First day of part time= Awesome!

I only worked till noon today and boy did it make my day seem so much longer (and that's a good thing). Nick and I did some packing, I made some phone calls regarding our move, and I worked on a little craft for my classroom. I've decided not to show much of my room or my projects for my room until I can get back in there and actually have them complete in their new home- so stay tuned!

I also heard back from some of my team and we are beginning to figure out days to meet up and plan. I am getting so excited, and anxious, and nervous for the coming weeks! I just hope that it all goes nice and slow so that I can soak it all up and enjoy the time.



Ugh. Moving.

It's that time of year again. Moving time. I am hoping that our moving adventures are beginning to wind down. I am hopeful that we'll only have to move 1 or 2 more times before we get our own home, but who knows. The management at our current place has yet again proved to be untrustworthy and unprofessional and I am at the point that I just want out- even if it means I'm out a few hundred dollars. We'll wait and see how that saga ends- however, I just hope this next place is an improvement in terms of management.

That being said, it's packing time. Our place is littered with boxes and I find myself starting to fill one box in one room and then venturing to another box in another room. May not be the best process, but packing in general is a strong hatred of mine. I am just thinking that this time next week we'll be all moved into our new place and UNpacking. The bonus- we can cool off in our pool (I have to say, I am excited about spending some of my afternoons in the sun over this next month.) Is it alright that I allow myself to relax a little before school starts??

I am going to try real hard to be positive over this next week. I'm going to try to stay up on my packing to do list so that I can get most of the moving done during the week and save the big furniture for Saturday. We've had so much help in other moves and I just feel bad having to ask my family to help out again, so I am hopeful that if we can get all the boxes at least over to the new place on our own, that will make Saturday go much faster and easier for everyone (since our big stuff isn't heavy, it's just big- and we'll be going up 3 flights of stairs).

Until next weekend probably!


Small Group Time: Strategy Seminars

After my full year of student teaching as well as all my course work, I thought the only small group reading instruction came in the form of guided reading. That was what I was exposed to in my placement as well as all I heard about in my courses. It wasn't until my first professional development training this past June where I was exposed to a different way to do small groups. We used the text Teaching Reading in Small Groups: Differentiated Instruction for Building Strategic, Independent Readers by Jennifer Serravallo and boy did I find it helpful (as you can see with all my flags)! She had so many great ideas for small group instruction, many of which were different than anything else I had heard of before.

The book from my PD. I would highly recommend it!
One of the major take-away messages I got from the text was the idea behind strategy grouping as opposed to guided reading. To put it short, students are placed in groups based on their strategy needs- not there reading level. Each student brings their own just right book (at their independent level) to the group and are explicitly taught a strategy that will help them become better readers. They have a chance to practice and conference with me as well as discuss and demonstrate their strategy for others in the group. I was hesitant on how conversations would go since students weren't reading the same book, but many of my colleagues gave me examples of how students could discuss their books while practicing the strategy, and often times, the types of conversations that would take place would be much more in depth and require a deeper understanding of their own text and the strategy.

It seems like guided reading can and should still be used, as long as it is appropriate for your students needs. 3rd grade is such a crucial one, as it is usually the point at which students begin to move from the "learning to read" mentality to the "reading to learn" mentality. I think at the beginning of the year I will do more guided reading, but I hope by the end of the year, I am mostly doing strategy groups during independent work time in Reader's Workshop. However, I still want to start strategy groups early on in the school year to get students used to this format as well as provide them with a different need. The way I am going to incorporate this is through another idea from Jennifer Serravallo's book: the Seminars.

I'm calling this: Strategy Seminars. I will host the seminars either throughout the week (Monday's-Wednesday's-Friday's, one a day) or just save them all for Fridays and have each student sign up for one to attend. Each has pros and cons and I'll have to wait to see what my students need and what works best with our schedule. In short, each week I'll have up to 3 different seminars that students can sign up for. They are encouraged to choose one that fulfills a need of theirs. I want it to be a choice and hope that by doing so, students will become more self-reflective and be better at assessing what they want to learn more about. Students will have numbers in my classroom that will correspond to their name. They will clip their clothespin (with their number) onto the seminar that they wish to attend. I will probably put little stickers to designate where to put the clothespin and to make sure that not too many kids sign up for the same one (in that case, I would just do 1 seminar twice if there are a lot of kids who want it- or use it as a mini-lesson). I've attached white board printing strips (Office Max- $1 for 3 I think) to some scrapbook paper (with the use of double sided tape and super glue). That way, I can easily change the seminar topic each week based off of what I am noticing students need help with. I may also give them the option to write in their own seminar ideas on one of the strips.
Mini-white boards so that I can change the seminars easily and weekly.
(Seminar ideas directly from the book above!)

