Currently July!

I was SHOCKED to see that Farley had aleady put up the Currently for July.  Since I am on vacation, I will keep this short and sweet :) 

Listening:  The new season of Big Brother started last Wednesday and I missed it!  We got to our hotel just in time to catch tonight's episode.  It might make me a dork, but I've watched this show since the beginning.  Seriously, I get a little obsessed!

Loving:  Being on vacation!  'Nuff said!

A few states we've traveled through......

 A family selfie at Crazy Horse.
 Knocked this off the bucket list...
 My husband hates taking pics....but I made him take this with the beautiful Black Hills in the background (also our girls looking for the car).
 This is Scenic South Dakota.  Seriously, the name of the town was Scenic.  There was NOTHING there!

Thinking:  When we get home from vacation I go right back to work for summer school.  Our district decided this year to do summer school in July to prepare the kiddos for the coming school year.  I've never taught summer school before so I'm a little anxious.  Also, we are teaching kids from all over the district and not just our own school.  I'm a little nervous about the whole thing, but I'm sure it will be fine!

Wanting: I don't know why I am suddenly obsessed with getting a new rug for my room but I am.   I would also love a new camera!

Needing:  Teachers go back to school the end of July and we are starting a new reading program so I NEED to see the materials.  I'm a hands on learner so I need to see it before I can start teaching it!

Tips or Tricks:  I.LOVE.INSTAGRAM!  I just got a smartphone (finally) and I loaded Instagram on my phone to keep track of my kids.  I found a few bloggy friends and started following them and then suddenly I discovered this whole little world right inside my little phone.  You should check it out if you haven't already!

That's my currently! Go and link up with Farley at  
Oh Boy 4th Grade
if you haven't already!  It's not even July yet and it's over 300 links.  Wowza!
Happy Teaching, Relaxing, Planning, Vacationing....whatever you are currently doing!  Heather

Five for Friday: VACATION!!

This will be the quickest 5 for Friday ever!

Here is a wrap up of my week:
1.  Grocery shopping, packing, laundry, cleaning (why do we clean before we leave??) getting ready for our trip.
2. Debating with the hubby on the route.  We think we have it nailed down. 
3.  Anxiously awaiting Friday....
4.  See number 3.
5.  FINALLY LEAVING!  Waiting for the hubs to get home from work so we can hit the road.  We will see a little of this....
and this...
and this....

I can't wait.  We are finishing up surprising some family (no they don't read my blog!) with a visit that has been 5 or so years in the making!  Luckily my family enjoys being in the car together because it's going to be a long week! I will be back at it to teach summer school after the 4th of July holiday!  If you haven't joined the Bloglovin linky check out my post from Wednesday June 26th....there are a ton of giveaways there and I'm having one too.  It closes when I get back from vaca...convenient! :) 

Happy Summer to you! Heather

Throwback Thursday: Classroom Sleepover


I haven't been blogging very long so going WAAAAAY back is kind of out of the question.

Looking back most of my first posts were posting about giveaways, and really not about anything going on in the classroom.  Today I ran into a student in the grocery store and she immediately brought up our classroom sleepover.  So today my throwback Thursday will go WAY back (to May) when I posted about that!  It was a super fun night, I am so glad I have added this to my school year each year.
Originally posted May 2013

Last night we had our classroom sleepover and truthfully I am just a little sleepy today!  I’ve had a few requests to explain how I put this together so I thought I’d blog about it today.  It really is not as scary as it sounds!

First, I got the ok from my principal of course.  She thinks I’m nuts but she let me do it!  I planned it for the Friday before school gets out and this doubles as my “class party”.  This way I can clean my room next week instead of messing it up!  We doubled up with one of my besties and shared our sleepover with third grade.  This meant double the kids in my room but overall it went off without a hitch.

The most important factor in having a classroom sleepover is what they bring with them, and what you feed them (no junk!).  I tell my kiddos to bring a sleeping bag, a pillow, and a toothbrush AND THAT’S ALL!  Imagine the bags of “stuff” they might try to bring with them.  It could all get very messy!  They wear comfy clothes they can play in and sleep in so there is no changing of clothes.

