Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Classroom Rules

Quick post. Today was our second day of school. Yesterday we did tons of activities to get to know each other and tons of housekeeping stuff. We did the venn diagram activity, and I can't wait to post pictures of how they turned out!

Anyway, since we've spent over a day in the classroom, I felt we were ready to write down our rules. We have school wide rules that everyone follows, but of course, every classroom should have their own. I ask for suggestions, assuming that they will all pull something from our "Pledge" that states all of our rules. I call on one of my sweet, but "tough", boys. I ask him for his idea. His idea for the number one rule in the classroom?

"We need to take care of each other."

Oh my. I had tears in my eyes. Funny how little things like that get me. But it was such a precious idea, and I'm glad that I'm already well on my way to have a safe and supportive learning community for my students.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Day! Not even Irene can stop us!

Well, this was QUITE the eventful weekend. I'm in Delaware, so we got slammed by that silly girl Irene. Thankfully no damage to my apartment or anything. I have school tomorrow, which means everything must be fine there, too. That surprises me though, because our roof leaks with a spring shower. I'll be interested to see what I'm walking into tomorrow!

Tomorrow! My first day with the kiddos! I saw about half of them on Friday, on which we had a "Meet The Teacher" event during the day. As I said previously, I know all but 3 of my students, as I taught a "special" my first year in the district. So I had these babies when they were shrimpy first graders! Anyway, I saw half of them on Friday, and my oh my, I'm going to have my hands full! A bunch of chatter boxes! Aren't kids supposed to clam up when they're with their parents? That was my experience last year. Well, these kids were bouncing off the walls! But I'm super excited. I have such a sweet bunch, and I can't wait to get started with them this year!

I'm doing the usual first day stuff tomorrow. I'm going to use a great idea I found on Third Grade Thinkers. Click that link to see a picture! Students will make a venn diagram comparing themselves to each other. Before that, they will need to fill out and illustrate the worksheet that includes things like their favorite sport, favorite special, etc. I modified the one included on that blog a bit. I included "The School I Attend" as one, so that I can ensure that everyone will have at least one thing in common!

Anyway, I hope to update this week! Good luck to everyone starting this week!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tues... oh wait, we had an earthquake.

Sorry, but this will be a dual-purpose post.

If you read my last post, you'll see that I teach in DE. Central Delaware to be exact. We had time to work in our classrooms, and let me tell you, I was feeling SO productive. People kept coming in and saying how far along my room was! Whoop! All of a sudden, stuff was shaking. Seriously, that's what I was thinking. Why is everything shaking? Before I knew it, it was over, and everyone was out in the hallway. I became extremely disoriented and sick to my stomach. We heard it was an earthquake which was centered in Virginia. My co-workers were calling home and daycares to make sure everything was okay with their families. I was just worried about my poor Newton [foster pup, see last post!! He was in a crate at home all by himself! And I know animals bug out when earth-related events happen.

Long story short, everyone & everything is fine. Except my stomach and head. I felt like crap the rest of the day, so I came home and slept from 6-8. Now here I am, trying to get stuff done for tomorrow! I thank goodness that the kids weren't in school. Its not like Delaware is earthquake central, so we absolutely did not have a plan. I bet we will have one tomorrow, though.

NOW! Onto Blog Hoppin'!

I am only a third year teacher, but here are a few gems I've picked up along the way! Take 'em or leave 'em!

1. Your ideas matter!
We adopted a new "program", Learning Focused Strategies. Beginning last year, we needed our lesson plans in a new format. I made a template that I use on the regular. It works for me. When getting evaluated, my administration loved my template and passed it out to my co-workers! Just because I'm on the newer side, doesn't mean your ideas are silly or sub-par!

2. Get your kids to help with housekeeping!
I "train" my kiddos to change the job chart, fix the library, check off homework, check for planner signatures, turn technology on/off. These little things will save you time and headache! Trust them and let them take some ownership in the classroom [start with small tasks!] It is OUR learning space!

3. Don't feel like you have to try everything!
In short, change/fix one aspect of your day at a time. If you implement math centers, reading centers, morning meeting, etc all in one week, you and your kids will be left spinning! I'm implementing reading centers this year. I'd LOVE to do math centers, too, but I'm going to hold off until I'm comfortable.

