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Room # 2 Progress Pics

I went into school #2 today.  I spend more of my work days there but I share that room so my space is more limited.  I think our room layout is finally done.  Today, I spent my time organizing my shelves and reading/math carts and making copies.  Here are the pictures:
This is the view of my room from the door.  My desk is straight back under the shelves.  The large bookshelf separates my teaching spot from the smartboard.  In front of the large bookshelf we have 2 student computers and right as you walk in, there is a computer for the smartboard.  To the left of my desk I have a rolling 2 drawer filing cabinet.  To the right of my desk I have two rolling carts for reading and math manipulatives.  In the picture you can only see one of them.  

This is the view of the room from my desk area.  By the cabinets, my roommate has her desk.  She will use the rectangle table for her lessons.  There is a white board and two chalk boards on the wall by the table.  

Another picture of basically the same area.  

 This is my basket of reading games.  It doesn't look like it but there are a ton of games in there. All of them I made from materials found at 

 This is my teaching area (behind the large shelf).  I posted my rules but I don't know what grade levels I'm working with so I don't know what else to put up yet.  Notice I have no wall chalk/white board...

 This is my only storage area in the room.  I have my binders on the top shelf (some are at building 1).  My lovely fiance came to school with me today and organized all the picture books by size (it was a mess...someone gave me all the books just piled on the shelves).  I lined up all my chapter books on the left side (in the picture) of the bottom shelf.  Books that I have multiple copies of for reading groups are on the right side of that shelf.  I put 1 copy of each book and the rest are in a cabinet under the counter.   I just made binder covers for all the binders.  I will get new spines done before school so they look more uniform.  
 On the counter I have my paper trays.  It holds the papers my students use the most.
Here is my desk.  It won't look this neat for another 365 days.  In fact, I put a few books on it before I left today so it's not even this neat now.  The paper in the corner is a sheet explaining all the emergency procedures in the building.  
This is an up-close shot of my desk files.  I have one for things I must do before I leave, a to-do folder, read and sort, to file (that one is always full), and keep on hand.  Behind the files I have my sub folder which desperately needs to be updated.  

I plan on adding some more personal, homey touches the first week of school.  We don't take kids out of their rooms the first week so I feel less pressure.  I also only see my students with IEP's for the first week or two so I usually have a few hours of prep time each day.  Once AIS starts, my schedule fills quickly.  

Sorry there was nothing super amazing about this room like some of your rooms but I thought I'd share anyways!  


Small Group Anecdotal Notes & Vacation Work

In 7 days I go back to work.  Summer has been great and I really don't want to start setting my alarm again but I am ready to start working with kids.  Mentally at least.  Right now, I don't have a list of my students.  I have no schedule (because I have no kids) and therefore I have no lesson plans ready.  Since I can't write lessons, I decided to work on some forms I will use this year.  The first one is what I use to take notes on students when I push into a classroom (usually for math) but you could use it for small group instruction too.
Click the picture for the file.  
It is basically self explanatory- I have a spot for a short lesson or activity description, a list of my students (I type in the students before I print the sheets), a box for attendance, and a spot to mark whether the student mastered the concept, is progressing, or needs more instruction.  The bottom contains a spot for notes and follow up ideas.   

The second thing I want to share I found on Mrs. Smith's blog.  She created a sheet with activities for students to complete when they go on vacation.  I can't tell you how many times I have had students go on vacation during the school year and the classroom teacher expects me to gather work.  From now on, I'm going to send Vacation Tic Tac Toe home with these students.  Such a simple solution to a time consuming problem!
Visit Mrs. Smith Teaches Fifth to get your own copy of this! 

Now I'm going to go relax with my kittens who are currently snuggled up next to me. 
Ally (orange) and Waffles <3


Word Problem Organizer & Behavior Chart (free!)

I was having a hard time finding a freebie during teacher week because I couldn't upload any of my documents.  Well I fixed the problem and now I have something more for you!  In New York, our math tests want students to explain how they got their answers.  This is not easy for kids!  I created this organizer for students to use when solving word problems.  It is two sided (only side 1 is shown below).  I print it double sided to save paper.
Click here to download the sheet. 

