Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where, oh where have we been?

Wow!! It's been quite a while (5 months to be exact,) since we've blogged! This school year has overwhelmed us both to huge degrees that something had to give. Unfortunately for both of us, it was our super fun and awesome blog. We're sad that we haven't been able to share our school year thus far, but our (at least my) new year's resolution is to be a better blogger!
Here's a very brief rundown of my year so far... As many of you know, I was able to loop up to 2nd grade with my amazing class. The year got off to a great start!! I knew exactly what my returning kids' skills were and we were able to hit the ground running. Since there were only 13 of my kids who actually returned, my class was filled to Florida's class size capacity with 5 new students. I spent a majority of the end of August-September assessing them, and planning for their instruction. I was thrown for a bit of a loop when I discovered one of my new sweeties is on the autism spectrum. Although he needs a lot of one on one attention, he has been welcomed with huge open arms by each and everyone of my former and new students. They love to assist him in any way possible. They are all wonderful role models and helpers. By October we were rocking and rolling with Daily 5, writer's workshop, and everything else that makes 2nd grade wonderful! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the curriculum too! It's fabulous to be able to write directions on the board on the first day of school and for the kids to be able to READ it and DO what it says!! I may not leave 2nd grade now. :-)
The change for me to my new 2nd grade team has been an adjustment. Due to my own personal request for keeping my 1st grade classroom as well as the lack of available classrooms upstairs, I am completely separated from my 2nd grade teammates. Of course we have a phone and email to connect with, but it's the lack of face time that I am missing. I am adjusting well though, and of course I still have my sister and 1st grade friends to bounce ideas off of. It helps that I am the team leader and we are required to have PLC (professional learning community) meetings each week in my classroom.
I think the "thing" that's weighed the most heavily on me (and my sister) is our new teacher evaluation system. Our district(county) has adopted the Marzano teacher evaluation system. Getting used to all of the new language, different domains, observations, etc... has been so time consuming! I've spent hours upon hours online researching different rubrics "scales", and learning goals. It has worn me out to the point where I stay away from my computer (except for facebook and pinterest of course!)
I had two amazing junior interns (Miss S. and Miss A.) who helped me tremendously. I'll post pics of their awesome bulletin boards once I get back to my classroom. I also have a fabulous parent helper (Mrs. W.) in my class each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. It's like I have my own personal para two times a week! I am sooo lucky!
I've also been spending lots of quality time with my little girl. She's growing up so fast and I don't want to miss a thing. I feel like her fist three years have been a blur and I don't want her next 3 to be the same, so I've been devoting my time after school until her bed time to her.
Although I would LOVE to have another 2 weeks off, I feel refreshed and ready to get back to my kids for the long haul. Our next break isn't until April! I have some lofty goals for the new year, one of which is to implement Debbie Diller's Math workstations! I've read the book during this vacation, and I am ready to go!! It's pretty crazy to start something new in the middle of the year, but if anyone can handle it, it's my kids. They are so adaptable and love to do and try new things. I've got a working camera again, so stay tuned for new pictures of my classroom and other happenings in my class!
Happy Blogging!!

P.S. I would love to thank Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for nominating us for The Versatile Blogger award and Marcy at Buzzin' On Cupcakes for the I heart your blog award. We appreciate your nominations and vow to be better bloggers!!! xoxo

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I don't know about you, but I am tired!

Wow... who knew that starting the school year in a new grade level would wipe you out?!! It really hasn't helped that I've been sick too. Starting the new school year and being sick at the same time is NO FUN! On a very positive note, I absolutely love my class (hence the reason I looped with them)!! I have 14 students that I had last year, and 2 new (to me) students. My newbies have been welcomed so nicely by the others, and they've become quickly acclimated to their new friends and teacher. It's such a wonderful learning environment for everyone! We're all so blessed!
The best part of having the same kids again, is definitely not having to go through the the "getting to know you" part of the year. I love not having to stress over figuring out what makes them "tick", what their exact reading level is, and how to motivate them. It's fantastic to know exactly who is talking to me even when my back is turned. It's wonderful that they know ME! They know my "teacher looks". They know that when the tone in my voice changes, I mean business. They know my routines and procedures (even though I taught them again). Most importantly, they know each other, and they treat each other like family. Not the brother/sister who fight constantly kind of family, but the family that truly cares for each other's well being. They take care of each other, they love each other, and I love them for that!
It's so early in the year, but I predict that it's going to be my best school year yet!
Happy Blogging!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Last linky before school begins...

