Back To School On My Mind

I am going into my ninth year of teaching.  I still have four weeks of summer left, and I want to enjoy them as much as I can.  And yet, all I see all over IG and FB are teachers sharing their finds and getting their classrooms together and even some who have started back this week.

Am I a bad teacher because I don’t want to get ready yet?  I want to enjoy my time off.  I love looking at everything, but I have not and will not step into a Target yet.  My mind is swirling with ideas, I’m looking back through my photo’s of my previous classrooms.

Is there something wrong with me as a teacher if I just don’t have the energy to get up and start creating, buying, or organizing supplies?  If I showed you my teacher stuff in the garage you would all cringe, so un-teacher like!  Massive mess out there!  But still I sit here, thinking and dreaming of my new students, envisioning the layout of my new classroom, but I don’t want to actually do anything yet.

I know, I may miss out on some of the cool Dollar Spot finds, and Dollar Tree teacher hacks, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to leave my vacation yet, even if this week is a staycation.

I start Summer Academy this Friday, at least they are short days for the next two weeks, and that is as close to the end of summer as I want to be!  I don’t want to give up the rest of my days!!

I don’t think I’m a bad teacher for being like this.  There have to be others out there that feel like me.  I want to be like everyone on Social Media who look great, and have their hair done, and makeup on and are out at Target, or in their garage painting away on a garage sale find for the classroom, but reality hits.  I’m me, and my hair is up in a bun, no makeup on because no one is going to see me, and my own garage is to much of a mess for me to buy something from someone else and paint it in there!

And yet the teacher in my can’t stop envisioning my new classroom.  I may fight going out or doing things for my classroom, but my mind has other plans.

You can take the teacher out of the classroom for summer, but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher.

I may not be shopping or prepping, but in a way I am.  I am designing and creating all in my head, where every great idea begins!

Happy Summer, enjoy your break how ever you choose, shopping, painting, creating, sleeping, traveling.  We are all teachers who care about our students, and want the best for them, which means we need to make sure we are well rested as well, in what ever way we need as rest!  For me, that’s traveling, hanging out with friends, playing on the computer and scrolling through social media looking for great new ideas, and yes, a few webinars to get ready for the new year.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.  School well come no matter what we do!

Leave me a message below and let me know how much summer you have left and how you are spending it.

Flexible Seating in a Kindergarten Classroom

I know, I know, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon of flexible seating in their classroom. And, yes, I too have jumped on board!  I’ve been doing it for two years now.  Now that I am almost done with my second year using it in Kindergarten, I feel like I can share with you, how it has worked for me so far.

Last year I began the year off with Flexible Seating.  When my kinder’s came in the door for their orientation with their parents they were able to choose where they wanted to sit.  Most of them went right for the floor table.  There parents, they went for the table with the regular chairs.

I explained to the parents how our classroom was designed for the 21st Century.  That students would be given rules, and be able to choose where they sat each day as long as they followed the rules.  Most of the students did really well.  I had name tags, and as they came in first thing in the morning, they would pick up their name tag and place it on the seat they wanted for the day.  This also helped me with attendance.  I could see with a glance who was present and who was absent.

Students found which seating type they liked, and which worked best for them, and they pretty much stayed in their same seats all year.

The first few weeks of school I had students try a different form of seating each week so that the students would know which they worked best for them.  I think in the entire year I only moved students less than 5 times due to talking or lack of focus.

Starting this year, I redesigned my classroom, and put the flexible seating into centers.

I also added a bistro table.  The room was looking adorable.  Pintrest, Instagram worthy.  In an ideal classroom this was perfect.  Sadly, I don’t have an ideal classroom this year.  My little ones are struggling with flexible seating.  I have tried for  months, going over the rules, moving students, but it was just not working.  I have slowly been taking pieces out of the classroom.  The bistro table has gone home, the floor table has been taken out of the writing center.  Crate chairs, scope chairs, and cushions have all gone home.  It has been hard for me.  But what I have learned is, that not every class will or can work with flexible seating.  As much as I love it, and will again set my room up with it next year, this little group was just not ready.

