Friday, 2 August 2013

Ok, so I'm a REALLY bad blogger!

Well, my last post was in OCTOBER, so yes, I'm probably not cut out for this blogging thing.

I cannot believe it's already AUGUST! One month of summer vacation gone already! WOW! I've been having a super lazy summer and it's been just what I've needed. The first few weeks of July were spent catching up with people I haven't seen in ages. I went for a pizza lunch date and to Fort Edmonton Park with a teacher colleague and her adorable daughters! That was a great day! For those of you that aren't locals, Fort Ed is a historical park that runs programs about the pioneer and fur trade days in our city.

I had fun lunch and dinner dates with a few other friends and it was so great to catch up with people! I have a couple teacher friends at different schools that I don't see too much throughout the year because I'm always working late that I was able to catch up with too.

My friend Ashley is a consultant for Close to My Heart (purchase from her online store here: and they released a new Cricut cartridge this summer. It's called Artbooking and it's very cool! I think it's supposed to be aimed more at scrapbookers but since I don't scrapbook much, I do cards instead. It's definitely a great cartridge for card making too since these CTMH cartridges have 700 images on them. The bundle also has 3 stamp sets and 3 packs of chipboard shapes that come with it. I should be a-ok to not buy any new cartridges for a while! I participated in an online card class called Summer Card Camp 2 from I picked up some cool new techniques and have been making a bunch of cards over the past few weeks. The class had colour combination challenges and card sketches to use as a baseline to create some neat stuff. Here are some of the cards I made with the Close to My Heart Cartridges and my Cricut machine.

Ta daaa! That's what I've been creating lately! The vintage-looking cards were the most challenging. The card class 'homework' was to make something outside of your comfort zone. Normally, I like bright, fun cards that really pop, so doing a vintage looking card was something I wasn't used to. They took FOREVER to do since they included a lot of distressing and inking. I'll probably still stick to more quick, simple cards! 

Now that August is already here, I'm on to thinking about September. I'll be teaching JUST grade 5 this year and right now, my classroom looks like a tornado went through there. A friend of mine recently decided that teaching isn't something she felt like she could do for the next 30 years and was basically liquidating all her teaching stuff. SO, she let me have first dibs on everything and sold me some stuff. She was then kind enough to help me transport it all to the school! Subsequently, it's everywhere... I've also aggravated the issue by moving furniture around to try to open up the room a bit. Since I'll have a group in the room ALL day, I am trying to find ways to maximize my storage space.

This is what my aspirations for classroom organization are for this year: (**NOT my pictures - Found via PINTEREST**) 
The original site for this on Pinterest apparently doesn't exist anymore. :(
If you'd like to follow my board, click the link below.
I've already picked up some 'shoe box' bins like the ones shown above the pink Sterilite drawers in the picture on the bottom and have to pick up a couple more Sterilite bins to set things up like the picture on the top. The desks the kids have don't have desk drawers so keeping things organized will be a challenge! Once I'm in there next week I'll take some before and after photos of the disaster zone!

I'll make it a goal this year to try to update this thing more often! 

Have a great day!


Saturday, 20 October 2012

I'm a bad blogger!

Hi, my name is Ms. M and it's been 40 days since my last blog update.

Where do I even begin with my year? At my school, we start reading and math testing the first week of school so we can place students in the most appropriate learning groups.

For language arts, I have three grade 4 students and five grade 5 students who are in need of the most support in LA. They are my Daily Five guinea pigs and I'm happy to say they are LOVING it so far! I have kids who CHOOSE to work on writing even though it's probably one of the hardest things for them. LOVE IT!! Doing D5 this year is giving me more time to work with students in small groups and one-on-one and really program effectively for what individual student needs are. I'm also VERY lucky that I have a small group to work with. They also go nuts for the listening to reading station! I have a tiny eePC set up (borrowed from my awesome mom) and they get to go on TumbleBooks. I keep them accountable by having them fill out a sheet (picture, rating and description) about the story or part of story they listened to. Actually, they pretty much fill out a sheet on any activity they do and they don't complain about doing it! I have set them all up on and they're loving doing spelling homework practice online. I have other activities for them to choose from too which are going well. I got them from a teaching blog called Bainbridge's Class here:

They're fun seasonal activities! The only downside is that it's from an American site and some of the November activities are Thanksgiving themed. Doesn't exactly fit since our turkey day is in October! They still like it anyway. :)

