polka dots

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To merge, or not to merge...

In my area, the hot topic is a school merger. My school is in the middle of a merger study with 3 other local districts. This 4-way merger is well on its way to becoming history making. We have heard that all eyes in our state are on us. If we were to merge with the other 3 districts, our student body pre-k-12 would be about 4,700 students! We would have one elementary school in each town for grades pre-k-4, an “upper elementary” building with grades 5 and 6 in one town (one of the former high schools), a middle school with grades 7 and 8 in another town (another former high school), and high school grades 9-12 in the largest of the four current schools. The fourth current high school would only be used for district offices and alternative ed.

There are many people on either side of the debate, and it is getting very heated. Personally, I have only told my view to a few people. I can see benefits and challenges in both situations (merging or staying as stand-alone districts), however I am leaning in one direction. But, I am afraid of stating my opinion and having people attack what I believe. So, I will take part in discussions, ask questions, etc, but not state my opinion. A select few know how I really feel!
I am terrified of next school year, whether we merge or not. Our state continues to cut educational funding, and our budget for next year looks bleak. If we merge, the new district will lose about 40 teachers, and this doesn’t include any other positions, like aides, secretaries, etc. If we don’t merge, each school will certainly lose people as well. When I was hired, I was hired with a group of about 15 new teachers in one school year (luckily I was the first hired in the bunch). Each year we have slowly lost a lot of those teachers to budget cuts, so I am pretty low in the seniority totem pole. Hopefully the cuts don’t go as far as me!

Each town has had a couple of community forums in November and December. Our 3rd forum will be next week. We have a community “straw vote” in January to decide if we will continue on. If it is positive in at least 3 of the 4 communities, the process will move on to the final community vote in February. If the merger is voted on, our new district will begin on July 1, 2012! I can’t believe how fast it will all happen.
My questions for you: have any of you had experience with a merger? What are your thoughts or opinions on schools merging?

+ Laura +

Monday, November 21, 2011


I can’t believe the holidays are right around the corner. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I posted! The 1st quarter just officially ended with report cards going home last week. Conferences were taken care of 3 weeks before that (please don’t ask me why we meet with parents 3 wks before the report cards – we don’t even know why!).

On Saturday, I was able to spend some time with 2 of my nephews (I have 12 total nieces and nephews – I know, crazy, right?!). Anyway, we baked 6 kinds of cookies during the day (we have huge family get togethers at the holidays, and the desserts – and baking them as a family – are always a big deal. We were also able to hang most of the outdoor Christmas lights, even though the wind was so cold I felt like my fingers would fall off! J

That night I had a movie night with my parents and after the movie is when I got the bad news…. I found out a week ago from a friend that one of my best friends from high school was diagnosed with leukemia. Well, Saturday night I got a text saying she had passed away. I was shocked. 28 years old, married with a little boy… how do these things happen to people so young? This has hit me really hard in the last few days. I feel guilty that I hadn’t talked to her since high school – once we graduated, she moved away and we never talked to each other again. We were so close, and I guess I didn’t realize what I was missing until now, when she is really gone. L I feel terrible that we haven’t had more time together.

I also get thinking about other people I’m not as close to that I don’t want to lose – like my college roommate – when I graduated and moved back to my home town, it was hard to keep in touch. She has a family now, which makes it hard to find the time I guess I’m not really happy with the way my life has gone. I have a great job (that I LOVE), but I feel like I’m missing out on so much more. I want what everyone else seems to have, but can’t seem to get it for myself.

For all of you out there that might actually be reading this, call that person you’re thinking about – take the time, because you never know when that time will be taken from you. Life is short, so just go for it! Whatever makes you happy, do it, because you don’t want to live with regrets and “what-ifs” – trust me, I know. L

Sorry for such a long post – I guess I just needed to get some of this out. It’s been a rough couple of days, but hopefully with Thanksgiving this week, things will turn around a bit.

+ Laura _+

Sunday, October 9, 2011


It has been WAY to long since I have posted! I feel like I have neglected my blog that I worked so hard to create over the summer. I appologize for being MIA! I haven’t even had time to really check out everyone else’s blog either! L I am so exhausted between school and coaching, that I collapse in bed when I finally get home at night. The first month of school is now officially over, and I feel like I have some time to breathe now! Anyone who has been here before knows that I looped up to 3rd with many of my students from last year. I can’t say how much I already love this experience! My 13 lovely friends from last year have been able to continue right where we left off from! And, although we added 10 more new friends this year, they have learned the ways of the classroom from watching the kids who have been with me! 

