2016-2017 Classroom Tour!

Well, it's been over a year since I've blogged....OOPS! Here we go, though, new school year, new goals, and NEW BLOG POSTS! Starting of course, with my classroom tour!! I'm super proud of my room this year! It took a lot of work, a lot of help, and a lot of heart, but I'm so, so pleased with the final result! Now for the real reason you're here....the pictures!!

This is where the magic happens! Oh wait....this isn't MTV Cribs.... Here's a quick "panoramic" view.

Now for the details!

This is my library. The bins on the top shelf are from the Dollar Tree (you can see I have two different blues from two different years, but it only drives me minorly crazy! #progress) Bins on the bottom shelf...the locker-style ones are from Big Lots a few years back, the blue "dotted" baskets are from Target (Bullseye's Playground) last summer, and the big "woven" baskets are from Hobby Lobby for 60% off last spring!

All of those tubs on the floor are my indoor recess toys!

A wide view featuring our thematic bookshelf, (all ready for our Kevin Henkes author study and fall a few weeks ago!) my standing table (from Ikea,) and our Double Dudes from an Amy Lemons unit!

Over to the left, we have the entrance to our "coat room" and a ton of shelving. Those left shelves hold all of my math manipulatives, math tubs, and our Moffatt Girls fluency strips on the side! The shelf on the right holds seasonal books, letter manipulatives, more books, and puzzles!! We LOVE puzzles, and those are one of my go-to treats for my kiddos if we finish all our work, or need a little bit of a calm-down break

Right here in front of my rug is our morning meeting area! All the way to the right is my "What Happens At Mass" resource. I teach in a Catholic school, and in 2nd grade a huge part of our curriculum is teaching about the Mass so my littles are all ready for their First Holy Communion in May. We have our calendar, my ONE classroom job (seriously, I'll never do it another way) and our morning message area. I write a morning message incorrectly and the kids have to correct it. Right now you can see we're working on capitals and punctuation. I also sit our Rooted in Reading books for the week on the ledge.

Here's a wide view! Alphabet from Ladybug's Teacher Files. Days of Creation posters at the top are a creation of my own! Those should be up on TpT soon.

Under my math board is my Command Center for my munchkins. The blue cart holds ALL of our supplies...and can be tucked away when our classroom has to be used for religious education, cub scouts, girl scouts, or anything else! The drawers hold various supplies, and on top are our bathroom passes and tissues. The Ikea cube holds our white boards and supplies, our Must-Dos for the week, and various folders!

Another Command Center, with our mailboxes and unfinished work folders

This is the front of my classroom, with my SMART board, technology, and book bins. The big BECAUSE is an inspiration from Jen Jones and Mr. Greg, and it has SO improved the way we verbalize our thinking....even in the three weeks I've had it up!! It's amazing how one little word can help!

(All of) these Ikea shelves were new additions to my room this year and I couldn't be happier! They make everything just LOOK that much more organized. (That glowing thing on top of my shelf is my essential oil diffuser!)

BIG thank you shout outs to my mom and my friends Michelle and Will for helping me putting together these shelves for me when I couldn't move or lift anything post-gallbladder surgery!

Back to the other side of the room, with my small group supplies and our yoga mats for flexible seating! (Got them at 5Below, and cut them in half. That whole shebang cost me $20, and gave me enough flexible seating for 8 kids!!!)

The view from my desk...

Right behind my desk is this fabulous storage cubby with my days of the week planning drawers right next to it. Oh, and Kid President watching over our classroom, making sure we're making the world more awesome!

And in the spirit of honesty..this is my least favorite part of my classroom. This is our "coat room." It's got shelving, and this is the place that collects STUFF. I hate it, and I tried to get it more organized this year, but there's only so much I could do with all of the stuff I HAVE to keep in my room.

Shield your eyes! Piles everywhere!!

This is the least of the evils. I inherited this shelf from my mom's classroom, and all of my Rooted in Reading stuff, and all of my other files are stored there. All of those green buckets on the bottom are my Christmas books because they wouldn't fit anywhere else!!

I'll leave you with one of my favorite parts of my classroom. I made these Harry Potter subway-art-style quote posters last year, and they make my heart happy every time I see them!!

What do your rooms look like this year? Link in the comments, I'd love to see!!

Dare to Dream! #TpTSellerChallenge

This week's #TpTSellerChallenge is DARE TO DREAM!! 

