Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We are Bucket Fillers!

I've used the Bucket Fillers idea in my classroom for a couple of years now. This year I decided to give it a facelift. I invested in a shoe holder and made "buckets" from styrofoam cups, ribbon, and labels. After going back and forth about whether or not to create my own sign to match my colors/theme, I decided to use Christina Bainbridge's sign and colors instead. It's so cute and goes right along with the book! We also made an anchor chart on which the kids listed ideas for ways they can be bucket fillers this year. Can't wait to see it in action this year!

My first Pinterest creation!!

I'm new to the Pinterest scene-- just got my own Pinterest account recently. But I've been checking out others' boards for a while now. I just loved this twist on the "class list" from K.I.S.S. {Keep it Simple, Sister}:

I used Wordle to create my own class list:

Love it!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Word Study Center Activity-- FREEBIE!!

I made this Secret Decoder Activity for my students to do at the Word Study Center. I will print the key page (page 1) on cardstock, laminate, and post by center. I'll print the pieces (page 2) on a magnet sheet, cut apart, and place in container at the center with a couple of magnetic boards. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, students will complete several activities to practice their high-frequency words of the week. This will be one of the choices. They will use the magnets to code each of their words and their partner will decode the words using the key. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dual-Duty Crayon Buckets

Most of the supplies my students bring to school are labeled and used by them throughout the year. One of the few exceptions is crayons. I use gallon size buckets (in the past I've used ice cream pails), put 4-5 boxes of crayons in them at a time, and place them in the middle of each group of desks. It's just easier that way. No digging in desks for the perfect color crayon and no spilling them all over the floor repeatedly. When I ask the kids to grab a crayon and meet me at the carpet for an activity-- it's quick and easy. And I love that the buckets have a handle-- when we have to clear our desks for science experiments, the kids just grab the handle and sit it on the floor.
The ice cream pails I've used in the past finally got past the point of repair. They were cracked, two had missing/broken handles, and they were just plain dingy. So, I went on the hunt for new buckets. They had to be the right kind, though-- not too tall, not too wide, a handle was a must. I found these 5 qt. paint buckets at Lowe's and they were perfect!

A little Mod Podge and scrapbooking paper later, and this is what we have:

I'm so excited because not only can we keep our crayons in these buckets, but they also serve as a group numbering system. Yay!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Assessment Binders

Two years ago, the district I work for decided to change the K-2 report card to a standards-based report card. The students are scored on a scale of 1 (nonmastery) through 4 (above grade level) on many of our state standards. It took us a while to learn how to assign these types of grades and our main focus this year is to get more consistent from teacher to teacher. We've never really focused on what pieces we will use for assessments-- each teacher made that call on their own.

So, we decided to create assessments that are aligned with the standards represented on the report card. We're creating three assessments per standard and that is where we intend to get our grades (thanks, Cressa!!!). It's a lot of work on the front end, but will really help us be more consistent across the entire grade level.

We also decided to have our kids store their assessments in Assessment Binders this year. They will make goals for themselves after the first and second assessments so that they take more ownership of their grades. Periodically, we will send the binders home for parents to review and sign. At the end of the year, they will have an "assessment scrapbook" from their 2nd grade year.

I bought the cheap poly binders from Wal-Mart to use-- the binders will not be stored in the kids' desks, so I figured they will hold up. Since I bought 20 binders, the cashier let me keep the display box they came in. It's pretty sturdy so I decided to give it a makeover and use it to store the binders throughout the year. It's amazing what a little Mod Podge and scrapbooking paper will do...

BEFORE (I took this picture of a box on the shelf at Wal-Mart since I forgot to take a "before" picture of mine):


Organizational Binders

I am such an organizational freak! Totally type A... So, when I saw Suzy's binders over at The Sweet Life of a Second Grade Teacher, I had to make some. I got a little carried away and made 14 of them!!! Here's some pics of how they turned out...

