Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Like Sands through the Hourglass...

Seriously.  I am sorry to report that with all the new implementations going on in my district, "Ain't nobody got time for that!"  Blogging, that is.  Geez o'Pete.  It's all I can do to [sort of] keep up with all that's expected of me this year, much less blog about it.  PHEW.  This teacher is exhausted.  Excuse me.  Educator.  Oh yes, one of the many things I'm having to relearn.  I am no longer a teacher.  I am an EDUCATOR.  Get it right, folks.  Also?  The students?  No longer.  They are now to be referred to as LEARNERS.  Get on board!  :)

We've also begun Project-Based Learning (PBL) on our campus, which has been lots of fun, but lots of work.  OY.  The kids are LOVING it, and I am loving the collaborating and critical thinking that's going on, but it is a LOT of work.  Mostly upfront work, but still.  Holy Moses!

PBL on U.S. landmarks, their significance, and how they make places unique:

These photos are from today's mission...they learned about the Golden Gate Bridge, and then they
constructed their own long bridge spanning between 2 desks.

Their bridges were judged and scored based on length (3 points for each inch),
beauty, and teamwork.  Every team received the full 2 points for teamwork today!
Whoo hoo!  I was one happy teacher, er, educator.

This mission came from the book Mind Missions, which is AMAZING for turning boring Social Studies units into ENGAGING, hands-on experiences for learners.  I highly recommend it.  Also, it works GREAT for PBL if you use it--the missions are perfect Scaffolding Experiences.

The teams have a few more landmarks to learn about and missions to complete, and then next week they'll receive a Game Changer.  This is where they'll be issued their main task/challenge.  As a whole group, we will be creating and naming our "class town."  Each team will then become a committee--one team will be the Bridge Committee, one will be the Statue Committee, one the Monument Committee, one the Seal Committee, etc.  The committees will be developing and constructing a model of their landmark to stand on a raised relief map of our "Class Town."  I envision them choosing something like "Cockrellville," haha.  

Eventually, each committee will record a video in which they describe our town, including the significance of the landmark they designed and what U.S. landmark it compares to.  These videos will be linked to QR codes so that visitors to the school can scan them to see what our learners created and what they've learned.  They'll also be taking their Kinder Buddies on a "gallery walk" of our town, explaining the landmarks.  OY.  Serious stuff, y'all.

If your school uses PBL, I'd love to hear any thoughts or tips you may have!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Little of This and That...

Just a little snippet of what we've been up to in 2nd grade...

We have officially introduced all of the Daily 5 rotations except for Word Work, and we are off and running!  This week was the first week for Work on Writing, and the kiddos are LOVING it.  I do have a LOT of different writing activities, which helps with garnering enthusiasm.  *Tooting horn*  Ahem.

So yeah.  In Listen to Reading, we have 2 options so far: they can listen to books on cd at the listening station, or they can listen to books on the computers.  For that, they visit our classroom blog (see the links on my left sidebar), click the Listen to Reading link at the top left, and there are about 10 websites where they can listen and follow along to stories.  They love it.

Soon I'll be introducing the iPads (Listen to Reading & Word Work) and iPods (Listen to Reading), which will create QUITE the buzz (can't wait--except for the crying--there's always crying when they don't get the iPad FIRST FIRST FIRST).

*Side note: we share our iPads with the 3rd grade team, so our kiddos get to use them every other day.  Pretty great!

So this year we have started notebooking like CRAZE-EE.  I seriously think we have a freaking notebook for every subject.  It's a little out of control, but I am loving them.  Especially now that they're all pretty much set up.  (Creating Table of Contents using rulers?  With 7 year olds?  Not fun.)

Check out some of our notebooking so far this year!  I found some amazing units on Teachers Pay Teachers and some freebie notebook pages, and I am soooooo excited about the awesome work my kids are going to do this year.

