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Oh, How Pinteresting!

It has been a very slow start to the year!  As I mentioned in a previous post, almost everything I created or planned over the summer doesn't work for my students needs this year so it's back to the drawing board!  I have to say that without all of you and your ideas, my room would not be running as smoothly as it is.  Today was day 14 of school but between 3 flood days, 5 RtI meets and 2 CSE meetings, I am just starting to actually teach! Since my students haven't finished anything worth sharing yet, I figured I'd post about my favorite pinterest finds.  

My district created a writing rubric for all elementary teachers to use to score students writing.  They can score a 1, 2, 3 or 4.  Our new report cards are now done the same way - no more a's or 83's, now students are receiving a 4 (exceeds expectations), 3 (meets expectations), 2 (progressing), 1 (struggling)...anyways I found this student friendly rubric that I will definitely be making in the near future.  
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I made guided reading sticks over the summer and I plan on using them with my 5th graders.  My 3rd graders need more scaffolding.  I love these thinking clouds because they provide sentence starters for the kids.  
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My students have a hard time editing their writing.  Editing practice can be really boring and time consuming when I only have 30 minutes with the kids.  I love these editing practice pages because they cover the basic mistakes that I want my students to look for and they are quick.
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Last years state math test was almost all word problems.  Needless to say, our focus in math this year is problem solving.  My students tend to give up when given a challenging problem so any incentives to keep them motivated are welcome!  I love that this little award specifically mentions problem solving. 
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Click on the pictures to be directed to the source.  I'm off to write lessons for next week so that when I wake up tomorrow I have nothing school related to do! 

Enjoy your weekend!

A glimpse inside my room

My classrooms will probably never be finished but I did recently take some updated pictures of room #1.  

My room looks over the Courtyard.  This is my small group area and library.  On my table, I have a punk bucket fill of markers, pens, and a calculator (for running records).  I also have the easel next to the table.  Under the windows, I have Fountas and Pinnell leveled baskets.  I started my baskets at level D this year and it goes to Z.

Above the leveled baskets I have my group "cubbies" and center baskets.  The white magazine files are labeled with each groups picture.  The larger baskets next to them have coordinating group pictures on them.  Those baskets hold the games that each group can play during any free time or with substitutes.

This is a quiet reading area and a bulletin board.  The kids can read anywhere they want in the room but I store the pillows here.  I put my "Later Gator" on the side of the filing cabinet.  When students need me to follow up on something (like making a new writing book etc) they can post it on the later gator.  

A few days ago, I posted about word detectives.  This is where I put my word detectives binder.  The walls by the window are magnetic and kids love to sit on the window sill to add words to the binder.  

I know my room isn't anything spectacular but I thought I'd share anyways. 


Michaels Clearance

I stopped by Michaels on the way home today to look at fall & Halloween decorations.  I looove decorating for fall.  My living room accent walls are a burnt orange color so fall decorations look great in my house.  Anyways, back to the point of this post...while in Michaels I saw that all of their teaching items are on clearance!   I grabbed this little organizer for $4!

It's regularly $15.  I'm not exactly sure how useful this is going to be for my room but for $4 I couldn't pass it up!  The shelf said it was on clearance for $7 but it came up at $4 at the register.  Don't forget to show them your school id for an extra 15% off your purchase!  Happy shopping!


What's in my bag?!

Abby from The Inspired Apple had the brilliant idea to host a What's in your teacher bag linky party.  After looking through everyone's bags I'm seriously considering the Erin Condren life planner!  It's going to be a quick post tonight because it has been a looong week!

This is my Vera bag.  I love holds everything!  In front of it are my grad school books.  

 For some reason the picture keeps uploading sideways...sorry!  Here I have some reading logs, interoffice mail, an umbrella, reading a to z books for a guided reading group, word detective sheets to turn into books, my idea notebook, and some books that feature children with disabilities.  

 As soon as I took everything out of the bag, the kitties moved in!  

This was such a fun linky party to join.  Thanks to Abby for hosting it and don't forget to join in too! 


Parent Teacher Nights & Freebie!

