Wednesday, July 24, 2013

All I wanna do is read!!

I found this wonderful blog on Pinterest & decided to join in on the linky party started by Mr. Hughes at An Educator's Life, sharing great 6th grade level reading.  I cannot believe I fell upon this great resource.  I have been trying to elevate the classroom library I inherited from my master teacher since he left elementary teaching to be a college professor.  Hopefully this great outlet will help you as much as I when it comes to finding great literature to share with your students and create life long readers and learners.

Here are some of the books I believe are wonderful stories for 6th graders to read and enjoy.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. This book is a great read especially to tie in with the Ancient Greece unit in Social Studies.  There is a lot of great Ancient Greece references even though it is completely for entertainment.

2. Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the witch, and the Wardrobe. by C.S. Lewis.  This story is full of imagery and a wonderful tale of good overcoming evil.  It is a wonderful read to help tie in character traits and how the setting is usually an additional character to the story.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.  I fell in love with this story after reading it last year for the first time.  This is the first book I am having my students read this year as a way to show how autobiographies, an any form, can have an impact.  I want my students to write their own autobiography while reading this, as a way to get to know them at the beginning of the year.

These are three of my treasured reads for my 6th graders that I am contributing.  I hope to add more at another time, but for now this is a great start.  Plus, these are three of the four books I am going to implement in my classroom for literature circles.  My 4th is Bud, Not Buddy.  I know that is more geared for 5th graders, but the main character is a 10 year old boy and the story is really engaging for the students.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

WOW!! What a week!!!

Well, I finished my first week of new teacher orientation.  So much information compacted into 5 days.  As you read in my previous post, the first day was about the boring stuff...benefits & what not.  The next day was a presentation by Diana Day.  I got quite a bit out of it, but I am not sure how much of it can be applied to my group of 6th graders.  I was a lot of thank yous and talking to your students, which don't get me wrong I appreciate - but the demonstrations lend themselves to being very primary grade oriented, so application might not be successful.  I want to talk to my students - yes, but not down or below them.

Wednesday we had a training with Dr. Carolyn Reedom.  She was amazing.  A lot of examples and strategies I can use with my students.  I especially like the workshop on the No Nonsense Nurturer, which I so am.  I especially liked when she said don't tell the students "Thank You" for something they are supposed to be doing.  I don't expect a thank you after each lesson, the students shouldn't be told thank you for getting to work as directed.  Finally, someone who sees it the same way as myself.  I especially loved the communication part of her workshop.  It is important to communicate with parents on the bad, of course how would they know their student is getting out of hand before its too late, but she also stressed how IMPORTANT it was to communicate to the parents about something positive.  Because of this I went to VistaPrint & ordered postcards I can send to my parents throughout the year to inform them about the good when the student is being spectacular.  Here the postcards I created to send...
front of the postcard
back of the postcard

I got a coupon through LivingSocial for $50 of product for only $10.  So I created my ADORABLE business cards (250 of which I am going to attach a magnet to the back & give my parents), along with 100 of my awesome postcards - with express shipping totaled just under $16.  I am so excited to send my first "Scholar Superstar" messages out.  My plan is to send 2 to each student through out the year, maybe more.  I could have an amazing class where they are always awesome & never troublesome....yes I am hoping & wishing.  But you never know - they do say wishes do come true.

My adorable business cards.
Thursday we went over the LOI and the Mentor Program our district has created for all new teachers to the district.  I think that is amazing, I have so much support at my fingertips - the district sets their teachers out for success at every turn, which alleviates some stress and anxiety I have at the time.

Friday culminated in visiting a 6th grade classroom in the district to see how the teacher sets her's up and gives suggestions on what has worked, and things tried but were unsuccessful.