The above 2 pics show some freebies for Reading Notebook by Becca at Simply 2nd Resources

My Science Journal Title Page


Here's the part where I'm gonna complain, because it's my blog, and I can whine if I want to (and YES, I may POSSIBLY be DRINKING some wine as I whine, but that's neither here nor there):

-I had my 1st SIOP training today after school (Sheltered Instruction for ELLs if you're not familiar), and I'm frustrated.  We sat through a slide show presentation that basically told us information that we had all already learned back when we had to take the ESL certification test, and THEN came the REAL reason for the training: we are now going to be required to post our Content Objectives and Language Objectives in our classrooms.  For every state standard.  For every subject.  Every day.


And yes, I know our district is probably super late to this objective-posting party, but DANG IT, I don't like it.  I have SO MANY other things I need to be doing besides typing up the objectives that I cover every day (is it just me, or are there about 30 if I include everything I review or touch upon?).  Seriously?!  I haven't been so frustrated (my nice word) in a long time.  Well, I was pretty frustrated when I found out I had to do 6 hours of this training, heh.  

Anyone else have to do this?  Would you like to join my pity party?  Jump right in, folks!  I loves me some comments!  :)

Actually, one of our ESL Facilitators has a great Pinterest board with ideas for SIOP if you're interested.

Sheltered Instruction Pinterest Board

Hope you are all off and running this school year.  I am loving my group this year and excited about what they're going to accomplish.

Hang in there. 

XO, Gayla

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Night Blues. Sigh.

Things that irritate me when I'm at school on Sunday:

-custodians didn't empty my trash cans, and we had brownies Friday. ants to follow, I'm sure
-new remanufactured ink cartridge doesn't work
-my copies aren't done
-the gates are down, hence a trek across creation to get to my room
-feeling like I've accomplished nothing when I leave
-being at school on Sunday

But seriously.  How awful is it to be at school on a Sunday and to still feel unprepared for the week afterward?!  So annoying.  I feel like it doesn't matter how hard I work, I'm just a hamster on a wheel.  (Metaphorically speaking, of course.)

This year (we're 3 weeks in) has been crazy, nutso, people.  We started off the year launching Project-Based Learning (which we're launching district-wide this year--well, either PBL or UBD), and I've already got 2 mini PBL units in the works.  Each team is getting a full day of planning to work on our next full PBL unit, and ours is on October 4th, yay!  Considering I'm a complete newbie, I'm already loving PBL, but there's just not enough time in my day (ha) to plan for it!  Thank goodness we have a coach from the district that is very helpful!

Also in class, we've so far introduced Read to Self and Read to Someone.  Up this week is Listen to Reading (a big favorite every year), so that will be fun.  Alas, I'm fairly certain my iTunes playlist was deleted over the summer.  SIGH.  Last year I had a parent volunteer come up and upload every book on cd to my iTunes account, which was awesome.  Guess I could do that again.

But in other news, I spent more money on my classroom today.  I know, I know.  Shocking, right?  It's a sickness.  I am trying to Schoolgirl Style my room up.  :)

And I keep having to buy more bandanas to make my curtains fluffier.  SIGH.  :)

Well, I'm hoping to get some finishing touches added to my classroom this week (finished curtains, included!), so hopefully I'll have some pics up here soon.  Get ready to ooh and ahh, mmmkay?  K thanks.

You liking my ADHD post tonight?  Does your brain have whiplash yet?  LOL.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to have some pics up soon!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Another Opening, Another Show and Back to School!

So yeah.  I've been meaning to blog.  Really, I have.  But prepping for back-to-school combined with Tech Week and performances of the musical I was in, combined with Staff Development just didn't work well for me, time-wise.

(That's me on the bottom right--we had a BLAST doing this show!)

But it was all worth it!  I am sort of recovered physically from the past few insane weeks.  We just finished the 2nd week with students, and it's been good so far.  I have a very sweet group of kids, if a little talkative and energetic.  :)  I'm really looking forward to learning and playing with them this year.

Anyway, I wanted to share some pics of my classroom even though there are still a few finishing touches I plan to put on it.  (Is a classroom EVER truly "done?")

Haven't decided if I'm going to keep this display for Daily 5 check-in yet...