4. Ask for help!
I'm usually nervous to ask for help, for fear of seeming incompetent. However, I was struggling with reading last year. We have Reading Street as a resource, but we are more than encouraged to come up with our own stuff using other resources. I was lost. Math is my strong suit! I asked for some guidance from my principal. I got guidance AND praise.

Head over to Blog Hoppin' and link up as well!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet The Teacher Monday!

I'm linking up [with many others!] at Blog Hoppin'!, and it is MEET THE TEACHER MONDAY! I'm surprised I have the energy to do this. Today was my first day back [just staff]. So overwhelmed! So this is just the thing I need to take my mind off of it! =)

Tell us something about you!

Hellooo! My name is Meg! I'm in my mid-twenties, and I teach in the first state. I'm originally from right outside of Philadelphia and went to school at Lock Haven University. I love animals & chocolate. I love reality TV, such as the Bachelor/ette, Teen Mom, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, etc. I also love crime dramas, mostly Criminal Minds, SVU, and Flashpoint! I'm a huge country music fan. I love reading magazines, especially Cosmo and Glamour! I'm certified to teach K-6, as well as 7-9 Middle School Math and Middle School English. I really wanted to keep my options open! I minored in Psychology because I eventually want to become a Guidance Counselor. Below is my boyfriend & myself. He just helped me cut out all of the laminated stuff I brought home, so I'll keep him around! =)

How long have you been teaching?

I've been teaching for three years. I started out as a Writing Teacher for K-3. I did that for one year, then I was moved to 3rd grade, where I am now. I looove the content that I teach!

You might not know...

I volunteer with two animal rescues, Paws of Tomorrow and Purrfect Haven Cat Rescue. Through these rescues, I foster animals until they can find a home! I'm very passionate about animals! Spay, neuter, and microchip your pets! Don't shop, adopt! Here's my current foster pup, Newton! He's a dachshund/chihuahua/terrier mix & up for adoption. He HATES that mommy went back to work. Now we can't play all day! =(

Another big part of my life is Zeta Tau Alpha! I was a very active sister. It was my life in college. I held many executive positions, but most importantly I was VP2 of Education (Pledge Mom), and I LOVED teaching our new members about the history of our sorority and leading them through their pledging semester. I went about and beyond [of course, I'm a teacher!], making games and powerpoints to make the information more interesting! We raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness, a cause I still support and donate to!

What are you most looking forward to this school year?

Hm.. I'm looking forward to being comfortable with the content I'm teaching! Tons of stuff changes every year, but I'm excited for my second go-around in this grade level. Annnd, I can't wait to see my kiddos on Monday! I had some of these guys when they were first graders & I was the writing teacher. So they know what they're getting into!

What do you need to improve?

Organization and documentation! Like many teachers, I do whatever it takes to get my content/standards across to my students. But as far as RTI, we need to document everything! Yikes! I need to find something that works for me, and I've yet to find it! [Suggestions welcome!] I want to do a better job this year of saving my lesson plans and ideas and worksheets and graphic organizers!

What teaching supplies can you not live without?

Oh goodness, let's see! Plastic bins from the dollar store, my label maker, large iced coffees with skim and splenda, plastic sleeves for dry erase practice, and my work BFF.


Can you tell I was losing steam at the end? I'm beat, it's time for bed! Good luck to everyone who starts school this week!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One discovery after another!

I feel like I've been living under a rock! First, I discover Pinterest. Then the world of teaching blogging. THEN, that several stores, including LOFT, JCrew, and NY&C have teacher discounts.

NOW, I've discovered all that TPT has to offer. Like I said, I don't have a lot of extra money to be throwing around right now. [I can't wait until I do, because I will be buying a few things from other wonderful educators!] For now, I'm browsing the freebies.

For example, I just downloaded a place value game from DotsNSpots. For free? WHAT? Ugh, teachers are so generous! I can't wait to stop talking about all of the things I'm learning from others and start sharing some things myself!


How in the HECK did I not know about this! Did you know, with a valid teacher ID, you can get 15% off EVERYDAY at Loft?! "Like" them on facebook to get all the details or go to their website to print off your coupon. I live right by an outlet. I hope this offer works there! I'm in heaven!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Anxiety [& a giveaway!]

