Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Showing that we CARE

Last night was Open House. It was fabulous! I had a lot of students and families come, and I was so glad to have the opportunity to share our classroom procedures, learning opportunities, and other curriculum information with the families.

Freebie from @Sheila Jane Teaching Freebies

We loved putting this writing activity together for our parents. We showcased our data notebooks from Briana Beverly, reading and math notebooks, Lucy Calkins writing folders, a cute Back to School picture, and some Math About Me friends.

However, today's post is about more than just our Open House event. It is actually about what happened in the last 72 hours BEFORE our school's Open House events. 

In the past, my teammates and I had thrown around the idea of hosting some sort of gathering with our second grade parents. We wanted to connect with parents on a level that was more informal, more personal, and outside of the typical classroom setting. That idea was just swimming around in the back of our heads waiting to emerge. 

Then, BAM. Friday(with Open House two school days away), we realized that, while time and funds were not on our side, we just HAD to make this idea of ours come true. We asked permission, made a plan, and got to work. We reached out to local businesses, recruited our family members, and within 3 days we had several donations and sponsors who were willing to help us host a "Greet & Eat" cookout for our second grade students and our families. 

#hotdogsandbunsfordays #thisistripone

I want to say a big, BIG, SUPER BIG thank you to my principals, my teammates, our sponsors, and the family members who went above and beyond to make this happen. 

I feel grateful, blessed, humbled, and most of all PROUD of my school, our teachers, the students, and the families who we work with every day. 

It was an honor to serve dinner to the families. The smiles on the faces of those eating with us were enough to fill this little ole' heart of mine. So..I challenge you to reach out to your parents. Make that positive phone call home today to "just check in and see how everything is going" or to "brag on how awesome ____ did today during math". Write a parent a handwritten note letting them know how much they mean to you or to ask them if they have any questions or concerns. Invite them in to read to your classroom. ANYTHING. They want to be involved. Let them be. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teacher Week- Where I Live

Today's Blog Hoppin' Teacher Week feature highlights where we live! Of course I don't mean our house! I mean our "other" house! Let's be real-we spend enough time at school that it is practically our second home, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

I don't have a big reveal to share with you today. My classroom is in a growing phase at the moment. I say "growing" because I am in the process of making a lot of changes to our classroom in regards to design. 

I am slowly pulling down items that are too colorful and loud. I am keeping my laminating of new resources to a minimum because the glare can be distracting to students and can actually prevent them from reading the document. 

I do love color, but I am trying to stay with items that are gender neutral so that ALL students feel comfortable in the classroom. 

There are some other changes going on as well. I was blessed enough to be able to leave behind my desks when I moved to my portable classroom. Now, I have tables which are great for cooperative learning opportunities. But, students are still fidgety because they have to sit all day, and research shows that restlessness means that student learning is not priority to the body. So, new changes include brining in new Hokki stools(which came in the mail today!), more reading chairs, some yoga mats so students can spread out on the floor to work and not have to lay on the cold floor, and some yoga balls as sitting options as well. 

The big idea is to bring in student-choice to the learning environment. In just a few short days, I have watched students venture out to work in spaces that were not their desks. It is a difficult adjustment for me, as the teacher, because it looks chaotic. However, I have seen better student focus and engagement in lessons where students are free to move and do what works best for them over the past few days. Baby steps. We will get there!

It is a process, but I am excited to see where it takes us. Obviously, the room still has some "flair" to it, and for the moment..I am okay with that! 

Here are some of my favorite spots in my room! 

This is our new "writing area". Students can come to this place to write as well as pick up writing tools during our Lucy Calkins writing time. 

At the moment, this focus wall is hanging anchor charts. I love this space because it is right beside our "meeting space" and students can easily refer to the charts for information. I can also show how skills correlate across content areas by referring to multiple charts at once!

The moment my students and I decided to own our data was the moment that my teaching instruction and student engagement did a 180! We "rock" our data. We share it. We analyze it. We celebrate it when it is good, and we make changes to it when it is not where we want it to be. The key word with data is WE! My students know that they are held accountable for their work, and I can't wait to dive into the data with my new class. Our data wall and data notebooks were HUGE tools in our classroom last year, and it will be even better this year. 

My mom, who teachers preschool, gave me this calendar last year because she didn't want it.  Now it has found its place in our room(bye bye old calendar!). We do a rigorous calendar routine   every.single.morning. Do you do calendar? If not...I encourage you to try it!

And...I also really love this space. It makes me happy! Minus the rug---need to change it out!

And, this is a mural that is in our library! I know, I know...this is suppose to be about my classroom, but I am proud of my school and our building so I had to share. A former teacher painted it for us. I just LOVE it. 