Will probably change this board to a Writing board for anchor charts, etc.

My new storage area for Word Work activities!  Love it.
(Need to take down that poster!)

My new writing area.  The stuff under the table is junk I still need to sort through and store somewhere.  :(

All my supplies for Work on Writing, so organized, whoo!

We are launching Project-Based Learning this year.  
My PBL board looks better now, but I haven't snapped an updated pic yet, sorry!

Our character quality of the month, Conflict Resolution Wheel, R Time Rules, and Rules for good manners, etc. are displayed here.  (The ugly dolls are my bathroom passes!)

My new Authors We Love wall!
I love how it turned out!

Reading cushions and buddies.

Our Wish List at Meet the Teacher
(about 1/2 of the items were taken, yay!)

Smartboard and my new alphabet line (made by me!)
I have since completed sectioning off the chalkboard on the left, 
and I'm still not sure how I feel about the BRIGHT lime green duct tape.
I HATE chalkboard!

My birthday photos will be posted on the black & white chevron board.
Yay!  The little brown table by the window will house our BioBubble Aquarium!
The next step is for me to allow my kiddos to research what fish and other items we should
buy to put in our BioBubble.  If you haven't seen/heard of them, you should definitely check them out.  SUPER COOL.  I think an aquarium will be a very calming presence in our classroom, and I'm so excited to get it up and running!

Math manipulatives still organized from last year.
(I have since put the label on the bottom left bin, heh.)

Storage for our extra supplies:
pencils, markers, crayons, glue, and baggies

Construction paper storage!
Also, I put the kleenex boxes inside that little lime green basket.  Much cuter.  :)

All the new books I accumulated over the summer.  WHY?!  
Why do I keep getting more books?!  LOL.  It's a sickness.

YAY for awesome library storage!

Guess that's about it.  For now.  If you made it this far, bless you. :)
Hope everyone's beginning of the year is going well!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Welcome to 2A and Kid President's Pep Talk

We have had a wonderful time in 2nd grade so far!

A more detailed blog post (with photos!) will be up soon, but in the meantime, check out the awesome, inspiring video below!

Please feel free to leave a comment sharing which part of the video inspires you!

"Create something that will make the world awesome."

Mrs. C.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Train Wreck of a Classroom

AKA:  Before pics.  Ha!

But seriously.  If you are needing to feel better about the crazy state your classroom is in, never fear.  You've come to right place.

Here are some before pics when I went in on Monday:

These 6 (ish) desks are covered with FILES from my 2 tall filing cabinets.
I have since gone through ALL of this, filled a giant recycle bin to overflowing, filled a cardboard box to overflowing, gotten rid of 1 of the file cabinets, and rearranged the desks.  :)

Here's after working/sorting/recycling/filing for about 6 hours.  Yeah.  Ridic.  Oy.

This poor recycling bin didn't know what hit him.

After 6+ hours of work, I still had to sort through these piles, plus the bucket in the pic below.  
I thought seriously about harming myself, lol!

The last of the last.  I know you'll be happy to know, and will rest easier, knowing I COMPLETELY FINISHED sorting/chucking/filing all my files yesterday.  It gave me great joy to announce that I was finished to my teamies, who were also up there working.  They expressed their pride that I was able to stay focused on this one task for 2 days without getting distracted by shinier, more exciting objects.  Yay me!  :)

Moving on...

A bunch of the crap stuff I bought.

I'm keeping my awnings from last year, even though they are a little worse for the wear, or as I like to say--rode hard and put up wet.  But oh well.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  I re-did the borders on the left and right sections.  Go me.  :)

Birthday board.  Yay chevron!  Just need kiddos' pics for each month!

Now.  These next few pictures are the collective banes of my existence.  Cords.  Frickity frackin' [insert 4 letter word(s)] cords. 

No, but really.

Still more.  (I didn't even take a picture of the ones under the student computers.)

And one of my very favorite parts of my room this year:

What's that, you ask?  THAT, my friends, is the spot on the wall where my t.v. used to be.  They removed all of our t.v.s over the summer but neglected to patch/paint/etc.  So fun!  Guess I'll be finding a poster to slap over this hot mess.  (Do you like the shrine to my son on my cork board?  LOL.)

