Saturday, July 23, 2016

Blogging Craziness

So, now that I've posted several posts about my Vegas trip, I feel like I need to fill my followers in on the last few months.  I'm hopefully going to find some time in the next week to go back and fill in some gaps from September to now.  We did so much in my room this year, but when it comes to priorities, blogging always seems to take the backseat.

Anyway, along with trying to fill you in on my blogging, I also want to fill you in on a huge change.  I'm getting ready to move to third grade!  A few months ago, my principal and I were joking about me moving to third grade.  Well, we got to the last week of school and that little joke became reality.

We were into our last week of school - you know where you have Awards Day, summer buckets, endless song practices, lots of parents, and you are trying to keep teaching to maintain some normalcy?  It was pure craziness!  I was working on getting my summer buckets done and my principal came down to talk to me.  In all seriousness, I thought I was in trouble.  No idea why, but I have that constant guilty conscience thing.... you know where you always think you did something when you weren't even in the same state?  Well, she ended up asking me to go to third grade and I said, "Absolutely!  I'm there!"  It was almost scary how fast I went for it, but that's the plan.  I'm going to teach third grade next year.

Now, what does that mean for my blog?  Right now, nothing.  I taught first grade for fourteen years, so I'm not planning to pretend that those fourteen years do not exist.  My plan is to keep blogging and creating what I know - sometimes it may be first grade stuff and sometimes it will be third grade stuff.  If it is third grade stuff, I'll be sure to share, but I'll also try to share how you could adapt it for lower grades or how it may fit with your higher students.  If it's first grade stuff, I'll explain how I'm going to try to adapt it to third grade.  So, that's the plan.

Anyway, thanks for hanging in there with me and for continuing to follow :)  I'm looking forward to blogging about the last few months and all the fun things we did.

Hope y'all are all officially out for summer!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Differentiating in a One Teacher Classroom

In my post yesterday I mentioned that I presented at the I Teach 1st! Conference in Vegas.  One of the things I presented on was how to differentiate in your classroom, specifically how to differentiate in a one teacher classroom.

I picked this topic because I think regardless of how many years we teach this is something that we all typically need a little help with.  The main thing I tried to show were ways to make it easier to work differentiation into your day.  I definitely haven't perfected it, but at the same time I don't stress over it like I did when I first started teaching.

If you are reading this and you are just getting started, the main thing to remember is it is okay to not do it all at once.  Start with just one subject.  Personally, I think it is easiest to differentiate using technology and writing.  The point is get started and remember to do what works for you - that means be flexible and                                           willing to make changes to your plans so that it's                                  easier for you.

All of the photos are linked to different items that I use to help me differentiate in my classroom.  Some of them are linked to packets I've bought and others are linked to free items.  If you were at my presentation on Monday and there is something you would like to find, please email me and I'll do what I can to help you find it.

Also, if you are looking for a few amazing apps/websites to use, I would start with Headsprout, Kids A-Z, and IXL.  Yes, they cost money, so one thing I'd like to suggest is get a trial subscription and see what you think.  Many companies will give you several weeks to a month for free so you can see if it is what you are needing.  All three of these are programs I use on a daily basis with my entire class and I doubt I could live without them.

Hope some of these items help.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Organizing Your Classroom

So, this week I’m hanging in Vegas and presenting at the I Teach 1st! Conference.  It’s still a little surreal sometimes.  Vegas is just enormous when it comes to everything, so getting to go and spend a day talking about something that I love is just crazy, right?

Anyway, one of the things I presented on is how to organize yourself because I’m sure we all need a little help with that.  I know I do.  I think as teachers it’s never all done no matter how hard we try.  So, I decided to present on what works for me.  I also promised everyone that came that I would share links to some of the things I mentioned to try to help everyone out a little.

I started with cleaning out the junk.  Friends, this is what I was dealing with.  For the first time ever I am changing classrooms.  When you’ve been in the same room for fourteen years, you definitely accumulate a ton of junk.  I have a new respect for people that change classrooms often.  Um… it is insane how much you have to pack and move and clean and unpack.  That doesn’t even include all the furniture you have to organize and reorganize fifty times before you feel it’s exactly right.

Here are a few pictures of my finally organized classroom.  I decided to go with tables over desks.  I’m a little nervous about the change, but I’m hoping it will make it easier to manage when it comes technology and small groups.  I know flexible classroom seating is the big thing right now.  This is my version of that.  I needed something I was comfortable with while giving my students a little more freedom. 

Here are also a few photos about how and where I store all of the extras – glue sticks, paint, centers, etc.  I think most teachers would agree that we can never have enough storage.  Since I mentioned centers, feel free to grab my month labels that I use for my black cubes and for my tubs.  

You can also click on my colored carts photo to grab the labels I made for them.  Hopefully those items will help you get your classroom set up a little easier.

Now, I’m sure paperwork is the other big thing most people struggle with.  I have to tell y’all I can get my files all organized and within days they seem like a mess again.  Here are a few photos of how I attempt to keep my paperwork straight.  Instead of a filing cabinet, I use a binder system.  Mine aren’t overly pretty right now, but I understand it and it’s usually easy for me to find what I need.  With moving to third now, I’m having to start a lot of my binders over, but it’s nice to know I already have a plan.
As for keeping my students organized, I use several pages from my Beginning of the Year Teacher Packets.  If you click on the photo below, you can get several of my most used items for free. 

For computer organization, below is my go to sheet.  I keep it in a safe place so I don’t have to remember the bajillion passwords and screen names it feels like I have.  Feel free to grab it too. 
Alright, that’s all for now.  If you are in Vegas, I hope y’all have had a great time at I Teach 1st!  If you aren’t there, hopefully this post will let you experience it a little.

Have a great night!