Here is our mega pile of stuff outside the classroom.  We leave it out in the hall until it is time to actually get in the sleeping bags!

Activities!  We planned centers so the kids could rotate through different activities but they are no fuss no muss centers!  I grab all the things kids love to do but we never have time to get to during the school year.  This year our centers included computers, board games, a fun science experiment, Dance Dance Revolution on the Playstation, and building blocks.  We also included a nail painting station for the girls but that was quickly shut down after it got WAY too messy!  I do not suggest doing that one unless you have a parent staying to paint nails for kids!  Our science experiment was courtesy of my bestie, she did the "Ivory Soap Explosion" with the kids in the kitchen (yes, my room has a kitchen....go ahead and just hate me now).  Here is a link to that cool activity.  It was a little messy, but boy oh boy did the kids love it and it left my room smelling Ivory fresh!

Come Together Kids has a great post about this experiment!

After about 2 hours of centers (that sounds like a long time, but when it’s all fun it goes so fast!) we went out to the bathrooms for a break.  We actually had a birthday boy in the bunch so we had cupcakes for him and then settled down with our sleeping bags. We ate popcorn and drank Capri Suns during the movie.

 I push my tables to the back of the room and stack them so we have more room.   We started the movie at about 10:00 p.m. so the kids were pretty much worn out at that point. 

We watched Tales of Despereaux because we just read it aloud as a class.  They were excited!
After the movie was over it was LIGHTS OUT!  A bunch of students fell asleep during the movie but there are always "those" sweeties that just love to have fun!  Our last giggles were heard at about midnight and we had a few whispers still going on at 1:00 a.m. but out of 38 kids in the room MOST of them were asleep!

I have parents pick up at 8:00 am and under normal circumstances the kids would sleep right up to that point.  We had the added bonus today of our intercom crackling at 6:00 a.m. this morning and it wouldn’t stop!  By 6:30 all the kids were up and wondering what that noise was so we cleaned up (they did a great job too!) and had a donut and juice and headed out the playground.  We had about 45 minutes of recess before the parents started showing up.  All in all it was a super success and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

So there you have it.  I can't tell you how sweet it is to hear 38 little snoring babes sleeping away at school.  It was also the very first sleepover for a lot of my firsties!  Have you ever done a classroom sleepover?  If so do you have any tips for us?

Already good memories to think back on.  Thanks for coming over for Throwback Thursday!  Link up at First Grade Parade.  A fun "throwback" sidenote....this was the very first blog I ever followed!  

Happy Summer and Teaching to you! Heather

Bloglovin and a Giveaway!

Here we go.  I got back into the bloggin' thang right around June 1st.  I really enjoy the whole process... reading blogs, creating posts, AND the added motivation it gives me to work on things in my classroom.  It's always been about improving myself and my teaching :)

Well, because I had been missing in action it took me some time to understand that Google Reader was going away and that Bloglovin' was the place to be. JULY 1ST PEOPLE! --like you haven't heard :)   I added my blog and I've been getting the daily updates and emails.  I actually really like it!  I feel a lot more "connected" with the daily feed and even added the Bloglovin' app to my phone so I can scroll through and catch up on blogs while I'm waiting to pick my kids up somewhere.  It's also easier to click "follow", there's not as many hoops to jump through.

So I found this linky today that gives a little extra motivation to click that little white box at the top of my blog that says "Follow this Blog with Bloglovin".  I will give 2 winners their choice from my Tpt store.

So I am trying my first giveaway using Rafflecopter for the very first time!  All you have to do is follow me on Bloglovin to enter, plus I'll give you some extra chances if you follow my Facebook page and Tpt store too! 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to visit the linky to see LOTS of others bloggers out there and follow them for a chance to every single blog! 
Link up here with Pinkadots Elementary to check it out.  
Until next time, Happy Teaching! Heather

Monday Made It! Teacher's Toolbox


It's Monday and time for another installment of Monday Made it!  This linky is really helping me get motivated to get a few things done that will make July a lot easier for me as far as organization goes.  I'm not coming up with anything creative....just keeping up with the rest of ya'll!

