Saturday, July 28, 2012

Had a tough day so I made some stuff

Having a father with Alzheimer's disease is very difficult and this past 6 months it has gotten even more difficult. I knew this day was coming but it still hit me like a ton of bricks when my sweet daddy, who I see multiple times a week, looked at me on 2 separate occasions today and asked me "Who are you?"
Those 3 simple words broke my heart and have been haunting me all day. When my dad was first diagnosed 7 years ago I knew this day would come, I even tried to prepare my own kids for it. My daughter, who is very close to her Grandad, was very upset with the diagnosis and I told her "Baby girl you're right Grandad will some day forget us in his brain but he will never forget us in his heart" today I had to draw on those words myself and they were really of no comfort as I cried all the way home from his nursing home, and still tear up when I think about it.

So to try to take my mind off this whole thing I decided to work on things for my classroom. It was inspiring when I saw that Stephanie at Falling into First had posted a packet that matched my classroom perfectly - Owls and polka dots! Here I am thinking I am being all original but combining owls and polka dots, turns out its a pretty popular combo this year LOL

Anyway I bought her pack and downloaded it, mostly for the Word Wall Letters - Look how super cute these are!!

The kit had these in pink, purple, blue, and green. I did green for vowels and blue for consonants

And the desk tags! They are SO cute! 

I also spent some time making my "Name Necklaces" that are part of our reading program and my students use the first few days of school.

Finally, I saw a super cute idea on Young and Lively Kindergarten. She has "Tying Teachers" in her classroom. She has a display where she posts the names of the students in her class who can tie shoes, that way if you have a kiddo whose shoes are untied they know which classmates to go to for help. AND it gives them an incentive to learn to tie shoes so they can have their name on the Tying Teachers board. So I made a quick little sign and bought some cute little sneaker accents to put the kiddos' names on and I will be doing this in my classroom tis year as well.

Now, if I can get away from blog stalking and Facebook long enough I need to fire up my laminator and get these things laminated. 

Have a great Saturday night!

Friday, July 27, 2012


The closer we get to the beginning of the school year the more nervous I am becoming. I am worried about this coming school year. 2 years ago I found myself hating my job and just being miserable and not giving it my all. I figured I was burned out after 8 straight years teaching kindergarten, and I thought I needed a grade level change. I went to my principal and told him I wanted to change grades and that I wanted to teach 4th grade. He was shocked to say the least - he was expecting me to say 1st or 2nd maybe, he never expected me to want to change to 4th grade, but he gave me the change. I taught 4th grade the past 2 years and was still not happy. This past year was the absolute worst year I have had in teaching and I actually thought it was time for me to leave the profession. My saving grace was my team. I taught with several amazing teachers and they were just as miserable as I was so that helped me feel like this wasn't just me. In April, after a member of the administrative team referred to me and my team as a "toxic group" I realized that the toxicity in my feelings about teaching were not based on a grade level assignment, they were based on the fact that, to use her words, a toxic environment. I made a very difficult decision to leave the school that I had opened 6 years ago. I was part of the opening staff, I walked through that school with a hard hat on while it was still being built. It was SO hard to send out those resumes but I had to. 3 years earlier the administration changed and the environment of the school went downhill. I rarely felt appreciated or valued and when there is no appreciation or value then why bother giving it your best. Anyway, I submitted my resume to about 25 other schools in the district that are close to my home. We are a VERY large district, there are 5 elementary school, 1 middle school, and 1 high school on the ONE road that my school was on.

