Three Things I Love This Week

I feel so lucky to have summer’s off. Not only it is a much-needed refresher, but it also a reminder of how much I love my job. Though there is still a month left of summer, I have begun to prepare for the upcoming school year because I’m truly excited (okay, and a little nervous) for it to start.

  1. The Book Whisperer by Donnalyn Miller: This is a must-read for any reading 519lHx-UOzL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_teacher! Donnalyn Miller does such a wonderful job of reminding the reader (the teacher) what is truly important about teaching reading (Hint: it has nothing to do with worksheets). With such a large focus on testing lately, it is very easy to fall into “skill and drill” mode, i.e. “read this, answer this, repeat.” However, what we need to focus on as teachers is getting students to love reading, because above all practice, the best practice is to just keep reading! After all, studies show that students who read a lot do better in all subjects, not just reading and writing!
  2. Elementary: I have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes ever since my 5th grade teacher read us The Hound of the Baskervilles. Looking back, reading000.jpg Sherlock Holmes seems much too advanced for fifth graders, but our teacher, Mr. Munerantz was so passionate about it that we ended up loving it just as much as he did. Anyways, about two years ago I started (and finished) BBC’s Sherlock Holmes, and I absolutely loved it. I left it at that for awhile, but then recently decided to give Elementary a try. If you’re a fan of Sherlock, it’s important to know that Elementary is nothing like the books or the BBC show, but there are plenty of Sherlock-esque deductions and surprise endings. Overall – it’s an interesting show and it fills my Sherlock needs until the next season of the BBC show is released!
  3. Ben and Jerry’s Non-Dairy: So I haven’t been able to be completely vegan (a trip to Europe quickly put a stop to my no dairy streak), but I have cut down on dairy significantly. This should be really tough when my absolute favorite food is chocolate ice cream, but it isn’t thanks to Ben and Jerry’s new non-dairy ice cream. It’s delicious, and it tastes just like “real” ice cream! So far I have only had the Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor (5 stars!), but I can’t wait to try the rest! certified-vegan-blog-779x400
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Book Clubs 101

Since the start of my teaching career, I had been afraid of book clubs. I knew I would have to face them sooner or later, but I wanted to put them off as long as possible. Not only did I not feel confident in how to implement them, but I was also really reluctant to give up control of my classroom. Unfortunately (actually, fortunately), I was “forced’ to start book clubs this year when we finished our class novel way too early. So, I was left with two choices: stretch out the class novel (“Ok class, here’s another project on Tuck Everlasting!”) or start dun dun dun….book clubs! So, I mustered up my teacher superpowers, planned a book club unit in under a week, and kept my fingers crossed that it would all run smoothly. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised! Book clubs have somehow gone from being my worst enemy,  to my new favorite part of the curriculum.

First Things First!

  1. Creating clubs: Students are given the chance to view all of the books and pick their top three choices. I do my best to put students with one of their top choices, but I also need to account for their reading speed and level. It’s really tough for book clubs to run smoothly when the group is waiting for one slow reader, so when stuck between choice and pace – put that student with the better pace!
  2. Setting up: Once I have created the book club groups, I create student folders. Each student will get his or her own manila folder, which will IMG_8503.JPGhave an image of the book on it as well as the items listed below (in the Student Folders category). I do this all for the students ahead of time because it saves time and it’s less of a headache (I can hear it now: “WHICH side did you say to paste this paper on!???!!”). Once you hand the folders out, give students time to create a group name and decorate their folder. It is a fun and easy way to create group morale.

Student Folders:

  1. Calendar (you can print student calendars from http://print-a-calendar.com/)
    • The calendar is used as a large overview of the weeks ahead. Students can use this to get a loose idea of when they can finish the book by counting the number of pages and allocating them among the days. Be sure to fill in (or have them fill in) holidays, assemblies, etc. so that students know what days they will not have time to read/discuss.
  2. Goal Page: “on ___________ we will read from ___ to ____”
    • This is more of an immediate goal sheet. Students in my class usedIMG_8504.JPG it on a day-to-day basis. After reading and discussing, they would figure out what they wanted their goal to be for tomorrow. This was a lifesaver to have written down because It helped students to track and adjust their reading goals (“We read really fast today, let’s set a higher goal tomorrow.”) and 2. It helped absent students know what they needed to do to catch up – without asking their group or me!
  3. Discussion Reflection Sheet (this, as well as the goal page, can be found on my TPT store)
    • I created this sheet last minute on a whim, but it became one of the most aspects because it holds students accountable. After book club discussion, students fill out the discussion log by reflecting on what they did well and what they can improve on. While students are filling this out, I come around to give stickers to groups that I saw working well together that day. Yes, they still love stickers in sixth grade, but there is also an incentive -whichever group earns the most stickers on their folder at the end of book club earns a treat (lollipops). Aside from stickers, I also collect the folders at the end of each day, read their reflections, and then leave my own comments (i.e. “Great discussion today! I really liked how you spent time talking about so and so. Next time, focus on making sure all group members are actively listening.”).IMG_8506.jpeg

