Wednesday, November 7, 2012

SMARTboard...the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

WARNING...this post may turn into a rant. LOL

I'm starting with the Bad and the Ugly because those are what are prompting me to write this post and I need to get it off my chest!

I had a SMARTboard installed in my classroom at the end of the June this year. . . Spent a day in the summer learning about the software and how to create your own lessons. . . Spent the summer downloading potential SMARTboard lessons to use in the Fall.

Eat your heart out Red Green!
This is what the LCD projector connection to my laptop-that runs the SMARTboard software-that is supposed to make my lessons more interactive for the kids, currently looks like. . . actually, right now, the duct tape is not on my laptop because IT keeps coming undone! And even though the purple is pretty. . . it's just UGLY.

Now, you might be wondering why I would have to duct tape a brand new, freshly installed system?. . . well, it seems that the projector connection does not fit the connection on my laptop QUITE RIGHT. . . ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! How can you spend thousands of $$$$$ on a system and the connection doesn't fit?  And why, with all this wireless technology, couldn't they give me a wireless projector, so I could actually move my laptop (imagine that...moving a laptop...) around the classroom instead of having to keep it on my desk near the cord?!?! AARRGGHH!! . . . So, I emailed our techie guy, sending him the above photo, and explaining the situation.   Is there an adapter out there, that might fit the laptop, I ask???  The answer was, I needed a docking station (at $150) which, of course, no one was willing or able to pay. . . that is just BAD.

But despite these aggravating conditions, I LOVE using the SMARTboard.  Last week, I decided I was just going to deal with the plug falling out all the time (I rigged it a bit, so it's not AS bad).  Yesterday, I used my SMARTboard throughout the day and it was GREAT!  Words Sorts with my Word Study groups, an interactive lesson on Landforms, and because it was a rainy day (something that happens quite a bit on the 'Wet'coast), and we couldn't get outside for DPA (Daily Physical Activity) we did an aerobic session using my Fit Kids DVD. . . that is just GOOD.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Daily 5/CAFE Update

Wow!'s been quite some time since my last post.  So much for a once-a-week blog post. LOL  Thought I would let you 'see' where we're at with our Daily 5/CAFE.

 We are into Day 19 of implementing Daily 5/CAFE (following the schedule from Daily 5 for Dummies) and I am TOTALLY AMAZED at how well it is working!  Granted we have a really great group of kids this year (eager to learn and well behaved with no major behaviour kids), but I know that this structure would work with those crazy challenging classes we sometimes get.

Here's where we're at:
  • In Read to Self we have reached our goal of reading for 20 minutes.  The kids are so good at quietly getting their book boxes, finding a good spot in the room that works for them, and settling down to read, that I sometimes look around the room in awe (as do any visitors to the classroom) at the general harmony in the class.  I have one student who is struggling with his stamina (and yeah, you guessed it, he's my behaviour child).  We just keep reinforcing that sense of urgency with him.  
  • In Work on Writing we are up to 11 minutes (our goal is 20).  I was concerned that writing for such a long time would be a challenge for many of the kids, but surprisingly, they are sooo disappointed when their writing time is up! However, I have a handful of students who are struggling with not 'sharing' their writing during this time, which has slowed our stamina progress.
  • Read to Someone is a favourite with the kids.  We are up to 12 minutes.  I was a little worried that it would be quite noisy in the class with ALL the kids reading aloud at the same time, but again, surprisingly, they remember to use their "partner" voices and there is just a nice hum to the class.  Some students need reminders to remember to ask their partners to 'Check for Understanding", but overall, I am pleased with how this part of Daily 5 is going.
  • Listen to Someone is done through our daily read aloud.  We follow the read aloud structure described in Sibberson & Szymusiak's book, Day to Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop.
  • Word Work is not up and running, as we are incorporating Words their Way into this part, and it has not been addressed yet in Daily 5 for Dummies, AND, it is the one part of Daily 5 that has caused me the most anxiety(?) trying to fit it into the structure.  Bottom line...a bit of procrastination on my part. :)  I'm thinking we will start Word Work before the end of October.
We are still in the process of assessing all the kids using DRA.  I hope to be finished by next week, so that we can start our small group strategy lessons and individual conferences.  I feel that the assessments seem to be taking sooo long, but we had to do some district assessments for reading and writing that took up a chunk of the time we would have spent doing our DRA assessment.  So, I don't feel too bad.