I also made a Team/PLC Meetings binder and a "Substitute" binder. Forgot to take pics of those two...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Word Study Game

This year, my team decided to use Beth Newingham's (one of my favorite teachers!!) Word Study Program to teach Spelling/Phonics. She created a game to use during her Word Study Centers called "Trash or Treasure." It's really just a word sort, but so much more fun. Students sort cards based on if they fit the weekly phonics rule or not. I love this game because it goes right along with our 95% Group instructional methods. To make it more hands-on, I created a treasure box and trash can so that the kids can actually move the cards to one side or the other. Then they write the words under the appropriate column on a recording sheet.
I had so much fun making the treasure box and trash can. I bought an unfinished wooden chest and pirate pieces (also wooden) from Hobby Lobby and the mini trash can from Dollar General.
Here's all of the materials:


I glued gold-colored sequins inside to look like treasure...

I didn't know what to do at first because the wooden pirate pieces were too tall to fit on the sides of the treasure box when it was open. Then my husband (Mr. Fix It) said, "I can just cut them in half and you can glue one part to the bottom and one part to the top so that when it's open nothing sticks up..." I never think of things like that!!! So, here's what he came up with... Genius!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good Behavior Rewards

In my classroom, I use a ticket system to promote good behavior choices. Throughout the day I give out tickets and students sign their names (in pencil-- we reuse the tickets) on the back. They can choose to save them or spend them. Spending means putting them in the daily drawing. At the end of the day, I (or a student helper) draw a ticket out of the bucket. The chosen student gets a quarter to use at the prize machine: My kiddos LOVE the prize machine!!! I found a dealer on Craigslist who sells used machines like this. He gave me a great deal once I told him what I'd be using it for. It works wonders! How do you reward good choices in your classroom? I love to hear what other teachers do!

Blog Mixer Linky Party

Denise over at Yearn to Learn is having a Blog Mixer Linky Party. Here's my answers to her four questions:

1. New Kid on the Blog: I absolutely adore Mrs. E's blog The Sweet Life of Third Grade! Like me, she is a new blogger! Her blog has taken off- she already has over 200 followers in July alone! Way to go, Mrs. E! Since I'm a new blogger too, I'm going to add my link here as well-- Farmtastic Fun in 2nd Grade.
2. A Blog in My Grade Level: I love that Monica at The Shroeder Page is assembling a 2nd grade teachers blog group! That's so exciting!!
3. A Blog in Another Grade Level: Third grade teacher Christie has so many cute ideas and creations over at Teaching in Flip Flops.
4. Cutest Button: I don't know if it's actually a button, but I love Alicia's logo at {i HART my preschoolers} (her last name is Hart!!). So cute!!!

It was so much fun searching for these blogs! I didn't realize there were so many out there!

New Sqworl Group for 2nd Grade Blogs!!

I used the 2nd grade links from The Grade Level Link Up Party to create a Sqworl group for easy access to blogs in my grade level. If you're interested, here's the link!!

Grade Level Link Up Party!!

Wow! I'm so excited to find the Grade Level Link Up Party at The Teacher's Lane! I can't wait to meet new 2nd grade bloggers!

Love those giveaways!!

Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade is having a "Freakishly Fabulous Four Hundred Follower" giveaway. I'm so excited to discover new 2nd grade blogs!!! Check it out here!


Rebecca at Create-Teach-Share is having a Linky Party about creative ways to use Post-Its. So, I thought I'd share one of the many ways we use Post-Its in my class.

When we're studying visualizing in Reading Workshop, students draw the pictures they "see in their heads" on Post-Its. Then they attach them to their graphic organizers. Under each Post-It, they write the part of the story that their picture illustrates. Then I have them switch papers and retell each other's stories using the pictures. They can self-check by lifting the Post-It to read the description. Just another way to practice summarizing and retelling.

Here's a picture of our anchor chart for this strategy:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Class Library

I love children's books! I just love them. It's a slight addiction... Ok, it's a bad addiction. I scour my local Goodwill (especially on the first Saturday of the month when everything is 1/2 price!), yard sales (check Craigslist for yard sale ads specifically featuring children's books), and I've even made the trek down to McKay's in Nashville. Of course I'm also a regular at B&N, but I've had to curb that habit-- it's bad for the bank account!!

