July Goal Results

I cannot believe July is over! Here are the results from my July Goals…

1. Blog More
I think it is safe to say I have blogged more this month compared to last year! I cannot guarantee that I will be successful with blogging in August.

2. Use my Erin Condren Life Planner Daily
I LOVE my Erin Condren LP! I have used it daily to keep track of personal reminders and work related events.

3. Make Something for myself
Technically, I didn’t make something for myself, but I made something for our home. I framed Clint’s football jersey to hang in the basement hallway.

Clint Football Jersey

4. Celebrate Independence Day
Check!..We had a great time celebrating with our best friends by eating lots of good food, playing cornhole, and watching fireworks.

5. Enjoy my 25th Birthday
I spent my birthday with my wonderful husband. We went to my sister’s pool. Then, he took me shopping. We ended the night with a birthday dinner with my mom and step-dad.

6. Try a new recipe
I’ll have to try this goal again next month.

7. Go on a date with my husband
We have had several dinner dates with our friends this month!

8. Finish watching a Netflix TV series
Don’t judge me, but I watched the series Secret Life of the American Teenager. I watched the first two seasons in high school, and I always wondered how it ended. I watched all five seasons. Now, I’m searching for a new series.

9. Read a book
I started reading Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Students. I’m not finished yet, but I’m getting close. Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Students

10. Have a successful pre-planning and open house

Pre-planning and open house was a huge success! I finished setting up my classroom without having to hide stuff in the cabinets! I was able to meet most of my students and parents. I cannot wait to start learning with my new third graders on Tuesday.

Have a happy Sunday!
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5 Teacher Approved Math Websites for Students

I love teaching with technology, and my students love learning with technology. That is why I decided to create a list of my favorite websites for my students to use during math. I have included all the links for each website and a short summary about each one. There are many other websites that are wonderful. However, I wanted to create a practical list of ones that I feel are most important. Enjoy!

5 Teacher Approved Math Websites for Students

1. Front Row
Front row is a website that provides students with differentiated math instruction that is aligned to the common core standards for grades K-8. Teachers will need to create a free account. Then, you will be prompted to create a class. Each student will have their own login information. Students will begin the program by taking a diagnostic test. The diagnostic test will allow the teacher to see if there are any gaps in a specific math area. After the test, students can choose an area to focus on. Here is 3rd grade student view:

Front Row Student View

 

After choosing a domain to practice, the student will begin answering practice questions.

Student Question View

Students earn coins for each question they answer correctly. After answering several questions, they will be asked to go to the “Piggy Store.” Here they can spend their coins to dress up their Pig character.

Front Row Pig Store

One of my favorite aspects of FrontRow is seeing a detailed analysis of your student per standard. Here is an example:Detailed Analysis

FrontRow does not limit students to only their grade level. If they master the topic, they continue to practice it at the next grade level.

2. TenMarks
TenMarks is a free website that allows teachers to assign extra math practice to individual students or as a class. Students will complete the assignment and submit it. While completing the assignment, students can receive hints from the website. If they are struggling with an assignment, they can watch videos of how to solve the problems.

3. Prodigy Math
Prodigy Math is an online game that is similar to Pokemon that focuses on common core standards for grades 1-8. You will need to create a new account for your class. Each student will have their own username and password. Students create a character to use to travel through the prodigy world. They can battle other characters to win new tricks or gain new members to their team. You are probably asking yourself, “Where is the math?” It is in the “battles.” Please do not think this is violent because it is not. When I say battle it looks like this:

Prodigy Math Battle

The characters are not actually fighting. They throw a ball to the opponent and that is all. {This is the similarity with Pokemon.} In order to make a move on your opponent, the user has to answer a math problem. The game will not let the student continue until the problem is answered correctly. Here is an example of a third grade level question:

Prodigy Question

This question was the first one I answered in the game. The questions get harder and more challenging as the player makes progress throughout the game. The game automatically differentiates for each student based on his or her area of need. Everything your students work on in Prodigy is reported back to you in real time. Quickly see which skills your students have mastered, and where they may need some additional support.

4. GregTangMath
GregTangMath is a website that has online math games. Unlike the website, CoolMathGames, Greg Tang has all educational math games. There are various games focusing on place value, the four operations, and fractions. I’m not 100% sure on appropriate grade level use, but I definitely recommend checking it out. One of my favorite games is BreakAPart. It allows students to focus on the decomposing strategy.