I can’t believe how much my kiddos have grown up 3rd graders are so much different than 2nd graders! Even though I didn’t choose to move, I am definitely excited to see where this journey takes us! I am already thinking of asking the principal about the possibility of looping again in the future.  

The first month of school flew by, and we have had many changes and challenges. Our first day of school with students was on a Tuesday. Then Hurricane Lee decided to pay us a visit and we ended up having to cancel school on Wednesday and Thursday of the first week (who would have thought this would happen in central NY???). All the local towns were flooded, but most schools were only closed one day we however suffered damage to our high school, so we had to close an additional day. But, all teachers came in and we had a conference day so we didn’t have to lose a future snow day later in the year. We ended up getting training for the new Core Curriculum let me say now how scary this is for me! I also attended a teacher-to-teacher conference at our BOCES this month with all the other 3rd grade teachers in the area there are so many changes coming up with education, and it is overwhelming to say the least. 

On Friday we took our 1st field trip of the year. I say 1st, hoping that the PTO will still be able to fund the others that the grade level typically takes (the school is no longer able to pay for field trips, so our WONDERFUL PTO has taken on the challenge the last few years). Anyway, we took a trip to see the circus! It was a lot of fun, and the kids loved it. Well, they loved some parts more than others ya know, like when 2 of the 3 elephants decided that they needed to go to the bathroom right in front of us! (Oh yes, I can hear it now, “The best part was the elephant poop!”). When we get back to school on Tuesday, we will do some writing about our favorite acts (hopefully I can steer them around the elephant fiasco) and then some thank you notes to our chaperones (I had 12 chaperones for my 22 kids I was loving it!). 

I’m off to get some more work done now, but I wanted to at least make a quick post for those of you who actually read my ramblings! J Have a great additional day off tomorrow!

+ Laura +

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I remember...

On 9/11/01 I was a freshman in college. Because my classes didn’t start until the afternoon, I was working at my old elementary school helping two 6th grade teachers in their classrooms. They had hired me to help with the typical beginning of the year items that needed to be to be taken care of. I was sitting at the reading table in one of the classrooms sorting notebooks when there was a knock on the door. The librarian called the teacher in the hallway and they whispered for a few minutes. When the teacher came in she told me what was happening.  

The librarian had been going in to the classrooms seeing who would like a TV cart brought into their classrooms to witness what was happening. Being that the students I was with were 6th graders, the teacher said she wanted a TV immediately. While I thought they might be a little young, she looked at it a different way. This teacher explained to me that when she herself was in 6th grade her teacher wheeled a cart into her classroom for the class to view another sad moment in history – the coverage of the assassination of JFK. She remembered seeing this and being affected by it, and wanted her children to have this connection to what would certainly become a big moment in our history. 

When it was brought in, we all watched in amazement. I remember seeing the plane hit the 2nd tower – although looking back now I don’t know if it was in real-time or if it was one of those frames they kept showing over and over. After watching awhile the teacher and I had a great discussion with the kids. They said some things I never would have expected from kids their age.

I went home that day still thinking of the events. My brother had just moved home from living in NYC. His work site had been near ground zero. I was thankful he was home, and we knew exactly where he was – safe.

Today, I remember all this. As I read the paper this morning, I felt sick. At my football game today, while my cheerleaders and I stood at the 50 yard line listening to the national anthem followed by Taps and a moment of silence, I had the chills. While I wasn’t personally affected by that day, I still feel that I (and every other American) was affected in some way. My family members and friends went to fight in wars after this, and have seen many, many horrible things. I thank them for their courage, and everyone else who has had to deal with the aftermath of this tragedy.
But, this day shouldn’t be all about sadness. Look around and see all the red, white, and blue. See all the pride that is evident in our citizens. If anything came out of this, it is the pride Americans have in their country. Families have come together, the country came together.
Please take the time to remember those who were lost during the attacks and in the wars fought because of the attacks.