What was even better Thurs & Fri afternoons we got to spend in our classrooms.  Saying my classroom was scary is an understatement.  It was previously occupied by a 3rd grade class, and the teacher was not asked to return.  So, I spent all afternoon Thursday & Friday moving out 3rd grade manipulatives, textbooks, and collective "stuff" before I could even begin to move my things in.  Needless to say I am sore!!  But I got 2 bulletin boards done & moved my desk to the desired location.  Next week, when I get the opportunity, I will be placing the student desks, 32 of them I might add, and unpacking my classroom library.  Then finishing my other 3 bulletin boards, and getting my posters hung.  Oh and all this has to be completed by Aug 1st - meet the teacher night at my school.....aaauuughhh!!  CRAZINESS!!  I will get done!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

New Teacher Orientation Day 1 Finished

Parking lot full...check
Having to walk the full length of the building...check
Learning all about the administration & benefits...check

Day one crossed off my to do list.  The day started off with the mundane and tedious benefits presentation.  I already got my log ons last week, so mine have already been submitted.  So, it seemed a little redundant for me, but it was interesting to hear the nuts and bolt to make sure I was getting the full use of what I needed to sign up for.  The only system I have left to gain access to is Synergy - our online attendance & gradebook program; that will be available when my class list has been finalized & submitted - was advised by the end of this week.

Now for the Principal advised me I will be guiding and educating 32 young minds in my classroom...that's right 32!!  Yikes, talk about giving you hurdles right from the start, especially as a new teacher.  But, I am determined to persevere and be successful when it comes to teaching these amazing students.

I finally started getting my classroom organized.  The previous 6th grade teachers at my school have gone onto other positions, so they left me supplies which they felt would be beneficial to me as a new teacher & a 6th grade teacher.  Man is there a lot!!  I got one storage closet cleaned out, onto 2 more.  It will come together within the next 3 weeks...I guarantee it.

I started to get the crafty part of my classroom management started as well.  I found this amazing management tool on Pinterest & decided to make it part of my plan.  I went to Michael's and purchased the letters N O I S E and some adorable owl/glitter scrapbook paper, along with bright washi tape.  Put Aileene's clear tacky glue & mod podge to good use... and here are my results....

I LOVE the paper I used, and I adhered colorful washi tape along the edges to finish it, all that is left is to purchase some magnets for the back of each letter.  When the noise in the classroom gets too loud, I remove a letter.  When all the letters have been removed the remainder of the day will be left to working in silence.  My mentor teacher did approximately the same management technique, but with 3 strikes, and the students towed the line within 1 - 2 strikes, only 3 times in the semester did I witness them receiving all 3 strikes, I am hoping this technique will work for me as well.  But, I do really love the paper, it has iridescent glitter covering the paper as well.  Soooo cute if I do say so myself.

There was one other thing I got for my classroom...since I am doing a minimal owl themed; it is 6th grade after all & I don't want to make it too kitchy.  At my local Safeway grocery store I found the cutest timer and had to have it.  I will find a way to make it useful, if only as an adorable friend for my desk...see my friend Oliver the Ow,l my yellow timer...

I will post more classroom pictures as my work progresses.  I do have a final deadline...Aug. 1st - Meet the Teacher night at my school.  I guess I need to get my rear in gear....LOL!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Little Friday Humor...

This was posted by School Outfitters, and I wanted to share this with all teaching & blogging friends.

This has been around for years, but it still gives us a good laugh. 


1.You get a secret thrill out of laminating things.

2.You can hear 25 voices behind you and know exactly which one belongs to the child out of line.

3.You walk into a store and hear the words, "It’s Ms./Mr. ____________ and know you have been spotted.

4.You have 25 people who accidentally call you Mom/Dad at one time or another.

5.You can eat a multi-course meal in under 25 minutes.

6.You've trained yourself to go to the bathroom at two distinct times of the day, lunch and planning period.

7.You start saving other people's trash, because most likely, you can use that toilet paper tube or plastic butter tub for something in the classroom.

8.You believe the Teacher's Lounge should be equipped with a margarita machine.

9.You want to slap the next person who says, "Must be nice to work 7 to 3 and have summers off."

10.You believe chocolate is a food group.

11.You can tell if it’s a full moon without ever looking outside.

