Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Made It! and a freebie

This will be the first time I am doing a Monday made it. If you are interested in this linky party click {HERE} to go to 4th grade Frolics. I am always making things, I just am too tired to post about it. However, It's Monday and I've had my coffee so here goes!
My Co-worker Kim used to be a decorator in Life before she was a teacher. She convinced me it was not hard to make pillows for my classroom. She came with me to the store and helped my pick out my first sewing machine!  She gave me some instructions and ideas for putting the pillows together.  And here we go...

 Here is a shot of the bottom of my sewing machine and the edge of the pillow. I sewed on velcro (loop and sew, not sticky) to the edges and made a flap, so the covers could be taken off and washed.

 Here are 2 of the pillows, I used square foam inserts that I found at Walmart. I am not going to tell you I did this very professionally. I laid the fabric out on the floor and laid the pillow on top. I left space on either side for the seam. As you can see above the blue polka dot is slightly big. I went back after and made it smaller.
You lay the fabric nice side to nice side. (so when you are sewing you will see the back side of the fabric) I sewed three sides then flipped it right side out. That is when I sewed on the velcro. I used straight pins to hold it in place. The edge over laps, one over the other.

Tales of a First Grade Teacher
Teacher Apron
 I have desperately wanted a teacher apron for a while now. I scoured ETSY to see if I could somehow manage to make one.
Again, I didn't really measure, except to hold the fabric up to me. (ahh, bad idea) First I sewed 3 sides of the chevron fabric and turned it right side out. I did the same on polka-dot pocket. Then I ironed the fabric so it would be flat and you could see the seems and edges are crisp and neat. I folded and ironed down the top of the fabric, then sewed and closed the seem. Next, I pinned dow the pocket and sewed around the sides and bottom. AFter I sewed down to create 3 separate pockets. Finally, I made the straps. I fold the fabric over on itself and sewed the end and all the way down 1 seem. I then had to very carefully pull it out to see the fabric correctly. Lastly I attached these to the back of the apron, sewing a good 1 1/2 inches of the strap to the apron. Now I have an apron to protect me form glue and who knows what else, and it can hold, expo markers, post=its and whatever else I may need :0)

Here is my daughter's room before. She just turned 11 and has had this room since she was 2. She asked for a blue room. Originally, there was a floral wall paper border going around the entire room, and she had a Garden theme. Alas, she is getting older and wanted some new decor.

 While she still has some purging to do, I think the transformation is astounding. Her room seems much larger using 1 color on the wall. Her white furniture really pops against the soothing blue color.

 As you can see the baskets in the tower and bookshelf need changing out. After this picture was taken I found blue baskets at target to replace the pink and polka dots. The basket liners will have to wait for another day.

Last but not least is a little freebie. I am making all these pillows, so when My kiddos are doing Daily 5 they can have a comfy spot to sit in the room. Here is the pacing guide I have used the last few years. I have taken the 2 sisters launch and typed it up in a user-friendly format for lesson plans and teaching. You can download the Daily 5 Pacing Guide in my store on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Incorporate Playfulness and have fun with learning:UBS Ch.12

Chapter 12: Incorporate Playfulness and have fun with learning.
I teach first grade where playfulness comes a little bit easier than most other grade levels. Even so, I still am a pretty serious person, I get caught up sometimes in "getting it done" that I forget I need to relax and enjoy what I do as well.

I am fortunate to have a really fun teammate who loves to make up songs, and pop in my room with her whole class to sing to me and mine. She reminds me that even though we have a tough job to do we can have fun while doing it.

In this chapter, Angela talks about different ways we can be "playful" and you can choose from their. I am going to discuss some of the things I try to incorporate as well as a few I plan on trying this year.
Appeal to your students emotions. We remember things that we have some feeling about. Whether it makes us laugh, cry or angry. Those are the things our students will remember too.

