Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It is what it is....

Whew, three hard core days of working in my classroom and I am ready for the first day. Well that's as ready as it's gonna be! I am not going back in until the first day so nothing else is going to be done between now and then. I found it much more difficult this year to get into the mood to really stay in my room for full days knowing my baby was at home and that this was my last week with her. It was totally my idea to go back to work early from my mat leave, and I really want to be at work again...but I am going to miss my baby so much.

Here's what my classroom looked like before I got started.

Not too bad really.

Here is my room all done. It looks really blank and empty in the pictures but that's because I like to build the bulletin boards and decorations with my students so they have input in the room they will be in all year.

My CAFE Board

View from the rug towards the door


View from the door toward the carpet area

Daily schedule

Homework board

Hall walking strategy poster and behaviour clip chart

My desk and document camera area

Carpet and CAFE Board

Now to lesson plan!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Integrating Daily 5 and CAFE

I have been sitting here on my couch going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth between the Daily 5 and the CAFE books trying to figure out how to launch the "programs" (I hesitate to use the word program but I can't think of anything else because it's almost 10 o'clock on a Friday night) at the same time.
Do people just switch back and forth between the 2 launch schedules provided? Try to do both Day 1's on the first day of school? Pick and choose here and there??


First Time Clip Art Purchase!!

I have never purchased clip art for my school materials before because I was always so confused by the Terms of Use presented on the different sellers websites. So when Scrappin Doodles came out with a License for Teacher Freebies I was over the moon...this is exactly what I want. I have no interest in selling my stuff only in giving away freebies (lucky you all) so this license is perfect for me. If you look over to the right sidebar of my blog (maybe scroll down a little) you will see my pretty little license button AND if you click on it, it will take you straight to Scrappin Doodles!

To celebrate my first ever clip art purchase I have a freebie for you....double yeah! All I ask is that you leave me a COMMENT about how you use clip art in your classroom, your favourite clip art supplier, or any other nice tidbit you'd like to share on this lovely Friday. I am counting on you guys...honour system!

When I saw this classroom management sign on Pinterest from Ladybug's Teacher Files I knew it was a great idea and that I wanted to "borrow" it for the upcoming school year. My sign is essentially the same as Kristen's (because hers was pretty awesome to begin with!) but I wanted to make something using my new clipart!!

Highlighter Name Check- I have added a line to remind students to check off their name on the class list because I also LOVE this idea I saw on Pinterest...which is also from Ladybug's Teacher Files!! That Kristen is one smart cookie.

All clipart used in this freebie is from Scrappin' Doodles.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Love is better than anger...

Today is a sad day for all Canadians and for the world. One of the hardest working men in Canada has lost his battle to cancer.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
~ Jack Layton

In an Open Letter to Canadians Jack left us with his final words. A call to stay positive and to continue fighting to make Canada, and the world a better place. It is something that everyone, not just his supporters, should read and take to heart. Jack was a fighter for all. He fought for the poor and disadvantage. He fought for seniors. He fought for education. He fought to make the world a better place.

As I have read in many place already today, this is a sentiment I must echo...he was the best Prime Minister we never had.

To read more about Jack go here and here, and here.

Le Bon will be greatly missed.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me! And a Freebie for You!!

Disclaimer- I live in Canada. I spell words with a "u" in them. Like colour, honour, behaviour, neighbourhood. Most likely anything I post will be spelled this way! I am happy to change things to an American spelling if asked...however, today is my birthday so it will NOT happen today.

In honour of my birthday..TODAY!...I am posting some materials I have made for my classroom.

First, this is the behaviour chart I made after seeing so many amazing ones on Pinterest. I am very excited to try this out with my students as i found last year I did not like the turn a card system at all. I think this will be much better because the "good" students have the opportunity to be recognized as well as the students who seem to know exactly how to grab your the wrong way!

Behaviour chart (The font used on this chart is A Red Bucket from

Secondly, here is the reflection form I plan to use for the students who move down to that level on the behaviour chart. It will give the student time to reflect on their choices, to cool down and I will have a record of the incident as well.

Reflection Sheet

Here is the Parent Contact sheet I will use for when my students reach the bottom level of the clip chart (hopefully this happens rarely.....!). I find it useful to have forms like this prepared and ready to go so you aren't spending valuable time writing out information that could already be done.

