Monday, August 20, 2012

Welcome Banner

After a flurry of vacation and setting up my classroom, I had time this weekend for another Monday Made It.

I downloaded a free "Welcome Back!" banner from The Bubbly Blonde's TPT store. I only printed out "Welcome" since it will be the students' first time in my school, and I didn't want to waste paper. Since the the black and white theme really didn't go with my bright colors theme, I used my beloved circle cutter to cut out the circle containing the letter in the middle.
Then I cut out pennants from my theme scrapbook paper. To do this easily, I cut from the top corner to the bottom middle. I did the same thing from the other top corner, leaving me with a pennant shape.
I glued the letter to the pennant. Then, of course, I laminated it. I strung a thick string across my wall, using Command hooks at either end. I used corresponding Mod Podged clothespins to clip the pennants to the line. I plan to keep the line up all year and use it to display students work, holiday banners, or other fun things.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to School Jitters Linky

A Turn to Learn is having a Back to School Jitters linky party.
I've talked a lot about my new room and new school and blah blah blah. But this morning I remembered that I pretty much have the same back-to-school nightmare throughout the year. It's the first day of school, but I never came in to set up my room. I'm running late, and when I get to school, I can't find my room. When I finally figure out where my room is, it is filled with all of my students. An administrator always shows up, and I wake up before I can find out what my fate will be. So incredibly nerve-wracking. Then I make sure that my alarm is set, or remember that it's Saturday or June or February or something like that. Anyone else have back-to-school nightmares?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Can Statements

Just a quick post. For our PD this week, we have been working on I Can statements for Common Core. Anyone have a cute bulletin board idea to display them? Or have you seen one in the blogosphere? I can't seem to find anything on Pinterest (surprisingly).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I'm In!

Well, I finally got into my room on Monday, and I have been working frantically ever since. Or at least as frantically as I can living a half-hour away and a day full of meetings. So this was what I walked in to on Monday at 10:30. (Last official day of summer vacation + rainy day + kids and husband gone + comfy bed = 10:30 arrival).
Carpet AND my stuff! Woo-hoo!! Still missing was all of my teacher furniture (bookcases, file cabinets, desk, kidney table, teacher chair), and that would trickle in Monday and Tuesday. Luckily I have a lot of built in storage (not pictured) so I could start unpacking. Even though you can't seem them in the picture, there were at least two dozen boxes in front of the windows. Also, the company who supplied our white boards went out of business, so I don't have the board for the front of my room, or the ceiling-mounted projector to show on it. Good thing school doesn't start until next Tuesday!

However, the fifth grade open house was Tuesday night at 5:00, and with much of the furniture not arriving until Tuesday during the day, I wasn't going to knock myself out getting everything ready. Heck, I hadn't even really looked at my class list. Anyway, this is what my room looked like for open house/supply drop-off.
Fortunately, everyone understood :) More furniture arrived today, and I was able to get some of it moved into place between meetings. And everything in the lower right got moved into storage. But I didn't get a picture. That will be for my next post! Hope everyone is off to a great start to the year!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How I Plan Linky

Jessica at Mrs. Stanford's Class is having a "How Do You Plan?" linky.

OK, so obviously I begin with the district curriculum. My district is in the process of aligning it to Common Core. We do things a little differently here in Iowa. We have never had state standards. It has always been up to the individual school districts. I think that we are the only state that operates this way.

This year, for the first time in my career, my fifth grade team will have DAILY 55-minute team meetings built in to our schedule! This is in addition to a separate daily 55-minute plan period! So I'm sure that the way that I plan will change this year, but it will definitely be for the better.