After LA and the morning recess, I get twelve students for math. Six each from grade 4 and grade 5, but we are doing grade 5 curriculum since I have the group of more capable students. This was an unexpected change for me this year since I typically work with the students who need the most support in LA and math. Last year, I would plan a lesson that would take 3 days to complete! This year, my kiddies ASK ME FOR MORE HOMEWORK! WHAT?! It's a strange feeling for me. I send home a Problem of the Week ("Club P.O.W.) and they voted as a class to take TWO per week. SO AWESOME! It's been really fun because it's a hard working group that can handle some unstructured time playing math games and doing partner work. We had our first math test this week and they all did pretty great! It was mostly place value and mostly kids get that stuff right away, or they don't. OH! They're great problem solvers too! One of the girls (who I'm discovering is quite a perfectionist) didn't finish her test. I had said that I'd have to talk to her other teacher to see if I could pull her that afternoon to finish up. Instead, she says "Couldn't I just finish during Math Game Monday?" HA! Fantastic! They're doing all the work for me. :D

My afternoons are spent with our junior high students. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I teach grade 9 social studies. This has been the biggest learning curve of my teaching career so far! The curriculum is difficult to say the least -- It's primarily Canadian federal government. The students find it quite dry, but I'm put things into SmartBoard files to try to make things as interactive as possible. The school I'm at is a congregated site for students with a learning disability and there is only one grade 9 class this year so I have 23 at a time versus the 12-15 the other junior high classes work with. We have our first big test on Monday, so I'm curious to see how they will do!!

Tuesday afternoons I teach health to the grade 9 kids and usually am able to use the same lesson for grade 7 health Wednesdays. One thing I'm doing this year for health is a swiped idea from one of the grade 7 teachers called "Hugs & Bugs". We go through the class (24 kids for 2 grade 7 homerooms) and they all have to share something positive happening this week for them. It can be something they're looking forward to, a compliment for someone, an achievement at school, or anything really! Then, we do the 'Bugs'. Students have the option to share something that's bugging them. For this part they can pass if they want to. It provides a great opportunity as a teacher to get to know some things about your students.

Thursdays are my favourite day of the week! It's early dismissal for one, so the day really flies by. I have my usual grade 4/5 kids in the morning, and in the afternoon I'm with the grade 2/3 classroom. They have music with another 3/4 class, then we do health for the last hour and a half of the day. This class is a very wiggly bunch but THEY'RE SO CUTE! Plus, we do super fun stuff in health like nutrition, talking about feelings and how to deal with them and working together. <3

Friday afternoons I was doing tech support training. Many of our students use speech to text software that requires some training. This week I was asked to cover some prep time for another teacher and will be doing grade science once a week. Kind of cool since I haven't taught any science since my student teaching! Haven't started that yet (and next Friday is a PD day), so I'll see how it goes!

Other things that have happened this year are that we are on a brand new system for inputting our IPPs and report cards, so that has been a bit of a learning curve too. It involved a TON of inputting of assessments and information that has eaten up a lot of time. I have tried using the remote desktop system from home but it's painfully slow to use so I'm able to work more efficiently at the school.

IPP parent meetings are done and now I'll be onto report cards right away this week. I'll be working lots of late nights again to get them done because report cards are due the week after my sister's wedding. I'll get a quick break away to go to Florida, but I'll be thinking about work. In fact, I'll probably take my ipad and see if I can get anything done while I'm away. I'm going to try to have most done before I go though, so I can enjoy the time away a little more.

Hopefully that will appease you all for a while! I'll try to post projects and ideas more often.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

PHEW! Once upon a time, I had a CRAZY (but super great) 3 days!

Well, I think I'm FINALLY done organizing and setting up my classrooms! Yes, I said classrooms.

We were officially back to work in my school district on Thursday, but if you've been peeking at any of my previous posts, you'll know I've been at it a while now.

Where do I even start? Ah! Wednesday! Wednesday was the day I learned just how CRAZY my timetable would be this year! I knew in June that I'd be doing grade 5 LA/Math and Social 9 FOR SURE. I also knew there were some holes in the afternoon that were going to be filled with something. Here's what it will be:
Screen shot 2012-09-01 at 8.57.51 PM

WOAH!!! Can you say "learning curve"? I'll refer to this as the year of things I have never taught before. Well, I'd never taught grade 4 before last year, but I kind of got to ease into it since I was doing LA/Math in the mornings. On the bright side, I think they took pity on me and I have to do a normal amount of supervision compared to the 11 (yessss.... ELEVEN!) I did last year. Yippee!!

