Where It All Goes Down Wednesday

Today is Where It All Goes Down Wednesday over at Blog Hoppin' and that means classroom tours!  What fun!  I'm still ironing out some of the details, and we haven't yet started school, but here are my pics.  I'll be posting more once we are underway in the school year.

Here's the front door with all of my "busy little bees."

Here's the Calendar area.  I change this area a little each month, adding new features and taking away some.  Each pencil on the board has a student's name (smudged out now) to indicate the Helper of the Day.  The cupcake poster on the right is for birthdays.  Rules have not yet been determined by the class.

This is the door to the bathroom, on which we have our Tooth Tally.  The children love to write their name on the graph after losing a tooth.  Above is the writing bug.  After a book is published I add a segment to the bug.  The writing bug eventually stretches over a couple of walls!

This is the sink area.  After the children decide what our class rules will be they will each cut out a star and hang it on the rainbow there.  We will also discuss good manners, and hang pictures under that sign.

Here's the front of the room.  It's prepped for our Open House evening.  You can see some of our classroom library on the floor there.  This area also changes throughout the year.

Here's a closer view of some of the classroom library.

Here is the computer area.  We actually still use the old "dinosaur" computer near the wall!  I have some terrific review games that only run on that computer.  

I don't yet have a picture of our Word Wall.  It's completely empty right now.  We'll start adding one student name each day (one per day for 20 days), and then we will add five words to the wall each week after they've been practiced for the week.  More on Word Wall procedures will follow in a different post.

Hop over to Blog Hoppin' to see more class tours!

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Teacher Talk Tuesday

It's Teacher Talk Tuesday over at Blog Hoppin'.  This is a day dedicated to offering helpful advice to new teachers.  Being a new teacher can be so very overwhelming.  I've read many of the posts, and thought I'd add a small one to the mix.

The best advice I can give to a new teacher is to work first on classroom management.   This always seems to be the toughest area.  "Tools for Teaching" by Fred Jones is a great resource.

Fred Jones observed "natural" teachers in their classrooms to determine what made their teaching style seem so effortless.  How did these exceptional teachers create relaxed learning environments, with students eager, responsible and ready to learn?  He looked closely at verbal and non-verbal communication between students and teacher.  He found, among other things, that body language speaks volumes!  At the Fred Jones site you can download an exerpt of his book.  It's most definitely worth a look.

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Meet the Teacher Monday

Blog Hoppin' started a new blog and is hosting a Teacher Week.  Today is Meet the Teacher Monday.  How cool is that!

A little something about me....
(Can I skip this question?  This truly is the hardest question in Meet the Teacher because I am a shy person!  Garrison Keillor, where are those Powdered Milk Biscuits when a shy person really needs one?)  

Phew!  OK, now that I got that little tantrum out of the way, here goes. 

I'm a first grade teacher in the lovely, Vacationland state of Maine.  I have three children, all successful young adults and I love them dearly.  I recently completed a Master's Degree in Education at the University of New England and loved, loved, loved getting back into academia!  

How long have I been teaching...
I taught for 5 years before I became a stay-at-home mom with my three children.  I've now been back in the field for 16 years, with 12 of them in first grade.  Time flies!

What you may not know...

I have an old Betsy Ross Spinet piano that I just love playing (although poorly).  I like to tell my boys and girls that even though I don't play well, I keep on trying, and I know I'm getting better (Honestly? That's wishful thinking on my part).  

What I'm looking forward to this year...
  • I'm quite excited to begin a new year with new little first graders! Six and seven year olds are both fascinating and engaging little people.  
  • I received an LCD projector in a mini grant from the PTC group at my school. I'm eager to try it out and to incorporate it into my classroom practices. I'd love any tips and/or websites with ideas!  
  • I'm going to borrow a class slogan from the Efficacy Institute in Boston, and Peres Elementary in California, "Work hard! Get smart!" Can't wait to build on that theme.
      What I would like to improve...
      • I would like to be more organized in every way.
      • I'd like to maximize reading conference time.
        What teaching supplies I cannot live without...
        • caffeine (any form!)
        • sticky notes
        • flip chart markers
        • "Comprehension," the newest publication by Pat Cunningham, James Cunningham and Dorothy Hall.

