Budding Blogger Showcase: My Second Sense

This week, Tania from My Second Sense is being showcased!  I hope you enjoy learning a little more about Tania and drop by her blog for a visit.

Personal info (state/family/pets/interests): 
I was born and raised in Mexico City. I lived in Northern Kentucky for 11 years and have lived in North Carolina since 2004. I am the proud mommy of a five year old daughter and a ten year old boy. My entire family lives in Mexico, which I visit once/twice a year.  I love to do crafts, scrapbook; but my ultimate
'interest' is to create things for my classroom. 

Grade You Teach: 

This is my ninth year teaching second grade. I student taught in first and third grade, but I was lucky enough to get my dream grade.

How long have you taught?: 

I have taught eight years so far...and counting :)

What is your favorite subject to teach? 

I love to teach Math. Math has logic, steps, and always a correct answer :)

What would we likely see if we popped into your classroom unannounced? 

Creating a classroom full of 'thinkers' and 'independent learners' is my yearly goal.  If you visit my classroom, you will be able to see clean, organized, and well defined areas of learning.  My
students always enjoy working with a partner or in small groups. 
Engaged learners that reflect, set and meet their own goals. Hopefully, you could also witness a class that follows procedures and enjoys learning.

What gets you through one of “those” days? 

My team! I have been blessed wit amazing coworkers who support my crazy ideas and challenge me to be a better me everyday. We vent, share and take care of each other. A big mac can also save me from going gray :)

What is one “can’t live without” teaching resource? 

I have compiled many ideas from magazines, websites and blogs.  I am not sure I have one thing I am in love with Daily Five and Writer's Workshop. If I had to pick one thing...probably my laptop. I have yet
to take full advantage of my personal iPad.

Give us a glimpse of your teaching style by sharing a brief summary of a favorite classroom

I work really hard to implement my procedures and expectations during the first part of the year. After that I try to create a balanced week where we work hard, have fun and learn to stretch our thinking.
 I love doing crafts with them and do holiday projects. I like to get to know them (attend cheer leading competitions, first communions, birthdays...) and their families. I hold them to very high standards, but in exchange we do tons of fun things. I want and expect nothing but the best :)

What is one of your blogging goals for this year?

I started blogging to share what I do in my classroom. I feel it is a way to pay back what I have learned from so many amazing blogs. My goals is to share what I love and help others with what I can.

I like to participate in linky parties and one of these days will be brave enough to publish a unit on TPT

Muchas Gracias for reading about me and My Second Sense (Do you have a second sense?).  I hope to get
 the chance to meet new Bloggy friends.  Would you visit my blog and let me know what you think?  Hope to see you there!

Amanda, thank you so much for the opportunity to introduce myself to all your amazing followers.


Getting to Know Your New Class

I love spending the first few days getting to know my new class.  We do lots of "getting to know you" types of activities, including interviews, writings, and surveys.  One of my favorite activities to learn about my students are our "Class Graphs."  Students are paired together and given a question to ask the rest of their classmates.  They are provided with a recording sheet with all students' names prewritten on it to make it easier for them.  They have a lot of fun walking around meeting each other and asking questions.  Once all data is gathered, they tally the results and create a graph.

I post these graphs to our class website so that families can learn more about our class as a whole.  I also hang them out in the hall so that other classes and visitors can get a glimpse of our class.  Once these are taken down, I bind them into a class book and students always enjoy reading it!  Later in the year when we do our graphing unit, I pull this book back out and use it for having students formulate questions about graphs. 

This is one of my favorite activities because it is so informative and educational at the same time! 

This activity is $0.99 at Teacher's Clubhouse and includes 12 graph topics, 24 graphs (by 1s and 2s), recording sheet, cover sheet, and directions.

What types of activities do you like to do to get to know your new students better?

Bad Blogger!

I have been a very bad blogger this week!  I'm definitely going to have to work on finding the balance between working and blogging.  Hopefully things will settle down in a few weeks and that will help (I'm hopeful, anyway!)