+ Laura +

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene = no power at home = lots of work done at school!

Hurricane Irene did us in!!

Sunday around 2 in the morning the rain started. It was a steady, heavy rain all day – our power went out at 2 in the afternoon Sunday when the heavy winds started. The rain kept up till about dinner time, but the winds were still getting worse. We decided to drive around and take some pictures, and then get ourselves some dinner, since we couldn’t cook. My neighbors lost 2 trees, another tree was laying across one of our roads. I even saw a tree on another neighbor’s house. Roads were flooded over, and some of the shoulders of the roads were gone. I can’t believe the damage we got, when we weren’t even near the coast! 18 hours of rain, 12 with heavy wind, and 19 hours without power (we didn’t get it back until 9:30 yesterday Morning)!  Living in the country is definitely nice, but when you lose power you aren’t really a priority in the eyes of the power company – why fix the problem with only 14 customers without power when you can help more in the towns??

Needless to say, I ended up going to the school yesterday early in the morning, so I didn’t have to sit without power at home. I called the power company at 5 when I got out of bed (I couldn’t sleep anymore since I went to bed so early the night before!) and they told me to expect power back on at midnight – I was like, ummm…. Really? So I made the decision to go to the school and got there around 6. Ever had to get ready to go out in public in the dark, with only a little flashlight to help? I’m sure I looked pretty scary as I walked in the gas station to get a hot chocolate! I didn’t even do any makeup till I was at the school!
Anyway - I got a lot done once I got there, and I took some pics of the beginning of my centers.  These are what will stay all year, and then I will change out the other activities based on the skills we are learning about at the time. Let me know what you think!
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This is the accelerated reader center. Books are sorted by reading level – the buckets are color coded based on their reading group. So, my kiddos know what group they are in, so they know what bin to select a book from. I have some handy little reference materials in each bucket – I’ll have to remember to take share a pic of what’s in them another time!

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Here is my writing center! Most of my centers have these shelves that I bought awhile ago – not only does it keep things organized, but the kids know what order to work through with their things! On the first shelf there are 4 folders in my reading group colors. This is how I differentiate the centers - the kids pull their folder and do the work that I selected just for them. I do this for most of my centers. You will also notice the work buckets I have at the center. This has crayons, scissors, glue, pencils, sharpener, erasers, markers, and colored pencils. That way, they don’t have to leave to get any supplies! I also have a book of writing helpers and a beginner’s thesaurus for them to use. The signs are from Christie at Teaching in Flip Flops!

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Next up is the fluency center. The fluency station is from Lakeshore (I love them!). This is a piece that I have wanted for a few years, but couldn’t justify buying when it was so expensive. But, when I moved up to 3rd I inherited it! Can’t wait to use it! On the right are the high frequency word cards separated again by reading group color. They practice these as soon as they get here, then move on to the other goodies. I have a handful of animal puppets in the back left corner – these are fun to use when reading, and they get silly and have fun while they get their work done. They came from Dollar Tree a few years ago, and my kiddos loved them last year, and will enjoy them again this year! I also have a whisper phone here.  

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This is the comprehension center with tons of goodies! To start, I have my “egg-celent” comprehension eggs (thanks to Christina Bainbridge at Mrs. Bainbridge's Class),  some story dice I have had for awhile, some fun brain feeler sticks (from Miss Knight’s Khronicals), my supply bucket, and my FAVORITE story wands (from you guessed it – Lakeshore!). These are so much fun, and I love using them with my kiddos (except for a few boys 2 years ago that seemed to think they resembled light sabers and not fun learning tools)!

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Thanks for taking a look! Tomorrow (Thursday) is the first day for staff. I am hoping to finish up, and get the most current pics up for you to see before my kiddos come back next Tuesday.

+ Laura +

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday

Blog Hoppin’ is focused on Teacher Talk Tuesday today – advice for new teachers. So, here’s my advice for any of you starting out in the new world of teaching:

Don’t get discouraged!

I had a very rough first year with a class filled with challenges. I felt like crying almost every day because of some incidents that would happen. Find someone who you can vent to at the end of the day (someone who doesn’t mind you sounding a bit like your whiny little friends that you are complaining about!).  Once you get it all out, you can actually think about all the wonderful things that are happening too, and you will remember why you wanted to be a teacher in the first place! J

Enjoy every minute of it!

