Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Craftiness

Only two more weeks of school until Winter Break!

On Friday, we had our monthly visit to the senior center.  Our craft was ornaments made from pony beads and pipe cleaners.  It was great to sharpen fine motor skills for the students and seniors!  The seniors thought it was very creative.  I have to thank Pinterest for this one!

Follow this pin for instructions:

I put the supplies for each student and their senior partner in a bag to pass out materials quickly.  I made some with pre-formed shapes for my younger students.  Students made candy canes, Christmas trees, wreaths, and stars.  The most creative was a student who used multiple pipe-cleaners to make a Santa face.  Of course, I was so busy helping students I didn't get a photo of the final product.

Here is what I have planned this week:
(Click images to go to the sources)

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Somehow it seems that having only 17 students makes each of their needs ever more apparent.  As I analyze the assessments of each student, I realize just how different the needs of each student are.  It is hard to group students in a way that truly benefits each student and it is impossible to work with each student one on one.
In my gut, I know that what these students need is weekly extremely targeted instruction in the skills they are lacking.  However, this is a level of intervention they will not receive until Spring (waiting on money from the state).  All of the assessment data I have collected so far indicates that these students are severely behind and may even need tier 3 intervention.  I think we could be closing the gap a lot faster if we offered more individualized interventions from the beginning of the year.

Math seems to be the most difficult for me to give intervention during instructional time.  I have been thinking a lot about why this is and it finally came to me: because students require more support with reading instructions, I am not as free to work with small groups.  Now my search begins for apps and websites that will target the math concepts they need to learn, but will also read the instructions to the student.  That will allow me to do more work with small groups.

Recently we've been working on number line skills and using skip jumps to add.  We did some whole group warm up intervention by working as a class to create a number line on the floor.  Students then took turns making jumps of 2, 5, and 10.  It was a lot of fun and great for kinesthetic learners.  It's simple, but its the most intervention I can do at this point.

I would love to hear your thoughts on interventions in math with struggling readers.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Charity in the Classroom

One great idea sparks another!  The yearbook club did a canned food drive and needed places to send the cans.  I got connected with a local mission and we've been brainstorming future charity projects for the school ever since.  It seems that the biggest needs are cans, holiday candy, and holiday cards.  Unfortunately, my class didn't collect the most cans (no pizza party for us), but I'm hoping that my students really get behind me on my candy drive.  The prize will be a pinata provided by the mission!  The winning class will also take a field trip to tour the mission.

I'm amazed how the yearbook club is setting precedents in our young school.  Because of them we will do ongoing charity work with local missions.  Oh, and they also inspired me to start a drama club!  These kids are eager for ways to spend more time at school!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monstrously Fun Alphabet App (and Bonus Spelling App!)

I was asked to review this simple alphabet app.  It looked extremely simplistic to me, but we just received iPads in the classroom and I was desperate for a way to spice up letter learning.  Some of my Kinders came in knowing fewer than 5 letters out of 52 (uppercase and lowercase).  Progress has been slow...

Now that we have iPads I can reward them with extra alphabet practice!  One lucky little guy got to be the first tester of A to Z Monsters.  He spent no more than 2 minutes on the app before there were 5 others surrounding him eagerly waiting for their turn.  I'm amazed how quickly students figure out how apps work!  Even my first graders wanted a turn at this app!  I think the app's simplicity worked to its advantage.  It was such a big hit that I even used it during transitions!  Students who lined up quickly and quietly got to press a monster and say the letter.

Here is how it works:
Select the first letter (the first time through you must go in alphabetical order). Once selected, the monster comes to life.  The goal is to squish the monster to hear the letter name.  My students loved chasing the monsters around the screen!  I found out that some of them have better hand eye coordination than others.

This app made learning letter names fun and engaging.  The animations are really cute, too.  What I love most is that it links each letter with a word.  This is really important as my letter learners are also building their reading skills.  Hopefully they will be making the transition from letter learners to beginning sound learners soon!  Get these crazy letter monsters for your students here.