5. VirtualManipulatives
I stumbled across this website while trying to find an online math manipulatives website. I LOVE this website. It has a huge variety of math manipulatives for grades PreK-8. It is perfect to use in the classroom, but it is also helpful for those students that need manipulatives at home. The website offers: counting bears/tiles, fraction bars/circles, clocks, algebra tiles, and much more. My favorite part about this website is…IT IS NOT CONFUSING. My third graders were able to use it independently, and I’m sure younger grades could use it too.

Well, I hope you were able to find a new website or two that you can use for the new school year.

Do you have a great website that your students love to use during math? I would love to hear from you! Comment on this post below! I’m always looking to add more websites for my students to use.

Thanks y’all!
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DIY Classroom Alphabet {Tutorial}

One of my favorite parts of the summer is preparing items for my classroom. Last summer, I spent a lot of time creating, buying, and making classroom essentials for my HOLLYWOOD theme. I loved my theme. However, I wanted to switch things up for the new school year.

While spending countless hours on TeachersPayTeachers, I decided on a new classroom theme. I’m going to have a NAUTICAL theme. I love everything about the ocean and beach, but I didn’t want to see a “Beach” theme all year. Although, I don’t mind looking at cute anchors, lighthouses, and sailboats.

The first thing I needed to do was find a new alphabet. My previous alphabet was red and black polkadot, and it was not going to match 100%. I looked for my perfect nautical alphabet, but I had no such luck. There are several nautical alphabets that I could have used, but I always found something about each one I didn’t like. I was tired of looking, so I decided to create my own!

I have several programs that I could have used to make my alphabet. However, I ended up creating it using the familiar program…PowerPoint! Do not ever underestimate the possibilities of PowerPoint. It is simple and gets the job done.

How to Create Your Own Alphabet Posters Using Microsoft PowerPoint

To create my alphabet, I deleted all of the text boxes. I used a blank slide to begin my creation. I wanted a mini poster alphabet, so I created two posters per slide. I used the shape tool to draw two rectangles. You can use the “format shape” option to create a frame or background for your posters.

Two Rectangles copy

I knew I wanted a navy and red alphabet, so I browsed through my files until I found the perfect background. (I bought a digital file pack previously, and it included several electronic patterned papers, so I used those. I’m sure there are free patters that you can download for personal use only.)

Background copy

To add the electronic paper to the image, you click “Format Shape.” Then, there is an option called “Fill,” this is where you can decide if you want to add a solid color, texture, or image. Simply upload the image from your computer.

Next, I added the cursive letters. I downloaded this awesome free font called, SchoolScriptDashed by Donna Young. You can find the link HERE. I added a text box and typed in the capital and lowercase form of each letter.

Font Added

After adding the cursive letters, I needed to add a place for a corresponding picture. I used the “Insert Shape” and drew a circle. Select “Format Shape” to customized it to your needs. I made a white circle with a black outline.

Alphabet

Next, I wanted to add an extra nautical detail to my alphabet. (This step was my personal preference.) I found free nautical rope frames in navy and red. I downloaded them from ClipartsCo. Click HERE for a direct link to their website. I added the frame by selecting the “Insert Picture” option. I adjusted the size to fit inside of my white circle.

Adding Inside Frame

Then, I wanted to add a cute banner on the top to match my theme. I was going to make my own, but that requires a lot of time. I was working “smarter” not “harder.” One of my favorite places to buy clip art is Etsy. I bought a set of nautical banners for $3 from ValerianeDigital. Click HERE for a link to her shop. Simply download the file of your choice and click “Insert Picture.” {Make sure the image you select is a .PNG file. If it is not, your image is going to have an unwanted white background color!}

I chose two borders to alternate with each poster.

Adding Banner

Finally, I added clip art for each letter. I found all of my clip art from MyCuteGraphics. The clip art is 100% original and FREE! Click HERE for a link to their site.

Adding Clip Art

The best part about PowerPoint is you can copy and paste slides as needed. Once your first slide is created, the only thing you have to change is the letters and clip art. Then, you can print and laminate your alphabet.

Here is a larger picture of my final product.

Final Product

If you have any questions, I would love to help!

Happy Creating!
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July Goals

I have decided to create monthly goals for myself. I feel that sharing my goals on my blog will hold me accountable for reaching them. I will post the results at the end of each month.

summer-sun-blue-sky-palm copy
1. Blog More
I love blogging, and I really want to continue writing more posts weekly. 

2. Use my Erin Condren Life Planner Daily
Clint splurged and bought me a EC Life Planner as an early birthday present. I want to use it to keep track of everything. 