So I go back to school Monday for a weeks worth of PD with a little time to continue setting up my room. Probably won't be able to sleep Sunday night. I can't wait to get into the swing of things & just do what I love to do: teach!

In other news, Yearn to Learn is having a give away! Get the Picture vocabulary cards. They illustrate the meaning of words through how they are written. I'm always looking for different ways to encourage and explain academic vocabulary! Lots of other info over at her blog, so go go go! =)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I went into my classroom today. Yikes. Does anyone else get a HUGE pit in their stomachs when entering a disaster like this? I was going to take pictures, but I decided against it. Use your imaginations. It was chaos! I got a little bit sorted out. Going back in tomorrow to continue. We technically aren't back until Monday, but we were allowed to get a jump on things. I wanted to print out a bunch of stuff, but our computer lab color printer wasn't hooked up yet. And, well, I'm not great with wires. When there are too many, I get flustered. So I guess I'll leave that for next week.

Also, I'm posting at 1:45am. Night owl much? I hate mornings. For this reason, my boyfriend calls me Garfield. Also because I like lasagna. But I digress. I'm really going to need to get back onto a schedule. But I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen until Monday morning. Oh well.

Going back into school tomorrow to continue setting up. My goal is to laminate like its going out of style and get my hallway bulletin board finished. I hear a lot of people aren't coming in, so I can definitely hog the laminator!

Oh & I changed up my blog a little. That first layout was just to get me started. Found this cute new layout, but I'd love to figure out how to customize it a little more. For example, I'd like to change the size of headers & things like that. I guess I'll add that to my to do list!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My First Linky Party!

Amanda at The Teaching Thief is hosting a Linky Party. 


Top 10 Back To School Must Haves!

Now, not all are technically school related, but all help me to prepare for getting back into the swing of things! Let's begin! [These are in no particular order!]


10. Working electric pencil sharpener!
This speaks for itself, but... I ban mechanical pencils from my room because of "lead" drama!... pencil shavings drive me nuts.... I have bad luck with sharpeners, they always break!


9. Sentence Strips!

Anyone out there use Learning Focused Strategies in their district? We are required to do a ton of things to comply with this program. [Some I like more than others!] One thing we must do is post our daily "Essential Questions." These are like lesson objectives. I have at least 5 questions [at least one in each subject: reading, math, writing, science, and SS] I write my questions on these and post them. I go through these puppies like crazy!


8. Ink Cartridges

I try my best to do all my printing at school, but sometimes, there are resources that I just can't wait to print at home!


7. Wall Mounting Tabs

These are the only things that we are allowed to use on our walls. Very frustrating, because you need to use a billion just to hang a poster, just for it to fall down when the room gets dry!


 6. Some cute new threads!

I wish I had the funds to do a wardrobe overhaul, but a few new tops, bottoms, and shoes may or may not happen!


 5. Composition Books

My kiddos use these for tons of reasons. Their travel journals, writing journals, reading response journals! I'll post about my travel journals later, because my grade level does an awesome project!

4. Colorful Markers!

This goes for dry erase markers, grading markers, pens, etc.! They brighten my mood! And I hope that a note written in a cute color will get "Johnny" in a little less trouble for misbehaving when his mom reads the note I wrote in his planner! :-)


3. A decent grocery shopping trip!

Because once school starts, dragging myself to the store for healthy dinners is just that much harder!


2. Blogs, Blogs, and Blogs!

Seriously, I don't know how I got by last year without all of my fellow teachers across the country at my fingertips. You all have helped me more than you know! I hope that my eventual ideas and materials help others as well! :-)


1. A kick-butt attitude!

I may not be the best teacher, but I want to be the best teacher that I can be. For my kids, for their parents, for the administrators, for myself. There will be hard, seemingly impossible days ahead I'm sure. But starting the year off right will help me get through one day at a time!


Again, head over to The Teaching Thief & share your ideas! Maybe yours will make its way on to my list next year!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Common Core Resource

Who out there uses the new Common Core Standards? Last year, my district began phasing them in. I was chosen to be the school's trainer for the Language Arts section [as a second year teacher, YIKES!] But after this year of phasing them in, I feel completely comfortable in aligning them with my lessons. I feel that they are much more user friendly than our current state standards.