This was a SUPER busy week with our "Meet The Teacher" on Monday.  I met all 18 of my new MonSTARS and let me tell you, they are ADORABLE!!  I loved every minute of it and was soooo happy that they loved their new classroom!  There were several "this is the best classroom ever!" comments, and even one little girl who asked her mom if she could decorate her bedroom like our classroom.  Melt.My.Heart!  That is exactly why I spent all summer crafting it up - worth every minute!

Tuesday was our last teacher workday and my birthday!  I worked hard all day long (even skipped lunch) so I could leave on time and celebrate with the hubs.  Guess what?  You know that stinky schedule that I vented about? The one where instructional time didn't start until 11:00??  The one that we were told would take an act of congress to change?  Well, the act of congress happened as I was about to walk out the door on Tuesday!!  At that point, I was already set to live with the initial schedule....you know, it was printed, stuffed in folders, handed out to parents, etc. so the change was a little frustrating at that point, but I know it will be a GOOD CHANGE for the kiddos in the long run!  Now, we have time to teach everything in the morning before lunch, except for math!  YAY!  And, when I got home my husband had done it again....
Yep, that's 37 presents....I thought I was getting too old for this, but apparently not! He is so good! :)  And, I felt realllllly guilty when he casually mentioned that I have been snippy lately, but that he knew it was this time of year because I always get snippy when I'm stressed!  {talk about guilt}  It was a wonderful birthday evening though, and I was sure NOT to be snippy.  ;)

The next morning was the first day of school with my new little Mon-STARS!  I am soooo lucky to have a wonderful student teacher this year.  I don't know how I would have survived the first day of school "Painting Party" without her help!!!  Yes, there was paint everywhere, spilled cereal from our pinterest-inspired snack, and a little chaos, but I think the children enjoyed it!  And we now have cute, colorful canvases in the hall to display student work.
Jitter Juice and Trix Swirl Cereal topped with a cupcake
 Monster Paintings
 Students colored their names which were attached to clothespins to hold their work.

All in all, it was a fantastic first week.  I ALWAYS forget how much time is spent on teaching procedures.  I'm really looking forward to getting into our ROUTINE a little more next week!  I did implement several aspects of Whole Brain Teaching - LOVING the five rules with hand gestures, the scoreboard, teach-okay (this is my FAVORITE), switch, and mirror.  Next week I hope to incorporate Superspeed Math and some of the writing techniques.  I R-E-A-L-L-Y want to get to a WBT conference this year!!!  Why oh why can't we have worthwhile inservices like this????  But instead, I get to spend two hours in a Microsoft Office workshop next week (SERIOUSLY....even thought I teach technology courses for the district and have TAUGHT Office classes in the past!!!!!!)  My.BIGGEST.Pet.Peeve  *Sigh*

I definitely hope to post more this coming week, but I do have a meeting 4 out of 5 days (The first full week of school??? Yep!)  But hey, maybe I can multi-task during the Office inservice!


Budding Bloggers Showcase: O "FISH" ally a First Grader

O FISH ally a First Grader
Hi!  My name is Corinna and I just started my blog, O "FISH" ally a First Grader at the end of July.  I want to thank Amanda for showcasing my new blog and hosting Best Budding Blog!

My family and I live in Texas.  I have two wonderful teenage boys, and I have been married for 25 years.  I love to read, hang out with family and friends and go to the beach!

Currently I teach First Grade.  This will be my thirteenth year of teaching.  Right out of college I taught for four years and then I stayed home for twelve years to raise my two sons.  This will be my ninth year back.  I have taught Pre-K, Kindergarten,  and First and Second Grades.

It's hard for me to pick my favorite subject to teach because I like many of them for different reasons.  If I have to pick, I will say Writing.  I am always amazed to watch how my First Graders grow as authors or writers throughout the year.  It is truly rewarding!

If you popped into my classroom unannounced you would most likely see me working with small groups of students or individuals while the rest of my class is working with partners or doing group work to complete hands-on literacy and math activities.  You might also catch me reading to my students, singing or playing a game.  I try to make learning fun.
I'm not sure if my computer and my external hard drive are considered teaching resources, but I  definitely cannot live without them.  From creating activities, to stalking Pinterest and other teacher blogs, I am constantly on my computer.  It feels like my life is stored on my external hard drive.  I carry it back and forth from home and school.  It holds everything I've made or have ever found.

