Friday, November 15, 2013

Back to School Night

So our back to school night was back in September.. but since I haven't been posting, I thought I would share what I did.. even though it was a sad night for me.

First I will share that it was so sad for me because I only had ONE, yep I said it.. ONE parent/ family come to meet me. Working in an inner city, I expect that not all, maybe half- if I am lucky will come. This one family came 30 minutes before the end of the night. I was disappointed because I spent a lot of time getting things together, and it definitely felt unappreciated. Nonetheless, as an educator, you prepare yourself for nights like this by trying to make it welcoming for families.. and so here is some pictures of what I did for the parents of my students:

I made souvenir popcorn with a Disney Label of course : ) I also made bookmarks for my parents to encourage them to read with their children. I also made the cover to hold the flyers I passed out to tell parents about classroom expectations, rules and policies. I also hand out any school flyers that are asked to go home on parent night as well. Sometimes I will save the extremely important ones to explain to parents. How do you welcome parents into your classroom? Better yet, how do you get more involvement? I usually get a handful of parents. This was my saddest year to date.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I'm Back.. Hopefully on track!

WOW! So first I apologize that I haven't posted in a very VERY long time. Things have been crazy and I know I've said this before.. but this time, its for real! Between trying to get things going for school, being in a wedding, planning another wedding for my best friend and finding out my husband and I are EXPECTING our first baby : ) Things really have been overwhelming!  So I will be attempting to get back into my blogging and back into creating some great products for TPT (I have some ideas in store.. if I can ever get myself to start them). I figured I would post pictures of my Disney Themed Classroom. I have had a few people asking me what the room looks like and how I incorporate my theme into my room.. so here goes! Welcome to Disney World (in Buffalo!!)

This picture is what is right outside my door..
I had the stick people but I made them Mouse Ears! I also have each student make a "Mickey Balloon" to have the stick kids hold. I post my "Mouseketeer of the Week" as well as our "Bucket Filler".  My Mouseketeer of the Week is just my one student for the week who gets to be the line leader, pass out snack, collect papers, run errands etc.

This is my door! I will post monthly pictures so you can see how it changes throughout the year.. unfortunately I missed September : ( But this is October and I will post November soon : )

Behind my Door is my list of busses.. Next to that are my classroom rules, small group rules and emergency exit information 
I also have a group incentive called "Movie Star Points" each group is a different character and their group can earn points for being the quietest, quickest to clean up, ready to learn, etc. reward is lunch bunch on Fridays! CHEAP INCENTIVE : )

I have a class data wall.. at this point it was early in the year so we didn't have much information on it, but it was ready to go! 

Homeworkopoly- DISNEY STYLE : )
probably my pride and joy only because I recreated the game to go along with the different areas of Disney World and Disney Land : ) It makes me happy!!!

The next few pictures are of my Marvelous Mathematicians, reading area, writing board, small group table… 

The next few are of my entrance: Kids put folders for me to check homework in the basket, students also move magnets to tell where they are, my calendar, schedule and focus wall for Journey's Common Core : )

If you look closely, you can see Mickey Heads on the rug, my students each sit on their own "Mickey" so they have their own space on the rug.. these haven't been so successful as they are just paper and rip all the time… I haven't found a good way to keep them from being destroyed : (

These last few pictures are my word wall, the view of my room from coming in the door, my birthday wall, and my teacher desk area : )

Yes my teacher bag and lunch box are Disney : ) Thanks for taking the virtual tour of my room :)

<3 Jackie *

Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to School

So Summer is officially over. I start back at school with 2 conference days and then my students start Thursday! I am very excited to start the school year, but nervous as well. Schedules and student rosters are still not finalized. I have more than the allotted 15 students assigned to my 15:1 self contained classroom and no teacher assistants. This is nerve-wracking to have so much up in the air and school starts next week. I teach the children in front of me so I guess my only option is to keep plugging away : )

Pictures to come of my Disney Themed Classroom next week. I have just about everything ready to go : ) I also plan to try to blog about daily routines and other things that help make my classroom run smoothly. I am also always looking for suggestions of other ways that may make things easier : )

How are you doing with your school year? Sound off below to share moments you've had preparing or beginning of your school year : )


Sunday, August 18, 2013

What a crazy MONTH!!

So I cannot believe August is in full swing! I just finished summer school and I have 2 weeks before I go back to school. I have a lot to share with all of you!

I went on vacation to visit my brother and headed to DISNEY for part of my vacation! That increased my creative flow of DISNEY into my classroom. I bought so many things to use to help motivate my students!!