Every year, every class, and every student is different.  As teachers we know this, and with this knowledge we need to do what we feel is best for our students.  Even though 90% of my students could not handle the flexible seating this year, they may next year in first grade, or the year after in second grade.  Every year is a year to grow, learn, and change.

I have already begun planning my classroom layout for next year!!  Happy experimenting with flexible seating!!

    

 

 

 

Life As A Temp Teacher

Life of a Temp Teacher is not the same as a Permanent Teacher.  Our summers are not the same either.  Life for me as a temp means that every end of the school year, means not just packing up my classroom and putting it into cabinets so that the classroom can be cleaned during the summer, but rather packing up my classroom and bringing everything home.  Which for me, like many of you, is just about everything in my classroom, from books to the baskets they go in and the shelves the baskets go on.  My garage is no longer car friendly for the next few months.  With the hope and luck that I am offered a contract for the following school year.

I thought this was my year of not worrying.  I thought, my principal likes me, our numbers seem good,  I may not be offered a contract until end of summer, but I’m sure my principal will let me know the job is mine, we just have to wait for district to give the Okay.   But, not this year.  Yes, my principal likes me, and yes, my principal wants me back, but this year, the numbers are a little lower, and a teacher who was on leave is coming back.  My principal is still hoping that I can come back, but hope and an offer are two different things.

So I hit the pavement, or rather the internet, in search of a job again for next year.  The life of a temp, is not fun during the summer.  Yes, we need the break, but at the same time, we work all summer looking for a new job.  So as much as I want to relax, I worry, will I have a job next year.

While teachers are online sharing all the things they are working on and getting reading to make the start of their new school year more easy, a temp teacher does not know what grade, what school, what district, nor what city they may hopefully have a job in for the next year.

So I ask all of you Permanent Teachers, if you know a Temp Teacher, please reach out to them, reassure them that they will be fine.  I know my time will come.  I understand that teachers before me have gone through this.  It’s just as I enter into my 9th year of teaching, I would hope that I would begin to have a sense of security in the job, I feel called to do.

End Of The Year Crazy!!

To be blue or to be red, that is the question…

Hi Teachers!  I know where all going through the same thing right now with the end of the school year coming up fast.  Some of us might have one or two weeks left and for others a little more like five or six weeks.  I have five weeks until the end of the year, but with that said, really only 24 days!   Twenty-four days is not enough time!!

In those 24 days I have to complete not only my classroom assessments, but the district assessments, Mother’s Day gifts, Open House, oh, and the best for last!  Pack-up my entire classroom.  And, not into the cabinets, our district is doing maintenance this summer on all the schools so, on our last work day, we need to have ALL our personal things out of the classroom by 3pm.  Can I just ask, are you all like me and most of the things in your classroom, including furniture belongs to you personally, right?

I have unfinished projects everywhere , boxes for packing, and instead of working on either of those, I choose to sit down and write this post.  One thing, I’ve learned about myself is that writing is a great way for me to get my anxiety of what happens or not happens in the classroom out.  I’m not perfect, and I am the first to admit it.

First things first, Mother’s Day is this weekend, and I have yet to finish anything for their projects.  We took pictures, and now I’m at a loss. I was going to have them make picture frames, but we now only have tomorrow, so that’s out the door.  As I write this post I’m also skimming through google looking for cute Mother’s Day Art.  Just found one…

How cute are these by Art To Remember.  Now I know what I am doing first thing in the morning.  I also have two writing projects that we need to finish.  One is our daily writing from Write From The Beginning program, which is our district writing.  I love it, it uses thinking maps.  We also have our Ocean Research Project, oh, my goodness, and I just remembered our class play!!!  Oh, my goodness, so much to do and so little time to do it! Such is the life of a teacher! High five me if you feel me!!

OK, so here is my plan for tomorrow, Mother’s Day painting, and finish one writing, math – working on subtraction, and science, our Ocean Research.  I can do this,  I need to say that louder… I – CAN – DO – THIS!!  And, I need to start packing up for 45 minutes every day after school, and taking a box or two…or…three home every night.  My goodness, before I can catch my breath it will be summer, and planning for next year!!