It All Comes Together:

  • It’s important to note that prior to book clubs my students would come in to class everyday and right away begin 10-15 minutes of “Quiet Reading Time”. This was a time where they read independent books and worked on weekly reading assignments. During book clubs (only about 3 weeks), students only read their book club books and they did not have weekly reading assignments, other than the book club assignments. I felt I needed to mention this because it may be why the schedule below worked so well with my class (they were used to it), but it may not work with every class; adjust as you see fit.
  1. Upon coming in to class, students will take out their book club folders (I kept them in an accessible cabinet in my room), meet very briefly to review what their goal for the day is, and make any adjustments if needed. For instance, if they had two people absent the day before, that group may decide to do less reading than they had originally planned.
  2. Students will read quietly to reach their goal, and then complete the task of the day.
  • Each day I have two tasks for students to complete after their reading/ before their discussion. The first one is always: 1) Create a discussion question, and the second one varies. Here are some examples:
    • Make a strong prediction (I predict….because….).
    • What is your favorite part so far and why?
    • Make an inference about a character.
    • Sketch a scene (be sure to include a caption).
    • Make a connection (text to text/self/world).
    • Who is your least favorite character and why?
  1. When students are done reading and responding it is time for discussion. Discussion involves each student asking the group his/her discussion question (question 1) and sharing his/her response to question 2. Students will likely have trouble with discussion in the beginning, so it is important to walk around and help them to stretch their thoughts, voice their ideas, and dig deeper. ß This will be easier to do if you have read all of the book club books!
  2. After discussion students will fill out the discussion reflection and the goal sheet. 

Accountability:

How are students being held accountable?

  • Observation
    • Book club relies very heavily on student participation. When I see a student is not participating, I deduct points from his or her class participation grade. While it’s understandable that some students are a shy, it’s still important that they give it their all. Here are some ways to monitor real participation:
GREAT 🙂 FAKING IT 🙁 
Student is actively reading. It is clear he or she is engaged in the book during Quiet Reading Time. Student is restless during Quiet Reading Time (eyes looking at the clock, around the room, etc.)
Student contributes to the discussion with complete phrases and his/her own ideas: “I agree it was really odd when Jenny lied, it was so unlike her! I wonder if she is only doing that to save her friendship with Tom?” Student only contributes to the discussion with short phrases: “Yeah I agree with John.” When it is his/her turn to share he/she uses very basic ideas that could have been picked up through a quick skim or from reading the back of the book: “I can’t believe Harry Potter is going to Hogwarts!”
  • Journal Responses: “Questions 1 and 2” (See number 2 in “It All Comes Together”)
    • I walk around to check individual journal responses as students complete them. If you don’t get to everyone in one day, that’s okay. The good thing about book club is it is a continuous cycle, so you can check on the students you missed the next day.
    • If I want to do a more formal check, I will have students complete their responses on loose leaf, and hand it in at the end of the period.
  • Discussion Reflection
    • As mentioned previously, I check this after every discussion and give groups written feedback.
  • Projects
    • Once a group finishes with their book they create and complete
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      Book Club Project     (Student -created)

      a project, time permitting, and hand it in for a grade.

    • Hand out the Project Planner(this can be found on my TPT store) to groups that have finished.
      • Let them be creative – it’s amazing what students come up with!
      • Review their creation, add or subtract as needed, then sign your approval.
      • After they finish the project, the Project Planner becomes the rubric.
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London and Paris in 6 Days

It’s crazy to think that just last week I was wandering around London, and now I’m back home in a weird space between awake and asleep- jet lag has been rough! My friend Valerie and I signed up for the EF College Break London and Paris trip on a whim. I have traveled with this company before and it’s really the way to go if you don’t have the time (or the money) to plan a trip yourself. You pay a relatively low cost and EF  books all of the hotels, most activities, like museum visits and bus tours, and provides money for transportation-even metro cards!  With EF you travel with a large group of people, usually around 30, which definitely has its pros and cons. It’s great to meet new people, but a group that big can also slow you down, which isn’t great when you’re trying to see so much in so little time. Valerie and I went back and forth between hanging out with the group and exploring on our own – it was really the perfect balance!