Our class has generated a lot of interest from other teachers in our school.  I have had a number  of teachers stop by after school to ask me about Daily 5 and take pictures of our CAFE board or I-Charts.  This Friday, I am presenting a morning workshop about Daily 5/CAFE and how it is working for me, to some of those teachers.

All in all, I'm feeling really good about how this structure is working in our class.  Once we start the small group and individual conferences, I'll do another update.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thirty-One Giveaway

I <heart> my Thirty-One tote bag!  So when I found out about Growing Firsties' Thirty-One giveaway, I just had to enter and so should you!  Check it out...who couldn't use a new custom lunch bag??

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Daily 5 Startup

So this year my teaching partner and I decided we were going to take on implementing Daily 5 and CAFE full-on in our classroom.  We both spent the summer reading/rereading the books, participating in the book study and watching numerous videos from the Sister's website (I used some of my Pro-D money to pay for a year's subscription to their $60 I've spent!).  I spent hours trying to figure out how it might look in our classroom and how to integrate it with the Words Their Way spelling program.

We are now in Day 4 of implementing Daily 5 and CAFE together.  We would not have been able to do this (well, OK, we probably could have, but not without majorly stressing) without the help of this marvelous little booklet I found somewhere on the internet...Pinterest? Blog? Lesson Planet? The Sister's website? doesn't really matter WHERE I found it...just that I did, because it has been a stress-saver!  The publication (and it's FREE) is titled, Daily 5 for Dummies, and takes you through the first 24 days of setting up the Daily 5 and CAFE structure in your classroom.  I absolutely <heart> Jayne Haenel, the author of this little gem!

So far, we've been working on Read to Self...we're up to 7minutes, I think?  The kids are enjoying it, my teaching partner and I are LOVING it.  I am sooo excited for this class.  When it's up and fully running our Daily 5 (it's actually Daily 4...we do read aloud together) will have this structure:

Round 1 — 5-7 min. Focus Lesson (Comprehension)
                    20 min. I-Work

Round 2 — 5-7 min Focus Lesson (Reading Strategy)
                    20 min. I-Work

Round 3 — 5-7 min. Focus Lesson (Writing Strategy)
                    20 min. I-Work

Whole Group Share/Review — 10 min.

Students must do Read to Self & Work on Writing daily, but choose either Word Work or Read to Someone for their 3rd choice. (Although the way I've structured it, sometimes they will have to do Word Work on certain days) not as much choice, but I think it'll work.

This structure fits nicely into our day, although ideally I would have liked more time for I-Work, but we don't live in an ideal world, so it is what it is.  Most days we will get 2 rounds of Daily 5 in the morning before recess break and then pick up the third round after recess.  I'm happy with it. :)

Fitting in Words Their Way caused the most stress for us, but I think we've managed to create a very doable structure in that regard.  Here's how we are planning to structure that:

  •  2 week cycle
  •  1st week of cycle meet with 2 lowest groups on Monday (using one round of Daily 5) and then meet with next 2 groups on Tuesday (using one round of Daily 5)
  • Plan to meet each group again the following week to touch base
  • one Daily 5 round every 2nd Friday is set aside for spelling assessment
  • Students receive 2 word study packets (one for homework, one for in class word work) that will be handed in the 2nd week of the word study cycle
 The WTW assignments will be done during Word Work.  I have a feeling that many will finish a word work activity in the allotted time, so I'm thinking I will give them the option of doing word work for 1/2 the time and handwriting/book exchange the other 1/2 of the time.  Book exchange will be on an assigned day.

I'm really hoping that once Daily 5 is up and running, it will be less onerous for the teachers as far as prep goes, because I have spent an inordinate amount of time planning how this is going to work...but then, isn't that what makes a successful program? :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Off...And Running...With a Classroom Reveal...Finally!

I wanted to link up with Teaching Blog Addicts Open House Linky Party for Tuesday's Classroom photos but, as you may have guessed, I missed it! fact, I didn't even get a chance to take pictures on Tuesday (which I had intended) because it was such a busy first day!

So yesterday, I arrived super early to school (hubby had to drive me to work because my car needed some fixing...I know...bad timing, or what?!) and managed to snap some pics of my class before the kiddies arrived.  So without further ado...Welcome to Division 6!

View straight in from classroom door.  This is the class library area.

Student book recommendation board...not the greatest picture.

This is my biggest takes up almost the entire wall.  This is the reading genres section...the other half (not in photo) is currently empty but will be used for SS and Science stuff.

My book boxes...still have to label them (our class configurations weren't finalized yet)

The cloakroom area...I absolutely HATE the pink cubbies! Yuck!

