Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer School Visual Plans (Grades 1 and 2)

I look forward to summer school all year long (3 days a week! 3.5 hours a day!), but about a week or two before, I always begin to panic about my plans.  I generally have the same students 3 years in a row, so coming up with fresh, new ideas for the same group of kids can be a little daunting! I decided to share my plans in visual format, just in case you're teaching summer school and need some new ideas.


This year I'll be teaching a class of upcoming 1st and 2nd graders for the first half of the day, and then a class of 4th and 5th graders.  Dividing our 4 weeks into themes makes planning a lot easier! I can separate out the books and activities I need well in advance. 

Our general summer school schedule is as follows: 
Morning Meeting/Warm-up/Morning Work
Computer Lab
Snack/Recess
Reading/Writing/Craft

{For all the crafts listed in this post, check out my ESL Summer School Pinterest board}


For the first week, my littles will learn all about the 4th of July: how we celebrate and why we celebrate.  This 4th of July pack is super versatile, and perfect for my varying proficiency levels.  And how cute is that door hanger? We'll be able to do lots of speaking and listening about colors, shapes, and directions while we work on it.

In week 2, I'll keep things light with some fun beach and ocean fiction reads.  The summer literacy and math centers, summer printables, and ready set print are some of my favorite TPT buys- I can pick and choose the pages that work the best.  When I go to the beach for 4th of July, I'll bring back a huge ziplock bag full of sand that we can play and paint with!

Week 3 ups the rigor a little, with some non-fiction ocean reads.  We'll focus on some math and phonics skills.  I love finding resources that work for multiple levels of reading and math readiness!  The fish-bowl craft looks ambitious...I'll keep you posted about how it turns out! 

And with that, it's week 4, and summer school is over.  This is a short week, as the last day is an Open House for parents, and I have my minions students help me clean and pack up my room for summer cleaning.  We will focus on some safety skills, like crossing the street and putting on sunscreen.  This camping pack has all the safety ideas I need. plus some cute campfire songs that I'll attempt to teach!  I'm not sold on the hand craft just yet...if you have other safety craft ideas, please let me know!


Now, a summer at my school wouldn't be complete without lots and lots of computer time.  We are paperless, and our administration is focused on having students utilize personalized learning tools.  So during the times I don't have my students, they'll be with an aide working on these great websites.  We use them all during the year, so it shouldn't be hard to get back into them! 

Do you teach summer school, or have suggestions for crafts and activities? I'd love to hear them! 



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dare To Dream #tptsellerchallenge

When I started my blog and store I was filling a need for resources that I couldn't find elsewhere.  I teach a very specific type of ESL students whose needs and abilities are often overlooked by the publishing world.  Frustrated, I decided to share my experiences so that maybe someone, somewhere, might find something useful when teaching newcomers or refugees. Over the years, my blog and store have transformed as my students and I have transformed, and it's been a fun-filled journey!

1.  ESL teachers, where are you!?!? I get lots of comments and emails from primary grade teachers, but very rarely hear from any ESL teachers.  I want to connect more and become a go-to resource for ideas and activities.

2. Looking forward a few years, I know I won't be in the classroom.  I've got my heart set on administration and I'm determined to get there sooner rather than later.  When that happens, I want this to be a place teachers and administrators can come for help with curriculum planning, scheduling, school events, collaboration, and technology.

3. So many blogging buddies are traveling to present at national and regional conferences, and I want that to be me one day! But with my little learner arriving in November, I'll probably have to put that dream on the back burner for a few years.  

4. Well that's a pipe dream if there ever was one! Right now I'm very happy to be able to use my TPT money to pay for our monthly house-cleaners and a few Starbucks lattes.  Eventually, I'd love to pay for our mortgage, and then vacations and...well, who knows!

Do you have a dream for your blog or store? Link up with #tptsellerchallenge! 



Monday, June 15, 2015

Makeover Madness!

It's my first day of summer vacation, and what better way to spend it than spending some much needed time sprucing up my TPT store? I joined the talented teacher-authors in the TPT Seller Challenge to ramp up my store, right before #tptvegas15.  I decided to work on my Reader's Theater scripts, which were sorely in need of an update.

(Basically everything wasn't working! Do your eyes hurt? I'm sorry!)



(Isn't that frog just adorable? I love him!)


(I think Red might be my favorite clipart cutie ever.  And I have a lot!)



I am really happy with how these came out! These Reader's Theaters were among the first products I posted, when I was still using Microsoft Word (yikes!).  But now, with their spiffy updated covers, I won't cringe while scrolling through my TPT store- that's a win in my book!

Want to join in on the fun? Head over to these fabulous blogs to link up.




Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Classroom Library Makeover

At the end of the school year, I looked around my room and realized there was no way I could leave for the summer with the current state of my library.  It was so bad, I didn't even take before pictures.  But I have plenty of after pictures! Let me show you the transformation.


 I teach grades 1-5, but on any given day I may have Kinders or middle schoolers come in my room.  So, I have to have a really wide range of books.  I've slowly added to my collection as I've been in this position, and finally feel like I have enough for all my learners.  My old system started out with stickers on the front of the books to level them, but the stickers easily ripped off.  Then I tried to arrange them by genre.  Then, I tried to arrange them by series/author, but it kept getting messy.  

Finally, I had had enough! I decided to re-do my library, no matter how long it took.  I started by ordering some neon bins from Really Good Stuff.  They match the bins on bookshelves in another corner of my room, which makes my OCD heart very happy.


Once they came in, I pulled all the books off my shelves and had my students help me level them through Book Wizard.  I would say that 80% of my books were "levelable" but some we had to guess.  It was a good learning experience for the students who helped me, because they began to see how to compare text complexity.  