With that being said, they are still new, so limited resources are available that have been proven effective. Ashleigh, at Ashleigh's Education Journey, has made a set of the 3rd grade common core standards that can be posted in your room. They are cute and student friendly! You can download her set for 10 dollars at TpT! The link is on her blog. She found the idea from another teacher who developed sets for K-2. The link for those products is also on her blog. For the record, I've never bought anything from TpT, but I feel like this is SO worth it. I'm excited to show my administrators this great tool that will go above & beyond posting essential questions!

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Obsession

I swear, I've come across more things to be obsessed with in the past week than I had all last school year!

My newest obsession? Downloading fun fonts!

I just got a Mac for the first time. I remember having to download fonts on my PC for a class I was taking [I needed the phonetic alphabet font], and it was SUCH a pain. I never attempted to download any after that. But after finding out how easy it is to download fonts on a Mac, I just can't get enough. It's so easy, and it can really jazz up a worksheet or letter!

My favorites so far?

Class List!

Isn't seeing your class list for the first time just awesome?! I have 18 21 wonderful faces so far, with a few changes to be made before the beginning of the year I'm sure.

I first met this particular batch of students my first year of teaching. They were first graders, and I was hired late as a Writing Teacher. Like art, music, and computers, they tried to make writing a special. So I'm familiar with most of my students before they walk in my door. On top of that, second and third grade share a hallway, so I saw these little guys every day last year. I'm overly friendly and try to make a connection with everyone in the school, whether I know them or not. Let me just say that this particular group looks great. Amazingly, there are no red flags as far as behavior problems! Last year, I had quite a few boys who gave me a run for my money, so this is a welcomed break! I do, however, have a lot of interesting family situations and some low-leveled readers. I can't wait to dive into this year and make these kids feel loved and supported.

There are only two names on the list I don't recognize, and I consulted my yearbook, so they must be new students to the school. You better believe I'll be stalking eSchool to see if my list changes in the coming week! School is in the air!

I'm stopping into my room [before I'm allowed!] on Monday to drop off a bunch of stuff. It looks like I'm living out of my car, so I got early permission from my principal to unload it in my room, but not set anything up just yet. We are allowed to go in beginning Wednesday, so expect pictures and progress!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I'm letting myself spend two days shopping for my classroom. Today, I tackled Target and AC Moore. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. I'm on a budget. I'll explain.

I grew up, went to high school, and went to college in Pennsylvania. After graduating college, like many education majors, I had a tough time finding a job. I applied everywhere within a 45 minute radius so that I could live at home for a year or two, that way I could save money. Had a few interviews, but nothing stuck. Summer came to an end, still no job. Being impatient, I began searching in a neighboring state. The stars aligned, and I was a late hire for the 2009-2010 school year in a position I wasn't 100% stoked for, but it got my foot in the door. Last year I was moved to 3rd grade, which is right in the range I want to be.
I am so thankful for the opportunity. I'm blessed to be in a school with a supportive staff, and I have made irreplaceable friends. With that being said, money is tight. Being thrust out on my own with not much money is stressful. It is very hard to justify spending so much money on classroom decorations and extras when I buy the necessities with little left to save. I'm looking forward to going back to school, eventually purchasing a home, etc, and I currently have rent, utilities, and loans to pay for. I have enough to get by, don't get me wrong, but I definitely can't deck out my classroom like I'd like to! I see all of these beautiful classrooms on these blogs, and I hope I can recreate my classroom in a DIY way with limited funds!

With that being said, I've started crafting a few things, and I can't wait to post my first blog pictures! Stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Newbie in the Houuuse!

Hello Blog World!

For the past few weeks, I have been online searching for inspiration for my classroom. I've come across so many resources that I had no idea existed, such as all of these wonderful blogs and Pinterest! I wish I found these treasures sooner, but alas, here I am, two weeks before school!

Well, World Wide Web, you've done your inspiration duty. I'm starting a blog! Do I think its going to be popular, successful, and mind-blowing? Absolutely not. But my friends say I have a knack for writing, so why not share my successes, not-so-successfuls, and everything in between with fellow teachers who are in the same boat? So ahoy matees, once I figure this thing out, I'll post my first real entry!

If anyone stumbles across this and has any advice for newbies to the blog-o-sphere, please share! Looking forward to starting this new endeavor!