Five for Friday 6-24-26


June Break = Fail! If you read my last Five for Friday post, you know I was planning on taking a break for the month of June from all work. Um, nope. Did not happen. When inspiration hits, I take advantage of it. Inspiration + work = easy and exciting. Work + no inspiration = hard and boring. Right!? So I'm letting inspiration motivate me when it comes and not stressing when it doesn't.

I wrote all about my classroom clean up here documenting how MESSY my classroom was and how I made it MOSTLY organized. 

I went in Monday to school to build my bookshelf bench that I pinned about way back in April. I thought it would be fairly easy. It wasn't. It also doesn't look nearly as cute as the original pin. But I made PROGRESS. And that's the key. 

I also got my Erin Condren Life Planner and I LOVE it!!!! 
Here is my Snap video of me opening it. 

Follow me on Snapchat to see all my summer adventures, classroom projects and marathon training (1 week done!) plus I usually snap some silly things in there too!


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End of the Year Clean Up


Disclaimer: I am not a cleaning type of person! Or an organized person! But at the end of each school year I become an obsessive cleaner and organizer! 
I started this year with my desk: something that REALLY needed to be done but something the students wouldn't notice. It was A MESS![And yes, that's a DOLL...it's not mine. I walked in one morning to find it sitting there!]  I started by going through student work. What did I want to keep? What did I want to give back? And what did I want to recycle? [Hint: A LOT!] Instead of doing it in one day and having a HUGE pile of papers next to my desk with a note on top to my lovely custodians, I spent one week where during my lunch and any free time [I know...what?? Free time?] I filled up one recycling can. Once I filled it up, I called it quits for the day! This made it much more manageable for ME and was a lot less overwhelming.

Once the papers were done I sorted the folders by color so it will be easier for me to find them next year and develop a better system [side note: I REALLY want to go paperless next year! Going through all these papers made me realize how much paper I use and that it really wouldn't be THAT hard to make things paper less.]

Then I decided to conquer "the other stuff": pens, markers, pencils, paper clips, binder clips...all the little things that easily make a space look messy! I put all my flair pens and sharpie markers in one mug then sorted through my pencils: bite marks on it? No eraser? Worn down? OUT YOU GO! Yes, I felt a little guilty throwing out pencils that were technically fine but I don't have the space! And I really don't think any kids would want a chewed on, no eraser pencil! I put paper clips and binder clips back in their boxes and stacked them up. 
Then I looked at my binders. Were there any I wasn't actually using or maybe I used but don't need any more? YES! I'm done with TEAM and I had TWO binders for that. I kept them, but instead of leaving them on my desk, I tucked them into my now EMPTY (thank you recycling bin) drawer. Then I found my Teacher Evaluation binder for this year...THAT I NEVER USED! Seriously! There were about two things in it. I took them out and added them to my original TE binder. I also decided to create new side labels that all had a matching design to create a more cohesive visual look.

Then I started on my classroom: first I organized my shelves and my cabinets. What should be thrown out? What were extra supplies that I needed to better organize? What was I temporarily keeping until I had a better version of it?
After doing that I started on the more obvious things [when I was doing this process, school was still in session. I waited until the last week to do these more obvious things.] That included organizing the easel, scrubbing down the counters and walls, and of course taking down the decorations. I actually saved most of my decorations (except my computer numbers which ripped by accident when I pulled them off) for two reasons: one, what if I for some reason, I didn't have time this summer to create new ones or redesign the old ones? And two, I keep them as a reference for the size and end product [so when I'm wondering wait, how big were those student work labels and I can't find the file on my computer, I have a back up! Not that that happened to me! ;)].
Once I finished that it was larger items the students  (and I!) were still using that had to be put away (and that I had to find a space for!): teacher toolbox, tape dispenser, pencil cup, crayons, etc. Then I stacked the chairs and moved some of the tables and furniture to make sure the carpets were clear for cleaning.

This was the finished product:

Here are my take away tips if you still need to finish cleaning your classroom or if you are done for the year, maybe they can help you next year!