My first Monday Made it project was a teacher's tool box.  (yes...I know everyone else has already made theirs!)  I found the cute labels last week from Miss Nelson's got the Camera!  This was the motivation I needed to head out to Home Depot this weekend this morning and buy the tool box.  I put it together in my room and I have to say I'm super excited to have this tool box behind my desk.  I even cleaned out my desk while I was there and filled all the bins! 

However it doesn't have a drawer for these little guys.....

Does anyone else end up with Lego men at the end of the year?

I also headed to Wally World to look for cute fabric to redo my bench seats but there wasn't ANYTHING cute.  I WISH my tiny town had some better places to shop!  So while I was there I got some new binders to get ready for our new Reading Street program.  I am just patiently (yea right!) waiting for the materials to get here! 
I bought these covers from Sarah Kirby on Tpt.  I'm excited to have a new program to work with and this one looks great.  Do you use Reading Street?  Do you have any tips to share?  I'd love to hear them!
So, now my job for the day is to check out all the other awesome bloggers out there and pick out some projects for next week!  I'm so glad there are some super motivated teachers out there that will inspire me to keep going through the summer!
Keep creating, keep relaxing, and happy teaching! ~Heather 

An Apple A Day- Whole Group Instruction

It's time to link up with The Applicious Teacher for An Apple a Day!
This week our focus is on whole group instruction and I think this topic is pretty important!  Don't you?  If your whole group lesson falls apart nothing can save you (except maybe recess)!  Small groups fall apart and independent work is impossible if your whole group instruction doesn't have structure.  Today I am going to share with you my structure for whole group instruction. 

See what I did there?  I snuck (word?) an objective in there. "Today we will..." or "Students will..." statements are used often in my classroom and it really has changed my outlook on whole group instruction.   We started using posted objectives in our district about 7 years ago.  At first it was a pain....I won't lie.  Writing them was difficult and remembering to put them on the board was even worse.  Thankfully we adopted Teach 4 Success a short time later and the objective writing process got a lot easier.  We simply post an objective with an "observable" verb.  In other words you want to be able to see your students reach the goal with them reading, writing, listing, solving, or sharing.
  • Students will solve addition word problems. 
  • Students will list descriptive words. 
  • Students will compare and contrast two fairy tales using a Venn diagram. 
The most important part of using objectives is to USE OBJECTIVES!  You can't just post them on the board and forget about them.  My lesson starts with the objective, I refer to it (most of the time) a couple of times during the lesson, and at the end of the lesson I ask my students, "Did we meet our objective?".  Here is an example of where I post my objectives in my room. 

Ok....this one was a joke for my principal and a much needed objective the last week of school.  I borrowed it from Whole Brain Teaching and it's one of my favorites of the 5 rules!  On a NORMAL day I have an objective written for Daily 5 (sometimes for Read to Self and one for Word Work), Math, Writing, and Science or Social Studies.  If I don't put the objectives up....the kids freak out! Seriously!  They love knowing what to expect!

Where do you teach from?  I am a big believer in proximity.  If my students are at their regular seats I need something to draw them in.  I like using:
Document Camera:  I first saw one of these in a math training about 4 years ago.  I am so THANKFUL our district bought them for us.  I no longer have to make overheads (woohoo) and students can share their work with the rest of the class.  I love it!
Mimio Teach (Turns your board into a SMART board!)  I use this in conjuction with a lot of different websites like Brain Pop Jr., Turtle Diaries, and Scott Foresman Success Net.  Sometimes the whole lesson is done on the Mimio and sometimes it's just to show an example.  I will tell you though, kids sit up and pay attention if they know we are going to use this baby!
My Redcat Sound System for sharing.  The kids LOVE talking into the mircrophone!
If kids aren't getting up and solving problems in front of the class or sharing their math, science, or writing journals they get bored.  It's super important to make this a norm in the first few weeks of school so kids feel comfortable speaking in front of the class.  Let me tell you, it's much easier to get a 1st grader to share in front of their peers than a 5th grader!  I spend a lot of time creating a culture of caring and cooperation so we all feel safe and eager to share!
If I'm not teaching from the front of the room, you will usually find me at our meeting area.  I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, to find a huge rug to fit my 25 kiddos but I've never been able to swing it.  So I usually have a space laid out on the floor with tape or some type of markings so they know where to sit and I teach most of my lessons from this space.  