12. You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says, "Boy, the kids are sure mellow today."

13.You feel the urge to talk to strange children and correct their behavior when you are out in public.

14.You believe in aerial spraying of Ritalin.

15.You think caffeine should be available in intravenous form.

16.You spend more money on school stuff than you do on your own children.

17.You can’t pass the school supply aisle without getting at least 5 items!

18. You ask your friends to use their words and explain if the left hand turn he made was a "good choice" or "bad choice."

19.You find true beauty in a can full of perfectly sharpened pencils.

20. You are secretly addicted to hand sanitizer.

21.You understand, instantaneously, why a child behaves in a certain way after meeting his/her parents.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My first Nominee & Award!!

I received a wonderful message from my blogging friend at Teacher's Desk 6 blog...she nominated me for an award called a Liebster Award.  She explains the award best on her page as...

"Liebster is German and means "dearest," "lovely," "cute," "beloved," and "welcome".  What a great word!  Since blogging is about creating community, this award is a fabulous way to spread the word about new blogs."

I felt truly honored & blessed.   I am new to the blogging world, and getting recognition from a fellow blogger is really nice and wonderful.  So, I honor & lovingly accept this award.  Now for me to pay it forward as well.  This is the requirements to enjoy this wonderful event is as follows:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.

2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.

3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.

4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.

5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.

6. Contact your nominees by commenting on their blog or sending them an email to communicate 
the nomination. 

Now to answer the questions presented to me by Angela:

1. What made you decide to be a teacher? 
 I have wanted to be a teacher since the 3rd Grade.  I have tried out different ideas on a career and path in life but my heart and mind always directed me back to teaching.  I fondly remember each of my teachers, my guides through my educational journey, and in turn I want to be that beacon for the young minds I get the privilege of teaching.

2. How would you describe your teaching style?
This will be my first time teaching, but throughout my student teaching term I was a very hands-on creative teacher.  I would search high and low to find a great activity for the students to participate in to help tie in the lesson and give them an opportunity to learn by doing, seeing, and hearing.  I am also a very fun teacher.  I like to joke with my students and allow a little latitude when opportunity presents itself, but reeling them back in to make sure the required lesson/information is learned.

3. Do you have siblings? If so, please tell a little about them.
I have 1 brother, 23 months younger than me.  He just recently got engaged to a wonderful girl & I am so excited for them both.  My brother and I are complete opposites - I am book smart and introverted, and he is extroverted and has this amazing ability to make friend with anyone.  In my life growing up my family had the opportunity to help a young lady out from the age of 15 - that was 30 years ago.  She is a sister to me & I adore her a lot.

4. If you were a color, what would you be? Why?
I cannot think of one color in particular, more or less like a multitude of colors.  A wonderful mix of yellows, greens, blues, and purples.  I see my world in color and I cannot fathom a life without them all.

5. What was your favorite grade in school and why?
My favorite grade was between 2nd & 3rd grades.  I am not sure exactly why, but remembering my school career its the grades which bring a smile to my face...usually it has to do with reading.  I was an advanced reader, always a grade ahead, and I believed this was when I truly discovered books and stories as a way to escape and entertain.

6. What gives you inspiration?
My family gives me inspiration.  My husband has been a wonderful support for me by seeing me through these past 6 years, allowing me to first get my BA and then my Master's back to back while working full time so I could concentrate on my overall desire and goal of becoming a teacher.  My mother was always there to encourage me and to edit my numerous papers for my assignments.  I swear half of my degree's belong to her.  Then the rest of my family.  They are all successful in their own right and were always there to cheer me on to the end.  I could never have imagined getting to this place without them.
7. What is your favorite book? Why?
This is the hardest question because I have so many.  I am a book hound, with 5 bookshelves of books and then multiples on my Kindle.  Also, every 2nd (now 3rd) weekend in February I go to the VNSA book sale which is a bookaholics mecca and spend well over $100 to expand my collection.  Now, with teaching I have an even better excuse to spend this obnoxious amount of money on books.  Thank you teaching gods...LOL!!