I've organized and reorganized my library several times and I think I've finally gotten it like I want it. Now it's just the maintenance... Here's some pics:

My books are organized by topic. The bins with the blue stickers are nonfiction. The white bins are devoted to specific curriculum areas (math, social studies, poetry, etc.). If the book has a Guided Reading level, it's written on the back of the book on a sticker. Each book also has a small sticker on the front with a picture that matches the picture on the bin it belongs in for easy return. I have students return their books to the red bin on the stool and the "class librarian" puts them in the correct bins.

I keep a log of my books on this website. I love being able to type in any key word and it brings up all of the books I have with that tag! So easy! I also purchased a check-out system called CLAS from this website. Each book has a barcode and students have library cards. When they want to check out a book, they simply use the barcode scanner to scan their cards and then the book they want to check out. I love this system because, just like the real library, I can pull reports and see who has what checked out at any given time. I can also see what types of books each student has been reading. Plus, the kids love using the scanner!

I have students store their checked-out books (along with their Reader's Notebooks) in their book bins, shown here:

Just like new!

My friend just got a vice-principal position in a neighboring district (Go, Sherleta!!!) and had to clean out her room ASAP. We all scoured her room looking for treasure and she so graciously gave me a rolling desk chair. She bought it for her kids last year and they took turns sitting in it each week. I had wanted to get one too, but never did. So, I took hers and gave it a new twist. I recovered it in the same fabric I recovered my glider rocker in several years ago. I think it turned out cute!

Curtains, Curtains, Everywhere!

I dusted off the old sewing machine a few weeks ago to make some curtains for my classroom. I meant to only make one set of curtains, but it turned into a curtain-making frenzy! I had seen some other teachers in my building hanging curtains above their sink areas to hide stuff. I found some red material that matched my valances (which originally came from my 13-year-old son's nursery) and made the ones for my sink area. Then, I decided to make a black curtain to hang above my exterior door, which led to making a bandana print one for the actual door. Then came the red curtain to cover the little sliver of a window on my interior door. I love all of the new curtains! It really makes the room feel cozier!

Trash or Treasure?

Last year, my husband went to drop off the trash at the local collection center (in the south, we call it the dump), and came back with one of the ugliest pieces of furniture I've ever seen. It was a bench/pew, painted hunter green with a huge floral-covered piece glued to it. I immediately asked him what he was planning to do with this hunk of junk. He said he was hoping we could refinish it and keep it. I rolled my eyes. Really?
Well, it sat in our garage for a couple of months. Then one day I decided to try and do something with it. I knew I didn't want it in our house, but I thought it may have potential as a reading bench for my classroom. I already had a red/black theme in my room with my bookshelves and book bins, so I went to Hobby Lobby to see what I could find to decorate the bench to match my theme. I bought some scrapbooking paper, Mod Podge, and black paint and set to work. In about a week's time (and a lot of glue-scraping and sanding!!), this is what became of the ugly green bench:

Once the bench was finished, I decided to paint a corner cabinet that once belonged to my grandmother. I didn't have a place for it in our new house, so I thought it would be cute (and useful for storage) in my classroom as well. Here's the finished cabinet:

I eventually painted a stool and door sign to match:

I love these pieces! And to think it all started with a trip to the dump!

Almost Ready!!

I went to school to finish cleaning and organizing today. After cleaning the filing cabinet out and scrubbing sticky goo from old nametags off the desks, I think the room is almost ready. I finally was able to get rid of my huge teacher's desk, so there is much more room this year. Even though I still have a few more things to do, I thought I'd post a few pics.

Views from the door and corner:

Small group area (which now serves as my desk as well):Class library:

Class meeting area:

A small group center:

Student computers:

Word Study Center:

Sink Area:

I'm almost done... Just a few more finishing touches!