Swanky Magnetic Stations Boards

Ahhh, the beauty of a Winter Break, right? Having spent most of my break on vacation visiting the in-laws in Oklahoma, I've had ample down time. It's been so refreshing. I've spent time reading (including catching up on some of my favorite blogs), playing cards, and goofing around on Pinterest. All without feeling the least bit guilty because my house was a mess :) I LOVE being away, don't you?

I found this great idea on Pinterest for making magnetic bulletin boards using pizza pans. I don't know where I saw it first (and then neglected to pin...ah dang it). But here is a picture of the general idea:

Click here for my pin to Passionate for Paper Blog.

I ran out to the local Walmart to grab 5 pizza pans for $1 each.  Then, over to Hobby Lobby for chalkboard paint, ribbon and felt.  My sister-in-law, Wendy, insisted that I take pictures of each step of the process to show you exactly how to make it :) So we did.

 Here's a play-by-play of how this all came together. Enjoy the show :)

Step 1: Drill holes into the pan for the ribbon hangers
Step 2: Spray paint the boards with chalk board paint

Step 3: Make the felt flowers (Let me stop here to explain):
I found this idea on Pinterest (of course) for these cute flowers.

You really need to just click over to this link and watch her video for full explanation if you are really interested. It's easier to watch than for me to go "blah, blah, blah.blah.blah".  Scroll down to the bottom of her page to see the video.

Cut strips, fold strip over and glue, snip loop of strip every cm or so.


Roll up and glue as you go!

Step 4: After everything is dry, hot glue the flowers to the board and slip a ribbon through the holes:


Here's how I plan on using these cuties:  
I will write the name of the literacy station on the top of the board (I only have 5 different stations per week...it's manageable for me) in chalk (the stations themselves change about every three weeks).  Then, each student will have his/her name on a magnet that gets moved from board to board each day.  It all sounds great in theory.  We'll see how it works in practice come January 3rd!  I already have a system of how they rotate in place, just not a cute visual for the kids to remember where they are going each day.

I will be adding more later about how I "do" my literacy Stations.  Look for that soon!

Snowman Glyphs

During the last week before the break, you know that time...the time you are just trying to hold the kids at bay and not kill each other...I decided to take on this project.

Operation Snowman Glyph

Smart move, too.  It kept the students engaged (aka...busy) and everyone was happy :)

I knew I wanted to do something with snowmen because I could leave that up after the holidays (and maybe even through February).  So, naturally, I started with Pinterest.  I found the idea for a snowman glyph.  Too cute, right?

Snowman Glyph idea from Angela Wynn

How could I make this with my students, yet keep it standards-based for 4th graders?
We had just completed a poetry unit.  So, we made diamante poems to write on their bellies.  They turned out soooo adorable.

You can find the snowman glyph at my TpT store here.

 My kiddos were so proud of them, too.  I gave them the option of hanging them up inside the classroom or outside and they all shouted "OUTSIDE" so we could show them off!

New Year's Resolution Party

I'm joining this linky party with a bit of hesitation, only because I STINK at resolutions.  But, I've loved all of the new friends from yesterday's party, so here goes.  By the way: I may break the cardinal blogging rule and post twice today because I've been wanting to blog about my snowman glyphs...sorry in advance if I do.

New Year Resolutions:


1. Create my own OLW~One Little Word~ (see this post from Oh' Boy 4th Grade to learn more). 

2.Be in the NOW (didn't that come from Oprah?  Living life in the NOW?)
I need to work on this to help me SLOW DOWN...

3.  Organize my life...make compartments.  Devote a certain amount of time in each compartment and then learn how to LET GO of whatever can't be completed within that time. (Does anyone know how to do this?  If so, advice, please!)


1. Work harder at learning how to make Guided Reading work. 

2. Find more ways to use my SmartBoard more efficiently.  (Not use it as a glorified overhead projector).

3.Complain less...I seem to get caught up with all of the negativity.  Maybe my OLW needs to be optimism.

