Saturday, July 30, 2011

Camera Vs. Car and Conquering the Clutter Day......I Can't Remember

I promised you the story of the camera vs. car, so here we go...
For Christmas, I got a new camera:

This was a big deal to me, because the last time I got a new camera, was 2003. I liked my old camera, but, compared to the new one, it was bulky and didn't take the best pictures.  This new camera was AWESOME (for me who is NOT a professional photographer).  It took really good pictures and even video and I love the color!  I still hadn't even figured out all of the neat features yet.  Anyway, the other day, the kids were at Grandma's with the cousins, so I went in to work in my classroom.  When I picked the kids up, I had my camera and some other stuff piled in the front seat.  My daughter, who is now 10(and a half - when you're 10, that half is important) likes to sit in the front seat when it's just me and the kids (I know, they're supposed to be like 12 before they ride in the front, but we slide her seat all the way back).  So she went to get in the front seat, and I told her just to put the stuff on the floor, but to be careful with it.  Not thinking that my idea of careful is different than a 10 year old's, I didn't bother to watch what she was doing.  With everyone buckled in, I backed up to turn  around and ran over something.  My mother in law lives in the country and has a gravel drive, so I just thought it was a big rock.  We get a little ways down the road and my daughter asks how my classroom is coming.  I tell her to grab my camera and look at the pictures I took today.  "Where is it?" she asks.  I tell her that it's with all the stuff on the floor.  "No it's not."  It's about at this point in the conversation that I realize that it wasn't a rock I ran over.  We drive back to Grandma's and sure enough, there is the poor camera lying in the driveway.
    Now, I have to say that Nikon created one pretty tough camera.  I picked it up, opened it, and got my hopes up.  It looked brand new!  Not a scratch on it! The lens wasn't cracked, the screen wasn't cracked, it turned on, and that is when my heart sank...the screen wasn't cracked, but because it is an LCD screen, the display was all messed up.  When you look at it, it is white and black with cracks showing through it.  So, I can take pictures, but I can't see the pictures I'm taking. 
    So now that you know the story of the camera vs. the car, here's an update on the classroom.  Here's what the closet looked like when I came in today:

And here's what my room looked like:

Not bad, but still a long way to go.  Y'all would have been proud of me today, though.  Remember all of those magazines?  I tossed most of them, keeping only these:

I filled about 2 big black trash bags.  I also have a stack of stuff to give away.  So, I'm still far from finished, but here's where we are now:

Full, but organized (and I can even walk in it).  Forgive the pictures - they're a little off, I know...but remember - I can't see the pictures until I download them!

I got my rug rolled out and some of my meeting area put together.

I found this idea on another blog (but for the life of me, I can't remember where.  If it is your idea, please let me know so I can give you credit!).  I never have time to check folders in the morning for homework and notes from home.  Each child gets a pocket in one of the folders.  They come in in the morning and empty their folders by putting their notes and homework in their pocket.  They can then put their folder away in their mailbox.  I can see with just a glance who has notes or who has not done their homework. I've never tried it this way, but I'm hoping it works.
   Teachers go back August 9th, with the kids coming on the 16th.  I'm hoping I'll be able to get the room done (without throwing things in the closet to get it out of the way, lol!)... We'll see!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A GREAT New Alternative to the Treasure Box

I've always used the treasure box as my big reward for those students who have good behavior all through the week, but I've found that it's getting harder and harder to find "cool" things to go in it.  Last year was especially hard as my husband and I were having some financial difficulties, so I couldn't always go out and buy things to restock the treasure box.  Tonight as I was blog surfing, I found this new idea that sounds like a fun (and free) alternative!  Basically, the idea is to have a catalog of rewards that the students can choose from. I love it so much, I'll be making my catalog tomorrow! Check it out over at First Grader at Last!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Will it work?

Ok, I'm trying to embed a picture of my behavior spots...let's hope it works!

YEAH!!!!! Thanks to Marlana at Lil' Country Kindergarten for posting the directions and the code here:
Lil' Country Kindergarten

Now...I'm off to embed previews of my other files!!!!  Have a great night!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Behavior Spots

Since I'm doing polkadots in my classroom this year, I needed a new behavior management chart. I created these "behavior spots" to use. They work the same as my camping chart from last year. You can check them out at my Teachers Pay Teachers store or from Google Docs:
Behavior spots

sorry - I can't figure out how to get pictures on here of my files....anybody have tips?

Keep or Toss???