8. What kind of vehicle do you drive? Does this say anything about your personality?
I drive a 2003 Buick Rendezvous.  Its my first SUV which I love because of the storage space in the back (now packed with classroom items to unload next week).  Also, it gives my husband and I to take day trips to our favorite locale, Sedona, AZ and get to the trails normal vehicles cannot get to.

9. Do you play any musical instruments?
I used to play the flute, piccolo, piano, and trombone.  I no longer play, but I still have a great fondness for music - all types.  I have fond memories of my mom playing the piano and singing in church.

10. If you could meet any historical figure who would you choose?
I believe I would like to meet either George Washington - because we share a birthday and/or Abraham Lincoln.  I am a history buff - especially American History & they are a couple of the great men that helped shape and form our country.

11. What do you enjoy most about blogging?
The opportunity to have a platform to collaborate with teachers all over the country and world to help ensure I am able to guide and teach my students to learn and grow so they may be successful in their lives.  After all the main job of a teacher is to create lifelong learners, and its hard to create learners if you are not willing to learn and grow yourself.

Now for the random facts:
  1. I am the oldest of over 34 mom is the oldest of 13 children, so I have a multitude of family, and 80% of them live here in Arizona with me.
  2. I have 1 uncle & 1 cousin I share a birthday with;  I also share the exact birthday as Drew Barrymore - month, day, and year.
  3. I married my husband two times without divorcing.  The first time was in Vegas & I never registered the certificate.  We moved to Arkansas, and for a job my training was in Florida.  The company bought my ticket in my maiden name & my state id showed my married name - so for the ticket I needed a Marriage License/Certificate so I married him a 2nd time almost 2 years to the date of the first one.
  4. My husband and I received our BAs from Arizona State University 1 day apart.
  5. When my mom was pregnant with me she was working at Arizona State University - so you could say I have been a Sun Devil all my life...
  6. I never learned phonics in school - when I was in Kindergarten, while the students were learning how to read and write, I was in a 1st grade class for that period.   This continued for the next 3 grades until 4th when I was finally tested into the gifted program.  I have LOVED books ever since.
  7. If  I am not reading, my TV is almost always tuned to Food Network.  I don't care - I still LOVE Paula Deen.  Everyone deserves a 2nd chance.
  8. I am teaching Language Arts next year & writing is the subject which intimidates me the most.
  9. Meeting new people gives me a lot of apprehension.  As I mentioned I am an introvert & it takes a while or me to get comfortable around new people.  I am working diligently on this, and have come a long way from high school, just in time for this new journey in life.
  10. I am taking over the class of my mentor teacher during my student teaching last semester.  So, I have inherited A LOT of  teaching supplies which I now have to sort through.
  11. Though excited, the idea of being responsible for guiding and educating 24+ minds seems like quite a feat.  I hope my students don't smell my fear the first few weeks...LOL!!
So, now for my nominees.  This is the best part!!  I want to nominate....


Now for the questions:
  1. What was your experience on the first day of your first year in teaching like?
  2. What was/is one of the funniest things that has happened to you as a teacher?
  3. What was one event you learned the most from?
  4. If you could live one place in the world, where would it be and why?
  5. What would be one thing you wish was in your classroom, and how would it help?
  6. What is your favorite book to read with the students?
  7. If you could live in any decade, which one would it be and why?
  8. Where did you go to college & why did you choose that school?
  9. If you weren't teaching, what career would you choose & why?
  10. Are you planning on advancing your degree, in which area/endorsement?
  11. What is your favorite type of food?

I have had a lot of fun participating in this.  I hope my blogging friends I nominated have just as much fun.  I look forward to working, learning, and growing alongside each of you.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pinterest top 10 Linky Party...

I just read a wonderful post from my fellow blogger, and enabler, at Upper Grades are Awesome and decided to join in on the fun.  As I have mentioned before I have a serious Pinterest addiction, and this Linky Party just added to my addiction.  So here are my top 10 pins I want to implement into my classroom for the next school year.

