Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Instead of a marble jar....

My friend, Ammie over at Giggles and Squeals, suggested that for my Up themed classroom I might want to have my class earn badges.

My first thought was 7 year old me earning my girl scout badges and all I could think was up keep (18 kids x 35 badges x coloring x pasting on to something= me going crazy)..... then I remembered that I had bought these new snazzy markers (that I'd been looking for-for the last 6 years, literally- 6 years).

They are Crayola magic writers which I found at Target and were marked--made especially for Target (I should have bought 2 packages, I digress....) So I made my badge sheet and then "colored" some of the badges with the "magic" marker, that is white and colors clear.

(You could use the "Overwriter Markers" by Crayola just make sure they always use the color end and not the "white end".)

Now when the whole class is on task, make it to the carpet, sign up for lunch etc. I choose a name from our cup of sticks and that person gets to color any badge of their choice. IF they color a badge and changes color the class earns an instant prize (class game, free time, extra computer lab, homework pass). Although not always instant, can't just go barging into the computer lab unannounced but we write the reward on the board until it's done. When the whole badge board is filled, we earn a reward day (game day, pajamas, a movie etc.)

I have to say, my students are loving it. I'm loving it and not having to be emptying and filling the marble jar all the time is nice. This is total self sufficient on the kids :)

Class Badges

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Got freebies?

Classroom freebies
Love teaching? Like freebies?

If you're into blogging I think this is the NEW place to be. Go over and check it out. It's a lot of great bloggers, making posts and dropping freebies off.

Isn't that a drag when you find something great and you click on it and it takes you to TPT. Really people if we worked in your building you know you'd hand that over for free :)

Go over and check it out!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Welcome back me! And a lesson about friendship!

Sorry for the departure from the blog world....but having a student teacher is a lot of work! I love working with her and she is great! I have a lot more "free time at work" with her teaching, but imagine that something always pops up and my time is filled.... Pretty much when she is teaching I work like a para, as my kiddos this year can benefit from the extra pair of hands. So I'm going to try and blog once a week about something from the classroom world...so here is my first post back---

As part of Responsive Classroom, we work a lot on community and friendship at the beginning of the year.

My general rule for the students is this; We are a family in room 12. You do not have to be best friends with everyone in the room. You may not enjoy everyone in this room. You do not have to love them, but you MUST be respectful and kind to them.

I happen to see this video clip on CBS Sunday morning...which is one of my favorite programs. Anyways we start out by talking how a dog and elephant are alike and different we make a list on the Smartboard. We actual use the Venn digram to do it. The kids look at me like I'm a nut elephants and dogs....but once they see the video they get it really quickly (and they love it). I print out the Venn diagram and post in the room all year, so we can refer back to it as needed.

Then I ask students do you think a dog and elephant can be friends in real life? and most students say no. Then we watch this video clip...

It is a great lesson in looking past our differences to become friends, and of course a good animal story and what kid (and sappy teacher) doesn't love that? What do techniques/stories do you use to promote friendship in your classroom!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When you're not managing the kids...manage the adults (and the schedules!)

A question to blog land... how do you manage adults and schedules?

Last year I had a class of 18, while I did have kids in RTI, I did not have any children that qualified for services. So it was all 18 of us, 5 days a week together...no pull out, no picks up, no schedules to combine, no para...me and the kids.


This year the pendulum has swung. Without getting into too much detail, I have 18 kids this year and have the following adults in and out of my room on a daily/weekly/hourly basis...
Special Ed teacher
Speech/Language teacher
OT/PT teacher
ELL teacher
Remedial Reading teacher

And....my student teacher (and me too!) At one point today there were 5 adults in my room. A total of 23 people, it was starting to feel crowded!

Obviously children need their services. Obviously we all work hard to cut down on overlaps in the schedule. But how do you manage the adults?

I know that by the 100th the door has opened this week, my student will stop turning around to see who it is. We did make a chart of who is who in our room and why they are here because it really is a steady stream of adults in and out.

However, call me crazy, I feel like I need to have some adult rules. Like if you're going to discuss schedule conflicts about another room- go outside. If you can't find a piece of equipment, can you whisper when you come in to find it?

I suppose as the year goes on the kids will get to know who's leaving when and just go with it, but it still feels like we are jump starting the mower some days.

So my question to you is--how do you manage the adults/schedules that come through your classroom everyday?

(Side note: I have dealt with the schedule circus 7 years ago during my student teaching. I had 27 5th grade student. 5 of them special ed. with 2 full time paras plus other services. That seemed easier to deal with than the parade now. Also, I'm SUPER happy I have so much help in my room. SO THANKFUL....just looking for a better and more efficient way get from 9:00 to 3:25 from my students and myself)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