I haven't decided where I'll put this yet in my room. Perhaps on the large white board in the front of the room or on the side of the file cabinet or bookshelf up front. We'll see once I start getting things up on the wall. I also plan on attaching both the sign and the sign up sheet with ribbon and hanging it so that it will be easier to clip.
Just need some ribbon and stickers (and hopefully laminate the sign) and we can call this one done!

Yay for getting something done! and for it actually coming out the way I intended!


Some interesting news

So I was at work today when I got a text message from my boyfriend, Nick. He had texted me with some news he had been waiting on. He found out where he would do his elementary student teaching placement. And where else in the entire Twin Cities area was he placed?? My new school of course! How crazy is that??!? We knew there would be a slim chance of that happening, as we found out earlier this summer that one of his instructors for his program was actually the phy ed teacher at my school. He had spent the last few weeks working at my school which I thought was crazy enough! We even joked around about what it would be like if he was teaching my students during phy ed. Well, as of now, that is very possible (he'll only be there in the mornings so he still may not actually work with my kiddos if we have specials in the afternoon)! It'll be interesting and exciting having us both be at the same school. I still can't get over how small this world really is.

I'm dedicated to start kicking it into high gear and really start getting some things ready for the school year. Not to mention we'll be moving in about a week. It'll be a busy week but I'm super stoked for August to get here (and then slow way down)!


Slowly tackling the to-do list

I've got a to-do list the length of the Mississippi River. I am doing much more adding to it than crossing items off. Partly this is due to not being able to get into my room for a little while longer. Also, we are moving in a week and a half and I don't want all my projects to get wrecked or lost during the move. However, August will be here before I know it and then it's really crunch time! My principal informed me of another training for me to attend, which means my available days to work at my summer job keep getting fewer and fewer. However, I've managed to squeeze out organizing my standards binder!

I found these super cute binders at Target and just had to get them. One is going to be used for my standards binder, while the other will be used for my sub binder. I still need to add the tabs, but I completed the daunting task of printing out all the standards and putting them into plastic sleeves. I also designed little title pages for each subject (which you can see below). The next task will be to meet with my team and begin to focus when we will teach what. I heard that social studies was swept under the rug last year, but I am really hopeful that isn't the case this year. SS is one of my favorite things to teach!

I hope to finish up putting together the title pages for the sub binder today. Not to mention, I'll need to go back to Target and get the other design of these binders for my Student Data binder. I still need to get a larger binder for my planning and such. Geesh- so many binders!!

Until next time!


One Major Check off the To-Do List...

After a brutal week or so apartment hunting, Nick and I finally decided on a place. We practiced our compromising skills and tried to stay in the mindset of saving some money now for bigger, more important things in the future. With Nick still having a year of school, and then looking for a job himself, who knows where we will end up next year. I hate to think about moving yet again, but hopefully, we only have 1 or 2 more moves before we finally can dig into looking for houses instead. So for now, we've got a place that I feel safe in and it makes me feel a lot better knowing that Nick is happy with this place as well.

Although I've crossed something off my list, that adds more to it. Not only am I still working on 'school' stuff, but now I've got to pack and clean two apartments (old and new). This last part of July and all of August is going to be a WHIRLWIND. I hope its not too crazy and I can try to enjoy all of these new changes and fun learning!


Lakeshore Visit!

I was planning on refraining from going to Lakeshore at least until August. Buuuuuuuut I got a text message from my sister who said they were having a sale and there were some things that I may be
interested in. And so I decided after work that I would venture out there and take a gander.

Holy buckets is that place intense. So much color. So many things to look at. I had to call my sister to ask her exactly where in the store the products were located as I was overwhelmed and didn't know what to start looking. I told myself that I would only pick out a few things for now. I signed up for the teacher membership card at checkout and strolled out with my over-sized bags.
My ginormous bag and new teacher's club card. Woot Woot!

Here's a look at a few things I had picked up:

Scientific Method Posters- the science lab that we went to during my student teaching placement had these and I loved  how they looked as well as the short statements used to describe parts to the scientific method
Birthday 'Stuff'- I got a poster to write in names as well as some certificates
Mr. Sketch Markers-  I LOVE THESE!! They work so well on chart paper and I am so excited to have my very own, brand new pack!
Magnet Dots- I have so many ideas on how to use these
Fraction Tiles- I know that I have some resources to teach fractions, but I wanted my own set as well. I am planning on attaching the magnet dots onto the back of each piece and using them on my white board for small group instruction or for as a way for students to manipulate during work time
Accents- cubbies, labels for supplies, etc
3 deep trays- for turning in homework and such

I am ready to get back into my classroom but I know that I won't be able to for a while. However, I do need to get crackin on some non-classroom decor/organization stuff. 

