Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Teacher Monday linky party

HI everyone. I am participating in "Meet the Teacher Monday" linky party hosted by blog hoppin .

So, here we go.

Yes, that would be me holding the alligator. We were on a field trip at Grand Bay Wildlife Management Center in our town.

Tell us a little something about you...

I started blogging in June.  I am still navigating my way around the blog world. My blog is very basic as I am trying to learn how to spiff it up. :-)  I have one child, a daughter who is almost 20. I never married and at this point, probably never will. I kind of like having sole possession of the remote control. ;-)  I have 3 cats. Two Persians and one Main-Coon. I really want a fourth one, but refrain because I do NOT want to be known as "the crazy cat lady".  But in my defense, one of the cats actually belongs to my daughter.

How long have you been teaching?

This is my 18th year in the classroom. I absolutely LOVE teaching. I have never wanted to do anything else. It is definitely something I am passionate about. I teach at a Christian school in Georgia. I currently teach 4th grade.

You might not know...

I have been two short-term mission trips. One to Peru and the other to Venezuela. My dream is to return to Peru to work with the street children.  Seeing those precious 'babies' begging for food nearly broke my heart. 

                                  What are you looking most forward to this school year?

Oh, I don't know....Fall break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break............ hahahaha so totally kidding!!! :-)
Seriously though,  Mostly, I love having a fresh start. I look forward to watching my students grow and learn this year. There is nothing better than seeing that light of understanding cross their faces. A beautiful site.

                                                       What do you need to improve?

This year, I wanted to improve the way I teach math. This summer I spent time researching and making math games.  Right now I am teaching them a few games a week.  They are really enjoying the change. And I think they are grasping the concepts a bit faster.

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

I heart sharpie markers and colorful pens. I don't like using just red ink to grade papers. I use all different colors.  Another thing I LOVE are pocket charts. I have an obsession with pocket charts. Every time I pass the Target dollar spot and they have pocket charts,  I  always have to get "just one more".  I think I need an intervention. :)      

Well, now it is your time. Head on over to blog hoppin and join the party!                                                        

Taking a breath

Whew! It has been a whirlwind this month.  Teachers went back (officially) on August 1, and students returned on August 8.  What a crazy, busy two weeks it has been. I finally have some finished pictures.  There are still some rough spots to smooth out. The tricky part is finding the time now that school is in full swing.   I have a sweet, little group this year.
I always hesitate showing my room because I don't do a theme and I do not do a lot of the stuff that seems normal now a days, like the daily five and all the anchor charts. Although, this year, I have started doing some anchor charts for reading.  I have always done "posters" and or cards for a pocket chart. So maybe in a way, I have "always" done anchor charts.

Anyway, here is my tiny 4th grade classroom. :-)
DISCLAIMER:  Most of the stuff you will see are NOT my original ideas. I have gleaned them from other teachers on pinterest or right here on blogger.  And I cannot remember where I found the ideas. SO please know that I am NOT trying to take credit!

View from the door.

Our class computer. The white board has their weekly memory verse. Our class rules are above it.

Our book bins.  They are labeled by genre.

I use the round table for small group work. I LOVE the boggle board.  My students are enjoying finding all the words.  I use the other part of the white board for math group instruction.

The yellow board is my math board. (still haven't gotten around to labeling it)

The 16 pocket chart you see "straight" ahead is our student mailbox system. I purchased it last May when Really Good Stuff had their teacher appreciation sale. I LOVE it. Makes passing out papers so much easier.

Our behavior clip system. I know you all have seen these ALL over pinterest! :-)

Daily schedule, helper chart and our "give me 5" reminder.

The green board is my Language Arts board. In the process of putting something up.

A partial view of the front of the room. Above the calendar are our hand signal reminders. Index finger: I need help.  Full hand: I want to speak/ask question.  Two fingers:  I need to leave my seat. 3 fingers: bathroom please.  I love this system. It helps eliminate work time interruptions.

This bookshelf (which you can't see) holds our Literature books, dictionaries and Thesauruses.  The black tray on top is where they turn in their homework.

Daily assignments are listed on the left of the chalkboard and the homework is listed on the right.  The reason I post the daily assignments for each subject is so I am NOT constantly hearing, "What page did you say? What was our language exercise? etc"

This is located behind my desk. It is where I show off their work.

Another view of the back of the room. Oh, the small bookshelf on the right holds our class sets of chapter books.

Our Social Studies board.  We are currently studying early explorers.  On the right, we are tracking my truck driving brother as he crisscrosses the United States. The kids are really have fun with it.

The yellow folders are labeled with our subjects and are in alphabetical order.  They put their papers in the proper folder when they are finished.

View of the front. The pocket chart to the left holds our daily objectives.

