Saturday, September 20, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Christa from Sweet Life of Second Grade}

Hey Everyone! I am Christa from Sweet Life of Second Grade.

I was super excited when I heard Amanda was doing her Budding Blogging Showcase Series again. I have been blogging since April 2012, but I switched grade levels so blogging has kind of been hit or miss. I always have good intentions...taking pictures of all the cool things we do in class, but just never blog about it. I have quite a few blog drafts that have some pretty cool pics and ideas to share, but they just sit there not completely finished.  Instead I chose to stalk many of my favorite blogs and look and read about all the amazing things they do!! 

I am a northern California girl...born and raised!! I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live in another state, but I love that California gets the four seasons.

I have been with my husband for 16 years!! We were actually set up by one of my student's parents. We were going to meet at a school function, but it rained on the day of the event so they cancelled it. They decided to give him my number. And guess what?? He called me, we went out to dinner, and have been together ever since.  He is an amazing guy, but sometimes doesn't get why I do so much for my classroom (decorating, cool lessons, fun projects, spending money). But he is still very proud of me and I appreciate that!!!

This is my husband and I at our first South Carolina Gamecocks game earlier this year!! I went to school
at  UC Davis and do not ever remember tailgating. OMG!! South Carolina knows how to tailgate!!

This year I am looping with my first graders back to second grade. I am super excited because they are an amazing group of kids!! I can't wait to see how much they grow and learn this year. What is even more amazing is they will be the class that I begin my 20th year of teaching with. I can not believe I have been teaching for 20 years! I have taught 2 years of 6th grade, 3 years of 4th grade, last year was my first year in first, and this year will be my 14th year in second. I think the only grade left I want to try is third grade.
20 years ago I met these wonderful ladies when I began my first teaching job! This is last year at Chris' retirement party.
Chris(left) taught 3rd grade and Arlene (middle) was the most amazing school secretary ever!! That's me on the end.

I used to say that my favorite subject to teach was math because I loved math when I was growing up.   I also love that you can turn pretty much anything in to a game. But...after this year... I think reading is my favorite subject to teach...especially in first grade. It was so amazing to see the lightbulb go on and all of the growth that happens throughout the year. 

If you popped into my classroom on any given day you would definitely hear me first because I am known for my loud voice! My hubby keeps reminding me that I need to learn how to whisper. Ha ha like that is ever going to happen. So as you walked into my room you would definitely see a lot of working going on. Some kids may be with me in a small group, others working with a small group, or some kids working by themselves. If it was in the morning you would definitely see us knee deep in our Daily 5 routines. This year there will definitely be some changes since my grade level partner and I received a tech grant. We will each have 15 iPad minis and will be diving into some Project Based learning for our Social Studies and Science time. 

And what do you think gets me through one of those tough days???? Ha, ha …at school there is a lot of Diet Coke and definitely chocolate involved!! Of course, a little dance music and silliness with my grade level partner also helps when the kids are out of the room!! If it is a Friday…then happy hour of course!!!

One teaching resource that I can not live without is books or should I say my classroom library!! I love books! I love to read to my class and I love to hear them read. I must have over 50 large basket of books in my classroom. I have 2 walls that are all lined with book least 6 of them are over 6 feet tall!!!

We keep pretty busy throughout our day. I always think I could use another hour or so in our school day. We start at 8 and end at 2! I try to set clear and high expectations for all of my students, be as consistent as I can, and make learning as fun as I can. I want my kids to love coming to school. I am always searching for new ideas or ways to make lessons even better. I think I have done a pretty good job of that throughout the years! I actually love the end of the year because that's when we do Open House. I usually do a big theme and go all out. I have done the Amazon Rainforest, Space, Insects, the Ocean, Kelp Forest, and Gold Rush. I love it because so much learning and creating is going on. The kids love to see the room completely transform into something else!! They are so proud when they show it off to their family. 

