Another Class Project Complete and a Flash Freebie!

Yesterday is technically our last beach day of the year.  It was jut comfortable - 24 degrees.  The water was a little cold - but that didn't stop my little fishes!

8 hours of picnicking, sunbathing, rock skipping, giggling, splashing fun with my 5 kiddies and my Mom.  It was awesome.  I cannot believe that summer is over already!  

That being said, I popped into my class again today for a few hours to wrap some projects up and was happy to see the floors waxed and my desks out.  One person (or people) you can never appreciate enough is your janitor.  I am going to grab him some cookies on Monday to say thanks :o)

I have this wall where I have been experimenting with different products to make "boards" on my cinder block walls.  My last attempt included duct tape and sticky backed wall paper. Its the pink bordered square on the left.

 It held up until the humidity set in at the end of the year.  Unfortunately it took the paint with it and left an eye sore on the wall that was 4 by 6 feet.

I was at the dollar store and I saw these:

They are cork board tiles - 12 inches by 12 inches.  I also grabbed some black carpet tacks.  I found they are the best thing for cinder block walls. 

So, a whole bunch of cork tiles and carpet tacks later I added a black border.  The black border was a consolation.  I wanted a polka dot or chevron border - but all Staples had this late in the year as those ugly sparkly borders or one with apples - neither one appealed to my designer bone.  So I settled for black - it matches everything right - and split the "board" into two smaller boards.
I also added some small lettering to the bottom of the boards and printed all of the math and science outcomes we are going to work on in the first term on cardstock.  These were supposed to be color coded but I ran out of colored ink some time back and forgot to replace it. Needless to say I was working on the "outcomes" at 2 in the morning when all stores are closed.  So I settled - again - for black.


Forgive the quality of my pictures - the light streams in all morning in such a way that they always look grainy. You get the jest of it anyways.  It is not exactly how I pictured it - but it is better than it was.  I will likely invest in a new border yet to break up the black.

ANYWAYS - I am feeling generous tonight and for a few hours I am going hold a FLASH FREEBIE!! Well, two of them

For you middle school math teachers - grab my Fun Math Challenges for a limited time. In this pack you will find several groups of fun math challenges or games. They were designed for grade 6 to 8 and review basic skills such as integers, problem solving, division, multiplication, and decimals {and more!}. 
My early years audience grab my Guided Reading Strategy Resource Mini Pack. This was one of my most used resources daily when I taught grade 1! It includes:   Chunky Monkey chunking Book, Stretchy Snake Stretching Book,  Flippy Dolphin Vowel Flip booklet {cut and paste and read and record},  Parent communication form, Printables to create a Velcro folder Reading Group Recorder,  Print and make Velcro Group “strategy” strips, and Reading strategies mini posters for group work.



Another great opportunity to win!!

I am excited to be involved in another giveaway - and this one has something for everyone; I am part of the middle/secondary prize pack over at Mrs. Beattie's 1000 follower giveaway!!.  There are a TON of prize packs plus every winner wind $20 to spend on products from Mrs. Beattie's TPT Store.  Check them out:

Head over and check it out!  If you don't enter you can't win!!! What teacher can so not to AMAZING and FREE resources.  Plus, you introduce yourself to a ton of talented teacher-authors whose knowledge will only increase your own!!


First Year Reflecting..

First Year Flashback Linky Party

It is almost that time again – the beginning of the school year.  I am counting down days now instead of weeks.  I am going into my 3rd year of teaching – already!!  Where does the time go?  In a moment of retrospective reflection I decided to take part in the ESOL Odyssey Flashback Linky Party.

1.      What age group and subject were you teaching?

My very first job was teaching Grade 1’s while covering a maternity leave term.  This was super exciting; my youngest daughter was in the other grade one class and I would get to see her throughout the day, and it was just down the hallway from my son who was in Pre-K.  However, having only subbed and student taught in middle years the thought of teaching kids who didn’t know how to read was very intimidating. I was blessed to work at the same school my youngest 3 attended, but also where we attended church. 

2.     What was your first classroom like?

My classroom was a modge podge of colorful materials left by the teacher whose room I was covering, and things I had “borrowed” from pinterest. Interestingly enough, I shared a room with the other grade one class and our classroom was divided by a collapsing wall during the day.  At the end of most days we took down things off the boards and walls, and tucked away all teaching material and personal touches to allow the church to use our rooms in the evening.  You would always come a little early in the morning to re-set up your class. I no longer have to do this since I transitioned to the High School campus – but I honor all the elementary teachers at the school who put the time into taking up and down their classes. 

