Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Organized... ME??

I'm just going to give you a fair warning here... if you want to learn about being organized or conquering all that classroom mess: I'm not your girl, ha!  Look away, far far away!  But, if you want to APPEAR to be tidy and look good on the outside... stay a while, let's chat!

When I posted my Reading Overview for the year, a few people asked where I store our grade level books.  Here's the answer!  We have a cart (that used to roll but is so loaded down that it does not anymore!).  I keep it in my classroom and everyone gets what they need from there :)  This year I put it behind my teacher table so that I could easily access it while planning! So...

Tip #1:  Keep what you need close by!
Tip #2:  Keep materials that your students need regularly out, organized, and labeled!
 Tip #3:  Buy lots of pretty containers (you'll even find ones like below at Wal-Mart!)
I don't have a teacher desk and I can't handle even a pen laying out on my teacher table.  Visible clutter drives me bananas (hidden clutter... notsomuch).  So, I house all of my teacher materials in this cubby storage system.
Tip #4:  Label every little thing you may ever possibly need :)
 Tip #5:  Keep your weekly materials out and visible so that if you happen to be absent your sub can quickly grab what they need to get started!  (and obviously use an upside down M for your Wednesday bin... because who has time to look for a W?!)

Sidenote:  I stay planned a week in advance at all times.  I have my plans written by Tuesday, gather materials needed by Wednesday, and my copies are made by Thursday.  This helps me savor my weekends with my family rather than spend my Sunday night fretting over plans!

Sidenote #2:  My daily buckets aren't quite ready for next week yet!  I just started gathering some things I may need and will finish that up tomorrow :)
 Tip #6:  Help keep your students organized.  I'm a stickler on keeping a clean classroom.  Yes I want them to create, live in it, play, and use OUR classroom, BUT I also spent a lot of my personal money on it, so I can be a clean freak if I want to ;)  And, I walk around organizing these buckets at least 10 times!

We share pretty much all of our supplies with the exception of folders and spirals.  So, our community supplies are housed in the middle of our tables for accessibility.  Last year I decided that I wanted two buckets at each table so that the bucket hoarders wouldn't get the best of my classroom :)
 TIp #7:  Listen to and learn from Erica Bohrer.  When she says it because she is the queen of organization, labeling, and practicality.  Keeping even the most simple of routines organized helps relieve those pesky questions such as "Mrs. Lemons' can I go to the bathroom??"  Our labeled GermX will answer that question for you now!  If I'm not teaching, grab the sanitizer, sit it on your desk, and use the restroom!  Come back and soap up, my friends!  This way I know where you are and we didn't have to interrupt the flow of learning to meet the needs of potty breaks :)  And, if ya gotta go... go!
For more ideas head on over to Blog Hoppin'!
OH, and for a little FLASH B2S sale, head on over to TpT and fill those carts up with last minute activities you need!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Where I Teach!

I'm not going to call this a BIG Classroom Reveal because it's anything but that.  I more or less gave my classroom a *tiny* facelift... moved some things around, stuffed junk into cabinets, changed out a little bit of fabric and called it a day.  This will be my fifth year in my classroom, and it's definitely evolved over the years, but my layout works for me, so I stick with it!  

This is my cabinet area (obviously!).  I stuff those cabinets full of junk that I pretty much never look at... because, well, I don't want anything to fall out if I open those doors.  So, they stay closed for the majority of the year and I "look" organized :)  They house things like TEs, books, craft supplies, construction paper, etc.  I also have about 100 bottles of Germ-X in there :)
Decorative Bag Idea:  Cara Carroll, Shapes HERE, AR Posters HERE, Flower BB set from DJ Inkers, Cheer Megaphones:  PRICELESS ;)

I have my Daily Five charts ready to go!  I used Velcro dots to hang the paper so I can easily take it down while we are going over procedures!
 This used to be my student library, but I wanted to change that around.  I divided it into three sections:  Listen to Reading, Student Book Bins, and Math Manipulatives.
 My rug and pillows are from Target and Wal-Mart on the cheap!  We use the stuffed animals as reading buddies... cuddle up and read a book to your favorite furry friend!
Subway Art:  Hope King
 Until I've taught my lesson about choosing "Good Fit Books" my students will rotate through these books.  I placed 8 books in each book bin... these are books that don't fit into a category in my student library!
When you walk into my classroom, this is what you will see (droopy paper and all...sigh)
Here's my English Word Wall, English Alphabet (read about making your own student generated alphabet HERE!), Writing BB, and student library!
Vowel Glue Bottles:  The Teacher Wife

 I narrowed my categories down to start the year.  As the year goes on I will switch out book bins so that my students always have new books to read!
Library Labels:  Reagan Tunstall
Writing Pencil:  The Teacher Wife, Writing BB:  A Cupcake for the Teacher, Word Wall Letters:  Mardel