It goes by way to fast, and you want to remember the first year! Don’t sweat the small stuff – if you sit there agonizing over every little detail, you will miss all the other things that are going on in the classroom around you!

Document everything!

I took pictures like a mad-woman my first year, and I am so glad I did! I can look back and see my first babies, and funny thing is, you really only remember the good! The few “bad” things are actually ones to laugh about now! I wonder “Why did I ever think that was the end of the world?” I also have a file on my computer with the funny things kids would say to me throughout the year. It’s funny to sit back and remember these funny things once in a while when you are feeling a bit discouraged!

Learn from the kids!

Take the time to actually learn from your students. They have so much to offer, and can help you learn not only about student learning habits, but they can actually teach you about yourself!

Make friends with you colleagues!

My first year I was very intimidated and I didn’t feel like I was an equal to all the other teachers who had been teaching for years. I was so wrong! My colleagues truly valued my opinion, and made sure that I felt I was one of the team. My grade level quickly became my good friends, and I don’t know what I would do without them! We go hang out in each other’s rooms when we need a few minutes out of our own rooms. In the mornings when the kids are coming in, and after dismissal, we would all stand in the hallway talking, about anything BUT school! Sometimes you need a break, and that’s ok!

Click the pic below to see what others have to say over at Blog Hoppin’. Its Teacher Week 2011 -  join in on the fun!

+ Laura +

Blog Hoppin

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Teacher Monday!

Tell us a little something about you...

My name is Laura and I am a (soon to be) 3rd grade teacher. I was told in May that I would be leaving the comfort of 2nd grade to travel up to the new world of 3rd grade. Fortunately, I was able to keep most of my kiddos, and I can’t wait to see them again!

 I am also a Pop Warner cheerleading coach of girls from 5th-8th grades. Games start in 2 weeks - I can’t wait!

I am new to the blogging world, having started my blog this summer when I got wrapped up in all the fun of checking out everyone’s wonderful ideas! I am still enjoying my summer, as I do not have to return to school until September 1st for a Superintendent’s Conference Day. I start with my kiddos the following Tuesday.

How long have you been teaching?

This will be my 6th official year of teaching. I graduated from college in May of 2006. I was able to get into my old school to substitute for the rest of that month and June. Over the summer I got a phone call from the principal asking me if I would be a long-term substitute for the AIs Math teacher. I jumped at the chance, especially since it was at a salary pay, not per diem! I worked for 5 months as the AIS Math teacher for grades 2-4. I also taught 2 sections of AIS Reading for 2nd grade. Long-term substitutes do not rely on the teacher to make the plans – you become the teacher and assume all responsibilities for planning and curriculum. After 5 months the teacher came back, and I became a regular per diem substitute again for the rest of the school year.

In may of 2007 the principal called me again, and offered me a job teaching. I wasn’t sure of the grade level until August. In September I started teaching 2nd grade, and I loved every minute of it. I spend 4 years in 2nd. As I stated before, this coming September I will be moving on to 3rd grade.

You might not know...

I hate being a student! I know, I know, what am I doing teaching, right?!?! I am not one of those people who loves to sit in a classroom everyday being talked to – I like to DO the talking! When I finished my Bachelor’s degree and started subbing, I took a year off of attending school. But, after that year I needed to start in on my Master’s degree which is mandated in New York State. Knowing I hate being a student, I gave online school a shot, and graduated from the University of Albany with a Masters in Childhood Education (Literacy 1-6) in 2010. Phew! I am sooooo happy that is over! 

What are you looking most forward to this school year?

I am new to looping, and I can’t wait to get to see my kids again! I am one of those teachers who gets sad at the end of the year thinking “What will I do without these guys?” I get so attached, and for once I get to keep my kids and build on our relationship! I am so excited because I truly had so much fun with them last year, and the possibilities are endless for us this year!

What do you need to improve?

I know absolutely nothing about 3rd grade. I have so much to learn about my curriculum, and then we have to add in the new national Core Curriculum that we are adopting (anyone else starting the core curriculum this year?) I am scared at the prospects, but I have a great grade level chair who I know will get me through it!

