I'm off to Space Camp for a week! Check my other blog Kelly & Tackett @ Space Camp to see updates about my adventure! There is a link to my Space Camp blog in the header as well!
I never thought I'd see the end...but I've finally finished organizing my classroom library! Hooray!
I had been researching different ways to organize my classroom library since the summer started, and when I finished buying my books at the awesome library sale a few weeks ago, I knew it was time to get started organizing!
I knew I was going to organize my library by fiction and nonfiction, and then by genre. I knew I was going to use index cards and library pockets for "checkout" and have my kids place an empty library pocket in their reading notebooks where they can store the card for the book they are "checking out." (I also might make a poster like this, but I'm not sure yet). I also knew that I wanted to level my books according to Fountas and Pinnell's guided reading system, but I didn't want to go so far as to separate books by level. In my opinion, most kids pick out books according to genre, but I knew if I leveled my books within each genre that that would help my readers pick out a just right book for them! I gathered my supplies: star stickers from the Dollar Tree, library pockets, index cards, my hundreds of books (boy that was a struggle hauling those bad boys up the stairs) and a sharpie.
I used Scholastic's website to level my books, and for the ones that didn't come up, I researched around on the Internet. I decided to label the letter of the guided reading level on front of the library pocket. On the index card, I wrote the title, author, genre, and level as well. This way when kiddos check out the books and place the card in their reading notebooks, they can record what genres and levels they are reading as well!
I love how the level is right there on the pocket, so it's nice and visible as kids flip open a book they are interested in!
I also used the star stickers to categorize my books by genre. If worse comes to worse and a kiddo finds a book without an index card on the ground, they can flip open the cover and see what color star the book has. Then, they can determine which genre the book belongs in! My stickers for each genre are as follows (I will hang these charts up in my classroom by my library):
I have WAY less nonfiction books-yikes!
I wanted to include and "Award-Winners" category as well as a category for the Missouri Mark Twain award books because those tend to be high-interest for kids. I couldn't bear to write "Horror" as a a category, so I used "Creepy" instead.
After the first hour, I had only finished this pile of books (oh brother):
I also plan on putting the genre stickers on the front of my book bin labels that I made in Microsoft Word (if you want a copy let me know), to make for easy identification. I'm going to make abbreviations for each genre too.
After I was finished leveling and labeling, I sorted my books by genre so I could start to calculate how many book bins I would be purchasing. Lucy, my dog, got in on the sorting too. :)
I'm going to need to buy about 25 containers for my fiction books and 10 for my nonfiction books! I'm excited to have such a good selection for my first year of fifth grade!
I also am fortunate to have about 12 different literature sets of Mark Twain Award books from the past two years (thanks to my awesome librarian friend Julie). I can group my students in groups of 3-5 and have them read the same awesome books, and will have enough to switch them around throughout the year! I'm excited!
I'm storing those in a tote to pull out throughout the year!
So there you have it-my classroom library organization system! Next step: purchasing book bins and printing the labels...oh, and actually putting these books in an actual classroom! :)
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I went up to my new school this week...and my classroom is already up and ready for me to move in!
I haven't started moving things in yet (especially with Space Camp starting this week) but I'm a teensy bit overwhelmed at where to start...here are some of the ideas circling around in my teacher brain...
Let's start with the wall that is to your left as you walk in.
Now for the back wall and wall directly across from the front wall above...this wall has another whiteboard!
And now for the last wall...and the one I'm having the toughest time figuring out...
I REALLY want to get rid of my teacher desk in order to maximize the space in my room. My laptop has to go in that corner by the window and the class computers have to be plugged into that wall too...
Any teachers out there have any ideas on room arrangements? Help me!
Today I'm linking up with The Applicious Teacher for her summer-long linky party! This week's topic: classroom management!
I've always found classroom management to be one of my strengths as a teacher. I focus mostly on positive reinforcement and spending LOTS of time establishing routines and procedures at the beginning of the year. With me switching to elementary next year, I'm going to have even more procedures to establish with my little kiddos!
I know that my new school focuses on PBS (Positive Behavior Support) so I plan on using that in my management plan as well. Anyone have any experience with PBS who would be willing to give me some pointers?
I still plan on incorporating my one major class rule that I used last year: work hard and be nice to people.
Other than that, I've been researching new management ideas on, of course, Pinterest. Here are a few ideas I plan on incorporating next year:
I already made my "Caught Ya" fishbowl to incorporate new rewards in my classroom. I plan on writing different random rewards like sitting in the teacher's chair, swapping seats, etc. on ping pong balls and allowing students to draw a ball when I catch them doing something awesome!
I still need to buy these foam letters from Michaels to incorporate this activity. I love the idea of silently taking away a letter if the noise level is too loud.
I've seen lots of compliment chains on Pinterest, but I like the idea of adding a puzzle piece to a magnetic puzzle every time my class earns a compliment or works hard as a group! When the puzzle is finished, they earn a reward!
I also like the idea of using Think Sheets to document how the students feels about their behaviors.
