Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Help Please!

Alright, it is time I graduate to the next level of blogging.  I REALLY need a blog button and signature for the bottom of my posts. 

I have tried reading posts on how to make these and a) I do not understand the directions and/or b) I do not have time to sit down for hours on end at my computer trying to figure this out.

So, I am asking (actually begging) for someone to either make me a blog button and siguature or tell me who can.  I am willing to pay (giftcard) for your services.  I just really need some help.

Thank you in advance...I really need your help.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Moving Monday...Community Builder Activity

Welcome to week 3 of Moving Monday!

This week I have decided to highlight a community building activity.  Students have been in school for a couple of weeks now and they are beginning to feel more comfortable in their new classroom, with their peers, and with their teacher.  Most teachers do not continue to do community building activities beyond the first week of school, but as students become more comfortable with each other these activities can again be beneficial for the classroom community.

This week's activity is a play off of the old "Telephone" game we all played when we were younger.  Students pass compliments to each other while playing a familiar game.

Let me know how it works in your classroom and with your learners!

From: Udvari-Solner, A. & Kluth, P. (2007). Joyful learning. Active & collaborative learning in the inclusive classroom. Corwin Press. See for related content & ideas.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

First Field Trip

It was another crazy, crazy week but on Friday, the 4th grade went on their first field trip of the school year.

We walked to a local park and History House near school to partake in some trader activities.  The students were able to see people dressed in traditional clothing, how guns were loaded and shot, how to pan for gold, make soap, make candles, and how people lived.

This was a great field trip (especially since it was free) and the students really learned a lot while being able to do hands-on activities.  The students are going to have a lot of background knowledge in the spring now when this is discussed during social studies.

Here the students are learning about the old guns.


The gold miners' camp with animal skins.

Panning for gold.

Working hard to find the gold and put it in the container.

Sifting through the stones.

The miners' camp again.

Time to learn about making candles.

And how to make soap.

The students also were able to do a craft.

What the finished products could look like.
I love field trips...I feel it gives the students amazing experiences to connect to their learning.  Even with increased pressure on test scores and standards, it is nice to get as many of these experiences as possible throughout the school year.  So, thank you to the individuals who organized this great activity!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Halloween Giveaway

I had to repost this amazing giveaway for one of my favorite holidays...Halloween!

What the Teacher Wants and Lesson Plan SOS are having an amazing giveaway for 5 people.  They are giving away all of their lessons for Halloween.  Hop on over to their blogs and check it out!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Moving Monday...Popcorn!

Welcome to week 2 of Moving Monday!

This week I am introducing Popcorn another active learning strategy from Joyful Learning.  This activity has endless possibilities and can be modified numerous ways to fit your classroom, learners, and preferences.

This activity, as described in Joyful Learning, " controlled chaos at its best."  Students fly around the classroom during transition times in random directions just as popcorn does.  "This activity is useful for the times when you want students to share information, teach and learn from each other, and get ideas or opinions from more than one person in a very short amount of time."

Please enjoy this activity and come back to let me know how it went in your classroom and how you modified it for your learners.



From: Udvari-Solner, A. & Kluth, P. (2007). Joyful learning. Active & collaborative learning in the inclusive classroom. Corwin Press. See for related content & ideas.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Student Behavior Log

It is official, my favorite time of the year is here.  Cool temperatures, football on the TV, and my wonderful husband is making chili for supper!  So, this will be short and sweet...

Since I am a special education teacher I spend a quite a bit of time on behavior and behavior management.  In addition, part of the research I am doing this year focuses on behavior so I made a different behavior chart to use this school year to help me keep track of the behaviors my students are displaying throughout the school day and the consequences to their behaviors.

Please feel free to use this chart...Student Behavior Log

Thursday, September 15, 2011


We are about to finish our second week of school (our first FULL week) and life is crazy! 

I have a question for special education teachers out there and/or general education teachers...

I would like to know how other special education teachers maintain continuous communication with the teachers that they work with and with parents?  I just have not found a system that I like yet to make sure everyone is always on the same page. 

I am working with less teachers this year than I have in the past so it is somewhat easier to constantly check-in with these teachers but I guess I am wondering what kind of systems (that have worked) that other people are using out there.

As far as with the students are mostly 4th graders so they need to begin to be accountable for themselves and be able to bring things back and forth to school but there is not always that follow through with home to school.  How do you maintain communication with parents, make sure the students are organized, and not have to run around like a chicken with your head cut off at the end of the school day writing in every student's agenda or home-school notebook.