Day 1: Operation Stay Awake

We arrived in London bright and early…but check in wasn’t until 2PM, so we had to keep ourselves awake and occupied until then. While eating at a coffee shop near the hotel with a few of the other early arrivals, Operation Stay Awake was born. One girl suggested that we should all go to Covent Garden, a semi-outdoor market in the center of London (<– a “pro” to group travel, Valerie and I would have never thought of this place on our own!). We all agreed and then somehow made our way to the tube station, despite being half asleep.

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Covent Garden was a lot of fun and something I hadn’t seen on my last trip to London. We each bought a few souvenirs, and then found some place to eat real food – at an English pub of course! Later, we checked in to the hotel, met everyone else in the group at a Welcome Mixer in the lobby (food and drinks paid for by EF!), and then went for a bit of sightseeing with the group director. Operation Stay Awake was a success!

Day 2: Shopping and Side Streets

In the morning we went on a sightseeing tour of London with the group. The tour guide was really entertaining and very knowledgeable. The tour ended at Buckingham Palace, where we got to watch the changing of the guards – very cool.

Before the tour and on the tour, people kept suggesting that Valerie and I go to Harrod’s. I didn’t understand this. I kept thinking, it’s a department store how cool can it be? However, with all of the suggestions, we decided it was time to check it out, and upon walking in we immediately understood why it was so much more than just a department store. It really can’t be put into words, so all I will say is: if you’re ever in London go to Harrod’s.

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Besides Harrod’s and going to King’s Cross Station, one of my favorite parts of the day was all of the walking we did. A bus tour is great for getting an idea about where to go and seeing everything at once, but absolutely nothing beats just walking around a city. It’s so much fun to walk through side streets and find yourself in places you have never planned on going, or even knew of.

Day 3: Off to the Country! 

Valerie and I have both been to London before, so although there was still tons of stuff we could see and do in the center of London, we wanted to do something different this time. We had signed up for the excursion to Oxford that EF College Break offered, but it was cancelled a few days before the trip, so we decided to go on our own. After sleeping in just a bit (much-needed!) we took a train from London to Oxford, which only takes about 54 minutes! Oxford is one of the most picturesque places I have ever seen. It’s a quiet town filled with beautiful architecture, cobblestone streets, and bikes at every corner – it is exactly what I picture when someone mentions England. I couldn’t believe that people actually went to school there,  it just didn’t seem real!

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Day 4: Goodbye, London! Bonjour, Paris!  

Valerie and I both have not-so-fond memories of Paris, but we wanted to give the city of lights a second try. Unfortunately, the bus ride to the hotel from the Gare du Nord train station almost solidified our first impression (the area around the train station is not somewhere you would want to find yourself at night). Thankfully, the rest of our stay in Paris would prove that it’s not so bad after all.

Before I get into the day itself, I want to mention where we stayed. In London we stayed at a hotel, which seemed to be mostly filled with people on business trips, but in Paris, we stayed at a hostel. For most people the word “hostel” might bring up an idea of someplace dirty and maybe even unsafe, but this place was anything but. It was the first hostel I have ever stayed at and it really made for an entirely different experience (in a good way). Rather than being surrounded by middle age men and women in business attire, we were now surrounded by people our own age, here for the same purpose that we were – to have fun in a new city. Not only was the hostel clean and safe (security right at the door), but it also had its own club, cafe, and rooftop bar! It was so much fun, and very convenient! If you’re ever looking into a trip abroad and need somewhere nice, but inexpensive, definitely look into Generator Hostels.

On our first day in Paris we took a cruise along the Siene. It’s my second time doing this, and in my opinion it is the best way to see the Eiffel Tower. After the cruise we went out to dinner with a few of the girls and then went up to the hostel’s rooftop bar!