What is cuter than an old men, a talking dog, a crazy bird and a boy scout?
Answer: Nothing! And that's why Up is the best movie ever!
I think I have a special connection with the movie Up, because of Carl's loss. I lost my Mom in 2006 after a very courageous battle with breast cancer. My Mom was my best friend. The theme in Up, that Carl and Ellie had a great life together...now go have an adventure of your own is the true essence of life. We will all have heart aches but we will move forward, remembering those people as we have new adventures and create new important friendships and bonds. I feel that way especially this time of year as my Mom's birthday is this week, she would have been 51. It makes me want to have adventures that she won't be able to have.
However, Dug the talking dog is probably the cutest thing ever...reminds me of someone one I know...
If Halle could talk, I'm 1000% sure she'd sound like Dug. "Oh Mommy, I love you feed me more biscuits!" (And Lord look at all that SNOW....remember that mess!!!)
So while I was in Disney this summer I managed to find a talking Dug stuffed animal for my classroom and some Up pins.
I also ordered some craft sticks from Amazon (dogs and cats, luckily my teaching neighbor Gail said she'd buy the cats off of me because I'm not using them). So now we all have Dug name sticks. I plan on letting the kiddos decorate these during the first couple days of school with Cayola markers (I may regret that idea).
My amazing sisters help me tweak my Up bulletin board idea. I made the banner in Swift Publisher (Mac Publisher) and I Google imaged the house and blew it up with the copier..that took a bit of work. I made balloon tracers, cut out the balloons and Viola! what a cute bulletin board if I do say so myself!
I also downloaded the Up Soundtrack from iTunes and will play it during writers workshop and silent reading time. I also have steel drum music that I play during these times too.
One of our class jobs this year will be to take home our stuffed animal Dug. I used to use a bear, but one of my teacher friend's daughters suggested sending him home! So Take Home Dug is my newest Job.
Finally I list my students alphabetically by first name, and next to each persons name I put a balloon, to continue with our balloon theme.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A blog to check out...

To my faithful followers.... please head on over to Giggles and Squeals to check out my buddy Ammie's teacher blog.

Ammie has been blogging for a while, but this blog is dedicated to teachers and the trade. She is a great teacher and has lots of great ideas! Go check her out, become a follower, grab her button... you know the drill!

Enjoy your Labor Day!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Give Away Winner!

So for my first give away--- 10 groovy Flair style pens... the winner is...
Is Ammie over at Today in K! Wooo hooo for her... I know Ammie will enjoy marking up papers with these awesome new markers! I am planning another give away soon, so keep your eyes pealed in the mean time keep blog stalking and keep leaving comments... Thanks for the support! You guys are great!

42 and the start of school!

Does that rhyme?

We've made it to more than 40 followers... was hoping for more by the time school started but that monkey wrench Irene, messed up my plans. But we are back at it now....

So a couple things I have coming up, the big one being...

1.)TUESDAY is school day! (Reminder that we've had no prep, no pre-year meetings about kids, nothing....really deep end of the pool feet first...I'm sure that post will be hysterical.

2.) Student teacher... she starts Tuesday too! I've never had a student teacher so....let the learning curve begin (I did mentor a 1st year teacher last year....)

3.) and settling up my give away on Flair pens, more on that whole shenanigan in a minute!

4.) A blog post on my Must Read Teacher Books!

Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend, and ready for back to school if you're a late kid like me! Thanks for sticking it out with my guys, it's been a loooooonnng week. Certainly not how I wanted to end my summer vacation, but trying to relax it out now before the onslaught!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Happy News!

7 days, 168 hours after our power went out (let me tell you it felt like a million) our power came on today at 12:30. There was one tree on the line, that took all of 15 minutes to cut down, Lord knows why it couldn't have been cut down earlier...but needless to say we have power, hot water, cable, telephone and internet :)

I now feel 1000x more ready for the beginning of the school year!

Hope everyone is enjoying their Labor day weekend and soaking up the fun and sun this weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hurricane Irene :( Down but not out

Dear Blog Followers and Friends,

What a crazy few days it has been....

Hurricane Irene hit our small town on Sunday...the devastation was emense. I will be doing my flair pen give away, once things settle down a bit. I am running on day 5 of no electricity. I am currently at my Dad's house using their hot water, internet and cable. To this point I've been checking things via iPhone, sorry if I missed a comment, post etc.

Our town is now at 75% of homes without power, at 8800 homes. The towns next to our are at 50% on one side and 90-100% on the other. The projection is to have the majority of homes back online by Saturday at 11:30.

Irene was so bad that they postponed school. We were to begin on Monday with kids starting today. Now we will all start on Tuesday....together, with no prep, no IEP meetings no 504 meetings, no meet the teachers before school open house thing...nothing deep end of the pool, feet first on Tuesday...with a student teacher :) can you tell I'm excited.

I went to school yesterday and set up in the dark. With no running water. Our school is the only school on a well... so no bathroom using at school. I guess I'm as ready as I'm going to be.

I live about 7 doors away from one of our schools and as I had mentioned we still don't have power...there are still roads in our town that are impassable. I have posted some pictures below...when Irene hit it was just on the verge of a category one/tropical storm thank God it wasn't any stronger!

My house is very close to the low lands, we did have some water in the yard, but no damage and school is good too other than not having power as well. Of the 7 schools in our district only our high school has power at the moment....

We just got a phone call that we may not even start school on Tuesday.... my stress level is somewhere on a 10+ right now. Supposedly they will have a better idea about school opening Tuesday tomorrow.

Please send good thoughts and love our way...at the least send positive electricity thoughts!

These are pictures from some of my Facebook friends...

Breakwall at a local beach club, to the right there were cabanas, which were all swept out to sea.

Limbs down across the road.

Trees down on lines...a lot of this all over town. Big problems!

