Monday, July 29, 2013

Back to School Teacher Sign

Over the summer I wanted to make some crafts as welcome back gifts for my sons' teachers. I had seen some cute signs made with burlap so I decided to give it a try. I ended up loving the final product and if I can find a few minutes in the next few days, I plan to make one for myself.
Of course crafting meant a trip to Hobby Lobby, who doesn't love a trip there?
Because I planned to make a pencil I chose the yellow burlap available in the fabric section.

After cutting it, I reinforced it with some dowels running the length and placed it in the center , I attached the dowels with some floral wire. I bought the wooden dowels at Wal-Mart, they were much cheaper there.
As you can see, I used 2 dowels, wrapped with the floral wire around them in the center and attached it to the back of the burlap. Then I folded the burlap over it. Next, I used black twine and a large sewing needle to connect the pieces, sewing around the edges. I learned quickly that burlap frays a lot and you have to carefully place the stitching so it doesn't separate.

After stitching I cut two triangular pieces off of the end, making the tip of the pencil. Then I painted it with acrylic paints I bought at Wal-Mart. (I was really glad I chose the yellow burlap, it would have taken a lot of yellow paint to make it look like a pencil!)
I will attach more twine and some ribbon to make it hang from a hook.

What do you think?
Want to see more great projects, go to 4th grade Frolics blog for the Monday Made it links.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The end of summer break...

Well, I have been frantically getting ready to return to work. Wednesday is my first paid day back, but Tuesday I am attending a workshop and getting together with my co-teacher to do some planning (and a little catching up).
It is hard to believe the break is over already! I had fun with the kids, logged many hours at the pool, had lots of fun at the movies and gobbled more popcorn calories than I care to count, and had a few fun day excursions. I accomplished a lot and enjoyed the break from the work routine. But anyone who is a teacher or who loves a teacher knows, teachers really never stop working.
I have attended some work events, read some professional developments books, read some books related to 5th grade, and logged many hours creating some activities for my students. I have spent a little bit of my off-time preparing my room for my new class and will finish it up this week in preparation for parents and students' arrival at Open House.
I have been working hard at creating materials for interactive notebooks for this year. I implemented some components in the past and believe they were quite successful. This year I plan to integrate them in to all subjects daily. I have worked on making foldables that I can use in all subjects and am excited about using those throughout the year.
A few years ago I attended a workshop with Dan Mulligan (great speaker/impressive educator) and some of what he said made a strong impression on me. One of his key points was that we lose a lot of teaching time when we have students copy notes. With interactive notebooks he stressed that if you plan to have kids take notes give them the major parts pre-typed, let them glue it in and then have them synthesize what they have learned as part of the lesson instead of wasting time copying notes from the board or the book. That lecture changed the way I thought about my classroom. Instead of doing things the way they had always been done I was inspired to spend less time waiting for kids to copy things down and more time helping them make connections and add to their notes. Of course, it does require some up-front work and being completely prepared.
I will be honest, I do not have everything for the year mapped out yet, I am striving to get there. But for now I am chipping away at the common core and tackling units and lessons one at a time. This goal meant spending some of my off-time planning for the upcoming school year. Better to start now and get more done than waiting when things get really hectic.
This summer I created the graphic organizers for my animal classification unit and made a glossary for their notebooks for the year. I began the plant classification unit, but have not quite finished it. I am excited about the glossary. They will glue it in at the beginning of the year and have it all year to refer to and make notes for themselves.
The middle column is for illustrations or examples and then the last column is for their notes. Since the definitions for the words are already in their notebook they can spend more time making connections and less time copying the words. I am excited about this glossary, yep I'm a science geek! I will also seize the opportunity to integrate non-fiction text features while helping the students set up their glossaries in the back of their notebooks.
Science glossary and word wall cards available through my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
I love to start my science unit with animal classification. The kids really love it too and since they know a lot of information it really gets them excited about science. I bring in lots of non-fiction text too, integrating reading and science. So as students read and collect information they add them to their charts, then glue them in to their notebooks.


I am a firm believer in encouraging students to use their resources to learn and study. So, I will allow them to take quizzes open book. If they take the time to complete their notebooks, go back and find the information, then they can use it to help them answer quiz questions. Students seem shocked when I let them do this, but as I say, if you reread it, you are more likely to remember it in the future when you cannot use your notebooks, simply because reading it again will help you better learn. As students become accustomed to my techniques they are more likely to put more effort in to their notebooks as well.
I am excited about these items and am looking forward to working with the kids and their notebooks. It may have taken some time upfront, but in the long run I feel that I am better prepared to get started this year and know that my enthusiasm will inspire the students. 
What are your thoughts about interactive notebooks? Do you agree that having notes or skeletons of notes pre-made encourage more learning?  
I linked up with for the Interactive Notebook Linky Party. Check out the site and the great ideas others have shared!
INB Linky for You and Me

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Teaching Tribune: Back to School Exclusive BONUS Prize July 27th

The Teaching Tribune: Back to School Exclusive BONUS Prize July 27th: Today we have a bonus post and prize for you to win!  Julia Thompson , author of the award-winning book, The First Year Teacher's Sur...

Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road: Pinterest Scavenger Hunt Contest $50 Gift Certific...

It absolutely amazes me how the internet has encouraged collaboration and the availability of resources. These teachers, although I don't know them, are motivators for me to get out to create more exciting lessons/products, and blog about the lessons I am learning at school and at home! Absolutely amazing!
Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road: Pinterest Scavenger Hunt Contest $50 Gift Certific...: We know that you're thinking about all of the items on your TpT wishlist as you are switching into back-to-school mode. Wouldn&#39...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Finding the inspiration around you.

