Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer's First Five for Friday

I have about five blog posts sitting, waiting, wishing, and hoping to be finished, but I have a grad school portfolio that needs to get done first. So, I am taking a break from my school work to jump in on another fun week of Five for Friday hosted by the fabulous Doodle Bugs for Teaching. As always, thank you girlie for hosting such a fun linky each week!

I started off my week by finally getting my classroom packed up(for the most part). I shoved neatly stacked as much as I could into my closets to help get it out of the way. I had made myself promise to NOT enter my room until July. I need a month away. But...I am already planning so sweet things for the classroom this fall! 

April from A Modern Teacher stole my heart last year in the planner market. I love her beautiful designs, personalization, and customized capabilities along with the fact that a fellow teacher(who knows what teachers REALLY need in a planner) has put together something brilliant. This will be my second year using her planner, and I couldn't be happier. I have a blog post coming your way to help you get familiar with what I included in my planner this year. In the meantime, you can check out her posts on them here!
Look at that gold ombre. *Swooooon!

I have been spending a lot of time with this sweetheart. He hasn't left my side this entire week! Cheers to a summer of chilling with my villain!

My sweet little Momma fell at her job a few months ago. She hurt her knee pretty bad and needed surgery but didn't want to miss school(she teaches Pre-K). Now that school is out, she headed in to get that old knee fixed! Everything went well, and she is already starting to walk on it just a little bit! Thanks for all my IG friends for the prayers.

Lastly, I am celebrating turning another huge grad assignment in by taking a break today to finish a project that I have had on my to-do list for ages. Last year, I installed some rain gutter bookshelves in my classroom after seeing them on Pinterest. I loved them instantly. Then, I saw Amanda from Teaching Maddeness post about how she had spray painted her bookshelves. Seriously LOVED the idea so I am in the process of painting mine teal to match my classroom. 

That's about it! What fun summer projects are on your list?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

That's a Wrap!

As this post goes live, I know that many of you are still heading towards the "end of the school year" finish line. Me? Well, I am still in my pjs, sipping on coffee, and feeling very happy that this Sunday will not be spent grading papers and writing lessons plans.

This year was AWESOME but really, really exhausting so I am so excited that summer vacation is here. But, my rest and relaxation is going to be squeezed in between other things because I am neck deep in my graduate school portfolio, reading and studying our new writing program, and prepping for a tech session that I am presenting at this summer-just to name a few things.

Kind of goes to prove that educators are never "done". But, we knew that, right?

I wanted to recap just a couple of things that occurred in Ms. Young's Learning Cottage over the last few days of school.

I LOVE this cute little Ikea chalkboard. We have used it a lot this year. The students had their pictures taken beside the chalkboard at the beginning of the year, and I thought it would be fun if we took our last day of school pictures beside it, too! Their first and last day of school pictures went in a memory book that we put together, and I just could not believe how tall and grown up my kiddos are now! Wow! What a change. One of my students suggested that I do a growth chart with my class next year to show how much everyone grew in second grade! Great idea, kiddo! I might just have to do that.

I do classroom superlatives on the last day of school like many others. Mine are simple. The students get a voting form where they nominate students for specific awards. We give awards for "best mathematician", "most helpful", "best smile", and many others. Then, we put our chairs in an aisle. I stand up front, turn on some upbeat music(selected by the students..This year they chose "Everything is Awesome" from the Lego Movie and "Happy"), and call out awards. The students get really into walking down the aisle, cheering, and being in the spotlight. My class was really close this year so it was a special moment in our room. 

If you follow me on IG then you know that my dog makes appearances in pictures on my account often. Maybe TOO often, but he is my baby, and I just love him to pieces. My students hear about my dog, Hero, all year long so I really think they feel like they know him. Each year Hero is coming to visit is one of our end of the year balloon countdown options. He was SO great with the kiddos. They wore him out, and he ended up sleeping for the rest of the day. 

I have never sent home summer packets to help the students work on skills over the summer. I always worry that it is just a waste of copying. However, my class this year came a LONG way, and I didn't want them to forget all that they had accomplished this year. I searched forever for a perfect summer packet and eventually decided on the Getting Ready for Third Grade packet from Bright Concepts 4 Teachers. LOVE her stuff. If you are looking for a super prep packet then I strongly suggest hers! My kiddos also got a cursive handwriting book to finish at home, SUNsational glasses, and their memory book complete with cool crayons. 

 I also managed to pass out end of the year gifts to special folks this year. Some went to parents for volunteering, special mentors, my awesome ELL teacher, and my secret Wildcat who totally spoiled me with sweet gifts all year long. I found these cute mason jar soap bottles at FiveBelow and got the tag idea from Elizabeth over at Kickin' It In Kindergarten.

And...this is what I did when school got out on Friday. I headed straight to the lake. The boyfriend's parents live on the lake so we spend a lot of time out there. It is so relaxing. Just what I needed to start off my summer vacation with a bang!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Student Teacher Gift

Last summer, I was told that I would be hosting a student teacher for the 2013-2014 school year. Her placement would be for the entire year, and she would be starting on the first day of school. A zillion questions went throughout my head immediately. Would I have enough to share with her? Would I, a beginner teacher myself, be able to provide her with the tools she needs to succeed in this field? What would she think of me when she experienced the good, the bad, and the crazy parts of a school day/year?

Today, my kiddos and I said goodbye to our student teacher, and I found myself thinking back on these first thoughts.  

