Monday, August 24, 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Come on in!

A few days ago, I posted some {classroom pictures}, but I thought I'd add a few more.

Tomorrow marks day one, year seven of teaching fifth grade.  I'm sure I'm in for a restless night, but I've got thirty five ten year olds awaiting me, so I'll put on my game face and make the day amazing.

We were given these updated print outs for our Reading Ranger program.  Instead of just laminating them, I took the extra step to add some polka dot borders:

I think it makes it much cuter!  As an unintended bonus, they remind me of Minnie Mouse and a little Disney never heart anyone.

I also took the print outs of the Reading Ranger level expectations and put them in page protectors.  I bundled the page protectors with a book ring and hung them on a jumbo sized push pin.  They're still accessible to students, easily moveable, and take up much less wall space.  A win for all!

While we're near those signs, here's my reading corner:

Yes, that is an ASU t-shirt pillow you spy!  The yellow text books are the social studies ones that will go inside their desks.  One entire bookshelf is dedicated to Harry Potter, the Series of Unfortunate Events, and various books by Rick Riordan...and I'm not ashamed of it!

Here's an updated shot of our classroom command center:

I moved my diffuser and electronic sharpener to near my desk so they can be closely monitored!  

Our mystery bucket:

I draw a stick and specifically watch that student in line.  This year, instead of adding student/teacher points (because I'm {skipping that} this year), that student (if successful) will earn points in class dojo.  

This is what my students walk into:

There is a large welcome banner and blank desks (minus their water bottles, which are a first day treat.  They say I hope you're thirsty for knowledge.)  There is nothing inside their desks.  We will build our desks together.

Here's the ever-growing stack of agendas I'll pass out:

Along with our 8 math practices:

Here's some of the copies I'll need the first week.  Emphasis is on some.  

I can't wait until my classroom is filled with my students. I've been a bit lonely in there all by myself!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Day 1 Goals

I was talking with another member of my DEN tribe about his first day of teaching fifth grade.  Mr. C, you'll be great! Don't sweat it!

I started thinking about what my goals are for day one and I realized they're quite simple.

My goal for day 1 is all about my students and their feelings.  I want them to leave room 71 feeling excited, supported, cared for, and enthusiastic about fifth grade.  I want them to feel challenged by our first day word problems (yes, first day of school means word problems).  I want them to be ready to come back and try their best again tomorrow.

The learning will come.  The notebook set up will come.  The team builders are imbedded throughout our day.  But I only have one chance to make a first impression and i want them to feel good about fifth grade. 

What are your goals for your first day of school?

Bracing for Day One

Wednesday and Thursday were filled with such hope and optimism.

Then Friday hit.

My morning started off rough and involved vomit, pee, cat poop, sexual harassment from creepy men at the gas station, and Waffles trying to bring a bird that she'd caught into the house...all before seven am. A rather rough training followed, then I hid in a colleague's classroom during what I'd like to call the invasion of the kinders.  My classroom is near two different kindergarten classrooms and all the parents came in to meet the teachers and tour the school.  

I went as far away as possible on the off chance I share a sibling with one of those teachers.  See, the kinder teachers dressed up that day.  I was in a tee shirt and yoga pants, not the ideal first impression.  

Lunch was provided, which means having to bring my own lunch on Monday will be a strange adjustment!  We got a little spoiled after food for three days.

I found time to tackle a few small tasks, some laminating, and prepping the first Sunshine treat of the school year.
Rather heavy trainings on bullying regulations followed in the afternoon, followed by committee updates.  

Then the bombshell dropped.

I knew that fourth grade's numbers were high.  My roster on Monday had 31 names, but Thursday's had 33.  I'd already alphabetized their files, made labels for markers and data folders, set up desks, entered names in class dojo, and printed welcome letters.

I redid everything for Thursday's new additions.

But the list wasn't done.  I got more.