Our journals. The ribbon was another idea I got from pinterest.  I hot glued a ribbon to the back cover. The one opened doesn't belong to a student. Didn't want you to think we haven't used them yet. :-)

So there ya go. Our classroom. :-)  For those back in the classroom, I hope you all are having a great year so far.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A work in progress

I've been spending time in the classroom the last few weeks. I am reorganizing, clearing out, and rearranging.  Here are some pictures. Be warned, I am NOT finished. There is still a lot to do.  Most of the stuff you will see are NOT my original ideas. Like most teachers, I see something I like and then adapt it to fit my teaching style. 
My brother is a long distance truck driver.  He is going to text me each time he heads out for a new location.  We are going to track his route. I am going to use this to teach map skills,  estimation and averaging. I am real excited about this idea!  I will post what the students do and what all I use this information for. The possibilities are endless!  (NOT my original idea. I watched a movie a few years ago about a teacher who taught geography by tracking a truck drivers routes. I can not remember his name.)

We study explorers in History at the beginning of the school year.

I am really proud of this cabinet! I purchased storage containers from the Dollar Tree and labeled my art and math supplies.  The baskets on the top left contain class sets of chapter books. I don't have those labeled yet.  I have some empty space on the top left side. I am thinking  about hanging sentence strips from the pole.

This space is a work in progress. I am thinking about taking the left side down and making the entire board a math board.  My behavior chart is on the right.  Then next to that is the chart I am going to use to file the papers the students will take home.  I purchased it from Really Good Stuff when it was on sale during teacher appreciation week. I am looking forward to using it.  I think it is going to make life much easier. 

A view of the front of the room. A work in progress.  I am taking down the alphabet and putting up a different one; one that won't take up as much space. I am also moving the time line.  I usually start the year off with the desks in rows.  It makes it easier to teach my classroom procedures. Then about two or three weeks in, I change it to a U shape.  I LOVE having them in a U shape.  I would rather have the desk and chair separate, but these were given to us and I have to use them. :-)

Again, this area is NOT finished.  I am in the middle of re-doing my book baskets. I was given a bunch of "new" books and have to sort them. I am working on new book labels. I will post them when I get them done.  And yes, that is dinosaur (projector) you see. Hahaha. I'm just happy to have something! :-)

Well, there you go.  It's not finished. And it is small. I will post the finished product next week!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mrs. Bainbridge's Linky Party...Oh the things we say!

Mrs. Bainbridge says, "We've all got those "things" that we say.  What is something you always say to your students?  Maybe it's something cute that you love... or maybe it's something that you heard them start to say to each other that made you go "uh oh!".
Here's mine...

Two years ago I had a student new to our school. It was the second day. The students were working on a writing assignment. While walking around, I noticed she was trying so hard to write in cursive. I leaned down and whispered, "honey, it's ok, you can print."  I walk on to another child's desk. I then noticed the first child got out of her seat and walked to the back of the room and stopped in front of my PRINTER.  I went to her and asked her what she was doing. She said, "You told me to print it." I leaned down and whispered in her ear, "well aren't you precious."
And it stuck. So now when ever a child does something "odd" or even aggravating, my response is usually, "oh, you are precious."  It has become a school joke.  Last year, during our meet the teacher night, I had a parent come to me and say that I would probably be calling her child precious a lot! hahaha. And indeed, I did! :) Bless his heart.  :-)

The other thing I say a lot is "Do it with a happy heart."  AND, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.

Ok, your turn! Head on over to Mrs. Bainbridge's Class blog and post your link!

Favorite Books - linky party

Runde's Room is having a favorite book linky party.

My favorite childhood books that I read over and over was Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink and Socks by Beverly Cleary.

My favorite book I read to my daughter was Goodnight Moon.  There was also a set of Bible story books I read over and over to her as well, but I can't remember the name of the set. They are boxed up until my grandchildren start arriving. :).

I have too many professional and personal books to list. I am an avid reader and reread a lot of them. Too many to name. :-)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Math games for upper elementary

While on my new obsession, Pinterest, I stumbled across a great website.  I am always looking for math games for 4th grade. I hit the jackpot and found several card games.

Here they are. Click on the name and if I did this right, it will take you to the website. ENJOY! :-)

Bullseye! A mathematical card game.

Capture That Fraction

Staying Above Zero

Leftovers: A Division Card Game

Prime Time: a game dealing with prime numbers

Multiplication Math War

place value

Another activity for positive and negative numbers

A fraction game. Very challenging.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

10 things about me....linky party

Hi everyone. Mrs. Owens is hosting an about me linky party!

Here is my list:

10.  I never married and probably never will.

9.  Went to at least 13 different schools in grades K - 6th.

8.  I teach at a private Christian School.

7.  I have 3 cats and really want a 4th but don't want to be "that crazy cat lady", so I restrain myself. :-)

6.  I have been to Peru & Venezuela (mission trips).   My dream is to return to Peru and work in an orphanage or mission school.

5.  I LOVE college football. Roll Tide ROLL!!! During football season I arrange my Saturdays around the games. READY for the season to begin! :-)

4.  I LOVE to read. My house is over run with books. But not in a hoarder sort of way, they are neatly arranged/displayed or out of sight in a closet. :)

3.  I am a bit OCD when it comes to organization. I HAVE to have things "just so" or it makes me a bit nuts. ;)

2.  I LOVE to watch anything sci-fi...(but not the gory stuff...ick...)

1.  I have one child, a daughter who is almost 20 years old.  She will be moving into her own apartment in the next few months and I am dreading it. It may push me over the edge to get that 4th cat! haha ;)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The teacher that changed my life....