P.s. Nick went and saw an apartment today that he really liked. Hopefully later this week we will have a place!!



First Target Run as a Teacher

The dangerous dollar section at Target has been filled with teaching goodies galore. I couldn't help myself. It sucked me and I just kept putting things in my basket. I did make the conscious choice and picked the basket over the cart- that could have gotten ugly. I got lots of exciting goodies all (but one) from the dollar section! Take a gander!

The first (and probably my favorite) is the only item not from the dollar section: that giant speech bubble. It is actually a light and a whiteboard. I already had an idea. I'm going to use it for small group meeting times as a way for students to recognize that I can't be disrupted. I'm excited that it lights up and uses batteries so that I can just put it on the table or hang it on the wall. I hope that the whiteboard and light feature will draw attention to students who are trying to creep into small group time.

Ok- now onto the real dollar section items. If you haven't noticed yet, my colors that I am using mostly in my room are teal and yellow. I found some pails that matched it PERFECTLY so I'll find some use for those. I also got two silver tin pails that come with a chalkboard label section (so I naturally had to buy some $1 chalk too). I also got two pocket charts, name tags (for subs and field trips), pencils, bookmarks (for either the library area or for back to school night) a sandwich box (for my lunch of course), some post-it note flags (which you can't really see in this post) and two balls to be used for morning meeting activities and greetings. Sorry for all the (......)

I've got ideas for all of these things, now its just a matter of testing them out and playing around with them. However, I'll need to go to Target with a buddy from now on to keep me away from it all!


Apartment Hunting

Ugh. I hate this. Nick and I are trying to find apartments. Things have come up and we are trying to now get a lease for August as opposed to September. I don't want to try to move again during workshop week and Nick will be equally busy that week as well. I am feeling the need to move on up in the world a little bit now with a new job. Not to mention, I am over the mold in the bathroom, spiders in the tub, loud neighbors with their blaring surround sound, garden level-can't-ever-leave-the-windows-open apartment. Is it too much to ask to try to find a place in the location we want that is a step up from this?? I think not... Keep your fingers crossed for us!


Last Peek before August

I got into my room this morning for the last bit of 'for sure' time before teacher workshops in August. I am hoping to move to part time at my job so that I have time to get back in there as well as meet up with my team to start planning (not to mention, my boyfriend and I are trying to move during August also, to avoid the mess of a September 1st move in). Anyway, I am kind of at a stand still after today anyways. I don't want to put anything up on my bulletin boards yet, for fear of them falling down or if I get a better idea within the next month or so. I also haven't gotten anything really for my desk yet, so I couldn't organize that. I feel like when I meet with my team, a few of my questions will be answered in regards to other classroom management things, but I don't really want to proceed with some of those ideas until I hear their feedback on what they have done in the past and what my school does in general for some of those things. But for now, I thought I would share one last picture of my nearly complete classroom library. It will change still as I get more books, but this is pretty much it.

I've added a few more mats, which I am not sure if I like the layout currently, but it works for now. All the boxes are labeled as well as all the books. I put up fabric on the last two bulletin boards and hung up my the curtain panels my mom made for me! (You can kind of see them on the picture on the left. I'll add more pictures once I get curtains for the windows up as well.) I also found out that I can hang stuff from the ceiling if I wish (as long as it doesn't go on the water pipes) so that allows me a few more ideas to consider.

Sorry this is more of the same really. The next month or so, I will be working on little projects at home that I can complete in the comfort of my air conditioned apartment. I am hopeful for the opportunity to get back in the classroom before my RC training and Orientation in mid August. Also, I will be diving into the curriculum more and hopefully figure out what I need to plan for the first month or so of school. Thanks for checkin in!

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Classroom Makeover Continues: Classroom Library

I returned to my little sweltering classroom today alone, ready to tackle my classroom library. It all started off great, as I started with the chapter books. After buying a bunch over the weekend, I thought I had a lot to work with. But after putting them in their proper bins, I realized that I still need more. However, I feel like I am off to a great start!
Outside Cover

I decided to put labels on all of my books for a couple of different reasons:

1. The vast majority of these books are mine, and I would like to make sure that I try to keep as many of them as possible.

2. I'm hoping that it will help keep the library organized. Students can read the label and then find the bin that it should go in.

