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Friday, July 31, 2015

Five for Friday

This was the last full week off before school starts. This summer has really flown by! I can't believe I'll be back for Teacher Week on Monday, and then meeting my new group of Corriganites the Monday after that. Where does the time go?

Matt and I took a weekend trip to Long Beach and Catalina Island this past weekend. I am so bad about taking pictures, but here is a little peek at our trip! 

We were able to go snorkeling on Catalina Island in the Dive Park. It was a lot of fun and we were able to see a TON of goldfish! The water was really warm, and we ended up not needing the wet suits. 

The private beach club after they closed. It is such a beautiful island, and I can't wait to go back!

Our dishwasher broke earlier this month, and now it if FINALLY fixed! It's about time.. I was getting so tired of washing all the dishes by hand! I can honestly say that I have never been more excited to load and unload the dishwasher. 

This is pretty much what my sink looked like for the past month. I am SO happy that it is finally empty and clean!! 

I told myself I wasn't going to go in to my classroom this week, but I just couldn't stay away! I love having time off, but teaching is my passion so I can never stay away from it too long! I'm thankful that I went in because I remembered my room being in A LOT better condition than it really was. I didn't take any pictures because I'm saving it for my classroom reveal post next week once it's all put together so stop by next week to see it all put together!

The cutting begins.. Oh wait, it never really ended. 

Hello, my name is Caitlin and I'm a shopaholic. 

I went back to school shopping a few days this week. There were so many great sales going on that I just had to stock up on things now while they're cheap. Soo.. it all works out in the end, right? 

Buckets on sale for 70% off at Michaels. I'm not sure how I'll use these yet, but I'll figure it out! #thinkoutsidethebox

Pack of 3 mini notebooks at the Dollar Tree. I'm not sure how I'll use these yet, but I'm challenging myself to get creative this year. 

Canvas bags at Michaels for 49 cents each. I might use them as book bags, but I haven't decided anything for sure yet. It's just another thing to be creative with and I know hope I'll think of something!

I have these shoes in black from Payless so it was time to get another pair of comfortable flats. #shoeaddict

Of course, I had to get the heels, too. 

For all the teachers starting school on Monday - Good luck with your first day of school!! I wish you all the best for this upcoming year! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back to School Prep

A new school year is finally here! I know everyone always says this, but... Time really does fly when you're having fun! I'm not sure if I should be sad that summer is ending, or if I should be happy to meet all my new Corriganites. I guess I'll find out soon enough!

Now that it's back to the grind it seems like my to do list is never ending. It's almost as if once I mark off one thing from my to do list I'm adding at least 3 more! Does this work EVER end?!

I have found that it is so much easier to prep things I'll need later in the year at the beginning of the year when there more (hahahaha!) time. It saves time later in the year, and we all know that extra time is a hot commodity once school starts. Here is a list of things that I prepare before the school year starts so that I can at least feel like I save time later in the year:

1. New student supplies

My school has students constantly coming and going. Some times it feels like you have a revolving door - once you get a new one an old one is leaving! Preparing new students in advance has been a HUGE time saver for me as the year goes on!! This may be the best thing ever for schools with mobile populations, and it's not even that complicated. It takes almost no time to prepare several extra sets of new student supplies at the beginning of the year because you're making it for your new students anyway. Then once you get a new student you just give them a bag with all the things they need and they're good to go! Once the year gets going the LAST thing you'll want, or even remember to do, is gather all the supplies your new student will need. Save yourself a ton of time and prepare a few extra bags, or a lot of extra bags if you get a lot of new students as the year goes on!

Quick side note - These pictures are from last year, and I took these pictures SUPER quickly this morning so it's not my best work. Don't judge me based on my poor photos!! 

Folder on each student's desk on Meet the Teacher Night
On Meet the Teacher Night I have folders, which I make from construction paper, on each student's desk. I write their first and last name on the front of the folder, and it holds all of the information that the students need to take home that night. I put any papers that they need to complete next to the folder in hopes that the families will complete the info that night. 

Getting to Know You Form
This is an old Getting to Know You form that I used the past two years. I have updated it this year to add some clip art and new fonts that I have. I had a hard time finding a form that included all of the information I wanted so I used what I needed from several forms that I had received from other teachers. I will post about my new forms after my Meet the Teacher Night in a few weeks so stop by then to see the makeover and pick up the new form for free! 

