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!


Book Nook Love

Y'all, my favorite part of the school day is our DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time.  Every single year.  I love nothing more than to see kids eager to choose and book and devour it!  And, let me tell you...it is their favorite time, too!

Today was our fifth sixth day of school and my second graders read for 30 minutes straight.  Like, seriously read.  Eating it up!

One reason is that they get to settle into Book Nooks all around my classroom.  We don't use these the first week of school.  We practice reading independently at our desks.  But, they ask every single day when we are going to use them.  They are so stinkin' excited when they finally get to cozy up and read.  My expectations are high and they know it!

I have a simple chart hanging in my room with all of our book nook spots on it.  At the end of each day one of our classroom jobs is for a student to rotate the clothespins on the chart.  Students get to sit in a new book nook each day.

Here's a look at our book nook love...

Here's a peek of them in action on day one...

{Chair from Hobby Lobby}
{Sofa from Hobby Lobby}
 {Chair Backs and Floor Rocker from Target}
{Saucer Chair from Target}
{Floor Chairs from Target}
{Floor Rocker from Target; Book Buddy from my nephews} :)
{Book Buddy from Khol's}
{Classroom Rug from KidCarpet.com}
{Director's Chairs from Pier One}
I only have 20 book nook spaces in my classroom, so with a larger class this year, I added "book buddies" to the rotation and just let those children read to a book buddy at their seat for that day.   So far it has been a huge hit!

While students are in their book nooks they can also use computers to take AR tests.  During this time I'm either conferencing with students about their reading and/or AR tests or reading with students.

Do you have book nooks in your classroom?  What do you do to help students love independent reading time?  I'll be back soon to showcase our reading folders and their contents.


Budding Bloggers Showcase {Lauren from Love, Laughter and Learning in Prep}

Hi everyone!  I'm so excited to be featured as one of Amanda's 'Budding Bloggers' - isn't she amazing for hosting such a generous series?  I really hope that you enjoy learning a few random bits and pieces about me and my teaching style. :)

Let's start with the basics - my name is Lauren and I blog over at Love, Laughter and Learning in Prep!  I started my little corner of cyberspace when I was coming back to teaching after a year off, living in Canada and working in a jewellery store.  I live in sunny Queensland, Australia, right by the beach.  When I'm not at school you could probably find me walking by the water, reading in the sun or swimming.  I could never move back to the city after living here!  In my lazy moments I love to pin, watch trashy TV and enjoy a glass of wine.

My family lives about an hour away, but I travel to visit them pretty regularly - especially to see my gorgeous nephew!  I left a little piece of my heart in Canada, so I also travel back there as much as I can.  It's like a second home and I've got so many lovely friends there... it's just too bad it's so far away.  Before I moved away everyone told me that I would find my perfect man in Calgary, I didn't believe them until I met him!

I've been teaching for coming up to 12 years and in that time I've taught lots of different year levels, mostly at an independent Christian school. I found my niche 4 years ago when I began teaching Prep (called Kindergarten most other places in the world).  I love it - it's definitely the most exhausting year level I've taught but it's just so rewarding.  I get to spend the day with 25 hilarious, sweet, energetic and loving characters, having fun and seeing them learn and grow - what more could you ask for?

If you popped in to visit me in my classroom you would most likely see us not doing whatever was on my daily plan!  I have a bad (?) habit of having exciting ideas on the hop and using them immediately - most of what I plan for the week I never do (apart from literacy and maths group activities).  I am so lucky to have a TA in my room full time (I know, I know!) and the two ladies who share that job are amazing.  Nothing is too random or last minute for them!  Whenever you visited though, you would most likely find the kidlets working in groups.  Because my little learners vary so greatly in their abilities (Prep is their first year of school) I find that the best way to differentiate is to do lots of group work so everyone can work at their point of need.  That does mean that my classroom is stuffed to the rafters with games, resources, manipulatives, imaginative play props, books and other random bits'n'bobs!  