Anyway I sent out about 25 resumes and I received a call from the school that is just down the street from my old school, and that was built and opened the same time as my school. I had heard the principal at that school was tough, but that was the complete opposite of what I had currently and was what I need. So I went on the interview, I interviewed for a 4th grade position even though after 2 years I still felt completely out of my element in 4th grade. 2 days later - on my birthday no less - I got a phone call and the principal offered me a kindergarten position and said that if she had a 4th grade position open up she would move me up if i wanted. I said ABSOLUTELY sign me up!  I started getting very excited about teaching kindergarten again and started planning for my year ahead. about 2 weeks later my new principal emailed me and said she had a 4th grade position available for me, I emailed her back and told her that I would rather stay in kinder and she said fine, the best part was that one of my teammates (from the "toxic group") was able to get the position I had turned down! Actually in total there are 5 of us moving to this one school, 3 are going to 4th grade, 1 to 3rd grade, and me in kinder. My new principal is AHHHHMAZING!!! I have felt more complimented, valued, and appreciated since being hired by my new principal in early May than I have in the past 2 and half years! I am thrilled to be working for such an amazing administrator.

SO now by now you are probably wondering what I am so nervous about (as my post title suggests). Well I am nervous that I will have another awful year, what if it really is me and not the environment? What if I really am burned out? I don't feel like I am but when I think about school starting in just a couple weeks I get really nervous. Maybe I am just a bit gun-shy after the last few years I have had. I am just feeling anxious to be going back to kindergarten and being at a new school. AGGHHHH am I ready for all this again????

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My classroom is kid-ready!!

I spent another day in my classroom today and I am amazed that I am pretty much finished with my classroom set up! I got SO much work done yesterday and today. I was SO worried since I was changing schools and changing back to kindergarten, after teaching 4th grade for the past 2 years, I just thought it would be so much to get done. Don't get me wrong it was a LOT of work but it went so easily! I am pretty much finished, I just need to put some finishing touches on once pre-planning begins. I need to put names on stuff when I get my class list. I also need to put up a hallway bulletin board of some sort. Oh well, I'll figure it out during pre-planning. Now I can relax the rest of this week. Next week I am working on a planning team, then I get one more week off before I go back.

I gotta admit, I have been having some mixed emotions lately, wondering if I did the right thing... moving to a new school and moving back to kindergarten. Every once in a while I get really nervous, I start feeling like "What have I gotten myself into?" Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my new principal - she is everything my old principal was not, and I am thrilled to be teaching littles again. When my daughter taught first grade last year I was a little envious and was kind of missing the littles. Now that she is teaching Kindergarten I couldn't be more happy for both of us. It's just that I have been at my old school since we opened the school 6 years ago. I knew everyone there, I knew all the routines, procedures, and all the rules. Now I'm the "new guy" and I have no real clue what to expect. I feel like a kid getting ready to start a new school, I find myself asking "Will they like me? What if they don't? Will I know anyone? Will anyone want to be my friend?" I am glad that there are actually a total of 5 of us from my old school moving to this school. 3 of them will be teaching 4th grade (all 3 of which I taught 4th grade with the past 2 years), 1 will be teaching 3rd grade, and then little ole me, back in kindergarten :-) That helps a lot knowing that I do have friends there who are going through the same thing. Also I think being back in kindergarten is helping a lot too. I looked around my classroom today before I left and felt really good, it just felt right, I felt like it was where I was supposed to be.

I'm still dreading the first day of school and I am dreading even more so, the first fire drill!! Ugghhh those are the worst at the beginning of the year! The last time I taught kindergarten my daughter had not started teaching yet and she ALWAYS came to help me out the first day of school and she would also come for the first fire drill (when we knew in advance when it would be). She was awesome, how many college kids would come in at 8am on a Monday when they were still on their summer break to help their mom with a group of crying kids and parents LOL. This year I'll be on my own and so will she! Hey, I do have my "baby" my 19 year old kinda likes hanging out in my classroom, maybe I can bribe him to come in and help me, at least on the first day. As for the fire drill, I will be practicing with my kiddos the entire first week. We usually have our first fire drill the first week of school -BOOOOOOO!-

Anyway, I wanted to share some pictures of what I accomplished today - mostly decorating but that's the fun stuff right??