Everyone needs a Student Handbook!

Breakfast and Lunch Menu for the year. 

These journals are not included in the packet, but they are inside the file for new students. I created the labels, which you can pick up for FREE in my TpT shop. Click on the image to check it out! 

We also have a Literacy Folder, which I could NOT find for the life of me in my new student supplies from last year. I'm not sure how that happened, but it looks the same as the other folders. It said "Literacy Folder" on a red folder. These labels are also included in the freebie in my TpT store. 

That is what the new student supplies look like all together. I store them in the mailbox in the cabinets if there aren't any extra cubbies. I just pull it out when I get a new student and the new kiddo has all the supplies they need!

2. Birthday Bags

This isn't a new idea, but it is one that I am so happy that I stumbled upon last year. It is such a great time saver as the year goes on, especially if you're like me and can never keep track of your students' birthdays. I prepared about 30 birthday bags last year with little goodies inside to give to my students when I hear their name on the announcements at their completely planned birthday celebration! I still have some from last year, so I don't even think that I'll need to prepare any more this year. If you prepare more than you need you might not want to include any food since it will probably go bad. In my birthday bags the student gets a birthday card (glued to the front of the bag so I can write on it), a bookmark, and a pencil. Nothing too crazy, but enough for the student to feel special and recognized on their birthday!

3. Absent Student folder (new this year!)

We all have those students who are chronically absent, and if you're like me you always never remember to send home make up work that they missed. In my defense, most of the stuff we do in class is in journals or other interactive activities so there isn't a ton of stuff that I can send home! Anyways, I am going to glue an absent folder sheet to pieces of construction paper so that when a student is absent for more than 1 day, I can put the things they need to make up in the folder along with a note about when the assignments are due or any other special instructions. I think that this will be a real time saver, and beneficial for my students so that they can make up the work they missed while they were out. 

I haven't made the folders yet, but I will as soon as I get the construction paper. Click the image to pick up the list for free! 

4. Anchor Charts (also new this year!)

Oh, anchor charts. They are such great resources for students to use, but when you are making several a day it can get old real quick! I make most of the anchor charts with my students, particularly in math, writing, and grammar, but there are some anchor charts that I can pre-fill in ahead of time. I have anchor charts for the reading genres and strategies that go along with the reading curriculum, and I can at least write the definition of the genre and strategy ahead of time. 

I will leave plenty of space where I can add in information from the students' input, but I think writing the definition for all the genres and strategies I'm going to use in advance will save a ton of time!

This is an old genre anchor chart from last year, and I am planning to use the same format as I create the anchor charts this year. 

What are some things that you prepare at the beginning of the year to save time later on? I'd love to add it to my list!

Monday, July 27, 2015

My First Year of Teaching!

Oh.. your first year of teaching. It's something that you remember forever. When I think back to my first year I think about all the procedures and routines I had in place, and I don't do ANY of them now. I can't believe that my teaching style has changed that much, but it's all about learning and growing, right?

I one of those crazy lucky people who starts teaching before student teaching is finished. I left my amazing mentor teacher to take over a 3rd grade SEI class in another district across town. I took over the class in October, and boy is it challenging taking over a class in the middle of the year!

I'll never forget that first group of students.. my first group of CORRIGANITES! When I see them in the hallways now 2 years later they still run over and give me hugs. I hope that next year when they're in 6th grade they won't be "too cool" for that. It just warms my heart when my past students give me hugs :)

One thing that really sticks out about that year is how much I moved things around the classroom. It seemed like every week I was moving desks, moving tables, and rearranging. The room I was in was one of the larger rooms we had that was divided in two to create more classrooms. It was so small! I had to keep moving things around because I couldn't find an arrangement that actually worked for how small the room was. Here are the pictures I took at the beginning of the year with my first room arrangement:
View of my classroom from the door
This is a view of my classroom library. The green bulletin board was the first part of my math wall. Looking back now it seems so silly because you can't even read any of the strategy posters on the wall.

View from the opposite side of my classroom looking back towards the door
I didn't have a lot of ideas for what to do on this side. I set up a blue bulletin board, and it sadly remained that way for most of the year! I could never figure out what I wanted to put up there.

View from looking at the class from the white board
The back of the classroom was a room divider. It was not easy to staple or use push pins on that, so I didn't put up any bulletin boards there. It was such a sad waste of space!

