Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Sneak Peek

I stepped foot into my brand new room a few days ago and had a million things going through my head:
- I can't believe summer is really over :(
- Maybe I should have just stayed in first grade, I know exactly what to do there...
- Where am I going to put everything?
- Thank goodness she left me so much stuff!
- What in the world was I thinking??

And the list goes on and on.

I am beyond excited to be the reading teacher for K-2, but at the same time I am scared out of my mind.  So when I walked into my new room all of the fears overwhelmed me.  I didn't even know where to start.  So what did I do?  Took every single thing out of each and every cabinet and spread it all across the floor to create the biggest disaster I could.  Yep, that makes a lot of sense, right?  But I did have a good reason for doing it.  By pulling everything out I was able to see what I actually had in the room.  That way I wouldn't go through the entire year not even realizing I had the 'perfect resource' because it was tucked into the back corner of a cabinet.   Here is what the room looked like after I emptied out the top cabinets...the bottom ones are all still full.

So after I emptied everything out and I could barely walk around the room the next step was to...panic.  I almost started crying - haha.  I had so many resources (yay!) but no idea how to organize them.  Plus, I went from having a huge closet in my old classroom to just this small space for storage.  I freaked out for about five minutes and considered going home and coming back a day or two later.  But, I finally calmed down and decided to group the resources.  Once I started doing that, things got pretty easy (and I started to breathe again).  I was able to group all of my resources and fit them back in the cabinets in a way that would make it easy for me to find and use all of them.  And that is what I am going to share with you today!

After I grouped everything I decided that I wanted to make labels for the cabinets so I could quickly find the materials I needed.  Jackie over at Inspired to the Core introduced me to my new favorite app - A Beautiful Mess.  It was only 0.99 and I use it for everything.  So I obviously had to use it to create my cabinet labels.  Here they are:

One of my favorite things about this app is that when you get the pictures printed they come out as a 4x4.  So cute!  I created all of the labels, picked them up at Walgreens and glued them on to black card stock.  I absolutely love how they turned out.

Then, I put everything back into the cabinets and stuck my labels on.

Here is how I organized this cabinet (since you can't really read the labels):
Top left - letter recognition
Top right - rhyming
Bottom left - beginning, middle and ending sounds
Bottom right - word families

These cabinets still need some work - the labels just say phonics resources (because that is what both of those bins hold).  The best kept secret when you have cabinets like these??  Having your handy husband cut extra shelves!  There is so much wasted space on the top of this cabinet, so I took the measurements and my husband is going to cut another shelf for me so I can make better use of the space.  It will just hold posters, chart paper and the offices, but still!

These cabinets have:
Top left - sight words
Top right - CVC activities
Bottom left - blends & digraphs
Bottom right - long vowels

Hooray!  The bottom cabinets are organized and I can walk around the classroom without falling over everything.

The top cabinets are still a work in progress - just like the rest of the room.  But one step at a time right?  I am heading back in to work on it some more on Tuesday - so hopefully I can do another sneak peek once I get things organized and set up!

How are your classrooms coming along?  I'd love to hear about them :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge: Week 4

I am joining up with Sparkling in Second, Third in Hollywood, Teach Create Motivate, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista for the fourth, and final, challenge in the weekly TpT Seller Challenge.  This week's challenge is called "Follow Frenzy" and it asks us to share the newest friends that we have connected with during this challenge.

This challenge is the hardest one yet because I didn't really get a chance to meet new people during this challenge.  Apparently I am a blogging hermit - don't worry, fixing this issue is at the top of my to-do list!  So instead of talking about the friends I met I thought I would instead talk about some amazing bloggers that I found along the way.  So here are five bloggers that I started following along the way and the reason(s) why I started following them.