Amanda at Plumdoodles is having a Pinterest Linky Party!! She would like us to share our favorite pinboards, Pinterest inspired projects, or just share some great ideas we've gathered! I've been very "pinspired" this summer and although I haven't made too many things yet, they are absolutely in the back of my mind waiting for me to make them!!
My little girl turned 3 years old in July, right around the time I started "pinning". I was able to pin so many great Minnie Mouse/ hot pink/ zebra print things to my "Party Ideas for Mak's B-Day" board!!I was really pleased with how it all turned out and Makenzie had a wonderful time with family and friends!!

Today I went to Target and in the dollar spot I found the foam clocks inspired by this pic! I can't wait to hang these on my wall and never have to hear the question "when is lunch?" again!!!
Thanks to Christina Bainbridge, I've been inspired to do a Math Focus wall!! Here's a pic of an "Envision Math" focus wall that matches my curriculum. =)
Finally, the BEST dinner (BY FAR) that my hubbby made this summer came from my pin on pinterest!!! Check out these delicious Ham and Cheese Sliders!!! They are to DIE for!!
I LOOOOOOOOVE Pinterest!!! Click here to link up to this fabulous linky party!!!

You can also find my pinboards by clicking here!!
Happy Pinning!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I've been busy busy busy!! It's not enough that I spent three days this week fixing up my classroom... I just HAD to make labels for everything to coordinate with my Zebra theme!! I know, I am a huge OCD/Type A personality!! I just can't help myself. I have the NEED to make everything match!!! I can't let my sister be mismatched either, so I made her some labels to match her polka dots too!! Please enjoy these freebie printables... and leave us a comment to let us know what you think!! =)
Happy Blogging!!!
Zebra Supply Labels

Zebra Book Basket Labels 2011

Zebra Job Cards

Polka Dot Supply Labels 2011

Polka Dot Job Cards

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Crossing things off the list.....

I've definitely been crossing things off the list for sure! It feels great getting back to work again. Believe me, I love summer vacation just as much as much as the next gal, but I also love Back To School time! New beginnings, a fresh start, brand new supplies, new decor......"it's glorious" (my Will Ferrel from Old School voice). After I unpacked my last box, I felt a great sense of relief. Time to decorate!!

I did a few things since I last posted:

1)Updated all of my library with all matching tubs! (I did half last year, and completed the other half this year.) All together I have 33 categories of books. Yippeee!!

2)Got a shoe box rack for my word work and math center supplies.(Big Lots has them for $10.00 each.)

3)Made my CAFE bulletin board, put up my Daily 5 and genre signs. Thank you to Teaching In Flip Flops blog for the wonderful polka dot print signs! My theme this year guessed it, polka dots!

4)Today I bought 2yrds of polka dot fabric to use somewhere in my classroom. I didn't quite know at the time exactly where I wanted to use it, I was thinking on my round table as a table cloth but it didn't fit....whah...whahhh...whahhhhh.....I got over it and decided to make it into a bulletin board!

Check out these pics. I'm still not done yet, but hopefully by Meet the Teacher it will be looking good.
Time to have an awesome 3 day weekend before pre-planning starts! Enjoy yours!