View from the back of the room looking towards the front
This was my favorite part of the room! I had the most room to set things up so this was the easiest part of the room to set up. I had the calendar way up high, and looking back now that was such a bad idea! What was I thinking!?

If I could tell myself one thing about arranging my room my first year of teaching it would be this - If there is something that you're going to be updating a lot (calendar, anchor charts, word wall, etc) put it in a spot that is easily accessible to you. If you have to move tables and chairs so that you can stand on top of them to update a board daily or weekly it will not get done. Do yourself a favor and put it in a spot that you can easily get to.. it makes it so much easier to update things when you can actually reach them!

What are some things you wish you could tell yourself about your first year of teaching? 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Five for Friday

I'm linking up (hopefully I'll figure out how to do this..) with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday!

I have *officially* started this blogging adventure. It has been on my mind for years so I am SUPER excited to have everything up and running. I have learned so much from reading blogs and it has helped me become a better teacher. I am just so excited to get started and share my crazy ideas with all of you! 

This summer I was able to meet with my team to plan for the upcoming school year. It has been really helpful to get on the same page ahead of time. We met this past week to map out math for the year and decide how to set up our Parent Night. The school brings the parents in a lot over the first few weeks of school, but a Parent Night (or Open House, Curriculum Night, etc) is not one of those school wide events. My team mate and I decided that it would still be a good idea to give them information about 2nd grade and strategies to help their child at home. Parents end up having a ton of questions at the first round of conferences, and I hope that this will save a lot of time at conferences so I don't have to explain the same strategies to each parent that comes in! 

It is so hard for me to work out during the school year so I make an extra effort to go to the gym during breaks. I've been trying to run 10 miles total throughout the week, and I finally did it this week! I want to get into the gym more often during the school year, and I am going to make an effort to go to the gym during the week. Hopefully it'll last throughout the year!

I even set a new personal record! Woo hoo!

I might be a little crazy, but I've already started back to school prep. I wanted to get a jump start on centers for the beginning of the year. Hey, I like to think of it as being prepared! Does it EVER end?

I'm definitely a Netflix binge watcher. Right now I've been binge watching Sons of Anarchy, and W.O.W! I'm almost finished with Season 3 now and I can't wait to see what happens with the rest of the show!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Vacation in... Canada!

I love to travel. I love visiting new places, trying new foods, and pretty much everything about traveling. Well, not the flying part so much.. but that's a whole different topic. Anyways, this summer I was able to leave the country for the first time and visit British Columbia, Canada!

My mom and I went to the city of Kelowna, which is in the Okanagan Valley in BC and it is HOT HOT HOT! I was expecting a break from the heat, but nooooooo. Most days we were there the temperature was in the 90s! Even though it was so hot it was still just the break I needed to get started with summer vacation. We all need a break from work every now and then, right?

The city is really artsy and they have all of this beautiful and unique art around the city.  

They even have pianos scattered around the city. People will go and sit down and play by themselves. I've never seen anything like it!

Kelowna has a "sister city" in Japan that designed this Japanese garden in the middle of the city. We got to visit it on a tour, and it's absolutely beautiful! I love the serene feeling you get once you go into a place like this. How could you NOT love a place as beautiful as this?

One day we went biking in Myra Canyon. The mountains are gorgeous, and much warmer than I would have expected for Canada.. There were a lot of fires in British Columbia so it was really smokey in Kelowna. It's such a bummer to see how much the fires destroy..But luckily there is so much that is still there!

Right out of a tunnel and over the trestle! 

We were staying right in the middle of wine country so of course we had to go on a wine tasting tour! 

My mom and I outside of the Summerhill winery. It's a little smokey in the background, but isn't that an amazing view!?

The teacher in me wanted to use Canadian money so I could tell my students all about it. It was definitely a learning experience since some of the coins are different, but luckily most of them are similar! It took a bit longer to figure out how much money I needed when I was shopping, so I think it was a good reminder that my students might need a little more think time when working with coins. 

Bottom line - if you ever get a chance to visit Kelowna make sure you go! It was an easy and fun trip for my first time out of the county, and it's sometimes called "Kelownafornia" since it is similar to California. So if you're a newbie to traveling outside of the US (like me!) it's a good place to start!

Where did you get to visit this summer break? Tell me about your trips in the comments, or tell me about a place I should visit next year!