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'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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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

My last bag of coins turned into $149 dollars in 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.