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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New Students

It's the dreaded phone call.. or knock on the door.. or looking back and seeing a small crowd of people in your classroom.. New students in the middle of the year! Ahh!! New students completely throw a wrench in the school day, and sometimes even the rest of the year. You never know what you're going to get! Getting a new student is pretty common at my school and the question isn't "When am I getting a new student?" but rather "How many new students will I get this year?". A few years ago I got 10 new students by DECEMBER. I had 31 students for most of that year. 


31 second graders. 


I wish I had this system figured out that year because it would have saved me a TON of time and frustration! All you do is prep a few extra bags of supplies at the beginning of the year and when you get a new student you already have the supplies all ready to go! It isn't a brand new idea, but it is one worth blogging about just the same.

Here are some of the things I put in my new student bags:

Welcome Packet from Meet the Teacher Night 

Student Gift from Meet the Teacher Night (So long as it's still good, of course)

Journals and Folders

How do you handle the arrival of a new student?

P.S. - I've been in school for 3 weeks and I already have 2 new students. Well, 3 if you count the one that I unexpectedly got at Meet the Teacher Night. This has already saved me each time and is a HUGE time saver in the long run!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Corriganite Nation

This post is all about The Corriganite Nation.


What IS the Corriganite Nation?

What IS a Corriganite?

I'm glad you asked!!

This idea comes from my amazing mentor teacher. She came up with the word "Corriganite", and if I get married then I'll have to go back to her to come up with the new name. Anyways, it is all about building community! I tell my students that my room is "The Corriganite Nation" and that they are all members of The Corriganite Nation. I am the leader, and they are my Corriganites! 

Last year I had a student tell me that he wanted to be a Minion instead of a Corriganite. My answer to him was NO!! He grew to like the idea, and at the end of the year he was proud to be a Corriganite. :)

How do you set up your classroom community and get the kiddos to "buy in"? 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

One Day Sale

I'm just stopping by for a quick post to announce that my TpT store is on sale for 20% off today! Use the code MORE15 when you check out.

Click the image to visit my store!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Meet the Teacher Night

I love Meet the Teacher Night! I love meeting my new students and their families, and each time at the end my face hurts from smiling so much. I'm always so excited to meet my new Corriganites!!

Here's what my Meet the Teacher Night looked like this year:

I had about 1 second to take this picture. I didn't realize that I cut off the 2 in 2nd grade rocks. OOPS! I had my past students come and take down their guitar from the wall when they visited me on Meet the Teacher Night. 

Sign in sheets, Meet the Teacher Checklist, iVolunteer sheet, Wish List (on hearts) and a parent gift. I believe that if I invest my time early and show the parents that I appreciate them and all of their hard work that they will be more willing to volunteer and help me out later in the year. I ask a lot of my parents, so this pays off big time in the long run! 

The red folder holds all of the papers they can take home and read. I included a getting to know you form in this folder, and some parents will fill it out that night while others prefer to take it home and send it in on Monday. 

Meet the Teacher Night Checklist

Getting to Know you Packet

Parent Volunteer Information

Check out the FREE and EDITABLE versions of my Meet the Teacher Night Resources in my TPT store!

Have you had Meet the Teacher Night yet? How did it go? 
Or if you haven't had it yet.. How are you preparing for it?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Five for Friday

This week was the first day back with our students. Man, that first week back sure is EXHAUSTING! 

The weekend before school starts, Matt and I were able to go to Flagstaff to celebrate one last weekend before I go completely crazy once school starts enjoy the cooler weather. We went on a drive up to Snowbowl in Matt's new car! It's hard to picture the scenery all covered in snow in the winter!

My face at the end of the first day of school. W.O.W. That was a long one. I have my work cut out for me this year!

But at the end of the day if my desk is the messiest (and luckily the only messy) area in the room it won't be tooooo bad, right? 

Side note - I absolutely LOVE my class. They're great. I just have a few little MAJOR challenges this year. 

We had rainy day schedule on the 2nd day of school. Mother Nature why did you do this to us?! Rainy day schedule on the 2nd day of school should be considered a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Luckily, I signed up for GoNoodle this year and I am already soooo thankful for this!! It really helped the kiddos get their wiggles out and it was super fun to do, too!

I'm trying really hard this year to set up an environment where my students cheer each other on and encourage each other to do their best. I had to kill some time during testing and students were in and our out of the room, and played around the world with my students. They had a blast, but by far the best part was when my most challenging students started cheering for their classmates out of the blue! I hadn't said anything to my class about encouraging each other since kids were in and out of the room - I thought it would make the most sense to do it when they were all in the room. It was one of those moments when you have to go with the flow, and we had a quick pep talk about cheering each other on. They all jumped on the bandwagon after that! I hope I can keep this going the rest of the year!!

I just wish I had a picture of it now.. 

It's an old picture, but this week Matt and I had our 5 year anniversary this week. Where did the time go? #love

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Classroom Reveal 2015 - 2016

I LOVE looking at classroom pictures! There are so many great ideas out there it is hard to figure out which ones will work best for your teaching style and group of students. My classroom is still a work in progress, and to be perfectly honest it probably always will be. So stick with me through all of these pictures in my classroom reveal!

P.S. I took these pictures after the first day of school. I literally did not have an extra second to take pictures of my room, and I snapped a few quick pics before I left on the first day of school.
View looking directly in from the door
View standing in the doorway looking left.

