Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blog Hoppin' Around!

I am joining my very first Blog Hop with Fierce in Fourth and I'm so excited!

This Blog Hop is based on the book we all know and love First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.

 First Day Jitters

When you join the blog hop all she asks is that you post three things your may be "jittery" about this school year! That's it! So here are my three things...

  1.  I always get jittery about meeting my new Buckaroos at Open House. What the kids and parents probably don't realize is that I'm just as anxious and excited about the upcoming school year as they are! No matter how many years I've been teaching, I still have those butterflies!
  2. I'm hosting a student teacher this year. This is not my first, she is actually my third, but I always want to make sure my student teachers are well taken care of, get great "on the job" training and feel like they have the confidence to plan lessons aligned to Common Core and State Standards and do all the things teachers do to be a successful teacher when they leave my classroom! Tips and tricks welcome.
  3. I am going out on maternity leave after Thanksgiving and this is my first child so there are lots of new experiences coming my way! I am super excited about meeting my daughter, but have never been out of my classroom that long! My sub is awesome, so I really have nothing to worry about! However, I dread those maternity leave lesson plans!! Any tips?

I hope you enjoy the Blog Hop and decide to link up!

Here is the Blog Hop!

Holly Kaczmarek

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mouth-Watering Monday! Trying something new...

I wanted to try something new, and this time it doesn't really pertain to teaching but one of my other passions... Food! I love to cook and bake and I thought it would be fun to bring you a recipe each week that I've tried and love! My hope is that maybe you will be inspired to try some of these recipes and that they may become some of your favorites also! Now for the hard part, choosing some recipes!

I am going to start this journey with two of my favorite dessert dips. They are both fabulous and kinda similar, yet each is tasty in it's own way! Let me just say that whenever I make these dips, my husband and I could eat the entire recipe in like two days (and that's pushing it)! If I make one recipe to take to a potluck, I actually have to make two and leave one for my sweet hubby! You will find yourself giving out these recipes a lot! I found both of these via Pinterest (Pinned on my Decadent Desserts board), but one is from Fake it Frugal and the other is from For the Love of Cooking. Both great blogs to check out!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dessert Dip

Toffee Crunch Dip with Apple Slices
I also added some mini chocolate chips to this dip because I look for any way to enjoy chocolate!!

With all the yummy fruit out right now, I hope you make and enjoy these treats as much as we do! I also thought with school starting at the end of August, the Toffee Crunch Dip might be great to pack in my lunch with some apple slices! My mouth is watering right now, I might just have to make one of these for tonight!!

Holly Kaczmarek

Friday, July 27, 2012

Back from my "Stay"cation and linking up with...

This week I have been M.I.A. on my blog due to painting and planning for Baby Girl's nursery! It has been so much fun and now the painting is FINALLY finished! The crib and changing table/dresser combo should be here any day now! I get more and more excited as the days go by and I can hardly believe that we are 22 weeks (almost 23 weeks) into this 40 week adventure! I am also quickly learning that when I move at my normal, fast paced speed while 22 weeks pregnant, it catches up to me VERY quickly!

Me and Baby Girl at 20 weeks :)

But in true Holly fashion, I always have a million (yes, a bit of an exaggeration) things on my mind! I jump around from baby planning, to meal planning, to teaching ideas, to updating old documents to new Common Core and Imagine It programs... my mind NEVER takes a break! However, when I do take a moment to relax, I of course find myself on Pinterest. Shocker, I know! You know you wanna see all my great finds and follow me on Pinterest... So, click the red Pinterest button on the right side bar and start Pinning!!

On my latest Pinterest adventure I found a great Western themed Super Improvers bulletin board for the Whole Brain teaching concept, which I am very interested in!

(Cute, isn't it?!)

So, of course I clicked on the link to find out more about it, and I found this fabulous blog, which just happens to have the same classroom theme as me! (Their blog button is linked up, and to grab their button simply copy and paste the blue link below!)

2 busy brunettes

I am linking up with 2 Busy Brunettes to show off my Wild West classroom ideas from my post on July 20th! I hope you will check it out if you haven't done so already!

Other Linky Parties I've joined...

Holly Kaczmarek

Friday, July 20, 2012

New look and classroom tour!

I hope you like the new look of my blog! I'm super excited about it! It's much more me!

I told you that I was going to be posting pictures of my classroom, but I was waiting until my new look was complete. Let me take just a moment to warn you that this post is really long, but I think you will like what you see. Le me know! Now, your wait is over!

My classroom...
Howdy Buckaroos! Welcome to First Grade!

This rolling cart is right as you enter my classroom. On top you can see the paper trays that I use on Open House night. These are where the parents return important papers such as Emergency Contact forms, "How We Get Home" forms and Volunteer Interest Sheets.

On the side of this cart is where I put my weather graph last year. We used the plastic links to make our graph each month.

This green table and the two shelves in the background are my Math Center. The tall bookcase contains Math manipulatives in white baskets that are easy access for my Buckaroos. The red and blue canvas drawers contain Math center games.

After school started, I added numbers to the front of them and tied them on with twine. So cute, functional and organized!

