Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top Three Classroom Management Tips

What a great idea to have a Classroom Management Linky Party! Fun In First is having an informative linky party over at her blog and I knew I had to join in.

First of all, I was stalking Marygrove's Blog today and they also have a great article and free downloadable classroom management guide with 21 quick and easy management tips!!!!! Go check it out!

Second, my top tips for management/dealing with a challenging student...

1.) Be consistent... but sometimes you have to catch them off guard with your responses. Several years ago, as a new teacher, I had a student who is now one of my favorites who totally made me good at classroom management. This particular student taught me the importance of consistency in my actions but spontaneity in my responses. Hang with me for a second and I promise it will make sense. This student looooved to knock over desks, especially to interrupt my teaching. Well, my typical response was of frustration, stopping my teaching to interact with the student, and the whole class suffered. Keep in mind that I was a very new teacher... well, one day I had just had it. My kiddo tipped over a desk and was kicking papers and books around the room. Instead of my usual response I said with the hugest smile I could muster, "__ is right, guys and girls, our desks are a mess and we should all empty them out and organize them. Thanks ___ for suggesting that". And every kid (after they got over staring at me like I was an alien) dumped their desks and cleaned. And my little kiddo... silently put every single thing back in to the desk just like everyone else. And the day my kiddo was screaming "I'm hungry" over and over and over in the middle of my lesson, instead of asking said kiddo to stop like I usually did or engaging them in a power struggle, I extended my hand and said, "Hi Hungry. I'm Mrs. Bainbridge. Nice to meet you". Kiddo burst out laughing, shook my hand, and never again interrupted a lesson in that way.

2.) Get inside their head! Not only am I a self professed reading comprehension and data geek, but I also looove to figure out what is motivating my students' behavior. Often times a challenging kiddo can be greatly helped if I can just figure out what their motivation is and then satisfy that on my own terms. Kids will get your attention any way they can... it is up to us as teachers to decide how we will give attention.

3.) Positive, positive, POSITIVE! It can be hard... but staying positive is KEY. My clip chart helps me look for positives and remain consistent about doing so. I also love the clip chart because every kid hears me telling other kids WHY they get to move their clips up, so they can learn what my expectations are vicariously through my interactions with their peers. I have done a few blog posts about my beloved clip chart... you can read them by clicking the picture below! The picture link will also take you to a few clip chart related freebies! :)

Ok! I hope you'll go scope out what the fabulous Dr. Diane Brown has to say over at Marygrove's Blog about this subject and then head over to Fun in First's blog to see what everyone else has to say... I'm headed there now! :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stuff-date: An update on STUFF and a spelling FREEBIE!

I posted a few weeks ago about organizing community supplies and table caddies... and got tons of helpful suggestions. Well, I thought I had it figured out... but after filling my future students' seat sacks today with mini-offices, white boards, and math books there was virtually no room left for folders, notebooks, or anything else!

I went online to Lakeshore Learning and found these:

So... way too much money later, I am the proud owner of four of these supply stations- one for each table group. I think they will be perfect... and white boards, mini-offices, and science journals can fit snugly on the rack at the bottom!

Second Stuff-date:

I also asked for some advice on spelling and running a *potentially* student selected list. I'm feeling really crunched for time to organize something new, so I am going to start the year using my old system- running a 1st grade list, a 2nd grade list, and a 2nd/3rd grade list. But *hope* to do some tweaking and implement a new, improved system later in the year in which students will have some ownership over their words. To start, I'm going to have students complete this page for homework during the first week of school. I *may* use these as spelling words for them (one or two a week)... or I might just put them in their writing folders for use during that time. As yet, I'm undecided... what do you think? How would you (or will you!) use it?

Ok... that's it! Have a good week! :)

Congrats to the giveaway winners!

Thank you everyone for your fantastic comments over at my Marygrove blog post. I hope you found my information and the wonderful free reading download from them helpful!

As promised, two winners are about to be announced. Please e-mail me at christina4062@hotmail.com if you're one of the lucky two for all of the reading comprehension files I have created on The Teaching Oasis!

Ok... first winner is post #28 from this blog- Rachael Sterling!

And winner #2 from the Marygrove post is... post #6 by Debbie Price!

Congrats and thank you for your comments on both blogs!

I'm back at school this week for Professional Development every day, Open House on Wednesday night, and then the kiddos are back next Tuesday... I hope to find a few minutes to make some posts and learn how to juggle blogging AND teaching at the same time!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reading Comprehension- wonderful freebie from Marygrove College and a giveaway!

Marygrove posted another guest blog from me on their MAT (Master in the Art of Teaching) blog today! Click HERE to read it.

I hope you'll go check it out... you'll totally get an in depth look at what a nerd I am for comprehension! I tried to keep it semi-normal and not too crazy about my love for reading and comprehension instruction! :)

There is also an outstanding download with wonderful ideas you can use in your classroom for reading instruction.

I would love it if you would comment over at Marygrove's blog about my post or the free download they have shared. On Monday, I will randomly select one comment from the Marygrove blog and one comment from this post and those people will receive all of the reading comprehension items that I have for sale at The Teaching Oasis! After you comment there, please head over here and just leave me a "I commented on your Marygrove blog" or some other such short comment... unless you want to leave a longer one!

I think that's it! Have a great weekend! I think I might go get my gerbil a sister today... we'll see what happens!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Freebie!