One of my favorite teaching activities is when we do our Ocean Research Unit.  I almost feel guilty because it seems that the students do the learning on their own.  I try to follow Tony Stead's advice from his book "Is That a Fact?:  Teaching Nonfiction Writing."  If you haven't read it, you should!  I was blessed to attend a training in our district with Tony Stead as the speaker.  Please understand that before the students begin researching independently, I have modeled using research tools, summarizing information in my own words, taking notes and then selecting and organizing my information by writing a nonfiction book.  Once we are finished with our class book, then they begin spending several days rotating through research stations.  They use post-it notes and a RAN chart to take notes in the following stations:  Pictures and Captions, Computer, Listening  and Books.  Some animals lend themselves to an Observational Station too.  It's amazing to watch the students while they are researching.  They are totally engaged and learning about their animal on their own!  I am not doing the teaching.  After they have went to all of the stations, they begin writing their nonfiction books.  Their books turn out fabulous and they are so proud of themselves when they are done.  They truly take on ownership in their own learning during this project.  

I'll be honest I struggled with the idea of beginning a blog.  I was apprehensive because I really don't have the slightest idea of how to be a blogger.  However, I feel like I've gotten so many wonderful ideas from other teacher blogs.  It has inspired me to be a better teacher by making and finding engaging activities for my students.  I'm hoping my blog will push me to be more creative!

Thanks again Amanda for offering me the opportunity to introduce myself.  I truly appreciate your support.  

Monday Made-It: Pencil Dispenser

My straw dispenser FINALLY arrived this week!!   Wahoo!!  I'm linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for this Monday Made-It!
Here's is the story of my new pencil dispenser.

 When I saw this pin on pinterest...
I knew I needed a pencil (straw) dispenser for my classroom.  Initially, I looked for metal ones (like in the picture above) but they were $80 or more!!!  A bit pricey for me!  So...I began looking at the acrylic ones.
When I first noticed these, they were $17 on Amazon.  By the time I went back and placed my order it was $28.  Now, they are around $40!  I think this would be a great example of supply and demand for a future lesson!  If you spend time searching Amazon and/or Ebay you may be able to find a cheap one.  If you do, place your order immediately! :)

I wasn't really happy about the acrylic because you could see through it.  Who wants to look at pencils all day? :(  But then, Amy from the Resource(ful) Room let me know that she bought an acrylic one and mod podged paper inside of it!  This is Amy's pencil dispenser (click the picture to go to her post):
Brilliant!  I eagerly awaited the arrival of my straw dispenser so I could try to work my magic.  It took a LONG time for it to arrive!  I even got an email from Amazon stating that it had not been shipped by the third-party seller and I might want to contact them.  Well, I didn't have time, so I just kept waiting and FINALLY (5 weeks later) it came!!  Just. In. Time.

Now, you know, Mod Podge and I have been working on our relationship this summer, but we're still not besties.  I was a little worried about the bubbles, especially since working from the inside of this dispenser would be a tight fit.  I chose my FAVORITE scrapbook paper and very informally (holding it up to the sides, folding, and cutting) measured it to fit the odd shape of my dispenser.  It took two pieces of scrapbook paper (cut into 4 pieces in all - one each for the top, back, front, and bottom) in all.  I decided to use the Elmer's Spray Adhesive that I had instead of Mod Podge (I'm sure that didn't help our relationship at all).  I simply sprayed each page with adhesive and carefully (that stuff is pretty sticky) positioned it into place.  Voila!  Instantly finished...no waiting to dry...no air bubbles magically appearing.  DONE in 10 minutes tops!  Then, I used my new Cameo to cut out letters with vinyl and applied them to the front!  (I still didn't have any transfer paper at this point, so I drew a straight line on the acrylic with a dry erase marker to position the letters and then erased it.)
 I HEART this thing!!  And, it works perfectly EVERY TIME.  Turn the knob and a pencil falls down.  LOVE.  The acrylic is very durable and it's MUCH cuter than the original metal one that I wanted.  Sometimes things don't work out for a {good} reason.  :)

