Sunday, February 08, 2015

Back to School 2015

Two weeks down, eight to go! Is anyone else counting down the weeks until Easter break? It seems to happen that every year, no matter how much of a relaxing summer holiday I have, the minute I'm back at school I feel like I never left. 

This year I have a great bunch of Year 4s. It has been lovely coming from Year 1, these guys can get started on work right away and don't have to be taught every.single.little.thing! I do miss the enthusiasm and excitement that the firsties show though. My 'fourthies' don't like to dance for brain breaks and I have a few who just don't think for themselves to solve little problems and need teacher reassurance constantly (Am I doing this right? Am I writing neatly? Have I cut on the lines?) when they are obviously doing the right thing. This last bit really annoys me. I tend to say "I don't know, what do you think?" to try and cut down on this. Does anyone have any strategies for this kind of attention seeking, needing reassurance type of behaviour? 

Anyway, with my new year level, I have a new classroom. I haven't taken many photos, but here are some to show the general layout. Since I'm with older kids, I tried to reduce the 'stuff' and keep it very simple. I'm backing everything on black this year, so it isn't as bright as my past rooms. No poms this year either... but if I can find a place they wont' be chewed up by the fans, I might just add some soon :)

This was taken before school started but shows the basic layout. I have five groups of six desks. Behind the groups I have our small group area, an office (that I've made into a small group area for aides to work in) and the entry to our computer lab. I'm lucky enough to have enough computers for half the class to share with my teaching partner in a computer lab connected to our rooms.

This is the front of the room as it looks now. I have my desk here, since I need my laptop to connect to the interactive whiteboard. I felt a bit funny having my desk here but the alternative was a little moon table which I know from experience isn't big enough. It hasn't been too bad though, I keep a stool here and can pull individual students to conference with and can type up my notes straight away on the laptop, which I prefer over writing. 
Over the holidays I went through all the boxes in my garage and found books to use this year (I've also kept some of the chapter books from last year in first for my lower readers). I'm loving my new labels :) 

I also love the supply labels I bought from Maria Manore. I've gotten rid of a lot of the polka dots I've used the past few years, but couldn't pass up the pretty little dots on these! 

Nor could I pass up these gorgeous parts of speech posters by Ladybugs Teacher Files. 

I made a new alphabet for this year too.You can download it here. It only comes with Queensland red and blue lines.  


This photo is near the front side of the room. I keep my big book holder thing here since I need to leave room for those two big doors to open. I have storage shelves in there. 

I downloaded the SMART goals from What I Have Learned on TpT. I ended up typing up my own since there wasn't an included template for Math Facts (which is what we made our goals on). Then I realised there was an editable version.... doh!

This is one of the goals. In the arrow, the kids come up with all the ways they could work towards their goal. Down the bottom, they decide on which of those activities they will focus on. We talked about how we learn best, so some kids chose listening to times table songs, others putting up flash cards around their house, writing out booklets, chanting them or playing games with decks of cards or dice etc. 

The iPhone selfies activity is by Art with Jenny K.  The kids loved it!

Instead of having jobs that I change out weekly, I have copied an idea I saw on a blog, and have student committees. The kids photos are underneath the committee they are in and they keep that job for the whole term.

I'll update this post when I find the blog where I got the idea from.

I've also started using my Voices board which I use to set writing goals. I also use part of my front board to set up our weekly goals.
If you have also headed back to school recently, I hope it's all going well! It's 3pm Sunday here and I haven't planned yet so I guess that is what I'll be doing for the next few hours. I miss having my Sunday's all to myself already.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Whole Brain Teaching Rules Freebie

Last year I used my take on the whole brain teaching rules with my Grade 1 class. You can grab them here
This year I am moving to Grade 4 and couldn't be happier. I know most of my readers are in the lower years, but if you know of any great 3-5th grade blogs please comment so I can follow them.

This summer break is flying by way too fast, I feel like I've only just started to relax and now it's almost time to get ready to go back. Oi, teacher problems :)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Doubles Game Freebie

This week for our Math Facts rotation, I quickly made up a game to practise our doubles. It's a free download on TpT
It comes with two identical game boards that I printed back to back. The first focuses on double 1-6, the second on 7-12. Students simply chose the side that they needed to work on. This is my favourite way to differentiate in my math facts tub - give the same board, focusing on the same skill, but just change the numbers. The kids are usually pretty good at choosing the game that is appropriate for them. 

We used a normal 1-6 sided die for the first side (roll a number and double it). For the second game I printed out the numbers 7-12 and added them to those clear pocket cubes you can get on Amazon or from teacher supply stores. I think I got mine from Really Good Stuff in the U.S. (sorry for the blurry pic!). I just LOVE these cubes! We've been using them a lot the last couple of weeks as they are so versatile! 

I took these photos on Friday when we had our Book Week parade. The kids don't usually wear princess gowns and glittery slip on shoes to school! My kids looked absolutely adorable, I wish I could share some pics!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Student Book Boxes

Many, many, many Aussie teachers have emailed or asked on here where I got my student book boxes from. I actually got them from Really Good Stuff in the U.S. however I had to set up an account at to get them shipped here to Australia. I love how I can get things from companies that don't ship to Australia by using shipito!

 Don't you just love how they add some brightness to the room?

I was recently contact by Elizabeth Richards School Supplies who informed me that they have started to supply some here!!-Plastic-Book-and-Storage-Bins-&theme=newproductthemeclr 
I only wish they came in other colours - these are nice but wish there was a pink or purple and lighter blue and green to fit in with my colour scheme! 