I definitely have big dreams for my TpT journey, and without further ado...

> Student Loans: seem to be a pretty common thread throughout the TpT dreams I've seen...I went to a private college for undergrad, which left me with a sizeable chunk of student debt. I'd love to see TpT help me pay those off faster!

> Travel!!: another TpT Dream Theme! I would love to go to Vegas for the TpT/I Teach 2nd conferences and I'd LOVE to do an educator training at the Ron Clark Academy. Other than traveling for teaching, I want to see so many places in this world! I'm dying to visit some friends down in New Orleans, and my biggest travel dream is Australia!! I've gotta see the Great Barrier Reef up close!

> Give: I'd love to give more to so many different organizations and people. So many. I hope that one day, TpT can help me do that!

> Someday: I'm a youngin'. I'm only 26. I have some savings, but I would love to see my TpT ventures to help me grow my future. I'd love to buy a house, have my dream wedding, go on an incredible honeymoon, and even be able to stay home with kids for a while. (I could never go full-time TpT-at-Home-Mom! I give SO much credit to those who do!)

This challenge has DEFINITELY lit a fire somewhere inside me! My creative juices are flowing, I'm working hard, and I've edited and added quite a few things to my store in the last week or so! THANK YOU Jen, Amber, Emily & Ashley for hosting this challenge, and helping to inspire me!! :o)

TpT Seller Challenge Week 1: Makeover Madness!!

So if you haven't heard, the fabulous ladies from Sparkling In Second Grade, Peppy Zesty Teacherista, Third in Hollywood, and Teach, Create, Motivate are hosting the coolest challenge around this summer - The TpT Seller Challenge! This is EXACTLY what I need to get myself on the path I want to be on with blogging and TpT, so here it goes!

Week 1 was MAKEOVER WEEK! Everyone loves a good makeover...especially my first, sad little TpT products. The very first things I added were my fonts! Munchkin Print was the very first one, and I thought this was just the best thing on the internet when I added it!

Since then, I've created SO MANY THINGS, be it fonts, or resources for my classroom. Whether I put them on TpT or not, I have learned a TON, and I've come a looooooong way!

So for #makeovermadness, I bundled all of the fonts I've made (there are seven of them) and re-vamped how they're displayed!

 My snazzy new cover! I love using photos in my covers!
(Click cover to download the fonts!)

I love the clean-cut look of it all now!!

The Before:
+ Varied colors
+ Not uniform
+ Individual downloads

The After:
+ Snazzy, eye-catching cover
+ Uniform previews
+ Bundled download

What do you think?! :o)

This has DEFINITELY gotten my creative juices flowing, and I think there are more makeovers in my future! Not only that, I have ideas FLYING around my brain for next year...! (What else would a teacher do on her first day of summer break!?)

Amber, Jen, Emily, and Ashley, thanks for such an awesome challenge!! I'm loving it so far! Can't wait to see what else is in store!!

The Sunday Scoop!

I'm linking up with The Teaching Trio's Sunday Scoop Today!

I HAVE to do the standard Sunday things....cleaning, grocery shopping and laundry! Yuck!

I HOPE to read a little bit down at the beach! But considering it's almost 6 PM, I don't think the beach is looking too good :o( I DID get some new summer reading this week though!!

SUPER pumped to dig into these! :o)

I HOPE to get to bed early! Friday was draining for me (last day with my kiddos!) and I've had an amazing weekend, but I hope to get to bed early before my LAST DAY (teacher work day/EOY meetings) before summer!! 

Happy Sunday!

Conversation Notebooks

I'm going to let you in on a little secret today.

A teacher friend let me in on this secret last year, and I love, love, love what it's done for my kiddos and the community in my classroom. (If you're reading this, HI JULIE!)

They're called conversation notebooks.

What the heck is a conversation notebook?!

It's a little bitty notebook. (It's little. So right off the bat, who doesn't love that?!)

It's a private conversation between you and each of your students.

It's been HUGE. in developing a trusting, open relationship with my students.

Now. Conversation notebooks do take a little extra time in our oh-so-busy teacher lives, but in my experience with them, it's been so, so worth it!

At the beginning of the year, I bought these mini spiral notepads at Walmart. They were 88¢ for a pack of 4 during the Back to School sales! I printed out little labels, and BOOM they were ready to go!

In each little notebook, is a private conversation between me and each of my kiddos. There are times during the day that they can write in it, and they can write as often as they want! They do have to check in minimum once a week, though. 