During a planning period, usually on Friday, I pencil in my lesson plans for the following week. Always pencil. Things change... I have all of my units organized into binders. I have my current units on a shelf behind my desk. (I HATE file folders and filing cabinets. I think it's because loose papers bother me. Which is a bummer because I get two 4-drawer filing cabinets for my new room. Guess I didn't get any input on that one.) Then I pull out the papers that I will need for the following week and write copying instructions on a Post-It, ie. 24 copies on green paper, 2-sided, stapled etc. I put the originals with instructions into a labeled wire basket. (In my school, or at least in my old school, we had building associates that sometimes want things to do during videos or if their students are absent or whatever. They know that they can always peek into my room and can grab something from the baskets without interrupting my class. Next to that basket, I have a basket of papers to check. Some associates like to check papers, and some like to make copies. Associates did 80-90% of my checking and copying last year, and I am so thankful for them!) To be on the safe side, I make the copies that I need for Monday. I have two sets of Sterilite drawers, for a total of 6 drawers. Each drawer has a label for the day of the week, and the sixth one is labeled "Next Week". Once my copies are made, I file them into the drawer for the correct day.

The rest of the week, I adjust as necessary and make copies as needed.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Finally! Milk Crate Seats

After much procrastination, I finally got around to making my milk crate seats for my classroom. I can't remember the countless places where I got my inspiration for my version, so please let me know if something sounds familiar.

The main problem I had in getting these seats started was finding fabric I liked that went with my theme. I didn't want another pattern clashing with my other projects, but I really didn't want solid color either. Then somewhere along the way, I thought that a plastic tablecloth would be the way to go so I could wipe it off. But it had to be durable enough for fifth graders. So yeah, that was a challenge.

So here's what I did.  I used:
  • 12"x12" milk crates from The Container Store (These were much sturdier than the cheap ones from any other store that I saw. The downsides are that they are a little more expensive, though I did get them on sale, and they don't have the inner lip on which to rest the seat.)
  • 14"x14" pre-cut pieces of 1" thick foam (I was thinking that I wanted the seats to be 14"x14" because my seats would have to sit on top of the crates. Lo and behold, Hobby Lobby had pre-cut pieces of 14"x14" foam! Score!)
  • 14"x14" pieces of wood (I think mine are 1/2" thick. I can't remember. Everything in that aisle at Lowe's was a blur. Overwhelming!! Luckily, the guy at Lowe's cut them to 14"x14" for no additional charge.)
  • clear plastic shower curtain liner, cut about 16"x16" each
  • fat quarters of fabric (18"x21")
  • zip ties (Yeah, so those didn't work for me. I'm going to see if I can cut some 12"x12" squares of wood and glue them or otherwise attach them to the bottom of the seats to keep them from sliding.)
  • staple gun with LOTS of staples (Man! These used to freak me out, but I used them a bunch this summer and have gotten over my fear...kind of.)
Now, most places I've read suggest using spray glue to attach the foam to the board. Since I didn't have any, I didn't do that. And, if both things were 14"x14", why didn't they totally match up?! Anywho...Staple the edges of the fabric to the underside of the board.

Cover with pieces of the shower curtain and staple again. I retrospect, maybe I should have gone with a vinyl tablecover or something thicker.

Staple two zip ties to the underside of the seat where the board will rest on the crate. Place seat on the crate and tighten ties (not too tight, or you won't be able to open it far). (This is what I get for writing this up before I'm totally done - the staples were not strong enough to hold the zip ties in place and they came off almost immediately. Since the holes were farther down on the crate than I thought, I'm okay with this not working.) Plan B - Attach the 12"x12" wood squares to the underside of the seat. No picture yet, because my dad will be helping me with this part this week.

I will be keeping a clipboard (if it fits) and a mini pencil box with pencils and highlighters inside. I considered stapling a pencil pouch to the underside of the seat to hold small supplies, but the mini pencil boxes were cheaper.

