Budding Bloggers Showcase: The Sweetest Thing

Wow! I swear I'm going to do better at blogging...starting next week!  Hopefully, I'm not the only one slacking in this area right now.  I feel like, with the long weekend, I just might be able to get caught up (here's to hoping!).  I'm very excited to showcase Lauren as my Budding Bloggers Showcase this week!  I was able to meet her at our Carolina Bloggers meet-up in August and she really is The Sweetest Thing! ;)  I know you'll love her, too....read on and then hop over to visit her blog...it's full of GREAT ideas!

Hey, y'all! I'm Lauren. I couldn't be more excited to have this opportunity to share with you a little bit about myself and my teaching.

Click HERE to head over to my blog!

I am a twenty-something Believer, wife, daughter, sister, Tiger fan, book-loving reader, wanna-be Southern belle, crafter, runner, cookie baker, happy, thankful, and blessed.

My husband, Garrett, and I a little over a year ago after our wedding ceremony.

Those of you that already follow me know, I take any opportunity I can to squeeze in pictures of my favorite niece that made me an aunt - Gracen Elizabeth! She is my older sister and her husband's first baby and is just 9 weeks old. My younger "baby" sister is a rising junior at Clemson... go Tigers!

Last year was my first year of teaching - I can hardly believe it's already over! Prior to that, I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as a substitute teacher throughout college, as well as serve as a long-term substitute after graduating a semester early from Clemson. Both my long-term experience and my first year of teaching were spent with sweet 2nd graders. Boy, do I love their little hugs!

First day of school with my people!

However, my husband's job is transferring our family to Charlotte this upcoming school year (2013-2014), so I'll be changing schools AND grade levels! (The school I'm working at is in SC though - thank goodness for one less standard change!) I am definitely nervous about it, but am growing more and more excited. I had the choice between 3rd and 5th - and I picked 5th grade! This year the grade level is departmentalizing, so I'll be teaching ELA and Social Studies.

Our new home, sweet, home! My husband will work in the building on the far left that looks like it's topped by a funny triangle.

I absolutely love literacy - it has always been my passion. It may have something to do with the fact that my mom is an elementary school media specialist/librarian and former reading specialist (Did I mention I'll be working at her school next year?! Dream come true!) Growing up, the public library was my playground and writing poetry was an outlet. So when it comes to my classroom, I always look forward to reading and writing with my kiddos each day. I had the opportunity to plan reading for my grade level last year as we adopted Common Core - definitely took some hard work but it just furthered my passion for and understanding of the reading process!

My mom and I serving in Honduras together this past summer - enjoying a treat on the work site!

Additionally, just after school let out in June, I participated in the Upstate Writing Project's Summer Institute. Basically I was surrounded by about 20 awesome ELA-loving teachers and got to hear their very best strategies for teaching writing for two weeks straight. I loved every minute of it (and encourage you to check out your local writing project)! Immediately after that, I spent a week working with a group of teachers from my district to develop some Social Studies curriculum for next year. With all of the crazy standard adoptions and changes, our district is kind enough to provide some supplementary resources to teachers to use when the state documents aren't enough. This experience working for my district confirmed my love of curriculum planning. I would love to pursue a degree/explore further opportunities!

Writing into the day during Summer Institute at Falls Park in Greenville - great way to start off each day!

If you walked into my classroom, I hope I'd be really hard to find. I love snuggling up on the carpet in my classroom library with a kiddo on each side, deep in our books. I love sitting on the floor during math centers, watching partners working together or helping them decipher instructions for the activity. I love sitting in the students' chairs (which they ALWAYS find fun and I ALWAYS find so very humbling) next to them during Writer's Workshop while they read aloud their latest piece. I love perching in the back of my room, listening to one of my kiddos lead the Calendar Math or share a prized piece of work. Standing by the board in front of the class is my least favorite place to be!

My sweet little classroom library! All of the books are leveled and stored in the green labeled shelves. (Notice the family pictures of my kiddos sitting on top of the shelves - this was my FAVORITE part of my room.) Read to Someone books are located in the red basket; early finisher books are located in the yellow basket to the right of the red. Versatiles for Word Work are just to the right of those buckets and kiddos could use the black table to work on them. Listen to Reading center was spent on the computers. The big bulletin board in the back was dedicated it our school's IB PYP program.