1.) I am really wanting to implement interactive notebooks for both Language Arts & Social Studies. I wanna use 4 in ELA...One notebook as a journal. One to practice handwriting (want to be able to actually read their handwriting...). Another as a Reading notebook, then the fourth as a writing/grammar notebook.

2.) This is a great way to implement different areas of Language Arts & Social Studies in a fun visual way.

3.) I think this would be great way for students to share what they are reading, in a social network type of format.

4.) I always am looking for fun and engaging tools to make learning fun. I think this would be a fun thing to try.

5.) I think this would be a great icebreaker activity to start off the year. Even though many of the students might know one another they may learn something new & will give me an opportunity to learn things that might not be usually shared.

6.) I love Snoopy - even have a tattoo of him on my ankle...needless to say why I think this would be a great addition to my classroom walls.

7.) I have been obsessing about getting an Erin Condren teacher planner since I first learned about them. This is the one splurge I am treating myself to as a way to celebrate my first year of teaching. If it is a beneficial tool, I definitely will be procuring one every year.

8.) I think this would be a great way to culminate a Poetry unit, already planned on teaching it around the time of the holidays, so this would be a wonderful decoration as well as a way to display the student's work they create.

9.) My master teacher used the three strike method last year, but I wasn't so keen on it. I really like this method/tool better, especially since it is visual as well as easy to remove a letter than having to stop what I am doing and walk to another area of the board to write a check, then try to pick up the lesson where I left off.

10.) I really love this idea, I am uber organized so to create another space to allow students work to be displayed, also it changes the look of the ordinary file cabinets which are used in almost every classroom - which are usually quite ugly and drab.

Since I will be teaching the Language Arts & Social Studies my pins are focused around these areas.   I am always on the lookout for great engaging activities as well as classroom management tools which will help my transition as a new teacher a little easier.

Now its your turn...join in on the fun & share your top 10 Pinterest ideas for next year.  Collaboration is one of the greatest tools a teacher can have!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July

I wanted to take a moment to wish all my family, friends, and bloggers a wonderful & safe 4th of July!!

My first task of a teacher will be happening 1 week from tomorrow.  Let the fun begin.  Until then enjoy the family, BBQs, and a slow pace until the wonderful experience of seeing a classroom of smiling faces bring the adventure to your life for 9 months.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Looking toward the beauty

In the face of so much tragedy which has been brought onto my home state & close to the community I grew up in I read about unbelievable.  There is a 3 1/2 year old autistic girl named Iris Helmshaw, who lives in England and paints the most beautiful watercolors.  Seriously her artwork is reflective of is that striking.  Here is an excerpt from the article posted on Yahoo (here is the link to the entire post

"You probably recognize the names of artists like Picasso, Renoir, and Van Gogh. How about Halmshaw? You might not know that last painter's name yet, but you do now. Iris Halmshaw is a 3-year-old painter from England taking the art world by storm. You can view some of her astonishing artwork here on her website.
So how does a 3-year-old find art fame? Since Iris is autistic and does not speak, painting has been a therapeutic way for her to express herself. Her mother said she looked for ways to help control Iris's tantrums and one day discovered that painting soothed her. She put the first of Iris's paintings titled "Patience" on Facebook, where it surprisingly got a lot of attention and inquiries for purchase.
Not only has Iris been featured in newspapers, but she has the art world talking. A private collector just bought two of her original pieces for over $2,000, and inquiries are coming in from all over the world. Her work will even be featured in an exhibit in central London. Proceeds from the sale of Iris's art will go toward paying for costly therapy sessions." 

Below are a couple of examples of her is truly amazing.  Shows the amazing talents children with disabilities have when given the opportunity to share them.

Remember to be aware in the beauty which comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and people.  Also, please keep the families of the 19 firefighters and those who have fallen victim to the fire on Yarnell Hill which has destroyed 8300+ acres thus far.