And now an app that I was not asked to review...
While browsing word work apps in the App Store, I stumbled upon Spell Sam Spell.  Ironically, it is by the same app developers as A to Z Monsters!  Spell Sam Spell is like Mario Bros with a spelling focus.  My first and second graders loved controlling the little character and collecting letters to make words.  The fun never ended with new levels and quick brain break coin collections in between.  This app brought spelling to a whole new level of fun!

Now that we have the iPads, I'm sure I'll be trying out many more apps!  You can find my ever growing list of apps for the classroom on Pinterest.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What's on your wishlist?...Cyber Monday and Bonus Tuesday

Today is the day to prepare your wish list!  The TpT Cyber Sale begins tomorrow!  My store will be 20% and TpT is giving an extra 10% off when you enter the code "CYBER" at checkout.

These are the two most wishlisted resources in my store:

Here is what will be in my cart:

Addition and Subtraction Fact Strategies Combo PackLet's Go Around the World! {a whole year of social studies}Bundle 1 - Common Core Crunch September to December - ELA

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Keep Your Eyes on Your Finger

I found these Oobi eyes while browsing Amazon.  I thought they would be a fun way to spice up guided reading.  So many of my students are working on tracking the words or reading the whole word.  They all loved putting these eyes on their fingers and it helped them to keep track of where they were.  My students begged to keep these in their book boxes.  I'm constantly being reminded that even the smallest thing can keep learning exciting.

Friday, November 29, 2013

New Blog Design

Sorry we've been absent for a few weeks!  We've been hard at work making decisions about our new blog design.  Ok, so we had the easy job.  Thanks to Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs for her hard work (and patience)!

We hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 8, 2013

A much needed three day weekend

A month ago I would have been complaining that students seem to forget all school rules over a three day weekend. Now, I have been eagerly anticipating this three day weekend all week.  We have a professional day on Monday to complete report cards.  To me, a professional day to complete my work is still a day off. I hope I will get caught up and organized. I just received a shipment of brand new high quality hard cover picture books from The Cleveland Book Fund. Unpacking those on Monday is going to be like an early Christmas. Pictures to come!

Do you like having three day weekends?


Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Who likes Mondays?  We call it the weekend slide.  It seems that students forget all rules over the weekend.  Yesterday my crew came back unusually unruly.  We've been battling some tough behaviors and I could do nothing but sit back and watch the chain of behaviors unfold.  I braced myself for a long day.

All morning long we took two minute quiet breaks with heads down to regroup.  We could work for five or ten minutes and then the chattiness and misbehaviors began again.  Back to our heads down we went.

Then lunch hit.  Lunch is my favorite time of the day.  At our school teachers eat with their classes in the cafeteria.  I enjoy it as a time to get to know students.  They share stories from their life.  Its a great time to just be together.  We worked really hard the first month of school learning table manners.  Now, I have the most well mannered class at lunch!  We have received many compliments.  I was especially impressed that yesterday I had to leave in the middle of lunch to care for a student and the rest of my class continued quietly talking and eating.  The other teachers hadn't even noticed I had left.  My class was that well behaved!  I praised them profusely that I could trust them so much.

That successful lunch time really turned our day around.  Despite the chaotic morning, we had a peaceful and successful afternoon of learning.

I hope you had a great Monday!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

I survived...

A field trip the day after Halloween!  Not only did we survive our trip, but we thrived!  The school scheduled our monthly trip to the senior center for the day after Halloween.  All week, I was dreading that day more than Halloween itself.  I knew many kids would stay up late Thursday night and be all sugared up.  Add to that that we hadn't had the best week as it was.  It seems like students are becoming comfortable and starting to test me again.  Exhausted and drained, I was unsure how our trip would go.

The trip went as perfectly as could be expected of young children.  We got onto the bus in a timely manner.  They sang nice and loud the two simple songs we had prepared and then they set to work making leaf hats.  My first and second grade students did a project in which they learned about what their senior partner did in the fall as a child.  It was a great way to bring our study of past and present to life.  Their conclusion was that some of the fall activities of the past, such as carving pumpkins and jumping in the leaves, are timeless activities.  It was a really productive trip!  As soon as we were back on the bus, my class wanted to know if we were going to go to the senior center every Friday.  That, to me, is what marks this as a successful trip.