In fifth grade, in an inclusion room (meaning I have students with IEPs, LEPs, and in tier 3 for RTI), I have thirty five students.  If I want to buy anything for my classroom, I need three dozen.

Other fifth grade classrooms are all upwards of thirty, with two sitting at 38.  Thirty eight students.  

We're hoping there's enough funding come federal count day to get another teacher, but that's a month away. We have no room for this new teacher, so that poses an additional challenge. School starts on Monday and the district is several hundred teachers short. do I cope with the fear of having 35 students (if not more) on Monday?

One, I tried to frame this in a positive way.  We have such a great school that everyone wants to be there.  Lucky us!  

I stayed until after six on Friday, then had errands afterward.  I got home around ten pm, so that was a very long day.  Saturday brought a {Jamberry} and make overs party, followed by Chinese food and Arizona Cardinals football.  I'll carve some time out tonight to work on craft projects for the classroom.

Tomorrow,  the day before school starts, brings a few hours in the classroom (just to be totally ready) and a hair cut before getting to bed nice and early. 

Monday will be a long day, followed by a tough conversation with someone. I don't like confrontation, but there are some things that I'm not okay with just ignoring. 

I'm bracing for day 1.  Positive vibes, people!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Blogtember Challenge!

It's that time of year again!  Bailey from bravelove has her blog challenge.  Since she's in grad school and a tad busy, she's posted all her blog topics ahead of time.  I can't necessarily do each post (since teaching takes a lot of time), but it's nice to start brainstorming.

Will you be joining the Blogtember Challenge?  

Here are her challenges:

Tuesday, Sept. 1: Introduce yourself however you like! Pics, vlog, collage, your choice :)
Wednesday, Sept. 2: Describe your ideal day. Where would you go and what would you do?
Thursday, Sept. 3: Create a collage or inspiration/mood board that describes your blog.
Friday, Sept. 4: What are you passionate about?
Saturday, Sept. 5: Put your iTunes/music player on shuffle and share the first 10 songs that play.
Sunday, Sept. 6: Share your style. What fashion trends do you love, frequent, or avoid?
Monday, Sept. 7: Tell us about your blog name. Where did it come from?
Tuesday, Sept. 8: Tell us about your favorite season. Why is it your favorite and what does it say about you?
Wednesday, Sept. 9: Write a letter to sixteen-year-old you. Any advice or funny stories?
Thursday, Sept. 10: 10 items off your bucket list. If you haven't made one, now's a good time to start!
Friday, Sept. 11: It's a Friday night and you decide to stay in. What do you do?
Saturday, Sept. 12: What are you up to currently? I have examples here and here.
Sunday, Sept. 13: Create a collage or inspiration/mood board for this season in your life.
Monday, Sept. 14: The 5 books that have impacted your life the most.
Tuesday, Sept. 15: What's in your bag? Pick up your purse and peruse its contents, then share with us!
Wednesday, Sept. 16: The real you vs. the online you. Are they the same or different?
Thursday, Sept. 17: Just for fun, your latest obsession. What can you not get enough of these days?
Friday, Sept. 18: Record a VLOG! It can be about anything you'd like!
Saturday, Sept. 19: Tell us about one of the best days of your life.
Sunday, Sept. 20: It's guilty pleasure time! Shows, books, songs, foods, whatever it may be.
Monday, Sept. 21: A favorite quote/expression and how it has impacted you.
Tuesday, Sept. 22: Get creative! Sketch, paint, dance, play music, whatever then give us a glimpse.
Wednesday, Sept. 23: Grab a guest post. Recruit a friend or fellow blogger to share on your space for the day.
Thursday, Sept. 24: Shout out five of your favorite bloggers. Who are your regular reads?
Friday, Sept. 25: Three songs you are connecting with right now.
Saturday, Sept. 26: What's on your to-reading list, and what have you recently read? 
Sunday, Sept. 27: What's on your wish list? Be sure to include links so we can shop too ;)
Monday, Sept. 28: A day in the life. Take us through it with you.
Tuesday, Sept. 29: Write your own list of 10 blog topics to inspire us next month.
Wednesday, Sept. 30: A farewell coffee date. Take some time to breath, sip a warm drink, and share with your new blogging buddies. If you'd like a prompt: how did the Blog-tember Challenge go for you? Any surprises? What was your favorite prompt, or what would you like to see included next time?