I set a goal of posting another item to my Teachers pay Teachers store, proud to say I accomplished that yesterday. I created an editable lesson planner packet.
Part of my inspiration was my friend, Lisa. While doing some shopping for her very first teaching assignment we talked about planners and I decided to use her school colors as my theme. I am in the process of altering it for me, with some of my favorite colors and plan to post that too. 
I want to be more organized this year and spending time creating a binder to keep track of plans, common core standards, and meetings is my first step. After all, wouldn't want my time spent on creating planning pages to go to waste, right?
So what else have I tackled? I started working on my latest sewing project, a skirt with some fabric I fell in love with while shopping for fabric for Lisa's bulletin boards. I took on a new venture too, sewing from a pattern for myself. It is intimidating and many times I wanted to jump ship, but I am not going to give up. After all, my goal is to grow and create myself into who I want to be. It is easy to be lazy and revert to what is comfortable, there is no room for being lazy in my life!
In addition, my kids are my daily inspirations. They teach me lessons and lots about life. People say, they are better teachers after having their own kids, I would say that is true for me too.
You would think that being kids of a teacher they would be great students, ha ha, not the case. Getting them to read and do homework is a heck of a challenge, well at least for my oldest. My middle son loves homework (sometimes). He also loves to read, he loves nonfiction books, mostly about reptiles and amphibians. My youngest loves to be read to. But my oldest spews many ugly words about reading and his favorite subject at school is recess.
Why does he hate to read? Well, reading is hard for him. We suspect a learning disability, but bigger than that, he believes he can't read. He is super competitive and hates to feel like he is going to fail, so instead he will avoid it like the plague. This bothers me immensely! As a teacher I know what happens to kids who can't or won't read, they fail and school fails them. This dilemma has become my biggest motivation, I want to help him tackle his reading issues and help the kids like him at school.
This summer we have been working on school related activities, fluency sheets, and I have been encouraging (begging) him to read daily. Last night though I started reading The Book Whisperer and have found the inspiration I needed. So before school starts I will devour the book, rethink how I teach reading (which I really have been wanting to do anyway), and hopefully inspire my non-reader that reading isn't boring, stupid, nor pointless.
Tonight, with a little (OK, a lot) of coercion I got him to pick a book, his own choice, and read a chapter by himself. After page 1 I hugged him so tightly and at the end of Chapter 1 I was praising left and right. But you know what? He actually was proud of himself, woohoo! Hooked on reading? Well, not yet, because he did put the book down and ask to watch TV, but this was huge progress. No fake reading, no tantrums, no  begging me to read it, and best of all, no giving up before finishing the chapter!  
I would say that isn't bad for a few days of actively working on my goals. Of course, stating them is easy, now I have to really put my nose to the grindstone and keep with it. As life has already taught me, the lessons are always there, just have to stop and look for the inspirations and be ready to learn.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Why start a blog?

Wahoo! Fixed the dilemma of my earlier post and all without getting overly frustrated, that is what I call progress! Actually, I feel pretty good about the start because I added html code to the template, thanks to some tips on a blog I recently found, A Turn to Learn. Check her out. Following her Technology Tuesday tips, I attempted to add a Pinterest pin (not sure if it is working), but most  importantly I did not screw up the main template. With her tutorials, I will add more features to the blog.
A Turn to Learn

So part of starting the blog is to see what I am capable of doing. Time to learn some new tricks to keep up in this technological world. Of course, being busy has stood in my way. But I can squeeze in some posts here and then. Actually I will commit to at least 1 per week with something that I think can be useful to others. Today though, I will focus on getting my goals set and working towards them.
Another person I need to give a shout out to is my Uncle James. He has his own blog and recently shared his personal goal of trying to transform himself in to the person he wants to be. This wise man, shared some wise and inspirational words. Instead of thinking and wondering if blogging is for me, I decided to take the plunge and do it. Afterall, you never know what you can do if you don't try. I tell my kids (home and school kids) that all the time, need to practice what I preach. So here I am transforming one small step as a time. My goal is to gain some blog followers, stretch myself a little, and make some positive changes, hmmm perhaps the inspiration for some posts lie in that positive part! So thank you Uncle James, for giving me that little push to get started on my transformation. And to steal your quote, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Don't worry I am working on that personal health goal as well, I am just not ready to declare it since I need to put some thought in to, check back though it will be soon. Here is a link to his blog, if you want to know more about his transformation, Transforming Me Again
Alright, so here I go on this new adventure. My goal for this week's transformation is to find some followers, create a plan for a weekly blog post, and create at least 1 more item for my Teachers pay Teachers store. Hey, did you see the widget in the right column, I added that all by myself! Not bad for day 1.
What goals are you striving for and how are you planning to create who you want to be?

Taking the plunge!

So, here I go, taking the plunge in to the blogging world. A colleague and I talked a while ago about blogging, joking, "Who would want to follow my blog and read what I have to say?" Well, I guess I am about to find out.
I have been reading a lot of blogs this summer, and I have learned a lot from other teachers. So I figured it was time to give back to the blogging world, who knows maybe someone will learn form me.
I am trying out new things this summer, and blogging looks like one of those things.
I am writing this post so I can get a post on my blog, plus I needed to take a step back from trying to figure out how to undo something I did. I added a picture and now I cannot figure out how to get the darn thing off. In the process of fixing it I undid other things I wanted to keep, oops!
So my lesson for today, learn to live with the silly mistake I made until I can find out how to fix it. Like I have been stressing to my kids, I won't throw a tantrum, smash the computer in to pieces, kick the screen, or call it potty words because I don't like the way it is acting or it won't listen to me. Instead, I will publish my first post, walk away for a while, and with fresh eyes I will figure it out.
As I make a plan for this blog and customize the page, I will be working on a game plan for my blog. What to write about and how often to post. Feel free to comment about ideas or advice!
Thanks for reading!