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Day 5: Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame

Today was filled with tourist destinations! We started the day off with a group trip to the Eiffel Tower, but we couldn’t get close to it as it was being blocked off due to a suspicious package. Despite feeling a bit shaken from all of the commotion at the tower, we made our way to the Louvre. Museums are my second favorite place to be (bookstores are first); I love the quiet and the feeling of being surrounded by knowledge and history. Before walking around, we had a bite to eat at Starbucks. I know it’s silly that it’s a chain “restaurant”, but Starbucks abroad is so different – I had pancakes with my coffee! We took in the peacefulness of the Louvre (note: it’s the opposite of peaceful if you make your way towards Mona Lisa), attempted to read the labels next to the art pieces (they’re all in French), and took a lot of pictures!

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After the Louvre, we went on a bus tour of Paris, and again the tour guide was amazing! We were able to see so much in a short amount of time and even got to stop at a small cafe for an espresso! The bus tour dropped us off right near Notre Dame so we were able to check another must-see destination off of our list before heading back to the hostel! Once we were back we went out to eat at a nearby restaurant. Paris was filled with going out to eat- I loved it!

Day 6: Act Like a Local 

We started the day by heading to Shakespeare and Company bookstore, a must on my list (remember bookstores are my number one favorite place)! It was great to get away from the city for a bit and wander around the bookstore. I ended up buying a book about Ernest Hemingway, one of my favorite authors. Then we found a cafe and had lunch while sitting facing the street (Parisians often do this so that they can talk about the people who pass by). It was a beautiful day and the lunch was delicious!

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At around three we went to the outskirts of Paris to meet up with Valerie’s cousin, Gina, who has lived in Paris for the past eleven years. She took us to several different restaurants around the canal, one of which looked like a house, but was actually a bar (we walked upstairs and people were having a drink in a bathtub!). We then went to pick up Gina’s daughter from the nearby daycare. It was really interesting to see a Parisian daycare! We walked in and all of the kids were sitting quietly, eating a piece of baguette (can’t make this up). Then we all headed back to Gina’s apartment and had our own baguette with cheese and radishes with butter (so French!).  It was so, so nice to see things in a new perspective (a local one) and to just sit and talk with Valerie and Gina over good food in a home setting!

The last event of any EF trip is always a farewell dinner, and ours happened to be at Montmartre, another place we really wanted to see! We met the group at the restaurant, had a delicious meal, and then walked the 270 steps to Basilica de Sacre-Coeur (after meal workout?). The steps were worth it, because the view was amazing! Definitely put it on your list of things to go and see if you are ever in Paris!

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Overall the whole trip was unforgettable! It was my second time in both places, but a completely different experience. Despite all of the fun Valerie and I had, it was really nice to come home. I have been feeling sort of disheartened with the state America is in right now, but going away really put things into perspective. Every place has its own set of problems, the grass isn’t greener on the other side. There may be a lot that needs to be fixed, but I’m still proud to say that America is my home.

 

Note: The EF College Break trip is actually called “London and Paris in 8 Days“, however the two extra days were complete travel days due to the time difference.

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Three Things I Love This Week

I have been wanting to write about book clubs, but being that it’s the last week of school, book clubs are the last thing on my mind. Instead, here’s a “light” post (written in the middle of the day because school is over *happy dance*!).

1.  BOOKSTAGRAM!  I found this sub community of instagrammers a month or two ago, and I have been hooked ever since. By simply searching the hashtag #bookstagram, you step into a world of book lovers (who take the prettiest pictures). It’s fun to browse, but it’s also great for finding your next read! The picture below is from @bookishjourney.

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2.Vegucated. Documentaries always have a big effect on me. I watched Food Inc. six years ago and became vegetarian, I watched Tapped and became passionate about getting rid of plastic water bottles, and a few months ago I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and started to research juicers. So, Vegucated, a documentary about being vegan, was no exception. For the six plus years that I have been vegetarian, I  frequently wondered what it would be like to take the next step and become vegan, and I always felt a bit guilty that I was still benefiting from the harmful treatment of animals. However, being that pizza and ice cream are some of my favorite foods, I tried to ignore these guilty feelings…but I can’t anymore. What they do to these animals for meat, for milk, for cheese, is not okay. The animals on factory farms, which make up about 99% of all farms, live awful, dark lives and when it’s their turn to go they do not get the liberty of a peaceful death. We torture and kill thousands of animals everyday for what? A burger? A piece of pizza? Is it worth it? I don’t want to be a part of that anymore, so I’m going to try to cut all animal products out of my diet. I’m not ready to say I’m fully vegan just yet, but it’s a step in the right direction.