We piled them by levels, then realized that it made sense to put levels together, since we didn't have enough of each to fill a bin.  


Next, we began to stack books in the bins.  My students took so much ownership in this part of the job- they made sure all the books were facing the same way and in height order.  They also made sure the pattern of colors was just right.  They must take after me!



Once we had all the books sorted into bins, I had to figure out a labeling system.  After thinking about it for quite a few days, I came up with a very simple dot system.  


I am so excited about the dot system! This is going to be perfect for my littles, my middles, and my newcomers.  For my littles it will reinforce one-to-one correspondence and ten frames, my middles will be able to better understand the concepts of symbols, and my newcomers won't have the stress of identifying a letter or a name. 


Once we had established the dot system, we worked over the course of a few days and put black marker dots on the inside front cover of EVERY book in my library.  I should have counted them...I'm guessing I have close to 1,000.  



 Finally, I wrote the key for each bin on a little index card, laminated them, and hung them from the baskets.  I'll make prettier labels over the summer, but for now, these will do!


 The large bins hold all my fiction books, and the tall narrow bins hold all my nonfiction. 
 I am so happy with the way it turned out!  I keep walking over just to stare at it!


Isn't it pretty!? I'm so excited to start teaching my kids how to use it! I'm positive this change will make for a more functional, practical, and inviting space for my kiddos to read!


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Home Office Tour

We moved in to our house in September of 2013, and I'm just now (June '15) feeling happy with it! Come along as I link up with Ashley and Angie for #2getherwearebetter and share my work-in-progress office.

Here's what it looked like a few months after moving in...barely functional, and basically a catch-all space.  Yikes!

Here's what it looked like last summer, kind of cluttered and unfocused.


Here's what it looks like now! We (and by we, I mean my husband) painted the room during the spring, because I was sick of the plain beige walls.  I wanted something happy and energetic, and this color fit the bill.  My black furniture toned down the brightness a little.  Now I have to put things back on the walls, which always makes me nervous.  I think I'm going to try the Command picture hooks instead of making a hole. 

 I tried to keep one shelf (from Crate and Barrel) for personal and one bookshelf for business, but that looked unbalanced.  Since the top two shelves are narrow and short, I decided to do decor up there and business down below.  The desk (from IKEA) just so happened to fit perfectly in the space under the window, and I love working and watching the neighborhood go by.


  If the beach stuff doesn't seem to "go" it's because our upstairs guest bedroom was beach themed, but is being changed into a nursery.  I couldn't part with any of it, so I decided to just toss it in my office.  It make make design people cringe, but it makes me happy and that's what counts! 

The white bench was from Homegoods, and we had it at the foot of our bed for a while.  However, we have a black dog whose fur stuck like glue, so it got moved to my office.  It has become my mail place and organizing space.  If I have an event coming up I lay out everything I need on the bench to keep myself organized. 


My short bookshelves are from Big Lots.  Notice the bottom shelf...I read and re-read and re-re-read the directions and STILL got the bottom shelf wrong.  I keep saying I'll cover it with contact paper, but never get around to it.  The white statue was part of a set I designed in college, and currently holds my wedding veil.  


It's not a huge room, but it works perfectly for little old me.  Head over to Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd or Lucky Little Learners to link up!





Currently June

June is finally here, and with it comes...rain.  Not swim weather, more like sweater weather! Although we in NJ have had it a lot easier than the folks in Texas.  This month I'm so glad to link up with Farley and donate to the animals of #wimberly.  My sweet Lacey was a rescue dog, so I'm always looking for ways to help the pups who haven't found their forever home yet.


Now on to Currently!


1. I get to school pretty early every day- I'm a morning person.  While I work, I always have Pandora on.  Sometimes it's upbeat, sometimes it's classical, but it's always on.  I found this station, and it's the perfect mix of upbeat and soothing.  It's all instrumental lullaby type music, set to modern songs.  

2. We had a huge party at my parents' house this weekend, and it was a glorious day.  I spent so much time soaking up the sun and now have a happy little tan to prove it. I love summer!

3. 9 days.  I can do it.  Right?

4.  My first stop after the last day of school is always the library.  I'd love to get a hammock to hang out in with all my new books!

5. Well, my feet are starting to swell.  And so are my ankles.  And so is my belly!  Baby C is due right around Thanksgiving.  Good excuse for shoe shopping, right?

6. I love Monday Made it with Tara, I love trying new summer recipes, and I LOVE reading as many books as I can get my hands on.  Come on, summer!!



Friday, May 15, 2015

Five for Friday

Friday, I'm in love.  Here's a peek back at my week! 

1.  My newcomer ELL's have been learning about the Pioneers, and to finish off our unit, we played Oregon Trail! I didn't even know this was still around.  Apparently there's an app you can buy, but after a little googling, I came across this one!



2.  I wish I had video-ed this moment.  We are working on an economics unit, and the first part is a future budget simulation.  Today's activity was a Game of Life type scenario, where kids had to roll the dice to see how much money they would gain or lose from their budget.  My kids said it was the best game we've played all year.  I'll call that a win!

 Here's a shot of their simulation- so much fun!

3.  My teammate has an Osmo, and we have been borrowing it periodically.  It's a great 5 minute time filler, and so perfect for ELL's!


4.  This is Lacey's new trick.  Can you see her? She sticks her nose under the fence and pretends she is some ferocious guard dog.   She has a big imagination.


5. I passed my principal exam!!!  What a relief!  Thanks for your support and good wishes- they paid off!

What happened in your world this week? Link up with Kacey!
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