One of the biggest struggles I felt like I faced this past year was balancing a mile-long to-do list (standards to cover, assessments to take, etc.) with my desire to love my students well. I felt like sometimes the two couldn't exist together! If you've ever worked with 2nd graders (or younger) you know they love to tell stories and share feelings and just snuggle up! However, sometimes this made it hard to get everything done that we needed to. I just never felt like I could find the right balance. So when I was battling between the two, I tried to focus on a frame that I kept on the center of my desk all year. My younger sister gave it to me as a beginning of school present.

Also, one last thing that kept my head where it needed to be was another quote (that was adapted from Maya Angelou) that a teacher put up in the bathroom on her hallway. I'd read it every single day when I used the bathroom during lunch:

"Students will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

I don't know how teachers survived without Promethean/Smart Boards. I discovered the beauty of this technology during student teaching. I am big into details - sometimes to a fault! So when it comes to lessons I'm really excited about, I can tend to get carried away and miss covering important things. To help out with this, I started developing a habit of making my FlipCharts/Notebook documents just as important to my planning process as my actual written lesson plans. For example, if you opened up a Social Studies FlipChart from my class last year, you'd find a page for the activating strategy, teaching strategy, summarizing strategy all spelled out.

In addition to keeping my brain from going wild, organizing all of my thoughts on a FlipChart makes it easy to pick up where I left off the previous day (by jotting down the page number) and to include LOTS of visuals/aides (such as videos, websites, etc.). Lastly, this made having substitutes SUPER easy - I just got in touch with another teacher on my team and she would upload the FlipChart to the common drive so the sub could access it. The FlipCharts included everything so writing up sub plans wasn't necessary! (In case of tech emergency, team member could just print out the FlipChart and go off that.)

Great resource! Did you know you can import Smart Board Notebooks and PPTs into FlipCharts?

One of my absolute favorite activities from this past year was something that my grade level has been doing for years, but I feel like it perfectly describes my ideal teaching style. In 2nd grade, we do a big unit on the economy, and it is often really tough for them to grasp just because everything is so interconnected and they practically just learned the ins and outs of money in math.

To make the workings of the economy understandable, we set up a complete Winter Workshop. Before beginning, students apply to work for different companies. There were six companies that would each work to produce a different Christmas craft - ex. Snow globes, ornaments, holiday greeting cards, etc. Students would be placed on work teams of about 3-4. They had the better part of a week to create as many crafts as they could with the supplies they had. By the end of the week, it was time to buy! Students were paid for their work throughout the week, and could then use their money to purchase crafts from other students. They LOVED it! I'd like to find a way to work something similar into my 5th grade curriculum.

Here's an example of an ornament we made. If you've never made a cinnamon ornament you are missing OUT! I still have some from when I was little that smell delicious. I've linked the pictured to the recipe.

My blogging goal for this upcoming year is to post at least once or twice a week and stay updated with all of the incredible things everyone else posts about! I had a really hard time keeping up with it last year during my first year of teaching because I dedicated myself to using my school blog as the main method of communication with my parents. I will say it was probably one of the best things I did all year - my parents raved about it. I would post twice weekly: once on Monday/Sunday with updates/information about the upcoming week. I'd post again on Friday with all of the pictures that I'd taken throughout the week. I also took advantage using the tabs on my website to archive resources for both the parents and students to utilize at home or during computer lab. That being said... this year, I hope to master BOTH!

This was the banner that welcomed parents to my blog from last year!

Thanks again for taking the time to get to know me. Click HERE to head over to my blog to see more from me!

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  1. I am so excited to meet another amazing blogger, and headed over there right now! And no, you are not the only one who is overwhelmed... I have been a bad bag blogger, and really need to get back on it :) Best of luck on your new school year :)

    First Grade Fairytales

  2. I love Lauren's blog! And you aren't the only one struggling to blog consistently now that school has started!

  3. I love you posts. I like your "Love is..." sign. So "pinned". Enjoy your new grade. I can't believe how busy your week was. How are you still able to type.


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