The good news is that it ends up being HEAPS cheaper! For a little more than what I paid just in POSTAGE you can get a class set for! What is even better - they will last you years. Mine are one of the best investments I've made for my classroom.

They also have an amazing offer on their regular cardboard book boxes. They are usually $3.59 each but are only $1.95 if you order 100 or more by the 31st October. They'll be delivered at the beginning of Term 1 next year. This might be an option those of you who haven't used book boxes before and want to try them out first. You could team up with some of your teaching buddies and have them ready to go for next year. 

On an unrelated note, I think he could definitely change my mind, haha!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Word Wall Game

The word wall is a staple is most primary classrooms as it helps create a print rich environment and provides constant exposure to those basic sight and spelling words that our students need to know automatically. The more experiences students have with these words, the more likely they are to be internalised. 

I can't believe the only photo I have of my main word wall is from back to school last year (January 2013!). I really need to start taking more photos!
I use other word walls throughout the year, but they are mostly temporary, and consist of content or concept words that change as we are learning new topics.

I have used this exact same word wall (it's actually my door!) for two years now because it fits sooo many words! I like how the columns for each letter are narrow, so words are listed, rather than being side by side in shorter boxes like a previous word wall I had. It makes it easy to read and find words. 

I start the year off with only student names added with a green border. I add our year 1 no excuse words (that all of our year 1 students are required to learn) with a pink border and our 'spelling focus words' with a blue border the week after we learn them. For the first week, our new words are in a pocket chart at the front of the room so we can continually refer to them during writing lessons and spelling activities throughout the week. Our spelling focus words are words that follow a spelling pattern that we are learning about. I find the coloured borders help students find words easily. 

To help students know what words are on the word wall so that they actually use it, I have some games that we play. One of our favourites is 'The Missing Word' duh, duh, duh!!

The Missing Word
We start by sitting in front of the word wall and reading through the words. I then ask them to turn around and cover their eyes while I remove a word. When they turn back around, they have to guess what word I have removed. As the year goes on, and there's more words, it becomes more tricky so they start by asking me clues like: 
  • Does it start with a vowel? 
  • Is it a sight word or spelling focus word? (blue or pink border)
  • Does it belong between F and M?
  • Does it have a blend, digraph, long vowel, short vowel etc? 

Once they figure it out, we spell/chant the word and spelling, replace it and turn back around.

This game is really so easy to play and is great for when there's a few minutes to go before the bell!

I have some others I'll share over the next couple of weeks but I'd love to hear about your favourite word wall games or activities too! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things

I'm at home sick today so thought it would be a good time to update this little 'ol blog of mine. I haven't taken any pictures at school for months so instead I thought I'd share some of my 'at the moment' favorite things :) 

I'm lovin' these readers theaters packs from Jessica Tobin and so are the kids! We started using them this term to work on fluency and boy has there been a massive improvement! I like them because we are able to practise using many of our fluency skills like Copycat Camel (say it like the character) and Punky Pelican (changing our voice to match the punctuation), among others.

My kids love to do a Freeze Dance or Move It activity by The Primary Techie as a brain break. Some of the ones we love are Freeze Dance Phonics (to the ghost busters theme song!), Sight Words Freeze Dance, Addition and Subtraction Move It! and Skip Counting Gangnam Style. We've also been reviewing sight words using her Dolch Speed Read All Year pack - the kids love how each time they read through the 20 words on each list, it gets faster and faster and faster!

Grammar Gurus by Shanyn at Coffee, Kids and Compulsive Lists. I love the simple and uncluttered look of these grammar review sheets. They also review the skills we need perfectly - verbs, nouns, adjectives, editing, spelling, contractions, past tense, plurals, homophones, punctuation, synonyms and antonyms.

I'm in love with these outfits! Would any of them look good on, but I love them nonetheless!

The links to these outfits are 1, 2, 3 and 4.  
These workouts:

Why settle for a boring old basic squat when there are 39 other variations? I might try this short inner thigh workout when I'm feeling a little better. And the Perky Boob Workout... why not?

I can't do anything with my hair except put it up in a messy pony tail... and not the good, I know what I'm doing and it looks great, kind of messy. I'm talking the awkward lumps and bumps and fly away hairs type of messy. 

So I tried some of these hair styles for wet hair on the weekend with no success. I've also tried to make lovely waves in my dead straight hair using a multitude of tutorials like this one and they all failed miserably. Is it too much to ask for some Jessica Biel style waves??!!

I'm feeling really crappy and haven't been eating much but if someone cooked me one of these meals I'm sure I could manage to force it down! It's also a wet, dreary day here in Brisbane so these look like the perfect comfort food!

Slow Cooked Bacon Cheese Potatoes, Skinny Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo, Stuffed Tomatoes with Mushrooms, Parmesan and Spinach, Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake,

Ok, I'm dying for a nap... another one of my favorite things :)

Saturday, July 05, 2014

6 Traits of Writing Bulletin Board a quick post today to let you know that I've just updated my 6 Traits of Writing Bulletin Board pack. I've given it a fresh new look with new images and fonts. 

It comes in two versions - chalkboard and polka dot - and includes 89 skill cards ready to go. I've also included an editable version of the skill card so you can add your own if needed. 

I've also included two different types of headings. The page size version shown here:
 and the large circular letters with a smaller description card shown here:

This is the bright polka dot version: 

If you are one of the 1,222 people who has this pack wishlisted, you can pick it up for the next couple of days 20% off!
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