Did I share enough? I sure hope so. Sharing is so important so share, share, SHARE!! Teachers-provide as many collaboration opportunities as possible with your student teachers. Share your knowledge. Share your KIDS. Share the work load. They need the resources, the insight, and the experience. Share the good...yes! But, share the crazy and the "not-so-good" moments too like the student who gets sick in the middle of an observation or the moment when the lesson totally flops. Ask for their advice. Offer them suggestions. Show them that there is always a way.

Never underestimate yourself. As a teacher, there is a lot that you now do that you don't even realize is important. For many, our daily teaching has become second nature. Don't think that those random parts of the day such as how you give a student positive feedback, your expectations for filling out the name and date on a paper, or your field trip tips and tricks are not important. They are valued skills that student teachers won't know about until they see you do them!

You can never give them too many resources. Let them borrow copies of your favorite teaching books. Do you have a favorite TPT seller or blogger? Did you give your student teacher the website address or a print out of a resource that you have created? Remember back to when you had NO idea about the wonderful world of teacher collaboration here on the web. Share that wealth of knowledge with them. Let them know how you go about planning for units, lessons, etc. We can never have too many blog stalkers and teacher-created resources.

Support them. They won't walk in knowing everything, and we can't expect them to. Guide them. Celebrate their new teaching successes and help them when they struggle. They look forward to our guidance and support. It is what they are here for!

Having a student teacher has been a great experience. My kiddos adored our ST, and we are so grateful that she has been able to be a huge part of our classroom this year. I don't think she has realized just how much she has also helped me grow as an educator, and I am forever grateful for her. 

To show our support, my kiddos made this cute picture for her. I loved it so much that I almost kept it for myself. But really----I love their little thumbprints. It was a broken link Pinterest find, but just search for "student teacher gifts" to find some ideas similar to this one. The students were so excited when they handed our ST her picture and a basket of goodies to help her when she gets her own classroom.

It has been a sweet year. Thank you my dear for helping ME. We are so proud of you, and wish you the best. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wordless Wednesday-Unique End of the Year Countdown Ideas

I have five days left.

FIVE. Like *smack me because 1) The kiddos are going cray cray and 2) I am NOT ready to say goodbye just yet. 

I know we say this with every group, but this year has been special.

Since there is just no way that my little brain can throw together a real post at the moment, I thought I would jump in on Wordless Wednesday with Miss DeCarbo from Sugar and Spice

I try my best to find "unique" activities for our end of the school year balloon countdown. Thanks to IG, I saw this idea over at Owl Ready to Teach and knew it would be perfect. The kiddos turned off all the lights, found a fun spot to read, and used their glow sticks. The best part? They read for 45 minutes before friends started to get off task. I told them it was time to move on, and they groaned. 

Do you have a unique end of school year activity?

Monday, May 5, 2014

End of the Year Postcards

Did you know that Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a HUGE sale?!? In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, thousands of teachers are putting their stores on sale just for you.

And, I have a new end of the year goodie in my store just in time!
I love making that first connection with my new students before the school year starts by sending them postcards in the mail letting them know how excited I am about meeting them. This year, one of my fellas actually brought his postcard with him to registration day and read it to me in my doorway. It melted my heart and showed me just how precious moments like that can be.

I wanted to end my school year in the same fashion. So, I have created these end of the school year postcards to send out to my kiddos.

There is no way that I am ready to fill these babies out yet, though. We have 13 days left. Oh my.

Click the picture to take you to the postcards. You can also visit my store and check out all of the other great teacher created goodies at the TPT sale! Don't miss our! Feel up your carts, yo!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Student Reflections

Testing, testing, testing. I shall be glad when this week is OVER. But, I have to say that I am also a little excited. I have seen so much growth in my students this year, and I am so proud of them. 

My kiddos start their state testing tomorrow. I know they are going to do fabulous. I can feel it, and I know that they can, too.

I read somewhere(no idea where...drat!) that one way to help students de-stress before a test is to give them the opportunity to write out their feelings. On Friday, I gave each student an index card and asked them to complete the following sentence stem for me. I told them that they didn't have to write their name and to be completely honest with their responses.

"I am going to __________ on the SAT10 because _________."

I used this as our ticket out the door to specials and read them while they were gone. To be honest, I was not prepared for the whirlwind of emotions that I experienced while reading my students' cards. 
Here are some of the responses I got!

"I believe I am going to rock on the SAT10 because I studied."
"I believe that I am going to do awesome on my SAT10 because I know that I am smart."
"I believe that I am going to do awesome on my SAT10 because we have learned a lot of things in second grade and I think I am going to rock the test."
"I believe I am going to rock the test because I know I am awesome."

A personal favorite-this little guy has a great sense of "dry" humor for a second grader!
"I believe that I am going to sit on the SAT10 because that is what it told me to do."

But, I also got a few that were not as positive.
"I believe that I am going to maybe do bad because the test is going to be hard."
"I believe that I am going to do wonderful and bad because I am sometimes smart and sometimes not."

The exercise opened my eyes to a few things. I realized that many students DID believe in themselves which is what I have been pushing for all year. I also realized that some of my students were still feeling a little apprehensive. Can we really blame them? Not really. 

But, there is NO way that I was going to let them continue to feel nervous about the test. So, the kiddos sat down in a circle, and I read the cards to the class anonymously. When we came to the funny ones; we all laughed. When I read the ones about students believing in themselves; I may have cried. And, when I read the ones that voiced concerns, I asked my class to take a moment and say some things to the group that would make those students who were nervous feel better. I heard comments like "You will be great!", "You can do it!', "I believe in you!", and "Ms. Young loves you so it's okay!".

That my teacher friends is worth its weight in gold.

Build your students up.

Model how to be positive, encouraging, and confident.

Hold them accountable for their learning.

And, never underestimate the mind and will power of a child.

They can do this. 

Yes, yes they can.