THREEBIE Freebie Friday!

I've had so much fun being a part of Blog Hoppin's "Teacher Week"! Today is the last day and everyone who links up is offering a freebie... so head over, link up, and scope out the awesome things that teachers are sharing!

I'm sharing the cover and inside pages for a class book to go along with another Nancy Carlson book- this one is called I Like Me. The students will write something they like that they can do and then illustrate. You could totally use this without reading the book to them first though.

I love making class books... we make one every other week or so. And the kiddos love to read them!

Here's one more. This one is for the book WOW! SCHOOL! by Robert Neubecker. If you aren't familiar with the book, there are great full-color illustrations with simple text as you tour the school in the book. It is a very cool book... I don't see it in paperback on Amazon. I bought it in paperback at my local Barnes and Noble store. It is a cool book and is PERFECT for a K-2 classroom!

I added several pages so there would be enough for my class, but we are going to read the book and make our own class book about our school. The kids will draw a picture in the center and a border around the edge. Then, I have these AWESOME dyes that I got when I went to a conference led by some teachers from New Zealand a few years ago, so after we do our illustrations in crayon, we're going to paint over it with the dye! I'll have to post pics because the dye really is awesome. It really makes the crayon "pop".

Anyway, here it is:Ok, ok... ONE more! I'm going to laminate, cut, and put magnets on the backs of these. Then, when we are doing an activity or project, I can put the cards in order so the kiddos know which to do first... OR these can go up so they know what supplies they need!

Enjoy the freebies! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three for Thursday and a little freebie!

It's Three for Thursday today and we're sharing our top three fonts, blog, and online resource!

My favorite font

This is tough as I have LOTS of fonts that I LOVE LOVE LOVE! I have over 1,000 on my computer... I'm addicted! My four favorites are...

My favorite teaching blogs

Another hard one! There are so many wonderful blogs out there and I just love peeking in to everyone's classrooms to see what's going on! I love the sense of humor and "voice" that these ladies put into their blog posts, so three of the blogs I frequently visit are...

And The First Grade Parade... but I don't know if Mrs. Carroll has a button!

My favorite online resource

I really enjoy Proteacher and The Second Grade Teachers' Club... nothing better than teachers coming together to share ideas, resources, and support!

Last... a little freebie!

I brought home a HUGE stack of picture books last night so I could start working on reading and writing activities for the first week of school. Since I'm looping with half of my class, I am *nervous* and excited and creating lots of brand new activities to share with them since they already did a lot of my favorites last year.

One thing that I LOVE to do is read the book How to Lose All Your Friends by Nancy Carlson. If you've not read it, it is so funny! It's a guidebook of sorts on how to be a huge jerk so you can lose all of your friends. When I read it, I love to be very matter-of-fact about the text and the kids laugh and can't believe someone would even consider doing any of the things in the book!

In the past we've done a class book of how to gain and how to lose friends, but I have two other class books planned for the first week, so this year we are going to do a T-chart of ideas on how to make or lose friends.

I made these "headers" for each column. Feel free to grab a copy for yourself! :)
Tomorrow the Blog Hoppin' linky party is for free resources and I've got a class book to share to go along with the book I Like Me! also by Nancy Carlson... so stay tuned! :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where the Magic Happens... Where It All Goes Down Wednesday

Today is "Where it All Goes Down Wednesday" over at Blog Hoppin's Linky Party for Teacher Week 2011.

I've done several posts with classroom photos, so I'm going to direct you there to see where all the magic happens!

Click here to see my classroom photos... there are two posts full of photos!!!!

I can't wait to see what everyone else in the linky party shows off today!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Welcome Bulletin Board Linky Party and Teacher Talk Tuesday

This is a "dual purpose" post and I hope that doesn't annoy too many people! :)

I got my "Welcome" bulletin board finished today and wanted to share. I'm pretty excited about how it turned out! I'd like to welcome you to join my linky party to show off YOUR welcome BB too!

Now for Teacher Talk Tuesday... this is part of Blog Hoppin's Teacher Week linky party! Today's topic is advice for new teachers...

1.) You can't control everything and sometimes things don't go as planned and it's OK! Not really advice, but something to keep in mind. It took my classroom being destroyed by a fire 2 weeks before my 3rd year started for me to REALLY get that. It was OK! I still taught and my kids still learned and I could control nothing! :)

2.) You will never be caught up. But please make time for yourself... even if it means that cool bulletin board you wanted to do has to wait.

3.) Everyone says this and please know that it really is true... be courteous and respectful to your school secretary and custodians! They both do so much for you and are very willing to help if you have developed a good relationship with them.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet Mrs. Bainbridge

I'm so glad I didn't miss out on Blog Hoppin's linky party for Teacher Week 2011! Head on over and join in the fun!

Today is "Meet the Teacher Monday" so here's some info about me!

Tell us a little something about you...

I'm Christina and I teach in Michigan. I have been married since 2004 and have a wonderful husband and two dog-sons named Sam and Squeaks. If you saw my earlier post (yes, I know... two in one day!) I also acquired a new gerbil-daughter this morning! I have a class website and also create files for The Teaching Oasis and blog at Me and My Gang and for Marygrove College!

How long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching since 2004. I taught preschool for two years and, in 2006, got hired at my current school. I taught 2nd grade for four years and last year taught a 1st/2nd split class which I loooved! This year I'm teaching a split again and I'm so excited to have my first graders again and get a new crew of firsties!

