Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blog Button, Decorating Issues, Etc.

First off, 
I am BEYOND THRILLED to finally have a button! Yay! Erika made it for me and I love it.

I would LOVE for you to place my button on your blog.
If you get a chance to put it on your blog, let me know and I will add your button to my blog. =) 
You can grab the code on the right hand side of my page. 

Next, on to my decorating issues...
Because I got my job in the middle of the year, I had to quickly decorate and use a bunch of stuff the teacher before me left. I am SO excited about this summer, because it means that I have an entire 2 1/2 months to make my classroom my own. Since the final school bell rang last week, I have been thinking about my classroom nonstop.

The few things I purchased throughout the course of the spring were in the neon color scheme. I don't know why I went with that, but I did. Now, I am regretting it. HAH. I really hated the rug that was in my classroom, but lucky me, I was able to inherit another rug from another classroom. It is this colored square rug and it is SO much better then the one I had. I am beyond thrilled to get it. 

The only problem? It is primary colors and not neon colors.... so that means a redo of my whole color scheme thoughts. I am a matchy, matchy person... so now I have decided I need to go with primary colors. I am having some MAJOR problems deciding which direction I want to go. These are a few things I found that I like, but I'm not sure they go with the rug. This is TOO much work. HAH.

So the questions of the day are:
Where do you get your classroom decor inspiration from?
What are your favorite websites for finding decor?
Do you have any AMAZING ideas for me?

Decorating Challenged Ms. Smith HAH! =)

Also, if you made it to the end of this post, one more question! 
Would anyone be willing to look over a TpT item I just finished? It is the most lengthy project I have created and I would love for someone to look over it, proof it, and give me some feedback! Thanks. =)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Superb Writers' Blogathon

I am sharing my fondness for the written word as a part of the Superb Writers' Blogathon. In partnership with Grammarly grammar checker, this series is bringing helpful hints to aspiring superb writers all across the world wide web.

Today I am going to answer the following question: How do I help my students to achieve superb writing? Well, as a 3rd grade teacher, my students' writing looks a lot different from an upper level classroom or even a college classroom. My students still struggle with getting their words down on paper. They don't quite understand that writing is a way that they can express themselves, a way that they can be creative. They also are still developing basic writing skills, like learning to write in paragraph form, how to make their writing flow, and even simple things like indenting, etc. As a teacher, my goal is to get my students to enjoy writing time. I want it to be something they LOVE and don't dread. I also want my students to understand the basic steps of writing so that they leave my classroom with a foundation of writing that will help them when they write for the rest of their lives.

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There are five KEY things that I tell my students about writing. I teach these five things to my students and we practice them often. I believe with a basis of these five things, my students will be well on their way to achieving superb writing.

1) Pick a topic that you are passionate about or are interested in.

I feel like I drill this point into my students' heads from the beginning of the school year. If you aren't passionate or interested in what you are writing about, then your writing will be boring and no one will want to read it. If you pick something that interests you, your passion and knowledge will shine through in your writing.

2) Don't EVER skip the brainstorming phase.

My students always seem to race to see who can get finished first. This means that they often try to skip the brainstorming phase when we are writing. I try to give my students several different ways to brainstorm and I let them decide which way they like best. At the beginning of the year we practice brainstorming through concept maps, four square writing, and webs. 

Make it to the bottom of this post and you will find a free download of this brainstorming worksheet. =)

3) Never forget about authors purpose.

In third grade one of the skills we teach is authors purpose. This is important because it helps us identify why an author wrote a particular story. It is also important to remember authors purpose when you are creating your own piece of writing. Why are you writing a certain piece? To persuade? To inform? To entertain? It is important to know why you are writing and to make sure you remember your purpose through the entire piece. 

4) After you've finished writing, go back and add SHIMMER to your sentences.

Younger children often start off with sentences that are similar in length and similar in structure. Because of this, I have my students go back through and add exciting words to their writing. The first few times we write, we do this together. After the students have done this a few times, the process becomes easier and they can do this simple task by themselves.