Town Dock, all the pavement pulled up.

This used to be a foot bridge to a yacht club, completely gone.

Friday, August 26, 2011

If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it (and Friday Freebie!)

Totally not what my blog post was going to be today....

I live in Connecticut, you know where the world is ending.... in case you didn't know it's our first hurricane ever in history. Here's a friend's picture from Facebook of the water aisle at Stop and Shop.
The town next to use has their first kid day of school Monday- already cancelled. Our PD for Monday is cancelled at least in the morning, because the speaker can't fly in because his flight is ALREADY cancelled. If we have power we'll have PD, but we won't there are 872839929 trees in my town...we won't have power. I've already packed an evacuation bag because we are less than a 1/2 mile from the coast and one for the puppies too!

So here is my post/thought/tiny complaint.... as a teacher, I feel compelled to tell everyone to calm down. Is that not what we do as a teacher?

We say "Boys and Girls yes the fire alarm is going off but we need to be civil little adults and walk out of the building in an orderly fashion." Not "Pannnniiicccc, RUNNNNNN, AHHHHHH, DISASTER!!!!!"

How do we raise children to be independent thinkers, to be calm and collective when things go wrong and then when we all become adults we throw the rule book out the window and panic.

My Step Dad is the fire chief and fire marshall in our town, I went down to help him out in the office today because as you can imagine the phone is ringing off the hook with people. But since we are having this hurricane any semblance of common sense has gone out the window...i.e. Can I put my propane gas grill in my house during the hurricane.... as my co teacher Chris would say ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THAT?????

I am all for being prepared. HELLO I'M A TEACHER!!! I'm all for giving people the information they need to make their own wise decisions. But the crazy hype, the lack of thinking, it makes me feel we failed our fire drill instruction as teachers.

So my advice is this. Don't be dumb. Be ready. Be prepared and as my friend Diana said, "we are New Englanders put on your big girl pants and deal with it." We've been here before and we'll be ok, we will endure.

And now on to the fun stuff, my Friday Freebie. (sorry I can't imbed it in here....)

Birthdays! Aren't they great? I love to do something meaningful that kids can look back at and say "Oh look how cute my friends were". So my freebie is my birthday book pages. Every child gets a birthday book (even the summer kids, we do them in June). Every child gets a birthday book page, they fill in the picture box and write about their gift. Even though this is published work I generally do not correct the misspellings. I hope that one day they can look back and see how far they've come.

The second page is for the birthday boy or girl. I borrowed this idea from the Math Stations book I just got. The student picks out a person/character/friend etc. we will Google or email to find out the person's age (i.e. if it's Mom). They then fill out the page and write how many tens and ones that persons age is. I then compile this in 3 ring binder that we add to threw out the year and keep in our classroom library!

To everyone on the East Coast.... be smart! To everyone else out there, send good thoughts our way we could surely use them!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do you still teach here?

That's the question a coworker asked me on the last day of school. Why?

Because I pack up my room like I'm never coming back and that's what I try to do all summer. Not come back! However I've slowly started to come back to school to tidy things up.

I am having a student teacher this year. Which is sort of like having company over, I'm trying to clean everything up so that it looks like I'm super organized! Ha ha ha! So some things I'm working on for my classroom and will be featured here in the next few weeks:

  • Putting up fabric instead of paper on 2 bulletin boards. (done)
  • Getting rid of huge filing cabinet/shelf unit. (done, just waiting for Mr. Bob to take it to it's new home)
  • Setting up area for student teacher.
  • Passing out supplies for my whole team.
  • Revamping my morning calendar activity on the Smartboard with some new items. (Done, post coming soon!)
(Picture Above)
These are my before (midway through clean up) pictures.
Here's the view when you come in the door to the left. You can see my four computers. My giant brown filing cabinet that is on it's way out the door :)

At the very left is my job bulletin board which I "fabric-ed" and will use a magnet system for jobs. In the Right corner you can see the door we use for recess and my library which I paper, because the amount of dust in our building makes a saw mill look perfectly clean.

The view to the right when you come in. My word wall and 2 round tables are in this area.

One of my teaching methods with many lessons is Stars and Wishes (that is a kid way to say pluses and minuses). One day last year a student asked me Miss Triebel what are your stars and wishes for your room?

The stars (+): The Smartboard, relatively new computes, a nice view of the playground, a good amount of floor space, and some nice shelf space.

The wishes (-): Heres the big one...the wall your looking at ISN'T REALLY! It's a "1960s Oh we might want to convert this classroom into a bigger classroom with its neighboring classroom". The wall is 3 INCHES THICK!

It's sort of like being in college, Gail my neighbor on the other side of the "fake wall" as the kids come to call it, can yell for me or me for her whenever we need it.

I can hear all of her lessons, and her mine or when we watch Polar Express on the Smartboard or when she does Brainpop on her Smartboard or when SeƱora plays her Spanish music the list goes on and on and on....and the BEST part is the motor that opens up the wall was discounted more than 10 years ago.

No teacher in my building has ever seen the wall opened...it's just a joke the whole thing... but we are getting new windows next year (original to the building hello 1960 drafty windows and I was promised then, they will box in the wall! YIPPPEEE!!!!!

