Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday... kinda Made It: Paper Version


That feels so good to say. I love my new little nephews so much! They entered this world last Wednesday so I've been spending lots of time at the hospital with them over the last 5 days. They will be there a little while longer before they get to come home, but they are doing well and are so perfect.

Oh and we went and looked at houses last Thursday. And I realized I don't like house hunting. Too much stress and geesh- house are moving like hot cakes right now! We are going out later today as well. #wishmeluck

With all of that, I didn't have a whole lot of extra time to work on things for next year, but I'm totally ok with that! That is one reason why I did so much right out of school because I knew that this was going to happen!

I'm making the switch to paper- meaning- a lot of my school focus is now on getting things ready for the school year in terms of activities and resources for Open House. Other projects will creep in too, but I want to get these monkeys off my back.

First Up:
(1) Covering Up a Boo Boo

My room use to have a projector screen until the SMARTboard was installed and they ripped the screen off the wall. This was all before I even showed up in my classroom 3 years ago. I've always tried to hid it because it looks rough. And the best solution: bulletin board border!

I added some of my new Show 5 reminders and it fixes my problem!

And now... for the beast that I've been slaying on for over 3 weeks

One of my goals this year is to try to connect our learning to other other learning and make things as cohesive as possible. So we are starting right off the bat!

You know how when you go back to school you find it necessary to review things like: When do I get to use the bathroom? What should I do after I do my lunch count in the morning? Why is it important to be a good classmate?

AS much fun as it would be to simply sit there and spew it all out at them, I made a variety of activities to do all that reviewing through the use of text structures while making it interactive as well. You might be wondering how this works...

(to save me time, here are the images from my preview of this resource to hopefully fill you in)

I'm excited to review and discuss important school protocols, scenarios, and questions through these activities, while also exposing my students to important content that will hopefully help when we begin to discuss our reading. Visuals and colors are included... because I'm big on that.

Here's a closer look at each type of activity:

And when we are ready to apply these structures to text, we'll visit these little beauties that I made a little while back.

You may want to head over to my Facebook page to "check them out." Just saying.

I'm off to go take a gander at what other creative things people came up with this week over at Tara's blog and you should too!!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Improvements and Announcements

I've got to do a little something right now to get my mind off of all the AMAZING crazy personal excitement over here that I can't wait to share with you all... seriously, the last 48 hours have been a whirlwind and I'm wondering what the next 24 have to offer.

Because I couldn't sleep and I have a little time to waste, I thought I'd fill you in on a few other things in terms of this little blog and the upcoming school year! If you remember ANYTHING from my Monday Made It posts, you'll remember that I am NOT patient. And that goes for things other than waiting for paint to dry or using transfer paper for my vinyl. That whole no-patience thing oozes into other facets of my life including waiting on details for your future. But I guess that's probably normal, right?

Ok, enough. Onto what this post is really about.

I'm linking up with Angie and Ashley for their:

I can't turn my teacher brain off. Well that's a lie- I can when other things fully occupy my mind that excite me, but it's very hard to do willingly. So you bet I've been thinking on things to improve- heck- I've been thinking about things to improve for next year at the start of this past year!

I've kinda broken it down into a few categories: Classroom Environment, Classroom Content, Classroom Teaching (I felt I had to keep the whole "classroom" piece but really, it's a improvement about my teacher practice).

I've got a lot of wall space- some "modes" are more ideal than others. Each year, I try to designate a space in our room for charts and resources for each content area, but it's always a hot mess by mid year! We make oodles of charts and I want to find a system where we can keep them stowed away when we have moved on, but accessible when we need to reference it again. Plus, I'm trying to keep my walls a bit less cluttered. #easiersaidthandone.

Here is some of the spaces I have. I have completely taken down all labels to start fresh this year and I want to be really thoughtful on what space in the room is housing certain content focuses.
I was reminded why I don't change out the background and borders of my bulletin boards. These will stay up for another 3 years probably. Ick- I hate that job!
I found these magnetic shelves (my teammate had them last year, but they were always sold out!) at Lakeshore Learning! They can hold smaller posters, but aren't as permanent. Right now, they are going to hold our accountable talk posters. That way, they are easy for me to grab off the wall and use, but then put back for reference later.

I saw huge improvements last year with my teacher language and I want to continue with it this year- especially because I was spoiled with my group last year. I'm always looking for the right balance of the 3 types of teacher language.

I find myself always using more reminding and redirecting language, but last year I made it a goal to use more reinforcing language and it paid off. I want to continue to look for what students are doing correctly and reinforce that as opposed to redirecting or reminding so often (although, it is necessary to do this as well- it's all about the balance).

I'm often jealous of those of you who can do a thematic unit and cover a similar topic throughout your content areas. I am not able to do that with our given curriculum, but I do have a goal to try my best to connect what we are learning in one content to either other content or my student's lives more. That goes along with making those connections cohesive, authentic, and meaningful where it will help them in other areas either in their learning or their self-awareness. I'm working on incorporating that into our classroom environment as well this year- we'll see if it pays off.

Be sure to check out how others are looking to improve in the coming year over at Angie or Ashley's blog.

Oh and before I go, a little announcement:

I'm now on
Cue a bit of panic.

I've been putting off venturing to Facebook as it really intimidates me for some reason in terms of using it for my blog and stuff, but with some encouragement from others, I jumped in yesterday. I have to be honest though- it might not see much action for the next few days as EXCITING things are happing here off the internet (remember the beginning of the post.... I told you I can't stop thinking about it all). But hop over there, like my page (if you want to of course), and then be prepared to share and connect with me this school year. I'll be posting a celebratory limited time freebie that will only be announced on my Facebook page after the EXCITEMENT calms down a bit (hopefully in the next couple days). 

