Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Organization Week Day 4: Home Communication

I am linking up with Mrs. Patton's Patch again today. 
My home communication is pretty simple. 
 I have all my students keep their daily work in these "Student work organizers."
I have had a set of Lakeshore School-To-Home Organizer for some time now, I just never used them. 
This year I decided that I would give it a go as a take home folder. I was afraid they would not hold up to the beating my students give their folders but they are still in very good shape. It has two pockets, & I labeled them just like the picture above. It really helps my students organize their papers. I also like that they are transparent.

My students only bring their folders one day a week, Fridays. On Fridays I collect their previous weeks home work & give them a new packet. At this time they also empty their work organizers & put theri work in the keep at home section of their folder. Their new HW goes into the return to school section.

 My packet includes a daily reading log, a longer reading log for the weekend, a sheet where students write their words 3 times each & a sheet where students write their words in ABC order. I hope to post a freebie generic version on A Teacher's Plan soon. Here are a few screen shots.

That is pretty much it. I like to keep it as simple as possible.

Ms. M

April ABC Bunnies

 Sorry I am so late with this months ABC order strip. However, I made it before April 1st. 
I wanted some Easter Eggs but I didn't find one I liked. I want to also make an Earth day one, but I have to look for an Earth first. Maybe next week. Until then, enjoy this one.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A new treat

Thanks again to Federal Programs our ELL team got this sweet little baby.

I got it in my hands yesterday, I've already charged it & tinkered around recording my students working. However, that is as far as I've gotten.

I am SUPER excited about it. I just don't know exactly how to use it in my room. I mean aside from recording my students when they read their Writing to the class. 

What would you do with it? Or if you have used one in your room what have you done with it? What has worked & what did not work?

On another note. I have updated my business blog A Teacher's Plan with my first 2 page premade template for sale

I can't wait to hear what you all have to say about the Camera. I look forward to your comments.

Ms. M

Monday, March 28, 2011

Organization Week Day 2: Literacy Centers

Today is day 2 of Mrs. Patton's Organization Linky Party week. I didn't take pictures of ALL my Work Stations but I think I got the ones that showcase some organization. I thought I would start off with my Work Station/ Center's system.
First, I have to remind you that I color code my room. Red is for kindergarten & blue is for first grade. Here is a closer view.
I take pictures of my students at the start of the year & order several prints. If you remember I have 4 groups, 2 kinder & 2 first grade. They go to workstations/ centers in pairs or alone. The set of pictures on the left of the station/ center icons is a class & the set on the right of the station/ center icon is another class. At the end of the day I move the cards down and rotate the one at the bottom back to the top. When my students are not using work stations/ centers I flip the cards over. This helps them to know what to expect & helps me because I don't have to answer "Are we going to work stations today?" I was going to post my work station/ center icons for you to down load but I can't find them. I will have to recreate them and post them at a later time.

Here is a view at some of my work stations/ centers.

Charts & Poems
Every other week my students learn a new poem or song. I print these up & have them laminated. When the class has learned the poem, hopefully, at the end of the second week, I put it in the charts & poems workstation. only keep a handful of poems in the pocket at a time. If my student have too many options they begin to mistreat our tools. The pocket is just 2 file folders taped to the wall with masking tape. I use stools, a hand me down from another teacher, instead of chairs because we can stack them & they take up less room. To the left in the clear pockets, another hand me down from a friend, is where we store all of our pointers.

I think this center is self explanatory. I put the player on top of a crate on its side. I keep the book my students are listening to, the matching CD in a case, 2 headphones& a splitter in a basket from Targets Dollar Spot. All this goes in the crate & viola, instant listening center.

Pocket Chart
My pocket chart is attached to the back of my Reading station's/ class library's bookshelf. Then I got a big basket from Target to keep all my materials in. Inside the basket you will find cubes with letters on them, another hand me down. These are a BIG hit with the kinder kids, I sometimes have to out law them because they get VERY loud. They are supposed to make words with them, but often make towers when I am not looking. The pencil boxes hold word sorts & alphabet cards to be sorted & matched. This summer when the pencil boxes are on sale again I am going to buy a ton of them for this reason. In the back you will see two folders should not be there. They are a remnant of a failed storage attempt, too expensive & the pieces fell out.

Now that you have had a look into my room tell me what do you think about it. Do you like it? What would you do differently? Oh and don't for get to visit the other classes that have linked up at 

Ms. M

Organization Week Day 1: Daily Materials

Better late than never. Mrs. Patton over at Mrs. Patton's Patch is having an Organization Linky Party and because I like organization so much I am going to participate.