One other wish would be more plugs. There is one plug but the door but thats for all the computers and 1 plug by the Smartboard and that's it folks.... I lovingly call it Green Acres (especially before we had phones).

Here's the view from my desk/reading table. I don't have a "desk" I got rid of that Cadillac sized thing years ago thanks Debbie Diller!

Here again you can see my lovely fake wall (the two wood pieces are board that had to added, when they hung Gail's Smartboard last year). Across the hall is my 2nd grade buddy Marlene. One closet (that is only half usable due to the wall motor that isn't hooked up :o/ )

The blue thing in the corner are the kids mailboxes (an old tv entertainment center) that my Dad and I built. If your reading this Dad, yes I helped! The pink 3 draw unit in the center of the photo is my desk...I keep it next to my rainbow table with all my goodies in it (chocolate and excedrin!)

I am missing one corner here to the right, not pictured are my kids closets with some over head storage and one more closet behind my laptop desk. So here it is in pieces almost ready for the big day!

Three for Thursday

My favorite fonts:
Thanks to my buddy Ammie over at Today in K, I am IN LOVE with D.J. Inkers. My first year at our school Ammie, a fellow mac user and a first year (in our building teacher) was kind enough to share some fonts and clip art with me and then when I found they had digital downloads....Lord there was no stopping me!

and just for good measure how about some clip art...aren't this owls THE CUTEST! I think I see next years class theme!

My Favorite Teaching Blogs:
<>I should probably just dedicate this post to Ammie, because while looking for K stuff for herself she came across Christina Bainbridges website all about Christmas Traditions which we use in Second Grade so when I saw Christina had a blog, I was all over it. You can tell she is a genuine person and a teacher's teacher...she loves what she does.

Mrs. Bainbridge's Class
I also enjoy Fun in First

Fun in First

My Favorite Online Resource:
I really enjoy Mathwire because they have some great resources. See my blog post about it here.
I also enjoy Responsive Classroom and their newsletter, lots of great management tips in there.

Back to School Lunches.... Bento Boxes my Fav!

So Bento boxes are single portions of Japanese food, normally rice, fish and vegetables... traditionally.

Today Bento boxes, are proportioned fun boxes that kids (and teachers) take for lunch. Now I pack a Bento box for lunch (although I think a few pieces have gone missing over the summer, but.... I don't make mine fancy or cute but if I was packing them for kids I would...like the lovely Caren over at Bento-ology has the CUTEST back to school lunches ever....go over and check them out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where it all goes down Wednesday

Day 3 of teacher week over at Blog Hoppin' head on over and check out the link party....

While we don't start school for a few more days, my classroom is not quite ready. That and I'd like my student teacher to have some say in things....so I don't have many pictures to share yet.

But I will share my welcome bulletin board, that I am so proud of!! I think it is the cutest bulletin board I've made in six years! I leave this board up all year, and I'm hoping the kids will love it. The banner says "Adventure Awaits"...another post soon coming on my Up themed classroom!

I am surprised though how many adults in my building don't know about the movie Up! Hope it isn't lost on people. Let me know what you think...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Best laid plans...turn into other ideas

So my summer started out with my obsession with Ancestry.com and Pinterest. When I had the sudden realization I was spending a lot of time in the virtual world and should be more focused on the real world.

So while bumming around on Pinterest I saw this great tutorial on using a laser printer to transfer images on to wood blocks. I even posted about it here.

Katie over at Matsutake did a great job with the tutorial, so I went online and bought some wooden rectangles to print on.

I wanted to get rid of my paper job pocket chart. I had been buying these pocket accents. From Carson Dellroas Company for $7.00. My plan was to keep the pocket piece and just try to buy the card insert...ha ha, not going to happen because they don't make them separately.
So not wanting to be wasteful and buy way more than I need, I thought about trying to make something I could use year after year and while the one time cost would be higher it would pay for itself in the long run.

So I followed the tutorial at Matsutake, and came out with mixed results I read all the comment below the post and tried again.

My family members laughed at me. My Father told me I was putting way to much work into it, I said wait till you see how they turn out. He's an engineer and doesn't understand that simply attaching a label to a piece of wood will last about 4.2 seconds in an elementary classroom.

The second attempt also mixed results (see picture).

I think the problem is you MUST have an Epson printer, which use straight pigment vs. HP's water based inks. So I searched for an Epson printer not at school, at home, at parent's home, at parent work...no where is there an Epson printer. So back to the drawing board I went.

I had my 3x2 rectangles. So I thought of caving to my Father's idea about printing on labels and putting the labels on the wood. Come to find out, they don't make 3x2 labels!

Then while trying to solve that speed bump, I thought about business cards. We had a winner. I went to Staples to buy-said business cards- only to find the smallest packs were a 100 cards at $32.00- NO!

So while standing in the label aisle sorting threw my options I came across a new product by Avery.
Avery Adhesive Pockets with print inserts 2x3 (and 1/2...close enough)!! Which may actually work out better because I can change the card if need be instead of having to remove a label or print a new wood block. These are self adhesive and seem to be holding on okay. If they give me a hard time I'll use some more E600 to attach them!

( The cards are backwards because I had originally printed them for my transfer method, so these will get reprinted)

I stuck the vinyl pockets to the wood. Glued a round magnet to the back of the wood and printed out the jobs on the cards.