I rearranged my desk set up for this year.  Again.  (Yes, I change it every. single. year.)  I need a fresh start, people.

I'll be back soon for an update on my classroom progress.  You would think each year would get a little faster, wouldn't you?  Because in my 7 years of experience in setting up classrooms?  It so doesn't.  :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Monday Made It--August 5th!

Ugh.  I seriously can't get over the fact that it's already August!  However, my hubs and I are super excited that the final season of Breaking Bad starts in less than a week!  Amazing series.

Alas, I still have to wait until OCTOBER to find out what happens on Scandal.  SIGH.  *pout*

Well, mamacita has been a busy girl these days.  I have been creating and printing and laminating and cutting and spray painting and silhouette-ing and mod-podging and sealing and YEAH.  Busy.  It's a sickness.  But I've got some cute stuff to show for it, so there ya go.

Linking up, of course, with the fabulous Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It.  Yes, on Tuesday.  Don't judge.


Last week I made a sign for our house, and I love it.  I bought one of the unfinished wood plaques at Michael's, spray painted it with Heirloom White (best color), then cut the letters in vinyl on my Silhouette Cameo and applied.  TODAY, I finally topped it off with Mod Podge and a sealer spray.  Hope it lasts.  I hand painted a similar sign on the cutest wooden oar (from Joann's) right after we got married 5 years ago, but my cat was throwing herself against our screen door one day, knocked it down, and broke it in half.  *tear*  So you know, 4 years later, I finally got around to making a new family sign.  :)



I made another sign for our front window.  I saw a similar one on Pinterest, but it said Thin Mints, which I don't care for, so I changed it to Tagalongs.  :)  Loves me some Girl Scout cookies.  I actually WAS a Girl Scout as a child, and I looooooved selling the cookies.  It was back in the day when it was relatively safe to go door to door in your neighborhood.  


Sorry; not a great picture, but I was too lazy to pull it out of the window.  LOL.  I think it's cute, but I'm a little bummed that the vinyl letters somehow got moved when I painted on the Mod Podge, so they're not spaced very well.  Boo.  But oh well.  Probably no one but me cares.  :)


I'm really excited about this one.  I was in my classroom moving furniture Friday, and I came across this old calendar from Scholastic.  Each month featured a children's author whose birthday fell in that month.  I remember using the calendar a couple of years ago, but I saved it for some reason.  Well, I figured it would make a fun display near our class library!  I trimmed each author page and laminated them.  I created some letters on my Silhouette to say "Authors We Love," and I plan to make it a focus wall above the library.  FUN!  

I plan to mount the title and posters on the lime green fadeless paper I bought, 
so hopefully they'll really pop.
This pic sucks.  I'll post a better one when the wall is finished in my library.  :)

I also made a couple fun goodies with my trusty can of lime green spray paint and upcycled frames from Goodwill!  Check out these before and after pics!

Pretty, huh?  What?  No?  LOL.
Dry erase board!  POW!

(Another beauty.)

Frame for the kiddos to hold as I snap their cutie pie pictures on the 2nd day of school!
Can't wait!  Cuteness.  I (of course) used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the letters,
laminated and cut them out, then used glue dots to attach.   LOVE glue dots, people.

Well, I posted some of the posters I made before, but here they are printed and laminated!  My new Daily 5 posters to match the colors in my classroom, and my new teaching binder in chevron brights!  LOOOOOOOVE me some chevron, and equally (actually even more) love me some bright/neon colors.  Holla.  

I also made a new alphabet line to match my classroom.

Hope you enjoyed--thanks for stopping by, and happy August!  If you haven't started back yet, enjoy the remainder of your summer-- know I am!

Check back later this week for an update on how my classroom is coming along and to make yourself feel a whole lot better about whatever state YOUR classroom is in.  Trust me--you have to see these pictures to believe them.  It's a like a freakin' sharkNADO tore through!


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