My morning meeting/ whole group teaching area. The white board easel isn't usually there, but was serving a purpose during Open House. I did the "feed the boxes" idea for community supplies. (See the boxes on the floor.) This year I am going to do the same thing, but use plastic storage bins instead!

Another view of the whole group area. On the board is my "Donation Station" where parents can pull off a post-it and purchase something for our classroom if they would like. I also displayed my birthdays on cupcakes above the white boards, with the alphabet line above that.

Here are the Buckaroo's seats with bandanna print chair pockets made by my friend Cheryl! I also used bandannas as my curtains. I simply drape them over a piece of twine. Too cute! Quick tip... Be careful what you hang over your windows and how low they hang. The fire marshal will either make you take them down or move them higher (which I did, because I was not about to take them down!)

Another classroom view. The round table is my Word Building Center, my projector is behind the cow print rug, and my area is under the TV in the back of the photo.

Here is a close up of my projector area. My classroom is not currently equipped with a Smart or Active board. However, I do have an Active Slate which helps to make technology lessons more interactive until the day my classroom is outfitted with Smart technology. The blue bookcase in front helps to keep cords hidden and comes in handy for storing various things. (Most of the things on the shelf were being stored there until after Open House.)

Classroom Displays
My "Student of the Week" board. This is where we place the Buckaroo of the Week's poster when it is their special week!

My classroom jobs are located on the denim pockets. I keep the student's names on craft sticks in the little red basket and we choose new jobs each Monday.

Reading strategies posters. No I did not make these, but please forgive me because I forget the source. I'm thinking TPT, but if I remember I will definitely update this post later. This board is located right next to my Guided Reading area. To the right of this board, you will notice my Center organization pictures (more Center pictures to come later in this post).

This was my Word Family Wall. There is a poster for each Spelling pattern we studied throughout the year that included a picture for those visual learners. They are blank to start the year and we fill them out as a group each week as they are introduced. Unfortunately, this year the Word Family wall either needs to come down or change due to a new adoption in our county called Imagine It.

This was an idea that I found last year via Pinterest and purchased from TPT. Deanna Jump is the creator and saved me (and other teachers I'm sure) lots of time. These are Common Core posters. We are actually implementing Common Core standards this upcoming school year, so I hope I use these this year! Deanna also has a great blog! Go check it out...

The Inspired Apple

My Word Wall. Again, this will have to be changed this year due to Imagine It. Plus, last spring they painted our building and all wall decor had to come down for that. I chose not to put it back up due to the short amount of time left in our school year. I'm glad I did that because many things need to change for this upcoming school year.

Student work folders. Each student has a hanging folder that is attached with Velcro to the doors. The clothespins help us display student work (mostly Writing samples), then we store their work in the pockets when something new is going to be displayed. They come off easily for conferences and provide work samples for the entire year. Up above these folders you will see some plastic storage bins. I have one fore each month of the year and put seasonal lesson plans in each bin. This is how my colleagues had their stuff organized when I first came to my current school and I fell in love!

Behavior Chart
(Please note the easel was only there for Open House.) This is my behavior chart. The students can see the rules displayed right above the colorful dots. Everyday the students would start on green and would move down the chart for undesirable behaviors. They could EARN themselves back for great behavior also. The students earn "Class Cash" everyday for various reasons, but being on green at the end of the day is a sure fire way to earn cash! If they end up on yellow at the end of the day, nothing earned and nothing lost. If they are on blue or red at the end of the day they have to pay me some cash. Losing cash is no fun, especially when we have a class auction every two weeks where they have to bid on different jobs/items! For the 2012-13 school year I am revamping this to something I saw on Pinterest and it came from First Grade Fanatics blog. The new color system has ways for the students to move up for outstanding behavior! Click link below...

Center Organization
I use my white board right next to my Guided Reading area to house my center organization chart. Everything is magnetic, which makes it easy to move around! I have the small center signs here and put the students picture cards next to them. Every day, I slide the center signs down and leave the student cards right where they are. I also have bigger center signs that match these that I hang around the classroom at each individual center. These really help the students find the centers much easier (especially at the beginning of the year)! I also have "Meet with Me" red cards for when I'm taking a particular reading group. If they see the red card they know to come to me (or my assistant) for Guided Reading.

 Classroom Library
"Lasso Up A Good Book!"

Little chairs, a comfy pillow, some stuffed animals, a soft light and of course...

Organized books to read! I use a dot system that I learned from my friend Rachel (a former colleague, which is still weird to say) over at Teaching with Z. These books are not organized by level, unfortunately, but each book has a home which I love. Most of these books were given to me over the years and when we tried to level them, it was nearly impossible. So, this was a way to organize my books so that the kids were not just putting them everywhere and keeps the library fairly clean and organized!

Writing Center
Large storage drawers for paper organization; small storage drawers for crayons, markers and colored pencils; the plastic container with the blue lid has dry erase strips with lines, mini erasers and dry erase markers for handwriting practice; and a container for Writing prompt ideas.

A bookcase with student dictionaries, folder walls; (missing from picture is a bin full of yellow highlighters); sharpened pencil bin and broken pencil bin; and of course tissues and hand sanitizer!