I did it!! =)

I did it... I finally got rid of my over-sized, junk hoarding, ugly desk!! I feel so free! This is a before pic... after pics are soon to come! =)
Today I was busy organizing and purging all of the junk that was shoved inside that thing. My horseshoe table is still covered in a mess, but I'll leave that for another day.
One big thing on my list of things to do before meet the teacher, is to die cut letters for my classroom door, and for random signs around my room. If you don't already know this fun fact, scrapbook paper looks AWESOME when you die cut it. Cut the letters out, get them laminated, and they look even better than the ones you find in teacher's stores. =)
Happy Blogging!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Danielle's 5th classroom! ( the best yet)

Phhhheeeewwwwwwwwww! The day that I dreaded all summer has come and gone and I survived. Unpacking, unpacking, unpacking, moving big objects, changing my mind, moving them back, book shelves breaking, scratches, bruises..yep, that's moving! After doing this 4 other times, I knew what to expect. Moving, you never let me down.

On a happier note, my classroom rules!!! It's huge!!! It was pretty easy for me to figure out where to put things like my classroom library, my assessment area, science/social studies area, math centers, and my supplies. I just hope Mrs. Robbins likes it! I am by no means done with this process, so the pictures you are about to see are the BEFORES. I'm hoping by Thursday afternoon you will get to see the AFTERS! (My favorite!!)

The first picture is what I walked into this morning, a big pile:

A view from the other corner of the side the room (it's so spacious!):

I decided to put my classroom library in this corner. Jackie and I have the same box shelves that we bought at Target. I dislike them because they come apart very easily.

This is where the other desk was when I got in today. I wanted our desks to face each other so that we wouldn't have to scream across the room during planning times.

These are our teacher desks facing each other. I'm still not sure if I like this, but I do think they need to be close together. (All the boxes on the side still need to be looked through to find a home for their contents.

I decided to put the small group horseshoe table where the other teacher desk used to be. In later pictures you will see that our assessment area is all the way on the other side of the classroom for noise purposes.

This is our assessment area. Under the desk, there are files in file boxes for each student that are easily accessible. I also have assessment pieces like DIBELS,, Houghton Mifflin, etc.

The last picture of the day shows my classroom library and cabinets. I made sure I split cabinet space with Mrs. Robbins evenly, so that I didn't take up the whole room! I plan to lower a circle table and put it in the classroom library area. Oh, and the reason there are no books in the library area is because they were locked in my old room!

Stay tuned, more to come! BTW, Doesn't Jackie's classroom look great??? She always has such a print enriching environment!! My sister rules!


Jackie's set up... Day 1

I've been so fortunate to have been in the same classroom since we opened our school in 2006. I've become accustomed to packing it up and getting it ready for summer school. When I come back in August, I know exactly where everything is, and unpacking takes less than a day. My very awesome principal let me stay in my classroom this year even though I am looping to Second!! What a lucky girl I am!! =)
Unfortunately, my sister hasn't had the same luck. =( Since she started teaching at our school in 2007, she's moved into 5 different classrooms in 5 years! She's our resident nomad and definitely holds the record for most classrooms!! This year is no different as she settles into a nice big corner room in which she will co-teach. Her pictures are soon to come.
In the mean time, here's my not so difficult set up...

This is the view from the door. For a first(now second) grade classroom, it's huge in comparison to other classrooms on the first floor.

This is the extent of the mess that I have to organize. Not too bad!! =)

This is the view from my whole group teaching area.

I was able to get a lot accomplished today. =) This is a pic of my library. I need something to cover my circle table... possibly a Zebra print table cloth?

Close up of my books... I would like to make some new labels. As you see, each basket has a number, and each book inside of the baskets have the same number on a colored circle sticker. This makes it easy for the kids to put the books back in place. Thanks to the "sisters" for that brilliant idea!! =)

These are pictures of how I organize my word work supplies, my math manipulatives, and classroom supplies. As you can see I use clear plastic shoe boxes and a wire shoe rack. I also got this idea from the "sisters".
I'm getting there, and I'll be back in there on Wednesday to set some more things up.
Happy Blogging!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Visual noise level idea

Last year I played classical music from Pandora over the speaker system in my class. I played it a volume that my students could hear, but it wasn't distracting. I would tell them that if they couldn't hear the music then they were talking a little too loudly. The music really calmed the room down, and I enjoyed what it brought to the classroom atmosphere. This year, I wanted to continue doing that, but have something else in place. I found this great idea from 2nd grade ponderings .