Why playfulness? "Happiness is a powerful emotion and we tend to remember moments of joy very well"
Try integrating Music into your classroom. I use I {Heart} radio. I usually choose the piano instrumental for a calming effect. But on some occasions I've been known to play a little Kids bop as well.
How about songs?  I sing a song when my kids are coming to the rug:
Make a circle, Make a circle 1, 2, 3
All my friends are here with me.
I usually sing this 3 times. By the 3rd time all of my students are sitting and ready to learn.
I'm sure you can look on pinterest or you tube and find a zillion songs that work for you.
How about a dance break or a brain break? I personally love Go Noodle. It's free and fun and my students are always begging to do more. They have 1, 2, and 3 minute videos that get kids up and moving. It is great for transitions and you can control which video/song you pick!
Talk or read in various accents and voices 
ah-hem, cough, cough. I already do this. Yup, I have a pretty good Irish cadence since my brother-in-law is from Ireland and I speak a little yiddish and do a great Yenta voice. I usually pull my voices out when I'm reading a picture book on a topic. But you can try it out at different times as well. 
I have not however, transformed myself into a different character. If you are the dramatic type or a really into a certain topic this may be the avenue for you. I'm trying to think how I can add this into my repertoire because I think the kids would absolutely love it!
Create a Learning Environment where Humor is celebrated 
Of course there has to be a balance, but if you are having fun teaching you know your students will be having fun learning!
How do you think you can incorporate playfulness into your classroom?

Just stopped in? want to see more of what Unshakeable is about? Here is what we've covered so far.
Click the links below to go to previous chapter reviews.
Chapter 1 share your authentic self to bring passion and energy to your teaching
Chapter 2 Allocate your time and energy wisely through productive routines
Chapter 3 Establish healthy habits for bringing work home and decompressing
Chapter 4 Determine how to do what matters most an let go of the rest
Chapter 5 Go the extra mile for families (but don't take forever to get there)
Chapter 6 Learn to say "no" without guilt and make your "yes" really count
Chapter 7 Do your part to create a positive school culture
Chapter 8 Take charge of your own professional development
Chapter 9 Let your vision define your value and measure of success
Chapter 10 Uncover the compelling reason for every lesson you teach
Chapter 11 Create curriculum "bright spots" you cant wait to teach

Friday, July 17, 2015

Unshakeable Book Study: Chapter 11

I hope you have been enjoying this book study, as much as I have. I am getting so excited for the upcoming school year. Every year I am tired and in desperate need of my summer vacation. This book is really helping me to get in the right mind set for next year.

Chapter 11 is called Create curriculum "Bright Spots" you can't wait to teach.

wrote this book for us, the people who are teaching everyday. She writes from her experience as a teacher and a coach. I have to say I am getting so much out of this book. There are so many things I am reading; thinking, wow, I never thought of it like that before, or that is awesome! I need to share this with my team. In fact, I shared this on my county's Facebook page, that's how much I think teachers need this book of encouragement right now. I'm happy to say, that several of my teammates have ordered it and are going to read it as well, which makes me even more excited about next school year.