Here are pictures of how I organize my daily materials.
I keep all my activities, word sorts, picture cards, & worksheets (anything I need for my lesson) in this beautiful box. Well, it is not exactly beautiful, but I am working on it.
  Inside you will find 5 hanging folders labeled Monday - Friday.
Each one of the hanging folders has 5 color folders inside. Those folders are assigned to a class by color. I also printed a label with the class name & time they meet. That way when subs are in my room they don't have to think about my color coding scheme too much. The color coding is more for myself & my students.
You can color code by subject, that is what I did when I taught Gen Ed, and still have everything at your finger tips daily.
When I am done with a folder I just flip it to the back so it is out of my way & I know what is next. Same thing with the hanging folders. As I make my copies & sort them I just put them into the corresponding folder. The day of I just pull out the folder & everything I need for that lesson is there.

Ms. M

A Teachers Plan

The time has come for me to unveil my newest endeavor. A little while ago I posted about custom lesson plan templates.

Post #1 & Post #2

I even posted some premade ones for you to download. Well, I am happy to say that I have started a new "business." I am starting a new blog where teachers like you can buy custom made & premade templates.

There is the link. It is called  
It is a work in progress, but I would love it if you all would go take a look around & tell me what you think.

Ms. M
This post is participating in 

The Teacher Wife

Friday, March 25, 2011

And the winner is...

I want to thank everyone who entered my 1st blog giveaway & helped spread the word about Kolton & The Kolton Ryba Surgery Fund. I am touched by your wonderful words and donations. 

Without further ado.
(drum roll please)

 The winner is... 

Who said:

Lucky duck. :)
Jeannie, email me at msk1ell at gmail dot com so I can get the details of what you want in your lesson plan template.

I look forward to my next giveaway in April.

Ms. M

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Giveaway Reminder

Just want to remind you all that you still have time to enter my 1st ever giveaway. It ends tomorrow at 12:00 pm CST.
This is your change to win a free custom lesson plan template for the subject of your choice.

Ms. M

Honey Bunny Studio

 Hi everyone, today I would like to tell you all about a darling little shop called Honey Bunny Studio. The owner of this Etsy shop is a self proclaimed "artsy mom, with a full time job
and a long time goal." 

The other day I was over on her site perusing all of her wonderful wall art. There are many cute prints for both your classroom & home. For example take a look at this 3 in 1 learning kit.
The Set includes
1. 26 letters of the alphabet with upper & lower case + illustrations for each.
2.Numbers from 1 through 10 with Illustrations
3.Ten essential colors and their names along with color swatches for recognition.

I just think my students would remember their vowels with this cute 

Two of my favorites are the Ocean Fish & Count Down wall art.

She also makes custom art so wethere your interested for home or work, go take a look around. She is currently having a 40%off sale on any 8.5x11 prints. Offer is now extended until April 13th.

Ms. M

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ten Things I've Learned from Teaching

Jennifer from Rowdy in First Grade is having a "Linky Party" about things we've learned from teaching. 

 Here are a few things I have learned in my years of teaching.

1. If there's milk around children it will inevitably be spilled.
(As one of my non teacher friends once told me, while I was complaining about spilled milk for the millionth time, "There is no use crying over spilled milk." Made me laugh then & still does now.)

2. This one I borrowed from Jennifer because it is SOOOOO true. The kid who drives you the most crazy is NEVER sick! EVER! However, if they are ever absent, you worry all day.

3. I absolutely adore children picture books.

4. Your favorite name will never be the same after you have had a student with that name. I've had several names ruined.

5. Teachers are territorial with their students. Something I only learned after becoming an ELL teacher. Ladies, you must learn to share those students with their other teachers too.

6. When your around other teachers, no matter what the setting, your conversation will always come back to school, work, students, classrooms, etc...

7. If you say something in an excited way, no matter what it is, kids will get excited about it. At least for a little while. :p

8. Contrary to popular belief lots of teachers love tech.

9. It is very hard to say goodbye to your students at the end of the school year.

10. I am always excited to start a new school year.

Your Turn.
Ms. M

Teacher Resources- Professional Books

First let me begin by saying that I know many of you liked my old banner, but it was just too feminine for me. Now you may be thinking... isn't this one feminine too? I guess, but it has a bit more edge to it. I am not really a flowers person, although I loved the purple flowers. I was just itching for a change. So above you can see my new banner. I am sure I will get tired of it in a month or two and move on. I like it because I am in LOVE with hearts. Now on to my real post.
I recently went to a Professional Development where the topic was Reciprocal Teaching. Now I have used Reciprocal teaching techniques & strategies for years but, and I am going to sound a little bit dumb here, but I had not heard of Reciprocal Teaching as it's own separate teaching system. Nothing I learned was new to me, more of like a refresher which was awesome, for me anyway. They gave us lots of graphic organizers & examples of lessons. I left with some great ideas for how to enhance my direct instruction of Reciprocal Teaching.

