Friday, December 16

Donors Choose Project Funded!

My first ever Donors Choose Project was funded recently! I am still in disbelief. Our classroom now has an official listening center...with hooks to hang headphones, storage for books on tape/cd, and the works! The kids were excited when it arrived...like an early Christmas present! Now to begin work on our thank you notes. What a blessing. I should have tried out Donors Choose years ago. It's so awesome to see people's generosity in action...reaching out to our kiddos. What an awesome program. If you have never started a classroom project before, check it out. It really works! :)


Sunday, September 25

Freebie, Coupon Code, & Thanks!

Thank you to Jennifer at Kinderpond for a very sweet Saturday Shout Out! She made my day yesterday. Today I stumbled on a shout out of Jennifer's shout out at Kinders on the Block...another happy surprise. I have also discovered today that I am at 250 followers...a humble thank you to everyone who reads Just Love Teaching. I'm posting a freebie below as a thank you as well as removing shipping charges from my apron sales on Etsy (just type "SHIP4FREE" in the coupon codes at check-out to redeem)!

I have been using my own apron daily at school and loving it, though I do get a lot of the "what are in all those pockets?" It has been so nice to have my highlighter (for scaffolding name writing), dry erase markers, bandaids, reading timer, incentive stickers, and post-it notes right on hand when I need them. No more "Now where did I put that???" or crossing the room and wasting valuable time to get things. I feel a wee bit like a waitress, but consider it my "kinder-goddess" uniform.

On the school front things are calming down some. The kids are getting the hang of my expectations, practicing being bucket fillers, and expanding their reading stamina daily. RTI starts tomorrow and assessments are nearly complete...so groups/rotations will be able to start pretty soon. That is when everything will finally feel like clockwork again. My plan this week is to set the timer as I would for D5 rotations and push their stamina as far as I can. Their behaviors are surprisingly good so far. Everybody seems pretty motivated to be able to start making learning choices...one more week (two max) of stamina building and I think we will be golden.

The best news I have had in a while came late Friday...I'm finally getting a projector and document camera! I have taught for the last three years with zero technology in my room aside from my desktop computer. While the projector on its way to my room is an outdated relic...it will hopefully still open up numerous possibilities for us! I'm beyond excited!

Alright friends, here is the freebie I promised. Be sure to visit my Etsy link to see the aprons I am busily completing to add to my shop (coming soon...peace signs, zebra, more "pick me", and more "abc123"...and I have some other fun new fabrics to get to sewing as well)!

Enjoy this freebie...I hope you all can use it! Have a fabulous week!

ABC Stomp

Sunday, September 18

the last two weeks

I've been way out of the blogging groove the last two weeks. I feel pretty out of sync still even with two weeks of school under my belt. Wow...the first month of kindergarten takes it out me! I am so whooped each and every day that I am barely logging on to even read everyone else's posts. Whew! 

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. I am loving the behavior rainbow clip chart, loving the immediate effects of whole brain responsive teaching (call and response, scoreboard), and I love that out of my 24 new kinders that I have no major behavior issues to deal with. It is so nice to merely have to remind the kids of my expectations and have no outbursts, screaming, defiance, or anything. It has made the beginning of the year easier than some years...(thank goodness)...and I think we will be into our school groove soon and then be off and running.

 Stamina for read to self is slowly coming along. We are only at a minute, but they are excited to beat their record each time. I am hoping to get our Daily 5 routine running full-gear by mid-October...we'll see how it goes. Intervention groups begin next week...some semblance of our Daily 5 schedule would be nice by then. Hmmm.

 Thursday is Open House. It's only an hour and most parents have other rooms to hit, so I'm not stressing over it. I will hang our Chicka Trees and probably our Chrysanthemum name work with our first self-portraits. The only thing I have to really consider and prep is my volunteer sign ups...I would love to hear any suggestions out there for systems that work well. I have generally just asked for available days, but I'm thinking I want to set up "jobs" such as readers, reading group game leaders, publishing helpers, etc. I know I read some ideas out there this summer...

I found some fun responsive teaching "brain/body break" ideas surfing the web this weekend. They come from Responsiveclassroom.org and I love that there are videos to help me learn how they each go. Responsive Classroom calls them "energizers" and oh my goodness they look like a really fun way to re-engage students. I can't wait to try some out this week! Enjoy watching...here's a link: http://www.responsiveclassroom.org/energizers

 Until next time... Angela

Thursday, September 1

First Impressions, Excitement, and a Funny Video

I met my kinders today! I was had knots in my tummy like I was the kinder just starting school...what's up with that? I guess I was just nervous to meet 24 new sets of parents and hoping (fingers crossed) that this was my "dream class" and that everyone would love me...