So, the answer to the question, to be blue or to be red?  Blue to me is moving slow, getting down because things are not perfect or the way you had planned.  Things are not getting done, and comparing yourself to others.  Where as Red is lighting a fire, getting your engines going, and finishing out this school year the best you can.  If we ask our student for them to always do their best, than we should do the same for our students.  So, to answer the question, to be blue or to be red?  RED, I am definitely  RED, I am lighting a fire under myself and pushing through, nothing can get me down, all be moving to fast for that!!

How is your end of the year crazy going?  Are you a blue or a red right now?

Kwik Stix Thin Stix


Kindergarten mess free painting

Art at your finger tips

Students with all levels of fine motor skills can learn to paint so easily with the new Kwik Stix Thin Stix.  Last year I was lucky enough to get a chance to work with the new Kwik Stix, and my third graders LOVED them.  They could not get enough of them.  we used them for everything, projects, rewards, presentations.

This year in kindergarten my students adore them!  They too can’t get enough of them.  They are so easy to use.  The Kwik Stix Thin Stix are like holding a pencil!  Exactly what we work on in kindergarten.  No more messy paint spilling on the table or floor!  No more water cups bumping and spilling!  Painting with finer detail using these new solid temera paint sticks without the mess!!

We read the book “The Greatest Snowman”, by Peter Hannan.  We than painted our very own “Greatest Snowman”, and put them into snowglobes.  This project would usually take me a week to do in small groups with my 29 Kindergartener’s, but with the Kwik Stix, and Kwik Stix Thin Stix I was able to get the entire class to paint in ONE DAY!!  Can you believe that?  ONE DAY!!!

We had so much fun.  We used the Kwik Stix for the snow and snowman, we than used the Thin Stix for the details (details–BIG word in kindergarten!) on our snowman.

I know that next year I will be purchasing more sets of both the Kwik Stix, and the Kwik Stix Thin Stix.  They are an investment, but for me they are worth it because my students work comes out amazing, ALL students feel like they can achieve using this tool, and an added plus, my school OT teacher happen to pop in the day I was doing this project and she too fell in LOVE with this product and has since borrowed mine, and showed the other OT’s in our district just how awesome Kwik Stix and Kwik Stix Thin Stix really are.

I work at a title I school, and finding amazing tools like this for my little ones is a gift!!!!  I hope that you take the time to try these paints out with your own students.  Art and expression comes in all shapes and sizes from our youngest students to our oldest, and we should encourage our students to be creative!

You can find Kwik Stix and Kwik Stix Thin Stix at Amazon and Target.

Happy Painting Everyone!!!

 

Erin 

Winter Break 2016-2017

 Winter

  Break

This is my last weekend of winter break, and I know that I am much luckier than most, in that I have 3 weeks…but to be honest, I love the 3 weeks, but I think it makes it harder to get up this coming Monday.  It’s just enough time for my body to get on a new schedule of staying up late, and sleeping in.

Not to mention all the TV shows that I have caught up on!

And my comfy, comfy pj’s!  Oh, how I am not looking forward to have to do my hair, put on makeup and real shoes!  My feet were starting to just feel good again.

I have been watching and following lots of teachers on social media and watching those who are so productive and getting so much done.  I envy you all.  I had so many plans to create, and oranganize over this break, I even had it written down in my planner!  Than I blinked my eyes, and winter break was coming to an end.  I learned a valuable lesson this break, maybe I didn’t do a lot of constructive work during my break, but I took care of myself, and recharged.  As teachers, I don’t think we really truly ever take breaks.  Our brains are always running, thinking about what we can create, or try that we’ve seen someone else do in their classroom.  Many of us forget to stop the clock, sit down, and take care of ourself.

For me…that is what I did this break.  I sat down, looked around and saw my world, took care of myself and my my health, recharged so that as I return to my classroom on Monday, I can be the best me my students deserve.