This is a really bad pic but that's good so I didn't have to blur out any kids!  My husband stopped by my class the first day of school (as he usually does) and snapped this one on his phone.  This was my first class that I didn't have to put any tape on the floor.  They could handle our rug area without having to "sit on the line" but most of the time I do tape.  Gorilla tape works the best....but it leaves marks!  Pretty duct tape works well too but you have to replace it a couple times a year. 

Lesson Delivery.  It is my belief that every teacher has their own style and this cannot be "taught".  I get crazy with my kids but they know my expectations.  We do crazy cheers to celebrate each other and hoot and holler every time we make a new discovery.  I can get their attention saying the craziest of sayings but they know it's time to listen.  I noticed after teaching a couple of joint lessons with my bestie that she has all the same type of ideas, but they belong to her.  I "own" mine.  I don't mean they are copyrighted by me, I mean they work for me.  You can't observe a teacher and then start copying everything they do because it just doesn't work.   I've seen people try and it's a disaster.  Find out what works for you and what fits your personality, then go with that.  I could describe my teaching style as a lot of Whole Brain Teaching, a little bit of Dr. Jean, and the rest is just me.  I'm hoping next year I can just confidently say, "I Teach like a pirate!"  (I am REALLY enjoying this book!)

If you haven't already you should link up for "An Apple a Day" even if it's just to go check out some great ideas about Whole Group Instruction.  

Until next time....happy teaching! ~Heather 



Five for Friday! Slow Down Summer!

It's Friday again.....yikes!  That's what summer feels like people!  Every Friday is not a celebration, it's just a reminder that summer is going by WAY TOO FAST!  Slow down already!  

We can celebrate the fact that it's time for Five for Friday.  Have you linked up yet?  If you haven't head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching  to link up or just to check out all the fabulous blogs out there in bloggy land. 

Here we go...

Hooray for finished projects!  I started to work on some 1st grade math assessments WAY back in January.  It took me a FOREVER to get through all the standards but I am really happy with how they turned out.  Now I am all set with assessments for each standard for the coming school year!  You can check them out on TPT and there is a FREEBIE in the preview!

 I am babysitting today.....yes, babysitting.  My friend got me a gig at a resort near by that hires nannies for companies staying at the resort.  They like to hire teachers because we can handle anything we are fingerprinted and all that good stuff.  This is day 2 of 2....let's just say I don't like being out of my classroom environment where I am the boss of EVERYTHING!  
We went to my favorite spot on the creek this week and my girls have begged me to go back today.  I think I will, it's simply beautiful (and a nice hike too!)
The best part the creek is LOUD and I can read my Teach Like a Pirate without any distractions!

I think I figured out Bloglovin'.  I'm on there and now I'm getting the daily emails with the updates.  I've gone through and (tried) to follow all of my favorite bloggers.  So we will see what actually happens with this Google reader thingamajig on July 1st.  I think I actually like Bloglovin' better!  I added a button too so people can follow me too. 

   I've also been working on my Google + profile and started following some people there too.  I'm just stalking people everywhere!

Last but not least....the great American road trip has been on my mind!  We are planning a 3000+ mile road trip with the girlies to see my sister-in-law.  I'm always nervous about big adventures like this but I'm getting excited too.  We are including these guys on our route....

Have you ever been to Mt. Rushmore?  I'm kind of thinking it will be like visiting the Grand Canyon, you look, snap a pic, and leave.  I'd love to know if there are any MUST do's while we are there!