My munchkins LOVE that in their notebooks, they can tell me ANYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD. They can tell me anything from what they had for dinner last night to a question they have that they're too nervous to ask in class. They can tell me if something in math is feeling really tricky, or they can tell me about a book they loved. They can tell me about friends bothering them, or how a new friend made them feel really good! I've had quite a few tell me things in the notebook that they don't want to say in person, in fear of being a tattle-tale in their friends' eyes. This is a safe place to let me know about something that's bothering them.

When we write to each other, we write our notes like a friendly letter! Anything for a little extra practice! :o)

Our notebooks live in this little box. I take it home, and as I read the things my munchkins write to me, I get little glimpses into them. It's a way to connect with each kid, even if you don't get too much out of them on a regular basis in the classroom!

It's a big exercise in trust, but in the nearly two years I've done this, I've never had an issue. It's only strengthened our classroom community!

Would you use conversation notebooks in your classroom? How do you build your one-on-one relationships with your students?

Books to Build a Classroom Community

Long time, no blog! WHOOPS!

Anyway, spring break this week (woohoo!) gives me a little time to sit down and blog about something I've wanted to share for a while!

Back in February, I won a gift card to Amazon from Jillian at The Starr Spangled Planner to get some books for my classroom! (Thanks Jillian!!) I debated and debated what books to buy, asked the kiddos for recommendations, and scoured blogs/Instagram/Pinterest, but I still couldn't decide!

After some bullying incidents in my classroom arose, I knew EXACTLY what it would go to! Authors Julia Cook and Maria Dismondy have some AMAZING books about character building, accepting differences, and promoting respect and empathy, so I decided we definitely needed a dose of that in Room 6!

These. Books. Are. Amazing!!

In the beginning of the year, we did the "wrinkled heart" activity, and we made a promise to each other. We promised to (and I quote) "treat each other with respect and kindess at all times." We signed our promise, hung it in our classroom, with our wrinkled heart. I referred to it ALL. THE. TIME. Worked pretty well.

Until this looooooooong stretch of time between our winter break and Easter/spring break...with lots of snow and cold temperatures and rain.....which means LOTS and LOTS of indoor recess. 

So this past week or so, we took some time to read one of these books and talk about them. We talked about how we felt when we read them. We talked about why we felt that way. We talked about what was wrong, who did the right thing, and why it was the right thing. I work in a Catholic school, so we talked A LOT about how Jesus would feel about all of these things. 

We also listened to and read this incredible book:
I knew about this book and song for a LONG time, and I never thought to introduce it to my class until now. Probably because I can't get through it without a little tear. It's a beautiful concept. We read the book and listened to the song, but also watched it on YouTube before I could get my hands on the book...

Then we made a new promise. We came up with it together, and on Monday when we come back from Spring Break, we will sign it.

("Live the message of Jesus" is the mission statement of our school, and it was HUGE part of our conversations this week!)

So many of the books I bought were about what to do if someone is bullying you, how to stand up for each other, and how to stand up for yourself. I LOVED that Have You Filled A Bucket Today? and Making Friends is an Art addressed HOW to actually be a good friend, and how to treat others with kindness right off the bat!

I sent a copy of our promise home, along with a list of the books we read.

I noticed, almost immediately, a change in the climate of our classroom community. It was amazing!

We're also reading...

My city is doing this thing called One City, One Story, and it's promoting everyone in the city to read Wonder! I read it last summer, and was THRILLED to see that this was picked! Since it's generally for the older crowd, they also recommended The Invisible Boy for the K-2 crowd, and it's such a touching story! (Not to mention the drool-worthy illustrations!) We read The Invisible Boy last week, and Wonder is our current read aloud....it's got BIG shoes to fill, considering we just finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone!

I also got some other great Julia Cook books with my Amazon order!

These didn't really touch on bullying or kindness, but they DO talk about some pretty important topics! It's Hard to be a Verb! and Wilma Jean the Worry Machine touch on ADHD and anxiety respectively. I went to an awesome workshop on childhood anxiety this winter, and I think all kids could benefit from learning a little bit about things that make you feel anxious! I'm sure we ALL know a munchkin (or six) who could use a trip to Personal Space Camp ! 

How do you promote kindness in your classroom? Are you solely bucket fillers? How do you prevent bullying? Any other books you would add to this collection?

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