For some odd reason, I woke up this morning thinking about past teachers. I don't often do that. Mainly because I've had so many.  We were a very poor family. My daddy, for whatever reason, moved us often. I remember one such move occurring in the middle of the night with only the clothes on my back. I cried for days because I had to leave all of my precious dollies.  I've tried to count how many elementary teachers I've had over the years. Honestly, I cannot even remember most of my elementary years. But from what I do remember, I had 13 different teachers in grades K - 6. I think the number is higher than that but I don't remember all of them from the real early years.

I was the at risk child. The free lunch child. The child with dirty hair that was not washed often enough. The child that often had an odor because she was not made to bathe every night.  The child who ate everything she could get her hands on because she wasn't sure there would be food at home. The child whose family was visited by child protective services a few times, but nothing was ever proven.  The child who often times got bullied and beat up just because she was shy and mousy. 

The few memories I have of past teachers were mostly unpleasant. I remember the "looks", the harsh words, the impatience.  But in 5th grade all of that changed. I was headed down the wrong path in record time.  I was tired of getting beat all the time and was beginning to turn hard-hearted and fight back.  I hung with an older, rougher crowd. My language was edgy, my manners crude and my attitude harsh. I wasn't going to take it anymore.  Then entered Mrs. Brown. One day someone brought a prism to school. I was awe struck by it and wanted it. So, I stole it. The next day Mrs. Brown confronted the class. She asked the guilty to party to please put it on her desk; no questions asked.  I struggled all day. Finally, after class when every one else left, I went back to the room and put it on her desk. She caught me. But instead of a harsh word, I got words that forever changed me:  "I am proud of you. It took a big person to admit they were wrong."  I broke down and cried. She hugged me.   That was a turning point in my life. She showed me things could be different.  She took me to church with her a few times.  I will NEVER forget Mrs. Brown.  Because of her, I was set on a different path.

A year later, still struggling to "be good", I was sent to a Salvation Army Camp for underprivileged children. It was at that camp my life was forever changed.  Mrs. Brown planted the seeds and the Salvation Army counselor reaped the harvest. For it was at the camp, the summer I turned 12 years old that I became a Christ follower.  I remember on the bus ride home being terrified of going back to the old crowd. I didn't know what I was going to do. When I got home, I was hit with the news: we were moving!  Within 3 days, God had us out of that place and in another state entirely; far away from "the bad crowd".  My life changed dramatically. We moved 3 more times in the next 6 years of my life. Each time was within walking distance of a church. So I was able to go to church and grow in faith.  Our family situation also changed. Daddy was deemed disabled and we had a steady, monthly income. I was actually able to stay at the same high school for those awkward high school years.

Mrs. Brown was the turning point in my life. She doesn't know it, but she helped shape the teacher I am becoming. For as most of us, I am a work in progress.  I fell asleep last night reading yet another "teacher book".  Always trying to improve, like most of you.  Over the years I have tried to be Mrs. Brown.  Unfortunately, I am sure I have been the harsh, impatient one as well. But I pray that someday, one(or more) of my students will be blogging about how   "Miss Thompson changed my life."  Daily my prayer is "Lord, help me be slow to anger, slow to speak, but quick to hear and quick to love."
Orange Street Elementary Schoo(it now houses the St. John's County BOE), St. Augustine, Florida.  Where I went to school in 5th grade.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Books, books, and more books

Today our school received a huge blessing.  I teach at a private Christian school in Georgia.  Funds are very tight. We have a small library. Most of the elementary teachers also have classroom libraries.  Most of us are in need of new books. Our prayers have been answered. A teacher who has retired has given us her books. And what a wonderful gift! Boxes and boxes of books. I glanced through some of the boxes and got so excited. There are some really great novels in there. I cannot wait to go through and sort them.  I leave for vacation on Tuesday, so it will just have to wait. I am already in the process of reorganizing my class library. So I am really excited about adding some of these books to the collection. I am working on new book labels. I will post them when I get them made.  Here is a picture of some of the books we have been blessed with. This is only half!! The other half is in my friend's car.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First Target trip of the summer

I've been out of school for just over a month. Today was the first time I actually started thinking about the upcoming school year.  It is coming fast. Teachers go back August 1st and students return August 8th.
There was not much in the dollar spot yet. Picked up a few books for a dollar each. But my big find was further down the isle near the office supplies. They had bulletin board letters for 2.50 each; a really great deal.  They have them in several colors.
The letters are 4 inches high.  They come in 8 different colors. (see first photo)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Here we go........

This will be my second attempt at blogging. The first attempt was mainly just writings about my life. However, this time around I am going to highlight my teaching experiences. I will also throw in tidbits about a new recipe, or the latest book I'm reading.  So, please, stay tuned. I promise there will be more here in July. Right now I am recuperating from the school year. Once July rolls around, I will start thinking, breathing, and living school again.