?

Click this link: Postcard Exchange Sign Up. It will take you to the sign up genius for this exchange! Deadline for signing up is August 15th. Please understand that ideally, all 51 slots (all 50 states plus Washington DC) will be filled, however, we will still continue ahead with the exchange even if not every slot is filled, so try to wait until after August 15 to buy or order your postcards.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Made It

I finally have something that I can share for 4th Grade Frolics Monday Made It Link Up!

My first made it is from the art class I went to on Friday. I went to a Design & Wine class and learned how to make a pretty cool painting, and was surprisingly pleased with how mine turned out:

after the basic background was done.

mountains added in.

the completed painting.

Now for my Made It for school. My school uses "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" as part of it's anti-bullying program. Since I'm doing a nautical/beachy/under the sea type theme this year, I was super excited when I found the Carson Dellosa bucket cut outs at Lakeshore. I've decided to make one for each kid in my class. Each will hold compliments/kind thoughts/etc that other students have written to them.

1. Get what you need - xacto knife, glue, library pockets, cutting mat, and the bucket cut outs

2. Cut along where the "shadow" of the inside of the bucket is.

3. Make sure the slit is completely cut...make sure you check it, sometimes there are a few spots that aren't cut through all the way.

4. Figure out placement for the library pocket. I found it was helpful to mark the corners so I knew where to place it after I put on the glue.

5. Put the glue on. Not too much though...just a little in the top corners, below the top of the pocket, and towards the bottom so that way the pocket totally sticks to the bucket. 

6. You can see that the corners of the pockets overhang...thats okay. It gets fixed in step 7

7. Trim the overhang from the pockets. 

8. Test out the pocket!

The last thing I do want to do with these is to laminate them so they hold up all year. After they are laminated, I'll just use my xacto knife to recut the slit for the pocket.

So...what have you made this week? Check out the other's who have linked up for some awesome ideas, and leave a comment that tells me all about your own!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Peek at My Week {7-13-14}

Hi everyone, I'm linking up today with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for her A Peek at My Week linky party. So, without further ado, here is what I have planned for this week:

Monday - We are getting new sliding glass doors installed at my house. We have two sliding glass doors (1 by our driveway and 1 by the backyard) and are replacing them with the Pella doors that have the blinds built inside the glass. So Lowe's will be at my house bright and early at 8am to work on taking out the old doors and putting in the new ones.

This is what my new doors will look like.

Tuesday - Religious Education Planning Meeting. Even though I teach 4th grade all week, I also teach Sunday School at my church. Last year I taught the Sacramental Prep class for 2nd graders who are getting reading to make their first Reconciliation and their First Communion. I'm hoping to get the same assignment again this year, and I'll find out at the planning meeting.

Wednesday - I've been getting a bunch of stuff together for my classroom theme this year, and now I have enough to make the trip to Lakeshore Learning and get everything I need laminated. I'll be meeting up with one of my teammates and we'll make a day of it...laminating and lunch anyone?

Here's a sample of my theme: Carson Dellosa's Seaside Splash.

Wednesday is also the 2 week mark for when I got my tattoo, so hopefully either Thursday or Friday I will get a chance to make it over to Wet n Wild and spend a few hours in the lazy river and the wave pool.

Friday - I'm going to try my hand at being a painter, and am going to a Design and Wine class. The whole point is that you pay $35 and learn how to do a painting over the course of a 3 hour class. They also have wine and appetizers available during the class. Lets all just cross our fingers and hope my painting doesn't turn out looking like a 3 year old did it.

This is the picture I will be learning how to paint. 

Saturday or Sunday - The Purge: Anarchy comes out on Friday, and I looooove scary/creepy/thriller/horror/suspense movies, so the plan is to meet up with my friend Tascha over the weekend to go and see it.

What are your plans for the week? Leave a comment and let me know and be sure to head over to Mrs. Laffin's Laughings to check out the other posts, and even link up yourself!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Back to School Goals 2014-2015

I'm linking up today with I {heart} Recess for her Back to School Goals link up. School (for the kiddos) doesn't start up until August 25th, and even though I don't have to report back until August 13, with all of the PD I'm taking part in this summer I'm already thinking about different goals I have for the upcoming year, so here are some of mine:

Personal: Last year, once the school year took off, I was so wrapped up in reading professional books/articles/etc or working on stuff for school or the kiddos, that I lost track of making sure I have enough time for me to just read for fun. I push that idea with my kiddos so much, I need to remember to give myself that same chance as well. This year, my goal is to give myself a little bit of time each day, even if its 10 minutes before bed to just read a (non-teacher/professional) book.

Organization: On the whole I was pretty organized last year...except for the piles of paper I inevitably always had on my table in my classroom. I would either get it graded but not enter the grades at the same time or get it graded but forget to hand it back to my kiddos, or there would be 50 million things my admins would need from me right then and there and I wouldn't get a chance to grade the work right away. My goal this year is to implement a "touch it once" grading method so I can get the papers back to the kiddos ASAP. One of my teammates and I are planning on doing "grading parties" on Friday evenings each week so we can get everything graded, entered into the grade book, and into our kiddos mailboxes so they can go home on Monday.