You can see a few more photos of my classroom here!
 I have two teaching 'resources' that I can't seem to live without - the first is a canvas bag that I got with a pair of Toms a few years ago.  Yep, an empty bag.  It's amazing how much more exciting a lesson can be when the materials are hidden away in it, just waiting to be discovered!  It's also amazing how perfectly kidlets will behave if they think they might be chosen to draw something out.  Never has a picture card, sight word or maths fact been so amazing as when it comes out of that bag!  The second thing I can't live without is coffee - it gets me through 'one of those days' for sure!

I have so many favourite classroom activities that it would be too tricky to share just one example.  My favourite times of the day are any that my kidlets are smiling as they learn.  Wherever I can, I keep their little faces happy by using hands-on resources, play based tasks, sensory experiences, opportunities for choice and a variety of activities that address many different learning styles.  (Let's just say that the dollar store is a place I visit frequently!)  Although that all takes a tonne of time to organise and prepare, I really think that the days are so much more relaxed and smooth when kidlets are invested in what they're doing... easier said than done, right? :)

Amanda asked me to share what one of my blogging goals for this year is, and I guess I've always had the same one.  My goal has always been to contribute (in whatever small way I can) to this wonderful online community that has been such a source of inspiration and motivation to me since I stumbled across teaching blogs.  Any time that someone sends me an email or leaves a comment to tell me that something I've shared has been helpful to them I've reached my goal!  This quote kind of sums it up for me:

Thanks so much for reading!  I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me.  I'd love to get to know you too, so feel free to pop over and visit me if you can. :)



Classroom Reveal 2014

I didn't change too much decor-wise in my classroom this year, but I'm linking up my classroom reveal with Blog Hoppin today.  This post is VERY graphic intensive, but it will take you on a little tour all around my monster-themed classroom.

Our Monster Door Hanger greets all of my little monSTARS each morning.
Our art wall showcases those special masterpieces and our transportation board makes sure everyone is getting home correctly.
Our cubbies store our centers while Mrs. Madden's lesson plan storage sits on top in labeled containers.
We refer to our writing stages often during Writer's Workshop.
Our rain gutter bookshelves hold our read-alouds so that students can see the titles for taking AR tests if they want.
Our laptops are beneath the raingutter shelves and our rolling seat crates make the perfect seating and provide extra storage!
View one of one of our reading areas.  Students rotate sitting in a ton of different cozy spots around our classroom for independent reading time.
This shelf holds our non-fiction books and author study baskets.  Our reading buddies are kept here, too.
The bunting you see around our classroom is just triangles of fabric held to the wall with red duct tape....no sewing at all - easy peasy!
The monster canvases along our windowsills provide another little touch.
This is our second reading area.  We love books!
The teacher's space is always the messiest area in our room.
 Here's a view from the teacher's desk.  We even captured our amazing student teacher, Miss Sease, working hard at her table!
Mr. Madden turned a trashcan into monster storage for our puppets!
Our school uses Accelerated Reader so this board is used for that.  You can also see our scoreboard (whole brain teaching) and the teacher's comfy chair. :)
We spend MUCH of our day on our spotted carpet!  We LOVE it!  (Thanks KidCarpet.com)!
Our other bulletin board holds our anchor chart tablet.  We're all ready for the first day tomorrow!!
Just a close up of more of our cozy spots waiting on a little reader to come along. :)
Students move their clips to make their lunch choices here each morning.
Here's another classroom view from a front corner.
 Here's a close up of one of our table teams.
No words needed.  A must have for our classroom.
Our Whole Brain Teaching class rules hang above our class restroom. <3
This storage area is where all of our daily supplies and prep materials land.
Our centers and reading group materials are stored in this area.
Our pencil area.
More storage is by our door, along with the mailbox for turning in teacher notes and our weekly goodbye for students to say as they walk out the door.
Our work hangs from these frames in the hallway.
Our MONSTERS enrichment club hangs in the hall as well.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!  Go link your space up so we can check it out!

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