When we returned, my macbook took a turn for the worse and has been in the repair shop for weeks which has caused the hiatus from my blog : ( .... but now it's back : )

I also was one of the blog winners from the Teach Like a Pirate Book study I participated in! Gina over at Third Grade Tidbits was one of the hosts : ) It is an amazing book and I highly suggest you read it at your leisure. It helped me to infuse a new enthusiasm into my daily teaching life. This book allowed me to see things a little differently and sometimes we all need this!

I am also participating in the Teachers Pay Teachers  Back to School Sale!!! I don't have much in my store.. but I hope to add more items this year! Thanks for following me! I will be sharing before and after pictures of my classroom as soon as I can get into it and start prepping. We have to take EVERYTHING down before the end of the year... so I will be starting from scratch again. Cannot wait to share my room with you all!!

Jackie *

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Back in Action

So I am back.. hopefully on track! My husband and I took a vacation to Florida... and appropriately my classroom is Disney themed, we went to Disney. As soon as I got back, I hopped in to assist at the extended school year program through my district. I have not had time to clean or blog. Blogging is first (that's more important : ) ) So here I sit trying to catch up a little bit on a few things.

I have been working on a few items that I plan to share in a future post. I did want to post some pictures of my vacation just to get back into the swing of things! Thanks for welcoming me back :)

*Jackie <3

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Made It 4

So I am sharing another simple part of my Disney Themed Classroom for Monday Made It!

I decided this year to make a new title for my word wall that incorporated my Disney theme! I came up with...

I also made alphabet cards to go with the headers. Each vowel is in red and consonants in black showing both upper and lowercase letters....

And there's my word wall!! I also updated my birthday wall...

Each student gets their name and birthday on a cupcake...

And for one last part of my classroom.. my Schedule cards!!

I will be sharing more of my Disney themed creations when I return from my DISNEY VACATION 
: ) Enjoy!!

<3 Jackie

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I am sooo excited to be a part of one amazing person's giveaway! Bec over at Books Bugs and Boxes made it to 100 Followers!! Hop on over to her giveaway for a chance to win a lot of goodies from other amazing people : )  I am giving away an item of your choice from my TPT store. Check it out!!!

<3 Jackie *

Monday, July 8, 2013

Teaching Like a Pirate... Arggghhhh Falling Behind!

So between all of the summer chaos, I have fallen behind again! I am going to try to combine the last three scheduled posts into this post! I hope everyone had a safe and Happy Fourth of July!! Onto Dave Burgess and his inspiring book!!

Long Live the Arts!

I love this chapter! I try to include as many different artistic and musical infusion opportunities as possible. I created raps and tried to find songs about what we were learning because I think my ENTIRE class loved music! They would sing my favorite song: Call Me Maybe! I specifically had one student that had such a hard time remembering anything.. We listened to a song about being part of a community and this student remembered EVERY word only listening to the song once! It was truly amazing!

I also had one student who really struggled academically, but he could create a picture with incredible detail! I couldn't believe how amazing his pictures were! He was very detailed in all of his work. We work closely at the Buffalo Zoo and this boy loved to make pictures of the lions and giraffes.

This year was living proof that kids who struggle academically can succeed in art and music! This completely goes with Dave's chapter about the Arts and how important it is to include them in your lessons! Knowing this about my students, I attempted to incorporate these as much as possible!

What's in it for me?

In lessons where I am using sentences or story problems, I ALWAYS include my students names. This hooks them to the point where they just want to keep doing more and more practice so they all get a story problem about themselves! It is so funny just how easy it is to motivate my second graders by inserting one of their names instead of the name on the worksheet.

I have found that most of my students are engaged by self-centering activities. Every person likes to be recognized and something as simple as inserting their name into a story problem that could actually happen.. BAM: Hooked!

I think that it is also important for students to know when in real life they will need this information. This chapter was short and sweet.. Exactly to the point!

All the World is a Stage

 This chapter sums up everything I tell my student teachers about putting on a show. As a teacher we need to have control of EVERY aspect of the classroom. Dave puts everything in this chapter and explains it all so very well! I try to keep my classroom decorative but simple. I love how Dave talks about classroom set up for each lesson. Unfortunately when you teach early primary, you can't change your room everyday. I have found some easy ways to incorporate slight room changes by creating space for whole group, small group and independent work areas. This allows you to make subtle changes to engage students with simple lighting and special effects.