Have a great weekend!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween brain breaks

This post is coming days later than I had planned.  Work has been a little (ok, more than a little) hectic with the start up of a new intervention class and the battery of assessments we are required to administer before report card are due next week.  It seems like I have done nothing but assess this year.  Beginning of the year assessments, state assessments, and now first trimester benchmark assessments.  Of course, much of the first trimester has been spent building the classroom community and learning the rules and routines.  I'm looking forward to finishing up these assessments and really diving into content.

With all these assessments going on, I've started using brain break videos.  Our favorite so far is the gummy bear song, but last week we did the skeleton dance a few times.  My students quickly figured out that at the end of the video you can click on other songs.  When they had really great behavior last week, we did two in a row and they got to choose the second.  We settled on this really neat Spooky Halloween Song.

I like it because it shows a simple label with each image and is great for teaching Halloween vocabulary.  It's great to stumble upon a great engaging educational resource.  I don't think my students even noticed they were reading the labels as they danced along!

Do you have a favorite brain break?


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Trusting Lucy

We had our first writing celebration on Friday.  My students have worked so hard on getting their first pieces written.  Our focus was generating ideas and moving through the writing process.  I had been seeing small signs that we were reaching our goal throughout the unit.  Scribblers became letter writers.  Reluctant writers became prolific writers.  My students love writing time.  They steal time to write throughout the day and are extremely reluctant to stop writing, even when it's time to go home!  At our celebration, each author shared his/her writing and received three compliments/questions.  Each student had a moment to shine and each student learned a little something about how writing can be improved so that readers understand it.

To be honest, I didn't really know what I was doing or where the unit was leading.  I felt like I was blindly following Lucy Calkins, hoping that my students would be able to produce writing by the end of it all.  Lucy leads at a good pace, but more importantly she is encouraging.  Too often I would look over my students' writing and think of all the things they need to work on.  My focus kept coming back to conventions.  I would even make remarks to students about what they could improve.  I noticed that this caused those students to have a writing lull.  When I jumped back on board with Lucy and saw and praised all the ideas students were generating and the effort students were giving, my students responded with putting forth even more effort and producing even better writing.  I must trust that as I follow along with Lucy, the conventions will come.

A teacher down the hall had her students publish their first work this past week as well.  When I walked in to see their work, it all looked the same: one page beautifully printed with great conventions, each a picture with one sentence.  I walked back into my room at the end of the week and saw my student's work displayed.  It looked a lot less refined, but I saw each author in his/her writing.  I remembered the strides each student had made during the unit.  Booklets, one page, one word, many sentences.  My students' work varied but each piece reflected the author and showed the author's purpose.  My students will never know just how proud I am of their work.

I hope you had a great week!


Friday, October 11, 2013

Leaps of Learning

What a great week!  My youngest students are working hard on learning their letters.  My week was made when they started writing strings of letters during writing workshop this week!  They are learning that letters are what make up words and that the words hold the meaning in books.  I'm even seeing progress in their understanding of beginning sounds.  I attribute this progress to daily letter work and a few successful writing lessons.

In writing this week, we learned about different purposes for writing.  Writing lists and letters really encouraged my young students to try words (letter strings) instead of only drawings.  Desharae in Second on TpT made prep for these lessons a breeze!  Check out this amazing pack of writing papers I used:
Work on Writing:  Forms for Writer's Workshop
My letter friends also enjoyed their first picture sort.  They really loved the poem that went with the sort from Words Their Way.  I think this really encouraged their interest in words as well.
I have made leaps in learning how to stay organized.  I am using colored file folders and stackable trays.  Blue for math, yellow for reading, and red for writing.  Each tray has the papers I need for each part of the day conveniently located in a brightly colored folder.  I also have two extra trays for papers to grade and need to file/copy.  So far this system is working for me.
What are your tips/tricks for staying organized?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Community Field Trips

I'm finally feeling caught up.  I'm sure that will change soon.  (It always seems to work that way.)  Part of feeling caught up is the arrival of these new bins and new found organization!  I love the continuity the bins give and that they hide a lot of clutter.  Now that they are all labeled, I am working on teaching my students to keep them organized.
I know I'm behind on blogging.  Last week was a crazy busy week.  We had field trips on Thursday and Friday!  On Thursday we went to an urban farm.  It was fun to go on a walking field trip.  We walked about 13 blocks.  It was a long walk for my Kindergarteners, but it was great practice learning appropriate behaviors out in their community.  As we walked, we searched for letters and numbers.  These basic skills are much more fun to build in the real world.