Planning: Now that I have a year of teaching under my belt, and I'm staying in the same grade level, I have some plans I can reference as I write my new plans for this year. Having last year's plans as a resource will be helpful in planning and hopefully I can plan at least 2-3 weeks ahead.

Professional: Nevada requires teachers to complete 6 credits of CEUs every 5 years for license renewal. Now even though my license is good through 2017, I was able to complete 3.5 of those credits during the 2013-2014 school year. I'd like to get the rest of the credits done this school year so that way I'm not stressing about them once it's time to submit my renewal application.

Students: We used technology in a whole bunch of different ways in my classroom last year, but I noticed alot of times when I would give my kiddos group research to do, they would always ask me to find things online for them, or just still to their textbooks and other resource books we had in our room. My goal this year is to get my kiddos to be more self-sufficient with completing research online and more familiar with using technology as part of their own presentations in my classroom.

Motto: "New school, new year...things will be better" I loved almost everything about teaching last year. But the admins at my building were ineffective, didn't support the teachers, heavily played favorites, and there was a severe lack of communication all around which led to the entire staff having a depressingly low morale. Working at a charter, we're able to put in transfer requests to our sister schools, and I was lucky enough to get a 4th grade position at our charter's brand new campus for the 2014-2015 school year. The admin team for the new school is amazing (we've already had staff team building days and their communication is quick, on time, and clear). I'm also lucky since two of my teammates from my other school are transferring with me so we'll all be together in 4th grade again. Which is why I keep telling myself that this year will be a better year than last year. 

What goals are you setting for yourself? Link up and share! Or...leave a comment below!

Friday, July 4, 2014

I'm Back!

Hi everyone! I know... it's been an INSANELY long time since I've posted. Honestly, I thought I was going to be able to keep up with posting and tackling my first year in the classroom, but thanks to having administrators from hell an interesting first year experience, I had to put my blog on the back burner. The good news is I am transferring to a brand new campus this upcoming year with two of my teammates (we're all getting to stay together in fourth grade), which is super exciting, so I should have some more time than I did last year to keep up with all the awesome blogging going on. As far as my first year teaching 4th kiddos were amazing and I loved every minute of being in my classroom.

My summer has been filled so far with both teacher-y things and relaxation. School ended for me on June 4. I've also gotten the chance to hang out with some coworkers and it's been nice developing those friendships. In early June, I spent a week taking a class on literacy, and ways to implement a more effective literacy block in my classroom. I also spent a good amount of time going to Wet n Wild, the water park that is about 10 minutes from my house as well as catching up on reading some books (I think I managed to get through about 8 books in June). I also ordered and got my new 2014-2015 Erin Condren Life Planner. I had the teacher planner last year, but this year decided to use the life planner so I can keep track of my school and personal life stuff all in one place.

Isn't it pretty!!!

We may only be 4 days into July, but this month is already shaping up to be pretty busy. On the 2nd, I let my uber book nerd out and finally got my Hunger Games tattoo, bringing my tattoo total to 9. 

My tattoo artist is awesome!
May the odds be ever in your favor! It's a little hard to see with the lighting, but my tattoo is shaded with all sorts of awesome golds and browns.

Tattoo number 10 will also be book will be the Dauntless symbol from Divergent (I'm getting it on my left leg above the ankle) and the plan is to get it next month about a week before school begins again. 

Next week I'll also be attending SDE's Differentiated Instruction Conference. I'll also be at the Teacher-Blogger Meetup that is happening on Wednesday night of the conference. If any of you are going to the conference or the meet up, let me know in a comment below. I'd love to meet up and say hi to my fellow bloggy friends. 

Now, my summer has not all been tattoos and water parks. I have started working on some stuff for my classroom. First, I've worked on getting several more books for my classroom. I was super excited about finding this one:

I use the "Who Was" series for a biography project I do with my kiddos in November. They are each responsible for reading a biography and researching the person. They then have to write a biography on that person and create an artistic representation of the person they wrote about. When they present their completed projects, They dress up as the person they researched and present as if they were the actual person. Parents are invited to the presentations and the rest of the students are expected to ask questions during each presentation. This project was a huge success last year and I can't wait to do it again this November. 

I've also started working on a new set of numbered magnets for my kids for my check in/check out board. I'll post more pictures once I have the whole board completed. I did change the way I made the magnets this year. I finally tried using Glue Dots, and OMG they are amazing. I don't know why I never tried using them before, but they totally made putting the magnets together so much easier, and the adhesive bond is super strong - I tried pulling the glass stone off the magnet and it wouldn't budge one bit.
New magnets that will go with my new decor theme this year (more on that in a future post)

These have made my teacher-crafty projects so much easier!!!

So... I think thats about it so far for me this summer. What have you all been up to? Let me know! And don't forget to let me know if you'll be at the SDE Conference or the Teacher-Blogger Meet Up!

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