In summary, I probably spent $15 per seat, and I'm not sure that I'd do this again. But, they are cute and match my room. Just hope that they don't get destroyed the first week! Pretty sure the first student to poke a hole in them will get a detention. Fair warning...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop

I'm Blog Hopping to make more connections! Grade Three is the Place for Me is sponsoring a blog hop for newbie bloggers. So here goes...
  1. I'm in Iowa.
  2. I teach fifth grade.
  3. This will be my fourteenth year of teaching, all in fifth grade, all in the same district. The change this year is that the district is moving fifth grade to the middle school.
  4. I started blogging a little over a week ago. I have blogged before, but it was one for friends/family and I didn't keep up much with it since Facebook essentially did the same thing.
  5. My blogging tip actually comes from One Class, One Sound, but it was something that I had been wondering a long time (well, at least a week)... how to make a hyperlink to my blog when commenting on someone else's blog. She says:
    Simply type <a href="">One Class, One Sound</a>
    **Don't forget to replace my URL {in blue} with your URL and my blog name {in green} with your blog name. I have this saved in a doc so I can easily copy and paste.
Now, can someone tell me if there is an easy way to create a cute signature for my posts? I know that I'm not the only one wondering this...

Friday, August 3, 2012

More Projects and Currently

And another batch of Pinterest-inspired classroom goodies...

First up is the Rainbow Pour Painting pot that I did on a day when the humidity wasn't over 100˚F. That one day. Anyway, I didn't document every step because it was still hot out and I'm impatient. Also, the author of the post I saw did a good job with the step-by-step. The first step after buying the clay pots and acrylic paint was to spray paint the inside and rim white. This is probably optional, especially if you hate spray paint like I do, but I wanted white to show instead of the clay in case the paint didn't drip all of the way down. This is the "after" picture, but you can see where the white shows through the paint. Then I inverted the pot onto a stack of plastic cups so that it was suspended over the cardboard. It resembled a lamp. This was so the paint that dripped off didn't pool on the rim and make it stick to the cardboard. Try to make it level. There was already a price tag over the hole in the bottom on my pots, but if yours isn't covered, you'll want to put some tape over the hole.

This is where it might be helpful to check out the website I referenced for pictures. You start the painting process by making a small pool of paint on the bottom of the pot. After that oozes a little, you squeeze another color into the middle of the previous pool, and so on. My pot was concave on the bottom, so the paint had a hard time getting over the edge. To encourage the paint to go over, I slightly tipped the pots in all directions to get the paint going. The first few colors never made it over the edge, so I added more of those colors once the paint was oozing down the side. You don't need to use as much paint as you think. If you made big pools, then those colors dominate and cover up whatever came before. I found that the finished product was better if I used only a little paint and kept rotating through the colors. Personally, I didn't like how the orange and yellow looked, so if I were to do this again, I would only use dark or light colors together.

Then you let it dry a long time. Like maybe a day or two, just to be safe. Then I remembered that I wanted to use one of the pots for an actual plant and I needed to expose the drain hole. So I took my craft knife and cut around the bottom and peeled off the inner circle of paint. This was the concave area that collected all of the paint anyway, so I was concerned that the area may not totally dry anyway. Problem solved! Then I remembered that since I wanted to put a plant in this one and I was going to use a saucer that I had spray painted white, the paint might do something funky if it was sitting in the drained water. So I used the Mod Podge acrylic sealer to spray it and make it shiny. I have no idea if that will help or not, or if it was even necessary, but I didn't want to take any chances.

The other pot is going to be a pencil holder that will sit by the turn-in baskets so students can write their names on their papers if they forgot. I wadded up a paper towel and put it in the bottom so I wouldn't need as much rock, then I filled it with river rock from Michael's (or Hobby Lobby, I don't remember). I found some flowers at Michael's that went with my theme and hot glued them onto the ends of some green mechanical pencils that were on sale at Walgreen's (I took out the eraser and filled it with hot glue. I ripped the flower off the stem, which left a little plastic nub on the bottom of the flower, and stuck it in the glue. For this particular pencil, I was able to pull off the top to add lead. We'll see how long they'll last with fifth graders...) The reason(s) why I went with mechanical pencils instead of pens was that:
  • I don't like pens. They are too permanent and too "final."
  • I don't like my students to use pens for any assignment, so I just don't like to have them available.
  • The flower tape that I used to wrap a test pen was too sticky and bothered the heck out of me.
  • The green colored pencil looked like a stem without the stickiness.
So there you go. I used one of the stems from the flowers to make a little sign for the pot. And of course I laminated it!