Well...19 of my 24 came through in a fluster of activity and conversations. Not too bad. I had a nice time chatting with parents and meeting my new little ones...I just wish it wasn't such an overwhelming hour...it's so hard to remember who was who afterwards! But, I feel so good about this year already...parent support is going to be up from last year...and the kinders were all so sweet today. It makes me wish we were starting school tomorrow (did I just say that???)...in all reality of course I will be putting the thousand finishing touches on the room from tomorrow until school starts next Wednesday!

I already have a room mom volunteer. I had a mom ask me "How can you use me to help?" EVERY supply that I said to throw on the back counter was totally sorted into beautiful piles. What can I say...I'm in love already! One little man sang his ABC's to me...so proud. One mom gushed over my moodle site and said her son is loving playing the learning games on there...and that they already printed out the sight words to practice with him! I heard, "I was hoping it would be you!" (...first time I've ever been told that!) In short, I am in teacher heaven tonight...budget whoas be da**ed!  I was emotionally a mess all week listening to the harbingers of economic doom...the whisperings of the huge RIF to come this spring...no money for this...no money for that...  How does one start the year with a positive attitude (energy, excitement, creativity, etc) knowing that she is second from the bottom of the seniority list and that no matter how small (or big) an impending RIF is...she is done come June????? Well...give her the class of her dreams seems to be the answer. I am on cloud nine and soooooooo thankful.

Before closing (btw...pictures of the room in completion will be posted this weekend...hopefully) I wanted to share the funniest thing I have watched in a long time...all day PD workshops might be grueling...but humor always saves the day. Click HERE and enjoy!

Sunday, August 21

Catching up...

I haven't posted for almost a week...my days have been full of classroom organization, swim lessons, orthodontist appointments, and miscellaneous errands. I'm slowly making progress in my room, but definitely have a ways to go. Hopefully I can attend to the walls this week. The books are 99% done...biggest job ever. The piles on the floor are put away and ready to be labeled. That all makes a difference in my anxiety level to be sure.

I am nearly finished with my BEE Binders too! (By the way, if you are looking for 3-ring zipper pencil pouches you need to get to Wal-Mart asap...they have them with real zippers for 75 cents. The cover labels are from Deedee Wills and can be downloaded from her blog HERE. I made mine with plastic folders instead of binders to keep them smaller, but still durable.
I found some cute ribbon at Wal-Mart as well that I have been gluing to my book boxes to cutesy them up a little and coordinate them with the Dollar Tree Locker Bins I have books in as well. What do you think? Labels are in the boxes for now...I ran out of packing tape on Friday...another trip to Wal-Mart?
One more week off to finish up the room as much as possible...then it's required PD days. I'll meet my class Sept. 1st and start school on the 7th. So much to do! I am so glad I have inspiration from you all to keep me going!
Angela

Monday, August 15

New Aprons...stop by and see!

I have a few new aprons added to my shop...with more on the way before long. Stop by and see. School starts soon...order an apron and start your year off organized! Remember to use the BACK2SCHOOL code at checkout to save 15% (today...Monday 8/15...is the last day)! Coupon is good for special orders too. My Etsy link is on the left sidebar.




Have a blessed day!
:o) Angela

Saturday, August 13

Saturday already???

Is it really Saturday already??? It's been a crazy week and I'm not sure I actually accomplished anything! I did have to get my daughter ready to go and on a plane back across the country for her sophomore year of college. Sad day. Sad week. That actually took up most of my free time between doctor appointments, haircuts, clothes shopping, helping her with her packing job, and of course the drive to the airport. I only made it into the classroom twice this week...and only furthered the mess I think. Boo.

I had a flurry of apron sales at the beginning of the week that kept me busy as well. That was nice...now I am busy sewing more aprons to restock some designs in my Etsy shop. If you wanted a particular apron and it is gone...just email me and I will make it happen! I am so having fun with this new sewing hobby...I am finding such relaxation and happiness in the work. So keep the orders coming! I've had a wonderful response and that makes me thrilled as well. Just a reminder that the 15% off coupon code (BACK2SCHOOL) expires after the 15th of August...can you believe that Monday is the 15th of August already???

Two weeks until required staff days begin and three weeks to kinders! I have got to get hopping! Please send motivation my way! :o)

Sunday, August 7

Winner and Coupon Code

I am excited to announce the winner of the filled teacher apron...Keys4Education! Congratulations!