LOL...I just need to stick with it. I start out strong and then fizzle out. I would love to post at least once or twice a week, but life just takes over. I love meeting all of the wonderful bloggers and seeing what they do in their classrooms so it would be great if I could share my classroom more often!!

Thanks for sticking around and reading to the end! Thanks Amanda for letting me share a little bit about my life and my blog. Hope you come on by for a visit!!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Courtney from Ramona Recommends}

Today, I'd like for you to meet my friend, Courtney.  She loves picture books.  Enough said.  You want to be her friend now, too.  I just know it!  What teacher doesn't love picture books?  Courtney has taken this love to a new level over on her blog.  I've found several new amazing books for my classroom through her.  Read on to get to know Courtney and then hop over to her blog to say HELLO...and discover a few new picture books. :)

Hi Everyone- I'm Courtney from Ramona Recommends. What a pleasure to be featured in Budding Bloggers. I started blogging in November of this year and have loved EVERY second of this journey. My blog started because of my love for children's literature. The main focus at Ramona Recommends is to provide teachers and parents with book recommendations for their classroom or home library. In fact, I just got home from Vegas for the TpT event. WOW! Can I tell you something? There are so many WONDERFUL teachers in the world. It just makes me so happy! I created everlasting friendships this weekend.

All About Courtney:
I am a 30 year old gal who lives in Orange County, California where the sun shines and the beach waves crash. I have lived in California since I was 4, and hope to never have to leave again! Yes, I went to the University of Arizona for my B.A. and then lived in Tucson after college for 2 years where I taught 4th grade. I LOVE Tucson, but California will ALWAYS be home! Along with B.A., I also have my M.S. in Education with an emphasis in Reading Instruction. If you are considering getting your masters, I strongly encourage the California State University, Fullerton program. Most rewarding two years of my life. #theyhaveafullonlineprogram. Along with my masters, came wonderful opportunities of earning my reading specialist credential and speaking at two reading conferences. I LOVE READING! :)
 The original 5! I love my family. We are so close and just complete each other. Since the original 5, both sisters have gotten married and my sister on the left has an ADORABLE ADORABLE little boy. I am one lucky aunt! Below is a little peak at my book collection. That was a big step letting my nephew by my books. #veryprotectiveofmybooks:)

Calling Scholastic for me! :)

Fun Facts About Courtney:
#My name is not Ramona. Want to know the reason behind the name Ramona Recommends, come read this!?
# I own over 1,500 children's literature books.
#When I travel, I always pick up a book from each desentiation. Do you? Come link up for my summer series, "Travel with Ramona Recommends" each Tuesday.

#I am left handed
#My favorite picture book is A Bad Case of Stripes and my favorite Chapter book is Esperanza Rising.
# I HEART Kg Fonts, Hello Fonts, Melonheadz, and Creative Clips.

 Want to see real life? Here is my MESS of a home library. This summer, I plan to (will do) organize my Ramona Recommends library. KEEP ME ACCOUNTABLE, friends! :)

Grade You Teach: Funny Question! When I first finished college, I taught 4th grade for two years in Tucson, Arizona. Then the economy had different plans for me. So! For the last few years, I have worked as a 5th grade instructional aide, long term sub, and reading and math intervention/assistant teacher. Hopefully THIS year, will be my year to get back into the classroom. THIS is what I am meant to do. This is my life passion. I find so much reward in helping children and creating engaging lessons. #bornteacher.

What is your favorite subject to teach?

Let's be honest! We all have subjects we prefer to teach. My ALL time favorite subject to teach is Reading. To be more specific.... I love teaching READING COMPREHENSION! Having in-depth conservations with students about connections, inferences, and predictions makes my day! There is nothing better in a classroom than hearing students connecting literature to their current lives.

What would we likely see if we popped into your classroom unannounced?
I love this question! Last year, one of my end of the year gifts was a wonderful book of student memories. Take a look at 3 of the memories....