There's nothing like 2 parent teacher nights in a row!  Overall, everything went well.  One parent asked me to assign her child nightly reading.  Both of her kids are perfect angels in school but they really resist doing any extra work for their parents.  When I got home I quickly made a reading log so I thought I'd share it with all of you! It is supposed to be landscape and I'm not sure if it uploaded correctly.  If not, email me and I'll send it to you.
I'm off to bed...TGIF!


My students & word detectives

It's only been 7 school days but I'm already exhausted and overwhelmed!  My students are quite needy this year.  I have one group in particular that is really troubling me.  There are only 4 students in the group so far.  Student A had a lot of regression over the summer and is now at the same reading level as last September.  Student B is working two grade levels below in all areas.  Student C is already talking back and being sarcastic.  Student D has been fine so far however knowing the student from the last few years, I'm sure this won't last long!
Spelling Smart!: A Ready-to-Use Activities Program for Students with Spelling Difficulties (J-B Ed: Ready-to-Use Activities)
Rather than working on comprehension this year, I will be focusing on decoding and word work.  Last year, I found a book called Spelling Smart.  I used it for my 4th graders who really struggled with spelling and it worked wonderfully.  Each week students are given a list of about 100 words that follow a spelling/phonics rule.  There are lessons for each rule and materials for students to do each day.  The words are a little difficult for my current students but I am going to use the rules (and some words) with the word detectives materials that I found on Ladybug Teacher Files.  
Each week we are going to do an abbreviated version of the lesson.  Students will spend the rest of the week looking for words that follow that phonics pattern and recording them in their books.  I'll update you on how it goes as it progresses.  


At-A-Glance Sheets

I may have mentioned this before but every year after reading the IEPs I create at-a-glance sheets.  I basically summarize the IEP onto one page so I can quickly view important info at a glance.  Each year I seem to add more info to this sheet.  This year, I added the students birthday and the parents contact info.  Obviously because of confidentiality I can't show you my students sheets but I made a sample one for you to see.  It's nothing fancy but visuals are always nice!  

Click on the picture to see the full document.  I rarely look at the students actual IEP after creating these sheets  (I do read each child's IEP at the beginning of the year).  I also give these sheets to the classroom teachers after they have read the IEP.  The classroom teacher, the aide and myself sit down and go through the IEP together some time in September just to make sure everyone is on the same page.   

I hope this is something that can help you keep your student information organized too! 


Are you tired of planning out an entire week and then you realize you forgot to include the assembly or you have a snow day?  Suddenly, all of your plans need to shift over.  You end up with so many arrows navigating your plan book is like navigating an airport.  As a resource room teacher, I often have teachers who change their plans which then forces me to change my plans.  It's beyond frustrating! makes changing plans easy.  You set up your schedule, color coding your groups/subjects, and type your plans into the correct boxes.  There is a place for standards (which are already entered, you just select them from a drop down box), homework, and notes.  When you realize that you forgot about the assembly and you no longer have time for social studies, just click on that lesson and hit "Bump".  That lesson is bumped to the next time you have social studies and all future lessons are shifted as well.  You can enter in no school days and shift the entire day at once (like for a snow day).  I absolutely love this website!  Here is what my plan book looks like with no lessons filled in (I use student names in my lessons so for confidentiality I have to show blank plans): 

I set up the template for each group I see so I don't have to re-type SWBAT and Assessment every day for every group.  The customer service is amazing! I once tried to print a lesson and it didn't work so I went to go see my next group of kids.  When I got back (30 minutes later) I had an email from saying that they saw my problem (which I didn't tell them about) and they fixed it.  I also requested that they add a section for teachers to add their own standards (for IEP goals) and they immediately put their support team on it!  

One feature I really love is how you can view your plans.  I can view my plans in a week form (shown above), a daily form (which is how I print them - the little boxes just go full screen), OR by group (or subject).  My principals often ask me what type of lessons I've been doing with Johnny or how his behavior has been etc and I can view all my lessons for his group only.  This has been very helpful with RtI, parent conferences, and the CSE referral process.  

I am not paid by to promote their site.  I just truly think that it's a valuable tool for resource room teachers.  Check it out and let me know what you think!  