Blogging/TpT Store

1. Post at least 3-4 posts a week that include helpful freebies for teachers.

2.  Create more freebies for my TpT store and then create things to actually SELL :) (I still don't feel worthy of selling my stuff yet.)

What are your resolutions?!?
Link up here.

11 in 11 Linky Party (and My VERY First One)

11 in 11 Linky Party

I’m joining in my very first Linky Party put on by Kristin and Hadar.  I have just joined this community of blogging and I can’t wait to read and learn more from all of these fabulous bloggers.  This Linky Party has already introduced me to several new bloggy friends and I’m so excited about that…so here’s my contribution to the party.  Everyone needs to bring a dish.  Now, I'll dish out mine...

11. Favorite movie you watched

The Help: What a wonderful story.  I first read the book with my book club.  Then I made my 14 year old daughter read it before she could join me and one of my friends at the movie.  Inspiring, truly inspiring.  I should have picked Crazy Stupid Love, but didn’t.  I’ll save that gem for #3.

10. Favorite TV series
I don’t watch much TV because I’d rather be reading (blogs usually).  But I TiVo Parenthood and then have marathon runs on long weekends or whenever I actually have time to sit on my rear. 

9. Favorite restaurant

My absolute favorite restaurant is The Cheesecake Factory.  Once, I drove all the way to Charlotte (2 ½ miles away) ON A SCHOOL NIGHT to meet my husband (who was away on business) just because we could go to South Park and eat at The Cheesecake Factory!

8. Favorite new thing you tried

Blogging, of course!  I’m so excited about starting this new adventure.  I started thinking about doing this a few years ago.  I was going to create a blog about home, cooking, and teaching.  However, after spending so much of my time devoted to reading teacher blogs, I fell in LOVE with teacher blogs.  So, here I am J!

7. Favorite gift you received

I have to list two favorite gifts (one store bought and one homemade).  The one that was store bought was my Nook Color.  I can’t imagine life without it.  (How sad is that?)

But, my most favorite gift received that was homemade was a wreath made by my daughter.  It looks similar to this pin (from Pinterest) that she posted to one of her inspiration boards.  (Like mother, like daughter).

6. Favorite thing you pinned

Oh so many pins, so little time!  This is my favorite because it inspired me to make one for my teaching buddy for Christmas.  Then, when I brought it to school, several staff members said, “Hey, you should sell those!”  So, I did…I sold 12 wreaths in all; enough to make some extra spending money for Christmas. 

5. Favorite blog post
Since I’ve only been at this since October, I don’t really have too many to say I have a favorite.  I’m hoping that in 2012 that I will have too many to choose from instead of too little.

4. Favorite accomplishment

Both of my children were in plays during the fall season.  My daughter was in her high school play and my son was cast as Hobie in the local community playhouse’s version of The Best Christmas Padgent Ever.  Keeping up with two kids in two different performances going to rehearsal-after rehearsal-after rehearsal was enough.  But…on the final night of my son’s play, I was a walk-on and had the line “What about Grace?”  Now, we are all thespians.  (My husband is a stand-up comic.) 

3. Favorite picture

OK….wait for it.

Yes, that is me and my best friend, Josh Groban (the best singer EVER), with some other chick. 
OK, just kidding, that’s me and my best friend, Beth, with JOSH GROBAN!  Yes, I’m in LOVE with him (or at least his music).  Or, maybe I am in love with him…don’t tell my husband.

The story of how I’ve met him 3 different times will have to wait for another post (if you are interested).  By the way, he was in Crazy Stupid Love, hince the reference in #11.

2. Favorite memory

Wow, too many to pick just one.  But, one of my favorite memories is of my vacation with my husband in Byson City, NC.  We stayed in a yurt.  Ever heard of one of those?  It’s fabulous.  It’s glamping at its best.  (Yes, glamping…camping with glamor!) 

1. Goal for 2012

My number one goal for 2012 is to learn to organize my life.  I’m not talking about my “things”.  I’m talking about making every minute count.  

So, there you have it.  My first linky party.  And, no clean-up! SCORE!

Reading Rotation or Reading Workshop Board

How do you handle rotations within your Literacy Block?