  Erin

The Pencil Grip 3 Step Training Kit

This school year I taught Third Grade, and usually by Third Grade most of our students are holding the writing utensils the way that we as teachers would hope.  But every now and again we come across a student who is struggling to write, and their hand is always hurting.  We sit with them and ask them to write something for us, as we watch them write we see the problem right away.  They are holding their pencil incorrectly.

Most of the time as I watch my students write, if they are comfortable, their writing is nice, and their hand doesn´t hurt, I´m OK with how they hold their pencil.  But when we have that student who is struggling, I look to The Pencil Grip company to help my students.  Their 3 step training kit is wonderful.

I had such a student this year in Third Grade.

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She was writing slower, and complained a lot about her hand hurting.  In Third Grade there is so much writing, and students struggling because they are not holding their pencil correctly, can become overwhelmed with the work.  As a teacher we know that the muscles needed in our hands for fine motor skills are developed during K-1/2.  This student I was working with had not fully developed those muscles.  I began using the Pencil Grip 3 Step Training Kit with her.  Within three weeks her writing was so much neater.  She was writing more and faster, and was on her way really strengthening her hand muscles.  All but just holding her pencil correctly.

The hardest part for her was keeping her hands on the grip because she had trained them to hold writing utensil so differently.  But, she found that her hand hurt less and that she liked the way the pencil grip felt when she wrote.

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In three weeks my students hand hurt less, and she was writing so much more.  I highly recommend this kit for all teachers.  I know that I am going to order more and have several on hand for future use with students.

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Click on the link below to enter my Giveaway to get one set of The Pencil Grip 3 Step Training Kit!  It´s easy to enter, and you can enter up to once a day!

http://bit.ly/29zwdYc

Good Luck everyone, and Happy Writing!!

image  Erin 

The Pencil Grip Kwik Stix, Solid Tempera Paint


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Just like the label says, “Uncap, Twist, & Paint”!  These paints are amazing!!  My students and I love them! Pencil Grip has come out with these amazing solid tempera paints.  They make painting in the classroom so much easier because you don’t need water, brushes, and the clean up is a snap!  You literally just snap the cap back on.

I’m teaching Third Grade this year, and for the past few weeks we have been studying North American Biomes.  As one of our final projects for our unit I wanted the students to each paint the biome that they each had written about.

With only one set of the Kwik Stix I was able to get 28 students all done in one day!   Here are some of their paintings:

image                                                         The Rain Forest

image                                                                  Ocean

image                                                                  Desert

image                                                             and Forest.

My students had so much fun using these paints.  Using Kwik Stix was really easy and mess free.  They really do dry in just seconds!!  I put the set of paints in the middle of a table, and the only instructions I had to give the students was not to press down to hard.  The paints work really well and cover a lot with a light touch.  I highly recommend these paints for all grades, and I know that I will now be getting more sets to use in my classroom!

If you think you might like to try Kwik Stix out, come back and visit me in a few days for a surprise!!!!  Happy Painting!

image  Erin 

New Beginnings

It has been a few months since I lasted posted here on my blog, but in those months I have had a lot of changes happen.  I have a new job, and I’m teaching a new grade level!  I was teaching at a private school for the past 5 years, this would have been my 6th year.  I left for several reasons that I won’t go into in the post, but I will say, that as hard as the decision was to leave my students after the school year had started, it was the right decision for me.  It has changed me back to the person I was, happy, easy going, smiling.  and the best teacher I can be.  I have switched from a private school to a public school and from First Grade to Third Grade, and from one of the most affluent schools in our county to one of the lowest income schools.  I am working with a great new team!  They have, along with everyone at my new school, welcomed me with open arms, and offered help at  every turn along the way.  I am so grateful to be able to have this experience in this district at this school, and in this grade level at this point in my life.

I had been battling myself, and had lost confidence in my teaching at my previous position.  In just a few short weeks in my new position, I have gained it back and have found my love for teaching again.  My love of teaching had never truly left, but my confidence had been lost, well really, taken from me at my previous position  I felt for my previous students and worried for their education because I wasn’t giving them my best.  I know that they are in good hands, and I miss them dearly, but I know that they are in good hands, and are doing really well.