Thank you to everyone who  participated! I have created a coupon code for my Etsy shop. Order an apron between now and August 15th and get 15% off! Just enter this code at checkout: BACK2SCHOOL.  


:o) Angela

T minus 12 hours...did you enter?

Click to Enter
We have entered the last 12 hours of my Apron Giveaway! I will use the random number generator at 9PM PDT to select a lucky winner...of their choice of apron from my Etsy store filled with teacher goodies! Hurry to enter if you haven't done so already!

Good luck to all!
:o) Angela

Saturday, August 6

We Love Teachers $500 Giveaway

Have you heard about this yet? Scholastic and Oriental Trading Company are sponsoring a big giveaway.
I entered...click the link so you can enter too!

Also...don't miss out on my 200 Follower Apron Giveaway. If you haven't entered yet, you need to hurry! I will select a winner with the Random Number Generator tomorrow night at 9 PM PDT!
Click HERE to add your entries! 

:o) Angela

Thursday, August 4

Happy Place x two

I spent the afternoon making more mess in the midst of my mess...in the vain hope that I could get some portion of it organized. Did I mention that every cabinet/drawer/shelf is already full of stuff? I pulled it all out and started my toss pile and keep pile. Believe it or not I found listening center books...nope not MP3...not CD...not even cassette...they were the old 33 rpm LPs...a whole box of them! I posted a picture so you can reminisce with me! I tossed boxes of old 1970's activities. I felt bad (bygone era of teaching and all), but I've got to be brutal to get this organizational step complete.

The office/storage area (my half at least) is now empty and awaiting neatly contained, labeled, pretty little boxes of current teaching supplies. I could not get it all put away today. But, I also could not leave without feeling like I had accomplished something other than enlarging my mess. So...I "finished" up my desk area and carpet area. The bookcase bordering the carpet still needs to have the books organized in their bins, but at least they are out of the cardboard boxes! All in all it is getting there...I stood at my door and smiled before I left. As I like to say, "Smell the flowers. Blow out the candles. Repeat. It will all come together." So true.

Here are pics of my desk and carpet area...happy place x two!
I think I want to recover the chair.

The bulletin board behind will become my CAFE board.

The posters were left behind...stay tuned for changes...
Until tomorrow!
:o) Angela

Wednesday, August 3

Starting to take shape

It is starting to look like a classroom! Woo Hoo! What a job! It will all be worth it soon. The furniture is in place. Next up is putting all the "stuff" in its place...and then the fun decorating part. Here are some pics.

This is a shell of a math corner (couldn't get in all in one picture). It's pretty boring now, but I have lots of ideas to spruce it up:




Start of check-in area and mailboxes...again needs some "cute-ification":













This is a shell of a writing area...can't decide trapezoid table or rectangle?














Here are Daily 5 book boxes...a dollar tree find (which were wider than I thought, but cute and durable):














I am really liking the carpet area with my new rocker (toying with using the bench for the kiddos that don't sit well criss-cross):
 

Still a ways to go...I'll post more pics when each area gets finished.
:o) Angela

Tuesday, August 2

Mountain Climbing?

I took my first brave step into my new classroom. Oh my heavens what a mess. I knew it would be...it always is, right? But, usually it is just my own things. Moving into a retired teacher's room means the mountain of things contains your stuff and so much more! Wowzers. This is what I walked into...



 I couldn't see over the mountain much less take pictures of walls to use to make my set-up plan later. So, we spent the day moving piles and shortening the mountain. See the mountain climber in the middle? He was big help and kept me entertained at the same time! Now it is easier to see what space I have...and do I ever have space...this room is 33' by 35'! Next step...figure out where the big stuff goes and then I can sort through the junk and put it all away. I'm thinking it's a very good thing that I have a whole month to do this!


As it turns out, most of the shelves, cupboards, and drawers are already full of stuff. This will be a process. A lot of it will be useful (some not-so-much), but check out this beauty...can't wait to gussy it up!  
After pictures to come...in the meantime keep the giveaway entries coming!
:o)  Angela

Monday, August 1

Thank you

I want to say "thank you" to everyone who has stopped by to join my little blog and help support me in my goal. You are amazing and your comments put a smile on my face. I hope that the ideas, musings, and files I post are (and continue to be) inspiring, helpful, and relevant. I am thrilled at the response to my aprons and hope that they become a useful product to many teachers over time. My husband said to me recently, "Oh, I get it now...you're doing this for fun!" Yes, I am making aprons for fun (and to help fund college tuition).  But, I write the blog for professional support and friendship. So, thank you for helping me grow both parts.