I am open to any suggestions...just wondering what everyone else does.  Communication is one of the most important aspects of my day to day job and I feel it needs to be improved...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Introducing...Moving Monday

Hello and Happy Monday!  Today I would like to officially kick-off Moving Monday! 

Each Monday I will be presenting a different Active Learning Strategy to get your students up and moving in your classroom and to help promote differentiation in the classroom.  I heard a statistic over the summer that really made me think twice about the way I teach...elementary students are only able to concentrate and pay attention for 5-7 minutes at a time before they are unable to take in any more information.  That is not very much time, so I decided to start Moving Monday to help teachers incorporate Active Learning into their classrooms to get their students up and moving while learning at the same time.  Please try these strategies in your own classroom, then come back and leave me a message on how it worked in your classroom. 

Many of the strategies that I will be featuring will be from Paula Kluth and Alice Udvar-Solner's book Joyful Learning.  As I have said before, I have had the opportunity to see Paula talk numerous times in the past year and she has inspired me in numerous ways, I also had the amazing opportunity to have Alice has one of my professors at UW-Madison during my last semester.  She also has inspired me to make learning joyful in my classroom.

So, now I will get on with the strategy and stop talking so much!

Moving to the Music

Remember to please leave a comment if you use this strategy in your classroom.  I would love to know how it goes and how you would differentiate this activity to meet the needs of all of the learners in your classroom.

From: Udvari-Solner, A. & Kluth, P. (2007). Joyful learning. Active & collaborative learning in the inclusive classroom. Corwin Press. See for related content & ideas.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Personal Portfolios

This school year I plan on having my students maintain a Personal Portfolio throughout the school year.  This portfolio will include information about the student, picutres, work samples, writing samples, field trips, and anything else we feel should go in the portfolio.  I hope this will help better document the progress my students make throughout the school year since it is typically not the progress you see with their grade level peers. 

Please feel free to download the document, all I ask is that you follow my blog and leave a comment since it took me a while to make.  Thanks

My Personal Portfolio

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school!

First, I have to say thank you to my mom for giving up her Labor Day and going to school with me yesterday to finish organizing my classroom, today would have been crazy if I would not have had the help, so thank you!

I guess I can sum it up by saying that I was still finishing my coffee on my drive home today!  Today was pretty crazy but great.  We all made it and it is going to be a great school year.  I got to see all of my students today, which was great after not seeing them all summer.  This is my 3rd year with some of my students on my caseload so it was great to see them again.  I also got to meet some of my new students and get to know them more.

I will be spending a lot of my time in one of the 4th grade classrooms, especially for math, so I also spent a bit of time in there (although that teacher would say not enough time).  I hope to spend more time in there tomorrow so I can begin to learn all of the students' names.

I also had a PBIS Kick-Off for the students today.  We brought the students up to the auditorium in 2 different groups to tell them about our new behavior program, how they can earn CARE coupons, watch the videos, and practice the behaviors.  Our kick-off went fairly well with a few issues but at least now we can learn from our mistakes and improve in the future.  All of the kids were SUPER excited about the new behavior program and did a great job in the cafeteria and on the playground, it truly is going to be a great year.

So, even though I felt like a maniac today running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to be in a 100 different places at one time, I guess it was a successful day.  My classroom is organized, my kids are great, everyone is super positive...what more could I ask for?  Tomorrow is a new day, one in which I hope to actually get some work done, I just hope it is a great as today....and as my dad just told me on the phone, I need to take a deep breath and settle down, everything will be fine and work out! (Thanks Dad).

Monday, September 5, 2011

Classroom Library Book Shelf---DIY

Here is another one of my DIY projects.  I really wanted to make my classroom library an inviting place to read and for me that means that everything needs to be organized.  I do not have a lot of my chapter books organized into different bins based on topic so instead they all go on a book shelf.  So, this summer I decided to make a new bookshelf for my classroom to help maximize my space without needing another book shelf from the school.

First, I started with regular old cinder blocks that were behind our house.  I used three of them.  I then spray painted them blue.

I bought a 2x8 from Home Depot.

I painted the board white first.

Here is the whole board painted white.

I then used blue painters tape to mark off different areas on the board.

More tape marks before painting.

Almost had a giraffe look when I was done taping.

I then painted some of the marked off spots blue.

I painted the rest of the spots green.  Once the paint was dry, I peeled off the tape.  (I did this whole process to both sides just in case I ever wanted to flip over the board.)

And the finished product in my classroom library.  It fits perfectly under my bulletin board.