One of my students found a dead grasshopper.  We took the grasshopper back to school to study.  A week later, my students are still talking about the grasshopper.  I've had a number of parents enquire, saying that their child said they just had to see what we found at the farm!  Our trip was a huge success!  We learned some academics, but more importantly we learned to take care of one another and respect nature.

Think that was enough for one week?  Nope!  We took a field trip on Friday too!  We had a great opportunity to meet some senior citizens in our community last Friday.  I was amazed at how my students quickly got to know their senior partner.  Although many of my students were shy at first, by the end of our 45 minute visit they did not want to leave!  The seniors really enjoyed meeting my little ones and encouraging them in their learning.
The worst part was the bus ride.  After such a successful walking trip the day before, it was frustrating that my students just would not sit still on the bus.  On the way to the senior center, we tried songs and searching for letters and numbers.  None of that was really successful or engaging for all students.  On the way back, I whipped out some picture books I had brought along.  I had enough for each pair of students to read.  They sat still and read for the whole ride!  As pairs finished reading one book, they swapped books with another pair.  What a great way to get some reading in since we were missing our reading workshop time that day!  Note for future planning: pack a bag of books for every bus trip.
I hope you had a great week!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Creating Intrinsically Motivated Students

Motivating students is something that is very challenging for me.  I was a very intrinsically motivated student.  I wanted to be at school every day and learn.  I know that is not the case for the majority of students.  At my current school the motivation methods seem to be extrinsic and material driven.  Children win cheap prizes and save up dollars they have "earned" to buy more cheap stuff in classroom "stores."  Essentially teachers are paying students to behave the way they should so that learning can take place.  Students don't develop an intrinsic desire to learn by collecting cheap toys.

I have found it is much more useful to give learning rewards.  As a way of scaffolding students into doing the correct behaviors, I provide learning oriented rewards.  Building our silent reading stamina is one area that this has been particularly successful.  We first went up minute by minute.  Students felt accomplished as the little bars slowly grew.  Then we had a particularly chatty day and our graph dropped.  One student pointed out (without any prompting), "that's embarrassing."  So we talked.  Yes, that is embarrassing, but we have proven that we can continue to improve and we can't let this one dip hold us back.  Let it be a reminder as we move forward.  Now my students were more determined than ever.  I offered them a great reward: If we make it halfway to our goal of 30 minutes, you can take turns sitting on the carpeted space for reading time.  The students just love my reading nook and it is the best reward.  They want it and it keeps them reading!

Other non material rewards include
-lunch outside or in the classroom for good lunch behavior in the cafeteria
-5 minutes to chit chat for an extended period of quiet work time
-free choice centers (legos!) for good behavior during learning centers

I am required to have a class store full of cheap toys.  So, I decided to make it into an economics lesson.  Students earn a dollar each day their classroom job is done well.  They are really doing work which should be paid.  I made them practice for a whole week before I gave them their first pay check.  They thought it was really great to be paid for the work they do.  It is not paying them for work I expect from everyone.  Each student has his/her job and that is what earns them money.  Filling in for an absent student to make sure their job is done, earns an extra dollar.  I occasionally give bonuses for extremely polite behavior, being extra thoughtful of others, and other things I notice students doing that go above and beyond to help our classroom and school run smoothly.  Students understand that they need to have generally good school behavior in order to earn these bonuses.  Students are learning responsibility and the value of hard work through their classroom jobs.  I am hoping they begin to learn to save their money too.  There are some high priced items in the store that the students really want.  Only one or two students are saving every week, but I know the other students will catch on when they see those students get a bigger item next week.

I can't say my method is perfect or that I haven't used material rewards.  Some days are just really tough and it is so easy to offer a small eraser as a prize to well behaved students to get the others in line.  But in general, I think my students are learning to be more intrinsically motivated as they reach for an educational prize rather than a cheap toy.