           I taught an adorable group of Grade 1’s who were, by design, at all ability levels.  It
           was an enriching experience for me, I really had to learn to differentiate.


3.     Were you given supplies or materials?

I was left a bunch of material to work with.  But, being such a type A personality about things, made most of my own and replied on some great TPTers to get me through the things I didn’t have time to create. 

My favorite things to teach were:
When we read Charlotte's web I dived into learning about spiders and we worked on these amazing Spider Lapbooks I created.  I allowed them to make their own so they were not as pretty as mine were - but they got the joy of making their own book to take home!  
I also really enjoyed teaching Math Tubs and Guided Reading.  It is amazing to watch little minds go from guided to independent work and see how excited they are when they master a new skill or concept.

My third - chronologically and not by preference was the unit we did on plants and living things.  I used the resource by Linda Kamp: Life Cycle of Plants and supplemented it with a  few of my own ideas :o)
My grade level partner had taught four of my kids by this time and was a great support.  She allowed me to use her spelling program and guided me along the way.


4.     What was the hardest part of your first year of teaching?

The hardest part was slowing myself down enough to really enjoy the experience.  I was so preoccupied with making sure I did my very best to help develop those little minds that I often lost sight of the forest for the trees. Second, but just as important was organizing.  Working in someone else’s space with their things was hard because I was constantly trying to get her systems to work for me instead of developing my own. 

5.     What was the best part of your first year of teaching?

My class LOVED science.  I adapted parts of the Grade 6 and 7 curriculum down and every Friday we worked literacy, math, social, and science into a full day activity we call {Friday Fun} (the lessons for 9 of the best of my Friday experiments are linked here ).  It really taught me how much their little minds could infer and connect given opportunity.  We talked about surface tension, chemical and physical changes, force and motion – things that seemed beyond them and they proved that not only could they repeat what we learned but apply it in new situations!!

6.     What do you know now that you wish you knew that first year?!!

Organize immediately.  Do not think – “I can do it later” – because later you will have something else to do!!!

Your Turn! Join the Linky!



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Giveaway..dont miss out.

I am excited to have been one of the many amazing secondary grades donators for this this EXCITING giveaway over at FCS and Then some. Check out the prize packs and other deets to enter. There is something for all of us middle schoolers.


My latest projects.. and a FREEBIE!

The last few days I have been working on a few crafty classroom projects.  I have enjoyed getting my hands "gluey" again.  Ever since I gave up scrapbooking I have been looking for reasons to use my ink pads, stickers, corner rounders, paper stash....my toys!

First project was inspired by this:
I found it on Pinterest.  I had a lot of problems last year keeping track of no name assignments.  They often sat on the "hand back" table for days.  It was not the greatest organizational method of handing back nameless work.  the table was always messy, you couldn't see them clearly - and lets be honest, out of sigh, out of mind. So I bought two magnetic display boards and put on some letters from my bulletin board.  I took some dollar store magnets and decorated the tops with mosaic tiles. 

I looked at it and frankly the crafter in me cringed.  So  quick trip to Michaels and into my old scrap supplies..
And the boring blue magnetic boards were covered in scrapbooking paper which was inked and filed to add character, some black ribbon and then the letters were reapplied..

Now I can display my no name assignments in style :o).  Honestly I felt so good to be creative again.
The second project I worked on started with this Pinspiration
I needed to have t match my room so I went back to the paper I had chosen for my no name magnetic boards.  I had some old file folders on hand and some left over ribbon. 
I ran to the store and grabbed a few washers, gathered some scissors, glue, a tack and a wooden dowel and started:

I covered each of the folders in a different paper.  I alternated the directions of the tabs so they would look more interesting to the eye.  Adhered the letters.  I then inked around the outside of the front of the folders.   I then stapled each folder inside of the other starting with Tuesday into Monday with only one staple to hold it together.  Once they were all loosely held together I hole punched holes to affix the ribbon through by measuring evenly from the top of the folder. I used a tack to punch a hole and a pokey wooden dowel to make the hold bigger.  My hole punch didn't work on the thick folders.  I then glued a washer around each hold before putting the ribbon through the holes so the holes would hold up to some wear.
It is not as fancy as the original but I held off on all of the adornments I wanted to add - flowers, glitter gems etc. since this is meant to be functional. This will hold a weeks work of early finisher/bell ringer work and extra practice sheets. 
I am now working on a bin to organize my weekly handouts for ease of use.  I made these chevron and quatrefoil "labels" for the front of the folders. They are FREE in my TPT store - check them out here - http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Chevron-and-Quatrefoil-Frame-and-Labels-FREEBIE-1407733 .