You might not know...

You probably know how much I love musicals because I pretty much mention it every chance I get! But you might not know that I am a county goat milking champion! Living in such a rural area, we like to get our kicks at our county fair which will be next month and I can't wait! I live about 3 blocks from the fairgrounds and there is something special about that time of year! Well, every year my fair has a "teacher goat milking competition" which I have won once and received 2nd place in twice! I got a HUGE trophy the year I won but had to give it to the new county goat milking champ when I didn't win last year. This year I'm thirsty for victory (no pun intended!) and hope to reclaim my title along with my principal when we team up to get the most milk! I'll keep you posted!

What are you looking most forward to this school year?

I'm really looking forward to looping up with my first graders from last year. I can't wait to see the difference in them from the beginning of 1st grade to the end of 2nd... and I just know that having half of my class again is really going to help start things off smoothly!

What do you need to improve?

I am beefing up my math instruction this year. I *love love LOVE* teaching reading and writing... that is definitely a strength for me. But teaching 2 grade levels is challenging when it comes to math. I am excited about implementing Debbie Diller's math workstations this year and hope this can help me provide focused practice for my students when they are not receiving direct instruction from me.

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

I have a HUGE picture book collection which I am always using to teach reading and writing lessons... not to mention just reading to my kiddos!

I also love my LCD projector and use it several times a day to show my kiddos things we are learning about.

That's it! Tune in tomorrow for "Teacher Talk Tuesday"!

I did it!!!! I'm a gerbil mama! (and class party freebie!)

My dog-sons officially got a sister today! Of course she'll be living at school... but for a few days anyway, Sam and Squeaks have a sister! I think I'm going to have parents and kids write down potential names at Open House next Wednesday and then we'll choose one from those the first week of school... for now, I'm calling her Roxie! :) (And don't be shocked if it stays that way after the name contest either!)

Thank you so much to everyone who shared their opinions with me about class pets. I truly appreciated your input! I think I'm going to have a kid each week write up a paragraph about what we did and learned for my blog (or maybe website... not sure yet) and it will be what "Roxie" saw us doing in class that week!

Ok... 2nd thing... I posted on my Facebook yesterday to find out how everyone organizes class parties. In the past, I've had parents sign up but then I ask them to bring specific things and I plan the activities. This year I want to try a different approach and have one parent plan each party and they will take care of organizing snacks, games, and help. I got some great feedback and ideas from people on FB and so, here's what I came up with:

I made this sheet which I'm going to have out at my Open House next week. On the "other celebrations", I will be the "Party Planner". Check out The Teaching Oasis for a class party sign-up without a "Party Planner" and a class e-mail list to put out at Open House! :)
All right... that's it! What do you think of my Roxie? :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy Sunday and back-to-school freebie!

Thank you so much to everyone who shared their input on my potential "class pet situation"! I am still undecided as to what I am going to do... but I reeeeaaally want to bring a cute little hamster or gerbil friend into my classroom!

I'm not feeling very inspired today, but wanted to pop on and say hello. I think I'm going to put together my HORSE folders tonight... maybe.

In any case, this is the back-to-school freebie I shared with my Facebook followers and I just wanted to make sure everyone had the chance to use it.

If you aren't a follower of my blog on Facebook, the link is on the right if you'd like to connect! And, as always, if you download the freebie and enjoy it, I'd love for you to leave a comment!

Tomorrow I'm going to the dentist for a *whatever it's called* so I stop grinding my teeth at night and I'm not looking forward to going... I'm thinking some shopping therapy might be in order afterwards... maybe some new clothes for school or a stop at the big teacher's store near my dentist... hopefully I'll have something more interesting to say tomorrow! :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Class Pets... What do you think?

For some reason, the notion of having a hamster in my classroom crept into my consciousness the other day and I can't shake it!

Tonight my husband and I went to the pet store purely for harnesses for our dogs... but I peeked at the hamsters and I am in love! The Teddy Bear Hamsters are my favorite! My husband is skeptical though and asked me to "sleep on it". I think that is husband speak for "You're out of your mind".

So... I'd love to hear what you all think. Do you have a class pet? Do you send it home with students over breaks? What about the summer? How often do you clean the cage? Do you spend oodles of money to upkeep your pet? How can I make it meaningful in my classroom?

When I was in third grade my teacher, Mrs. Chiaccho, wanted a dog and her husband said no. So she had us write him letters to try and convince him to let her get the dog (talk about an authentic way to practice persuasive writing... with a real audience and everything... HA!). And she came back the next day and said we made him feel terrible and he actually cried! But she was getting the dog! So... maybe letters to Mr. Bainbridge are in order when I head back to school next month? ;)

(Just a friendly reminder to head over to my blog FB page to snag a back-to-school freebie!... the FB button is on the right side of my blog!)

Facebook Freebie Friday, Updates to the Teaching Oasis, and Class Pics Too!

Don't forget to check out the post about reading interventions that Marygrove College did on my blog yesterday. I would really love to hear what you think!

Ok... FIRST... yesterday I took some updated pictures of my Thursday Book Bag check-out station, my new helpers board, and my new display for bucket filling... here are the pictures!

For the past four years, my students have been able to check out a "book bag" on Thursday that they can take home over the weekend to do with their family and then return on Tuesday. I added five new ones this year and decided to update my "check out chart" too. If you want to learn more about my bags, you can check out my website!