I plan to use them with empty plastic picture magnets that the student will decorate with their pictures and names and we will use them for a done/undone job chart. I think it will create more accountability. We don't start school for another few days so once I have it up and arranged in my classroom I'll make a new post!

My First Give Away!

In celebration of 25+ followers and this GORGEOUS day we are having in the Northeast I am hosting my first give away. If we make it to 50 followers, I will give away two packs of pens!
Since Sunday is the night before I go back to school, I will pick a winner Sunday at 8 P.M. To enter please:
make your own post about the blog and put the link in your comment
make a comment on this post
become a follower (and post that your following)
grab my button for your blog page (and post that you took it)

If you do all three make thee posts! or two etc.....

I am giving away a snazzy pack of Papermate medium tip pens ( a la Flair pens) these are great for correcting, card writing, and for writing on wood or fabric where a sharpie bleeds all over the place! You'll be the most colorful teacher in your hallway. Best wishes to you!

Teacher Talk Tuesday

So today at Blog Hoppin, we are linking up and giving advice to new teachers.

Funny, because I still consider myself a new teacher after 6 years, probably because I work with 2 women...one who just retired and have been on the job, in my building for 40+ years each! 6 years is a drop in the bucket!

I am excited about this post today, because I am hosting a student teacher starting next week- YIKES! So I'm going to read, read, read up to make sure I'm giving her the best advice I can. As for my advice here it is

1. Never ever, ever, ever let them see you sweat. Parents or kids. If they are under your skin, about to make you cry, you pull it together and you take the high road...never let yourself enter that power struggle, always take the high road.

2. When you start out as a teacher always plan for more time than you need AND always have a back up when things go quicker than you expected.

3. Own back to school night. Work it Girl! This a first impression for many parents. Not the moment to back down or be unsure of yourself. You ARE the teacher, act like it own it and when all else fails-- fake it till you make it!

4. Talk to your students like you would like someone to talk to your children. While I don't have children I have sisters that are much younger than I am, so I think of them in those cases.

5. Sometimes you have to pick up the phone. I am all for technology. "I love to email. Johnny forgot his library books, can you bring them in. Suzy was upset getting off the bus this morning but then pulled it together, just wanted to let you know." But there are times, and especially after many exchanges of emails where you just have to pick up the phone. I learned this my first year, when you word an email one way it may not always sound that way to the receiver. Pick up the phone and call the other person.

6. Be the flexible teacher, but don't let people walk on you. The speech teacher needs to move Johnny's time. Another teachers conference ran over can your principal needs to move your conference time? Can the student intern swing by Monday morning to observe a lesson? These are things in my book you say YES to, as long as they are not throwing off your schedule in major ways. I'm not saying let people walk on you or take advantage of you...ie the speech teacher wants to switch times and then does't see Johnny for 3 days. But the special service people, office staff, custodians, know who are the flexible teachers and I think they are way more willing to help you out when you need it because you've been flexible with them....you get more with honey then you do with vinegar.

And when you have a rough day remember there is always a light at the end of the tunnel... SUMMER! :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lucky 25!

Woo Hoo! 25 followers... I think it's time to plan a give away! Off to Walmart tomorrow to come up with a snappy 25 followers give away. Thanks to everyone who is following and for the great comments don't forget to grab my button for your blog! Thanks everyone!

Labels, labels, labels

During my last few lazy days of summer, I happened to catch a B2S segment on the Today Show. One cute thing I saw were labels from Mabel's Labels.

You can order personalized labels for those of you with kiddos, or maybe even a forgetful boyfriend/husband. They are great for clothes, lunch boxes etc. While flipping around the website I came across these classroom labels.

There are 60 labels for $12.00. I bought a p-touch label maker a few years ago but the batteries are always going in it, after a few uses :(. These are cute and would do a great job I think!

You look Marvelous Darling!!!!

So what do we all think of the new look?? A great combination of my favorite colors and a paisley-ish pattern. Could life be any greater?

Go check out lovely Alicia at Dream Like Magic Blog to see all her great blog templates!

The time's they are a changing...

Look for big changes coming to It's Elementary My Dear Teacher! A blog update to it's design! It's going to rock your socks off!

Meet the Teacher Monday

I've linked up to I'm a Blog Hopper to Participate in Teacher Week. A week long link party the only thing that could be better would be more summer vacation!!