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          It's coming along!

          I'm slowly making sense out of the chaos that is (was) my room this past week.  Here is a picture of one area of the room loaded with boxes and other items waiting to be stored and carefully placed.  The calendar area is coming into being!

          Yesterday I went to a Maine discount store called Marden's, (pronounced Mah-dens) to buy material for curtains.  Marden's is THE place to buy fabric in Maine.  I actually ran into my daughter buying fabric for her classroom!  Check out the fabric.   It looks so cheery and colorful.  Tomorrow I'll have pictures of the finished curtains.

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          Back to Sausage!

          It's Back to Sausage time, as my sister, my daughter and I say (we're all teachers).  My sister, who taught for 23 years, always appreciated her break in the summer (don't we all?) and so she invented this substitution.  In the summer we could never say the word school.  Instead we simply substituted sausage for school.  Funny!  Of course, we all love our jobs, love teaching and are passionate about it.  But in the summer, the break is refreshing and we needed to separate for a bit.  So sausage was and still is the word!  

          Last weekend I got to spend some very special time with a sister-in-law who just cracked up when we spoke about "sausage."  She is about to begin a new job as a school psychologist in Washington state and she has a very keen sense of humor.  Said she was going to bring this little idea out to the west coast.  HAHA!

          It's Back to School, er, SAUSAGE everyone!  

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          Giving Praise

          As I've been preparing my classroom for the new school year, I've been thinking about my practices and how I can improve what I do as a teacher.  An article that I read in the March/April NEA magazine last Spring titled "The Praise Paradox" really impressed me, so I thought I'd try to find it online to reread.  Found it here!  This very powerful research by Dr. Carol Dweck and her team is well worth reading as we begin the new year.  Dweck found that praising children for being smart can actually prevent them from achieving to their highest potential.  Instead, praising children for their effort and hard work empowers them and puts them in control of their success.

          Here is the "The Praise Paradox."  It's a compelling read!

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          Top 3 Things Linky Party

          Simply 2nd Resources is having a Top 3 Things Linky Party.
          What are the top three things I want to focus on this year?
          1. Incorporate my new LCD projector in lessons and everyday classroom use.  Thanks to our fabulous PTC, I was awarded a grant to purchase an LCD projector.  Can't wait to play around with it!
          2. Zero in on individual conferences in the Self-Selected Reading block.  It's during this block that I meet with students one on one.  I'd like to find ways to increase the effectiveness of this precious time.
          3. Open up and analyze our new learning targets to make sure that each child is working toward mastery of these new standards.  I need to find an organizational strategy in order to see the big picture.
          Thanks, Becca!  As I get into the swing of things again, it helps to take a closer look at a few important goals.

          Here is where you can link up to this Top 3 Things Linky Party.

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          First Participation in a Give Away!

          Barbara at GradeOnederful is having her first Give Away, and so I thought I'd participate for the first time in a Give Away!  Fun!  She's hoping to have 50 followers by the start of school.  Barbara's ideas are worth checking out.  The Halloween foam stickers and patterning ideas are terrific.

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          Classroom Prep

          It's time to get out the recipe box!  A good friend, and now retired teacher, gave me this idea to keep a recipe file box filled with photos of previous bulletin boards, activities and ideas.  It's a great way to look back on how I set something up and to compare previous set-ups.  Every year is not the same, and with my past photos I can analyze what worked and what didn't.

          I actually like having the hands-on photo rather than a digital copy on my laptop.  I find it's easier to shuffle through all of them and pull a few for comparison.  They are organized according to month.

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          Blueberries and the Holodeck

          It wouldn't be summer for me if I didn't go blueberry picking.  So today my friend and I drove up the mountain to Libby & Sons in Limerick to pick away.  It is one of my favorite holodeck experiences!  

          The holodeck of Star Trek Next Generation was a simulated reality room, usually used for relaxation and entertainment, but also for training or scientific experimentation.  The crew members could select a program for the holodeck, then walk into that particular experience in the room.  It was a way for them to relax and get away from the routines of the ship.  Blueberry picking at Libby's is by far one of the best holodeck experiences for me!  

          Today I picked a variety of Blue Crop and Patriots.  It was like picking giant blue buttons!

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