 Once Upon a First Grade Adventure
Once Upon a First Grade Adventure
I was drawn to this blog during the "Make Your Masterpiece" challenge in week three.  She created an incredible set for teaching sight words - which is something that I am going to have to spend a lot of time doing next year as the Reading Teacher.  I liked this product so I headed over to her TpT store and I was amazed.  She has so many resources that I will be able to use next year and they are all on my wishlist.  :)

Kindergarten Squared
Kindergarten Squared 
This is a blog that I stumbled across when I was searching Instagram for #TpTSellerChallenge.  I just loved their blog ideas and found so many useful resources that I will be able to use next year - especially because I do not know much about Kindergarten.  Plus, their cute blog design drew me right in!

Inspired to the Core
Inspired to the Core  
This lovely lady is someone who I was already following, but I had to give her a shout out because she is fabulous and I love her!  It is because of her that I even found out about the TpT Seller Challenge.  It is also because of her that I discovered the world of cute fonts and clipart.  Before she started working on my first grade team I created boring worksheets.  Then, I met her and she got my creative juices flowing and helped me find the cute aspects to make my products more appealing. 

Rowdy in First Grade
Rowdy in First Grade
I also found this blog while searching #TpTSellerChallenge on Instagram.  I went to her blog and started browsing - and discovered that she has so many great ideas and products!  I love seeing all of the wonderful ideas that other teachers have.  Many times I find myself reading someone's blog post and thinking "This is genius! Why didn't I think of this?".  That is something I thought many times as I was looking through this blog.  I am excited to follow her this year and use all of her great ideas.

The Teaching Texan
This is another blog I found on Instagram (I am starting to sense that I may need to take a break from this app...)  I stumbled across his "Make Your Masterpiece" post and immediately knew I had to have it.  He created an entire pack of reading interventions and explained how he uses them in his classroom.  This is exactly what I will be doing next year!!  What a wonderful resource to find :)

I have found so many wonderful bloggers during this challenge, these were just a few of my favorites.  This challenge was a wonderful experience because it pushed me to blog over the summer, update and create new products and meet new people.  I am sad that it is over!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Weekly Summer Link-Up: Where I Was Five Years Ago

I was browsing Instagram and found this wonderful Link-Up and just had to join in on the fun.  Miss Monica over at I Heart Grade 3 is hosting a weekly summer link-up and this week's topic is where you were 5 years ago.

The summer of 2010 was a big year for me.   I hope you are ready to hear all about it :)

So I have to start out with a little back story...I graduated college in May of 2009 and by the grace of God managed to land a teaching job in Illinois.  I was hired to teach fourth grade a week before the first day of school.  In the middle of the school year, my school district announced that all non-tenured teachers would be 'laid-off' and only those with more than three years of teaching experience could interview to try and get a position back.  What?!?!  Alright then.  So I started job searching.  And guess what I found?  Nothing.  Yep - there were NO teaching jobs open within a 100 mile radius of where I lived.  So I did the logical thing and expanded my search - country wide.  I came across a district in Tennessee with lots of openings and applied.  I was asked to come down for a job fair and was offered a first grade position on the spot.  Yay!!

So that brings me to the summer of 2010.  I cleaned out my classroom, packed up everything from my parent's house and started the journey to Tennessee with my boyfriend (who is now my husband).  Tim drove the 12-foot moving truck with his pick-up on a trailer behind it while I followed.  The 8 hour trip took us 11 hours - ugh!  But we finally got to our new apartment.   We moved the mattress in and Tim went to sleep while I managed to unpack everything else (except the furniture).  I was just too excited not to!  
We had to store my school stuff behind the couch because I couldn't get into my classroom yet :)

A few weeks later I was able to get into my classroom.  I replaced a teacher who had been there for over 15 years and she had left me quite a bit of materials.  It was overwhelming to try to go through everything and get the room organized to the way I wanted it but it was exciting at the same time.

It was a scary time in my life because I moved away from my family and friends to a new place that I knew nothing about.  Luckily, it was the best decision I could have made.  We have made incredible friends here and I couldn't be happier at the school that I am at.  It is amazing to look back and see how far we have come since moving here - and it has only been 5 years!