When I'm sitting in small group or at my computer, this is the view I see!
 Above my lockers I used wrapping paper.  It goes up really well and stays nice all year!  I will put student work on the empty side :)
School Responsibilities:  HERE, Clock Numbers:  HERE, Locker Numbers:  HERE

I decided to put this annoying wire shelf back together... it was painful and awful, BUT it works!  The chevron bins are from Wal-Mart!  I'm going to house either station materials OR student supplies here :)  I'm going to use the cookie sheet for important reminders and info!
Bathroom Pass Idea:  Erica Bohrer
Here's a little peek at my Spanish area... I have a Spanish word wall, Spanish alphabet, and Bulletin Boards for Spanish vocabulary.  I also wanted another little reading nook, so I bought another rug from Wal-Mart and placed it in the corner :)  I've never known what to do with that small space, but this seems to work!
 I can see my kiddos cuddling up with a good book here!
Group Jobs:  HERE, Color Words:  HERE
 This is the front of my room and our meeting area.  I put all of my math resources down low so that my students can easily access them.  I also put thematic books on my white-board tray that my kids can read from when they finish work early.  I change these out every few weeks, and new books always bring a level of excitement to the classroom!  On my board I write our objectives, table points, and spelling words for the week.

Number Line:  Scholastic, Number Words:  HERE, Hundreds Pocket Chart:  HERE

This is my small group/teacher area.  Tomorrow I will go into a little more detail about what I keep over here :)  Ignore that saggy paper... it's driving me crazy, but obviously not too much because I have yet to fix it, ha!  On a side-note... I can staple into ALL of my walls, I buy fabric and wrapping paper from Hobby Lobby.  My room is super easy to put together because It's pretty much four walls with lots of space!  I don't have a window, but I do have a skylight that lets in a TON of natural light... my room is NEVER dark because of it :)
Make sure you check out Blog Hoppin' today so you can see classrooms that look WAY better than mine, ha :))

Monday, August 18, 2014

Who Am I?!

Hey, friends!  I'm pretty sure I talk about myself every.single.time I blog, BUT to play along with Blog Hoppin's Teacher Week, I'm going to go ahead and do it again!  I'm going to try and dig DEEP and tell you what you may not know!

But, first, let's start with the basics!

My name is Amy Lemons and I teach 2nd grade in the great state of Texas {I may not own cowboy boots, but I do drink a few glasses of sweet tea a day ;)}.  I was born and raised in the town that I teach in and so was my husband, Jared!  He is a pastor at our church, and is currently transitioning into a role at the church where he will pastor young families.  He's been in student ministry for the past 10ish years, so this year will be full of new adventures for us!  

I am not perfect, by any means (actually VERY far from it!), but I do strive to live like Christ on a daily basis.  I was in 6th grade when I surrendered to Christ and decided to follow him for the rest of my life, and am definitely a work in progress.  My new life verse is "Let all that you do be done in love." (I Cor 16:14)  After all, if you start with love and loving people how can you go wrong?!  I try to instill this in Joelle as often as possible.  The Lord has stuck with me during some pretty big obstacles.  We adopted our beautiful daughter in February of 2013 after waiting for a year to bring her home.  God was faithful the entire time.  During my brain surgery in 2012 I remember feeling His peace and calm over my life, and am so thankful for His healing hand!  We are currently in the process to bring our little boy home from the Congo, and I have complete trust that God will finalize all the details at the perfect moment!
AND, I'm about to start my 9th year of teaching!  Where has the time gone?!!  I can't even believe I'm old enough to have 8 years under my belt!  This is a picture (actually a selfie long before selfie was a word!) of me in my very first classroom!  I was fresh out of college... graduated in December and took over a 4th grade class before I even walked across the stage!  My classroom had a ladybug theme and I obviously dressed up way more back then than I do now!  Seriously though, I had THE BEST team a new teacher could ever ask for.  They held my hand and were just precious to me as a young 21-year old!
Just for a little fun, here are some things you may not know about me!  I really had to rack my brain because y'all already know so much!!

Here's this if you'd like to use it in your "Who" post!
Make sure you head on over to Blog Hoppin' to learn about lots of other teacher bloggers!  I'll be back tomorrow with pictures of my classroom!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Grammar Overview!

Alrighty, y'all... I have one more yearly overview to share with you and this is probably the weakest (link-wise) of them all, so I apologize in advance!  Since my entire ELA block is only 60 minutes long (that's for Reading, Writing, Spelling, and Grammar) I try to tie grammar into writing as much as possible.  Sadly, I don't have enough time to do a full-on writer's workshop, so we write as much as possible in every other subject area.  I completely admire Katie King and her dedication to writing.  I hope to be her when I grow up (workout dedication and all!).

