Elementary Teacher

Having fun in the classroom and "balancing" life!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Room Without a Theme: Before and some after

I usually am a themed classroom girl. Last year was Secret Agent.

The year before that was my favorite: Enchanted Forest.

This year I switched to 3rd grade and I wanted something that felt a little cozier, homier, and older. More 3rd grade chic.  So here are some before pictures.




A lot of great features! Besides being fairly new and well maintained, it had great space. And it really lent itself to a homey feeling. I didn't love the burgundy cabinets, but there was a lot of black that I really liked, and I loved the window with the space around it.

So here are some afters:
This little corner became a reading corner

I need a cute little chair for the corner.
This smart board wall became this:

The rules

A little gift for the first day! I wrap up all the books in curling ribbon like a gift. Then we open our gifts and go through each book one by one, discuss what it is for and what we will learn, and then put it away in our desks.
A space by the window went from this:
(I brought the pillows, lamp and rug in)
To this reading corner:



                                                          After: The birthday bags

So there's a little preview. I sometimes miss having a theme. But it's a very calming room. The blue is actually a teal color, not quite as blu-ish. On the first day one of my students told me it looked like a hotel!  I'm not sure if he meant it as a compliment, but I'll take it!

I always make all my own decorations. I had to completely change my plan this year because I didn't have access to colored ink, and couldn't afford to make a bunch of colored prints at Staples. So I did the best I could with black and white. I figured it was cheaper that way, and I could always just use the copier for some things.

I always say decorating is in the details. More details to come at a later time. Thank you for looking!

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Friday, August 7, 2015

Homework thoughts and a math menu freebie

I'm teaching 3rd grade this year after 5 years in 1st. I was a little apprehensive, even though I was ready for a change.

So far I love it! The kids can do so much more. They're so much more independent. But they're still funny and love the little things. One little sweetie guy cried because he hurt someone's feeelings and he was afraid she would tell her mom!!!! Maybe not the best motivation for crying, but's that uninhibited raw emotion and feeling of the little ones that is so endearing.

But I feel like a first year teacher again! I'm starting over in so many ways on so many levels.

So...homework. Which side are you on? Do you send home a weekly packet? Is it whatever they don't finish during the day? Do you subscribe to the less is more, or the more lends to higher achievement? I know that research shows that homework aids in education. Disproportionately, too. For example, 350 minutes of instruction + 50 minutes of homework per day is > than 400 minutes. It's a little like the way lifting weights helps burn fat beyond the time that you actually spend on the weight machines.

I say "all things in moderation". 3rd graders are still in the early childhood spectrum. They need to relax, unwind, decompress, read and PLAY after school. We live in a world of worry, panic, fear and anxiety. Why push them into that world ahead of their time? Maybe their homework should be relaxation techniques! That would certainly be authentic for their adult years!

In trying to find the homework balance, I want them to learn their math facts without just using flash cards or writing on fluency worksheets. So I am creating weekly math menus that give them options for fluency practice. Each day they have a different way to play. In this first menu, the students will need a hundreds chart, highlighter, page protector and fluency practice sheet. I get my practice sheets for free from It's a user-friendly and free website that lets you print from a myriad of math fact templates.

I'm sharing this menu for free in my store. Grab it here and see if it works for you. My hope is that it gives the kids a fun way to practice those facts that they need at their fingertips.

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Summer Like No Other

Has your summer ever been...less than what you thought it would be? It starts on such a high. Sleeping in! No lunches to make! Reading the Sunday paper! Home projects!

Then about 3-4 weeks in, you start to fade a little. Still fun. Maybe a vacation to look forward to. A pool if you're in the south like me. Still lovin' all the summer stuff. But feeling a little discombobulated due to a lack of schedule/calendar.

Then a couple more weeks and you start to feel a little panicky. School is coming. The lack of schedule is really starting to get to you, but the whirlwind that is the school year is creeping up. Time is no longer on your side.

Those have been my phases of summer for the last couple years. This year, not so much. I started the first 2 weeks of summer with some health issues that kept me on my bed or the couch. They were resolved. So I started planning for a new jump from first grade to third. And then about 2 days later I lost my job- money and enrollment issues. So the next 4 weeks were filled with resumes, applications and interviews. Questionnaires and phone calls. What a long process job hunting can be. It's exhausting. Scary and stressful times for our family of 6.

