Texas Teaching Fanatic

A look inside a 4th grade classroom

Welcome Bunting

I finally got my WELCOME bunting up on my wall. I think it turned out cute! I’m not crazy about the shininess of the laminating, but eventually the triangles will straighten out and not have as much sheen. I’m probably going to take them down over the weekend and set them under some books to flatten those puppies out! The more I look at it, the more it kills me. I’m not OCD… 😉

Just wanted to post a quick pic of some progress. I’m getting more charts up, so I will post updated classroom pics soon!

Interested in making your own bunting? Stay tuned for a tutorial! 🙂

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First Day of School 2013

Whew! It’s over! And everyone for home to the right place. That is enough to call it success, right?

I’m extremely tired and ready for bed, but I thought I would drop in to say that the first day back with kids was really good. I only had to move one student from his original seat (I let them choose the first day–I’m crazy, I know) due to excessive talking. Both of my classes almost got finished with our Social Contracts. All that is left is signing our names and adding borders to make it final.

Most importantly, these students were very respectful and listened as I stated my goals for us this year. I told them that I don’t expect them to LOVE various subjects, but I want them to have the confidence and willpower to try new things and all challenges I put forth.

I told them that it is ok to not know, but it is not ok to not try. I also made it a point to explain that it is ok to make mistakes–EVERYONE makes mistakes (“…except Jesus!”–from a few kids), but it’s what we learn from our mistakes that makes us stronger.

Hopefully they take the message to heart because I meant every word of it.

As I said yesterday, this is going to be a great year! I have lots of sweet kiddos, and I’m looking forward to learning and growing with them.

That’s all for now. Going to bed. Need to be ready for another day tomorrow. Until next time…

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Kids Tomorrow!

Eek! The kids come back to school tomorrow! Summer is officially over. *sigh*

This will be a great year. Tomorrow marks my sixth seventh first day back! I can’t believe it. Wow, how time flies when you’re having fun!! 😉

My goals for this year:
1. Be organized every day! Take the time to clean up, put away, and sort things in an organized way.
2. Remain patient. I usually do a great job at this, but there’s always room for improvement.
3. Stay positive. I get in ruts sometimes where it feels like the world is caving in. You know, after the kids bomb that test you just knew they would ace or administrators tell you that you aren’t working miracles need to do more. It’s hard not to hang my head, but it always works out in the end.
4. Listen more. I like to talk. I come by it honestly. (Sorry, Mom, but it’s true!) I want to make an effort to shut up and listen to others.
5. Enjoy it. I haven’t had trouble with this–well, other than having to leave my newborn to go back to work–but I want to continue to enjoy my job, have fun with my students, and soak up their innocence and love for life. I don’t want to become one of those sour old teachers who despise every second on the job. (You have one of those in your head right now, don’t you?! We all know at least one!)

Tomorrow I put these goals into action and begin a new journey with new kids. And it will be great. 🙂

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Back To School I Go

Tomorrow I go back to work after a nice summer break. I always wish I had “just ONE more week,” but I’m also sort of secretly excited. The beginning of the year is always full of anxiety, hope, excitement, nervousness, panic…did I miss any? 😉

I’m almost ready for my classroom reveal. This week is only for teachers, and we have some time to finish up our rooms before “Back to School Night,” so I spent my last few days of summer away from my classroom.

I will be posting pictures soon. Hint: I’ve incorporated my black, blue, and zebra “theme.” I’m not really a theme person, so I decided to stay simple. 😉

For all of you that go back to work tomorrow, may the force be with you!! And for those that are already teaching your hearts out, we are right behind ya! 🙂

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Teacher Week 2013: 5 Tips & Tricks of Teaching

I’m linking up with Blog Hoppin’ again for the last linky party of the week.

Teacher Week

Today’s topic is tips and tricks that teachers use to help get us through those first few weeks of school.  Some of these things last all year, of course, but others are implemented at the beginning of the year for the most part.

photo 11. Social Contracts:  On the first day of school, I always create a social contract with each group of students.  I don’t like to give rules to my students.  Instead, I let them set the rules, and social contracts make this go much smoother.  I’ve found that the students are actually harder on themselves than I ever would be, and they always come up with the same rules that I would give them, but just worded in their own words.  For more information on how to manage this activity and some of the thinking behind it, click here –> Social Contracts.

2. Build the Climate: I like to have several class building and team building activities for the first few weeks.  Even though these students have been in school together for awhile, there are always new students that move in and others that are very shy and need help getting to know the other students in the room.  Kagan is a WONDERFUL resource for these activities.  My favorites are inside/outside circle, 4 corners, and think-pair-share.  I try to sprinkle these throughout the day.

3. Hand Shakes: Many teachers (and the school nurse) think I am absolutely crazy for shaking my students’ hands when they walk into my room every day, but I don’t care.  Teaching in a school with 78% of students coming from a low socioeconomic background means teaching things that aren’t on “the list.”  Shaking hands is a lifelong skill that these kids need to learn.  I think it also helps build that positive climate that we are all wanting.20130731-174532.jpg  For more information about this and the workshop where the idea was presented, click here –> Capturing Kids’ Hearts.