I had three flowers left from this project to use for my melted crayon art. My inspiration was here. These have been all over Pinterest in one form or another, but I like the addition of flowers. My daughter actually did one with flowers and then added a butterfly. Anyway, I followed the directions pretty much as written, but my canvas was 16" x 20" and I used most of a twenty-four pack of crayons. I do have a few tips, though. When I was hot-gluing the crayons on the canvas, I put the glue in the area between the crayons (in the empty triangle area if you are looking at it from the ends, not where the crayons touch) instead of under the crayons. This is because I wasn't working fast enough initially and the glue was already hardening before I could get the crayon on the canvas, so it was uneven and lumpy. If you are using a hair dryer, use the low setting. Otherwise, the wax will blow everywhere. Also, I noticed that the crayons started melting on the blunt end as well, so be careful! Lastly, if you glue on flowers, hot glue doesn't stick to melted wax, so you have to glue directly onto the canvas.
And the August Currently from Oh' Boy Fourth Grade... 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New Look and Blog Award

Today I'm trying out a new template from Blog Designs by Sheila. Hopefully it's a keeper! Also today, Amy from Sixth Grade Sparkle nominated my blog for an award! Thanks, Amy!

My seven random facts -
1. My favorite color is purple.
2. Every year, I perform in front of 70,000 people with my university's alumni marching band.
3. This will be my fourteenth year of teaching.
4. This summer, I have been addicted to "Say Yes to the Dress." It's to the point where my six-year-old has said that she's never getting married because she's sick of me watching it.
5. I enjoy flower gardening.
6. I love sushi.
7. I just got back into bike riding.

My nominations (And since I'm new to this, I don't have 15. And I'm sure that some of them have already been nominated. Oh well!) -

Teaching Maddeness
Fabulous in Fourth!
Fancy Free in Fourth
Hodges Herald
Ladybug's Teacher Files
My Journey to 5th Grade
Shutters & Scribbles
Tales of a 4th and 5th Grade Language Arts Teacher
Teaching Special Kids
Technology Rocks. Seriously.

Follow these rules to to claim your award:
1. Thank who nominated you.
2. Include a link back to who nominated you.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself in your post.
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
6. When nominating, include a link back to their blog in your post.
7. Let the bloggers you nominate know by leaving them a comment.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New School Year Resolutions

Amanda at Teaching Maddeness is having a New School Year Resolution Linky Party. Since this is a big year for me, I already have some goals in mind.

Resolution #1 - Implement parts of Daily 5/CAFE into literacy. This will be tough. First of all, I have to finish reading the books (oops - clock is ticking...). Then I have to figure out how to do any justice to Daily 5/CAFE, Write Tools, DOL, etc. in a fifty-five-minute period. I may also have to fit spelling in there, too. Luckily, there is a half-hour time following lunch that I might be able to use. So all of that will have to come together fairly quickly, ie. this month.

Resolution #2 - Create a cohesive, comfortable classroom that is highly organized. Pinterest has helped a lot with this, and I am a naturally organized person. The challenge here will be to have some time in my room to organize before Day One. Still waiting for the email that the previous occupants of my classroom have moved into their rooms. As I shared earlier, this is my starting point...

Resolution #3 - Get to know my coworkers. We have two new fifth grade teachers, and I obviously know the other three. Since this is the first year that fifth grade will be in the middle school, I have sixth through eighth grade teachers, special education teachers, and specialist teachers to meet and get to know. Not to mention new secretaries and custodians to start bribing... ;)