Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Other Half of This Duo

Hi everyone,
     I finally have some time to introduce myself...a little delayed, but here is a little bit about the other half of this duo. As an intervention specialist my Spring (March, April & May) is non-stop report writing which includes evening hours and 8-10 hours on weekends. That doesn't leave many brain cells or time to get into our blog. Now that I've had a few weeks to catch up on all the things I neglected during those months, I'm excited about having more time to create new products along with sharing and learning new thoughts and ideas.

     As Jen mentioned, we have been working together for several years – this will be our 6th year together. I feel very blessed to be a part of the learning and growth process with her as we continue to try and perfect our co-teaching model in order to meet the needs of all of our students. It is enjoyable to be able to bounce ideas of one another and create as we go. Our interactions and time spent together doesn't end when we walk out the door each day, but continues in the land outside of education, as we have also developed a great friendship along the way.

     I have been in special education all of my teaching career which goes back to the days before anyone heard the word “inclusion”. Yes, I was a resource room teacher. In retrospect, I am glad that special education has evolved to where we are now with more inclusion and less restrictive environments. I have worked primarily in grades K-4, sometimes working in two or more grade levels at once...that's always a challenge.

     I have three young adult children of my own, two daughters and one son. My oldest daughter has given me four wonderful, unique grandsons...almost a basketball team. All but one are now in school and I get to experience “learning” from a whole different perspective as a grandma. I love it!

     I hope everyone is enjoying the summer!

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Classroom themes: Do you do implement them?

There are so many great (and cute) classroom theme ideas floating around nowadays. Rockstar, cowboy/western, owls, jungle, etc. You name it, there is probably a theme developed around it.  I really like the ideas of themes, but honestly cannot imagine changing and purchasing so many new items each year. While the effect would be cute and visually pleasing, it could get expensive and time consuming.

Two years ago, after much deliberating, I took the plunge and began a sports related "team" theme. Why did I pick this theme? I wanted something that could pull the students together as a team and would work in tandem with our building wide behavior initiative (Positive Behavior Supports). I also decided to give this theme two years before changing to another.

I gained many of my ideas from Beth Newingham's website.  Click on the teacher resources link, scroll down to the bottom, and click on the team theme.  I used many of these ideas to kick off my 2011-2012, and 2012-2013 school years. I especially liked her her baseball card bulletin board and used it with great feedback from parents and staff.

I purchased the following items from Oriental Trading in our school colors: red and black, which I use to decorate my classroom each fall.


I continued the team theme when designing my classroom jobs (Table Captains, Equipment Manager, MVP of the week, etc). As we progressed through the school year, I emphasized how our class is a team and how we can help our teammates using teamwork. 

Fastforward to this spring: I was reading through blogs and Pinterest to decide on what my theme for the 2013-2014 school year would be. As I was debating what direction to take, my students were working on end of the year writing projects. 

An amazing thing happened. An ah-hah moment. Really!

As my students shared their favorite memories and things about second grade

every single student 

mentioned how much they loved being a part of the team!  So....out went the thoughts of deviating from the team theme. Instead, I knew I needed to improve upon what I had already done to make this theme more visually appealing. Many long evenings and productive naptimes later, this is what I came up with:

This pack includes everything my own classroom needed: calendar parts, alphabet/word wall headings, name labels, desk plates, reading and math manipulative labels, school supply labels, job chart and team building activities!
I will be adding this to our TpT store today.
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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Happy Summer! This is day 7 of my summer break (woohoo!).  I can finally sit down for a few minutes and share with you guys what I have been busy with this past week. As I mentioned in my last post, our district is no longer requiring we stick only with Reading Street and Everyday Math, and instead are telling us which CCSS to teach when on our curriculum maps.  I am VERY excited to have some additional freedom to design quality lessons, but I am also someone who needs to have a plan before the school year begins. 

So this week I took myself to Meijer, bought a weekly/monthly planner, some colorful pens, and began the process of planning out the language arts (I started with this since I have a copy of the curriculum map and I was a part of the team that created it for our district. I do not have a copy of the math as the district has not released it).

Currently, my focus has been on the phonics portion of language arts. I went back to an "oldie but goodie" resource that I used 4+ years ago and began matching lessons with the map in my planner. Click here for a link to Amazon if you are interested in the phonics lessons book (by Fountas and Pinnell).

 Along with my mapping, I have begun to prep materials for word work centers.  Earlier this spring I purchased a great product by Reagan Tunstall from TpT.  It is designed to be used with both spelling words as well as sight words. It is a great word routine that can be used for multiple weeks with simply changing the popsicle sticks out. Take a look at her product here.
I also picked up something else for the classroom while at Meijer, that I plan to use to spruce up my classroom library. Last year, my wonderful PTA purchased all new bins for my classroom from Really Good Stuff. This tape matches PERFECTLY! If you look at the next photo below I'd like to cover the exposed edges of the ugly gray shelf (where there is already ripped contact paper) with the super cute tape. Think it will spruce things up?
How are you spending your summer so far?

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