I also made a 1 page math keywords sheet for students to take home when solving problems.

Click here to download the sheet.

This year I have decided to use binders rather than folders for my students.  Every student will have a binder to keep their papers in.  I started working on reading sheets I want them to have in their binders - like a make-shift readers notebook (reading goals, books to read list, think-marks).  I will be posting those sheets soon so check back!



P.S. A while ago I posted my version of a clip chart.  Now that I figured out how to upload documents properly I adding the link to download it.

Click here for the chart.

Free for All Friday

Today is the last day of teacher week over at I'm Blog Hoppin.  I have found many new blogs to follow and ideas to try this week!  I'm very excited for today because it is free for all Friday! Unfortunately, I am having an extremely hard time uploading anything to google docs.  It changes everything I upload (fonts, spacing, etc).  I did finally get one thing to work so I guess this testing sign will be my freebie.  If someone could please tell me how to upload documents, I'd gladly post more things!


Three for Thursday

As you know, Blog Hoppin is having teacher week and today is three for Thursday (favorite font, blog, & online resource).  There is no way I could pick just one font, blog, and resource so I tried my best to narrow it down!

I believe all of these were from Kevin and Amanda. 

Favorite Blog(s)
First Grade Blue Skies  One Extra Degree  

Favorite Online Resource

For classroom ideas I love pinterest!   
My go-to site for math is The Math Worksheet Site.
I use Reading A to Z a lot in my room.  It was a great resource to have as a new teacher with nothing, not even a running record kit! 


Where it all goes down Wednesday

Everyone seems to be linking up with Blog Hoppin' for teacher week!  Today's topic is where it all goes down - the classroom.  I'm not finished setting up my rooms but I took pictures the last week of school.  I'll be showing a mix of last years finished rooms and my current unfinished rooms. 

This is my area.  I know a lot of people say the teacher takes up too much space in the room but this is a huge room!  A bookshelf sticks out separating my desk from the reading table.  I put two student desks in front of my desk to layout student papers.  On the shelves under the window I keep my student records crate (blue), teacher binders and books, and the picture books I use to teach.  On top of those shelves I have my pink bin which stores my future work (the next picture shows the folders in it).  There are also pillows on the windowsill but that is because I put them there as I was moving stuff in yesterday.  I store my posters in between the two filing cabinets.  It keeps them straight. 

These are the folders in my pink future work crate.  Each group gets 2 file folders.  One is for activities I want to do next and the second one is for activities I want to do with them later.  It gives me a place to stash half of my piles and it makes lesson planning easier!

This is a picture of my reading area.  The lights are shut off in my room so sorry for the bad pictures.  On the shelves behind the table I have my leveled library.  I wasn't able to take a close-up picture of the baskets but each basket is labeled with the fountas and pinnell level.  Most of the books are printed books from reading a to z.  Those shelves also have my word work basket and art supplies.  On top of the shelves I have a running record kit and student cubbies (magazine files - shown in the next picture).

Student work "cubbies" - Last year I had the students keep their work in folders.  The groups folders went in the magazine file.  This year I bought plastic flexible binders for each student.  The folders didn't give them enough room so we will see how the binders work out. 

This is one of the baskets on the bookshelf.  I got them from the dollar store.

I don't have a lot of art supplies in my classroom (construction paper, colored pencils, crayons, markers, glue, scissors). I keep everything except the paper in this container I bought at Lowes. I love the colored pencil design on the side!

This is my smartboard/chalkboard area.  I have the desks in a U shape.  There are paper lanterns on the desks that need to be hung but I didn't have time to get to it yesterday.  I keep a purple rolling cart by the smartboard.  I keep all my math manipulatives in it.  I always teach math on the smartboard/chalkboard so having the materials right there makes it easier to pass out manipulatives as needed.
Not-so-pretty cabinets.  The first one is filled with rubber gloves for the cafeteria and the second one is storing extra science kits for teachers.  They need to be decorated but I haven't come with an idea yet. 