The back wall...more ugly pink cabinets...and why did they have to put the sink in the middle???  The blue recycling container is for juice boxes, the blue bin with yellow handles is for returned library books (needs a label) and the little blue basket underneath the soap dispenser is for used paper towels...we're trying to recycle as much as possible.:)  This area definitely needs some work!

The other half of the back wall...more ugly pink cabinets :(  Although I do really like my "12 Ways to a Happy Classroom" board.  More book boxes (with the notebooks ready to have covers inserted)

Ugly pink cupboard which will hopefully be filled with Bucket Filler anchor charts.  The white shoe organizer will hold each students bucket (which are waiting to be labelled).

This is part of my Word Wall/Reading Nook area.  The white bins contain picture books.  Definitely need to put something on the wall of my storage unit.

The other side of the storage unit.  This is where I keep the Word Work supplies (which need to be labelled) and my frequently used math 'tools"

Shape of the Day schedule posted on my new wall of whiteboards (bye, bye chalkboards...finally!)

Gathering area with CAFE board all set up and ready to go...along with my re'new'ed director's chair, my makeshift chart stand, and Macgilla Gorilla :)

Our Star of the Week board

My SMARTboard!! (I heart my SMARTboard) with Hand Signal signs (courtesy of Clutter Free Classroom)

Clip Chart (need a sign, I think?)

My desk area...which already looks cluttered and the day hasn't even started!

Another view of the desk area with Homework Basket and a peek out the front door.

View of my room from the SMARTboard.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Meet the Teacher: Open House Week Linky

Open House Week
I am linking up with Thinking of Teaching's Open House Week. Hard to believe that tomorrow is the first day of school!? Where did the summer go?? This will be my seventh year at the same school and my seventeenth (OMG!) year, where DID the time go??

This year I have a grade 3/4 combined class.  At the end of June it was a 50/50 split, but over the summer, our school had quite a few new registrations, so it looks like my class will be more of a 60/40 split with more grade 3's.

I am really looking forward to this year, more so than in the past.  Upon reflection, I think there are a number of reasons for this.  First, I'm implementing Daily 5/CAFE this year and am SUPER-excited about that!  Secondly, I got a SMARTboard installed in my class and am SUPER-excited about that too!   And lastly, but probably the main reason why I am so psyched about this year is due to all of you, my Blogger friends! TRULY... blogging has been the BEST professional development I could do.  I have been inspired, energized,  and encouraged by all the wonderful educator/bloggers out there...and have come away with so many wonderful ideas and resources.'s to a terrific, teaching year, everyone!

Friday, August 31, 2012

I Heart Scholastic Book Club

I just finished looking at the September Lucky, Click, and Reading @ Home offerings from the Scholastic Student/Teacher Flyers <drool> !I would have to say that Scholastic rates right up there with Staples, Dollar Stores, WalMart, Really Good Stuff, and Oriental Trading Company in the teacher-candy-store department. LOL  I was a little put out though, because they seemed to have reduced the number of flyers in each bundle to 24 (the exact number of students I have) leaving no EXTRAS for me to circle all my if I could buy whatever I wanted book choices!  So now, I have to wait until next week to scrounge up an extra flyer for myself...DENIED!!

If you've been following my blog, you've probably realized that I have a 'thing' for books.  I've often said that if I wasn't a teacher, I'd be either a librarian or own a bookstore.  I like the Scholastic Book clubs for two reasons:
  1. It's an avenue for students/parents to access books at a decent price...I love their $1.99 book offerings
  2. As a teacher, you get bonus coupons to spend at Scholastic (which essentially means you get FREE stuff)
I spend my bonus coupons usually in two ways:
  1. I buy books through Scholastic (using my coupons) so that every student will get a book to take home at the end of the school year.
  2. I buy classroom supplies (desk name plates, theme pencils, birthday stuff, bookmarks) for the start of the following school year and usually one or two new resources...and maybe a couple of books to add to the library. :)
If you don't think it's worth the effort to do it...think again!  This past year, I bought books for 22 students and managed to accumulate $200 in bonus coupons by the end of the year.

I LOVE Scholastic!  Do you?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Out of the loop!