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

1.       My SMART Board – I love this thing, and it is the best thing invented! My kids can never get enough, and it really brings our lessons to life – let’s just say watching a live Venus fly trap eat its lunch on the big screen got us hooked last year!

2.       Our laminator – I am lucky that our school has one for everyone to use. I laminate everything – not only does everything become shiny and beautiful, but it lasts so much longer! I am a laminating queen – one of my colleagues last year joked at a faculty meeting that some of us would probably laminate the children if we were able to – sometimes guys just don’t get it!

3.       Post-its – I use these so much during the day! On any given day you can look at the calendar on my desk and see 5-10 post-its listing my things to remember!

4.       A candy supply - sometimes you need a pick-me-up to keep you going! Last year my class aide (who I had for about 45 min a day) would have days when we would just about empty the jar!

So there it is, a little bit about me. Want to join in on the fun? Click the picture below to get Blog Hoppin’!

+ Laura +

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hey Guys!

I have been so MIA lately! I started coaching my cheer team again this month, and for now, that has been what has been taking up most of my time. We have a total of 18 girls on our team, ages 10-13, so it can be stressful at times! But, I also love doing it. I consider it my other job, and couldn’t think of another better way to spend the rest of my summer.
I now have the following countdowns going:

·         Just over 2 weeks to go until our first game – OMG! Will we be ready?!?!

·         Less that 3 weeks until the first day of school! I have so many things swarming in my head of what I HAVE to do, and what I WANT to do – I’m not sure that it will all be done, but I feel confident that I could start tomorrow if I had to. My room is about done, I just have a few more (or maybe a lot more) little touches that I want to add (this is where the OCD tendencies take over!).

I am working like mad to try to make my room different from last year, since I am looping with most of my class. 13 of my friends will be making the trip with me from 2nd to 3rd. I am so excited to be working with them again! Then end of the year was weird for me, because I wasn’t really saying goodbye – it was more like leaving for a short vacation before seeing them again. BUT, I will also have 10 more new friends to greet on that first day, which is also exciting.

SOOOOO…. How many of you have ever looped with a class? What are your thoughts on the subject? This is all new to me, so I would love to hear what you all have to say. Please leave me some comments!

Until next time!

+ Laura +

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

classroom pictures.... FINALLY!

I’m amazed at the amount of blogs that I have been reading where the students are starting this week! I can’t imagine starting this early – we never start until after Labor Day… this year I go in the Thursday before for our Superintendent’s Conference Day, have the long weekend, and start with kids the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Anyway, I have taken a few whole days to sort out my classroom and transform it from a 2nd grade room to a 3rd grade room. I was lucky to be able to stay in my room, since I begged not to have to move only one door down the hall to the newly empty 3rd grade room - I HATE budget cuts, and knowing that I am taking over a friend’s classroom and that she is now out of a job :(

The days I have spent in the school, I have gone through the 3rd grade room and taken out the things that I will need. I kept all my 2nd grade materials, since it isn’t that far off. Needless to say, with the extra materials and more students (this year I’ll have 23 compared to last year’s 16), my room is crowded! I can’t walk in a straight line to get to anything! My room is so tiny compared to the wonderfully huge ones I have been seeing here in Blog Land.

I am posting some of my photos of the work in progress. There are still a lot of little things that need to be taken care of, that add up to a lot more time! I will be going in again tomorrow, but a friend will also be in her room across the hall, so I may do more talking than working! J You see, the two of us are still bitter that after being the closest of teammates and doing everything together last year, we were separated when I was moved to 3rd. But, at least I’m not going far.

Enough talk… here are the pics!

This first one is the view from the door. Can we say cluttered?!?! Anyway, you can see my reading table. Next to that is my meeting area with the rug – used a lot in 2nd grade, and I still plan to use it in 3rd! My desk is in the back corner in front of my cupboards. You can see my vast seas of desks – 4 sets of 6. I only have 23 students as of right now, but last year got 2 new students on the very first day of school! Not the phone call you want to get from your principal while you’re in the middle of taking attendance!