Are you thinking, "What's with all the HEALTH?!" WELL! Here's what the deal was originally. I was covering a prep for the grade 8 teacher and her choices were health or P.E. She chose P.E. EEEEEEK!!! "I can handle this, I can handle this!" I think to myself. So, my AP goes to my grade 9 co-teacher and he says HE will do grade 8 P.E. if I do grade 9 health. Where do I sign on the dotted line please! That worked out great. Next, one of the grade 7 teachers needed a prep covered and we gave her the same type of deal. A block of P.E. or health. Again, she picked health. This also works out great because she said she has a bunch of health stuff to share (and I can double up and use some of it for my health 9)! YAY!

Ok. What next? How about my classroom upstairs? It's much bigger than my morning room and MUCH more bare since I have zero social studies things to put up on the wall so it's very bare right now. I spent some time clearing out things from previous teachers and then realized I'm going to need two of a bunch of things! Good thing I have a pen addiction (see previous post. Ha!) and have stuff to spare. I picked up some dollar store bins (in fun neon colours!) to organize stuff in the desk. I couldn't find one of those drawer organizers, but this worked. I'll take a pic of it next week.
Here's a panoramic of it. I'm kind of standing in the coat room entrance. My desk is in the corner opposite where I'm standing. I have 23 students and we had a hard time tracking down desks! It was a bit nutty! It also says 'Grade Eight' on the wall since it was a grade eight room previously.
panoramic pic of my grade 9 classroom.
Here's a pic of the door. I laminated cardstock and cut the letters out with my Cricut. It was SO great not to have to cut out the laminating!

My OTHER classroom.
Sorry about the poor pic! It was very sunny!
Thursday we had meetings a good chunk of the day to figure out schedules. It was nice to see some people I hadn't seen since June. A teacher I worked with a few years ago when I was a teaching assistant was hired to teach grade 2 across the street. So was one of the junior high teachers on a temp contract from last year! They're both lovely people and I'm so excited for them even though I won't see either of them too much since they're across the street. Our principal always gives us a little assignment to do. This year we had to make a button describing our summer and then we had to relate it back to the ne K-12 Literacy Plan. I have to find mine! We're supposed to wear it on Tuesday as a discussion starter! We are supposed to make a button with our students by September 30 too. It's kind of neat! Our fantastic librarian made us a handy dandy template to use. After meetings were done, we had time to ourselves so I worked more on my morning classroom mostly.

Friday we had a morning inservice about the new PowerSchool/PowerTeacher system we're moving to. It seems pretty straightforward so far except that it says I have no students enrolled in any of my classes! Yikes! Hope that's fixed soon. I won't be able to print class lists even. :( By Friday I still felt like I had a ton of stuff to do! Especially with organizing the upstairs room! I knew I'd be in Saturday for sure.

This morning I got up early, but had to pick up organizational things from the dollar store and Wal-Mart before going in so I didn't get to the school until about 11:30. I forgot my CAFE headings on Thursday, so that was the first thing I put up. Here it is! I got the headings from and the strategy cards from Down Under Teacher. Both I think were in their TpT sites. I like how it turned out!

New CAFE/Strategies wall

I also cut out some laminated cardstock letters for mt grade 5 door. I used the Cricut Storybook cartridge. Next time, I'd make these a little bigger since they're a bit skinny. It's cute though.

Updated door decor!
There aren't any names yet because we won't know who I'm getting until we finish reading level testing  next week.

So, just when I think I'm done I think up some new project. ALWAYS! It never fails! This is why I have trouble getting to sleep. My brain won't shut off.

Here's what I've started NOW. Once of the classroom jobs I have this year is someone to tidy the bookshelves. So, I was thinking of an easy way to categorize them AND narrow their choices for selecting a Good Fit book.

New categorization for classroom books.
I'll use the dots for chapter books too! I haven't put a dent in dotting all the books, but I got two bins done, so it's a start. They won't be needing this system until we get this kids sorted out so I'm ok for a few days.

I saved the BEST news for last! I had been worrying and worrying about how on earth I was going to get through Social 9 with no resources. I talked to the social teacher from last year who had some things for me, but lots of what she does is in her head since she's been doing it for so long. She was having computer issues and some of her social stuff disappeared. :( My friend J emailed another teacher she used to work with to see if he'd be willing to share some of his social 9 stuff. I contacted him by email and set up a Dropbox account, and made it so he could put stuff in it. I was expecting one or two things to get me up and running, but BOY did I get a great surprise! He sent me resources for EVERY CHAPTER IN THE BOOK! It's WONDERFUL! I loooooooove teachers who share amazing things! It just put me at ease about having to start from scratch.