Oh, hello fall!

I woke up today and discovered that fall was here.  All the leaves were starting to changing color and the temperature dropped.  Yesterday, I was sweating to death in  my classroom and today it's 50 degrees!  I'm very excited for pumpkin carving, apple picking, corn mazes, and pumpkin spice lattes!!

This week has been crazy and it's only the 4th day!  The giant flood really drained everyones energy.  Many people were either cleaning their own homes or someone elses.  Our basement carpet got wet from water seeping up through the ground so we have been moving everything to the second floor so that we can rip out the carpet.  Most people lost power and had no food left at home.  We have a boil water advisory which means our water isn't safe to drink, brush your teeth with, or cook with unless it has boiled for 2 minutes.  All of everyones energy this week went into flood clean up, grocery shopping, and mundane tasks that now take twice as long.  Tomorrow is an RtI (response to intervention) day where we will split up all the students who failed state tests so they can recieve services as well.  That means that my currently perfect schedule will be mixed around and I will have more students before I can get a handle on my current ones.  On the bright side, my running records are done for all of my IEP kids, tomorrow is Friday, I have the weekend to start planning, and the teaching blog expo is Saturday! 

In my next few posts, I will share with you my At-a-Glance sheets (IEP cheat sheets), long range planning guides and some other special ed related things.  For now, I'm going to go eat dinner and catch up on some work. 

I mentioned in my last post that I would find out who is taking flood-relief donations.  If anyone felt compelled to make a donation to help this area rebuild, you can do it here: 


A long 5 days...

It seems like months since last Wednesday when I posted about the first day of school.  Minutes after publishing that post, I lost power.  Our power just came back on an hour ago.  5 days with no power!  Wednesday night my area was hit by major flooding.  My hometown was completely under water.  The elementary school was almost completely submerged.  The teachers lost everything.  Water was waist deep in the highschool.  The school won't reopen until at least next Thursday.  Most of the pople who live in the town lost everything.  Many people are now homeless.  It is extremely devestating.

My town:

Here is a shot further into town.  The water had gone down quite a bit in this picture so it was actually worse than this which is hard to believe.  I circled the elementary school in red, high school/middle school in blue and the football field in green: 

Store parking lots in the town that I work in: 

There are a ton of videos of the damage on YouTube...look up Owego September 2011 flood.  My district was lucky and our buildings were not damaged at all.  We are going back to school tomorrow.  Many of our students and teachers have lost their homes.  It is going to be a very long recovery. I will include information on how you can help if you would like to in my next post.  


First Day of School

We are getting a TON of rain right now.  Roads are flooding and closing, stores and residential neighborhoods are evacuating, most schools in the area had early dismissal.  My school and 2 neighboring schools stayed open. My school had the buses run to take kids home...the other schools didn't.  The last thing I heard is that they were preparing for the possibility of spending the night at school!  On the first day of school! As of right now, there are still some students left in all 3 districts.

I had to get my kittens from the Vet.  After navigating 2 road closures, I picked them up and got some food in case we get trapped at home.  I don't think there will be school tomorrow (possibly the rest of the week)....they are expecting record flooding.  

I hope your first days were less eventful than mine! 


*Update: No school's still raining like crazy.  We ran to the gas station which is just at the bottom of our development and by the time we got back the bottom of our road was filled with water.  We almost didn't get home.  My grandparents house flooded and they stayed on an upper level assuming the water wouldn't get up that high but now (at 11:30) the news is saying its going to be worse than they thought (2 feet worse).  The news is showing videos of boats going through the streets...

Math Journals

I just found a blog that I LOVE! 
Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes
 Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes has a ton of great math ideas and resources.  It seems like most blogs focus on ELA activities which is great but I definitely need more math activities.  She uses the best math journals.  I'm going to try to incorporate math journals similar to hers in my room this year.  As a building(s) (both buildings separately came to the same conclusion) we are going to try to do pull out grade level math groups for AIS rather than pushing into 3 different 4th grade rooms for 3 different students.  It will save time in our schedules and we all feel it will be more beneficial for the students.  2 math sessions a day is better than 1!