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This is the back wall. Two computers sit on the counter, 2 more are on a computer table behind the centers pocket chart. I kept my word wall from last year, and will make it more grown up and 3rd grade by making it a Wonderful Words wall – we will add words when we hear interesting words in any of our readings, and then there they are for easy reference to spice up our own writing! Along the back counter are small white supply drawers and bins to sort their finished work by subject. You can also see several center tables just waiting to be filled with materials! The pile mess on the back set of desks is all the posters I still have yet to hang.

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Front corner of the room – you can see the reading table and student mail center – this is where I put graded papers, and they are emptied on Fridays only. You can also see my SMART Board – the best addition to my classroom! I’ve taught with it for 2 years, and don’t know what I did the 3 years before that! The rolled up screen above it sits lonely remembering the days of my overhead use (I finally just got rid of the overhead this summer!).

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My reading materials shelf. This has all my reference materials, as well as my bins for small groups. They keep me organized, and when I call a group to the table they grab their bin and we have all the right supplies rightthere! On the counter are more things that need to be hung up!

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One of my centers. The bulletin boards on either side were just made – in our school we have to have our ELA skills and strategies for each week posted for the students. This wall is actually the back of the cubbies and along the top I have my 2nd and 3rd grade EOR (elements of reading) kits for comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency.

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These are my cubbies, which are to the right when you walk in the room. They may seem like a good thing to have in the classroom, but I hate them! They take up too much room and too many students go there during the day to get something they absolutely MUST have! Along the top are my theme bins – these are holiday bins and also center themes. The small cupboards have my Shutterbug books for both 2nd and 3rd grades. The door is our classroom bathroom, and on it is my Text Talk list. This is from last year (but having the same kids this coming year I wanted to keep it up to keep referencing. Text talk words are interesting words we hear in read-alouds. We write them down, discuss, and try to use in our speaking and writing. I am thinking of making these words the first additions to the word wall.

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Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy post! I hope you saw some things you liked! I am so OCD that it was hard for me to post these, knowing things are not finished yet! :)

For more fun, head on over to TBA for more classroom photos! Click the pic below to join their party!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It's Like... Christmas!

I walked in my room today to do a bit more. When I walked in I was greeted by boxes on my reading table. My requisition order came in! I’m like a kid at Christmas I just have to open my packages as soon as I see them! I ordered back in April I think, so I always forget what will be waiting for me in the boxes! $

Each year we get money at the end of the year to buy supplies for the next school year. This past year we were allowed to spend $250. Sounds like a lot, but it didn’t go too far. Here’s a picture of everything that I was able to get with my money:


Most of the stuff is ELA. But, I was able to get 4 new SMART Board games for math, so I can’t wait to check them out! The ELA items are all for centers. I opened some of them already, and they look so fun! I just can’t tell you how much I LOVE Lakeshore! I could spend soooo much money on their catalog!

Anyway, I also decided to find homes for my new goodies (inside my newly cleaned out supply cupboards!).

Here’s my ELA cupboard looking a little full:

It will have much more room during the school year when many of these things are out at centers. And here is my math cupboard:

As long as I’m posting pics of the cupboards, i might as well show you the middle cupboard. Here is where I store my picture books and construction paper:

All the books are in bins labeled by holidays, seasons, or favorite characters. I recently reorganized my novels, and will soon be moving on to these.  This last picture shows the cupboards closed. These are behind my desk in the back of the room.
The wonderful signs you see decorating my cupboards come from Christie at Teaching in Flip Flops. I just LOVE her things! I have much more of her stuff around the room I will have to take more pictures again soon!
+ Laura +

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer Fun

It’s been so long since I posted I’ve been super busy getting ready for not only the start of school, but the start of cheerleading season (I coach Pop Warner cheerleaders) which starts today well practice does at least!

Yesterday was the best day of the summer so far! To me summer means traveling to concerts, and yesterday a friend and I went to Saratoga and saw my all-time favorite band the GOO GOO DOLLS! I am in love with Johnny Rzeznik, no matter how old he is getting! J It was an awesome show, with Parachute (didn’t know who they were until yesterday - lol), Michelle Branch (another of my faves from back in the day), and the Barenaked Ladies (who were hysterical) opening for them.

Just in case any of you are also fans, I am attaching pics from my 2 favorites, Michelle Branch and the Goo Goo Dolls.

Michelle Branch

Goo Goo Dolls

  Johnny Rzeznik up close
umm can we say gorgeous??