What were you doing five years ago?

Monday, June 29, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge: Week 3

I am joining up with Sparkling in Second, Third in Hollywood, Teach Create Motivate, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista for the third challenge in the weekly TpT Seller Challenge.  This week's challenge is called "Make Your Masterpiece" and it asks us to create a 'masterpiece' to add to our store on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

 I was very excited (and overwhelmed) by this challenge.  I did not have any products that needed to be finished, which left me having to start from scratch.  I have had somewhat of a TpT writer's block lately.  After thinking long and hard I decided to create something that I could use next year as the Reading Teacher for K-2.  I know that short vowels are something that all of the grade levels will be working with - whether as a review or as a new skill.  So I created a few worksheets for each short vowel and came up with this:

Yay!  I feel like I may have taken the first step to overcoming this TpT writer's block issue that I have been dealing with.  I am so glad that this was one of the challenges because it forced me to create something that I will be able to use next year (because what is the point of putting all of that time and effort into a product if you can't use it in your own classroom!).  Now I am in the right mindset to continue creating materials and hopefully have a head start on what I will need for next year :)

So enough of my is a preview of the different pages within the set.

The activities are all the same for the five different short vowels.  

  • One of the pages asks that students to sort pictures by different word families.  I love to try and incorporate cutting and pasting into as many of the worksheets as I can because these are skills that my students always seem to struggle with.
  • Another page has the students use the code to color each picture based on the word family it belongs in.  (There are two versions of this page - one of the options asks the students to then write the word underneath the picture while the other does not).          *Only one of the options is shown in the preview
  • On another page the students are asked to read the words and paste the matching picture in the box (There are also two versions of this page - on the first option the pictures are glued on top of the word and on the second option the pictures are glued above the word).
  • The final page asks the students to sort pictures by the medial sound (does it have the short vowel sound or not?).

So there it is, my "masterpiece" :)  I hope that this will help you in your classroom.  Click on the preview (or this link) to grab it for 20% off - today and tomorrow only.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge: Week 2

 Alright, I should be caught up now with the weekly TPT Challenge organized by Sparkling in Second, Third in Hollywood, Teach Create Motivate, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista - Yay!  The week two challenge was to blog about your dreams for your TPT store. This is something that I love to do!  For this challenge I decided to put my dreams in order of attainability.  Hopefully I can reach at least the first goal on my list...but it sure is fun to dream :)
 Pay for daycare each month:
My first goal (and hopefully one that I can actually reach) is to be able to pay for daycare each month using the money that I make from TpT.  I hate that I have to put my sweet baby in daycare come August, but staying at home is not something that will work for my family at this point.  That being said, the price of daycare is...ridiculous high.  If the money I make from TpT could cover the cost of daycare it would make such a difference!  

Be able to work part time:
I would love to be able to work part time!  Maybe one day the money I make from TpT could allow me to only work part time and then I could stay home with my family for part of the week.  I think that this would be the ideal situation for me.  I got stir crazy when I was on maternity leave and felt the need to get out of the house and go to work.  So if I could work part time I feel like I could get the best of both worlds. 

Stay at home and work on TpT:
Now, I know that I just said that I don't think that I could stay home full time because I would get stir crazy - but if I were able to treat TpT like a job I could stay at home with my family and spend my "work time" creating products.  This is a goal that I know many teachers on TpT have been able to reach, but I think that it is a stretch for me.  But, this challenge is all about dreaming, right??

My husband's goal - Buy land:
This is something that my husband loves to dream about.  If I were ever able to stay home because of TpT and we had enough money, he would love to be able to buy land.  He is more of a dreamer than I am and will sit and look at land for sale.  He has found the perfect property - 248 acres for only 300,000 something dollars.  This is definitely the most far stretched goal on my list...but I will let him dream :)

These are some hefty dreams, but that is something that motivates me to continue with TpT.  What are some dreams that you have?