The view from the front door
This is my teaching area with my calendar and you can see the polka dots on the wall above my desk
(around my degrees)

My small group area with my rotation charts in the background and my shape accents on the cabinets 

My cubby area with my favorite saying! Oh and a view of my READ PLAY LEARN wall too!

My color/color words display 
Our morning check in - when they arrive they move their owl to the school side. 

My polka dots!

My transportation ribbons

Up close of my transportation ribbons - I have noticed I seem to have a bright, colorful, polka dot, owl theme going on LOL

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Busy Busy Day in my Classroom!

I was so excited to get into my classroom for the first time today that I woke up super early and couldn't fall back to sleep. I can not believe how much I got done today even with a broken toe. I was a little worried when I first got there because all my furniture was pushed to the front of the room and my tables (which are VERY heavy) were all up on their sides. I thought "Oh boy this is gonna be fun" But I guess the ibuprofen I took must have helped because I was able to get all my furniture in place and I was able to even get some of the decorating done too! I am going back tomorrow to try to finish up so I can enjoy the rest of this week.

Here are some pictures from today

Here is what it looked like when I walked in (AGGHHHHH!!)

See my tables were all like this! 

and all the rest of the furniture was all pushed to the front - I was expecting it but it was still a little overwhelming

I got to school at 8:30 and left at 2:15 this is how it looked when I left...
My door - I love it!!

another view of my door and my owl welcome banner
The view from the front door -all my decor is on the tables but at least all the furniture is in the right place now

One of my storage shelves and my puzzle cabinet - and and the bulletin board with the plastic tablecloth from the Dollar Tree! LOVE the ides for this- no paper!!

This is my reading rotation charts - not quite finished needed to laminate the pieces. 

My clip chart

My word wall! 

My group center area and my theme book shelf

My teaching area

Now for my absolute FAVORITE thing I did today!!! I put up my READ PLAY LEARN letters and some sticky wall decors and it came out SOOOOOO cute!!! Although a couple of my letters kept falling. I'm not sure what to use to keep them from falling. Any suggestions??

my reading area - right next to my housekeeping area

I am SO pleased with how this turned out - now if I can only keep the letters from falling off the wall. 
I am going back tomorrow to work some more and will post more pictures then!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tell Me More Linky and an Ouchie

I am linking up with Amy over at Step into Second Grade for her Tell Me More Linky Party. Its a fun way to just get to know each other outside of our teaching blogs so I am hopping right in. 

First thing I am going to tell you all is that I BROKE MY PINKY TOE AT LAKESHORE!!!! Owwwwieeeeee!!!! Well actually I didn't break it, someone else did :-( I was walking around the back of the laminator to reset the the little umber do-dad thingy and someone had let their kid push their shopping cart and when I turned back around to go back in front of the laminator he ran right into my little pinky toe! It is al swollen and black and blue and it hurts really bad (I will spare you a picture of it LOL but you can still feel sorry for me) I bet my hubby hopes this makes me leery to go back into Lakeshore for a while, but I have a feeling it will have no ill effects on my affection for Lakeshore. 

Next, I have an AWESOME family!! My hubby and I have been married for 20 years and he totally completes me. He has made all my dreams come true. We have 3 great kids!! Our daughter, Ashley, is 24 years old and she is a brand new kindergarten teacher! Our sons are Bobby (almost 22) and Garrett (19). Bobby is going to be entering the police academy in January (scared to death but super proud), and Garrett is working towards his GED and plans to enter our local community college as soon as he can, he wants to major in art and become a tattoo artist (my rebel child but he's all mine and I love him bunches!) My sweet daddy is also a major part of my family. He lives in a nursing home nearby and he is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's Disease. I try to go see him as often as I can but it is really difficult to see him like this. The picture below was taken last Christmas. He was starting to go down hill at that point. 

Me and my honey in the back, Bobby, Ashley, my Daddy, and Garrett on the couch

I have 2 brothers and a sister. My sister and I are very close even though she is 14 years older than me. Our mom passed away when I was only 23 years old and my sister stepped in to be the mom figure I needed. 