I do have some students for whom school behavior is an extra challenge.  For them I have implemented my Smiley Behavior Rating Scales.  They earn prizes at home for earning a smiley face (good day) at school.  Most parents opt for material rewards such as candy, but going to the park can be just as great a reward.  I must say that the external incentive is working very well for those students.  They are also learning the satisfaction of having a great day.  In just four weeks I have seen two students turn around their behavior and are no longer being considered for special ed!

How do you motivate students?   I am constantly learning and changing.  I would love to hear what has worked for you.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

New Stuff For The Teacher!

Orders are finally coming in.  Remember how I got my classroom furniture the day before school started?  Well, now a month in to school I finally received my desk, technology cart, and student laptops.  I'm really happy about the new desk.  It has been a great motivator for me to get organized.


 Academics have started to pick up.  We are a month into school and students know the expectations.  We are building reading stamina.  My students were thrilled to reach 20 minutes!  We are getting close to our goal of 30.  We also just learned this week how to pick our own books.  This fit perfectly with our first visit to the school library.  We learned the I Pick Rap and earned a bookmark by being able to tell what each letter stands for.  You can see a better photo of the bookmark and download it for free in my TPT shop.

My math time has been taken up with state testing.  It is the only time of the day when we have the students grouped by grade level.  Reading and math screeners are done, now we must tackle the writing screener. I have had students exploring math materials while I give the individual portions of the assessments.  This is "Sir Pattern" that a student made with tiles.
I hope you had a great week!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Last week's successes in photos

I wrote this last weekend and just noticed it never published. Technology has not been on my side lately.

This week I finally felt like my room is more or less together and we are into our routine.  It took many days and hours (during which I have slacked on blogging-sorry). This weekend has gotten away from me as I finish up a few last beginning if the year projects, so I'll just do a quick photo post for you. Each photo is captioned with how it represents a success for the past week.

This is the front of the room. Technology is set up. Students have their toolboxes with pencils and markers each labeled and stored in their cubby. Hopes and dream bulletin started. Class jobs have been introduced, assigned, and displayed (the bees on the right).

I started CAFE for the very first time! Exciting, but challenging. This week I am going to review the strategies I introduced to give me more practice and ensure that the students have a good foundation of important reading strategies. To do this week is to conference with students and set their goals!

Math corner is set up and being put to daily use. We are using Bridges this year and I'm really liking it. (Maybe more on that in a future post).
Calendar time was chaos and time was being wasted on getting supplies. I simplified the process by setting up these toolkits. Each student gets two pencils and a dry erase marker each labeled with his/her name. I tried hot gluing Pom poms but they kept falling off when the students used them. So, I went to Dollar Tree and picked up baby washcloths. They came four washcloths in a pack! The students thought these were just as cool as Pom Pom erasers and much easier to use!

That's all for now. I hope you had a great week and refreshing weekend!


Hey Everyone!

First, my name is Katie. Second, I'm SORRY! Olivia introduced me a long time ago and it took me forever to post. This is my first blog ever and I am thankful that Olivia wanted me to share stories, ideas, struggles, highlights, and failures from my classroom.
 About me:
    My name is Katie and I am currently living in North Carolina, teaching second grade. It is my second year of teaching and I taught third grade last year. I have found out that when you switch to a new grade it feels like you are a first year teacher again and the exhaustion that Liv posted about earlier is relived. I recently got married and life is full of adjustments.

My school: is East Iredell Elementary in Statesville, NC. It has a dual immersion program that teaches spanish and it is in the lower economic spectrum. Great things are being done there with the amount of losses and cut backs we had just two months ago.

