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!
Click here or on the widget in the side bar to browse my shop.

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?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fitting New School Methods into an Old School Building

I finally got into my classroom! I had been waiting because my furniture is on order, so not much to do in the room. I went yesterday to drop off some books only to find all the extra furniture in my room. My furniture is supposed to arrive the day before school starts-yikes...stressful! So, I played around with the miscellaneous furniture and actually found a set up I can live with. What I'm really missing is bookshelves.  I now feel like I have a lot more I can do in my classroom. Professional Development starts next week, so I'll be using all the spare hours I can get to bring my classroom together. It's exciting to be setting up my very first classroom!

Here is what I walked into yesterday.
That set up of the desks was taking up way too much space!  And all those tables shoved in the corner sure seemed like an excess of tables.

Here is what the classroom looked like when Ieft. All of the tables have found a home! I can't wait to get some rugs in there to make it more cozy. I also need those large pieces of furniture moved. It's a work in progress!

I just love my classroom! Look at those beautiful wood floors! And the large windows give so much natural light. They also look out across the street to the community garden! Those new blue chairs and the grouped seating are the signs of modern educational thought in this depression era room.  Something has to happen to those chalkboards because they are in poor condition and not even magnetic!  I do love the old feel of this classroom. I can imagine my grandparents teaching in a room much like this. 

Here is one last photo for you: our coat closet! It's behind the wall to the right in the photo above. It has two entrances, one at the front of the classroom and one at the back.

Many more photos to come in the next two weeks!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Educents Daily Giveaways in August

You don't want to miss out on these daily giveaways from Educents.  You can enter all 31 giveaways right now!  Enter here.

Also, if you haven't already signed up for Educents, you can receive a $5 credit by doing so now! Sign up here.

You will also want to enter Teacher Created Resource's giveaway.  Enter daily until September 30, 2013.  All you have to do is enter your email!  Win an iPad for you and an iPad mini for me! Click here for more details.


Friday, August 2, 2013

The Importance of Blogging and The Start of a New Year

What kind of teacher would I be if I wasn't a blogger?  For me, blogging is essential to my teaching.  Blogging gives me a place to reflect on my teaching.  I'm not real good about keeping myself accountable, but having an audience seems to help me force myself to get my thoughts written down.  Sometimes I publish them and sometimes I don't, but reflecting in the frame of sharing with you all sure helps me to take the first step.  Blogging has also been a great way to connect with other teachers.  Learning from more experienced teachers and supporting other teacher-bloggers is important to me because it continuously fuels my fire for teaching.  Blogging is an important outlet and connection for me.  This is why I encourage other teachers to blog and why I value, dear readers, so much.  Thank you for reading! 

We are in for some exciting adventures as I begin my first year teaching K-2...all in the same classroom!  I must confess, I will likely only have 16 little ones (5 Kinder, 5 First, and 6 Second).  I still haven't received a class list or schedule.  I do know that the kids will get science instruction as a special and they switch into more rigid grade designations for math.  I'll have the second graders for math!  This is also going to be my first year doing Daily 5.  I have been reading and re-reading the books.  I really like the framework and hope that if I really stick to it, Daily 5 will be successful in my classroom.  I have always wanted a more individualized/workshop method for language arts, so Daily 5 seem right up my alley.  I am looking forward to sharing my adventures with you!  It's going to be a fun year!