Another look at the shelf, I have the students' book boxes and math boxes stored under the shelf, they fit perfectly.

This was such an easy and cheap project to do and I love the way it looks in my classroom!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Classroom Pictures...Finally!

I finally finished putting my classroom together.  The walls of the classroom are pretty blank because I want the students to help fill them with anchor charts and their work from the classroom.  Our wordwall is also blank because I will be adding the words as we work on each "fast word".  Overall, I am very pleased with the way the classroom turned out and I cant wait for the students to start on Tuesday.

I also need to say thank you to my wonderful husband for all of his help and my sister for helping me organize my leveled library.

This is my classroom library.  We have 3 comfy chairs, a bean bag, and some covered stools for students to read on.  My classroom calendar is also in this area.  Our bulletin board is blank right now but will eventually have "Read to Self" anchor posters on it.

Another view of the library with our window.

This is my small group area, with the SMART board and white board.

Another look at the front of the classroom.

This is our writing area.  Our word wall is up on one of the chalk boards I will probably never use and there are different areas for the students to write.

This is our sink area (which I am excited about, I have never had a sink before) I also have the trampoline in this area.

This is my desk area with "Read to Someone" in front of my desk and "Listen to Reading" on the right side of my area.  I would love to get rid of my teacher desk but I just have too much paperwork to do to not have a place to sit down and write.

"Read to Self" is in the classroom library.

"Read to Someone" is on the front of my desk.  The Dr. Suess bags have books in them for students to choose a bag during this time and read to each other (a great find at Target Dollar Spot) and the stools can be moved where ever they would like in the classroom to read to someone.

"Listen to Reading" is on the right side of my desk with 2 pairs of headphones and a basket full of books.  I will also be putting the CD player here since some of the books are also on CD.  I also have a computer for students  to listen to books on the internet (Raz-Kids, Tumblebooks)

"Work on Writing" has its own corner in our classroom with many different things to write about and its own table for students to write at.  There is also a whole tub of clipboards for students to take and be able to write where ever they would like in the classroom.

"Word Work" in near the small group area.  Those drawers are filled with different things to work on words.  There is also a whole box with letter tiles behind the table.  This area will also be filled with anchor posters as the school year gets going.

Here is our supply area.  There is construction paper, writing paper, markers, crayons, colored pencils, white boards, chalk boards....etc, etc, etc...

We are lucky enough to have our own leveled library (that my sister helped me organize).  This is a wonderful resource to have, we always have plenty of books on hand for leveled practice reading and Guided Reading groups.

This is our "quiet area".  If a student needs to take a break or needs a quiet area to refoucs this is where he/she can come.  There is a trampoline to jump on to get rid of our wiggles and a basket (the blue one) filled with different sensory materials.  There will eventually be a poster of rules of the quiet area and suggestions on how to calm our body (both will be developed with the students)

This is my desk and bookshelf.  I had to take a picture of my desk because it may never be this clean again.  Hopefully when it starts to get out of control I can come back and look at these pictures and remember how nice it was at one point...

These are the windows into our classroom from the hallway.  My husband did an amazing job of decorating the window area, our classroom looks so inviting now.

Thank you for taking a tour of our classroom! 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Give Away

Kristin over at A Teeny Tiny Teacher is having a give away since she has reached 500 followers, I can only hope that some day I will have that many followers :)

A Teeny Tiny Teacher

Anyway, she is giving away a $25 gift card to Target!  Head on over and join her give away and congrats to Kristin to having 500 followers!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Currently...September version

Oh' Boy 4th Grade is having a Currently Linky Party again.  I loved reading everyone's last time so I thought I would join again.  So read what I am currently doing and then hop on over to Oh' Boy 4th Grade and see what everyone else is currently doing.  Please follow my blog and leave a comment!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

diligent JOY

I wanted to take a minute to let everyone know about a new blog I am following called diligent JOY.  It is a new blog by my lifelong friend Megan.  She just recently moved to Cuenca, Ecuador to teach for 1 year.  For the past couple of years she has been a teacher in Iowa, teaching both Spanish and Kindergarten.  Megan has traveled to Ecuador during the summer months to teach there so she is well aware of what she is getting herself into.  She will be blogging about her journey teaching in Ecuador and what life is like there.  She recently posted about what kinds of food she eats there which I found fascinating and interesting.  Megan and I also have plans to have our students be pen pals, which will be such a great learning experience, especially for my rural Wisconsin students.  So, if you have time I highly suggest you go over and check out/follow her blog, I can not wait to hear about all of her experiences teaching in Ecuador!