4. The Safe Place: In the back of my room is a special place where students can always go if they are angry, sad, or upset.  It’s nothing fancy, but a place for students to be away from all other students when they need it the most.  There are several ways to go about setting this up in your own classroom, and you just have to do what works for you.  I choose to put a bed pillow on the floor with a seat cushion and lots of stuffed animals to hug.  For more information on how to manage and implement your own “Safe Place,” click here –> The Safe Place.

5. Organization: One of the BEST ways to waste less time and get more bang for your buck is by staying organized.  This is where I have the most trouble.  I don’t have a problem starting the year organized, it’s keeping it that way!  I’m getting better and better at it, and this year I WILL stay organized all year.

Oh, and one more thing: KEEP SMILING!! The best medicine for any situation is a smile.  Breathe, relax, and remember: “This, too, shall pass!”  🙂

Do you have any additional thoughts?  I would love to hear from you!

I wish all of you the best of luck beginning a new school year!

teacherweek2Head over to Blog Hoppin‘ for additional tips and tricks!

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Monday Made It: Back To School Finale

It’s time again for Monday Made It with 4th Grade Frolics!

Monday Made It

Made It #1: Pencil Dispenser

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So after seeing a few of these puppies on Pinterest and other blogs, I knew I just HAD to make one!! I’m already spending birthday money just to do this (my birthday isn’t until November!!). Yeah, I REALLY wanted one!! Anyway, I like to give love to my inspiration when I can, so here are some links to the pins and blogs that I searched. {Blog Posts: Ms. Third Grade, Teaching Maddeness, and The Resource(ful) Room; Pin by Melissa Resendez}

I’m more of a “simpleton,” I guess, so my pencil dispenser is just black with my signature zebra and blue ribbon across the front. This wasn’t hard to do at all. I took 2 pieces of scrapbook paper that I had from my scrapbooking days and cut it into 4 pieces (one piece for each of the front 3 sections, and then a larger piece for the bottom. I decorated the piece that goes in the front with ribbon and stickers that spelled out pencils, and then I actually just used clear tape to attach the paper to the dispenser. Since I used black paper, I was limited to the type of adhesive I could use without it being seen!

And there you have it! An awesome pencil dispenser that will make my life much easier….hopefully, anyway! 🙂

Made It #2: Clipboards

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Front

Back

Back

My second MMI is a set of clipboards that I cutsified for my team members. As a welcome back gift, I decided to cover clipboards for my team members. They aren’t completely finished because I am going to personalize them once they make their picks. Instead of me choosing who each one belongs to, I’m going to let them choose.

These were super easy, and I’m sure you have seen them before. Most of you probably even have one! I just love school supplies and thought these would be a great way to welcome my team back to school. There will be 4 of us in 4th grade this year, and two of them are new, so may the force be with us! 😉

Thanks for stopping by! For more amazing ideas–and THE LAST MONDAY MADE IT OF THE SUMMER–head over to 4th Grade Frolics!

I’ve also linked up with Krafty Cards etc. for a linky party.

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Back To School: Table Cubby Labels

Another FREEBIE for you today.  I’ve been working today on my labels for my table cubbies.  I haven’t ever used these types of labels, but after seeing so many of them on Pinterest and on other blogs, I had to make some for myself!  Here they are, in all their cuteness!

Table Cubbies

If you like black & white or zebra print, feel free to download the ones I made.  Click here –> Table Cubby Labels.

I will be posting a tutorial on how to make these bad boys, so be sure to check back soon!

What is the theme for your classroom this year?  I’d love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below and tell us all how you are decorating your classroom this year!!

 

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Mission Organization: Supply Labels

Supply Labels Preview

Supply Labels Preview

Short post today.  I’ve been working diligently on getting everything ready for the beginning of the year.  These are the supply labels that I created, thanks to The 3AM Teacher.  I downloaded her border file from Teachers Pay Teachers (FREE, by the way) and created my labels with them.  There are 3 sheets…for pretty much everything.  Print them out and use them for yourself if you think they will be useful to you, too!  If I missed an important one that you would like for me to customize for you, just leave me a comment and I can send it to you.  Happy organizing!!

To download the labels click here –> School Supply Labels.

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Back To School Forms: Getting To Know You (Student Survey)

Getting to know youNext up is a student survey.  I like to get to know my students on a deeper level than some, so I created a student survey for the students to fill out during the first week of school.  The survey also serves as a conversation piece when it comes to writing.  I get so tired of students telling me that they have nothing to write about, so this is another way to conjure some ideas out of them!  To download the file, click here –> Getting to Know You.

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Back To School Forms: Classroom Job Application

11After browsing Pinterest for awhile, I came across some teachers who had the brilliant idea of creating a Classroom Job Application.  I thought they were super cute, but I wanted to create one of my own.  I plan to create a board that has a HELP WANTED section where I can post the job types and positions.  I have several classroom jobs, and I try to assign a job to each student, even if it means that two students take on the same job.  Every other year I have just assigned jobs to students who I felt would be good for them, but I decided to let the students tell me what jobs they would like to have and why they would be good for the job.

Feel free to take this application and use it in your classroom.  To get the printable file, click here–>Classroom Job Application.

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