I've already established the fact that I am a crazy furniture hoarder on my blog and I am officially out of room for displaying things... or so I thought. Last year my bucket fillers were on the back of a book shelf but then I rearranged my classroom and a new table that I *had* to have is up against the back of that shelf... so my bucket fillers are on my bathroom door! I got these great pocket charts at Target! You can download some "Bucket Filler" freebies on my website!

This is right next to my bathroom- it's actually the side of my "listening center". I used a 3M Command Hook (best invention EVER!) to hang my bucket and inside the bucket are business cards from Vista Print with the bucket on the front where the kids can fill out their name and the name of the friend they are giving it to. I have them write why they are giving it on the back. I'll also keep the book here for kids to borrow and return.

This isn't really a *new* item, but my old one was falling apart. So, this is my jobs chart. The kids each have their name on a Popsicle stick which goes inside the library card pockets. I laminated it and slit open the library pockets. Want more info? You guess it... check out my website!

Second I also made a Facebook page for my blog yesterday and Alicia from Dreamlike Magic Designs has made me an amazing button for it! When I get 100 "likes" on FB, I'll be posting a back-to-school freebie on my Facebook. So, be sure to head over to FB to "like" my blog page.

That's it! Happy Friday, teacher friends!

**One more thing!** Ms. Winston has been hard at work uploading new resources to the Teaching Oasis today and the class grids for 30 are up! So if you didn't win my giveaway and would like the file, you can head over there to pick it up! There is one for 25 students too but... (shhh!)... I secretly think the 30 grid is cuter! ;)

I just have to say... I *love* you, Dreamlike Magic Designs! Thanks for the super cute blog buttons! :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Come Check Out my Guest Blogger!!!!!

I am so excited to share this blog post from Marygrove College! I received my Master in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove via their online program in December 2009 and had a great experience. I was so thrilled when they contacted me to blog for them this summer and equally thrilled that they will be doing guest blogging over here too!

I would love for you to read this insightful post about reading interventions. It is full of great resources and links to provide you information for your classroom... be sure to check out the last link for the Explicit Word Analysis Instruction document... it's a gem!

I would also be so grateful to you if you would take a minute to let me know what you think in a comment at the end of this blog. Thank you for sharing your feedback with me!

So, here it is... Marygrove's first official post over at Mrs. Bainbridge's Class!

Three Classroom Strategies to Make Reading Fun for Struggling Students

There are many reading strategies for struggling readers that can pay huge dividends. The following three reading strategies for struggling readers can be easily adapted into what you are already doing in your classroom to reap great rewards.

Word Work...with a Twist. Although there are many ways to help a student learn and master the basic skills of word analysis; the practice of segmenting, blending, and decoding is often the most beneficial. However, if the approach is always the same, students may become disengaged with the activity, therefore not maximizing instructional time. A few simple changes can make this activity as fun as it is beneficial. Think about different materials you could use; letter cards, dry erase boards, sticky notes, chalkboards, anything that provides enough of a change to keep the child engaged in a routine activity. Many teachers have had students write with shaving cream, directly on their desks! The smell is generally pleasant, the shaving cream cleans the desks, and kids get a tactile experience.

An effective method for segmenting, blending and decoding can be found through Words Their Way. Here is a link you might find helpful http://www.literacyconnections.com/WordsTheirWay.php.

If you are focusing on a certain phonetic pattern or sound family, adding a simple "word search" through a teacher-selected text will reinforce basic word work skills. Students also like to monitor what they've learned and which skills they've mastered. Consider keeping a record of each word work skill the child has mastered on a spreadsheet and refer to it during each word work lesson to show growth and maintain excitement about the routine practice.

Readers Theater for All.
Research has proven that Readers Theater, performed in groups, is beneficial to improving reading fluency due to practice, confidence and the focus on rate, expression, and phrasing. Sometimes struggling readers are left out of Readers Theater practice because teachers find that emerging or simple scripts are often hard to come by. We’ve found quite a few leveled, free Readers Theater scripts such as http://www.aaronshep.com/rt/index.html. By practicing and participating in Readers Theater, struggling readers will gain confidence in their reading abilities.

Add Words to Wordless Picture Books.
There are many high quality wordless picture books that can be used to support reading strategies for struggling readers - the “Carl” the dog books by Alexandra Day are a great example. All of the books are mostly wordless, relying on the details of the illustrations to tell the stories. Give a struggling reader the chance to inspect and study the wordless book and discuss with the child how the story can be told using illustrations. After the student has a grasp of what the storyline may be, have her dictate the story to you, a parent, or an older “reading buddy.”If you use a computer to record the story, you can print out the dictation and cut it to match the book's illustrations. A few paper clips on the bottom of each page and you've turned a wordless picture book into a book a struggling reader can read! Here’s a great link for wordless picture books: http://www.choiceliteracy.com/public/816.cfm.

For more interesting ways to engage readers in the classroom, download our Free Guide on Explicit Word Analysis, and boost reading comprehension for every student at every level!

Mrs. Bainbridge's Class on... Facebook?!

I did it! I took the jump and have made a FB page for my blog! Now you can stay connected, get updates, and see pics of freebies and other things from the comfort of your favorite social networking site! :)

If you want to, click HERE to go to my FB and "like" it!