Tell us a little something about you...
My name is Sarah Kate and I'm pretty new to teacher blogging. However, I would say I'm pretty into it now. I must mention the words "I saw on a teacher blog..." about a 100 times a day. I enjoy cooking, baking and crafting.
I have a terrier/lab/mut/Heinz 57 dog named Halle and she is love! I also have two younger sisters, one that just left for college in NYC this past weekend. It's weird that she's not around but I'm excited for her adventure!
How long have you been teaching?
I became a certified teacher in 2006 and got my first job that year. I did intern and student teach in 5th grade, but my "real" teaching job has been in second grade. I love second grade, it is awesome! Next week I will be entering my 6th year of teaching! How about this one, my Step Mom say to be me the other day," so starting year number four huh? crazy!" I said to her what two years did you miss??!!
You might not know...
I majored in American History with a concentrating in military history- can you explain to me how that ties into elementary curriculum? I have to say the little boys love talking war and tanks with me, so it's useful that way but it was certainly more to accommodate my love of learning not my job. I'd love to become certified as an upper grade social studies teacher but I heard the test is killer. I have 2 masters degrees but I've been thinking about going back to get a certificate in public history because that is truly my favorite part of history.
What are you looking most forward to this school year?
Truth be told, I'm not sure. Last year I had a rock star class, that just jelled so well, so I'm hoping whatever magic I dug up last year is lingering in the classroom for this year. I am also hosting a student teacher this year and I am so excited! Nervous but excited! I'm sure she's going to think I'm nuts as I'm emailing her DRA scores last night a week before school starts but, I'm excited and I hope it will be as successful as my student teaching.
What do you need to improve?
We use PLCs in our building and our team goal will be related to our district literacy which is Questioning the Author, focusing on Non-Fiction. So we will work on that but, as a personal goal we would like to work on math interventions a la Debbie Diller Math Stations.
What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?
Is a Smartboard a supply? I love my Smartboard. I love Google Earth on my Smartboard and my kids love it too! Good children's books are also supplies I can't live without because reading is SO important, how can I teach without good materials.

Be sure to head on over to Blog Hoppin, and link up to the party!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Free Cash!!!....ok not exactly but, it feels like it!


I have a ton of spare change. Literally

1/2 of a quart size bag of coins. Well I did. Until I took them all to the Coinstar machine.

I find my change in the following places- the car console, my piggy bank, laundry room, the change section of my wallet that is stuffed to the gills and of course the bottom of my pocketbook.

Now you may be saying... Coinstar...they charge some astronomical fee to turn your own coins into cash...

This is true...sort of. They charge 9.8 per dollar counted, if you have it turned into cash.

However, silver lining--if you get it in the form of a gift card, there is no fee taken out.

Now the gift cards are pretty sweet. You can get your gift cards to great places like CVS, Stop and Shop or Toys R' Us.... or teacher's favorite Amazon.com

My last bag of coins turned into $149 dollars in Amazon.com gift card dollars. So I've been adding to my shopping cart on Amazon, all the books I've been looking at, that new 3M laminator... I took my baggie of coins to the machine today and came out with $59.61 in Amazon gift dollars! Yippee!! So that's a nice chunk of change (pardon my pun) and of course there is free shipping too!

Check out all the info at Coinstar for yourself.

P.S. They also convert your coins into iTunes gift cards for the music lovers!

Twitter for the Second Grade Classroom??!!

Hello Blog Friends.... I'm back from a quick vacation to Disney the happiest place on earth....when you don't factor in the 100+ degree heat.

I came back to great news 21 followers! Yippee!!

However no one has linked up to my link party so, I'm going to revise and repost it later.

As for today's post it comes from one of my favorite companies, Responsive Classroom.

First things first hit up the Responsive Classroom website and sign up for the email newsletter in the lower right hand corner. It's awesome while typing this post I found 2 more things I want to look into, to help create community in my classroom.

Next check out the August Newsletter then check out these two articles that I'm blogging about today Communicating With Parents and What's One Way You Communicate with Parents?

The last article I found really interesting especially because one teacher is from my home state of Connecticut. The teacher's name is Tracy Mercier and she teaches 3rd grade. She has a lot of great technical resources, but as you'll read in this article she uses Twitter to communicate with parents about the day to day going on in the classroom.

You can check out her classroom twitter page here. She also has a personal page geared towards educators, not parents and students.

I really liked this idea, because...

1. Every year is the year I'm going to be on top of the parent news letter. Strong through December, flash to June where I haven't published a newsletter in 6 months.

2. I collect all parent emails in my beginning of the year letter/survey, but don't feel that we read "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel" and made connections to working through a tricky problem warrants an email. I see myself, saying "Junk Mail" or not more emails!

3. Twitter constantly archives, so if I tweet 2 or 3 times during a day, a parent can quickly scan all of them and see what's been going on.

4. I do closing meeting everyday. 3 things we learned, 2 things that went well and 1 thing to work on for next time. I'm sure by using the SmartBoard I could easily incorporate tweeting into our end of the day activities...which was the hang up with #1.

So here is my question to you....

How do you communicate with parents?

Do you think Twitter could be a useful means for communication?

**Also note I added a Twitter button to the top left of my blog page. I've only got one tweet so far, but it's a start... You can check out my twitter page here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Post It Party

Who doesn't love a good party and who doesn't love post its??

The lovely lady over at Create Teach Share is hosting a linky party about how you use post it's in your classroom.

I use post it notes the same way as the next teacher girl (or guy).
Some **different ways** I use them are... to cover words that children get stuck on to have them read through the sentence during G.R. To write out the syllables of tricky words. Also since I've been tutoring and don't have my arsenal of teaching supplies when playing sight word bingo, you can use the tiny post it notes to cover the words.

Head on over to Create Teach Share and link up!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Everyone loves freebies!


Hey head on over to Miss Bainbridge's Class to check out her flippy books give away! She's giving away different sets of books, your choice with up to 4 winners! Go check it out! Nothing like a Mid-Summer give away to perk up the old teaching spirit!