3. The Bucket List Family (#goals?) This family sold all of their belongings (and a million dollar app) and is now travelling the world as a family. They’ve been to places like Thailand, Australia, Singapore, and Bahamas – all while taking care of their two kids, keeping a blog/vlog, and working out! I can’t even find time for the gym on a normal day!

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What’s on your favorites list this week?

xx

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Update!

I am finally back…and quite ashamed that I haven’t written since October. I could make a millions of excuses about why I haven’t updated, but if I’m being completely honest, I was discouraged. I started to feel like it wasn’t worth the time- why keep up with a blog that no one is reading (especially when there’s so many other things I need to be doing)?

I didn’t tell myself that though, of course not. I told myself I was too busy to write and I ignored the tiny voice in the back of my head that would, every so often, remind me about this space that I created. Then came College Prepster’s recent post, “Why Writing is Good for Your Soul, and I realized just how much I missed writing, and how much I missed this blog. It doesn’t matter if nobody reads it – it’s mine. I scrolled through old posts and I got to read about how my first week  in my own classroom went, and how much I loved the food in Key West, and the music in New Orleans. I can read about old lessons, relive my trip to California, and remember exactly how I was feeling on a particular day. Sure, I can go on Facebook or Timehop – but nothing beats your own space with your own writing. So with all of that being said, I’m glad to be back!

Here’s a few notable events to bring this blog up to date!

1. I became an aunt! I love him so much – more than words can explain.

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2. My dad came to visit from Florida! We went to Storm King Art Center (an awesome day trip!), spent hours in the 9/11 Memorial Museum (if you haven’t been, go!), and saw a Yankees game (they won!).

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 3. I booked a trip to Europe (through EF College Break again!). I’ll be going to London and Paris for eight days with one of my best friends!

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 4. I went to Boston to visit a college friend I hadn’t seen in two years! I didn’t take many pictures, so this average one of the Charles River will have to do.

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 5. I started an instagram (@postgradprep) – I mostly post books (I’m a little obsessed with  #bookstagram), but I also post teaching stuff. image1

Making Inferences

I really enjoy teaching inferences. I love how most of the kids start off thinking that making an inference is abstract and difficult, but then later realize it’s something we do everyday. I recently came across Chrissy’s (FREE!) Making Inferences MiniPack – and Wow! What a find! In an attempt to get the kids ready for the Instagram project they will be doing later in the week, I decided to kick off an inference boot camp! We started today with Chrissy’s MiniPack, then later in the week I plan to introduce the mystery Quick Solves. I used the Quick Solves last year during my nonfiction unit, but it works out SO much better now because of Halloween (yay for good timing!).

So, back to the MiniPack. Chrissy suggests handing groups of studens different pictures and asking them where they think they’re going. Each group has a picture that’s relative to camping (sleeping bag, marshmallows, backpack, fishing pole, etc.), but when one pictures stands alone it becomes a bit more vague. The point is to model the idea that the more clues you have, the stronger your inference will be. I loved the idea of this concrete model, but I felt it would be too easy considering the kids and I just got back from a school camping trip. So, instead I put a few pictures on the Smartboard and only spent about three minutes on it.

We then moved on to read a short story about a guy named Frank who saves people in a fire. The story, which I believe Chrissy wrote, is so well thought out – it’s the perfect tool for making inferences. As a reader, you start out being not so sure why Frank is so dirty (Did he get in a fight? Is he poor?), but as the story progresses you pick up more clues and eventually it all fits together. It made for the perfect “Aha!” moment.

For “we do”, I placed the inference task cards around the room and had students, with a partner of their choice, move from card to card at their own pace. Since the cards were laminated, I created a simple answer sheet that prompted students to use the same “I can tell…” format as the cards, though I did add a “because…” to practice citing text evidence. I was originally planning on use the cards for independent practice, but I’m so glad I changed my mind. By having students work in pairs, I was able to hear their discussions as they attempted to solve each card; it was the perfect way to check for understanding as I walked around the room!

To wrap everything up I will be using Chrissy’s independent practice worksheet tomorrow, which asks students to make an inference using their independent reading books. I’m confident the kids will make strong inferences – and it’s only Monday!

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Google Classroom

I’m head of the school newspaper this year (very exciting!), but after the first meeting I felt completely overwhelmed. The kids had a lot of ideas and they couldn’t wait to get the first paper out. I loved their enthusiasm, but I was worried about how I would make it all happen. I knew that with my busy schedule it would be nearly impossible to hold meetings every week and I also knew I didn’t want to be tracking down rough drafts from students in three different grades (I was already doing enough of that in my own class!). So, I began the search for an easier way. My first thought was Google Docs, but then I stumbled upon something even better: Google Classroom.