Ok... be ready for me to break blogging rules later with my guest blogger... MARYGROVE COLLEGE!

WAIT WAIT! One more thing...

Thank you *Pinterest* for this beautiful idea! I made the whole "crayon monagram" thing last night for me, another 1st grade teacher, and my school secretary. I added a little bow and button to the frame... here's the pic!

I had a really hard time finding frames though... and couldn't find the 8x8 frames at Wal-Mart with the black border that so many of you used. I did find these at Wal-Mart. They were $6.96 and had a "scrapbooked" insert in them, which I just removed and then they were perfect!

I can't wait to head to school this morning and give L and H their present!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Two Exciting Things... Giveaway Winners and an Announcement!

Ok... first of all... giveaway winners!!!!!

By the power of random number generation (which I still can't figure out how to put a picture of on here!)... the winners are:

* #14 Amanda at Frolicking Through First
* #107 Robin
* #83 The Schaffnitt's

And I wasn't paying attention and hit enter again so we ended up with a fourth winner by sheer luck! That person is...
* 32 Kris

Please e-mail me ASAP so I can get these out to you!
If you didn't win... I'm sorry! :( The good news is, the file is available for purchase! It isn't up on The Teaching Oasis yet, but should be by Friday. If you need it sooner, you can e-mail me and we can figure it out together!

OK... the second exciting thing...
Those who have been visiting my blog have seen my posts about my posts on Marygrove College's
LinkMaster in the Art of Teaching blog... and if you followed the logic of that sentence, you are amazing!

I received my Master's degree in reading online from Marygrove in 2009 and had an amazing experience so I was honored when they contacted me to partner with them in the blogging world! WELL... not only am I doing some guest blogging for them, but they are also going to guest blog here once or twice a month!
I am so excited to share the first post with you TOMORROW!!!!!... it's a goldmine full of reading strategies for struggling readers and links to wonderful resources! I hope this can be the beginning of a great partnership with Marygrove to bring their expertise and resources to my blog to share with all of you! So, this is your prior warning that I will be again violating the cardinal rule of blogging by posting two posts tomorrow- Marygrove's and one from me with a few new classroom pictures!

Ok blogging friends... I hope you'll swing by tomorrow and check out the educational reading intervention blog post by my alma mater... and congrats to my giveaway winners! :)

Three Hours Until GIVEAWAY Time!

I'll be back in a few hours to do a real post AND reveal the winners of my giveaway! Don't forget to head over to that particular post and leave a comment!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Not Necessarily Helpful or Insipring Post... School Fire 3 Year Anniversary!

Let me preface this blog entry by saying that this happened three years ago and everything is A-OK now!!!! :) Proceed!

Picture it (how's that for a Sophia Petrillo story telling opening?!... and tell me someone knows what I'm talking about with that!)...

Friday, August 15, 2008. My husband and I were out enjoying our usual "Friday Date Night"... dinner, a movie, and cell phones forgotten at home.

9pm we arrived home to our cell phones buzzing like crazy to let us know we had voicemails and the answering machine flashing off the hook!

The first message on the answering machine was my sister-in-law, who teaches in my building. "Christina... call me" is all she said. Message number 2... sister-in-law again, "Where are you guys? I tried your cell phones. Call me back!"... then the third message... "Christina! Central (our school) is on fire!".

We immediately got in the car, called her on the way, and headed to school.

By the time we got there, the fire was out for the most part. But there sat my school... four of the classrooms- including mine- wet, smoking, and smoldering.

We all stood around outside sad and crying over our poor school. And then the fire department let us go inside... my end of the building was SOAKED. I couldn't wait to get to my room. My room had no actual flame damage but my floor was flooded... my stuff ruined... and so much smoke you could barely see anything at all.

So, days and days go by with all of us just dying to get in there in the daylight and really see the damage. Finally, the Saturday later, we were allowed to go in just to catalog our losses for the insurance company. I walked in my room and the restoration crew had piled everything they were letting me keep in the center of the room. The pile consisted of all of my books (thank goodness!), one piece of furniture (a big book stand), and a stuffed Rizzo the Rat.

That. Was. All. Too much smoke damage on everything else.

The books I was so happy to be able to keep- my school was under construction and I had them stuffed away in my closet. But everything else (except my darling Rizzo!) had to be pitched.

There were four of us who had our classrooms destroyed and two teachers who literally did lose everything... not even books or Rizzos for them.

The 9 classrooms on my end of the building were moved into portables across the street from the school while our wing was fixed. Here's the portable we learned in from September until February... how's that for throwing a classroom together two days before school started?!

Half of the rooms only had smoke damage and they were able to move back in around Thanksgiving. But the four of us... our rooms were completely gutted and re-built and we were in portables until February. That's right... five months of tromping kids across and back from the school two or three times a day, rain or shine or snow or sleet... UGH.

Here are some pics of my gutted room:

BUT... three years later, I am proud to say that the fire is a distant memory... maybe not *distant*, but definitely something that seems like it was ages ago! We got all new things for our classrooms, the whole school got new carpet and windows, and it taught me a lot about what's important... for example I don't need my STUFF to be a good teacher because I didn't have any stuff for the first few weeks of school until orders started rolling in! I also learned that it is OK if I can't run on my pre-set schedule! I am *that teacher* who is in their room all summer, comes in on Sundays, and is always thinking about school as so many of you are too. Well, our portables didn't come until two days before school started and it was OK! I still taught and my kids still learned.