That's it for Five for Friday!  Don't forget to link up!

Happy Teaching! Heather

50 Follower Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Leslie Tally for winning my very first giveaway!  I will be emailing 3 of my newest creations from my Tpt store.  
 Thank you to everyone who left a comment and started following me during this little adventure.  I learn a little more about blogging everyday.  My goals before I reach my next goal of 100 followers are: 
  • Create my own blog design and button.
  • Keep up the blogging even when school starts (this one will be the real challenge)
  • Figure out the difference between all the blogger readers
Thank you again and congratulations to Leslie! ~Heather

An Apple A Day: Behavior Management!


It's time to link up with Leigh at The Applicious Teacher for the 2nd week of An Apple a Day.  This week we are talking about Classroom Management.  So important!

If you are like me you have tried all types of classroom management systems.  I've taught different grade levels (very different....5th to Kinder!) and some things work better in different grades. I also will change things up a little after one system loses it UMPH!  So here are a few of my favorites. 

I won't spend much time on this because it's EVERYWHERE!  (Thank you Pinterest!)  I, like everyone else, saw this 2 years ago on Pinterest and ran back to my classroom to make one.  I love how it uses positive reinforcement regularly to encourage our friends to follow the rules.  My chart was literally thrown together, so I'm hoping to redo it this summer in something a little cuter :)

 I started out my school year last year with this cute little poster using Erica Bohrer's classroom poster kit.  

Sorry about the pic quality, I thought I did a better job with this one!  The top says, "We are having a great day! We are following the rules!"  Green=Warning, Yellow=5 minutes off recess, Orange=10 minutes off recess, Purple=No recess, Red=Office.  

I really like this chart to start the year off when everyone is doing their best everyday to follow the rules.  However, I'm not a big believer in taking away recess and once the honeymoon is over, this chart does not work as well for me. Also...I don't send kids to the office unless it is an extreme case, so I usually have a little note over the red that says, "Note Home".  I will get to this in my next pic...

Calendars!  This is my no fail behavior tool!  I created these calendars 2 years ago after being inspired by a fellow teacher.  The calendars have our classroom expectations listed on the bottom and they go home in their homework folders everyday.  If they had a good day, they get a stamp on the calendar.  If they broke a rule or needed help remembering one of our expectations I write the number on the calendar.  This way parents know what we are struggling with.  I make sure they know it's just a reminder (because no one is perfect!) and tomorrow is always a new day.  If it is a serious problem I always let parents know with an individual note. 
 Classroom Expectations: 
1.  Listen when others are talking.
2. Follow directions the first time. 
3.  Be kind! Keep hand, feet, and hurtful words to yourself. 
4. Take care of materials. 
5.  Talk quietly, without disturbing others.
These calendars are available in my store for free!  Click Here to grab them!

The last behavior management system I will share today came from a training we had in our district that we refer to as "L to J".  I really liked Lee Jenkins and if you are interested in reading more about his philosophy you can visit his site, L to J Consulting  I used a lot of "L to J" strategies when I taught 5th grade but in first, I really only use this one.  

It's called a Disruption Chart and how it works is you keep track of disruptions for one entire day without the students knowing.  That gives you a baseline of what a typical day looks like.  After that, our daily goal is to beat the previous score.  Students work together to cut down on disruptions and get that "All time best!".  Everytime we get an "All time best" we celebrate.  Sometimes it's just 5 minutes of fun songs at the end of the day or a few extra minutes to color with our markers.  It's always voted on by the students and it's always a group activity we can enjoy together.  This system can be used in conjunction with any behavior system and it really comes in handy when your class becomes "super chatty" or when disruptions just start to take over you classroom all together!  Usually somewhere around January.... :) 

These are my most effective behavior management systems that I use in my classroom.  I could talk your ear off all day discussing other systems I have used in the past or may use again in the future but these are my fav's.  Remember to go link up with your tips too!

Happy Teaching! Heather