Friday, July 29, 2011

Busy as a bee today!

I've been working nonstop today trying to prepare for going back to work! The first thing I did was backup all my teaching files. It was LONG overdue! Not only did I back them up once, I did it twice (the OCD in me took over). The good news is if my computer crashes or Dropbox disappears, I know I have a backup!

I highly recommend Dropbox for online file storage and sharing. You get 2GB for free. If you want more you will have to pay for it.

I decided to make a behavior log notebook for my own sanity this year. I want one place to keep a record of any behavior problems that I can refer back to during conferences or other parent interactions. I usually send home a weekly log to parents. I decided it was a waste of paper to just do one week so I turned it into a monthly log. I will still send it home weekly but I will use the same paper for a whole month.I will also keep a copy of the monthly log in the behavior log notebook.

Thank you fellow teacher bloggers for inspiring me to redevelop my parent communication log! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Randomness and a Freebie!

I decided this year I will not be my usual obsessive personality when it comes to little things like folders all the same color. In fact, I bought a class set of pencil bags (30 all together) and I didn’t freak out because I couldn’t find all red ones. I just went with the flow and bought 3 different colors. I’m proud of that accomplishment! The old me would have gone to 3 different stores to find all the same color. Of course the reason I bought pencil bags instead of pencil boxes this year is because the clicking of the pencil boxes drive me crazy (so I’m still a little crazy in my own way).

I went into my classroom today to do some revamping. As I was going through my own personal “Target dollar bins” (remember how I mentioned I was banning Target dollar bins because I have tons of stuff I bought that I have never used) I came across a class set of red pens – Yippee!  

So, I realize I'm a little obsessed with my behavior management plan in my classroom. I decided to make these small rule cards to give out to students when they forget about the rules. I figure I can just hand it out as a "reminder" when my little friends need a refresher on the class rules.

 Click here if you would like your own copy of these rule cards I made. These rules are from Whole Brain Teaching

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Last Week of Summer Vacation

This is my last week of summer vacation. It sure went by fast. I just got back from San Diego. I love the weather in San Diego especially in the summer time. It's so nice to feel comfortable (temperature wise) all day long.

I have been very busy since I got back trying to prepare for this coming school year. Below is a picture of what I've been working on for the past few days. I've been making signs like crazy!

I made a new sign for my window, subject signs for my objective board, new pencil passes, bathroom and water sign language signs, and a noise level sign. The noise level sign was created from a picture I saw at

One thing that has worked really well for me in the classroom is using sign language for "water" and "bathroom". I love that it's all non verbal. The students raise their hand showing me in sign language and I just nod my head "yes" or shake my head "no". I love that I can do that across the room without being interrupted while I'm working with other students.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bulletin Boards - Done!

I dragged myself into work early to redo my bulletin boards. Now I remember why I don't change them out too often. It took FOREVER to do them! It's a lot brighter than what I normally like but it's the sacrifice I had to make for the Snoopy border.

Thanks Kristen from Ladybug's Teacher Files for the idea for displaying student work!

I also put up my math strategies board. I'm not sure if I'll keep it in that spot. I might put it somewhere else in the room.

For the past 3 years I've implemented some parts of Whole Brain Teaching.

I'm still working on the rest of my room. I basically moved my tables around for 3 hours today. It shouldn't be that difficult considering I've been in the same room now for 4 years!?!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

For my "Germaphobic" friends!

One of the best ideas I ever implemented in my classroom was the boy/girl bathroom "pass". Being the Germaphobe that I am, when I came across this idea I started it right away. I have two large antibacterial gel bottles. One has a "boy" label the other has a "girl" label. I teach the students at the beginning of the year that if they need to use the bathroom they need to sign out and put the bottle on their desk. When they return from the bathroom they must squirt one pump of the antibacterial gel into their hands before returning the bottle to the counter.This has worked well with my third graders. I have one for the nurse too but that one never seemed to work out too well. Click here if you want a copy of the labels I made.

Blog Mixer Linky Party

I thought I would give this a try. Yearn to learn is having a Blog Mixer Linky Party. Here's what you include in your link up:

1. A blogger who is a "New Kid on the Blog"
(Let's say someone who has blogged 2 months or less and has less than 200 followers)
2. Post a blogger in your same grade level
3. Post a blogger in a different grade level
4. It's all about the button. Find a cute blog button and post it.

Here's mine:

1.Teach, Pray, Run - I am excited to learn more technology ideas for the classroom.

Can I also count my blog Just Another PB&J Day as a "New Kid on the Blog"? I just discovered all these wonderful teacher blogs in the last three weeks. It's a new hobby for me!

2. Third grade meanderings Great reading/writing ideas.

3.First Grader at Last Very creative ideas and SO cute!!

4. Love it!
The Polka Dot Patch

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sub Plans

One of my goals this summer is to get an emergency sub plan binder done. Most of the time I would rather drag myself into work than write up sub plans. However, I know there will be a time when I absolutely won't be able to make it into work and I should be prepared.

So far this is as far as I've gotten on the Sub Plan Binder.

I guess it's a start. I've been checking out some other teacher blogs and came across this blog about preparing for a sub by Littlest Learners Resources. She has some great resources for purchase in her TPT store. Another resource I came across is from One Extra Degree. She has a sub tub for sale in her TPT store that looks very thorough. By the way, these are both great blogs worth checking out.

