Saturday, August 30, 2014

Extreme Makeover: Classroom Reveal with a Q and A Session

I'm linking up with The Primary Gal for a classroom reveal.  My school district starts school really early, like end of July early!!!  So I've been in school for a month already and am looking forward to this 3 day Labor Day weekend.  I showed you some pictures of my classroom in this post.  Today I will be revealing a friend's classroom.  This makes me super excited because this is a teacher from my hometown back in Virginia.  When I saw her classroom pics, I fell in love!!!  I did a little Q and A session to pick her brain.  She teaches 1st grade and has a "too cute" pirate themed classroom.  Take a look:

Here's a peek at our Q and A: 

Name:  Mrs. Barker

Years and grades you’ve taught:  16 years   (7 in 2nd grade;  9 in 1st grade)

Why you LOVE teaching FIRST grade:    What is not to love?  First graders are hilarious and have such a unique view of the world!  They are enthusiastic and get excited about the littlest things!   For the most part,  they are very observant little people and soak up information like a sponge.   I can be silly and funny (such as singing directions or talking in a alien voice) and they think it’s the greatest thing in the world.   Everyday, you never know what to expect…but you can almost always guarantee it will end with a HUG!  <3

How did you pick your classroom theme?  This year, I got my inspiration from Schoolgirl Style.  I wanted to do something a little different than I had done before.    I chose a pirate theme because loved the colors and thought it would look cute in my room. 

What’s your favorite part of getting ready to go back to school?  Everything is new and different.  I feel very motivated and excited to try new things.  It’s definitely refreshing.
What’s your least favorite part?    That there just never seems to be enough time to get everything done.    

What are some of things you do on the first few days of school with your kiddos?     I have a couple of units that I like to do with the students encouraging “getting along” and “acceptance”  involving the stories Chrysanthemum, David Goes to School,  Bucket Fillers, First Day Jitters.  We make “Jitter Juice” to chase our first day jitters away.  

What is the most effective way you’ve found to communicate with your parents?     For class news,  I send home a weekly newsletter.    This year,  I have found that Class Dojo (which is what I use for discipline/ reward tracking) has a new feature of messaging…which makes it very handy for communication between me and my parents.  I still make phone calls and write letters when needed.

What’s your go-to place to get new teaching ideas?   I’m definitely a teaching blog addict!  I have the bloglovin app and follow several (mostly first grade) teachers.  I love all the new ideas I can find.   I also use TeachersPayTeachers for new ideas. 

Any advice you’d like to give a new teacher:  Pair up with a veteran teacher and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Your colleagues can be a treasure of solutions for almost any situation.   
I'm sure her kiddos are screaming with joy as they enter the classroom every morning.  What an awesome place to learn!!!

Now head over to The Primary Gal and check out the other Extreme Makeovers.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lovin' Logic

Run, don't walk over to The Teaching 2-Step for my latest post on using logic puzzles in the classroom and grab the FREEBIE.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Made It Monday-Classroom Spruce Up

I'm linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for Made It Monday for a little classroom sprucing up and a little something just for me.

Like many in my school district, I teach in a trailer aka a portable!  The inside of it really is nice, but the outside, well not so much!  The teacher I share it with really did some work before I got there; painting the walls and sponge painting the blinds.  So we have a nice, clean pallet to work with.  I posted in an earlier post some of the awesome art work she's done to make our trailer portable nice and homey. 
I have a really high shelf that I have some storage bins on, but above it is a really bare space.  I  wanted something to add a splash of color to this little area.  So, while lying in bed thinking of everything that I needed to be working on for my classes, I pictured the perfect solution.  I hopped out of bed and starting digging through my scrap booking supplies.  I came up with about 8 sheets of black and white, and lime green scrap book pages.  This goes along with the color scheme we have going on.  Sounds crazy but the colors work.  The walls are white, blinds lime green, and all the decor and displays are black and white cows.  I made myself a template from a piece of card stock and started tracing and cutting.  I used a piece of twine and craft glue to string it all together.  

Here's the result:

While it doesn't look like much, it's adds SO much to that whole side of the room.  Unfortunately, I don't have a before picture so show you how bare it looked.  It's the little things, right?

I got a ton on inspiration seeing all the pics from the TPT Conference in Vegas this summer.  One thing I saw a lot of was personalized business cards.  So I got to work creating my own.  Here's what I came up with:  

I love the idea of using QR codes instead of web addresses.  They are hard to remember and really hard to get exact when typing them into the address bar.  I did some research and found that GotPrint and VistaPrint, were some of the most cost effective places to get them printed.  I went with GotPrint because they ended up being a little bit cheaper on shipping.

Do you have a business card?  Did you design it and where did you get them printed?