Sundays in the South: Gearing Up for Back To School

As I try to lounge around a bit today (and by lounge, I mean working like a mad woman in my pajamas), I can't help but wonder how summer always seems to fly by so quickly?  With just a few days of "official" workdays behind me, I already feel like I need to close my eyes and hear the ocean breeze.  No matter how much I feel like I've worked to prepare my room over the summer (thinking these workdays will be "relaxful") they're always jam-packed with stress!  I am so looking forward to the days when the kiddos and I are already back into a "routine" and things are flowing smoothly!

I'm working on it!  And, to help with it, I have finished up this year's Long Range Plans.  I had several people email to ask that I post these when they were finished, so here you go.

 **UPDATE** You can now find an EDITABLE version of my Long Range Plans, Planning Calendar, and more in my newer Lesson Plan Series

There have been a few "bright" moments in this week!  Remember, that skin I ordered for my ugly school laptop?  It arrived!
Love how it matches my room!  So much cuter than the grey 17" (mammoth) cover!  And....you know how you usually have a little gift (teacher tote bag, post-it set, etc) at your spot at the back to school meeting??  Well, we walked in to find one of these at each of our seats...
How cool is that??  Definitely the best "back to school" gift ever!  Our school is going through technology refresh this year, but iPads were not the route we went.  We will be getting all new laptop carts and replacing our student desktops with laptops in the classroom, getting activotes to use with our Promethean boards, etc.  So, this little treat was completely unexpected!  Since it's probable that students will be getting these in the next couple of years, our principal wanted teachers to go ahead and get familiar with them!  WAHOO!  Honestly, I haven't played around with it much yet...in fact, I didn't even bring it home with me this weekend so that I wouldn't be tempted to spend the whole weekend playing instead of working!

If you already use iPads in the classroom, what are your favorite educational apps?

Tomorrow is officially the day when I get to meet all of my new little Mon-STARS!  So excited to meet all 19 of them (yep, 19...I haven't had a class this small except maybe one year in the past!)  I did go up to the school yesterday (on SATURDAY...see what I mean....I always think I'm ahead, but never really am!) to prepare their little gifts.
I made these little monster gift bags that will hold their monster water bottles (I used the cameo to put their names on them, but I can't show you that since our names are still "top secret"), monster suckers, and the back to school snack mix in a monster bag, of course!  I also included the invitation to our first day of school Painting Party (so they would know to bring an old t-shirt to slip on), where they will paint their "Monster-ous Masterpieces" for our hall display.


I'm a LITTLE nervous about painting on the first day!  Just because it is always so hectic and full already, but if we can squeeze it in, I think it'll make for a FUN first day!

I'll be back tomorrow for a Monday-Made It post....not just any, but my most favorite made-it so far...my pencil (straw) dispenser FINALLY arrived and it turned out to be the quickest, CUTEST craft ever!!

I'm going to end this post by linking up with Jeannie at Kindergarten Lifestyle for a linky party.
 Hop on over to link up and let us know how YOU know it's time for Back to School!

I'm a Carolina Girl Guest Blogger Today...with a FREEBIE!

Hi bloggy friends!  You can find me over at Tales from a 4th (and 5th) Grade Teacher today, joining in on Patti's new "Carolina Girl Guest Blogger" series!

I'm so excited that she's rounding up a lot of bloggers from the Palmetto State!  If you are a Carolina blogger, send Patti an email so you can join in on the FUN!

Be sure to drop by Patti's site to read my post today...I have a fabulous FREEBIE for you.  Here's a sneak peek -

**UPDATED: Click on the image below to download this freebie!**
Today is my official first day back at work (you know what that means, right?  MEETINGS!)

Budding Blogger Showcase: Kindergarten Kidlets

Helllo Bloggy Friends!  I am so excited to be featured as a new blogger on Amanda's blog. 

 I am Mindy from Kindergarten Kidlets (click on the image below to visit my blog). 
Personal Info: 

I grew up in Highland, Utah with my parents and my brother.  After graduation I moved south to Cedar City where I attended Southern Utah University.  There I studied Elementary and Early Childhood Education, and met my cute hubby!