My classroom in 2011...

So I just returned from school for a day of meetings and working in my room (AKA not getting any work done because I was socializing all day) and I wished everyone I saw a "Happy 3 Year Fire Anniversary"!

I think that's it! I just wanted to share my school's journey! :)

Oh- how did it start... we were having construction done and some materials were left smoldering by the side of the building and ignited! Yikes!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Giveaway Time!

I haven't done a giveaway in a while so I thought this would be the perfect time to get one started! I'm getting ready to head back to school but Michigan schools don't start until the Tuesday after Labor Day... but I know lots of you are going back any day now and some have already started!

This giveaway is the PERFECT item to help you stay organized in the classroom. It is for a set of class grids you can use to check off who has done what in your room each month. I use mine for homework... but if you printed off a few sets and grouped the months together, it would make a great grade book too! The cover and left hand columns on each page are fillable in Adobe and, to make it even easier, the names duplicate on each page so you only have to type them in once and... viola! Your pages all have names on them!

This giveaway is going to run until Wednesday night and then I'll choose three winners who will each get a copy of my "Check Please!- A set of monthly check off grids" for the classroom! This file is available at my TpT store too so if you don't win and think you'd like one, you can head over and pick one up!

All you need to do to enter is leave me a comment and (if you have a blog) spread the word about this to others... if you blog about it, leave a 2nd comment to be entered TWICE!!!! On Wednesday, I'll choose three winners by random number generator.

Good luck and happy class gridding!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Spelling Emergency... 9-1-1!

Howdy blogosphere!

I have been contemplating all summer about radically changing my spelling for next year. This is what I do currently. We use "Treasures" and I run the 1st grade list, the 2nd grade list, and a list that is a combination of 2nd/3rd grade words. About half of my class works from their own grade-level list, which the other half is on one of the other lists.

It works out fine. On Fridays, I give the three tests and while I give tests (which takes about 20 minutes) the kids add poems to their poetry notebook and those who need extra handwriting practice do that too. And life is good.

BUT... I would love to do individualized spelling lists. I do not want to begin "Words Their Way" especially not with only have three weeks to pull it together.

What I do want to do is this:

1.) Whatever our phonics focus is for the week, all students will have spelling words with that sound or spelling pattern. I would do the same phonics skill for both of my grades and would be using "The Phonics Dance" which I LOOOOOVE!
2.) Students will choose their own lists.
3.) On Friday, students will have a spelling partner who they will meet with, swap lists, and give each other the quiz. Then switch roles.

What I need to know from you all is as follows... feel free to answer as many or as few as you can:

1.) Is this the most ridiculous plan ever?
2.) Does anyone do it or something similar?
3.) Can you give me any tips or advice?
4.) Am I nuts for waiting until the end of the summer to take action on this or is there time?
5.) If you do this, how does "word choosing" go logistically?
6.) What reactions have you had from parents, students, administration, etc...?
7.) If you don't do this, can you suggest an alternative to just using the lists from a basal reader?

I think that's it! I'll be working on some kind of freebie for everyone for the end of the weekend. Not sure what yet, but I'm in a creating kind of mood! So, thanks for your help with the spelling and check back this weekend to see what I'm sharing!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

100 Club for Reading

Happy Wednesday!

I went in to school today to work on organizing (who knew I had so much glitter?!) and to do a few bulletin boards. As soon as I get my official class list, I will finish my "Welcome" board in the hallway... and I'm super excited to show you the picture of it!

This is one that I finished today- my board to display the members of my "100 Club". I ordered the banner from Vista Print and the little white basket at the bottom of the banner has some star sticky notes and a marker, so when a kid completed a level, I will add their name to a sticky note and put it in the appropriate section on the banner.

If you aren't familiar with my club, it is an optional "extra" for my kiddos in which they can earn a place in the club by reading extra books outside of school time.

My students last year were really psyched about the club... I think anytime you call something a "club" they get pumped about it! I had two students to read over 200 books and one who completed the 100 Club 4 times!

This was also a good way for them to keep track of books they read at home and needed to take an AR test on in class.

You can check out my 100 Club pack on TpT by clicking the picture below!

OK! That's it for today!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A random post- math focus wall and the generosity of teachers

Yes- these two topics are unrelated, but I wanted to share them both today!

First- math focus wall.

I am so thrilled to be blogging for the school I received my Master's degree from! They contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if I would guest blog for them every two weeks or so! They have posted my second blog entry, which is about my math focus wall. Please please please head over and check it out! Leave a comment if you can! :) Click here to go to my blog entry at Marygrove!

Ok. On to the 2nd bit of randomness... the generosity of teachers!

One of the reasons I love blogging and running a website are all the wonderful teachers I have come in contact with over the years. I know that we may only ever speak via e-mail or a blog comment, but I feel like I know a whole lot of wonderful individuals who share this great profession.

I just wanted to thank one of them...

Yesterday I got a package in the mail from Amy T. and it was a box of books... NEW books!... that she wasn't using in her classroom! I am a total book-a-holic, so this was such a wonderful treat for me! She even sent a handmade thank you card! :)

I just wanted to put a shout out and a thank you to her and to everyone else who has brightened my day with a kind word via e-mail, blog comment, book from my Amazon Wish-list, donation to a Donor's Choose project, or even a simple post on a message board. I am so glad that other people can find ideas from my classroom helpful!