Parent Contact Sheet

Whew...well, I hope you all have a great day on my birthday!! I will. I plan to create some forms that go along with the upper levels of the clip chart as well and will post those when I get them done.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pre-Birthday Freebie! Morning Routine

Friday is my birthday!!!

Yesterday I read an amazing post on Clutter- Free Classroom about a great idea for a morning routine. A similar idea had been growing in the back of my mind ever since The Book Whisperer read along and an earlier post about using music in the morning from Clutter-Free Classroom. Thank goodness for Clutter-Free Classroom!

As Donalyn outlined in The Book Whisperer that any time that the students can steal for reading is good! Practicing with your students to know to pick up their books whenever there is an interruption in the day, while they are waiting for an assembly, and in the morning when they enter the classroom allows for there to be all sorts of extra reading time in the school day. I can identify with everything that Clutter-Free Classroom wrote about the varying types of "bell work" they have used in their rooms...nothing ever really works the way you want it to. I am super excited to try this new method of having my students read their books as soon as they enter the room and sit in their desks.

The basic idea is this:
- when students enter the room they will put away their belongings and sit down
- I will play a new song each morning (I will probably choose 5 songs- one for each day, and perhaps will let students suggest songs or make a soundtrack as a reward)
- students are responsible to be seated and reading their book before the music ends

In order to promote this system I have created a "poster" along the same idea as Clutter-Free Classroom, however I will project mine on the LCD every morning when the students enter the room. I am not going to have my students read for a full 20 minutes though, just until the morning announcements start. I also hope to tie this into my behaviour clip chart as well (more on that on birthday!!!) I will be on the look out for students who are settled in and reading right away and have them move up the behaviour chart one level from "Ready to Learn".

Only two and half weeks left of my mat leave and until school starts!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Teacher Appreciation? Don't mind if I do!

This Thursday, and all the coming Thursdays until September are Teacher Appreciation Days at Staples here in Ontario/Canada. I love school them! I planned on attempting to start this year without buying anything...(gasp! I know, crazy right?) but I ended up caving. I really wanted some folders to use to create Writer's Workshop folders like the ones I saw on Pinterest from Mrs. M's blog. I love this idea!

So while I was there, I got the folders and binding, some extra duotangs, a great planner, fantastic rock start name age and desk plates, post it note labels (all sticky) for my word wall. I would love to show you the pics but my sister borrowed my camera for her best friend's wedding this weekend. I will definitely show pics when I can finally get back into my room and using all the great stuff I got.

Staples also gave out a small reusable bag that I think might be just the right size as a lunch bag this year. It's not insulated but since I have moved into the school I can keep my lunch in the staff room fridge much more conveniently this year!

Don't you just love back to school sales?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Do you want it all??

Brenda over at Primary Inspired is having a crazy giveaway for anyone who is willing to help her out with her Donor's Choose project. All you need to do is donate $6.oo and she is giving away everything in her TpT store....amazing!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Survey! Freebie!! One Last Linky Party!!!

I have been waiting to post this until I heard back from Donalyn with the answers to our second Q&A but she seems to be travelling and away from a good internet source so I decided to post this now rather than keep everyone waiting!!

So in an effort to keep on learning and do better next time I have created a short survey about The Book Whisperer Read Along. I would love if you participated at all- hosted a chapter/whisper, joined the linky parties, or just read along with us- could head over and complete the 5 questions! Just think of it as an End of the Year Evaluation....just like Donalyn recommends!!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Now, as a thank you for completing the survey here is a freebie for you. This is the Genre Tally Sheet and Definition Sheet I plan to use in my classroom this year. It has the adaptations I have made to the choices in genres so it may not fit exactly with what you want to use but it may help you make some decisions for your own room.

Go here to download my Genre Tally Chart and Genre Characteristics Worksheet. (I wanted to embed the document but I still can't seem to get it right...sad)

And now....time to celebrate!! 

Have you created something from your learning as we read through The Book Whisperer? Want to share? Excellent! Link up here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Big Thank You!!

We made it. We did it. We are on our way!

A huge thank you to everyone that participated in The Book Whisperer read along. I really appreciate all the help and support along the way. This was the first read along I have ever hosted and I think we all did a fabulous job. The best part has definitely been meeting so many passionate teachers and discovering their amazing blogs! A very big thank you goes out to all the TBA authors that hosted a chapter or whisper, that joined in on the discussions or just sent us their good wishes. I couldn't have done it without you guys......thanks.