We have been married almost 10 years and have three cRaZy kiddos:

Grade you teach?  How long? Favorite Subject to teach?

I have been teaching 9 years and absolutely LOVE what I do.  I am currently teaching kindergarten, which is where my heart is, however I have also taught fifth grade, first grade, and Reading Recovery.  Due to my reading training I have to say small group reading instruction is one of my favorite parts of my day but my all time favorite subject to teach has to be science!

See my kiddos above in their 'science eyes' I had parents donate old 3-D glasses, popped out the lenses, and ta-da!  Science Eyes.  

There is something exciting about watching my kiddos engage in a scientific study... making hypotheses and planning experiments... love it.  However I also L.O.V.E. using music in the classroom (hubsters majored in music, having a musician in the house kinda reminds me of the importance of music, daily) so when teaching  I use music as much as possible.  One of my all time favorite science resources is this:

I also like to teach the Scientific Method Song: (to the tune of Ten Little Indians)
Ask a scientific question,
Gather data,
Form a Hypothesis,
Plan an experiment,
Try it again,
Draw up a conclusion!

As we are planning an experiment we sing this song to remind us of each step in the scientific method.  I have found it really makes the scientific method easy for kinder kids.

If you walked into my class unannounced?

Well, you would likely see us singing... I am kinda known for it in my school.  Other teachers plan their day around what songs I am singing when... I keep them on schedule, haha.  I also have fallen in love with my interactive whiteboard, I took an advanced IWB class over the summer and love having the ability to link all my videos, flash games, songs, big books, etc, etc, etc, into one interactive lesson so all the things I need are right at my fingertips. 

What gets you through one of 'those days'?

Two words... diet.coke.

Blogging goals for this year?

Since I am so new to blogging I am just hoping to keep up!  With the busy schedule of school I realize blogging during the school year will be a bit more difficult than during those lazy summer days... summer days {sigh}.
Also, remember my camera.  I need to make sure I have my camera at school each day (maybe I need a second camera) so that when a blog worthy moment occurs I am ready to capture it.

Thanks for taking the time to learn a little more about me and thanks to Amanda for introducing me to all of her bloggy friends!


Thanks so much for sharing a little more about yourself and your blog, Mindy!  Don't forget to click on Mindy's blog button to visit her blog for more great ideas!!  Didn't you just LOVE those science eyes??  I think I need to get my hands on some 3D glasses!   See you tomorrow for a special post! :)

Warning! Graphic Intensive: Classroom Reveal

My classroom isn't "finished" but I'm beginning to wonder if it ever will be...there's always more to do and little touches to add.  But, I think these pictures will give you an idea of the "maddeness" that's been occupying my every moment lately.  I'm linking up with a couple of classroom reveal linky parties.

This is our carpet meeting area.  We spend a LOT of time here. (Ignore the box of math books that are waiting on me to rip pages from.)
The opposite view of our meeting area.
The yellow containers are for individual student books for SSR time.  I will put their pictures on the front of them after the first day of school.
Summer projects...my monster stool and the remade "author study" bookshelf.
Students will place their clip on the plates to show their lunch choices for the day.  Clips still on the ribbons will belong at absent students.  Lunch/attendance in one!
The lowboy with drawers holds all of my posters/pocket charts.  Colored paper and construction paper is organized on top.
Love how my "monster" director's chairs turned out!
My scoreboard for Whole Brain Teaching and our US Map are on the easel we use for our morning message.
Our rocking chair with one of my "no-sew" monster pillows.
Our floor rockers are a part of our "cozy seat" rotation for SSR time.  (See how ratty this one is at the top?  Came home today and Mr. Madden had me two new turquoise ones! - LOVE that man!)
Another view of our author bookshelf and our large Peanuts Map (donated by a parent one year...love it!)
"Smarty Pants" full of smarties candies for when students deserve a little treat for an exceptionally thoughtful answer.  (This type of hanger with the little hooks to go through the belt loops work wonderfully!)