What about you guys what’s your favorite Goo song?
What is your favorite thing to do in the summer?

Tomorrow, I am heading in to the classroom. I will post pics of that soon!

+ Laura

Monday, July 18, 2011

Favorite Picture Book

The Clutter Free Classroom is having a great linky party, all about our favorite picture books. I love this!
How about one without (almost) any words at all?!?!

Based on pictures alone, one of my favorites was introduced to me by our old librarian who retired last year (also my librarian when I was in school J) ANYWAY,  the book is called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, and it is by Chris Van Allsburg (Jumanji, Polar Express, etc).  This book has almost no words at all, just a series of strange, thought provoking pictures. Kids LOVE them, as they are all fantasy like. This is a great book to prompt your students to write stories. They can all use the same picture and get such different stories out of it! I use this book in my 2nd grade classroom each year, for that very reason! I will definitely use it again this year in 3rd grade.



Calling all 3rd grade teachers – I need your help!
Some of you may know that this fall will be my first time teaching 3rd grade. I have been teaching 2nd grade for 4 years now. Back when I started, we all went to a Harcourt Trophies inservice. While there, I got a chart that was specific for my 2nd grade curriculum (it came right from Harcourt). It listed the skills for each story (like decoding, strategy, writing, grammar, and spelling). I tried to link the picture I scanned of it, but it won't work.

I used it all the time! Problem is, now that I am changing grade levels, I do not have a chart for my new 3rd grade curriculum.

My question is: do any of you 3rd grade teachers use Harcourt Trophies??? If you do, did you ever receive the chart that looks like this? I would LOVE if someone would be able to share this with me, to help me get started this summer!


Classroom Library

After reading through so many posts on different blogs on how classroom libraries are set up, I am anxious to set up my own! However, I have a slight problem – my classroom is being cleaned this week, and I can’t get in! each summer, all the classrooms in our building get a floor to ceiling scrub-down as well as a new coat of wax on the floor. This just happens to be my week, so all of my classroom is now out in the hallway! This is killing me! I want to be in there right now, and now I am sitting here twiddling my thumbs! J Add to that the stress of knowing I will be teaching a new grade level in the fall (looping from 2nd to 3rd) and I am a bit restless!

By next week I will be back in my room organizing my novels for my kids. I am thinking of using small plastic boxes to sort the books by either series or author. If this works for me, I also want to move to my picture books.  I will post pics when I finally have something set up!

~ Laura

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My teacher always says....

Mrs. Bainbridge is having a linky party for our quirky sayings (we all have them!). Read on for mine:

“She went home!”

On those extra whiney days when all the kids are whining and calling my name for every little thing, I get sick of hearing my name! when someone calls me, I am bound to yell out “She went home!”

In the beginning they are truly confused when I say this, but soon after they giggle every time I say it, and get the point that I am sick of it, and stop doing it.

“Go tell Tattles, because I don’t want to hear it!”

This one is saved for those classes that ALWAYS tattle! I have a poster I made at a work shop, and I named him Tattles the Clown. When they just need to tell someone, they grab a Tattles paper, write the complaint, and stick it in Tattle’s mailbox. At the end of the day I can check the papers and take care of any situations that need my attention. Otherwise I throw the papers out, and never have to worry about them! This saves me the time from having to hear about every little thing when I could be teaching.

Share your words for your little ones here: http://bainbridgeclass.blogspot.com/2011/07/my-first-linky-party_14.html

~ Laura

Teaching Tips

Belinda from I Love 2 Teach is having a linky party for teaching tips. 

I have a lot of time-saving things that I do in the classroom. One thing I do (some of you might do this already) is assign each of the kids a number in the beginning of the year (I do it alphabetically by last name). I write this on their nameplates on their desk, so they remember, and when it is time to collect papers for grading (like after a test) I call everyone’s number. It’s quick and easy, and when I go to grade, they are already in ABC order, which is nice when recording in the grade book! One of my friends takes it a step further and has them write their number on all papers. When the papers are handed in to a bin, she can quickly put them in number order, and see who hasn’t turned in their work!