My sister and I

Let's see, what else.... Oh yeah!! My husband and I went on Weight Watchers in March of 2011 and I lost a total of 35 pounds and my husband lost 110 pounds!!! On August 30th it will be my 1 year anniversary of maintaining my weight loss!

Left picture was taken in June of 2009 and the picture on the right was September 2011

You can probably tell in the "after" picture above that I am a huge UCF football fan! I graduated from UCF and so did my daughter. I LOVE going to the games and cheering on my school!

I LOVE to shop! My favorite things to shop for are clothes and purses. I am not a big shoe person although I do own quite a few pair. I love me some Ross, TJ Maxx, and Dress Barn. Oh and I love Coach and Dooney & Bourke bags, but I also like just cute and fun purses too. 

Well that's all I can think of right now with this painful throbbing in my toe, so I think I will be done for now and start googling what I can do for a broken toe. Let me just say, one more time, owwwwwiiiieeeee :-( 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Breaking the rules!! Pay attention Kindergarten teachers!

I warned y'all it was coming and here it is, my 2nd post in for the day - please don't tell the bloggy police on me, I just went over 100 followers and would hate to get in bloggy trouble :-) I just HAD to post and I promise it will be short and sweet! I just finished and uploaded my Kindergarten friendly Common Core standards written in the "I can..." Marzano learning goal format. I am going to use these in my classroom with my Marzano learning goal scale (I blogged about it briefly just the other day - you can check out that post HERE)

Soooo anywho, I have been searching and searching and searching for Marzano/Common Core combos and found some really great things created by some really great teachers, but they were mostly created my teachers of upper grades and they were just not written in a kindergarten type of language.

So I decided to undertake the task myself. I had already made my learning goal scale  thought that I would create the Common Core Learning goals to match my scale. That way I can hang my scale in my classroom and then I can put the current learning goals up around the scale. I am thinking I will put this on my white board so I can just use magnetic tape on the back of the cards and that way they can just stick up and I can take them down when we move on to a new goal(s).

I can't get in my room until Tuesday so I can't take actual pictures of the scale in use, but I will as soon as I can. For now here are a couple pictures of what the cards look like.

That is just a few of them! I can't wait to print them out, laminate them and get them up on my wall. If you are interested in getting a set for yourself head on over to my TPT store - You can buy just the scale, just the cards, OR you can get the scale and the cards in a bundle. Here are the links

Just the scale

Just the cards

The bundle with the scale and the cards


OK if you have read this far and if you saw my post earlier (when I warned y'all about my double posting today) then you saw that I made a little mention of a flash giveaway. So here it is!! I am going to give away my scale bundle, just the scale, or just the cards (your choice) to the first 10 people to comment on this blog post! Make sure you tell me in your comment if you want the bundle, just the scale, or just the cards AND your email address. Ready... Set... COMMENT!!! :-)

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner! Woo Hoo!

OK first off I gotta say I am SO totally PSYCHED to see that I now have 102 followers!! As my sweet daddy says when he is excited "YEE HAW!"

I want to congratulate Pam K! She is my 80 Follower Giveaway winner! Pam check your email!!

Thanks to everyone who entered and welcome to all my new followers!! My next giveaway will take place when I reach 150 followers and I will be looking for help from some of my fellow bloggers so if you would be interested in helping me out when I reach the big 150 send me an email at!

Finally keep your eyes open I just might break the rules and post twice today  (I know, its terrible but I don't do it very often and I think you might forgive me when you see the 2nd post LOL). You see, I have been working on creating Marzano style and Kindergarten friendly I Can... statement posters to go with the Kindergarten Common Core Standards. I am making them to match my Marzano scale that I made as well - you can see that post HERE or you can see it in my TPT store HERE. I will be posting them as just the pack of I Can statements and I will be doing a bundle of the I Can statements and the scale together. Keep your eyes open be because there just might be a flash giveaway in the making! (if not today then certainly tomorrow)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Someone stop this train I want to get off!!!