By the way, I have successfully gone to Target without looking (okay, I did peek) but I didn't buy any dollar bin items.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Classroom Management and a Freebie!

This is one of those topics I think about every year. The first year I taught was the best learning experience I could have ever had. My first year of teaching was without a doubt the worst year of my life!

This is what happened…. On a Monday morning I got a call from the school I was doing my teaching program at to ask if they could give my name to some principals for the new “teacher preparation program” they were launching that year. Without thinking too hard about it, I happily agreed (all I had left to do in my teaching program was the student teaching). Within two hours I had two job interviews. I went to the interviews thinking that I would just go for the “interview experience”. I had no intention of really getting a teaching job and I didn’t think anyone would hire me. After the first interview I was offered the job. It was for a 5th grade science/math teacher. I decided not to take the job because of various reasons. As the week went on I received four other phone calls from principals in the same district. You see, the new teacher orientation was starting that following week. I ended up going to all the interviews but one and I was offered a job at each of them except one.

In the end, it came down to two schools that desperately wanted to hire a teacher on a Friday night. I literally had two days to make up my mind which school I wanted to work at because I had to start the new teacher orientation on that following Monday. Well, six years later I’m still at the school I took the job at!

One of the main things I missed from not doing my student teaching is the whole component of classroom/behavior management. I found all this out on my own with a classroom full of 26 five year olds! It was a very tough year but I learned a lot about myself and what I needed to do to become a better teacher.

I have tried a few different behavior management ideas over the years. All of them have worked well when I implemented them in the classroom.

This school year, my school will be doing a “walk to read” program. What that means to me is I won’t have the same students in my room for the 2 hour reading block. The students will be constantly changing throughout the year. Those of you that have done a “walk to read” program, how do you handle the behavior management? I usually have some type of visual behavior management plan (clip chart) but I’m not sure about doing that this year. I also usually send home weekly behavior forms to parents.Click here for a free behavior management form that I have made.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Yipee! There's a Freebie Today!

My summer vacation started May 27th but I immediately started a class on June 1st. Although I haven't been getting up and going into work, this class has felt like a lot of work to me! Today I handed in my last assignment and I'm all done! Now, I can truly relax and enjoy the rest of my three in half weeks off.

To celebrate here's a freebie. It's a spelling menu that I used with my kids last year. I call it "Dim Sum spelling". Dim sum is a Cantonese term for a type of Chinese meal that involves small individual portions of food. I hope you can use it!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I'm just saying "No" this year!

This year, I'm just saying "no" to the dollar bins. You know those dollar bins that Target conveniently stocks with teacher supplies around this time of year. I think I bought over 40 plastic magazine storage bins one year. Do you know how hard it is to find all the same colored ones at the Target dollar bins?? Again, my husband can't understand why they all have to be the same color.

You see the problem with those dollar bins is I buy things that I'm convinced I'll use at some point but in the end I just have a bankers box full of stuff I "forgot" I bought. I could probably open up my own dollar bin store with all the stuff I have purchased over the years.

So this year I won't be buying from the dollar bins. I may have to wear blinders to avoid being lured towards the dollar bins and if that doesn't work I'll just run as fast as I can out the door.

Oh, did I mention I live within a half mile of a Target Greatland!?!?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Flash Drive & Pencil Sharpener

Did I mention I heart office supply stores? Since I was passing by Staples today I decided to check up on the Back to School merchandise.

I came across is this super cute flash drive!
No good sales yet on the Back to School items. The SA told me the penny sales start on Sunday.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freebie Pencil Pass

As mentioned in my previous post, I have used a "pencil pass" to help with management for pencil sharpening. You can download it for free at TPT

I'm a newbie at TPT and I hope to add more of my resources in the future.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Pencil Dilemma

Ahhhhh, The great pencil dilemma! Every summer I ponder over what to do about the pencils in my classroom. Should I request them from parents? Should I let the students use the pencil sharpener? Should I do all the pencil sharpening? Didn't I just sharpen 50 pencils yesterday and now they are all gone? How can the students actually write with such a teeny tiny pencil? Do I allow mechanical pencils? Do they eat the erasers?  Okay, I think you get the idea. I have literally lost sleep over trying to come up with a good game plan each new school year. I have tried having community pencils. I wasn't too keen on that because I felt it caused "too many germs" (I am a Germaphobic) and  I was forever buying pencils. I have also tried "not caring" about the whole pencil dilemma but in the end I really did care and it really bothered me. 

Last year I tried giving out a "pencil pass". Each table had one pencil pass and only one person from each table could go up to sharpen their pencils at a time. I had six sharpeners (one for each table). The students passed the pencil pass around the table until the entire table was done. Students were allowed to sharpen up to 3 pencils. After the pencil pass routine was done in the morning, the only other time students were allowed to sharpen their pencils was during recess and lunch. Out of all the things I have tried I have liked this one the best but I felt it wasted too much time in the morning. So, I am seriously thinking about giving out pens this year. It would resolve the whole pencil sharpening problems and the students will be forced to not erase any of their work. I'm looking for ideas. What have you done in your classroom? Has anyone ever used pens instead of pencils?