I have been blessed with a new job after being able to choose from a few. That is a GIFT. I have chosen a jump to 3rd once again. And now, 2 weeks out from the first day of school, I find myself in a hotel 2,000 miles from home. Visiting Indiana for a family wedding.

I can truly say this was a summer like no other. Not always fancy-free and full of sunshine and sleeping in. But I learned SO much. And I am grateful that I lost my job. Sometimes God takes us by the hand and pulls us into new situations. Growth isn't painless, and steel is strengthened through fire. But God brought me closer to Him and a better understanding of some of life's struggles.

Now, on to find some good 3rd grade blogs!

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Monday, April 20, 2015

Candy Shoppe Alphabet word wall freebie- with or without the candy!

I started working on next year's Candy Shoppe Decoration set about 2 years ago. Then school started that year and I never got back to it. Now, finally, I am. In my last post I told you that I'm moving to 3rd grade. I'm still using this set, even though it might seem a little young. It's so bright and colorful and happy, I think the kids will love it. It's full of patterns, and bold, bright colors. I'm making it with and without candy graphics so it can be used even if your not a theme-girl.

So while I finish it up, you can grab one of the alphabets here for free. With and without the candy graphics! Grab it now, because once I add the whole set of decorations, it won't be free anymore!

I hope you like it!
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Thursday, April 16, 2015

From first to third!!!!!

I am so sorry I did not post any Easter freebies. My computer was DEAD. Totally out of commission.

I am CHANGING GRADES next year!! Ahhhh!!!!!   I've been in first grade this time around for  5 years. This is the longest I've been in one grade, and I'm sad to say I'm leaving it. I really like the first graders. They're so funny and loving. They get excited over small things. I know the curriculum. (Finally.) I have a grasp on standards. (Mostly.) And now I'm starting over.

I'm moving to 3rd grade, which I have taught before. And when I did, I loved it. Really, really loved it. And double bonus, my room has a bathroom in it! And triple bonus, my new room is right next to the teacher's workroom!

I'm excited to plan. I'm excited to move classrooms. Yes, you read that right. I actually am excited to go through my crap learning tools and purge. And of course I'm excited to decorate. I'm working on my theme for next year. Sweet Shoppe! No, 3rd grade is not too old to have a themed classroom decorating scheme. Who doesn't like candy??!! And since I had these guys last year as first graders, I know they like candy!!! I've been working on it for a couple years and had to put it on hold. So it's back on the burner, simmering as I add details and graphics. I can't wait to get it done and take some pictures! I have big plans!!!!
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Easter math...freebies to come!

I think I am WAY behind in math. We're reviewing adding 3 digits and adding multiples of 10. Many of you are adding/subtracting  double digits with regrouping! Yikes! I better pick up the pace. I also feel like they don't really have a solid grasp of number sense. Do they really know what they're doing when they add and subtract. I'm just not convinced.

So next week, we'll be all about the number sense, adding and subtracting multiples of 10, all with an Easter theme. I'll keep you posted and send out some freebies.

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Experiential Learning

What do you know about Experiential Learning?  Did you see those capital letters?  I think it's a capital letter kind-of thing. To me, it's a teaching/learning model or method. Hands-on. Using authentic assessments. PBL. STEM project inclusion. Research-based. Using movement, music and arts. Limited worksheets. (I can't help thinking that a worksheet here and there is not all bad. But LIMITED.) Real-world. Tailored.

These are some schools I have researched that come to mind:

Tessaract School- Scottsdale AZ
Explorer Charter School- San Diego CA
Tuscon Waldorf School- Tuscon AZ
The Graham School- Columbus OH
Ron Clark Academy -?? Not sure if I would call that Experiential or not

What do you think about these schools? This kind of learning environment? It seems so engaging. Check out this video of a community/city/building project from The Explorer Charter School first grade. It's awesome! It's exactly what I would like to do. That is the teacher I want to be. How engaged are those kids? How fun would that be?

I know it takes planning. I know public schools can't do it, most of the time. I think you have to find your way, find your fit, find what kind of teacher you are, what methods you ascribe to, and go from there. I'm still finding those things! But looking at schools like these and teachers like theirs are helping and inspiring me!

If you know anything about experiential learning, please share!
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]