My classroom: has 18 students and no TA. When you step into my room it is about being a family, where we use our words to solve problems, use our manners when speaking to each other, respect is shown through our words and actions, and responsibility of becoming independent is key.
 I know this is a really long post so I'll stop and make sure I post again this week.  :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Holding Each Other Accountable

This week I have been working on holding students accountable for their work. We are building stamina for reading and every day there are a few students who just don't want to read. Any students not reading during silent reading owe me reading time during the next class activity. They can't move on to anything else unless they read. Most students get right to reading and by the time the rest of the class has their book bins put away, the straggling students are ready. I have had a few occasions when I have had to keep students from their specials because they refuse to read. Slowly they are learning to love to read and start to complain when it is time to stop reading. I have also caught some of these same students stealing reading time during math and writing time! 
Students are also holding me accountable. When I give them a consequence they remind me. I told one student he had to spend five minutes of his PE time learning to walk and not run. At PE time he was quick to remind me he needed to practice walking. He was holding me accountable for the consequence I gave him. I'm now very conscious about the consequences I give. I know students expect me to follow through just like I expect them to. Again, part of teaching is modeling what we expect of our students. Setting these expectations during these first weeks is vital to having a great school year. I know spending so much time teaching procedures will start paying off in just a few weeks.
I hope you are having a great week!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Respect in the Classroom

I'm two weeks into the school year. No one can prepare you for the work and exhaustion that goes into the first weeks. I am desperately trying to teach my students respect. Right now our focus is on being quiet and listening when others are speaking. Sharing at morning meeting is great practice for this. Over the course of a week, each student gets the chance to share something from their life and the rest of us practice quietly listening and thinking of follow up questions.
We are building the culture of our school around respect. Each student begins and ends the day by shaking his/her teacher's hand.  As much as possible, each teacher is giving individual feedback and positive reinforcement to each student.
My Kindergarteners have had little to no prior school experience and are having trouble adjusting to school. They are a very talkative bunch with a few students who wander around the room and very few of them actually clean up when I tell them to. I know they need time to adjust, but I wasn't sure they were really getting the message of respect. They certainly didn't seem to be showing it to me by wandering and not following my directions. Then, one day this last week, I was giving a direction and one of the Kindergarteners asked me to say please. It was a big lightbulb moment for me. As frustrated and exhausted as I was, I realized that I still needed to model respectful language to the students. I was also very proud to hear that this student had been hearing my messages about speaking respectfully.  It is much harder to show respect than to talk about expecting it.
The lesson for me this week is that no one is perfect. I was feeling very inadequate and incapable this week, but I know that we all need time to adjust to a new school and new community members. I still have high hopes for this class and look forward to this coming week of lessons and successes. I hope you are having an excellent beginning to your school year and are continuing to learn about yourself and those in your community.


Monday, September 2, 2013

I Pick and A New Blogger

It's been a crazy week.  I just finished my first full week.  No one can ever fully prepare you for just how challenging the first week can be.  I'm hoping to get a much more detailed post up soon, but I have more prep for the week to do on this beautiful holiday.  Here is one piece of prep I accomplished today:

I created this bookmark to give to my students when they finally get to pick their own books later this week!  As much as I have tried to choose books that interest them, my students know themselves and are eager to have control over what they read.  You can download these bookmarks free at my TpT shop.
I also have some big news this week!  I am welcoming my friend Katie to be a co-blogger on this blog.  We went to college together and she has supported me and encouraged me all along.  Katie began teaching in NC last year and has started teaching 2nd grade this year.  She has wonderful ideas and I am honored to have her sharing them here on this blog.  Keep your eye out for her post first coming soon.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Small Steps

We are still practicing our procedures and listening to the teacher. These first weeks are exhausting, but rewarding as I build relationships with my students. I am trying to focus on the small milestones we are making. We haven't mastered walking in the hall in a quiet line, but we are experts at centers. I love doing centers because my students are engaged in meaningful work and I get to spend time with small groups. Seeing the little accomplishments in each day is helping me stay energized and optimistic. 
So far this week we have accomplished drawing self portraits. We are also loving Pete the Cat. I took photos of each students shoes and plan to make a class book of us walking in our school shoes. I didn't tell the kids why I was asking photos of their shoes and they didn't ask. I think they just felt so special I was looking at their shoes. 
There is so much going on this week. I'm dealing with some difficult behaviors too. One cries for daddy, one is verbally defiant, and one is angry and lashes out... Your tips and tricks are appreciated. I hope you are of go a great school year and no matter the problems you are seeing the accomplishments.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mini Day of School and procedures, procedures, procedures