Will you be joining us? If so, link up! 

My Classroom

It's been a long few days and I'm not quite done, but without further ado, here is my classroom for the 2015-2016 school year!

My wreath:

I'd originally planned to hang it over my door, but I didn't like how it sat with the window.  I worried that if my door was slammed the wreath would break.  You can read more about the process of the crayon wreath {here}.

I made it stick out from the wall with strategically placed push pins:

My chair:

Not that I sit in it often, but this chair was a great investment.  I found it at Goodwill, store tags still attached, for ten dollars. 

My classroom command center:

It includes files that I need, our calendar, our Scholastic book code, our specials schedule, the treasure box, and my dropbox (where they turn in all papers to me).  Underneath the wobbly computer desk is a laundry bin that holds anchor charts and a pile of dictionaries.  I have bins under my dropbox and treasure box which hold math manipulatives and extra table supplies.  I wanted to make a space that was helpful to both myself and my students.  After all, it's not just my classroom.  It's our learning room.

I added a few more things to the wall beside my desk:

I just wanted to make my happy place a little more exciting.  The Eagles and stuffed eagle pendant are from my trip to DENSI 2015.  The painted V is signed by all my students from last year.  The YALE pendant is from my bestie.   The certificate is from Harry Reid as a thank you for my service (Teach for America). 

Our schedule board:

I purchased the border at Joann's and laminated it for durability.  The cards were a {free download} from TpT.

My banner:

It's from the dollar section at Joann's and is hung on my certificate.  I did have to add the twine myself, but thought this was adorable. 

My bulletin board:

I want to add washi tape as the trim for the tent, but it's mostly done!

Bulletin board letters:

This font is Swagger and downloaded from  I printed on scrapbook paper and hand cut them.  When I was done, several people offered me their cricuts. (Thanks gals, but before would have been better!)

Australia Cards

I love reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with my students.  

Like Alexander, students have complex emotions and some times want to move to Australia.  These cards are a subtle indication to their neighbors to provide kindness and space.

Reading Ranger Goals Board:

I made the goals banner from a good find at the dollar spot at Target!

I also have my Harry Potter CAFE signs:

This {freebie} combines lots of my favorite things: Harry Potter, pink, and zebra print!

Here is one of their first day treats:

It's hot, so I wanted water.  It's healthy and I know there are no allergies! 

Tomorrow I'll be finishing my classroom, then doing my nails for the first day.


Back to Work, Days 1 and 2

It was really, really nice to go back to work.

We were greeted with donuts and a present:

The sticky label said "we're the sharpest teachers around!" 

We did a few delightful ice breaker games, went over our data from last year, and talked about new procedures.  We decided on committees (I'm co-chair of Sunshine and on the math committee) and had time to meet with both our committees and our grade levels. 

Our long range plans are done and most of the copies and lesson plans for the first week are done as well. 

Oh, and Cafe Rio was provided for lunch.  Thank you admin!

Thursday brought an entire day of classroom prep and grade level planning.  It was amazing.  PTA splurged for lunch and we got a lot accomplished.  My room is almost done and I took home some first week prep (cutting) because I can do that while watching Netflix.

However, I am exhausted.  I've put in two twelve hour days and tomorrow will be another long one.  I've been productive and know that I'm a perfectionist.

I stumbled upon {this article} and it reminded me why I'm a teacher.   

Thank you Candice for noticing teachers! I've put a lot of work into my classroom and eagerly await my 33 fifth graders.

I'm ridiculously excited about this school year!