Another tip: in the beginning of the year I send home a wish list. Two things I ask for are baby wipes and shaving cream. Both are wonderful ways to clean grubby little desks! J The shaving cream takes a bit longer, but they LOVE it (even last year’s 2nd graders – we did this the last week to all desks and center tables – saved me from doing it, and they had fun!). During the year you can practice math facts or cursive in the shaving cream while they play, then when it’s time to clean up, just wipe with a wet paper towel!

 Anyone else have any fun tips to share? Link up here: http://ilove2teach.blogspot.com/2011/07/too-cool-for-school-linky-party.html
~ Laura

Makes me laugh....

Mel D. over at Oh the Places We Will Go is hosting a fun linky part – Out of the Mouths of Babes. She wants us all to share our great stories, so here’s one of mine:

I was in the middle of my small groups / centers block for the day. The students have a rotation of centers, working with the teacher, and STAR time (Stop, Take a book, And Read, read, read!). When I called my yellow group to the table, one of my lovely 2nd graders came over with black smudges all over her face. I looked at her and go “Were you coloring with markers again when you should have been doing your work?” She denied coloring, even though her face had the proof right on it! “Well, I think you need to go into the bathroom and clean those marker smudges off your face, and then come back and tell me the truth.”

She sighed as she walked off to the bathroom, and returned only a few seconds later. She stomped back with an angry face and looks at me and goes “That wasn’t funny! I have a mustache on my face. My mom says it’s ok, that some girls do. I can’t wash off my ‘girlstache’!”

I was too shocked at first to say anything (this poor girl does in fact have a dark mustache growing, which made it even harder)! I had to cover my smile with a piece of paper, as I calmly said to her “Honey, I’m sorry you think I was talking about your mustache. However, I was talking about the marker that is on your CHEEK!”

We have all had those moments where one of the kids will say something that is just so funny, and you NEED to pass it on! And sometimes, only a teacher can understand the humor! When I first started teaching 2nd grade 4 years ago, one of my mentor teachers was actually my former 2nd grade teacher. She said one of the most important things she could tell me was to take the time to enjoy my time in the classroom, as it passes too quickly. She said she loves to record the little fun things that happen on certain days right in her plan book – so as she looks back, she can also remember fun times from past classes. I thought this was a wonderful way to remember, but took it a step further. I have a file on my school computer where I type in the funny things kids have said to me over the past few years. Anytime I need a pick-me-up, I just open this file and let the fun start all over again!

~ Laura

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Daily Schedule

In order to get my blog out there, I am taking part in any of the linky parties I hear about!
Head on over to Simply 2nd Resources to check out everyone's schedule!


Below, you will see my schedule from last year. I will be trying to keep about the same schedule this year, even though I am moving up from 2nd grade to 3rd grade.

7:55 – 8:15 Arrival / Morning Work
8:15 – 9:00 Math (on days 2, 4, 6, the AIS math teacher would pull her math kids for ½ of this time, leaving us both with smaller groups to work with)
9:00 – 9:15 Spelling / Word Work
9:15 – 10:00 AIS Reading / Enrichment Block (most of my students would leave with the various AIS Reading teachers, leaving me with a group of 5 for enrichment – I loved this period!)
10:00 - 10:15 Snack 
10:15 – 11:00  ELA Centers / Small groups (students were on a rotation of going to centers with a buddy or working with me at the reading table)
11:00 – 11:30 ELA Whole Group (this is where I had to do my work with the basal, focus skill, focus strategy, etc)
11:31 – 12:11 Special (Day 1 Music, Day 2 PE, Day 3 Computers, Day 4 PE, Day 5 Art, Day 6 PE)
12:15 – 12:40 Lunch
12:40 – 1:00 Recess
1:00 – 1:10 Text Talk (this is my read-aloud; I would read a chapter book – the Clementine series was our favorite – and we would add interesting word to the text talk wall, and talk about them. These were posted all year for us to use and discuss – it really helps increase vocabulary!)
1:10 - 1:20 Penmanship / Cursive (another favorite time of the day – they felt like “big kids” learning cursive!)
1:20 – 1:45 Writing or Grammar (Monday - process wtg, Tuesday - weekly grammar skill, Wednesday - process wtg, Thursday -weekly grammar skill, Friday - journal wtg)
1:45 – 2:15 Science or Social Studies (we rotated just about every-other month teaching a science chapter or social studies unit)

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Laura