So that's my room! It is home for me. The classroom is a work in progress, but isn't that what education and learning is in itself? A work in progress? I think so! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Teacher Week- Who Am I?

Every year the fabulous ladies over at Blog Hoppin' throw a great "Back to School" Teacher Week. Today's theme is "Meet the Teacher"!

Here are some simple facts about me!
* My name is Sarah...Sarah with an H! still bothers me when the spelling is wrong.
*I am 24 years old and am having my golden birthday(didn't even know that was a thing...) a week from today!
* I am from East Tennessee and could not imagine living anywhere else. 
* This is my 4th year of teaching, and I have been in second grade for all 4 years. 
*I will graduate with my Masters in May. My degree will be educational leadership.
*I have a younger brother Ben who is the polar opposite of me..and yes..this is him coaching in a chicken suit. 

*I just got engaged to my boyfriend of 6 years.

*I have a dog named Hero who is my baby. 

And, here are 10 more random facts about me! Big thanks to Amy @ Step into 2nd Grade for the cute template! 

Check out the lineup for tomorrow! I am REALLY proud of where I work so I cannot wait for tomorrow's post!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Quick Update on B2S

The first week of school has come and gone! It was fabulous. I have a great group of students this year(as I do every year), and I cannot wait to help my new students soar to success in and out of the classroom. I came home and took naps every afternoon this week because I was WORN out! 
Isn't that chalkboard sign adorable? I snapped a picture with each of my students holding it for their first day of second grade picture. My teammate, who got married over the summer and used this chalkboard sign as wedding decor, brought in the sign for us to use. I may have to steal it and never give it back borrow it for other projects throughout the year. 

We spent a majority of our week getting to know each other and learning classroom procedures and routines. It was also a chance for me to meet with every student to assess them. I like to see where students are at the beginning of the year so that I can start setting goals for each individual student. 

In other classroom news-I am really excited about revealing my classroom, but I wanted to hold off until the wonderful folks at GoNoodle come and complete their classroom makeover. My students and I are so excited that we can barely stand it!

Here are a few sneak peaks, though. 

Can't wait to stop in this week and link up with Blog Hoppin's back to school teacher link! It is going to be a blast!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

GoNoodle Extreme Classroom Makeover Finalist

I am have some SUPER exciting news to share with you today! About a month ago, I entered my class in the GoNoodle Extreme Classroom Makeover contest. I talked about what a huge, positive impact GoNoodle and their brain breaks had on my classroom. We used the GoNoodle brain breaks to help us warm up before a lesson, transition between lessons or centers, and to rewind in the afternoons. On any given day, my students and I were using it between 4-5 times a day. 

If you are not familiar with GoNoodle, then please be sure to check them out and read about all of the amazing things that the company and website has to offer. 

I will be back early at a later time to share a post about how my students and I use GoNoodle, but in the meantime...I need your help! 

There are 5 finalists for the contest, and we need your support! You can vote for my classroom by clicking HERE or on the picture below.

If my class wins, we would love to use the funds to help us purchase some yoga balls and rocking stools as well as other equipment that will help my students learn in a way that is relaxing, comfortable, and effective. I want my students have be active learners. Active meaning moving around, engaged, and mentally/physically involved in the learning experience. 

Oh, and did I mention that my ENTIRE school will get a concert hosted by Koo Koo Kanga Roo if we win?!? We are suuuuuper stoked!!!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!! I cannot wait to tell my new students about this exciting opportunity. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Back to School Student Gift Tags

So, I started back to work last week and can I just tell you how ECSTATIC I am about this new school year? So. Ready. 

My kiddos don't officially start until Wednesday though, and there are still a zillion things left to do today.

I am linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics today to share with you one very small Monday Made It project. But, I am so happy with how it turned out. 

Last year, I found these adorable little notebooks at Walmart during the summer. I grabbed them up along with some mechanical pencils and whipped together this cute little tag for my student "back to school" gifts. 

I liked it so much that I wanted to do it again this year, but I didn't want to use the same saying.  Remember the Beatles song "I get by with a little help from my friends"? That couldn't be more true! This project happened thanks to some very special ladies on Instagram. Megan from A New Box of Crayons wrote an adorable poem for me to use on my new, updated tags. It was seriously genius and SO creative! Don't you just love it?!?

 I found fun mini composition books at Walmart again and snagged up some retro pencils. Now, they are all complete and ready to go home with my new class this week! LOVE them!

The gift tag is free in my store. You can click here to grab them!

What type of back to school goodies do you put together for your kiddos?