Clearly, you will see some dancing and singing in my classroom. You will also see a teacher who loves her students, engaging activities, evidence finding, read alouds (LOTS OF THEM), task cards, work stations, colorful bulletin boards full of student work, motivational posters, laughter, love, smiles, and most of all a community of learners.

What gets you through one of “those” days?

Last night, I was chatting with my friend Ashley from Schroeder's Shenanigans in 2nd and she shared with me something that Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasboard said during the TpT panel. We ALL have THOSE days. Our blogs sometimes paint the most glorious life while in real time, your #23 just disrupted your lesson, you have parents emails up the zahoo, your amazing lesson you planned last night flopped and it flopped HARD or you just dont feel like "it" today. So! Guess what! I've had THOSE days. They are hard, they hurt, they make you feel defeated, they crush hearts, and they just plain stink.

When THOSE days happen- you can find me talking to my family and friends, singing at the top of my lungs either, "Jesus Take the Wheel" or "Let It Go". Both of those songs really help me. Don't worry, I won't share my demo with you. ;) I work out, I craft, I read blogs, and sometimes all the time I stop at Yogurtland. Sorry for that long answer, but I feel it is important to share with my blog readers that we ALL have THOSE days. If you are having one of the THOSE days, email me and I will make you smile! :)

What is one “can’t live without” teaching resource?
A picture book. The end. Pictures books can make a lesson come to life. Picture books open the magic and reel students in. They are the peanut butter to my jelly lesson. In my summer school class last week, I read about 14 books. I taught figurative language using only picture books. Students can connect to the books to make abstract ideas come to life. If you are wondering what books we read, I have starting creating free lists. Check on this tab on my blog.Some of my favorite picture books to use in grades 3-5 are below. Yes, YOU CAN USE PICTURE BOOKS for UPPER ELEMENTARY!!! :) I, Ramona Recommends give you permission :)

Give us a glimpse of your teaching style by sharing a brief summary of a favorite classroom activity/project.
In Miss Hinshaw's classroom, my favorite activity you could see is my simile self portrait craftivity. The students create a "Simile Me". The students have only use colors and markers, but one year I want the students create their "Simile Me" using actual resources found around their life. Examples could be mini soccer balls for eyes, grass for hair to describe a daydreamer. I read the book My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Sock by Hanvoch Piven. Then the students create their own self-portrait. It's a favorite! For example: My hair is as blonde as sunflowers. I created sunflower hair. Hadar, if you are reading this- I know my background on this activity is horrible ;) I would say based on this lesson my teaching style is productive, but fun!

What is one of your blogging goals for this year?
My blogging goal for this year is....drum rolll.... 
Go more in depth with my book posts. I want to take them to the next level. I am not sure what that looks like yet, but I will. I am a list maker! :) I also want to do a few small goals too like watermarked pictures. 

Thank you so much for stopping by! Don't forget to, "Open the Magic!" 
Love, Courtney 

Come Open the Magic!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Kristin from My Carolina Classroom}

This week I'd like you to meet a fellow 2nd grade Carolina teacher (just slightly north).  Read on to get to know Kristin and then hop over to her blog to welcome her to this wonderful blogging community!