Thank you, teacher friends! It always makes me proud to work with such a caring group of people... teachers really are the best!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Oh no! 2nd post today... math freebie!

I know, I know... the cardinal rule of blogging is not making two posts in a day. And I'm sorry! But I promise this is worth it!

I was outside reading more of my Debbie Diller Math Work Stations book and I came across an activity where students record 1 more, 1 less, 10 more, and 10 less for the day's number on a section of a 100 chart and I knew I HAD to make one for my calendar math board, as this is something that is always challenging... and I knew I HAD to share it with you lovely folks!

So, here it is! Please forgive me for making two posts today... I committed that offense many times last month before I realized what a taboo it is! Thanks for the comments too! :)

I've recently added a super fun way to practice place value to my TpT store... a base 10 block classroom or hallway hunt!

It's BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!- a top 10 list Linky Party!

How fun! Mrs. Tunstall is hosting a "Top 10 Reasons You Know It's Back-to-School Time" Linky Party! Head on over and check out the fun! :)

Here are mine...
10.) I can no longer sleep past 7:00am... Alarm is set for 8:30, but I just wake up at 7! :(
9.) I'm starting to dream about school!
8.) My daily routine of coffee, english muffin, and "The Golden Girls" on Lifetime is getting sadder and sadder as the summer winds down!
7.) I busted out my travel coffee mug to get it all ready for its important job this year! It got a break this summer, but soon it will need to provide me important caffeine in the wee hours of the morning!
6.) A huge grin stretches across my face when I see crayons out at Target.
5.) And speaking of Target... I know it's "Back-to-School time" when my addiction to Target "Dollar Spot" pocket charts arises!
4.) My printer runs out of colored ink every other day.
3.) I'm already practicing my "She's not here" for when I start hearing a million "Mrs. Bainbridge"s when my kiddos get tired at 3:00!
2.) My new teacher bag is already being broken in... had to get it ready for school!
And... The number reason I know it's almost time to head back to school...
1.) My dining room table hasn't seen the light of day in a month, as it has been buried under goodies from Oriental Trading, Amazon, Really Good Stuff, Lakeshore, and (obviously!) TARGET as the orders have rolled in all summer!

What a super fun linky party! I can't wait to read everyone else's responses... head on over to Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits to join in!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Word Work Station- Picture and Explanation

Happy Sunday! I report back to school tomorrow for a meeting and then have a conference by Robert Marzano's group on Thursday and Friday on standards based reporting... I am ready to get back into "school mode" and really excited to see my teacher friends this week! We don't officially report back until the 29th to start a week of PD and then school's back in session on September 6!

Anyway, I have received a few e-mails lately about "Word Work" (or "Work on Words") and thought I would share how that looks in my classroom on my blog.

You know I use the Daily Five for my reading workshop structure in my classroom and "Word Work" is one of the stations my kiddos visit each week.

My kiddos have to complete 2 "Word Work" activities a week and choose an activity that allows them to practice their spelling words first before they do one of their other choices.

I have a small "cubby" bookshelf from Lakeshore Learning to store my "Word Work" stuff in. It has 20 bins and I have about 20 activities for them to choose from... it sounds like a lot, but not all of them are spelling word related so there are some things they can do when they finish practicing their spelling words.

If you click here you can view a list of all of the activities with a brief explanation. And if you keep reading this post, I'm going to tell you about some of my kiddos' favorites!

Top 5 Word Work picks in Mrs. Bainbridge's Class
This one isn't on the list above... my kiddos go to ABCya.com and use the paint program to design their words.
4.) They loooove to do "Funky Words". I bought a bag of cardstock tiles that are very colorful and in many different fonts. The kids use the fonts to lay out the words. I like this because it helps them develop a general awareness about the "look" of letters. Sometimes they struggle to read a word if the font is unfamiliar because they don't recognize the letters... this gives them exposure to different styles of letters.
3.) "Twisty Words" is one I see them choosing often. They use Wikki Sticks or pipe cleaners to shape out their words.
2.) This one isn't on the list either (I really need to update that list!). They use their fingers to spell their words in a box of sand. I, in a fit of spending, paid waaaay too much money for four little boxes with sand inside of them so my kids could do this activity. Another teacher at my school got some free sand from her home and put it inside pencil boxes that she paid $0.50 for at Wal-Mart!

And... the top favorite activity my students choose at "Word Work" is...

1.) RAINBOW WORDS!!!!! My students use a black permanent marker to write their spelling words on a piece of scrap paper and then use Dot Markers to place a colored dot on each letter.

My kids don't turn in anything from "Word Work". I like them to have time for self-discovery of spelling rules and to get to do something tactile with their words. When they have completed the activity with their spelling words, they can continue it with vocabulary words or sight words or they can get a different activity. I have syllable games, sight word activities, and lots of "Hot Dots" pen and flashcard sets.

I would love to hear any suggestions on how you all make "Word Work" meaningful for your students and also how you keep your kids accountable for this time!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mission: Organization... sending out an SOS!

Ok. School starts in a month and I have yet to *really* figure out how I am going to keep my students organized this year because, after an agonizing personal debate and mental pro and con lists... I have switched from desks to tables. Yes, after 5 years of teaching with desks, I am officially using tables! I am really excited, but can't figure out how I am going to keep them organized! Here's the pic I took during summer school...