Word Wall and cabinets.  
 Just don't look in the cabinets.. It's a little scary in there.

I got rid of my teacher desk, so I have a small computer desk and use my horseshoe table as my work area. 

After the first day of school the messiest desk in the room is mine, ha! The first day couldn't have been that bad then, right?

Desk area
 It's not the most "pinworthy" picture, but it is realistic. I'm all about keeping it real!
SMARTBoard area
We are required to have a color coded grammar wall in my school district, and the parts of speech need to be in a particular order. It's not the cutest thing in the world, but it is beneficial for the ELL students.
Wall of Fame and Super Improver Area
I am planning to have a "Wall of Fame" with pictures of my students and a speech bubble saying what they want to be when they grow up. I am hoping that I can use this to motivate them and encourage good behavior. I use color coded cards for students as "super improvers" where students move up to the next level after earning 5 hole punches on their super improver cards. I think that will be a separate post sometime this year!

Math Wall
Most of the blank space on this wall will be used for anchor charts.

Reading Fluency Wall and part of my Reading wall.
By the end of 2nd grade our students are expected to read 111 words a minute. It is a very high standard, but I believe it is achievable if teachers and parents work together as a team. I use this bulletin board to motivate students to become the best readers they can be!

The word work bulletin board holds our phonics (spelling) words and high frequency words that students are expected to read, write, and spell correctly.

Reading bulletin board
This is the rest of my reading bulletin board, and the blank space will be used to hold anchor charts. The crazy grey box holds our CHROMEBOOKS! I am so excited to have a chromebook cart in my room since I love love love to integrate technology!

Small Science bulletin board. The clothespins hold anchor charts or student work - really just whatever makes sense with what we are learning about in class.

This bulletin board will hold picture of students breaking rules to discourage them from doing it again.


It will hold words that are "rule breakers" and don't follow any spelling pattern. I am hoping it'll be an ongoing list that we can add to and reference throughout the year. My goal is that by making a big deal about adding a "rule breaker" to the cart the students will remember to 1. check the chart for words and 2. remember how to spell it. It's my first year doing something like this, so I hope that it'll come in handy!

Library and Writing Wall
Cubbies and Student Work Wall

Social Studies Bulletin Board and Theme Books
My goal is to check out books that are related to what we are learning about in Science or Social Studies that students can pick up to read here. I have a lot of capable readers in my room, and I want to make sure that they are challenged and engaged in learning!

Well, that's my classroom for this year! It is still a work in progress, and every year I change a little bit more. It's like improving your teaching craft - you keep what works and change what doesn't. 

What is your favorite part of your classroom? (Mine is my library since it has taken 3 years to organize!) 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Year 2

My second year of teaching I taught 2nd grade, and wow do they start out little! At the beginning of the year they are basically just really big first graders, and by the end of the year the growth they make is huge. Couldn't we say the same thing about us as teachers? At the beginning of the year we start out thinking we are going to do things a certain way, but when the needs of the students differ from what we picture we need to adjust. Anyways.. back to the topic - my second year teaching!

All summer I scoured pinterest trying to find as many resources to use with my second graders. I searched for ideas that would help me organize and set up my classroom. I was moving rooms, and setting up that room was my summer job! Don't you wish we got paid for all the work we do over the summer? Ha! I inherited a room jam packed with tons of clutter and junk resources accumulated from years and years of hoarding teaching. I am so thankful for the resources I got from the room, but man was organizing that room a challenge! Here's what it looked like when I took over:

Yes, that is an overhead projector sitting in front of one part of the library. That library had over 1,500 books in it, and they were not sorted in any system AT ALL.

Yes, there is a desk facing the back of the room.

What is going on with the cubbies? Yeah, I don't know either.

Yes, there is a table filled with extra junk in front of the desk, which is already covered in junk. It also has another storage container underneath it filled with junk.
What is going on with those boxes next to the sink?

Yes, those are four copy boxes filled with old files stacked on top of each other. 

I couldn't believe how many things were packed into this room! I would open the cabinets and things would fall out on top of me. I moved half of the things out into the hallway and the room was still completely packed. This is what it looked like at the end of the summer:

Calendar Area

Reading bulletin board and turn in trays.

Door leading into my classroom.

Student work wall

Word wall & books hiding the storage on top of my cabinets.

DIBELS chart. I had the student numbers written on stars and moved them up as their reading fluency improved.

Birthday Wall

View from the back of my classroom

Data area. I put this up at the last minute and wasn't completely motivated to get it done.

Math wall and meeting area. 

That year was amazing and challenging for many reasons. I had an amazing group of students and parents. I had 31 students. THIRTY-ONE! With 31 students you have to really get creative.. with seating arrangements, behavior management, filing papers, time management.. you name it! I had a wonderful group of parents that were a huge help with preparing materials and assisting us with our special events we do throughout the year.

Here's what I took away from my 2nd year of teaching - Things change.. a lot. Your teaching style will have to change to meet the needs of your students, and when you have 31 littles in a room it will have to change again. There are some things you just can't do with 31 students. It's easier than your first year of teaching, but you still learn just as much as you did your first year. It'll get easier (hopefully!) every year!

What are some things you learned from your 2nd year teaching?