Our AR "Mons-TERRIFIC" Readers bulletin board.
The Monster Trashcan Mr. Madden made for us!
We use these drawers to hold our reading group materials.
Our calendar with a little monster touch.
Our monster-themed Whole Brain Teaching rules.  Love how they turned out and cannot WAIT to implement WBT this year!
Our ClipChart Management on an oil pan with magnets.
Saw this at Hobby Lobby and just HAD to have it for the classroom.
Our listening center (being invaded by my BFFs at the moment...glue gun and personal laminator!)
Covered all of my open shelves with fabric this year - got a little wrinkly during summer cleaning. :(

My hand-designed monster rug (bathmat)!
Our word wall will go on the cabinets.
Love this gift from my room mom from last year!
Looking out the door at our hall display.  I couldn't come up with a good display for the monster theme, so we're having a PAINTING PARTY on the first day of school.  Each little Mon-STAR will create their very own monster picture!  I plan to cameo their names at the bottom and add clothespins to hold their work.

More views!

Our school theme is garden this year (ick!) and I was feeling a little guilty that EVERYONE else has garden-themed hall displays, so I brought back my "POET-TREE" to display our poetry throughout the year.
Plus, I wanted to incorporate "poms" somehow!
Our "M.O.N.S.T.E.R. Mastery Club display.
My vinyl banner above our classroom door.
I still need to add accents to my door, but isn't "Hairy" a great welcome sign?

My art wall - a place for students to clip up their artwork for all to see!
Still working on my relationship with Mod Podge.
I'm going to post a different "Goodbye Sign" for the kids to say to each other each week. (Look for this freebie on Thursday!)
Literacy Centers are stored in cubbies on the back wall.  Units are stored in containers on top.
The burlap pencil I made that says "write" (in vinyl on wall) to showcase our writing stages signs.
Another view.
Our reading center .  Notice the "Hollywood Marquee" still  sitting in the floor. SIGH.  I am SO sad to part with this!  Mr. Madden worked so hard on it and it looks AMAZING when the lights are on! :(
Our reading bulletin board near the reading center.

We'll use Robert the Reader during our first unit on Reading Strategies.  The puzzle pieces each have a strategy and we'll put it together as we learn about all of the pieces that go into making a good reader.
They refer to these reading strategy posters a LOT during the first month of school!
We refer to our genre posters throughout the ENTIRE year!
Our white bookshelf holds all of our non-fiction books and author study books on top (labeled by genre and levels).
This bookshelf holds fiction books (labeled by genre and levels).
Our Non-Fiction text feature signs are a tremendous resource for students.  LOVE the addition of my monster chairbacks for cozy reading spot rotations.

Students will have a turn to be Mon-STAR of the week and share all about themselves! (I picked up those cute little round monster pillows from Hobby Lobby.)
More fiction books on the other side of the bookshelf...and another monster chairback!
Another view that shows my math manipulatives cart and my Grab & Go Dice above it!

Close up of the dice if you missed them from a previous post.
Class birthdays are displayed in birthday bags.  Students will get their balloon (on pixy stix) on their special day!
My current unit containers sit on the counter behind my desk for easy access to books/files.

The FABULOUS rolling seat crates that will serve as computer chairs and storage for whisper phones, headphones, and magazines!  LOVE these things (thanks, Mr. Madden!)
My desk - look quick...it will never stay this clean!
Close up of my Kiss Your Brain and Hug Your Heart jars on my desk. HEART THEM!
Dry erase pages for essential questions.
Table beside my desk that holds all of my supplies that won't fit IN my desk. :)

Student tables are on their way to being ready (okay, still a LOT to do here.)

TOTALLY forgot to take pictures of the WHOLE CLASSROOM to give a big picture, or of my windows so here are a few that I previously posted (before the reveal) in case you missed them.
No-Sew bunting with fabric and duct tape!
Old picture, but you can see the bunting.
Canvas monster paintings line the windowsills of the classroom.

I will replace these with better "distant shots" when I return to the classroom - which will be THURSDAY (our first official day)...tomorrow, I REFUSE to go there.  I'll be at home working in my PJs! :)
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