This chapter is full of a lot of meaningful ideas and strategies. First and foremost, don't apologize for not loving everything you teach. Burden removed! I know there are several topics that I cringe, when it's "that time of year" or certain stories in our Anthology, that has me thinking "Really?!" Angela gives us some practical ways to get through it.In those units, that are the bane of your existence, do your favorite activity--whatever that may be. I love playing academic games, so for my least favorite topics, I plan on creating some really fun games to get us through it all. Another ideas is to create a fun unit-long project around a topic, incorporating a variety of your favorite activities. Student-directed work stations is another alternative to those hard-to-teach topics. There are a lot of free and $ resources on that you can find and don't have to create in order to accomplish this. 
This one right here, really resonated with me. Hence, the cute graphic above. Make boring concepts more rigorous by incorporating 21st century skills. I hope you don't mind if I talk about this for a little bit. RIGOR is the BIG word in my county. Like every other word is; RIGOR this and RIGOR that. But no one ever tells you how to make something rigorous, it's like the vocabulary word everyone throws around but no one really knows what it means. Here is the definition of RIGOR: (from "while dictionaries define the term as rigid, inflexible, or unyielding, educators frequently apply rigor or rigorous to assignments that encourage students to think critically, creatively and more flexibly. Likewise, they may use the term rigorous to describe learning environments that are not intended to be harsh, rigid, or overly prescriptive, but that are stimulating, engaging and supportive." In this section Angela gives 3 practical examples of 21st century skills we can use to increase rigor.         1. Life and Career Skills: help kids identify how they can use the information in their future careers.                                    2.Information, Media and Technology skills: This is a big one! How often are you on your phone, on facebook, on instagram, on pinterest, on twitter, on whatever? We need to give our students the opportunity to practice technology skills too.                    3.Learning and innovation skills: The 4 C's-Critical Thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.

Here's the other area that I felt I could accomplish in my own classroom. Angela, talks about how she would schedule into her week something for every day. What are some things that lift you up? Are there people at your school you really love to be around? schedule something each day to create a "bright spot". Maybe it's buying some munchkins for your team-meeting, or team-teaching a reading or writing lesson. Perhaps it's eating with some students at lunch once a week. Think about things you enjoy and intentionally schedule them into your work day.

Overall, Be intentional. Don't just wait around for something good to happen. You are in control of your environment and surroundings. While there may be things we can't control, an unruly students or an upset parent. Think about what you can do to intentionally create these bright spots.
Tomorrow I'm talking about Chapter 12: Incorporate playfulness and have fun with learning.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

*Throwback Thursday*

===Throwback Thursday!! from July 13, 2013!!======
Over the last couple of weeks I've been very fortunate to make some Custom Classroom Designs for a some lovely ladies.
I shared a photo on Instagram of my Aqua & Gray Classroom Decor.

 Tiffany commented, that she would like to know if I had it in black and red. I asked her to email me and that is when the fun began. Tiffany had a great vision for her room.  She had a polka dots and paws theme, but was having a lot of trouble finding items to fit her decor. 
(I found some great clip art form Graphics from the Pond of paws and scrappin' doodles--of puppies.  The polka dot backgrounds are from Ashley Hughes. The colors clip art comes from Krista Wallden at Creative Clips.)
Tiffany also wanted to add a clip-chart for behavior, #'s and colors as well.
I really loved how it turned out!! She came up with some great ideas for the clip-chart wording--very clever on her part--so I cannot take credit for it.

From there, I met Kari!  She was a winner in my Giveaway at the beginning of the month.  She loved the Polka dots and paws, but had a dilemma. She had invested in a lot of lime buckets and her school was going to have a Garden theme this year.  She wanted to do Ladybugs with lime and black. I found some pretty lime with polka dots background from Dreamlike Magic, black and white from Ashley Hughes and some pretty blossoms from Jessica Weible Illustrations. The pop of red from ladybugs makes it just beautiful!! Kari also asked for calendar #'s, so this Classroom Decor unit is about 20 pages bigger than the polka dots and paws. The editable file is also larger and contains more labels.

Last but certainly not least in my Owl Love Decor. If you came to my classroom or have seen my gifts from students you would know my theme was Owls last year and was a huge hit with my class. I really made this set with my own room in the back of my mind as far as colors are concerned. It is not a full set--as I am still working on it. However, it started out as Chalkboard theme for an elementary classroom. Again, Instagram has opened up many new doors, someone asked if it came in cursive. So I made this set in Chalkboard style and Cursive Style (the cursive font comes from and is called Learning curve) 

I made the Graphics a bit smaller as cursive is usually taught in older grades.

So what do you think?  Do you have a theme in mind, but can't find what you are looking for. I'd love to work with you!!

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