In other news, tomorrow is our inservice day.  There have been so many changes in NY that I will basically be in meetings discussing all of the changes all day.  Currently, I have back to back meetings from 8am-2pm (no lunch in there).  2pm-4pm will be spent eating while figuring out my schedule (I only know who 1 of my students is right now).  4pm-7pm I will be in a grad class.  After class I may stop by school again if I feel like I need to.  It's going to be a long day!  Oh did I mention that while I'm driving to school, Dave (my fiance) will be taking our little kittens to the vet to be fixed.  I'm off to do my grad school work before bed!  Goodnight! 


Currently I am Linky

Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade is having a Currently I am linky party.  After spending the last week or so doing nothing but preparing for school to start, I thought it would be nice to blog about something other than teaching!
(Sorry for the green lines...I didn't notice that until I posted it here)
Go over to Oh Boy 4th Grade to join in! 


More Projects!

I am so inspired by all of the blogs out there!  I have found such amazing activities on many teaching blogs.  Thanks to all of you, I really feel confident going into the start of the school year.  It's hard not knowing who my students are or what grade levels I'm working with because I can't plan anything yet. (Although I just found out what IEP students I'm working with at building #1 so I started planning for the 3 of them).   So I took a bunch of ideas that would work with a variety of grade levels and got to work recreating some of them and making some of my own ideas as well.  

A while ago, I was reading the blog I heart Organizing and saw the idea to use the mini expandable files to hold receipts.  I loved that idea so I went to Target's dollar spot and bought a few.  I bought a smaller one to hold coupons.  
 Receipts are organized by month.  

 Coupons are in 6 categories: This Trip, This Week, This Month, This Year, Restaurant, and Stores for coupons that are specific to a store. 

As I was looking at the files I realized that these would be perfect for my Dolch Word Kits!  My first year teaching I made a bunch of Dolch Word Kits using the materials from The School Bell. The sight words are broken down into 11 lists and the students get a book with all the words in it.  So I printed a label for the cover and labeled the tabs 1-11.  I also made a tab for the students book.  This is so much better than keeping each list's flashcards in an envelope as they are currently. What do you use these files for?

My next project was making a Story Map poster that can be found at Create Teach Share.  
 I LOVE the finished product!  Without a board in building # 2, I'm going to be relying on posters like these.  She also has a making connections poster which I am starting now.  I'm thinking about adding a question mark at the bottom of this for lingering questions. 

All summer I have been waiting to make the birthday balloons that I found on What the Teacher Wants. As I was cutting out the balloons, I realized that many parents in my district don't want their kids coming home with a giant pixie stick.  I had just bought some crazy straws to use as pointers so I used those instead.  Not as fun as a pixie stick but more parent friendly.  If any of you have ideas for something else to use, please let me know!  
They are cute though! I don't have a container to keep them in yet but I will find one when I get more straws.  

I was on Mrs. Unger's blog when I saw her stretchy the snake word cards.  
I printed out her cards and a label and made this: 
A white label would have worked better but I was already printing on clear labels so I just added it to the bottom of the sheet.  

This year I want to focus on reading instruction.  I now know that I will have two 5th graders and a 4th grade at building 1.  I want them to be able to really discuss a book and be forced to think about it while reading.  I wanted to collect questions to ask students during our reading groups so anyone could randomly grab a few questions and ask them.  I decided to print the questions on clear labels and stick them on craft sticks.  The labels were a little big so I had to tape the back of the sticks to keep the labels from peeling off. 
  I like the look of the wood behind the words.  I'm going to keep the sticks in a Wasabi Pea Canister as soon as my fiance eats a bunch of wasabi peas :) 

Finally, I spray painted some pizza trays for students to use magnetic letters on.  I was looking for cookie trays but when I saw the round pizza trays I had to go with them.  They are like giant polka dots!

I have seen this so many different places.  I have no idea where it originated from so there is no link.  

Thank you to everyone who is posting all their ideas for new-ish teachers like me to use!  Even though I only know who 3 of my students are, I feel like I have found enough ideas from all of you to get me through October!