Finding a way to manage rotations within the Literacy Block might be one of the toughest things a teacher will ever have to figure out.  It's almost like solving a difficult Sudoku game.  It may even be a little harder than that.

I finally figured out how to make it work for me and I'd like to share that with you.  I have my students work with the same partner each day for several weeks.  This ends the confusion of "who am I working with today?"  It also allows for the students to get comfortable with that person while also allowing for a shorter transition time between rotations.

One way I've grouped students is by using their MAP data.  You could also group your students based on who works well together, by ability (high with middle, middle with low), or you could even have students choose who they would like to work with for that time.

Once I have the partner groups established, I print out the page below and post it next to our rotation board.  Click on the image to download your own copy from Google Drive.

Wondering how students rotate between stations?  

I use my own variation of the Daily 5.  I want all of my students reading independently each day, working on the skill for the week, and working on grammar.  I decided that I needed to come up with an acronym for reading just like my acronym for math rotations {read more about how I use math rotations here}

I use the acronym "R.E.A.D" and my students rotate within each station every single day.

The rotations are as follows:

Read with the Teacher

Enrichment (Station)

At your Seat

Daily Oral Language/ Read-to-Self

Making it work

I teach a mini-lesson before rotations begin on the skill for the week.  This past week, for example, I taught a lesson on idioms.  Once we are finished with the mini-lesson, rotations begin.

Each group comes to me during "Read with the Teacher".  This is when I teach my guided reading lesson.

During "Enrichment" students work at a station on a skill they need to complete for their weekly notebook check.  {Each week, they must visit Word Work, Poetry, Read to Partner and Read to Self}.  They must have a reflection in their notebook from that station.

During "At Your Seat" students are completing an assignment related to the skill of the week.  For example, this week, they were creating posters of idioms.

During "Daily Oral Language/ Read-to-Self" students are completing the Daily Language Review page shown on the Smart Board.  Since this does not take the total 15 minutes, they then work on their reading reflection letter to me.  This is a letter that the students write each week reflecting on what they have read.  In this letter, they must include at least three thinking stems that show a connection to their reading.  {They are NOT simply giving me a summary of the story.}

This is how I have my board set up. There are four groups (A, B, C and D).  Partner groups are assigned a group.  There may be 3 partner groups of 2 within each group---so maybe 6 people altogether within each group (depending on the size of your class).  The board shows the order in which the students rotate.  
This what one of the pages looks like from my TpT store head on over there if you want more info, too
I hope this helps you find ways to make Reading Rotations/ Reading Workshop work in your classroom.

Gifts for the Kiddos

It's that time of year again! Yay! We only have four days until the "Winter Break".  I can't wait for a couple of weeks to sleep in, catch up on "stuff" around here, visit family and have FUN!

I've spent the last few hours of my last weekend getting the kids' gifts together.  Each year, my gift to my students usually contains one gift card which has several free passes on it.  This year, I made some new ones.  I found some great metal pails on clearance last year for a quarter apiece! Score! I'm going to add a pencil, a cute activity pad (also found on clearance) and these passes.

Feel free to download either one.  Just click on the image to go to Google Drive Link.  Thanks!

My First Day Alone This Year

My intern's last day was Friday.  This week begins my first week "alone" with my kiddos.  I'm not quite sure what I feel about that...I'm excited, of course! But, I've got to get down to business, you know?

I've enjoyed this semester with my intern.  We all have to start somewhere, so I was happy to have an intern.  However, I never felt like the class was entirely "mine".  Now is my time to bond with them alone...

When my intern left, we showered her with some books that we had read aloud this year.  This included the book Lemonade War which was the novel that she used in Shared Reading.  I had each student write a special little message in the book for her.  If she's anything like me, that book will become a treasure as the years go by...and by....and by.  (I've got my tattered copy of Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing that I'm planning on putting in a shadow box soon.  No, I'm not kidding.)

We also gave her a goody basket with the poem below.  She cried.  It was a great moment for the kids and for her (and me, too).

I hope I can remember how to do things around the classroom without her.

Wish me luck!