I do have seat sacks for them to put their notebooks and folders in but what about school supplies? I have these small caddies from Really Good Stuff (and each table has a MATCHING color caddy... which I filled with coordinating colored pencils and scissors for my summer school kids... it was an organizers paradise!),
but they are really small stuff, especially when being shared by several students!... so I'm not sure they are going to work. I looked into a bigger caddy from that catalog, but it was set up for four kids and my tables will have 5-6 at each.

So, what I'm needing from you is an idea of how to keep them organized. Other tablers, how do you do it?! Can you suggest a caddy I can purchase from somewhere?

Up until this point, I've been really un-stressed about it. I keep thinking, "I'll cross that organizational bridge when I get to it" but as the days tick away, my organization OCD is tap tap tapping... and I'm starting to worry! Thanks!!!!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pictures of "Read to Someone" table

Oh teachers... you know how we are... there is furniture that is up-for-grabs and we can't be rational about our lack of space. Some primitive part of our brains (or at least mine, anyway!) takes over and the only thing that can quiet it is me... getting that furniture!

Well, that is what happened last week when a trapezoid shaped table became available. I had to have it! So, I snatched it up and put it up against the back of a bookshelf. Then, lightning struck and I knew what I would use it for... a sacred place for partners to read together!

So, I put out my "reading comprehension" box from Lakeshore Learning which has great activities for reinforcing skills like cause and effect, author's purpose, predictions, and sequencing. I also added basket #30 from my library which is full of great books for partners to read together like "I Read To You, You Read To Me", lots of books from "We Both Read", and some "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.

I also have a set of comprehension wands from Lakeshore Learning so I put those in a basket (frillied up with ribbons, of course!) with the plastic eggs for the comprehension activity I shared yesterday.

And here's the "whole view"... you can even see my sign from Vista Print hanging above the table!

I think my kiddos will enjoy coming to sit at this quiet spot to do "Read to Someone"... I'm hoping they will love digging deeper into each others' comprehension!

Please tell me I'm not the only classroom furniture hoarder out there?!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Some exciting news and a comprehension freebie!

I have joined up with the awesome teachers at Me and My Gang and will be doing some blogging over there too! I am so excited to be able to collaborate with even more teachers! :)

Grab the button so you can keep up with "the gang!"

Now for the comprehension freebie...

I was cleaning out my classroom and found some yellow plastic Easter eggs. Just as I was walking to put them in my "free pile", I thought maybe I should hang on to them... and an idea for my soon-to-be partner reading station was born!

I made slips with comprehension questions that I plan to laminate and put inside the eggs which will be inside a basket at the table. When kids do "read to someone" during Daily Five, they can choose to sit at the table (on a first come, first serve basis) and when they check their partner's understanding, they can do it by choosing an egg if they wish! I also have some run comprehension "wands", so they could choose that too!

Some of these questions will have to wait to be put out as they deal with comprehension skills that I will be introducing... and this will take lots of modeling... but I know it will be super fun for them!

Here's the file! You know how much I love your comments (hint, hint)! :)
I hope to find the perfect basket this weekend and then take pics of my new partner reading table (with my new sign from Vista Print that I'm going to hang from the ceiling!) after I go in on Monday!

"Currently..." linky party

This is too fun! Join up with Oh Boy- 4th Grade's fabulous linky party to share what you're currently doing!

Here are my "currentlys" (currentlies?!)...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Math, Math, Math... and a revised freebie!

Today I went in to school and am almost ready to go! Just have to put some finishing touches and do some bulletin boards!

I finished my math calendar wall and wanted to show my pics. I took two- one so you can see where I hang our weekly poem and one that just focuses on the calendar area.

This picture below just focuses on my calendar area. Each day the leader (whoever brings snack) and their chosen assistant lead us in calendar. Here is our routine...

1.) Flip over today and tell us what today is. Tell what yesterday was and tomorrow will be.
2.) Ask if anyone lost a tooth for our tooth tally.
3.) Make a tally for today and count by 5s or 10s... leader choice!
4.) Do the piggy bank. We write on it "We've been in school for __ days and we have __ cents". Then the leader draws a coin configuration to show our days in school as money and chooses three students to share different ways to make that same amount of money.
5.) Weather graph
6.) I give a time and the leader and assistant make it on the Judy clock. The class gives a thumbs up or down to show if it is correct or not.
7.) The strip with the yellow library card pockets is for place value. I give a number and the leader and assistant use cards with digits on them to arrange the number in the chart. We thumbs up or down them, show with sign language if it is odd or even (by making an "e" or an "o") and then I ask, "What digit is in the __ place?" and we go through all the place values.
8.) I read from Rosemary Wells' "Emily's First 100 Days of School" for whatever the day number is.
9.) We do some quick counting and read our weekly poem together.
10.) Then we move into shared writing to get the leader's "news of the day".

I also revised the freebie game "Time Is Up!" that I posted last night because a few people commented or e-mailed that the game would be perfect for them if it were time to the hour or half hour... so here are two more editions (the image of the document below is the old image, if you're confused... but when you click it, you'll go to a revised game)! The top link is time to the hour. The second is time to the hour and half hour... and if you want a more "mixed" set of times, see yesterday's post for the download for that game!

Time to the HOUR game:

Time to the HOUR and HALF HOUR game:

The font I used for the title is called "Guess What". Hope that helps! Thanks for all your positive comments on it yesterday!
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