Two weeks later our ELL team received 2 Reciprocal Teaching professional books. My team leader sent them directly to my room. :) How did she know I would love them? All I can say is that she knows me well. Thanks ML. I have had very little time to look through them, but I have skimmed them. I am actually a bit excited to have them. One of them even has a CD with videos & more graphic organizers.

The books are:

The best part is that I got them for free. :) Well, they are not mine to keep, they belong to my ELL team, but I do get to read & use them & I didn't have to pay a dime! Thank you Federal Programs. :) I think I will put them on my professional summer reading list.

My question to you is, have you read these? Do you use Reciprocal Teaching?

On a side note Interactive Think-Aloud Lessons by Lori Oczkus is printed by Scholastic so while you look around during their Dollar Days, look around they might have it on sale.

BTW, two of my all time favorite professional books are  

 What are some of yours?

Ms. M

Monday, March 21, 2011

Target Spoils

I went to the beloved Target on Friday & picked up a few things. What I am most proud of is that I was under my spending limit! I usually give myself an amount I can spend at Target for school, most of the time it's $20.00. This week it was $15.00 and I only spent $13.00. Of course I actually spent WAY more because I bought tons of other household goods. However, those are "necessities", at least that is what I keep telling myself.

Here is what I got:

Spring pencils & erasers for my students.

The pencils were a $1.00 a pack. I love to give my students theme pencils but I don't allow them to use them in my class. I know I am a mean teacher, but I kind of like it that way. They get to take them home and use them at home. Then they can never complain they don't have a pencil at home. :) The erasers were $2.00 but they were too darling to pass up.

5 buckets, because I could not justify more, and these plastic eggs.
I fell in love with the felt baskets. I don't know what I will put in the tin buckets, but I am sure I will find something. The bunny basket will sit on my desk & may or may not hold treats. The Bees, although it will be hard for me to let the kids use it, will hold these darling eggs that will be turned in to "Compound Eggs". An idea that I got from Mrs. Wheeler over at Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade Tidbits.

My question for you is, what do you think I should put in the metal tin buckets?

Ms. M

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My 1st Giveaway.

I just realized that it's been over a week since my last post & longer that that since I've posted about what's been going on in my room. Which makes me mad that I forgot to take pictures of my students Science fair experiment & St. Patty's day work before I left for spring break. I guess those posts will have to wait until I return on the 28th.

I am glad that I took pictures of my Kinder kids field trip to the History museum. Although they are not of great quality because I took them with my phone. Anyway I will be posting those in the days to come. I am officially off for spring break but I brought A LOT of work home with me, so I don't know how much relaxing I will get to do. I did take the weekend off to sleep & read, which was very nice.

Let me get to the good part of this post. When I hit 100 followers I was super excited, but had nothing to giveaway so I just celebrated but was a little sad I could not give back to my followers with a giveaway. However, just the other day, more like a few weeks ago, I got a great idea. Well, I hope it's a great idea, it could totally back fire on me. We will see.

Several posts ago I posted my lesson plan templates, both the 1 page & 2 page versions. I've even flirted around with the idea of doing it professionally. An idea that is in the making. So I thought why not give away a custom made lesson plan template & promote a great cause at the same time?!?Well, yesterday I hit 150+ followers. That means its Giveaway time!!!

If you follow my blog you read about Kolton & The Kolton Ryba Surgery Fund. I wanted to help get the word out to a wider audience. If you haven't had a chance to read about Kolton, please do, it is a very touching story. There are even some new pictures posted at the bottom of the blog.

So here is what you would get:
- A 1 or two page lesson plan template for the subject of your choice.
- It would be a Mon-Fri template so you would have a weeks worth of lessons on on page.
- I would work with you directly, through e-mail, to customize it for your classroom needs. You would get both a Word version you could type directly to & print, & a PDF version that could could print & write on.
- I would work with you to pick a font, that I already own or can download, of your liking.
- I can also add some cute graphics if you choose.

 Are you interested??? I hope so.

Now, here is your part... You can have a possible 5 entries.
1. Go to the The Kolton Ryba Surgery Fund & leave a comment, on any post. Then come back here & tell me you did so. (1 entry)
2. Post about The Kolton Ryba Surgery Fund on your blog. Then come back here & tell me you did so. (1 entry)
3. Post on your Facebook about The Kolton Ryba Surgery Fund. Then come back here & tell me you did so. (1 entry)
4. Twitter about the The Kolton Ryba Surgery Fund. Then come back here & tell me you did so. (1 entry)
5. If you really want to be a kind soul donate to the The Kolton Ryba Surgery Fund. Even $1.00 helps. Then come back here & tell me you did so. (1 entry)

I hope this works. I would have to have 0 entries. :(
the giveaway will run until 12:00pm CST in Friday, March 25.

Ms. M