Overall, I've had an insane but fantastic few days AND my classrooms are done so I can actually not go into the school on the long weekend Monday! I was also testing out different routes to and from work that might be faster and I think I've found a faster way. Yahoo!

Tomorrow, Keith and I are going to an all day music festival called Sonic Boom where our favourite band Incubus is playing.

I will take another panoramic pic of my finished classroom on Tuesday morning. I DID one but the app crashed and deleted the picture!

That's all for now.


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Did this delete my post?

I'm up early today to get in another full day at the school! I'm just about there with setting up my main room for my Grade 5 LA/math kids but still have to check out the empty room upstairs where I'll be doing social studies 9. It will be pretty bare in there for now since I don't have posters to put up for anything social related!

I organized my desk drawers yesterday. That felt good since they were a disaster! I've also discovered I never, ever, ever, EVER need to buy pens again. I have an addiction I think. No, really. if you know of a penaholics anonymous hotline for me to call, I probably should! You'll agree once you see the picture of my desk!

I also got the free app of the week a couple weeks ago. It's called 360 Panorama and takes panoramic pics! It's kid of cool. I wanted to show a friend at another school my classroom, and tried it out. It makes my room look larger than it is, but I was standing right up against the wall behind my desk when I took it. Ether way, it's a cool app.

Here are a few new pics of my room's progress. I'm REALL hoping to get it done today! *fingers crossed*
Pen addiction. They're even sorted into mini categories.
Then, I found ANOTHER ONE!!
More organized desk!
Cool panoramic pic of my room!
I'm testing out blogging using an iPad app, so I'm curious to see what this post will look like. We'll see how many typos I missed since I'm not sure this app has a spell checker!
Cool panoramic pic of my room!
Cool panoramic pic of my room!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Before I head into work this morning, here's an update! (LOTS OF PICS!)

Morning! I've been in my classroom trying to get all my new Daily 5 stuff set up and it's taking FOREVER! I feel like I'll never get it done. Well, it'll be done by next Tuesday for sure because that's when the kidlets are back. Us teachers are back officially this Thursday and Friday.

Here's what I've been up to in the evenings (besides cutting out the massive amounts of laminating I bring home AFTER doing it for at least an hour at the school!).

1) Christmas Card update: After starting to put together my Christmas cards, I realized I have NO stamps that are holiday related! So, I made some digital stamps! There are various ways to do this, but I just plain old printed them out onto some Cricut cuts! While it's a little tedious doing small tags, it saves time in the long run having to either stamp them all by hand or keep running them through the printer. I got the original instructions via the Cricut Message Boards which led me to this blog: Clever Someday: Geeky Ideas for Desktop Crafting. Here's the direct page to the instructions for printing on die-cuts.

First, I cut out the shape I wanted.
Cricut Tags from Artiste Cartridge

Then, I used Pages (Mac equivalent of Word), to make a template. This is the tricky part. I just mess around with the margins and placement of the lettering until I THINK it's about in the right spot to match the holes where the cut-outs are. Then I print off one line as a test page to see if it matches. If not, I just keep adding a space here or changing the line spacing etc. and print another test page. It DOESN'T have to be exact! I'll show you why!

Next, I printed off my whole page of sentiments in black and white (that colour ink is not cheap you know!). It's important to mark which side of the page is UP so you know how to re-load the paper back into the printer. I never remember, so I usually write bottom at the bottom of the page. Then, I use not sticky tape to put the die-cuts over the words. THIS is why the printing doesn't have to be spot on. You can centre the die cuts after!
Digital Stamp process

Lastly, Once things are all taped down, you can adjust the colours of the sentiments and just run it through the printer again.

Digital Stamp tags

Here's the cards so far:
Christmas cards

2) Update from the Puzzle I made a couple weeks ago.
I made a puzzle to give to someone who likes puzzles as a pseudo birthday card. I forgot to take a picture of it, but she was kind enough to assemble it and take a picture for me. Cute! OH I LOVE MY CRICUT!!!! (Sorry. Just had to get that out).

artiste puzzle dogs

3) Classroom organization update:
Here are some pictures of how my classroom is coming along. See the captions for explanations unless it's more in depth. Then I'll put a blurb. Oh! Also, the Daily Five things in the pictures are from various blogs. I'll add them to the Teaching Blog Page eventually. Or, they may have already been mentioned in a previous post. If you're desperate to know where something came from, let me know and I'll hunt it down for you.