Thank you to those who have showed me so much love and support over the last month or so- it's been a crazy ride and I can't wait to continue it. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Made It Week 4: B-

I did not bring my "A" game this week. I'm loosing steam... maybe it's because my focus is changing-

A) My sister's baby boys are still cooking. Which is a miracle. But her C-section date is now just over a week away. They are coming folks!!

B) My husband and I have started the house hunting process for real this time!!!!!!! Bank meeting later today... house shopping on Thursday with our realtor- stuff is getting real!! Our hope- be in our new home before the first snow fall (or for me... September haha).

Because of that, my Made It game is a bit off, but when I'm feeling stressed, I find something to create at home or tell my husband he can find me at Michaels. So as long as I have a living room to take over crafting space, I'll be doing SOMETHING.

In this post, you'll find failures. In a few different ways. I'll make sure to point it out to you if you think you might miss it ;) One last thing, I took these photos at all hours of the day including through a pop up thunderstorm so the lighting ain't the best. Remember, this is more like my B- game today.

 (1) Student Note Bin

Do you have kids who want to just share anything and everything with you? As much as I love it- sometimes I don't have the time right at that moment to listen to their 5 minute story of how they watched their brother's swim meet. Does that make me cruel?

Also, maybe you remember the whole, "I wish my teacher knew" thread that was spreading through last school year. I did it once with my students and I learned a lot!

Some were awesome:
"I feel smart now in math." "I feel included in our classroom." "I love cats more than anything."

Some were not so awesome:
"I don't feel like my table group listens to me." "My parents yell at me a lot." "I don't get much sleep at home and come to school tired everyday."

Sometimes they don't know how or when to say some of these things, so I wanted to make a more permanent place for them to share anything they want with me. So I whipped up some containers because that's what I love and I made these little note templates, but to be honest, mid-year it might just be cut up lined paper (but we'll start with the cute stuff at least). I also left a space for them to "check" if they want me to follow up in a little meeting. Some don't want to talk about it. I respect that. They just want me to know, and to be honest, even if I know and we don't talk about it, it helps me make decisions in what I say to them... knowing what they are going through. Some do want a follow up though, and this way, I'll know.

*UPDATE*: Many of you have asked so here they are- grab the little note cards for free here.

Ok now to the actual Made It part. Sorry- got a little passionate there and off topic!

These containers came in a set of 2 for $1.00 at Target. I had a vision in my head and wanted to test it out, so I used my acrylic paint and an eraser end and began to dot it up.

You'll notice there are two white container here. But I'm only using one as of right now because...

You know my obsession with vinyl?? Ya, well I tried it and it did not "pop" enough on the paint pattern I added, plus, it was not sticking very well because of the bumpy nature of the paint. I told you there would be failures.


So one note card holder will do. I made a little sign on my computer to attach to the other bin (which was also $1 at Target), hot glued it on, and done!

Oh! Here's a trick! My glue gun just oozes slowly if I'm not using it constantly and it's plugged in. I took the cap off of a parmesan cheese container and have used it to not only hold my glue gun up correctly, but it collects the glue goops and it makes it easy to peel off. I've kept this cap now for months!

(2) Attendance/ Lunch Count Magnets

So for the last two years I had those cute little gems that everyone makes for like attendance and lunch count. I made myself two sets and used them in my room, but those were a bit of a...

Here's why: They are too small and slippery for my little friends. They fell off constantly and I'm SHOCKED that we've only lost 1 in the last two years. So although they worked to an extent, I was looking for something a bit easier so I made these wooden cubes instead.

This project was supposed to help me not be so nit-picky and it was somewhat of a success. The washi  tape did not cover the whole side of the cube, but I was ok with that. These cubes were .75 inches at Micheals and I found .75 sq in pieces of magnets too that had adhesive backs so it should fit perfectly, right!? Well not completely. Some of the magnet pieces were a tad too large. And I could have easily left them and not think twice, but I couldn't resist people! I COULDN'T RESIST! One day, I will. And I didn't do it for every single one. #babysteps

Anywho, I wrapped washi around. Put on a magnet square. Trimmed a bit on some. Now it was time to add the numbers.

Yes, I used vinyl. But first I painted the square tops navy blue to make them pop more. And I put a layer of Mod Podge over it just in case. And I kept my vinyl scraps for a reason.

So I put a little square box (.75 inches) around each number so that if one should get lost, I can just peel off the square and use it as a stencil at school with my trusty sharpie white paint pen that I keep there. I made a few extra squares without numbers for this reason. Always trying to be prepared. 


I'm obsessed with guac now and I refused to make it at home because I knew I couldn't make it as good as Chipotle. But I found this awesome mix at Target and now I've been eating guac constantly! All you need is the ingredients you see there (I added a tomato because I like them now... thanks Italy). You cut the avocados, mash 'em with a fork, dice up your tomato, throw it in the bowl, coat with a little lime juice (I'm obsessed with lime too... you might not need it with this guac mix) and then this fabulous guacamole mix. It's not a powder- it's a liquid with tomatillos, green chile, garlic, cilantro... so good! I only used half of it though and found it plenty. It has a bit of heat to it too. It's delicious and you should go find some of this mix and try it. 

So there ya have it. We'll see if I can keep my crafting going through this busy week! I'm trying to go into school a bit too (I went last week, but they weren't ready for me to enter yet... it was a sign perhaps), meet up with my teammates for a fun lunch, visits at the bank and house hunting- plus those babies... ya never know!

Go check out Tara and the others who probably brought their "A" game to their Made Its. ;)