My new students have different struggles than my previous students and from anything that I have ever dealt with before, but I love each and everyone of them.  They were so cute when I first started.  I was the third teacher they have had this year, the original teacher went out on leave before the school year began so the students began the year with a long term sub.  Who within the first few weeks of school was hired full time at another school, so they brought in another long term sub who was to be with the students until the teacher came back, but than the teacher decided to not to come back.   And that is where I come in.  They hired me to start just after Thanksgiving.  So I was with the students just before winter break.  As we were getting ready to go on break that Friday, the students were asking making, “Are you coming back?”  They were so worried that I was not coming back after break.  I told them that I was in for the long run and they were stuck with me until the end of the year!  They all surrounded me and gave me a BIG group hug.

When we came back after the break, my students were so happy to see me!  And I have to say, I’m pretty sure I was MORE happy to see them!!!  I love my new school, I love my new students, and I love my new grade.  I know in my heart that this was the right decision for me to make

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Erin

Math, Math Glorious Math

Math, Math Glorious Math, the more you learn the better you do!  So play your games at every chance!

This Month we’re coming together to talk… Math Games And Strategies ( hosted by Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd & Lucky Little Learners — #2Getherwearebetter)

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I’m so excited to come back and link up again with the amazing Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Lucky Little Learners because #2getherwearebetter!!! And together we can accomplish so much!!
I love all things Math and am excited to share some of my math activities with you all. Lets jump on board and take this epic ride on the Math wave!

At my school we use Singapore Math, which I really like. Singapore Math allows you to use math concepts from anywhere really to add to your content. Singapore was created in Singapore by researches who studied best math practices and success around the world for a period of 10 years. After gathering all the research they took the best concepts to develop what we call Singapore Math. So essentially it is not founded in Singapore math strategies, but rather the worlds best strategies. With that said, I have worked with several different math program during my time as a teacher, and I feel that knowing and understanding Singapore has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of math that I can enrich other math programs with.
When I explain to parents at the beginning of the year, what Singapore Math is, I say that it is giving the students a deeper, truer understanding of math and math concepts. We don’t cover as much in a year, but we go deeper into the concepts we do cover giving us a fuller understanding. So students might know and memorize their Math Facts, but at the same time they understand what Base 10 is and how it works within Math Facts. They may know that 5+2=7, but they understand that 5 and 2 more is 7, 2 and 5 more is 7, 7 less 5 is 2, and 7 less 2 is 5. They can say, write, and draw it to show understanding.

But let’s get to the real reason we are here, Math Centers & Games!! The fun stuff!! I use many different strategies, but I will show just a few that we have done this year.

image                          imageAbove my students are using Tangrams to create pictures and designs, which help with shapes and spatial reasoning.

  imageimage imageThe students here are completing a puzzle to also help with shapes and spatial reasoning.  The first time my first graders see this puzzle they usually get nervous, and look at me like I’m crazy, but they very quickly become challenged and determined to complete it.

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My students love their shapes, and creating.  Here in this activity the students were creating a design.  After they created the design they discussed the attributes and created a math story.  This particular student was working in a group of 4 students.  They made flowers and insects, and created an addition math story, “There are 4 flowers and 2 insects.  There are 2 more flowers than insects, but there are 2 less insects than flowers.”  I love to hear Math talk and conversations!  Don’t you?

image  image Students in these two groups were working on pattern making.

image imageMore patterns!

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This friend was working on writing his number.  I made these cards for the students to practice writing their numbers correctly, writing on paper can sometimes be, well, not fun, BUT writing with cars…who doesn’t want to practice!!

I don’t have a picture to share, but this past week we made human number bonds in class and solved them together.  We used hula hops and jump ropes.  We had so much fun making numbers bonds!

I hope that today you found at least one new thing, or learned one new way to use something you are already using in your math class.

Thanks for catching this wave with me today!

imageErin