Ex: I love my dog. 
(A student will examine this sentence and decide how to add some shimmer to it.)
Revised sentence: I adore my tiny puppy.

Students really enjoy going back through and adding some flair to their sentences and they are really able to see the difference between their first sentence and their new sentence.

5) Edit AND have a friend edit!

Editing in third grade looks a lot different than the editing I did in college before I turned in a final draft of a paper. Students are taught to go back through their writing to check for spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. They are also taught to make sure they indent in the correct place. (In third grade we also still have to make sure the holes are on the right side of the paper.) As we add concepts and skills throughout the year, we add those items into our editing stage.

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Those five steps are just a few ways that I believe will help my students achieve superb writing! 
I hope you have enjoyed reading about writing in my classroom. 
What does writing look like in your classroom? I would love to hear about what works with your students and how you help your students achieve superb writing!

If you made it ALL the way to the bottom of this post... click to download a free brainstorming worksheet. My students use this before they begin their writing. First they pick a topic. Next, they must come up with three branches of that topic they want to write about. Finally, they break each subtopic into two additional points they want to talk about. This gives them plenty of ideas of what they want to discuss when they write. =)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rockin' Resources!

Kelley over at Teacher Idea Factory is hosting a super fun linky party. She wants us to blog about the five resources we just wouldn't be able to survive without. I have had so much fun reading everyones posts and I just couldn't wait to link up.  (I also have a wish list about a mile long now from reading about so many great resources...hah!)

My top five resources:

1) My ELMO and projector. Gosh.. I love my ELMO and I don't know what I would do without it. I think back to the overhead projectors we had in elementary school and I am so thankful my school is fortunate enough to provide all of us with more advanced technology.

2) Clickers... I love my class set of clickers. We use these quite often and I love them because it allows me to see quickly whether or not my class is catching on to a topic. I can also go back and look at who missed what question and what questions were missed the most... love them!

3) Blog world... I would not have survived my first year of teaching without all of the amazing resources out here in blog land.

4) Behavior Clip Chart... When I got my job in November, the first thing I knew I had to create was a clip chart. I love my clip chart and I really think students respond to it positively as well. They know they can clip back up even after they have clipped down so their day isn't ruined on one negative decision. ( I don't have a picture... sorry! It is like all of the other ones you've seen on Pinterest though. hah!)

5) My classroom library... I started building my library before I even had my classroom and I am constantly looking for new books to add to my collection. I believe that each classroom needs a good library and I have seen the advantages of having my own personal library this year. My students loved being able to run to the back of the room to pick out a book. I also loved that I could closely monitor what my students were reading and I could give them suggestions from my library.

Now you know my favorite resources, I want to know yours! Go link up with! =) 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

First Year of Teaching? Check!

Well, it is OFFICIALLY summertime! Whew. I cannot believe I survived my first (1/2) year of teaching. It flew by and I LOVED every minute of it. Looking back it's somewhat a blur. Haha.

How did I start my summer? Well, this morning was technically a teacher workday so I had to go in for a few hours. I tried to get some stuff done that will help me out next year. I also plan on PAINTING my room next weekend so I took everything down and tried to do some prepping for that.

After a morning at school, I came back and put my PJs back on and took a nap. It was heaven let me tell you...hah =) After that I woke up, turned on the tube and made a mug brownie...also heavenly! HAH. Super unhealthy, but I convinced myself that I deserved it. =) Amazing start to my first teacher summer! =)

Happy summer! Can't wait to start creating and imagining for my classroom next year! 
I also can't wait to get some wonderful ideas from you guys! =)

Monday, May 21, 2012

End of the Year Idea and Freebie!

Tonight I have a quick end of the year activity for you. 
I did this with my kids today and I LOVE it because it is super simple, but it allows my students to reflect on their year AND it gives me an idea of what my kids liked/didn't like in 3rd grade. I plan on sharing these worksheets with my new class in August. I might put them in a small binder for students to look through or display them on a bulletin board for the first week.