Pinterest inspired schema poster

When I saw this on Pinterest... I had to have it! Mrs.Nowalk posted it on shutterfly.=) I talk about activating schema all of the time in my classroom. This is a perfect visual for it. Thanks to my Hubs for recreating it for me!! Please enjoy!!
Schema Poster

Happy Blogging!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Print, cut, laminate, cut, repeat...

I am SURE everyone has done, doing, or will be doing what I am doing right now! Printing, cutting, laminating, and cutting again all of the FABULOUS finds from each others blogs! I printed so much, that I thought my printer would blow up! Luckily it only ran out of ink on my last page!! =)

Christie at Teaching In Flip Flops has been a God send to me this Summer!
Since my new design decor will be Zebra stripes with hot pink and lime green accents, I found these awesome goodies on her blog!

My Sister and I are super excited about being "Bucket Fillers" this year! I found these way cute signs to go on my bucket filling bulletin board and around my classroom. Thanks so much for Mel. D at Oh The Places We'll Go for sharing!!

I definitely needed some new labels for my guided reading books, so I found these cute labels from Mrs. Freshwater's Class. Thanks you so much! They'll look beautiful on my guided reading baskets!

Finally, while stalking Pinterest (that one time),I found these amazing quotes that would go perfectly in my classroom! Shannon at Sweet Blessings designed them. I LOVE them and I think they'll really make the kids think!!

Thanks ladies for all of these AMAZING printables!! I can FINALLY get into my classroom on Monday, so stay tuned for before and after pictures of my classroom!! Back to cutting and hopefully laminating!!
Happy Blogging!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Target Giveaway at Kleinspiration!!

In honor of reaching 500 followers, Kleinspiration is giving away a $25 Target gift card!! Check it out!!
Good Luck!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Advice for New Teachers... Linky party!!

So I'm a bit obsessed with really awesome linky parties!! My good friend Cindy at Fun in Fourth Grade is hosting her very first linky party!! =) What advice do you have for beginning teachers? If you've got some great advice to share, check her out, and link up!!

Jackie's Advice:
1. Read the Daily 5 (I WISH I would have have had this my first 9 years of teaching!)
2. Be firm and consistent with your discipline. You're their teacher, not their friend.
3. Set your rules, expectations, and your procedures on day 1 and practice them until they become a habit (the Sisters call it muscle memory).
4. Ask the veteran teachers for help. We won't bite!
5. Take lots of pictures so you can remember everything.
6. Have fun... it's very overwhelming, but try to enjoy yourself!
I hope this is helpful to you newbies!!
Happy Blogging!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Bucket Filling Book

Here is another "Bucket Filling" book to introduce the concept to intermediate grades. I bought the other book, but it seems like it's geared more for primary grades. I'll share it with Jackie.

I found this great idea stalking pinterest.

I absolutely love this chart! Students should definitely know what part of the writing process they are in.

Currently I am... Linky Party!!

Oh Boy 4th Grade is having a fun linky party! Link up!!

Wow... I can't believe how "tech savy" i've gotten... I was able to take her image, work with it and turn it into a jpeg!! Wooooot wooooot...Amazing!! =)
Happy Blogging!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

My sister inspires me!

Sounds like Jackie has a real good plan to begin the new school year, unlike Jackie's procrastinating sister! :) Just kidding :)

This upcoming school year will be vastly different than any other school year for me. I will be entering into a co-teaching adventure in 3rd grade with another amazing teacher from our school, Mrs. Robbins. We just made arrangements to meet up tomorrow to discuss "back to school logistics". We decided to meet at Jackie's house so their little girls can play together!