Just Love Teaching has 198 followers and 66 Facebook likes. Wow. Really. Wow. So, let's celebrate and get this giveaway started. I am not going to be a stickler for numbers...I am going with counting my blessings instead! To make it easier to include those who have already begun commenting, I am linking the apron giveaway to my last post. If you would like to enter, please click the picture below and leave a comment telling me that you follow and which apron you would like to win. For an additional entry, please tell me something that you love about my blog or something you would like to see here.

I will select a winner Sunday evening (August 7th) at 9 PM PDT.  Good luck everyone!
Click here to enter the apron giveaway!

Saturday, July 30

New Aprons...which one do you want to win?

I'm still trying to make it to 200 followers and 100 Facebook "likes" this weekend so I can give away an apron! I think we can do this! To inspire you I have added several more aprons to my Etsy store in some new designs. Which one do you want to win? Remember it will be delivered with pockets full of goodies! Spread the word!

Here's a sneak peek of the newbies! Head over to Etsy to see them all!








Thursday, July 28

Freebie and a goal...

Part One: I am a happy girl this morning. I've sold four aprons, I've sold my first Teacher's Notebook item, my Facebook is up to 40 "Likes", and my blog has over 170 followers! Oh my goodness...I'm feeling the love! Thank you, thank you! In celebration, here is a freebie for you. I hope you can use it in your classroom!
Anecdotes

Part Two: I have a goal. I am sitting so close to 200 followers that I think my little blog can make it there this weekend with your help! And wouldn't it be cool if my Facebook made it to 100? So, here's the deal. When Just Love Teaching hits 200 followers and 100 Facebook likes, I will give away the apron of the winner's choosing and load the pockets with goodies (including amongst some teacher favorite supplies...a surprise gift card)! Spread the word...can we do it this weekend??? Check back so you don't miss your shot at an apron!
Appreciatively,
Angela :o)

Wednesday, July 27

Do You Etsy? Let's Mix it Up!


Until recently, I've heard of Etsy...but not really checked it out. I had an "idea" what it was and figured I would look at it someday. As it turns out, it is a really neat place to visit and look around. And I'm wondering why I didn't check it out sooner...there are a lot of creative ideas out there! I have seen several bloggers with Etsy links and I've recently started crafting/sewing again myself and jumped on the Etsy wagon. So, I thought it would be a fun idea to provide a place for us all to link up our Etsy shops and see just how many of us there are! Many blogging teachers have items that you might love to have in your classroom, accessories to wear, and just plain good ideas! Do you Etsy? Link up! Spread the word...I know there are a lot of you out there! Afterwards, I will attempt to categorize the shops and post a sqworl list.

I'll start...make sure you link your Etsy shop in your blog post so it is easy to find and then link your post (not your main blog) here. This way readers will be introduced to both your blog and your Etsy shop. I can't wait to see what you've got! :o)

What's for Dinner?

Kathleen from Growing Kinders is hosting a recipe exchange linky party. We all know how it feels to teach all day, come home exhausted, and with no more motivation left in us have to figure out "what's for dinner?" Thankfully, I am blessed with a husband who has taken on much of this task for me during the last year. It is probably the best gift he has ever given me...

Before though, I definitely had some favorite easy recipes that I relied on to get me through the week. The easiest fix is to use the slow cooker...just don't forget to put it all together and turn it on before work in the morning! Kids are not always fans of slow cooker all-in-one pot meals...the veggies touching the meat and all. But, I always got away with meats which take the longest to prepare at dinner time anyway. The kids two favorites are pulled pork and cranberry chicken.

For the pulled pork, I throw a 3lb. pork tenderloin in the slow cooker (I've used other cuts and they are terrible to shred later). Premix the McCormick Slow Cooker Pulled Pork seasoning packet, ketchup, brown sugar, and cider vinegar following the directions on the packet. Pour over pork. Cook on low all day. When you get home from school, use two forks and pull the pork apart. We like this on delicious kaiser rolls with some coleslaw.

Cranberry chicken is an old standby. I use boneless chicken breast (but choose your favorite). In the slow cooker, put chicken, a can of whole berry cranberry sauce, a small bottle of Russian dressing, and a packet of onion soup mix. Cook on low 6 hours and serve with rice and your favorite veggies.