The Ultimate Sticky Buns

I love to bake. While I'm not always the best at somethings....Pie crust you foil me again! There are some things that I rock at... Ultimate Sticky Buns being one of them. The recipe is brought to you courtesy of Cook's Illustrated All Time Best Recipes.

I've subscribed to other magazines, I've used other cookbooks. I should know better, because time and time again I end up back with Cooks Illustrated materials they are the best, especially when they use color pictures.

The dough is twice raised, which means they are twice as yummy and will be eaten twice as quickly!

The recipes makes 12, 3 1/2 inch buns

3 large eggs @ room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk @ room temp.
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 envelope instant yeast
4 1/4 cups unbleached flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Carmel Glaze
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup (light/dark)
2 table spoons heavy cream
Pinch of salt

Cinnamon-Sugar Filling
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of salt
1 table spoon melted butter

The recipe also has a pecan topping, which I skipped because I thought the carmel glaze would be enough and...it was :)

Making the dough
1. Using a stand mixer, whisk eggs then add buttermilk. Add in the sugar, salt and yeast. Add 2 cups flour and butter, use a spatula to even out dough. Add all but 1/4 cup of the flour. Use the dough hook and knead on low for about 5 minutes. Be sure to check dough, add flour if too sticky. Knead 5 minutes longer. Place dough on floured surface, knead by hand for about 1 minute. Spray large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Put dough in bowl and light spray top of dough. Cover with plastic wrap tightly and set in a warm place until doubled in size about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

2. Make glaze.
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat on medium whisking until butter is melted and mixture is combined. Pour glaze into 13x9 nonstick metal baking pan, tilt pan and use spatula to cover the surface.

3. Assemble and bake.
Combine all dry ingredients in the filling. Turn dough out on floured surface. Stretch dough into a rectangle then roll out until it measures 16x12. Brush dough with 1 tablespoon of the filling butter. Leave a 1/2 inch around the edge for sealing the buns. Also brush side of baking dish. Place filling mixture evenly over the dough. Begin rolling the dough starting on the 16" side. Roll the dough until the seam is down and the roll is pushing down on it. Flip dough and pinch the end of the dough and the roll together. Flip back on its seem. Cut log in half, then in quarters using a serrated knife. Cut each quarter into 3 buns.

Arrange and rise
4. Arrange the buns in a 4x3 array in your metal pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap until puffy and pressed against each other about 1 1/2 hours. (If making these ahead of time you can "proof them for the 1 1/2, then refrigerate till the next morning) Put oven rack in lowest position. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

When ready to put buns in, lower temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown, or internal temp is at 180 degrees about 25-30 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 10 mins. Invert the pan onto a cutting board or large plate. Scrape extra glaze on to buns.

5. Pull apart and serve, eat quick because they'll go quick!

** Buns can be refrigerated in plastic wrap for up to 3 days. Reheat in microwave about 2 mins or in the oven 325 degrees for 8 minutes.**

Craft Blog

It was love at first blog....if you like easy, fun to look at crafts head on over to

I'm all about the glass jar/tape decorating tutorial....

Grade Level Link Up Party

While flipping around Pintrest on this steamy afternoon I came across a link to this blog. The Teacher's Lane.... who happen to be having a Link Party sorted by grade level.


So head on over to The Teacher's Lane check out the blogs, pass them on to your friends, link up your own blog and when we get rain again (someday!) you'll have a rainy day activity! Enjoy

Gratitude is one of the best emotions

I have 10 followers in 7 days, yippee!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! If you've started following me, linked up to my blog or commented on a post!

At this rate I'll be a first class blogger in no time!

I'm hoping to pass 100 followers by the first few weeks of school in September. I have some great blogs planned for when the school year starts. My only delay is that I can't get into my classroom and if we could peek into my classroom it would appear as if a new teacher were moving in there, because I strip that thing down at the end of the year.... nothing like a spic and span classroom to start the year off. So let's plan on more great things to come from It's Elementary My Dear Teacher.... including a blog theme update once I am back from my Disney vacation!

Friday, July 22, 2011

That would make Miss Triebel.....???

The last week of school my two sisters came into help with a tie dye t-shirt project. Which completely rocked and plan on doing this year at the beginning of the year and then have room spirit days with our shirts.

My middle sister Jaclyn, just graduated high school and is going to college to major in illustration. My youngest sister Katherine and I joke that Jaclyn soaked up all the art genes in the gene pool. When we were finished with the t-shirts there was a little bit of time before the end of the day so they start asking my sisters all sorts of questions; i.e. What's your favorite Harry Potter book? What is your dog Jake like? What is Miss Triebel's dog like?

So one student asks if Katherine is a good at sports. At 5'10" Katherine is great at most sports she tries. She plays volleyball and rows crew at our high school. They ask Jaclyn if she is sporty. Needless to say, she is admittedly not.

So then the question comes up...If Jaclyn is good at art and Katherine is good at sports. What is Miss Triebel good at?

One of my students yelled out she's good at being a teacher (Thanks Guys!). But it got me thinking. My Dad is an engineer. I think in some ways I got his engineering brain (certainly NOT the math part) but the how things work, the way things fit together, how to take things apart and put them together...which by proxy makes me good at putting Ikea furniture together AND crafts.

So that day we decided Miss Triebel is crafty. So here is my first craft blog, not too applicable to the classroom but certainly a fun and easy craft for anyone!