Unfinished bulletin board

 My writing paper baskets

Below are the shelves behind my desk at school #2

I am no where close to being done with my rooms so please check back soon for more pictures! 


Teacher Talk Tuesday (Advice for new teachers)


I'm joining in on Teacher Week at Blog Hoppin' and today is Teacher Talk Tuesday, more specifically advice for new teachers. 

As mentioned previously, I am just starting to not feel like a new teacher anymore.  Here is what I wish someone told me two years ago:

1. Don't go to your mailbox unless you have time to take care of anything that might be in there.  On the first day of school, I usually have between 10 and 15 forms to fill out (many of them include giving money as well - PTO, PTA, Water club, Unisef, Sunshine Club, Birthday Club...).  Take a pen and maybe your checkbook the first few days.  Don't bring stuff back to your room! (I lost several things...ooops!)

2. Figure out a way to keep student records & current materials & future work.  I already felt like a failure after turning in half the forms late the first few days of school but then I realized I wasn't keeping good records.  Teachers started getting in trouble for their record keeping (I work in a district with wealthy families who call lawyers frequently so lawsuits are likely).  Paper piled up like crazy, I spent 30 minutes preparing for meetings on my kids and by preparing I mean sorting through piles for work samples ect..I would prepare materials for something I wanted to do with a group in a few weeks and it would get lost in piles and never get done.  After two years, I think I've figured out systems that work for me and I linked you to them above. 

3.  Keep quarters in your desk for the vending machine because their will be days when you need caffeine.

4.  Don't sweat the small stuff.  At the last conference day I went to, the superintendent said that teachers make on average 7000 decisions a day.  Most of those are probably not huge decisions so keep that in mind when you start stressing out.  I completely stopped caring what my house looked like my first year.  My brain couldn't handle worrying about dishes in the sink as well as all the teaching stuff. 

And most of all, Have fun!  It will be a better experience for everyone if you are having fun. 


Meet the Teacher Monday


I'm joining in on Meet the Teacher Monday over at Blog Hoppin'  .  I'm very tired tonight so I'm sorry if my answers seem random confusing!  I am excited to get to know all of you! 

* * * * *
Tell us a little something about you...

My name is Becky and I am a traveling resource room teacher.  I recently bought a house with my fiance (I say recently but it's been about 9 months!) and adopted 2 kittens.  I love teaching and creating lessons!  That is my passion.  When I'm not doing school related things, I can be found decorating my house and doing crafts but I procrastinate - a lot!  For example, we just finished installing new outlets this weekend.  That was a project we started in November.  Also, I got an iPhone yesterday!!! <3
This is Waffles - One of my new kittens.  

My fiance and I in NYC
How long have you been teaching?

This will be my third year teaching.  Before getting a permanent job, I subbed for half a year.  I am finally feeling like I am not in survival mode anymore!  

You might not know...

that I am currently taking classes towards my masters in Literacy.  I only have 5 classes left including student teaching.  Next week I start my Intro to Special Ed class.  I can't get anyone to waive that class even though my undergrad is in special ed and I'm currently a special ed teacher.  Hopefully it will be an easy semester! 

What are you looking most forward to this school year?

I'm looking forward to feeling on top of things.  The last two years I was in survival mode.  I was a new teacher in two buildings every day.  That means I have 2 principals and 2 totally different sets of expectations.   In the past 2 years I have had 4 principals, 2 superintendents, and lost 15 of the 21 people who were hired with me thanks to budget cuts.  Things have to calm down this year, right??

What do you need to improve?

I continuously look at what I do and try to improve everything.  This year I'd like to work on organization for myself and my students.  NY had a lot of changes this year and I'm now required to keep a lot of data on each student.  Being organized seems to be my ongoing goal in and out of school! 

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

I cannot live without having music in my room.  I don't have it on all the time because I share a room but I love watching the kids work together while listening to music.  They seem to focus better.   I also love reading a to z!  I can pull up books on the smartboard for students to read.  My running record kit and many books in my library are from reading a to z as well.  