Rowdy in First Grade

Lessons Learned

Extra Special Teaching

Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

6th Grade Scott Foresman Reading Street Resources  

Primary Inspired

Swamp Frog First Graders

Robin (Miss W)
Miss W Teaches

Cindy- love2learn2day

Curls and a Smile

A Special kind of Class

Teaching Happily Ever After

Little Miss Kindergarten

Mrs.  Rojas’ Teaching Resources

My Teaching Spirit

The Polka Dot Patch

Faithful in First

Little Literacy Learners

First Grade a la Carte

Lessons Learned

Cheryl- Primary Graffiti

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Year End Evaluations and Chapter 7

I know, I know...I am super late posting my thoughts but it has taken me a few days to decompress and get back into the swing of things after 2 weeks at the cottage. Poor, poor me...too stressed after two weeks away! LOL, just kidding. I don't really have any real important reason for not posting other than laziness, tiredness and wanting to play with my baby.

I have however been browsing around the blogosphere and I see that many people are still joining in on this awesome read along and that my posts seem to have all worked properly..yeah!

First, my thoughts on year end evaluations- well, to be honest I haven't really ever used them since Teacher's College when I would use them at the end of my practicum but I can see the benefit they could provide in a classroom. I am a very reflective teacher, and person, by nature and so I am constantly thinking about how I can improve my program but it would be great to see things from a student's perspective as well. I think this will be a topic I revisit in June for sure.

And now...Chapter 7! I must admit I am a little sad that we have reached the end of The Book Whisperer. Reading this book, sharing my thoughts and reading through the thoughts of all of you has been a tremendous learning experience that I have really treasured this summer. I am also sad because the end of the read along means that we are that much closer to the end of the summer (much closer for some of you I know!), and the end of my maternity leave at home with my baby darling. I am choosing to return to work in September after only 8 months at home and my husband will be taking over for the last 4 months with the baby. I know returning to work in the right choice for me but as it gets closer I can't help but get a little misty every time I think about being away from my baby everyday. But really, this has nothing to do with Chapter 7....

 For me I think the best part of this chapter was the section titled What Are We Preparing Students For? It's really the most important question of all I think. This is the question that should guide all of our teaching, regardless of grade level, subject, etc. What do we want our students to be prepared to handle in the future?

I want my students to be able to make decisions, problem solve, understand the world around them, to interact with others in an intellectual way, to question the wrongs of the world, to find a way to make the world a better place, to give back, to right social injustices, to go to a book store or a library and be excited, to read the paper, or the internet, or books, or graphic novels, or whatever they want. I want them to be able to handle anything life throws at them, to be able to pursue their academic and occupational dreams. I want them to be able to voice their opinion on matters that are important to them and to the world. I want them to read.

I am excited to go back to work and put everything I have learned from this read along in place. I am excited to be part of a learning community again and most of all I am excited for the years to come when I can help daughter to become a reader.

Monday, August 1, 2011

TBA? To be awesome!

Teaching Blog Addict has been such a monumental force in my teaching life in just the few short months that it has existed and that Thinking of Teaching has existed. The funny thing is that I haven't even been teaching! As some of you may know I am on mat leave with my first child but am planning to go back to work in September. I am very lucky here in Canada that I have the opportunity to take a full 12 months maternity leave but can choose to go back to work early because my husband is also able to take time off. TBA has been an outlet for me while I am off work to maintain my connection with my career and I truly believe that it will make the transition back to work that much easier.

I am going to have to learn how to balance work and a family, something I haven't done before and am a little nervous about. I have always said that teaching isn't what I do, it's who I am...and to be honest I am not really willing to do it halfway. At the same time I know I am going to want to spend every possible minute with my precious little baby. I know that my connection with TBA at all the amazing teacher-author-bloggers I am met will help me to find the balance I will need.

There is a new linky party over at TBA to see how much we can grow TBA in just one day. Head over to read all about how TBA has affected your teaching, life, blogging, etc. You won't be disappointed by all the amazingness you will find at TBA!

And..... while you are doing that I would LOVE to hear about how you found me here at Thinking of Teaching? Was it through TBA? Another blog? Let me know so I can pass the love along and visit the blogs that visit me!
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