All of the labels are put in the lower right of the books and have the following information:
-If it is a chapter book or picture book (Some even have if it is fiction or non fiction for picture books)
-What genre it goes under
-The statement "Property of: Ms. Lynch"(It's going to be a pain once I get married and have to switch all of these labels again!)
Inside Cover

Book Bin Label Example
In addition to each book getting a label (each book is also leveled using F & P letters and is written on the back of the book) I labeled the boxes that they would be placed in. I used examples of books that they would find in the bins for pictures and each one includes a level range. Because my library is so small, I clumped more than one letter per box. I also tried to do at least 2 boxes for realistic fiction and humorous fiction. By doing this, it allowed me to see what types of books my library is lacking so that I can be on the lookout the next couple of months!
The current state of my library
Once I finished with the chapter books, I moved onto the picture books. I soon realized though that I didn't have enough of the big bins. Since I need to get more, I didn't want to start labeling everything. I sorted the books and for now they are just in whichever bins I had available. Hopefully by Friday I will have all the bins needed, labels on, and can call my library complete. That is, until I get more books :)

Here's a close up of the other shelf. See all those amazing non-fiction books on the top? I got those from my aunt who came to help me out on Monday. I spent a good portion of my time just looking through these today. My kids will LOVE these!

My $5 steal!
To help section off my reading area, I put my $5 garage sale shelf, which will house some student reference books, joke books, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books (kids love these, I myself, am scared to read them) as well as some sweet alphabet non-fiction type books!
My sweet lamp that I am in LOVE with
because it matches my colors perfectly!

I hope to finish the library all up on Friday, including finding some more bath mats but in yellow, getting a few more bins so that I can finish labeling, and hopefully get the bulletin boards covered once I get more fabric. Tune in later!


Classroom Makeover Begins!

It's my week off from work and I am spending it in my classroom. Unfortunately, this first week of July is packing a heat punch! Heat indexes are in the 100s today and my building is only partially air conditioned. Of course, my classroom is in the old part of the building and is not air conditioned, so I made sure to get there early so that I didn't have to battle the heat in the afternoon. My mom, sister, and aunt came to help me out. They were cleaning cupboards, putting up bulletin board fabric- the works! But first, here is a view of my room before we did ANYTHING to it:
Here it is! Right when you walk into the door. 

Here is the corner of the room facing towards the back. I share an accordion wall with another 3rd grade teacher. It's not the greatest color, but its great to be able to open it up and chat with my colleague :)

Here's the teacher desk area. The desk is HUGE!! Much bigger than what I want. However, we've already moved it up against the wall and it's opened it up a lot. I'm planning on replacing the curtains and panels and have already taken down the old butcher paper on the bulletin board.

Here's the view from behind my desk. Look at all that glorious storage room!

Lastly, the view from my 'soon-to-be' reading nook area. I've got a Smartboard that I'll need to learn how to use... How exciting!!
Well, there's the 'before' tour. Check back later this week for some updates; the room will be completely done by late August!


The Great Book Buy!

Yesterday was a fun, but exhausting day!! After visiting my classroom, I realized I would need to come up with most of my own books for my classroom library. I have a small collection which I started over the last couple of years, but I probably doubled it (maybe even tripled it) after a fun shopping day! I started my day early (left the cities at 7- began shopping at 8:15), visiting a garage sale right by my house with my mom. These were the cheapest buys of the day, in the best condition, as well as some popular titles (Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon?!? I love that book!). I also got a cute little book shelf for $5 that I'll use somewhere in my room for something.. score! Then, my sister arrived in town and we were off to the local Salvation Army. I have to say, I was a bit hesitant when my mom suggested we go around to a couple places in our little town. I just didn't anticipate to really find a whole lot. I was wrong though! Sal Val had gave us a good start and was pretty cheap (.25-.50 per book). We then went to another thrift store. Again, I didn't think they would have anything. They had some decent books on the shelf and when we went to check out, the woman said that she had boxes still of children's book that can't fit on the shelves and let us go through them! My sister was a maniac- sorting through a couple boxes, but she found me some good titles. Not to mention, books were only .39 there! We stopped at one more place in my home town, which was kind of a bust, before heading down to Rochester's Savers. Savers was the most expensive, but still- only. 69 per book. But, buy 4 books, get one free meant that I got about 10+ free books!

We stopped at a Walmart to get some bins and check out the sheet selection for bulletin boards. I found a teal I liked, as well as some yellow fabric (no one sells bright yellow sheets, but apparently orange is worth stocking.. weird). Lastly, we stopped at ABC Toy Zone and I found myself some borders, name plates, and a cursive alphabet. Hopefully, all the decor works well in the classroom!!

Here's all the books I got before we started to level them!
By this point, I was ready for a nap. We headed home, dumped all the books out on the floor, and began leveling them. Finally, by 5:30 pm, all the leveling was done, the books were boxed up for traveling back to the cities, and I was done for the day! It was so much fun, but I am exhausted.

My shopping partners and I :)
I'm spending my Sunday with making lists of what I wish to accomplish on Monday when I finally get to start putting my room together! I'm also making labels for my books (genre and 'property of...") as well as labels for my book bins. This is going to be a fun week! Check back often to catch a glimpse of my room and the progress of it!

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