Head back over to 4th Grade Frolics and check out some other Made It Monday creations.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Classroom Must-Haves BLOG HOP & GIVEAWAY

I'm so excited to join a couple of my fellow Tennesseans for this blog hop.  We will be talking about those classroom must-haves.  You know the one thing you could NOT live without in your classroom.  And for a little added bonus, we are also offering one lucky reader a Winner's Choice item from each of our TPT stores, so don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!
Last year I accepted a new position in a school that was not Title 1.  This was new for me and the amount of technology was the biggest difference I noticed.  So I was left without a SmartBoard, a slew of Mac's, and the HoverCams that I was accustomed.  These were my staples, that made each day flow smoothly.  I managed to get a laptop that I hooked up to a projector and an E-Beam, there were some PC's in my trailer portable that worked fine, I was just spoiled by always having MACs.  
So entering this new position I didn't have all my lessons prepared in PowerPoints or my worksheets saved on a flash drive anymore.  Most of the curriculum was already written and I had hard copies.  So I longed for my good 'ol HoverCam.  No extras ones were available in the school so.......I started to research cheap cost effective document cameras, that would work for me.  And there it was, the solution to all my problems, behold the IPEVO document camera.
This jewel plugs right into the computer's USB port and you're ready to go.  I can use this to project worksheets to model examples, as a webcam for chatting with on-line pen pals, or I can point it at any child that may not be paying attention or having a side conversation!  

Here are just a few examples, from their website, of how you can use this awesome product.

This baby has saved my life and didn't break the bank.  It is under $70!!!!  This is pennies compared to the cost of a HoverCam and it works just as well.  If you don't wanna come out of pocket, this would be a great Donors Choose project.  If you haven't used Donors Choose, you should.  It's easy and there are a ton of generous people out there willing to help us teachers out.

Head on over and check it out for yourself. IPEVO DocuCam 

Then, hop over to my friends' pages to check out their Classroom Must-Haves!  Be sure to enter our giveaway for a chance to win your choice of items from each of our stores!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hopes and Dreams~Responsive Classroom

I love beginning each school year by developing our Hopes and Dreams.  For the little ones, this is something they may have never considered.  I try to explain that a "hope" is something you hope to do, learn, or accomplish this school year.  A "dream" is something you may aspire to do in the future.  With 1st and 2nd graders this always means, what they want to be when they grow up and I'm fine with that.   I like to introduce this discussion about personal choices and how they influence end results, with a read-aloud.  Here are some of my favorites:

What read-alouds have you used to introduce Hopes and Dreams?

I have used the royal theme for several years.  
I never remember to keep the crown outline, so I have to search on-line for a crown to photocopy on yellow card stock.  The kiddos cut them out and we place a picture of them in the center.  They write up their hopes and dreams statements and I type them, select a fun font, and print them.  I tear the edges of the paper to make it look like a scroll and staple it up!  It's that easy!
Here's a fun one from a fellow teacher, a few years back.
Here's two of my all time favorites from Pinterest.

Even if you're not a Responsive Classroom trained educator, it's worth checking out.  There are so many great ideas that you could easily incorporate into your classroom routines.

This book is a GREAT place to start.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wordless Wednesday~Aug. 6 (and a SALE)

Wordless Wednesday with Miss DeCarbo is getting serious now that school has started!  No more fun in the sun, it's back to business!  
This week I'm working on a fun tri-fold brochure to give to my parents at my Meet the Teacher meeting.  This seems so much more fun than just passing out a stack of papers packed full of info.  I'm thinking I may print it on bright pink paper.  Pink is a happy color, right?  
What kind of hand-outs do you give to your parents at Meet the Teacher meetings?

If you're following me on Facebook or at my TPT store you already know I'm having a Buy 2, Get 1 FREE sale for the entire month of August!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Anchors Away Monday~Linky

Today I'm linking up with Crafting Connections for Anchors Away Monday.  

I've picked one of my most pinned anchor charts, that I use year after year when teaching and reviewing fact and opinion.  I teach 1st and 2nd graders and this can get tricky.  This anchor chart just gives them some key words to look for when determining if a statement is a fact or opinion. I leave this displayed when they are composing their own facts and opinions as well.

It's not flashy or very pretty, but it gets the job done.  There are several versions out there on Pinterest, if you do a search.  I like to keep it simple and to the point, so this one works for us.

I have several TPT products that have some fact and opinion activities in them:
Follow me on Pinterest to see more of the fun and exciting things we are doing in the classroom.

Don't forget about the 2-day TPT sale going on right now.  EVERYTHING in my store is on sale.  Be sure to use the code BTS14 at check out.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Five For Friday-August 1, 2014

WOW!  It's August already?  How'd that happen?  I went back to school this week (in-service week)  so I'll try to sum it up in Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching.

We had in-service training this week and due to construction this is the first week we were allowed to work in our classrooms.  Here's a look at a few things from my classroom.  I CAN NOT take credit for this cute artwork or fun puns.  The awesome teacher I share a room with did all the work.

We teach gifted and talented students so our classroom displays and strategies are a bit different.
 My Teaching with a Twist Facebook page hit 200 likes this week!!! Hooray!!!!  To celebrate I had a 10 minute flash freebie that turned into a 40 minute flash freebie!!  I got caught up watching Big Brother!  But that's okay, I love my followers.

We had a guest speaker this week and he was WONDERFUL!  Has anyone heard of Larry Bell?  If not, you should definitely check him out. He's the brains behind UNRA(A)VEL and 12 Powerful Words.  He has some great strategies that really work when it comes to state testing.

I finished and had a giveaway this week for my Ready-Made Writing Centers.  This is perfect for 1st and 2nd graders.  You can grab it for only $2.00!!

Don't forget the big Back 2 School TPT sale is coming soon.  You can get up to 28% off my ENTIRE store.

This is only the second year that my school district has given us a week off for fall break.  I plan on making the most of it...we just booked a trip to Cancun!  This is one of my favorite places to just get away and relax.
This is a pic from our last trip there in March.

Head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see everyone else's Five for Friday.