* * * * *

Projects Progress

I have been productive the past few days!    Here's what I've done so far:

 I LOVED the Lator Gator board idea.  Since I'm in 2 buildings - I made two gators!

 Burlap fish - I hot glued them instead of sewing and they are staying together :)

This is the beginning of the rocket for the hallway bulletin board at school # 2.  I'm going to paint it tomorrow. 

I've also been working on my signs for the daily objectives for each group.  They will be finished while I catch up on Gossip Girl tonight.  I bought ribbon for it already.  I updated my assessment forms.  I created 3 mini-units (visualizing, predicting, and creative writing). I did some online back to school shopping for new clothes today and I've started re-organizing my closet. 

Monday I plan on going to the teacher center to laminate the daily objective signs, the gators, and the rocket. Then I'll be off to my classrooms to start decorating :)


My "Before School Starts" to do list

There are some super cute ideas floating around on different blogs right now.  I have to narrow down what projects I want to make before school starts and what can wait until later because there are just too many adorable ideas out there!   Here are the projects I am definitely doing before school starts:

The Later Gator as a follow up board.  When students need re-teaching at a later time or when students need new spacer paper journals etc... LOVE this!  If only I can get D (fiance) to draw it for me!

The Best Beehavior Catalog is used instead of a prize box.  I love this so much I stayed up until 2 am re-creating my own!  Next are the class rules that go with this theme. 

The Five Bee Promise is a set of 5 classroom rules.  See all five of her bee's by clicking the link.  After I finish this post and my paper, I'm going to the basement to find all my yellow scrapbooking paper!

Burlap Fish are ADORABLE! I bought burlap at the fabric store and cut out the fish.  I just need to sew them and stuff them!

Common Core Objectives posters.  I'm making headings with my group names and using IEP goals instead of common core standards. 

Birthday Balloons attached to pixie sticks!  Twice this year, I had a student in my room who wasn't my student to do a review math lesson and it just happened to be that students birthday.  My schools give birthday pencils out during morning announcements so another pencil doesn't seem special.  This is the perfect thing to have on hand!  I'm going to Sam's club in a few weeks to get the pixie sticks.

I found this story map on Pinterest and it doesn't have a link to the actual website it was found on (if it's yours let me know!)  I think this is super cute and I love using post-it-notes (I'd laminate the post it notes onto the board permanently).  I would also like to make guided reading discussion questions on Popsicle sticks but I haven't found the right questions yet. 

Problem Solving Board is going to be essential because I am focusing my math lessons on real-world problem solving - not just memorizing facts.

A Touch Point Number Line is a must for an elementary resource room!

Luckily, I have started many of these already (fish are cut out, bday balloons are printed, poster headings are made) but I still have a lot left to finish.  I also need to set up my lesson plan binder (I entered all important dates into last night) and my probes binders.  I need to finish my paper so I can get back to work on these lovely projects.  Thank you to all the ladies who posted there amazing ideas for the rest of us to find and "steal"! 


Classroom Set up

I went into classroom #1 today for a short time (1 1/2 hours).  I'm lucky because in my district, the custodians draw a layout of your room and pin it to a bulletin board.  When they finish cleaning it, they put the furniture back the way you had it.  Teachers can also draw a new layout and they will follow that plan.  I didn't draw a new layout so I just moved a few things around.

I'm in a full sized classroom and last year I had 20 student desks left in my room.  In September, a bunch of teachers came and stole desks (thankfully!) and now I have about 12.  That is still way too many.  I took 2 and used them as an extention of my desk.  Another 2 I used as a computer table and another 2 desks created a listening center.  Sorry for the terrible pictures, I used my cell phone and they cut the lights in the summer so no overhead lighting!

Listening Center

Computer #1 (only 1 internet port works in each spot so the 2 computers have to be separated)

Smartboard/chalk board - I moved the desks into a U shape

I didn't do any displays yet so the room looks cold and sterile.  I did, however, decorate the door:
I don't use student names because of confidentiality and because I don't know who my students are yet!  As I continue to work, I'll post more pictures!