Texas Teaching Fanatic

A look inside a 4th grade classroom

Only 4 hours left to enter the $50 giveaway!

Good evening, friends!

I just wanted to send out a reminder about my $50 online credit giveaway to Teaching & Learning Stuff.  You have 4 hours left to enter!  Hurry!  Don’t miss out!  Anyone who is a follower can enter (WordPress or email follower).   Click the link below to enter.

Rafflecopter giveaway for $50!!!

**And thanks to all of my followers!  If it weren’t for you, this wouldn’t be possible.  Thanks for the love!**

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I’m tired…”zombie” tired!

There’s nothing quite like beginning-of-the-school-year tired. I know this will get better, but right now I’m pooped!

Celebrations: We had our first PLC (Professional Learning Community) meeting today. We talked about what our school is like currently–the good, the bad, and the ugly–and talked about what we want our school to look like. It is always good to get those feelings out on the table and collaborate about what we can so to make positive chances. think this is going to be a great year!

My kiddos are learning. That’s always good! We are working hard, asking questions, participating in discussions, and becoming more independent. So far, I’ve been impressed with how much my students are willing to take risks and so things out of their comfort zones. LOVE that! 😉

Too tired to post much more. My next post (hopefully tomorrow) will be dedicated to setting goals and expectations with students. I was slapped in the face this week by how much teacher expectations play into student performance… Stay tuned!!

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A New Spin on Exit Tickets in the Classroom

Exit tickets can be “gold” to teachers who really use them correctly.  I always tell my students that I want need them to ask me questions so that I know what they are thinking and what is confusing them, but you know how that goes.  They are too embarrassed to ask in front of their friends.  No matter how much I praise them or invite them to ask about what they aren’t understanding, it never fails…MAYBE one person will ask a question, but usually I hear crickets instead.

I just HAVE to have a way to know what they don’t understand on a daily basis, so I cooked up a plan to get them talking.  Rather than students asking me a question, I now ask them at least one question that relates to the lesson and ask them to write down their answer for me.  I tell them to answer it to the best of their ability so that I really know what they are using and confusing.

I’ve cut apart countless pieces of notebook paper to hand out Exit Slips, and it always seems to take up more time and waste so many trees.  (I’m not a “tree hugger,” but I don’t like wasting those valuable resources)  I wanted something that the kids would like enjoy doing, so I thought about using a paper version of Twitter to make it more interesting.

photo 1(15)photo 2(15)

I covered the inside of my door with black paper and glued some blue border around it.  Then my student teacher (Thank God for her!!) made me some little squares with the altered Twitter bird and the students’ names.  Each student has his/her own laminated card on which to write answers to the questions I ask.  We velcroed them onto the door, and then spiced it up with a bigger (altered version) Twitter bird and the saying, “#ExitTweets.”  I think it turned out great!

I can’t wait for my students to see it on Monday.  I know they will love it!  My plan is to have them find and take down their Exit Slip as they come into the room.  They will use their dry-erase markers to write their responses at the end of the lesson, and then put them back on the door as they leave.  Hopefully they can remember where they put them each day!!

This whole system is fun and all, but there is more to it.  This allows me to see their responses as a group, and pick out the ones who are not comprehending the lesson.  Rather than taking home numerous tiny pieces of paper (and worrying about them getting lost), I can quickly take a look at the door to see who needs extra help.  That way I can pull them in small groups during our intervention time the following day.

What system do you use to collect data on a daily basis?  Any suggestions are welcomed!

Wish us luck!!

Monday Made ItFor more ideas, visit 4th Grade Frolics!

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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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2013 Classroom Reveal: Inside My 4th Grade Classroom!

I finally did it.  I cleaned up my room and snapped some quick pics before I left.  Warning: I make all of my anchor charts and rules and wall decor with my students, so the walls are very bare.  I’ve covered my bulletin boards, but there isn’t anything else on the walls.  You at least get the idea of what my “home away from home” looks like.  🙂

Here goes:

photo 1(8)This is a picture of the wall/bulletin board/shelf behind my desk.  I put pictures of my family at the top on the shelf, along with some keepsakes from past years.  I also put up all of my class pictures on the side of the bulletin board.  I have my own references and books on the shelves, and I figured you didn’t care about that stuff, so I cut it out of the pic.

photo 4(5)This is my whiteboard easel that holds the Writing Binders that my students will use to publish their writing, along with posters and chart paper.

photo 4(6)These are my classroom computers and my ELMO (document camera).  I have a Promethean board in my classroom and my projector is mounted in the ceiling.  You can see that from the whole classroom view.

photo 2(9)My mom made me some awesome curtains this year!  I love them very much!!  I used to have boring green ones, but luckily she was willing to help me give my room the facelift it needed.  This window is right by the door and looks out into the hallway.