I'll probably bring fruit salad to snack on.. I'm a big believer in "brain food to get you in the mood to learn". I'm excited to see Mrs. Robbins and ask her how summer has treated her! Mrs. Robbins and a few other teachers from our school run an amazing extra curricular program called "Dramatic Learning"... More to come.... In the meantime, check them out on the Web.

Tonight will be devoted to making a list of back to school things to discuss tomorrow. I can't wait to share all of the neat things I have discovered off of pinterest and other teacher blogs. The point of this list is to not overwhelm Robbins, instead, I want to get her excited for our new class together!

I would love to hear about co teaching experiences you have had. Some things to think about:
1) How did you make it work?
2)What apprehensions did you have?
3)How did you overcome the obstacle of sharing a classroom?
4)If you could give one piece of advice to someone sharing a classroom, what would it be?

Back to School Logistics (8/1/11) Meeting with Mrs. Robbins:

1) Decide on a color scheme/theme for our classroom. (I like the zebra print that my sister is using, but I might try and find something different. Perhaps a music/band theme since I am in a rock band in my spare time. I love the colors green, white, and black. I love when my students create their own work to display on my walls, so I am going to look into that further.)

2)Marsha my co teacher has never used Daily 5 and Cafe system before, so I want to discuss what she knows, what I know, how we can use it in our classroom.

3)Talk about a classroom behavior system. I rely heavily on my "Smith Bucks" classroom economy. I reward students for appropriate behavior with these bucks. My sister Jackie has it saved on her computer so hopefully she can add the template. If Marsha and I decide to do this, we will have to think of a new name. "smithrobbins bucks" is one I have thought of. My face can be on the 1$ and Mrs. Robbins can be on the 5$, and I was thinking administrator(s) could be on the $20, $50 and $100.

4)Discuss procedures and guidelines that we have used at the beginning of the year. I am going to tell Mrs. Robbins about "anchor charts" and how they facilitate knowledge and ownership of expectations.

5)Decide what copies we will need for back to school. (Dragon Books-for organized Castle Creek students... more later)

6)Set up a time to go in and figure out classroom design....(more later)

7)Talk about expectations of the classroom and each other.

8)Talk about any professional development we did this summer. (I'll tell her about the ESOL class I took, books I read, and blogs I have visited. I'm sure this will be the time that Mrs. Robbins head will never be the same. Blogs are addicting.

I figured 8 things to check off on a Back to School list would be a good start! I'm sure 8 will be increased many many more times before our classroom looks "Meet the Teacher Ready", but hey, that's the fun and excitement of BACK TO SCHOOL time!


1000 follower Giveaway!!

Jenn at Finally in First is hosting a giveaway for reaching 1000 followers! Congratulations Jenn!!! She's giving away great gifts from Mixed Bag Designs... check her out! =)

Where do I begin?

Oh boy... it's August!
One week and counting until I can finally return to school and get my classroom in order. I feel really good about how I left it in June, so set up shouldn't be too bad. Since my daughter's birthday and party are officially over, it's time to start thinking about the new school year.
I feel slightly overwhelmed this year, since I am changing grade levels. Luckily, I don't have to move. There are so many grandiose ideas I have throughout the summer, but when reality hits, I have to reign my thoughts in and focus on just a few.
Here's my list: Bucket Filling: we're starting conscious discipline in my school, however I think bucket filling will be a very nice compliment to the program while we begin implementing conscious discipline. In order to implement this I have to 1. Chose a bulletin board space 2. Print out all the amazing printables I've found on these AWESOME blogs! 3. Figure out "buckets". 4. Buy the books
Rocking Chair Makeover Two days ago I scored this nice rocking chair from a neighbor who is moving away. I would like to give it a really cute makeover. I want it to be cute, but not overly colorful.I'd like it to be kind of neutral to match any theme I chose throughout the next few years. This year my decor scheme is Zebra stripes with Lime green and Hot Pink accents and some black and white polka dots thrown in for fun. I need some "pinsperation", so I'll do some stalking later.
Printing Printing Printing
I've found so many fabulous printables this summer! I have a master folder with hundreds of awesome ideas, posters, centers etc... I must make a new folder of things that I need right now, print and laminate them.
Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller
This is an idea that I love, but I don't have the book yet (yikes!!!). I have to order it ASAP, and get the ball rolling. I am confident that I have the materials that I'll need to build the stations. Along with that awesome rocking chair, I also scored these two shelving units from my neighbor. I think they would be the perfect place to store all of the station bins. I have just the place for them in my classroom too. I really like our Envison Math program, but I think my students also need some extra hands on practice. I hope the workstations provide this "extra" something. I may not implement them until the second quarter this year, I guess I'll play this by ear. Any math station advice would be awesome!! =)
Daily Five and Cafe'
Fortunately I've implemented both last year, and by looping, the majority of my kids will know what to do. =) I just have to brush up on both and figure out how I'll integrate it with my new second grade curriculum.