I also love baked potatoes and have found that because of the variety of toppings, the kids love them too. But, there's not time to bake potatoes after work when the crowd is famished...the solution? Slow cook them. Wash your potatoes, dry them, prick several times with a fork, rub with oil or butter, and place into your slow cooker. Do not add water. Cook on low 6 to 9 hours (or on high for 3 to 5). They will be ready when you get home...just gather some toppings to serve on top. We like cheese, any chopped leftover meat or bacon, any cooked veggies, salsa, sour cream...even leftover chili. You can't go wrong!

For fancier recipes I picked up a fun book called Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook. Many of these take more prep time (chopping, etc.) and ingredients. But, I have had some yummy meals.  So it is nice to have on hand for a change of pace when the family gets tired of having the same things. Now it's your turn...what's for dinner??? Link up HERE.

Happy cooking!
Angela

Tuesday, July 26

Made me smile!

I had to share some very sweet feedback I received that made me smile! :o)
Thank you ladies for making my day! More aprons are on the way!
Angela

Monday, July 25

Facebook Mixer

Kinder Fun is hosting a Facebook Mixer. I'm having fun seeing who else is on Facebook and linking up with their pages. I'm slowly gaining followers on my own Facebook...will you join me? Please leave a comment telling me what types of posts you would like to see and be sure to link up with Kinder Fun to join the mixer!


Just Love Teaching

Promote Your Page Too

See you on Facebook! :o)

Sunday, July 24

I Wonder...Writer's Workshop

Writer's Workshop...I've been doing a lot of reading this summer on teaching young students to write. I'm neck deep in Katie Wood Ray's About the Authors, Already Ready, and In Pictures and in Words, Jennifer Jacobson's No More "I'm Done!", as well as Martha Horn and Mary Ellen Giacobbe's Talking, Drawing, Writing. All of these are amazing books by the way and I am devouring every word as I try to get a handle on what I need to do differently. Don't get me wrong, writing time goes "okay" in my class. But, I still feel like I'm fostering dependence on me rather than independence while they write. I am tired when writer's workshop is over, because I have run around for an hour helping 20+ students think of ideas, sound out words, find supplies, and so on. It's exhausting and I'm not getting to conference often enough.

The big idea that both Ray and Jacobson promote is that students should be independent during writer's workshop. Providing ample, well-organized writing supplies (pencils, markers, crayons, paper in multiple sizes and varieties, scissors, glue, staples, post-it notes, etc.) need to be available and in an area for the kids to access on their own. They need to be taught to get what they need on their own as well as how to appropriately get and put away items. When I try to be the "master of the materials" I am taking away independence and making more work for myself. Additionally, both authors dislike writing prompts or any directed writing. They say that allowing students to choose what to write about during each and every writer's workshop time is essential for fostering independence and inspiring a joy for writing.

Another big take away from my reading so far is that writer's workshop is less about the mechanics and more about the authors. I teach kindergarten...most of them are still learning to form their letters and what sound each letter makes. Getting words on paper is a giant task to ask. I am reminded to see them as five and six year old writers and revel in how they craft their stories. Words or no words, they are sharing a story and if I celebrate what they are doing well, they will begin to see themselves as authors. I love when Katie Wood Ray share examples of students comparing themselves to well-known authors as though they are on par with them. It is precious! So another goal I have is to be sure to let them see themselves as authors...not just as kindergarteners doing writing. It really is amazing the stories that they can tell...if we don't get caught up in thinking "but, they're not where they need to be yet!"

Jacobson begins each workshop with ten minutes of music and calls it the Quiet Ten where even she sits down and quietly writes for ten minutes along with the students. Modeling quiet writing and being able to tell students how you solved problems and came up with ideas...priceless...why haven't I been doing this??? The Quiet Ten is going in my planbook! After those ten minutes she begins conferencing and the students are permitted quiet collaboration with each other while they continue writing. Love it.

I will also have the materials form the get-go for the students to actually make books. I usually offer books, but not necessarily always. For the most part I use 12x18 story paper folded in half so it is essentially a book...and I will still have that as an option. But from the beginning I also want to have a variety of book writing options. Ray suggests that calling the writing task "making books" is a more concrete idea that young kids can more easily relate to and willingly attempt...after all, they love making things! Also, since books have multiple pages students are more likely to stay with a single story longer with the goal to finish filling each page (they will need to be taught the expectation that they are not to waste materials, but need to fill each page).

I'm still working through ideas in the books and taking notes. But, I was curious...what do you all do? Please comment!