Overhead Center
 This is where we store the overhead. I only use it during centers, actually the kids use it during centers. They love it! They are responsible for rolling it out, plugging it in and cleaning up when they are finished. Almost any game/activity can be made for the overhead, simply run a copy on a transparency and you are ready to go!

My Area of the Classroom!
Here's my corner! I choose not to have a desk, so the table serves as my desk and my Guided Reading area. It helps to keep me organized, but I can promise you it doesn't usually look this clean each and every day!

 This bookcase holds my personal books, both children's books and teacher resource books. The gray magazine bins are how I organize my Guided Reading resources for each group. They now have labels for easy access. The blue baskets hold various Guided Reading materials like pointers, flashcards, highlighters, etc.

Here you can see some clear plastic drawers that I use for storage (post-its, paper clips, staples, pens, pencils, etc.), a smaller bookcase with more teacher resource books and on top of it is my very own printer/copier/scanner (donated by a parent when my old printer died). I love it and am so very grateful for the donation! You can see my computer and my teacher cart parked under it. Now let me tell you about that white board... I bought it for a great price and wanted to put it up on the wall behind my computer so that I could use it during Guided Reading if necessary. Well, I tried everything to keep it up on the wall (nails, 3M hooks, Velcro, clothespins, all of the above) and nothing would hold it. The janitor told me he would hang it, and needless to say, it never made it up on the wall. :(

I use my filing cabinet for many things too. I'm trying to keep myself organized anyway! I found the gray, magnetic file boxes at Target last year and just had to have them. Hopefully, I will use them more efficiently this year. The pink bin is where we store the Buckaroo's take home readers for the week. That way at the end of the week, we can go and put them back in our K-1 book room.

Here are the drawers that I store all my lesson plan materials in for the week. They are labeled Monday through Friday and have really come in handy! Now here's the bad news... I searched and searched for something with FIVE drawers so that I could do this. It took me FOREVER to find this! I would always find great four drawer or three drawer units, but not five drawer ones.  I like it, but if I ever find a more sturdy FIVE (heck, at this point even a six) drawer piece of furniture I will probably replace it. The only thing I dislike about it is that sometimes the drawers get too heavy and will fall off track. This drives me CRAZY!

I hope you enjoyed looking into my classroom! Please know that I change things each school year, even if it's just a tweak here or there. With that said, I'm sure there will be a few more pictures to come and I will try not to make the post be nearly as long as this one!

Holly Kaczmarek

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Calling All Beginning Bloggers...

I would like to say thank you to Jen over at "T" is for Teacher blog for nominating me for the Liebster Award. This is an award for new bloggers who have less than 200 bloggers. It's hard to build up your followers and I really appreciate the nomination!! Now here's my chance to pass it on to some other fellow bloggers...

Here are the rules:
1. Copy and paste the award onto your blog.
2. Thank the giver and link back to them.
3. Reveal 5 other bloggers and let them know by commenting on their blog.

 Here are me five blogger nominees:

2.  Teaching Little Apples: A First Grade Teaching Blog
3.  Mrs. Shipley's Fabulous Firsties
4.  First Class Teacher
5.  A Day in First Grade

I think you should go check out these blogs and become followers of them all! Enjoy!

Holly Kaczmarek

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Great ideas from fellow teachers and bloggers!

I've been finding some fabulous ideas via Pinterest these hot summer days and wanted to share some with you!

First, I was inspired by Dandelions and Dragonflies blog with her classroom setup including bookshelves at each grouping of desks. I would love to do this in my classroom!

I also found a whole class behavior management chart to encourage positive behavior in daily specials, hallways, lunch, etc. at Stories from Room 114 blog. In the past, I have used hand prints that have to reach a pair of cowboy boots (which I move higher and higher throughout the year). When the class reaches the cowboy boots they receive a whole class prize, which remains a mystery until they earn it! This is a hundreds chart that is used in a similar way. Click on the picture to check it our for yourself!

If you haven't been lucky enough to view this video clip, I recommend that you do! This teacher has some cute, engaging classroom management cues for her students! I will definitely be using these this year!!

I can go on and on about other ideas that I've found, but I think that's enough for today! Be on the lookout for pics of my Wild West classroom this week!

Holly Kaczmarek

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Why is summer so busy???

Even though (some) teachers may have their summers off, most of us never stop planning for the next school year! We are always searching for new ideas and ways to better organize our classrooms and reach our students. On top of having the usual teacher stuff on my brain I've been busy enjoying my summer! We have had family and friends visiting from Ohio, we went to visit my sister in VA Beach and I have been busily planning and registering for my first child who will be here in late November! Might I add that my husband and I just recently found out that we are having a little GIRL!!! Woo hoo!! (Let me just say that I was right!) With all that said, I have had a lot on my brain, but I am a mean multitasker!! I have found some really cool ideas to share with you, but tonight I will start with a new blog. My friend is starting a new adventure in teaching this year by changing grade levels and schools and she has started a blog to share her tips, tricks and findings with the rest of you. So click on Rachel's page and become a follower!

Holly Kaczmarek