Sea glass Shadow Box
I used my favorite pieces of sea glass here, given to me by a friend.

sea glass (clearly you could do this with seashells, rocks, etc.)
12x16 art canvas (any size can be used)
E6000 craft glue
shadow box frame

1.) I started by arranging the sea glass by color on one of the extra boards I had. I started with the brillant blue, the blues, blue/greens, whites, white/greens, olive green and bottle green. I arranged them on the other board in the rectangle and in the way I wanted them.

2.) I took a pencil and marked off 2" in from the edge on each corner to create the rectangle that would be used for the sea glass.

3.) I used the E6000 glue, which comes out like hot glue--kinda of all over the place, and not when you expect it, grab extra paper towels! I glued in the 4 corner pieces first. Putting glue on the board and on the back of the glass pieces and letting them "set up" for 2 minutes. I then glued them on to the pencil marks.

4.) I then took the top part of the rectangle and started glue the "head" of each line in, using the same glueing procedure. Then I did the same for the bottom "foot" of the rectangle.

5.) Finally, I started with the left hand row (blue glass). I put the glue dots down on the board and then arranged the glass with the glue on the back under the second row, so I could see where to place them while they set up. When, they were all set up I just "flipped" then over into their places. I used a q-tip to wipe up any misplaced glue.

6.) I let it dry for a day or 2 before, putting it into the shadow box.

**Note about E6000, I had never used this glue before but had seen it used on many craft blogs. I really liked it and would use it (with the windows open) in my classroom if need be. It does ooze from the tube quite a bit. It does not dry super quick (I was thinking it was more like super glue...it's not that quick), if you get it on something it shouldn't be on...table, your sunglasses :o/... it will roll of it like elmers glue, if you just rub at it. Overall, I was really happy with the results and the product.

Buyer be ware in the back to school aisle....

So it's about 9,000 degrees in the Northeast today, and while I love the sun, and the summer. I certainly laying low today and hanging out indoors. It's been like this most of the week...so I decided to swing by my (not so) local Target to check out the dollar spot and (please forgive me for saying it) the back to school section. Summary of these events...

What in the good Lord's name was I thinking.... The panic set it!

I happen to be reading Abby's blog The Inspired Apple today, about her trip to Target. This is one of her pictures from her blog-
The Roseart crayons for .99 cents...already gone! I start to panic. What am I missing out on???

Composition journals for $1.00... A DOLLAR! I must need these and that's when I catch myself.

I'm a list maker. I made a list at the end of the year of the things, and ONLY the things I will buy for my classroom this year. I also took a last look at our POs to see what we did order supply wise.

I realized this after the amount of money I spent last year on school supplies and the amount of "stuff" a.k.a JUNK I had hidden on the shelves in my classroom.

So did I need those spiffy new dollar composition books? No. Did I want to buy them? Yes. A situation could arise where I may need them! Putting my supply anxiety aside, I revert to my list and try to stick to it. Also our PTO gives us some money to help offset our supplies every September. I try really hard to use this money to the best of my ability and not dip into my money when buying school supplies (ha ha ha ha flash to my making 20 tie dye shirt, all of the supplies I bought for my class this past year....)

We ordered 3 different types of journals this year. I think I'll be all set. Crayons, I still have a box of 500 crayons from 6 years ago, that I have as a back up. Furthermore I still have some of the crayons from last years class that I have yet to take care of. Our students do bring in some supplies and generally I ask for crayons, so I know I'll be all set. The panic subsides.

I should note that my list does change as the summer goes on but I try to substitute when needed, not add to.

So the moral of this story is:
1.) Go with a plan.
2.) Know what you already have.
3.) Know what you need, and buy ONLY what you need.
4.) Substitute on your list, try not to add on to it.
5.) Just because it's a bargain, doesn't mean it's a real bargain especially if your not going to use it!

My TTB (things to buy) school list looked like this at the end of June:
* new Carlson-Dellosa job pockets and cards
* laminated sticks, for choosing students etc.
* fabric to cover 2 paper bulletin boards
* Steps to literacy Desk Plates ( I loved these and so did the kids)
*Rainbow color Expo dry erase markers for (my) whiteboard

My TTB school list now looks like this
* 1 bag wood rectangles from Woodworks Ltd.
(I'm going to make permanent job magnets instead of spending $10.00 a yr on cardboard that I end up sending home with the kids. See the tutorial at Matsutake blog for printing with an inkjet printer on wood blocks)
* 20 magnets to put student names in (purchased at Joann fabrics $1.00 each with a 20% coupon last weekend. These are to go with the job magnets.) (More to come on items 1 & 2 once I get in my classroom)
*Dog wooden craft sticks (to go with my Up theme)
*fabric to cover bulletin boards (purchased at Joann fabrics this past weekend with a 20% off coupon)
*Rainbow color Expo dry erase markers for classroom whiteboard

*3m laminator
*Up banner for outside bulletin board
*New clip art package from DJ inkers for bulletin board

While I am spending more on the wood blocks etc. they are something I will use over and over again. So the one time purchase is more than buying a cardboard job bulletin board set, but after one year of use, I will have re cooped that money. Also, by not indulging in buying those composition books helps to afford my new laminator.