Stand and Deliver

I don't consider myself a public speaker. After reading this chapter, I can see why I should consider the idea of being a public speaker. I just read Gina's post over at Third Grade Tid Bits and I am terrified in front of adults also. I can do it, I have before, but I do get very very nervous! I am terrified when being observed and watched when I teach. I prefer to just be left to entertain my 7 year olds : ) I have become better at speaking during professional development opportunities and being in two weddings this year... and having to give speeches : ) I believe that it will only help me overcome the jitters I get. My students are much like Gina's. They LOVE secrets! They completely eat it up.. I go a little overboard and tell my students we have to shut the door.. no one can know our secrets! I get quiet and whisper and crouch down shut the door and turn off the lights like it is the biggest secret they have ever heard. This definitely amps up the engagement!

What do you think about this book? Chime in below or link up!!

Monday Made it #3

Well July is in full swing! The 4th was over.. and it was wonderful. We had a blast hanging out with family and working in the yard. I have been putting all of my energy into two Bridal Showers for one of my friends. I am hosting one this weekend here at my house.. so most of my made its are Bridal Shower Stuff! I want to share with you how I give out Classroom Jobs. I used to have a wall of all sorts of jobs where students were assigned and they would rotate. That became wayyy too much for me. So I went with a "Star Student" of the week. One student (I go alphabetically also to help myself out a bit) takes on the responsibilities of line leader, delivering notes and such to the office, passing out snack, papers, etc. I have been trying to vamp up my theme more into the classroom daily things, so instead of star student, I am going with "Mousketeer of the Week". I made a sign to announce who is chosen for that week and then under will hang an "all about me" page that I made to go with my theme as well. Check them out below ; ) Hopefully I will have some great great greatttt Ideas to share after these showers are over and I get back from VACATION: )

I cannot wait to see all of the other things everyone has been making : ) Happy MONDAY!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Made It #2

Summer Vacation is FINALLY here!! Today I am linking up for Monday Made It.. to share something I am very pumped about. I have been trying to find a cute way to organize my notes from home. Usually they just get thrown on my desk and I often lose them or get them at the end of the day. This drives me bonkers because I feel the need to ORGANIZE everything. Not having a set routine this year, I thought it would be a good idea to make something for the kids to put them in EACH day and for me to check after breakfast. Sooo..... I went searching and found a plain white mailbox at Joann Fabrics. I was not sure of how I would make this more fun, so I waited and brainstormed some ideas. Here is the finished product!

Link up too! Share all about your hard work : ) Can't wait to see what everyone has been up to!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate!

I enjoyed these chapters so much.. I plan on copying a few of the pages to put in my planner to help when creating lessons. What great motivation to use kinesthetics, People props and Safari hooks. I think the safari hook will be most useful for my students.. change in scenery but not change in pace. I also believe the kinesthetic hook will work wonders for my students. 

I am so blessed to work in a building with a courtyard where many plants and animals live and interact. I need to work to incorporate lessons in the courtyard more into my curriculum. My school is very small (we are only prek-2). This is a very attainable goal.

I am finding that during conversations with my co-workers that things they have difficulty with are a lot of the concepts that Dave talks about in this book. Once I finish, I will be passing this book to my co-workers. I really think that EVERYONE should be reading this!! 

Much Love,

Jackie : )


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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate... I NEED TO CATCH UP!

Friday was my last day of school for the year and the celebrations began! I celebrated with my amazing co-workers after the last bus on Friday... My very best friend (who I am sooo lucky to be her Matron of Honor) joined the 30 year old club and we celebrated all Saturday and Sunday I celebrated my friend Megan becoming a mom as well as visiting family. So I am a little behind..

This is technically my first week of summer break, and I signed up for training that is full day Mon-Fri this week. Certainly not how I pictured my first week, but I guess you could say.. I'm learning how to teach science LIKE A PIRATE!

So since I have been beyond busy, I am going to lump my 2 cents  combine posts for the last few chapters that I have missed to catch myself up. Hopefully after this week of training, I can get my act together!

Chapter 5 Transformation:

     Dave starts this chapter discussing how monotony and soul-killing suckiness seem to describe a typical school day. I feel that I have tried my hardest to keep some monotony because students with disabilities thrive in a setting that is predictable.. I believe the lessons should be UNPREDICTABLE. I have the same feelings as Dave does when he says, "I want my class to stand out in a sea of sameness that is the educational landscape." I want the kids in my class to be "noticed" and "recognized" as part of a fun prestigious class in the building who is always learning, growing and constantly buzzing about what we are doing in our room.
Question 1: If your students didn't have to be there would you be teaching in an empty room? I think that some of my students would be there. Although the fact that students not being there at this age solely lands on the hands of the parent, this isn't too much an option. I mean a 7 year old doesn't really have the option to stay home. In fact MOST of my kids want to be in school, but parents don't have transportation or "mom didn't get up" are frequent excuses.
Question 2: Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for? YES!! This question correlates with what I tell my student teachers... you are putting on a show all day long for 7 year olds. I do need to work on being able to sell tickets for EACH lesson I teach, but I feel like I have a few very fun and exciting lessons that I LOVE to teach.. that I would in fact sell tickets!