We had a mini day of school today. It was a three hour optional attendance day.  Students came to meet their teachers, see their classrooms, and get a head start on learning procedures. Most of my kids are band new to the school. My kindergarteners are, of course, all new. Most of my first and second graders are new to the school too. This is part of the fun of being part of a new and growing school! I am so excited for the learning we will do this year.
As much as I really wanted to dive into some fun lessons, my principal really wants us to focus solely on procedures this week.  Nobody ever really taught me what to do on the first day with a bunch of new students.  I was surprised to find that it took us a half our and repeated practice throughout the day to learn to form a line at least semi quickly.  Keeping quiet and hands to ourself on the line is our next battle.  Now I understand the importance of teaching every detail of the procedures! Tomorrow we are going to start from the beginning of the day and work our way slowly through achieve procedure. Hopefully we'll get our line straight and quiet so we can go out to the playground.
Besides lining up progress, we had a really great session of learning today.  We learned how to properly use crayons! They kids were so impressed with their brand new crayons and worked really hard to learn to care for the crayons so that they will last a long time.  I'm so proud of my students for being so thoughtful and responsible.  I'm hoping they will do just as well with playdough tomorrow.
Thank you for reading my scattered thoughts after what seemed a long "first" day. Our real first day is tomorrow and its a full day. Thankfully we are starting the specials schedule so I'll have a break in the afternoon. I'd appreciate your tips for beginning of the year activities and lessons.  Here are some photos of my room with my new furniture!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

You have one day!

One day left to enter this massive giveaway at Crayons, Cuties, and Common Core!

One day until the big TpT Back To School Sale 2013!  It is going to be the biggest sale yet.  Thousands of sellers will have their stores on sale, plus TpT is giving you an extra 10% off at check out!  My entire store is on sale 20% off August 18 and 19.  Use the code BTS13 to get 10% off my already discounted prices.  That comes out to a total of 28% savings on my resources!
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Best Apps for Organizing Your Library

I tested two apps for iPad that keep a record of the books in your library.  The first one is Book Crawler.  They offer a free lite version which has a limit of 25 books, but it is useful for exploring the apps features before you decide to buy the full version. I think the full version allows an unlimited number of books. The app is actually designed to record books you have read. You can input books you own, books you borrowed, etc. It has categories to track all of the information about the book, including whether or not you own it.  I haven't tested it, but I think you can use the collection category to track which books you currently have from the library.

Here is how it works:

Tap new and then select one of the input options that pop up.

I found the ISBN scanner to be very useful and accurate. Most books with a bar code could be quickly pulled up. 

Here you see I have just entered a new title. I can add any missing information as well as mark if it is in my personal collection and tag the entry.

I did run into this error three or four times out of the 150 books I scanned. I liked that the error message also gave me a solution for the problem. Going to the barcode in the inside cover worked every time!

Level It is designed to track books in a classroom library and give teachers important information such as the book's reading level.

This is the home screen.

Here is the library I created.

The screen for inputting or changing the library title and description.

Opens for how to add a new book.

ISBN scanner.

Then it searched...

A successful entry!

Level It was not as user friendly and did not successfully call up as many books by ISBN.  It did however give me the reading levels which is what I needed! 

Overall, I was very impressed with Book Crawler. It has a user friendly interface. It is also easy to add books that don't have a bar code, just enter the inf manually.  I liked that I could take photos of the covers of my books, so I would know exactly what the book looked like.  Most images that came up with the ISBN scan were accurate. I was all set to use this wonderful app when my principal told me she wanted all of my classroom library books leveled.  That is when a colleague told me about the app Level it. The idea is you only have to scan the ISBN and the app will record it in as part of your library with the guided reading and DRA level listed.  This app also boasts a check out system.
What I didn't like about Level It is that it is only built for iPhone, so you get this small, not as user friendly screen on the ipad.  It also only took about 1 in 5 books by ISBN scan.  Books that Book Crawler recognized had to be manually entered on Level It.  It also won't allow me to differentiate between books I own and books in my class library that belong to the school.  My solution is to use both apps. Book Crawler will track which books are mine and other books I come across that I want to remember. Level It will track all of the books in my class library this year and the level of each book.  I am still undecided about if I will even use the check out feature on Level It.  

How do you handle tracking the books in your library?