Wow, I've just spent the good part of the day catching up on all the blog posts I've missed while I was on vacation!  There were A LOT! And it was a good activity for me to do because, I don't know about you, but when you've been on vacay, it's sometimes hard to go from this:

 At Castle Herrenchiemsee in Bavaria, Germany

to this:

So, now that I've got my teacher MOJO back in drive, I'm planning to go in to school for the first time since the end of June to finish up the stuff i didn't get to AND to prep for the first week of school which is in a week.  (YIKES!)  I will confess I did make a To Do List while i was in Europe and then revised it to include a Things To Do at Home and a Things To Do at School list because it got WAAAY too long! LOL

So now, i just need to FIND the darn list amidst all the luggage, souvenirs, dirty laundry...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer Shopping Linky Party

I am linking up to Kristen over at Lady Bug's Teacher Files for her July edition of Summer Shopping Linky Party! I'm surprised that I am even doing this, considering this is my second post in a day and I have half a million other things I could/should be doing before I leave on my trip!

But I couldn't NOT link up because I am so psyched about some of my purchases!  If you've read my previous post, you'll know that I went out and bought a laminator. . . LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!

While I was at WalMart, I also picked up this accordian file, which matches my new teacher notebook! I plan to use the file to hold student work or other papers that need to come home with me.

 I also picked up, what will hold the substitute work for the week.  I only bought one, just to see if it was what I wanted to use. . . it is, so I'll have to go back and get another one. :)
 And last, but certainly not least, I scored this very cute Toucan at my local thrift store for $3.  She hangs, so I'm not quite sure where I'm going to hang her, but isn't she cute!? LOL
Well, those are my shopping buys.  Hope yours were as good as mine! :)

Laminating, Processing, Packing...Oh My!

This week I have been frantically trying to get as much school stuff done at home as possible before I leave this Friday for a 3 week vacation to Europe! (yeah!) And I am feeling the pressure...I had a binder bulging with 'to laminate' stuff that I was going to leave until I got back to school in late August (no, I don't have a laminator...well, at least, I didn't <grin>) but I know I will have so much to do AT school that I broke down and went to WalMart yesterday to buy a laminator!  Not sure why I waited as long as I did to buy one...??? I bought the Scotch brand one for $30!

Anyway, I have been busy today laminating my little heart out.  (Still need to trim.:P) Here's what I've done:
Laminating...very first one!

Shape of the Day Cards. . .  There were a lot!Thanks to Criss Cross Applesauce in First Grade

Rainy Day Mats.  These are from Teaching in Room 6. . . another freebie! :)

Hand signals...courtesy of Clutter-Free Classroom. . . freebie!

Boggle Letters...courtesy of Create•Teach•Share•. . . freebie. . .again!

With trying to pack and cleaning the house, it has been HECTIC to say the least!  But I got all my laminating done, all my class library books that needed new cards or labels have been processed, my Penseive and Substitute binders are as organized as they can be, I've got a handle on how the Daily 5 and Math structures will look like, along with ideas for Science, SS, & Health units. (I won't finalize those until I get a chance to talk to previous year teachers...with a split gr. 3/4 this year, I have to try to teach units that won't be total repeats for my gr. 4's).

All in all, I'm feeling pretty good about not thinking about school for the next 3 weeks.  Of course, I will most likely NOT be blogging, either...:(( well, maybe once or twice if I'm not busy...ha, ha, ha...right!

Well, I'm off to finish revoir!

Monday, July 30, 2012

New {School} Year Resolutions link up!

I am linking up with Amanda at Teaching Maddeness via Inspired Classroom to share my school year resolutions.  I will be the first to admit that, although I don't verbalize my resolutions. . . deep in the recesses of my brain, they're floating around! LOL

So here are my school year resolutions:

  1. Keep up with this blog.  My goal is to write at least once a week during school (aiming for 2x).  I think that it's a reasonable goal and if I find time to write more . . . bonus!  Resolution #1 meshes well with #2 which is:
  2. Take more pictures!  I am sooo bad for taking pictures . . . not just at school, but anywhere and everywhere.  I think it stems from when you used to have to get film 'developed', which got costly so you were picky about what pictures you did take.  Now that I have my iPhone, I have no excuse for not taking pictures.
  3. Keep my classroom Clutter-Free!  I hate clutter, but it inevitably weasels its way into the class and then it's always there, niggling at me.  Because I only work 1/2 time in my classroom, I don't have as much time to spend organizing the clutter.  My motto for this year is:  "A place for everything, and everything in its place". 
  4. Keep my desk tidy (inside & out!).  I have discovered that I am a stacker and not a filer. :(  It doesn't really work with my new motto, so I am going to have to be very vigilant in NOT stacking things on or in my desk.  I'm compromising on this one by having a basket on my desk, where I will put stuff that needs to be filed and then once a week, actually go through the basket and file! . . . we'll see how that one goes.
  5. And last, but certainly not least, I'd like to do a better job of touching base with parents on a more regular basis.  This becomes especially important when you work part time, like me, and parents can't get in to see you on the days you work.  I have a confession to make . . . I hate dislike phoning parents (not sure why, but I don't like having to phone. . . period).  I'd much rather talk to them in person or send them a quick email or text message.
 so there they are and now that I've written them down and they're floating around in cyberspace, I guess I'll have to keep them! LOL

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fabulous Find Friday Link Up!