It has been a crazy couple days. Yesterday I spent the day working on school stuff like ALL day long, took pictures and had every intention of posting a blog post after dinner. Well, apparently my sweet daddy had other plans. Right as I was setting the table for dinner I get a phone call from his nursing home, they tell me that my dad was found unresponsive, they did a sternum stimulation to revive him which it did, but  not by much, he was still pretty out of it and unresponsive so they called 911. Thankfully the hospital is directly across the street from his nursing home. When I got to him at the ER, my sweet daddy was so confused, he has advanced Alzheimer's disease and dementia. He doesn't know who I am but he knows that I "belong" to him, when I got to his side I took hold of his hand and he held my hand and he said "don't leave, stay here with me." I told him I wasn't going anywhere I would be with him the whole time, he pointed at my husband and said "you too!" WHen he started joking we knew he would be ok. The doctors ran a series of tests and determined that my dad had another mini stroke, this makes 4 since March. There is nothing they can do about them since they are caused by a fluid build up on the brain and the fluid build up is caused by the Alzheimer's. So after 6 hours in the ER they sent him back to his nursing home and once he was resettled I was finally able to go home and sleep. Then this morning at 5am I woke up and could barely move. My back, shoulders, and neck were SO sore, can you guess where I carry my tension/stress???? So at 5am I took a muscle relaxer and fell back to sleep until almost 10:00am LOL Then around noon I started getting this strange pain in my stomach. It has lasted all day long, hubby wants to take me to the ER but I don't think its that bad. If its still hurting tomorrow I'll go to the doctor.

Somehow in the mess that has been my life for the last 24 hours I was able to actually get some stuff done for my classroom. OH yeah I almost forgot! I received an email from my new principal yesterday asking me to be part of a Common Core/Marzano planning team for my new school. I felt so honored, I am BRAND NEW to this school and have been asked to be part of this team! She said she could tell by the communications we had over the summer that I was a teacher leader and she wanted me to be part of this planning team. I felt so valued! A feeling that has been long missing from my teaching career. I am so thankful and so blessed to have received the opportunity to move to this school!

OK On to the good stuff. Now yesterday and today I spent a lot of time working on stuff for my classroom. I made my Retelling Rope that I found on Pinterest, I made my students' Common Core assessment folders, I made my job chart, and I was able to buy a few little things for my classroom as well. Check out my goodies!!

First up is my Retelling Rope, I gotta say this was SO easy to make and it is by far one of my favorite things I have made!!! Thanks to Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives for the great idea!!

How stinkin' cute is this?????

This is the whole thing, I did it on a 3/4 yard piece of wavy black ribbon. I looped the top over itself and used hot glue to make it into a loop for me to hold and to hang it on a hook in my read aloud area.

This is the castle at the top for "setting"

The bee is for the character(s) and the boot is for the "kick off" of the story

Next comes my 3 little fuzzy balls, for 3 main details or beginning, middle, and end

Finally at the the bottom is a bow for what ties it all together at the end
like the solution to the problem

That's my retelling rope! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! Not sure why I like it so much its so simple but I just do! I am SUCH a teacher geek LOL

OK on to my assessment folders. I have been trying to wrap my head around this beast that is Common Core and I am a very data driven teacher. I am constantly assessing my kinders (I just love to see the growth). Now I have my data notebook (with the super cute binder cover I made) that I will keep all their formal assessments in but I wanted a way to keep track of their mastery of Common Core Standards. SO I created an assessment folder (ok actually, I made 18 of them) and I put in them a baseline reading and math assessment that I created for the very beginning of the year just to give me a very quick snapshot of where they are. The reading one has upper and lowercase letters/sounds, and the sight words that go along with our reading program. The math one has number identification, rote counting, and plane shape identification. Nothing fancy just a quick peek at where they are starting. Then I included a Common Core assessment I found on TPT. It has an assessment for each quarter!! It is GREAT!!! I showed it to my principal and she wants me to bring a copy of it to the planning meeting! The best part is its FREE!!!!! Check it out HERE. Here are my assessment folders:

The front of one and the inside of another - nothing fancy schmancy

This is the page I will use for their baseline - I know part of the words are covered by the brads but this is just for me, I made one that is the student view - the letters and words are a little bigger

This is the math baseline that I made - again  know that some of the numbers and part of the square are covered but its the same thing, its only for my view, I also made one of these in a student view

This is the beginning of the first quarter CCSS assessment. I LOVE how this assessment is set up and it is SO easy to use!! Cant wait to share it with the planning team. It would be great if we all used it but if not then I'll just use it as an informal assessment.
OK, I also made a job chart to go with all my owl stuff! I don't call it an owl theme because my room isn't all owls, its still a "Cute" theme LOL I do my job chart a little different than most Kinder teachers. I tried doing the whole everyone-gets-a-job thing but I found that over half the jobs I had were meaningless and were never done so I decided to simplify and I now do 2 teachers helpers each day. I have 2 happy face magnets that I use. I have a chart (this year with owls) that has the kids names on it in alphabetical order (this also helps in the beginning of the year when they are learning how to line up in ABC order for lunch (I call it lunch line order). Anyway on day 1 I start with the first two kiddos on the chart, the top one is the line leader and the 2nd one is the door holder, and then they are also my messengers, paper passers, and anything else that needs to be done, for the day. Then the next morning I move the happy face magnets down ONE place, so the kiddo who was the door holder the day before now gets to be the line leader and they are the "main" helper for the day. So in essence everyone gets 2 days in a row of helping out. It also eliminates the "WHen do I get to be line leader? I never got to be line leader" conversation because, once they learn the system (and they pick it up pretty quickly) they are able to figure out for themselves when they will get to do it. If I have an absent student then I just move that happy face down 1 more, if it happens to be their day to be line leader then they get to catch it the next time around I don't go back. Anyway... here is my helper chart (warning - not my best work and it still needs to be laminated but I still like it)

Ta Da!!!! 

the crooked cut is bugging the daylights out of me but I didn't have my paper cutter at home with me :-( 
Finally, today I was out grocery shopping and I stopped into Wal-Mart to pick up a couple things and I just couldn't stay away from the teacher aisle!! Check out my goodies!

88 cent bulletin board sets!

LOVE the 88 cent stuff!!! Got some metallic hooks that look like bright colored polka dots , 2 super cute notepads, and look at the owl post its!!!! Had to get them!!!

This was NOT in the 88 cent section - I WISH!- but I was looking for blue painters tape and found this in the Home DIY section - they are peel and stick primary colored polka dots!!! I can't wait to get these up on my wall!!!They are going to be SOOOOO cute!!!!

Last but not least - These were at JoAnne's and I just had to have them - they were a little overpriced in my opinion but the teacher heart wants what the teacher  heart wants so I bought them. I will use them in small group for blending activities and I can use them in a pocket chart for a center too!
Finally, I am so excited that I get to start working in my room next week. The custodians will be done with the floors and carpets by Monday so anytime after Monday I can go in and get crackin' on setting up! I am super excited about it and can't wait to post before and after pictures. I can't wait to see how all these things I have been making over the summer will come together to make one super cute and inviting kindergarten classroom. I can't believe I only have 3 weeks left until preplanning begins! Next week Tues. - Thurs. I will be slaving away in my room., the following week I will be working on the planning team, and then the following week I will hopefully be finishing up my room and then I will be going to south Florida to help my baby girl (ok, she's 24 but she will always be my baby girl), set up her very first Kindergarten classroom!!!

Oh one final reminder! Don't forget to enter my giveaway!! Time is running out!! Click HERE to enter!
Have a GREAT weekend!!