3. Make something for myself
I’m constantly making things for other people or my classroom. However, I want to find something to make just for me. 

4. Celebrate Independence Day
We do not have plans just yet, but I’m sure we will find something to do.

5. Enjoy my 25th Birthday 
My birthday is on a Saturday this year, and I’m looking forward to spending the whole day with my husband, family, and friends.

6. Try a new recipe
I’m tired of eating the same meals over and over. I’m ready to whip up something new in the kitchen.

7. Go on a date with my husband 
Clint and I spend a lot of time together, but I want to go on a real date. I want to do something that we don’t typically do on a weekend. The weekly trip to the grocery store is not a date, so it doesn’t count.

8. Finish watching a Netflix TV series
I still have to enjoy and relax the last few week of summer, so I thought this might be an easy goal to accomplish.

9. Read a book
I spend a lot of time on the computer, and I miss getting lost in a book. I want to find the time to read a good book. Any recommendations?

10. Have a successful pre-planning and open house
It’s crazy to think that I return to work the last week of July. However, I am very excited to get back to doing what I love.

Wish me luck!
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10 Tips to Prepare for Your First Year Teaching

Last summer, I was over the moon excited about starting my first {official} year of teaching. I had a million ideas running through my head, but I had no idea where to start. I knew I was going to be teaching third grade, so I did have an idea of what types of materials to start preparing. I did a few things before pre-planning, and I felt good about what I accomplished. Although, there was so much more I could have done. Here are my…

10 Tips to Prepare for Your First Year Teaching

1. Print your standards. 
I printed all of my grade level standards and read through them. After reading the standards, I had a better idea of what I was expected to teach.

2. Visit your classroom.
I highly recommend visiting your classroom before pre-planning. However, you will need to check with your principal first! I was very fortunate to get to start working in my classroom two weeks before pre-planning. Your principal may not let you begin “working” in your room, but he or she might let you peek at it. Visiting your classroom will give you an idea of what materials you do or do not have. I highly recommend taking pictures too!

3. Meet your grade level or department. 
I met with two of my team members for lunch last summer. It was great! They were able to answer most of my questions, and it gave us the opportunity to start a lifelong friendship. We also had a grade level meeting with our whole team before pre-planning started. It was nice to know all of my team members before pre-planning.

4. Decide on a room theme.
You don’t have to have a room theme, but it makes it easier when you start looking for decorations. I had a Hollywood themed classroom this year. I’m undecided if I want to use it again or switch it up.

5. Start printing wall and bulletin board decor.
I highly recommend printing and preparing your classroom decorations as soon as possible. Most classrooms have an alphabet, so I decided to print it first. Since I teach third grade, the students begin learning how to write in cursive. I decided to go with a cursive alphabet that had pictures. My school participates in the Daily 5/Cafe reading model, so I prepared my Daily 5 signs and Cafe Menu board.

6. Create your behavior management system.
There are so many different behavior management systems. I highly recommend speaking with your grade level to see what they are currently using.

7. Start downloading free resources from TeachersPayTeachers.
One of my favorite things to do is browse through the third grade materials on TpT. I always start looking at the FREE items. If I do not find what I’m looking for, then I search through the paid materials.

8. Prepare centers and games.
Depending on what subject area(s) you will teach, I highly recommend to start preparing centers and games. You will discover throughout your first year there are so many things you have to do. I cannot tell you how many weekends I spent preparing centers or math games. If you’re unsure of what types of games to prepare…look at your standards! I would start with making games for math. They are easier to find, and they will most likely be used the most. My students played math games every day after their work was finished.

9. Decide on your lesson plan and gradebook template. 
Ask your teammates about how they organize their lesson plans and gradebooks. Your school may have a particular format that they require you to use. My first quarter of teaching was the most stressful. Why? I was so worried about finding the perfect lesson plan and gradebook format, and I didn’t have time to figure it out. I couldn’t decide if I wanted a paper gradebook or an electronic one.

10. Invest in a laminator.
Most schools have a laminator, but I wouldn’t always count on using it. Schools manage the laminating machines differently, so you might have a limit on how much you can use it. Our laminating machines at school are great! Except, the machine takes FOREVER to heat up. I invested in my own personal laminator in college, and I use it for every thing. The smaller laminators do not take as long to heat up, and the film is more durable. I bought mine at Wal-Mart for $20. You can also purchase them at Staples, Joann’s, Target, and more. 

Do you have any tips you would like to add? I would love to hear from you.

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