I am linking up with Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B for my very first Fabulous Find Friday.  Up until now, I haven't really found anything worthy of this linky (well, I did find this absolutely cute stuffed gorilla, but he's at school and I don't have pictures, so you'll have to wait until I can get back into the school to see him!)

Anyways, on a recent to trip to Port Townsend, Washington . . . one of our most favourite places to visit, hubby and I drove past this very cute thrift store and I spied this director's chair (something I have been wanting for quite some time) sitting outside the store.  "OMG! . . . STOP THE CAR, STOP THE CAR!" almost gave my hubby a coronary (geez, you'd think he'd be used to me saying things like that?! LOL).  He did turn around and stop in front of the thrift store (I knew he would, 'cause he's a sucker for thrift store finds . . .more than me! Ha!)

Faded blue cover
New black cover
The seat and back were originally a faded blue, so I went online to Everywhere Chairs to get a replacement canvas cover . . . in black to match my decor (of course).  It was $17.95.

Only $8.95!!

So, for $27, I got a very snazzy, comfortable director's chair that will be perfect in my gathering place beside my chart stand (which I have yet to get, arghh!).  I know that this will be a popular place with my students to read during Daily 5.

Now, if I can only figure out how to turn this
into a chart stand...???

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Teaching Notebook

Do you have a book where you jot down anything and everything to do with teaching?  For the past few years, I have been using a spiral bound notebook where I keep pretty much anything to do with my classroom.  I know I should probably move into the 21st century and start using a program like Evernote (which I have on my laptop AND iPhone) but. . .  I don't know  . . . there's just something about writing in a notebook that appeals to me.

Last week, I was at WalMart and picked up my new teaching notebook.  It's a far cry from my previous year's book which looked like this:

and had scribbles and messy writing like this:

This is my lovely new notebook
The only problem is . . . my new notebook is so lovely I'm afraid to write in it and mess it up! LOL.  Definitely have to get over that.
You'll notice I've got an entire section devoted to "TO DO"
Actually, one of the things I AM going to try this year (thank you to Clutter Free Classroom for the idea) is to stick the many post it notes I jot things down on INTO my notebook.  Maybe I should have a section (there are 3) just for for my Post-It Notes? . . . hmmm??

What are some of the ways you keep track of your thinking, to do lists, classroom shopping lists, lesson plan ideas, unit ideas...???

Feelin' the love . . . with another award!

Wowza!. . . I'm really feelin' the love this week . . . received another award. . . this time from Elizabeth over at Mrs. Hodge and Her Kindergarten Kids.  Thank you sooo much!

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Include a link to their blog
3. Include the award image in your post
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award
6. When nominating, include a link to their blog
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated

So here are MY 7 random facts:

Like any good Canadian. . . I am a hockey fan! Go Canucks!  Although I don't get to any NHL games (too far, too expensive) My hubby and I regularly watch Junior hockey.
My favourite musical of all time is The Sound of Music. I even have My Favourite Things as a ringtone on my phone. (...raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...) 

 I have a very restricted diet . . . no gluten, dairy, corn, and I have to limit my sugar and saturated fat intake.  People often ask me how I find foods to eat? . . . let's just say you have to think outside the box! LOL

  1. When I was in high school, I was recruited to play basketball (back then, I was considered tall 5' 10") without really knowing what the heck I was doing! LOL

  1. I LOVE the smell of freshly roasted coffee . . . I think I'd love to work at Starbucks just to smell the coffee . . . BUT . . . I HATE the taste of coffee . . . and anything that has a coffee flavour.  Is that weird??

  1. Needless to say, I am a tea-toter (sp?) My favourite tea is NUMI's organic Jasmine Green Tea. . . I think I might be addicted to it?!
  1. When I was a kid, I watched a very scary vampire movie (by myself) and for the next 30 years could not sleep with my neck exposed . . .seriously!

Here are my nominations for the Versatile blogger Award:

 Ms. Shope's Class
Polka Dots & Pencils
The Inspired Classroom
The Teacher Garden
Glitter, Glue, and Teaching Too

 Congratulations to you all!