On a random note, we put up our new curtains this weekend! Look how pretty they are!
Be sure to link up and share your ideas about classroom management!
Ever since I accepted my new position as a fifth grade teacher, I've been receiving numerous emails and texts from people who don't know me as well as my close friends and family asking me the question:
"Why would you give up teaching middle school to go to elementary?"
Since I've been answering this question frequently, I thought I'd post an entry about how I came to this decision.
I started contemplating going back to elementary last school year. I had just finished my fourth year of teaching sixth grade science, and I was getting "the itch" to try something new. I had been teaching my same curriculum for three years (the first year I actually taught general science instead of just earth science) and I was ready for a new challenge. I had previously always thought that I would stay in my former position for at least five years before tackling a new job somewhere else, so I decided that during my fifth year of teaching I would start looking at elementary openings.
I also decided to apply at different school districts around my area. This decision was even harder for me, since I grew up in the district I taught in. I had graduated from that district and had even received that District's Teacher of the Year. But, I knew that other districts offered new professional development opportunities and other ways that would challenge me as an educator and help me grow, so I kept my options open.
I forgot how tedious applying for jobs can be! I filled out numerous online applications, and when I received my first interview call (for a first grade opening in a different district) I was beyond nervous. I felt completely unprepared and unqualified, even though I had five years of teaching experience! However, once I walked into the interview and was shocked at how different interviewing felt than the first time I interviewed at schools five years ago! Having actual experience and stories made me feel a lot more comfortable once the interview got started, and even though I felt confident I didn't get "the right feeling" from that school that I was looking for.
Skip ahead two weeks. I didn't have any additional interview calls, and on top of that, I found out I didn't get the first grade position. Even though I didn't want it to begin with, it felt like a huge letdown. I started to lack confidence in myself and even doubted if making the move to elementary was a good idea.
Then, after a third week of no phone calls, I received four interview calls in a row. Two interviews were for two different school districts, and the other two were from two elementary buildings in my current school district. All of the interviews were the same week, right after one another. Gulp. I ended up going on all but one of the interviews (because I ended up accepting a position) and every single one of them went swimmingly.
I can remember sitting on my bathroom floor one day when my husband came home from work crying because I didn't know what to do. I had a pretty good feeling that one of the schools in another district would offer me a position (which is the position I ended up taking), but at that moment I felt so many different emotions. I felt guilty for leaving my current school and students. I felt like I was abandoning the school and district that gave me so much, from my elementary, middle, and high school education to my first teaching position. I felt terrified to leave everything I knew and was comfortable doing. I felt overwhelmed with the amount of new information I would have to learn in order to be an effective elementary teacher again. I felt scared that I wouldn't "have what it takes" to teach elementary anymore since I had been out of the game for five years. I cried and cried and begged my husband to tell me what to do. He just looked at me and said, "I can't tell you what to do, but you know what to do-you're just scared to do it."
He was right. I did know what I wanted, and the next day I accepted my position as a fifth grade teacher. It was the scariest and best decision I ever made, and when I told my students why I was leaving I explained to them that teaching elementary school was always my dream, and even when you are scared to take a risk or a chance, it's important to always follow your gut. Sometimes we have to take huge risks to grow, and I know I am going to grow so much as an educator in my new position and district.
In the end, I am so happy (and still terrified) about my decision, but I know I made the right call. :) Plus, it's like Kid President said, "This is my time." :)
As I sit in my husband's office viciously trying to complete my classroom library organization (more on that in a later post), I came across a cute linky party from The Applicious Teacher that will allow me to share some of my ideas about my future classroom!
There is a different theme each week, and this week's theme is classroom decor! I wanted to show you all what I'm planning on doing with my classroom. Keep in mind, I haven't actually started decorating my new room yet, so these aren't actual pictures of my room. Most are from Pinterest. :)
The inspiration for my classroom theme came from these two cute green and blue buckets that were actually my husband and I's Easter baskets from my mom. I later found an adorable hot pink planter to complete my theme: lime, teal, and pink polka dots (with some accents of orange).
I already have a lot of teal and lime containers and decorations from my last classroom, but adding those pops of pink and orange will look really cute! I'm still planning on using black fabric for my bulletin boards too, to make the colors really pop.
I bought some adorable borders from Frog Street (they are reversible too) that match the colors in my theme.
Here are some more ideas from Pinterest of different decorations I plan on using in my fifth grade classroom.
This bulletin board would be so cute in my classroom library!
These dinosaur containers are going to be a Pinterest project for sure. I am going to be "Tackett's Pterodactyls" next year.
There's also a few classroom decorating items I plan on purchasing soon like....
And some more Pinterest inspired decorating projects like...
I've got my work cut out for me this summer! I'm so excited though! :) Be sure to link up to see some more great classroom decorating ideas!
In case you didn't know, I'm a little bit of a nerd...