Hey y'all! I'm Kristin from My Carolina Classroom. Thanks for having me, Amanda! My Carolina Classroom I graduated from The University of Alabama with dual degrees in elementary education and special education. I moved to North Carolina a year ago and am loving it so far! I have recently begun blogging and creating TPT products, so I spend a lot of time on my couch with Netflix and my Macbook. When I'm not working, I enjoy exploring my new city, reading, exercising, watching football (roll tide), and hanging out with friends.
This will be my second year teaching and my second year in 2nd grade! I love 2nd grade; It's the perfect fit for me. Reading is my favorite subject to teach. I love teaching phonics, fluency, and comprehension. One of my favorite projects we did this year in reading was a book character "living wax museum." Students had to dress up and prepare a speech as their favorite book character. The whole school got to come through. It was a hit and the kids were great!!
If you were to pop into my classroom unannounced, you would most likely see kids on the floor working in pairs or groups and hear Kidz Bop playing via Pandora. In other words, you'd probably see mass organized chaos!  My students do a lot of talking and moving. I believe that discussing a concept with a peer and/or teaching it to a friend leads to a deeper understanding. I believe that an elementary classroom should be a fun, semi-relaxed environment where students learn by doing, not by sitting silently all day long. In fact, I can't imagine teaching without using YouTube or TeacherTube. I use music and short videos in my classroom daily! I am thankful for all of those creative people that come up with catchy phonics, math, and science songs and dances!
Every teacher has those days, and I am no exception. A cold Coke and some candy from my treasure box can usually get me through. If it's one of THOSE days, I can always grab our fabulous 2nd grade assistant to help me save my sanity.  I'm so thankful for the fabulous teacher community I have - both at my school and online - to support me daily! I hope to keep up with my blogging and creating throughout the next year to further immerse myself in this awesome community. Come by My Carolina Classroom anytime. "See" ya there!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Lisa from Pawsitively Teaching}

Hello, Friends!  I am honored to be participating in Amanda's Budding Blogger's Showcase.  
My name is Lisa.  My blog, Pawsitively Teaching, has a primary grade focus and is where I share what is going on in my classroom.  I began my blog in February of 2014 and have loved every minute of the experience.  I have been an avid reader of teaching blogs for several years though and can honestly say being part of the blogging community has truly made be a better teacher....there is just so much inspiration to be found!  
I have been teaching for 14 years in Texas and have experience in kindergarten through fourth grades. I am currently teaching second grade and love it! 
My husband and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary next year.  We have two fabulous children together.  Our daughter will be a senior this year and plans to attend the University of Mary Hardin Baylor to major in nursing.  She as aspirations of becoming a pediatric nurse.  Our son will be a high school freshman this year.  He is a percussionist with the band and plays on the baseball team.
We have a super lovable dog, Sadie, who we adopted from a rescue shelter.  We also have two cats, but they are a bit snobbish and aren't big fans of having their picture taken.
As a family, we enjoy watching baseball.  We are big fans of our hometown team, the Texas Rangers.  Even though they are having a horrible season, we still love them! 
We also love to travel together as a family.  Alaska is my absolute favorite place to visit.  We are currently planning a trip to Hawaii next summer to celebrate our 20th anniversary and our daughter's graduation.
If you were to peek into my classroom, you would see a group of active learners.  My kids are rarely just sitting in their seats.  I like to have them up and moving, talking, collaborating, and creating. 
 Reading has always been by favorite subject to teach.  However, with the help of some great teaching blogs, I have been able to make my math instruction much more hands on and meaningful so I don't dread it like I used to.....see the power of teaching blogs?
Like every teacher, I occasionally have one of those days! My favorite "go-to" for those kind of days is Sonic.  I love their ice water....not sure what makes it so good but I love it!
Even our puppy loves Sonic water!
One thing that you will not see in my classroom is prepackaged commercial instructional resources.  I have come to learn that the one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't work for my kids.
When I am planning lesson, I always turn to Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers for the best ideas and products to meet the needs of my students.
In my classroom, these plastic lap trays are one of the most frequently used items.  I was able to purchase a class set from Hobby Lobby on sale.  They are durable and allow the kids to move around the classroom and work in a variety of different configurations...which I love!
I love anything that allows the students to step outside the box and think and create on their own.  I do a lot of modeling and scaffolding during the first semester so that my kids are prepared to be independent learners for the second half of the year.
Here is a look at one of my kids' student led projects from last spring.  
My goal for the upcoming year is to share some of the activities that my students do to interactive with literature.  I spend quite a bit of time locating books that go with certain themes or seasons and creating resources to go along with the books.  I am looking forward to sharing these activities with lots of pictures in hopes that it will help out other teachers and their students.  
I would love for you to come and visit me at Pawsitively Teaching!