It's been a nice and relaxing summer. I've enjoyed every second with my little girl, and I've loved stalking blogs and pinterest, but it's time to get to work!! =)
Happy Blogging and Happy New School Year!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm here finally!!

Wow, I can't believe what a busy bee my sister has been this summer on the web! What a beautiful blog she has created. Thank you Jackie! Here I am finally back from my summer adventure! My name is Danielle, and I'm am very much looking forward to exploring teacher blogs, and sharing my first blogging experience with you. There's nothing like teachers sharing ideas with other teachers!
While my sister has been busy on the web this summer, I on the on the hand, have been busy traveling along the east coast for the past 3 weeks, Virginia, New York,and the Florida panhandle! I really can appreciate the phrase "I needed a vacation from my vacation", because when I got back I slept in all week! I was go go go for three weeks, I guess my body was telling me to rest.
Another tidbit from my travels worth mentioning is that I didn't buy anything for my classroom. Unbelievable right?? Well actually the truth is I only bought one thing, a book called Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud...Illustrated by David Messing I plan on using this book to introduce Bucket Filling as a behavioral system next year. I've only researched a little on the topic, but what I have found has been wonderful. I hope that Bucket Filling will enhance my classroom's environment and allow my students to feel loved and welcomed by everyone. Like the book says, "children must be loved, but must also be taught how to love others".
Well I'm off to find more about being a bucket filler! Feel free to add anything you know about bucket filling and how it has worked in your classroom.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Three things I'm thinking about...

It's almost August 1st!!!!!

1. I can go back into my room on Aug. 8th (for 2 days), I start pre-planning on the 15th and school starts on the 22nd... where did this summer go??? There is still SOOOOOO much I have to do before then!! Ahhhhh... Where do I begin??

2. Teacher's desk or no desk?? Do I need it? I've been thinking about this for a while. I don't know what I want to do...

3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Pinterest!! It's so awesome! If you haven't discovered it yet, (I avoided getting hooked for 3 weeks until I couldn't resist it any longer!!)... I HIGHLY recommend it!!

Happy Blogging!!

Scrap*tacular Giveaway!!

Oh' Boy 4th Grade is having a HUGE "Scrap*tacular Giveaway"!! The contest ends in about an hour, so check it out ASAP!!

Happy Blogging!!
-Jackie and Danielle-

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Best Day!

My little girl turned 3 years old today! To celebrate, we took her to Disney's Blizzard beach. We all had an amazing day!! It's priceless to experience Disney World through the eyes of a little one. I am so blessed to be her Mommy!!

Happy Blogging!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Introducing Mrs. Foreman!!

Hi Blogland friends!! Our very good friend Mrs. Foreman has joined the world of blogging! She's an awesome 4th grade teacher, and has LOTS to share! Please check her out and show her some love!!

Thanks so much!!
Happy Blogging!!
-Jackie and Danielle-

Facebook Linky

Michelle at Kinder Fun is having a Facebook linky party! Link up to her blog and share your facebook pages! Please "like" our FB page too!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Do you Pinterest? Linky Party!!

Michelle's Math in the Middle is having a pinterest linky party! Click on the link and link up!! =)
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