A relatively new platform, Google Classroom allows me to post announcements, create assignments, set due dates, comment on student work, and keep track of who has been an active participant. It’s everything that’s great about Google in one spot.

So, how does it work?

After you create a class, Google Classroom generates a code which allows students to join using their gmail account. Once it’s all set up, you are able to communicate with students, both publicly and privately (similar to writing on someone’s Facebook Wall versus messaging them), post assignments, and create announcements. For Newspaper club, I created documents using Google Docs for each column (debate, sports, advice, etc.) and then linked them to an assignment in Classroom. From the student point of view, they simply click the link and are taken to the document. At first I felt all this linking was an unnecessary middle step, but now I see the benefits. For instance, there are only about four students working on the debate column, but many others offer input, compliments, and constructive criticism in the comments section of the assignment. This way, the document is solely for the team itself, while the comment section is open to the entire “staff”.

Why do I love it?

As I previously mentioned, I was a bit cautious about Google Classroom, but now I couldn’t be happier. It has been so nice to see students discussing ideas with one another and to monitor their work and give my own feedback – without waiting for a face to face meeting (there’s even a mobile app!). It allows students to work on their own time (with a deadline in mind, of course), to hear from peers, and to connect with me. In a matter of days, Google Classroom was able to create a strong sense of teamwork in my newspaper club – which I don’t believe would have been possible with any other platform.

What’s New in My Classroom 

 After purchasing a First Days of Middle School product from Teachers Pay Teachers, I simplified my classroom expectations to match the ones in the product. I love that it sums up everything important in three short phrases!IMG_4774I’ve placed a whiteboard and markers on top of my bookshelves so that students can recommend books that they like. I started this at the end of last year and the students loved it! The best part is it adds a pop of color to the walls when it’s all filled up!    I got this DIY idea from the Scholastic newsletter. It’s such a fun way to put students into groups. I used the Divergent popsicles on the first week and the students loved it – they were so excited to see which faction they would be in. I will definitely be making more of these throughout the school year.

IMG_4775I have a homeroom this year, so recess rules are a must! I also created a “‘What should I do when I’m finished?’ sign” (classroom journal post coming soon!) for when students ask that all too familiar question. I have become kind of font obsessed ever since I downloaded a pack from KGFonts. A good font makes a boring poster look so much better!  Just as important as the classroom decorations – my planner (aka my best friend for the school year)! I purchased a monogram decal from etsy to add some fun to the solid front. I love the way the navy blue looks against the bright pink!

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It’s Almost Time!

The funny thing about being a teacher is that every year you hit the reset button and start your job fresh again. It’s a great thing, but it’s also a bit nerve-wracking. While the teacher in me is excited to get back to school again, the worrier in me can’t stop stressing about the year ahead. So, to satisfy my Type-A personality, I have begun planning here and there. Here’s how I’m doing it.

1. Review and Reflect: The first year of teaching is a roller coaster. Some weekends you feel ready and knowledgable to take on the week, while others you sit with a bowl of ice cream thinking “What am I going to do this week and how am I going to do it?” To prevent this from happening in Year Two, I have been taking the time to review Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 1.11.19 PMmy old plans and put them into a unit plan format. I made a chart with the approximate time the unit takes, key
points of the subject, and some of the specific resources I used. This year, I’ll be able to know right away what I should be teaching (and how to teach it) month by month.

41O2Td0V5iL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_2. Refresh: One of the biggest things in middle school is classroom management. While I think I did a pretty good job managing my classroom as a first year teacher, there is definitely room for improvement. I really like the small tips from Smart Classroom Management’s website (a lot of “Aha!” moments), so I purchased the book. Much like the website, the book is easy to skim and it gives clear directions on how to go about each procedure. I also purchased See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers, but I haven’t had the chance to start reading it yet.

3. Shopping! I probably spend way too much money on Teacher’s Pay Teachers, but I never feel guilty about it because 1) It’s beneficial to my classroom instruction and 2) I love that the money goes to real teachers, rather than large textbook companies. My most Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 12.57.26 PMrecent purchase has me really excited for the first days of school; it’s filled with first week activities that will encourage a positive classroom community as well as enforce classroom procedures and rules. Click the picture to buy your own pack and to see more from Literary-Sherri (she has a ton of great products!).

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