I LOVED looking through these! Some of my kiddos answers were hilarious! =) Everyone seemed to agree that testing was the hardest part about third grade.  I also was able to discover that some of the little things I was doing, that I didn't even really pay attention to, were things that my students enjoyed! I plan on looking back through these as I plan for next year!

Hopefully one of you can find this document useful as well! 
You may download this for FREE on my TPT store.
You will be downloading a word document so you can alter it to meet your needs.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Support Staff Appreciation!

I don't know about you guys, but I have some AMAZING aides and support staff that help me daily! I really don't know what I would do without them. I am thankful for the one-on-one support they can give to many of my students.

I was trying to think of something thrifty (if you know what I mean..) and cute to make to show them how much we appreciate them. I came up with a note you attach to a goodie bag full of yummy candy. The note gives special meaning to all of the candy in the bag. (Example: You have taught us MOUNDS of new information this year!) They turned out super cute when I backed the writing with a free border I got from The Pond (!

You can grab this note and the candy shopping list on my Teachers Pay Teachers story for only 2 bucks! Hopefully this will save you some time and effort when you are making end of the year gifts for your support staff. =)

THREE more days until SUMMER! Yall have a wonderful week! =)

 Need some more FUN end of the year gift ideas? Check out these linky parties! =)

Swimming into Second: End of the Year Linky Party!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

All About Adverbs! (&Summer Bucket List)

Whew! It sure has been a while. I don't know how you guys do it... post everyday AND keep up with everything else that is going on. Being a first year teacher I just can't quite handle it. So, we are settling for a once a week post for a while. HAH. 8 school days until SUMMER. I am SO sad to see my first set of kiddos leave me, but I am pumped for a summer to create things for my classroom!

This week was CRAZY. One day my grade level had subs all day and we met to plan out next year. I get to stay in 3rd grade and I am super excited. Thursday was field day. Field day = CRAZY! Our school does a full days worth of activities with fun jumps and carnival games in the morning relays in the afternoon. The kids had a blast, and I did too! A special surprise guest came and visited with us in the afternoon. One of my friends, who just graduated, played football at UA and he came to visit with my kiddos. He even brought his 2011 National Championship ring. I got to wear it! I was a bit excited! =)

Friday we TRIED to have a somewhat normal day, even after the craziness of field day. Since the year is winding down, I am trying to review and cover some topics that I don't feel like my kids have completely gotten yet. Friday we conquered adverbs and met (drum roll please...) AMY ADVERB.

We began by reading a book all about adverbs. Then we created Amy Adverb (idea gotten off of pinterest via My Life as a Fifth Grade Teacher - Thanks for the CUTE idea Lindsay... Hope it is okay that I shared this!) and filled in all of the different parts of Amy. Then, the students went back to their seats and completely a handy worksheet that I created. They had to write several different examples of adverbs, and then they got to create sentences using different adverbs. This showed them how much more exciting and interesting sentences are when they contain adverbs.

Now I am linking up with Hadar, Tori and April with my SUMMER BUCKET LIST! WOO!
I have been getting all sorts of ideas of things I want to do just by looking at other people's bucket lists.
Here is my basic summer bucket list. =)

1) SLEEP and DO NOTHING. HAH. This is the truth. Because I got a job half way through the year I feel like I have been going in fast forward since then. I know I will always feel like this, but while I have some time, I plan on using it to relax. =)

2) CREATE. I am super excited to have the WHOLE summer to plan for next year. I want to work on some units for TPT and my classroom.

3) ORGANIZE. I didn't get the chance to do much organizing this year because of my mid-year start. I hope to make a student binder where I can put student information and parent communication, etc. so that all of my important info is in one place. I also want to make a sub binder so I will be more prepared when I have to get a sub next year.

4) VISIT. I hope to do some traveling this summer. Currently I have a family vacay planned and a trip to DC to visit a friend. One of my best friends lives right by the beach so I plan on being a frequent visitor to her place as well. =)

EIGHT more days of school! Can't believe summer is almost here! 
Yall have a great week and let the countdown begin! =)

-Ms. Smith