If you use the frames let me know - send me a picture!  I love to see my resources in use! I have chicken fajitahs calling out to me to flip them - so until later!

Blog Hoppin Teacher Week 2014 Friday What

Today as part of Blog Hoppin's wrap up to Teacher Week 2014 we are talking curriculum. I LOVE trying new resources out - I like taking a risk and finding those perfect products that fit right into your routine as if they were meant to be there.  Last year was first year teaching Grade 7 Math and Science so it seemed like a great time to try things out - I had no prior experience with what did and did not work.  Was it rough alone the way - occasionally.  But as teachers so often do - I adapted and made them my own when they did not work. I LOVE teaching Science, most of what I teach falls into the Earth Sciences and that is where I got my degree after all.  Math was harder - I am naturally not a mathematician so I teach myself each concept 5 ways before tackling it with my classes.  If need to make sure I can explain it to a variety of learners after all!

Here are a few resources that I will for sure be reusing this year:

Teaching with a Mountain View - HUGE Fractions Concepts Bundle { 256 Common Core Aligned Fractions Task Cards } .  This was a great resource for a diverse classroom to do rotations with.

Amber Thomas - Long Division Task Cards - Bundle of 3 This as a great tool for class to review
basic skills.  I used this as an early finisher activity.

Kelly Terry - Plate Tectonics: Tectonic Plates Puzzle, Teachers' Guide and Students' Worksheet.  This complimented my Dynamic Earth Unit perfectly.  It was a lot
of fun for my class to do instead of just watching the illustration.   It really helped them see how plates "fit".

One of the units I am proudest of creating myself is the Interactions Within Ecosystems Unit.  It took me a few weeks to put together this summer but I am very excited to be teaching it this fall.  It is everything I had pulled together from a whole bunch of places but made "my own".  Notes on napkins, info from my degree and textbooks, from teachers I taught with - all in one 143 page unit.

This document includes:
37 chevron Vocab cards
True/False cards to laminate and use for review games
Mount St. Helens
  • Questions for Parts 1 through 6
  • Ecosystem Wall Mural Project, Teaching Suggestions, Sign
  • up, Rubric
  • Teaching suggestions
  • Brainstorming sheets
  • Small Ecosystem Research Project
  • Lab Experiment and Review Questions
  • Info Sheet/Student Reproducible
  • Ecosystem Review
  • Info Sheet/Student Reproducible
  • Critical Thinking Questions
  • Poster Assignment and Rubric
  • Teaching Suggestions
  • Links to videos and review questions
  • Interactive Foldable on the Stages of Succession
Producer, Consumer, Decomposers/Energy Flow:
  • Teaching Suggestions
  • Rubric and Guidelines for Small Group Assignment
  • 3 page Energy Flow/Food Chain/Food Web Student
  • Reproducible
  • Review Questions
  • Bioaccumulation info sheet/student reproducible
  • Teaching Suggestions
  • Bell Ringer Match up Activity
  • Baking Bread “Yeast” Lab
  • Experiment Report Reproducible
  • Experiment Follow Up Questions
  • Info sheet/Student Reproducible
  • Mould Lab – Bulletin Board Tracking Suggestions
  • Chlorophyll Chromatography Lab
  • Teaching Suggestions
  • Info Sheet/Student Reproducible
  • Review Questions
  • Skittles Lab
  • Skittles Lab Review
  • 11 x 17 Infographic Poster
  • Photosynthesis Project and Rubric
  • Crossword
  • Cellular Respiration Info Sheet/Student Reproducible
Water Cycle:
  • Water Cycle Idol instructions, Song Links, and Ballot
  • Exit Slip
  • Terrarium in a Jar instructions
  • Teaching Suggestions
  • Info Sheet/Student Reproducible
  • Review Activity
  • 3D Poster Project and Rubric
  • Effects of Biodiversity Whole Class Activity
  • Teaching Suggestions
  • Link to Bill Nye Video and Exit Slip
  • Info Sheet/Student Reproducible
  • Succession/Biodiversity Exit Slip
  • Biodiversity and Humans Info Sheet/Student Reproducible
  • Teaching Suggestions: Cultural Viewpoints
  • Sustainability and Organizations Brochure Assignment
  • Lorax Link and Questions
  • Info sheet/Student Reproducible
  • Human Actions and the Environment Discussion Starters
  • Exit Slips
Mid Term Quiz
Final Test
All Applicable Answer Keys 

Right now this unit is on sale, but this is only until Monday - so grab it up while you can.  If you are interested in checking out a portion of the unit you can download The Water Cycle portion of the unit for free! 

Thanks for checking in.  Leave a link below so I can stop by and see what you have going on in your classroom!