Okay, a big nerd. I'm also a huge Game of Thrones fan, and since I've been having the urge to make cupcakes lately, I thought I would make some cupcakes for the finale last weekend. I knew I wanted to make white chocolate macadamia cupcakes, but I wanted to give them a "Game of Thrones-y" name. My husband came up with the hilarious name "White Chocolate White Walker" cupcakes, and here's how they turned out (complete with toothpick heads of white walkers and Jon Snow, and shaved white chocolate to mimic snow):
Last week one of my former colleagues (wow, that feels so strange to type) and I went to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. It was a PERFECT night for baseball and we were having a good time catching up when we noticed that our middle school's feeder high school kids were playing the national anthem on the jumbo tron! I immediately started freaking out as I spotted many of my former students (some of whom were from my very first year of teaching and will be juniors this year). I couldn't contain my excitement when they found where we were sitting and came over to say hello!
One of the kids was actually not my former student, but a kid who had the lead in the first musical I directed. He was a grade ahead of my first group of kids, and is going into his senior year of high school this fall. He is, without a doubt, one of the coolest kids I've ever met. He does incredibly philanthropy work with Boy Scouts, assists with Relay for Life, tutors kids in French, is Drama Club President and the Drum Major for the band, straight A student, you name it. Basically, this kid could take over the world if he wanted to, and is smart and talented enough to do it!
When I asked him what he wanted to major in next year he told me, "I want to be a teacher." We then went on to discuss good teaching colleges (he wants to attend the college I attended) and what kinds of classes he will take, and I gave him some of my wisdom about which professors were effective and which classes I liked best.
Later that night, my colleague and I were talking and I told her about the conversation I had with that student. I told her, "He wants to be a teacher-and he could be president! That kid could do anything!"
After I got home, I thought about what I said to my friend, and was mad at myself. Why WOULDN'T I want one of the smartest and most well-rounded students I've met to become a teacher? Why would I say such a thing as, "He could be president and all he wants to do is teach!" That isn't my mentality about kids. I want all kids to believe in their dreams, no matter what!
It got me thinking that the mindset about teaching needs to change. I would never want any other job except for teaching (and never have, except for a brief hiatus where I wanted to be a marine mammal trainer at Sea World). Teaching is the best and most rewarding job in the world, and we should encourage our brightest and smartest kids to pursue it if it's their dream. Even if they are smart enough to become a doctor or confident enough to become the president, we should always, always, always encourage our best and brightest to teach. After all...isn't that who you would want for your child's teacher? Or for your colleague? :)
I always find that I'm most reflective during the summer. Maybe it's the extra time, or the fact that I'm not on a schedule like usual, but whatever the reason, I seem to reflect on myself more during these warm summer months. Here are some of the things I've discovered over the past two(ish) weeks already.
1. For the first time in the history of my life, I'm becoming a lazy student. I only have two classes left until my Master's Degree in Educational Technology is finally finished, and these last two classes are proving to be rather trying on me. One of them is a self-paced course where I can design my own projects (which I like), and the other involves a twenty page research paper. Groan. I'm finding myself procrastinating already...but I know I can make it through!
2. Changing my diet and exercise is already making a difference. I started eating healthy, well balanced meals with mostly non-processed foods since school got out. I also started running again, which has made a huge difference in my mood and energy. I've been using my husband's recumbent bike, doing some Yoga, and I overall feel great! It's always easier to work out during the summer, but it's nice to remember how GREAT it makes you feel too!
Yesterday's breakfast: oatmeal with fresh fruit...yum!
3. I'm doing okay in terms of letting go of my old school. I'm not going to lie, I was in a strange place for a while when school was finished. It was hard turning in my keys and letting go of the only school I've ever known. I think one of the reasons why it was so hard was because I had to share my kids with a student teacher this year for almost half the year, and by the time she left there was so little time left for me to have my students "all to myself-which sounds incredibly selfish, but it's the truth." I've really struggled with the guilt associated with feeling this way. Don't get me wrong, student teachers are great, but it was harder sharing my kiddos after I knew that I wasn't going to be in my building the next year than I thought. Overall though, I'm doing okay, and taking my decision day by day. I'm still so very excited about going back to elementary though, which brings me to #4...
4. I'm little by little planning for next year. I've mostly been planning in the form of Pinterest. I've figured out my room decorating ideas, starting reading a Fountas and Pinnell book about guided reading and writing, and finished a book about writer's notebooks. I've made a vow that I'm not going to start working on my classroom officially until July, when I am finished with Space Camp. I need to give myself a little bit of a break, which is really hard for me to do!
5. I'm missing cupcakes. The last time I made cupcakes was in February. How is this possible? Even with eating healthy, I'm still allowing myself the occasional treat. I'm actually making cupcakes this weekend because Sunday is the Game of Thrones finale! I'm still in shock over last week's episode! I am making White Chocolate "White Walker" cupcakes that I hope turn out as yummy as the last time I made them!
So, there you have it. My self-reflection ramblings on this Friday.
What have you reflected on lately?
Teacher of leaders. Life-long learner. Space geek. Lover of all things color-coordinated, organized, and cutesy.