Random Fun Fact from my friend D - Permanent Marker isn't permanent on laminating! You can get it off with a white eraser! SO GREAT! Now I can reuse labels and things next year and won't have to laminate everything again.
Book Boxes
Student Book Boxes, I-PICK Bookmark inside, and Book Box template.
Book Box Label
I bought Velcro dots from the dollar store and stuck the labels on with them so I can reuse them next year.
Magazine holder box template
The students will use this for their Daily 5 Book Box and can decorate the template. Then,
I'll adhere it to the box. Probably with Sticky Tak. I just traced the box onto two pieces of paper
and photocopied them. They'll have to tape it on the back, then on the front once done decorating.
Reading Ladder -Close up
Not new this year, but here's my reading ladder. This took FOREVER to make!
Reading Ladder
I could only go up to 150 nights of reading because I'd have nowhere to put it.
Plus, I'm not a giant and already need a stool to put climbers at the top! :D
Daily 5 Corner - update
D5 Corner progress. The wooden bins are from Ikea and have pencil crayons
and felts in them for the Rainbow Write word work station.
Labeled D5 Bins
I added a couple new centres like Magna Doodle spelling, and got loads of printable
Stationery for Work on Writing.  I used the Stationery Studio cd I bought years ago.
Worth EVERY penny! 
Start of Job Chart
Start of my job chart - I needed to cut out the rest of the stinkin' owl shapes! 
Schedule chart and Calendar
Schedule chart and Calendar (which I'm spending less time doing this year.
Outside of my door
Got my owl borders up! 
That's all I've got for you for now! Off to get myself ready and head out the door back to the school today. 


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Relatively Productive Day!

Alrighty people! I'm definitely back in work mode! Sadly, it's a week before summer break actually ends. Actually, I've been in work mode a good chunk of August, but this past Saturday was the first day I actually went into the school instead of doing stuff at home.

Since I've been making new stuff to go along with my Daily 5 ideas, I've had a TON of laminating to do. I have a love/hate relationship with laminating! I LOVE that things are more durable after but I HATE cutting it out! It makes it worse when I keep forgetting things to laminate in the room and find them later after the machine has cooled down.

I laminated all my calendar owls with mixed success. I suspected this might happen since they're 3 or 4 layers. I ran them through the laminator twice, which made them super sturdy but some parts still didn't seal. I'm going to try a trick I found online at this blog, Today's Fabulous Finds, on how to fix laminating with an iron! In fact, it's so cool I think I'll pin it too! (Just did. Ahhhhh Pinterest! I love you!). I remembered seeing another teacher's calendar set up this way so you don't have to bother with sticky tack -- you poke a paper clip through and it holds up the number! Then, you just flip it over to show the number. I had some issues with a couple paper clips not holding but I just bent them and it's fine. Oh, I tried poking a hole with scissors first (I know... Can you hear your mom saying "It's fun until someone loses an eye!" or something like that?) but it didn't work, so I brought the calendar home and used a paper piercer. Pointy tweezers would work too. Anywho, here it is in all it's glory! OH! I used the cling numbers that came with that particular calendar instead of writing on them in case I ever want to use them for something else.
Calendar Cricut Owls

I also re-vamped my classroom reward system! I made a template for "Bird Bucks" and made different denominations. Last year I used tickets, but I like this better. It also ties in money concepts and place value (exchanging ones for tens etc.). It's easier and kids can get "Bird Bucks" for anything. I'm also going to tie it into my home reading program I think. Whenever they reach a 'prize level' (10, 25, 50, 75, 100, 125 etc) they'll get $10 in "Bird Bucks" or something. Then, they can buy what they want from the prize store! Kids who get to 200 nights will get to choose a BIG prize automatically though. I'm hoping I'll have more kids actually do their home reading this year if they can see the incentive. If you'd like the template for my "Bird Bucks," send me an email or leave a comment so I can contact you. :)

My new classroom reward system
As you can see, I kept changing my mind on prize values!
My new classroom reward system

Here's what the "Bird Bucks" look like:
"Bird Bucks" classroom money

I'm sure I'll have more after I'm back at 'er in my classroom tomorrow!