Ok everybody, 
   I need your help here.  I have a BUNCH of old magazines that I've kept and let the kids use for various projects/assignments.  Luckily, I downloaded these pictures before the whole camera vs. car incident:

Now, I have to say that I have embraced the "Toss, toss, toss" mantra (yesterday I tossed some cardboard squares, toothpicks, and some old posters...yeah me!), but I think the problem with these is that I really do use them.  Ok, maybe not a WHOLE lot, but probably 2-3 times during the year. So I guess what it comes down to is that I will use a few, but how many should I  keep?  Help me out here...whadd'ya think?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Big Back to School Giveaway

Y'all know I LOVE giveaways, but I was SUPER excited to see this one!
Erica is giving away a huge back to school pack from 12 of my favorite bloggers (how did she know?)! If you want the chance to win, head over to her blog to check it out!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New Year's Resolution Linky Party

So Clutter Free Classroom is having a fun linky party. It's all about your New (school) Year's Resolutions. As you can probably guess, my first new year's resolution would be to be more organized. I am moving toward that goal already by organizing my closet. Here's how it's coming so far:
Unfortunately, it'll be a while before I can update you on my progress with the closet after today.  I happened to run over my (almost) new camera with the car's a long story - I'll tell ya later!

Anyhoo, on to resolution #2:  Leave school by 4:30 each day.  I know, there are some teachers out there who leave right at 3:35 (the time when our teachers can leave), but I am just not one of them.  I would shoot for 4, but that might be a stretch!

Resolution #3: Fully implement workstations in both reading and math.  I've been doing literacy centers for a while, but really want to try the workstations.  I've read Debbie Diller's literacy and math workstation books and am really excited about it. 

Finally, resolution #4: Have more fun with my students!  I think with all of the pressure that we are under, I haven't really always taken the time to fully appreciate my students and just enjoy them for the wonderful little beings that they are.  I'm going to try really hard this year to do just that.

I'd love to hear your new year's resolutions!  Hurry over and link up here:
Clutter-Free Classroom

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Need Your Help - Help me out and I'll give you a gumball (or two...or three...)

Well, I only got one comment on the ice cream spoons yesterday, and that was a "toss", so those are going in the trash tomorrow! I just couldn't go to work in my classroom today. After taking the kids to Grandma's, grocery shopping...I just didn't feel like it! I will be getting up early to go tomorrow, though! I will post pictures of the progress tomorrow. Here's the next item in the keep/toss game:

This was originally created to be a graphing display. Each first grade class was collecting canned goods for the local food pantry. When the students brought in a canned good, they got a little can to color. Those were posted in the "counting cupboard" so that the students could keep track of which class had brought in the most canned goods (my class won, by the way!). Anyway, it was lovingly created by my homeroom mom (and favorite sub)and I'm thinking it might be a fun math center, but I'm not sure how to use it. I'm hoping you guys will be able to help me with ideas/activities. If not, it's going in the trash (which would kill me, because I know there's potential there!). So, come on guys, let's get those creative juices flowing!

Now, onto the gumballs... I was thinking about things that I could use in literacy stations that would give the kids a chance to read their weekly basal story.  I want to use more trade books/literature this year rather than spend the whole week on our basal story.  Now, my original thought was to take a real gumball machine and find small rubber bouncy balls that would be the same size as the gumballs.  I'm hoping that they would work in the gumball machine just like the gumballs would.  Anyway, I was going to write a sight word on each ball, then put them in the machine.  The kids would turn the handle to get a "gumball", read the sight word on it, then use the recording sheet to tally how many times the word appeared in their weekly basal story.  Now, I don't have a gumball machine (or a large supply of bouncy balls) right now, so I'll have to wait until I start getting paid again (I've spent all my summer money) to try the real thing.  If you're in the same boat as I am, I created this version with paper gumballs.  Just cut out and glue the large gumball machine onto a brown bag, then cut out the gumballs and place in the bag.  Students can grab a gumball out of the bag and use the recording sheet to tally.  I've uploaded this as a word document in my TpT store, so you should be able to change the words if needed. The words here are based on the Florida Treasures reading series.  I'm going to work on creating paper gumballs for the other stories in the series - I'll let you know when I get them done.  If you happen to try the bouncy balls in a real gumball machine, let me know how it works!

Gumball Sight Word game - Set 1

                ***If anyone knows how to embed a picture from TpT on blogger, please let me know!  I wanted to put a picture here, but couldn't figure it out!

**UPDATE:  I just found a cute gumball printable at Mrs. I's Class.  You could use this one just like the one I made, but write and tally in the gumball.  Go to her site and check it out!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes

Mrs. Tabb over at First Grade Awesomeness is giving away a mini-unit on shoes.  You know how much your students love their shoes (and love to show you and everybody else their shoes)...well, why not take advantage of it.  Check out this great mini unit - just click on the link above to see how to get yours for free!

Conquering the Classroom Clutter - Day 3

Ok, I've looked at the comments and I've decided to keep the baskets and make the snowflakes for Christmas.  I even made a little poem to go with the snowflakes.  If you'd like to make these with your students and want a copy of the poem, feel free to grab it below:

Snowflake Tag

It feels really good to already know what we are going to make for Christmas.  Usually, I'm scrambling around looking for ideas at the last minute! 
So, the next item on our keep/toss game are these: wooden ice cream spoons:

Remember, just leave a comment telling me whether to keep or toss.  The only rule is, if you say keep, you've got to leave a cute idea telling me how I can use them!