Chapter 6 Enthusiasm:

     I think in most part this year was one of my best years teaching because I was enthusiastic about being there and teaching more than I ever have been. It is easier to be more enthusiastic about teaching when you have a good group of students and I had an amazing class of children. Incorporating my passion of Disney into my classroom. I agree with Dave 100% that you have more buy-in with students when you are over the top excited and completely enthusiastic about what you are teaching. Even if it is just the way you speak and pretend like what you are doing is the best thing these kids will EVER do. This entire chapter is what I try to bring out in my student teachers: You are putting on a "show".. what will your "show" look like? You don't want to be dull and boring to watch.. you want to SELL TICKETS!

Chapter 7 The Third Circle:

     I love the Venn Diagram Dave has used in this chapter. I think that the way a lesson is delivered plays and equal or greater role in how much information students retain.  I have seen many lessons from myself and student teachers that start off interesting and quickly become just a "regular" lesson. The Third Circle is probably the most difficult for me in the world where every observation hinges on my ability to teach explicit instruction. One of my goals for the upcoming school year is to find a way to still explicitly teach to make the "grade" on my APPR but still including a unique design to lessons to keep students engaged. I love the analogy of serving students a FULL meal for each lesson. I like how Dave describes simple ways to "up" the presentation with things as simple as turning the lights off or playing soft music. I will definitely be revisiting this chapter because Dave provides simple suggestions to help aid with the transitioning during lessons to avoid losing engagement!

Much Love!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ask & Analyze Chapter 4

This book keeps getting better and better! Chapter 4 was my most favorite thus far. I could identify with a lot of things Dave discusses in this chapter. I completely identify with the story about purchasing a new car. That happened to me when I bought my Toyota.. all of a sudden Toyota's popped up all over! I could also identify with the story about the boy drowning in the water.. I love that story! In the movie the Pursuit of Happiness, Will Smith's son tells this story at the very end. It's a great story. I can also connect with the fact that I need to get better at writing my ideas down as soon as I get them.. I get ideas on the go all the time. I NEVER WRITE THEM DOWN! When I do actually sit down to work, I most certainly do not remember them.. that gets annoying fast.

I also identified with the section on failure. Most recently I was teaching EVEN and ODD numbers. I had this great video I found on YouTube to show the kids and we looked at patterns, but they still didn't get it! I was getting so frustrated they weren't getting it, because I couldn't really get a better way for them to understand adding two even numbers will forever and always give you an even number. This lesson was crashing and burning bad!!! So to somehow save myself.. I came up with a rap.. yes OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.. to help them just simply memorize even + even = even, odd + odd= even, even + odd = odd. They were able to memorize this and we moved on. As the week went on, I continuously explained the rap and had them say it and then I'd explain again. I am proud to say this saved my failure.. this rarely happens and I was glad to say I was able to save us! My kids love music and so I figured I would try the rap to help them!

Thanks to Dave I will continue to ask and analyze ways to create lessons to be engaging to students. Asking open-ended questions and forcing myself to be honest is a new goal for me. I am excited to start looking at things from a new angle!

       Much Love,

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Made It

Now all of you that are on summer break have been doing this for a while... I however still have 4 days (today counts because I'm up!) till the end of the year!! I probably won't be able to post for another few Mondays, but I couldn't NOT share this post with all of you. I have been sooooooooooo beside myself with excitement and anticipation because well friends.. I'm officially a Disney dork!

My classroom is Disney Themed and this year I started to make some things, but now I have a better idea of what I have and what I want in my classroom. So I began to work.. I have these yellow book boxes that I got when I bought an entire case of folders from Office Max last year.

I decided I couldn't wait any longer to remake these things into something better and more my classroom theme! So I spray painted them black.. Used some red duct tape and put a two yellow dots and........

Tadaaaaa!! Mickey Book Boxes! This matches my theme perfectly for next year, as I continue to revamp my things! The duct tape reinforces the bottom since these are only made of cardboard. I can't wait to check out everyone else has been making all summer! I will definitely be lining up my projects for my time in the sun on my patio : )

Much Love! Jackie