photo 1(9)This is the sign-in area set up for Back to School Night and for parents to fill out on the first day of school (for those that missed B2SN).  I found that cute little whiteboard/chalkboard at Hobby Lobby for $5.99.  I just HAD to have it!!  🙂

photo 3(8)At the front of the room, underneath the Promethean board, I have just enough room to have a small shelf to hold materials that the students will be using on a regular basis.  I’m teaching math and writing this year, so it is a mixture of both.

photo 1(10)These are the table cubbies that I bought at Dollar Tree for $1.  Some of my students have already claimed their desks, so pardon the papers and names on them!

photo 4(7)Here is a closer look at my desk/teaching table.  I don’t have a “real” desk because all I do is junk it up!  😉  Instead, I just have a small table for my computer, a bucket of supplies underneath, and a small rolling cart with drawers to complete it.photo 1(12)A view from my teacher space.

photo 3(12)And last but not least, a look into my classroom from the door.

I’m super tired from my first week back.  The students come on MONDAY!  Where has the summer gone?  I’m signing off to enjoy my weekend.  If you are already back at school, hopefully all is going smoothly.  For those of you receiving students on Monday like me, good luck!  And for those of you who start even later, I’m only a little jealous…  🙂

Done for today!!

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Super Cute Fonts (Personal & Commercial Use–TOTALLY FREE!!)

Totally Free Fonts

I admit it.  I have a new addiction…other than blog stalking and Pinterest!  FONTS!!  I love fonts!!  I know, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy right about now!  That’s OK, you will find your font addiction soon, too, if you visit this website that I just found.

I know that there are lots of websites out there that offer “free” fonts, but many of them do not allow you to use their fonts on products that are not for personal use only.  So be careful!!  You don’t want to use a font on TpT or even on your website/blog that is for you only.  I just recently downloaded like…50 new fonts from www.fontsquirrel.com.  There is a plethora of fonts to choose from, and all of them allow you to use them commercially!

If you are looking for new fonts for back to school, head over to Font Squirrel for some awesome new fonts!!  I included the picture to show off a few of the new ones that I downloaded.

What is your favorite *FREE* font website?  I would love to hear from you!!  (It’s OK, if you admit you have an addiction, it’s not as bad….right??)  🙂

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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: Make Up Work & Corrections

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time keeping up with students who have missed assignments and those that need to make corrections.  In order to remedy that, I have created some forms for both the students and the teacher.

Make Up and Corrections

The student forms will be cut apart, hole punched, and put onto a ring to keep track of them before handing them to students.  You could just file them away somewhere, but I think the hole punch idea works better for me.  Click here to download Student Copy: Make Up Work and Corrections.

Teacher Corrections

Here is the Teacher copy for keeping up with students who need to make corrections on assignments.  At our school, we are allowed to work with students to help them make corrections to raise their grade to a 70.  (That’s why I put a conference date on the student copy.)  I will put the date of the Correction Conference underneath the student name in that column.  Click here to download Teacher Corrections Sheet.

Teacher Make Up

Last but not least, the teacher copy for keeping up with students who have been absent.  I will put both of these forms with my grade book to make tracking these kiddos easier.   Click here to download Teacher Make Up Work Sheet.

Hopefully these will help you organize your classroom, too!  🙂

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Anchor Charts

I finally uploaded some of my anchor charts that I used with my kiddos last year. Head over to my Anchor Charts page and check ’em out! 😉

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OUT with the OLD and IN with the NEW

Ugly Filing Cabinet

Ugly Filing Cabinet

I needed to get out of the house today, so where better to go than my classroom, right? The custodians have

finished waxing the floors and all of my stuff is on boxes, so I might as well just go ahead and jump in, especially since I’m planning to give my classroom a facelift before school starts.

I strutted in with my zebra contact paper in tow. Although I had grand plans for getting LOTS done, I couldn’t help but stare at the ugly tan filing cabinet just sitting there in all of its awfulness. I couldn’t help myself–I attacked it with my contact paper!

I thought it turned out pretty good. And the best part is that I’m now extremely motivated to clean out filing cabinet #2 and get rid of that bad boy! After an hour and a half of covering one, I decided I didn’t really want to have to do another.

Cute Filing Cabinet

Cute Filing Cabinet

Sorry, if you thought this would be an easy project, you’re wrong. The sides weren’t bad, and even the strips that go up and down on the front and in between the drawers weren’t bad. It was the drawers that took the longest and were frustrating. But..I did it…and am really glad that I did!

I will post pics of my room once it’s all finished, but I still have a long way to go. I took the “before” picture today, and it’s not pretty!! Stay tuned!!

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