You can click HERE to grab my overview!
And before I go I would like to mention that we don't wait until the 4th 6 weeks to talk about verbs, and the 3rd 6 weeks to talk about adjectives... those are just the times where we focus on it completely and extend what we already know!  It's kind of hard to build a good sentence without those key parts of speech :)

I'm linking up with Deedee today!
And, I'll be back *hopefully* every day this week to link up with Blog Hoppin for Teacher Week!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Reading Plan

As promised, I am here sharing my Reading Overview for the year!  I've probably said this a million times before, but I still get asked this question a lot...

I do NOT use a reading series (or any textbook for that matter) AT ALL.

It's not that I'm 100% against it, and if I had to use it I would make it work, BUT there are several reasons why I don't use the basal series... I teach in the Dual Language program and my Spanish teaching partner uses it for Spanish Language Arts.  If I used it then my kids would be getting the same story twice a day (just translated).  So, she uses it since her Spanish resources are so limited.  Also, I want my kids to fall in love with reading... to get wrapped up in a good series, to find new authors, to connect with characters so I try to find books that will do just that!

My district provides a scope and sequence that tells us WHEN to teach each standard (but not HOW to teach it or what books to use although they do provide suggestions and resources to help!).  I love that about my school because I have freedom to teach the way I want to and I get to change things up year to year!

I am very blessed to work at a school that has bought several classroom sets of chapter books and novels over the past few years.  So, our grade level has built up quite the library to help us teach each week!  When you see a chapter book on my plan that more than likely means my students will be holding a copy of the book in their hands!  Author studies or nonfiction units are usually done as read-alouds (sometimes I do have enough books to where I can divide my students into groups or partners to do the reading).  I do check out Scholastic Book Clubs quite often so I can grab class sets of chapter books when they are $1 a piece.  I got several sets at the end of last year and I'm so excited to dig into a few new books this year!

When you click on my plans I have linked any and everything that I possibly could to..
1.  Show you the books on Amazon so you'll know the exact book I'm talking about
2.  Blog posts that show how I've taught these units in the past
3.  Units that have worked well in my classroom that I purchased from other teachers on TpT
4.  My resources
You'll also see some of the different skills I want to hit while teaching those different author, book, or character studies.  Of course, I'm sure I left some out, and we will cover a lot more in the year, BUT I wanted to have a starting point!

You can click HERE to download those plans and be looking out for my Grammar plans because they are almost done!  For my math plan click HERE

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The #eclessonplanner that changed my world :)

When a box this pretty shows up on your doorstep... you get a little excited (especially when you notice it's from Erin Condren!!!)
So you open up the box and things just keep getting prettier and prettier!
You might as well just STOP THE WORLD when you get your package open because the world's most beautiful, most convenient, and detailed Teacher's Planner is inside!
Even the back is pretty :)
You even have your daughter take a picture of you and your beautiful new #eclessonplanner.  It's really that much of a life changer!  (But first you have to shower, put on actual clothes, and cover your no-makeup face with sunglasses!)

I started working in my #eclessonplanner right away!  I took my yearly math overview and district calendar and got to work!  The pretty Erin Condren pens made writing even more fun :))
 This #eclessonplanner has every.single.thing you could ever need or want in a teacher planner.  There are calendars, planning pages, student info sheets, stickers, important dates, pockets to hold papers, grading tables, and MORE all wrapped up into one gorgeous package!
There are so many fun designs... it was difficult for me to just pick ONE!  But, I went with the Picture This planner and am so happy with it!  I can tell that this thing will be attached to my hip and my constant lifeline throughout the year.  You must get one for yourself ASAP!

They are personalized and worth every.single.penny!

To answer Emi B's question below...
I am a very digital person when it comes to lesson planning.  My district requires us to submit our plans online and sometimes I make the visual lesson plans for my blog.  BUT, when I'm scheduling things out and getting my plans together I like to write things down first so that when I sit down to input my plans, I have it all figured out... that way it takes me just a few minutes to type things up!  And, now I have my lesson plans at my fingertips rather than just on a computer that has to be turned on, opened up, and logged into!  I don't want to carry my laptop all around the building, to meetings, or when I'm with my family :)  So, I'm both- digital and the old fashioned way :))

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Talk: Shark Week!

Hey y'all!  I'm linking up with Deanna for a little Book Talk!  AND, since it's also Shark Week, I thought I share my favorite shark activity of all time!

My students absolutely LOVE learning about sharks (and any animal for that matter!)  Since I don't teach Science, I try to squeeze lots of animal learning into my nonfiction reading units.  We Give Books has a couple of upper-level nonfiction books about sharks.  I don't go through every page with my students, but I do love the fact that I can project these books onto the screen and show the wonderful photos as well as highlight important info and interesting facts!  I also share this website with my parents because this is a great way to read books at home :))
I have several of these books in my student library, and my kiddos go CRAZY for them!
We normally tie in sharks with our poetry unit with this little craft.  We read a nonfiction book like shown above, then discuss the type of poetry that we are going to write for the day.  I've done this with several different types of poems over the  years, and it is always a hit!

 You can grab this shark FREEBIE in my TpT shop!  Then, go check out what other books teachers are loving out there :))