TpT Seller Challenge: Week 1

I am starting a little late, but I have finally gotten my butt in gear so that I can participate in the TPT Seller Challenge hosted by Emily from Third in Hollywood, Ashley from Teach Create Motivate, Jen from Sparkling in Second and Amber from Peppy Zesty Teacherista!

The first challenge is MAKEOVER MADNESS. This week is all about updating an old product to make it better.  When I was going through my products, one in particular jumped right out at me.  What in the world was I thinking when I posted this as the cover for my product?
This is one of the first products that I posted.  And while the product itself was good, the cover was...unacceptable.  

So for MAKEOVER MADNESS I spruced up the product itself by adding a few different levels of some of the worksheets, fixed the assessment so that it actually aligned with the worksheets in the set and updated the font.  And then I gave the cover a complete overhaul.
I am much happier with how this looks.  And I think that it looks more appealing to buyers.  What do you think?
Click on the picture above to grab the product for 20% off - today only!

Friday, June 26, 2015

It's Been Too Long...

It is hard to believe that it has been six months since I last posted on this blog.  There has been a lot going on since then and I can't wait to share with you all of the exciting changes!

My husband and I welcomed a beautiful little boy into the world on May 2 and it has been incredible and exhausting all at the same time.  It has been a blessing that we are both teachers because we are able to both spend the summer together with Levi.  And for those of you who follow me on Instagram, I apologize for the overload of Levi pictures - I am trying to keep it under control.

Little Levi came two weeks early and was 7 pounds 8 ounces and 20.5 inches long.  My husband and I decided not to find out the sex of the baby so we went in to the hospital with a little girl's name: Bailey Joanne; and a little boy's name: ______ Vernon.  Yep, we did not have a boy's name picked out!  Joanne is my grandmother's name and Vernon is my husband's grandfather's name so the middle names were easy.  We agreed on Bailey early on in the pregnancy but could not find a boy's name that we both liked.  My husband liked Levi the entire pregnancy but I just couldn't wrap my head around it (It is a pair of jeans for goodness sake!).  But when the time came, Levi Vernon was the perfect fit. 

Now our time is spent taking care of this little man - and we couldn't be any happier!

As if having a new baby wasn't enough - I accepted a new position.  I will still be working at the same school, but instead of teaching first grade I will be the K-2 Title I Reading Teacher and I could not be more excited.  (So much for my creative blog name, huh?)  So at the end of the school year, my nine month pregnant self had to empty out my classroom and bring it all home.  Piece by piece, I brought it home and into the garage.  My husband then carried it all upstairs and put it into an extra bedroom, which I now refer to as "The Room of Disaster". 

Well, "The Room of Disaster" ate away at me.  I just could not stop thinking about the mess hiding behind that door.  So I decided to go through and organize it.  Yep, you should have seen me waddling in and out of that room.  I pulled everything out and put it into different piles in the hallway.  I had a donate pile (I can't believe I accumulated so many useless items!), a 'pack away in the attic' pile, a 'give to my teacher friend' pile and an 'I need this for next year pile'.  Then I waddled everything back into the room (except for the donate and give away piles) and organized it as much as I could.  Now I know that there is an organized mess behind the door and it is much easier to live with.

As for my new job, I will be working with Kindergarten, first and second graders on phonics skills.  I am excited for the new challenge and I can't wait to start creating materials to share with all of you!  I had hit a road block with my TpT store because I felt like I had run out of resources to create for the first grade Common Core Reading Standards.  Now I have a whole new realm of materials that I can make so be prepared for an overload of phonics materials! 

I think my favorite part about this new job so far is the fact that I can't work on anything this summer!  I don't know what my students will need because I don't even know which students I will be working with.  It has been such a relaxing summer and I know that I will start the new school year refreshed and ready for action!

Lots of new and exciting changes over here, huh?  For those of you have stuck with me through my lack of blogging over these past six months - thank you.  I can't wait for the new adventures that await me this year and look forward to sharing them (and all the new products I create) with you all.