1) Designate a place for everything BEFORE you start cleaning. I knew classroom posters were going to go on ONE specific shelf. I knew computer wires go in one certain cabinet. I designated another shelf for extra supplies like pencils and coloring books. That way once you start cleaning you have go to spots to put things. Then you can organize these things once they are grouped together.
2) Facial wipes make amazing cleaning cloths for counters. They cut through the layer of dirt that's collected, smell nice, and I don't feel guilty going through rolls of paper towels. I know the custodians will clean the counters and walls this summer but the counters were REALLY grungy. [Speaking of walls, I tried to clean the walls and removed the bigger pencil marks but oh my lord! Have you ever taken down your decorations and you can still see where the posters were because there is a layer of grime on the wall where they line up? The kids were SHOCKED! And I was all "Well that's why I tell you not to touch the walls and put your feet on the walls!" Sigh.

3) Decide what you are going to do with student work before you begin going through it. Are you going to give it back? Are you going to recycle it? Are you going to take one sample from each project to use as a model for next year? Then put the student work samples with the lessons or topic. For me that meant in my lesson binders for each grade.

4) Accept that it will never be perfectly organized...that's okay! Reality is in two to three months you'll be taking it all out again to use it and it won't matter how organized it was. A big part of classroom clean up is more storing things in spots where you'll be able to find it next year.

P.S. If you read my last Five for Friday post, you know I was planning on taking a break for the month of June from all work. Um, nope. Did not happen. When inspiration hits, I take advantage of it. Inspiration + work = easy and exciting. Work + no inspiration = hard and boring. Right!? So I'm letting inspiration motivate me when it comes and not stressing when it doesn't.



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Five for Friday: 6-17-16


I have been creating a running note on my phone of summer to do's. I uploaded it to my computer to make a more orderly and organized list. I realized everything on my list fell into two categories: decorations or curriculum and lessons.  Now I have a personalized checklist that I can reference during the summer which will hopefully lead me to get more of it done!
Speaking of summer, I decided I'm going to take the rest of June off. My last day was June 10th and I can't order my classroom decorations until July 1st (see below) and my EC planner isn't probably going to arrive until July. That makes it the perfect opportunity for me to completely take a break from work for 20 or so days. I'm hoping on July 1st I'll have a clearer vision and be a bit more reenergized! I also have a couple projects at home I want to focus on getting done. [Complete confession: I'm writing this post on June 10th...I'm serious about this complete break!].

One of my goals for this year is to become more financially savvy and knowledgeable about my own money. Once I got my "lump check" for the summer, instead of waiting to see what I had left over at the end of the summer to save, I decided on a percentage of how much I wanted to save and I put it into my savings account RIGHT AWAY! That way, the money isn't even on the table as an option to spend. 
Then I took the remaining money and divided it by 13 weeks (11 weeks of vacation, but 13 until I'm paid again) and that's how much I have to spend each month. Whatever is left over at the end of each month goes into savings. I keep track of what I spend in a note on my phone. The second I buy something, whether it is online or in a store, I add it to the list for the week then calculate how much money I have left for the month. It's interesting how little things like stopping at the store on the way home from work on Friday to pick up some Friday treats becomes unappealing: Instead I think of the food I already have and think about how spending that money on food that's not even good for me (let's be honest!) is taking away from money I need to spend on groceries for the month. 
I did something similar to this last summer but with a little less detail and I didn't put the money into savings right away. I also know that I am going to be spending money on certain things at certain times (phone bill, new running sneakers, classroom decorations). Instead of freaking out about how much I'm spending to decorate my classroom, I plan my Amazon cart out and I'm going to wait until July to get cash back on my purchases. With this plan I'm more strategic and accepting about necessary purchases instead of feeling guilty and therefore never sitting down and planning it strategically, which in the end costs MORE money. 
I'm excited for this plan and I'll let you know how it goes! 

The only interruption in my break is towards the end of June, I'll be reading at my local library to students to promote summer reading. But I already picked out my books that I'm reading so I just have to show up and read [One of the books I'm reading is Press Here - if you haven't read it, you need to!]!

I'm starting marathon training for my fourth marathon on June 19th! I'm excited...but also nervous! I have some ambitious goals and I'm terrified of failing, but more terrified of not trying. I know I make progress by reaching farther than where I am now, but the process sure is scary! Here's  a throwback photo from my first marathon [when I posed next to the 7 min pace sign and thought I was SO FUNNY...that's not funny...that's terrifying!]! 

Happy Friday!

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Five for Friday 6-10-16: Here comes summer!

 Linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another AWESOME Five for Friday!

 Happy Last Day of School!!! I of course had to wear my themed t-shirt that I LOVE so much!!
This morning we started the day with a whole school assembly including two videos...it's always nerve wracking to see if everything will work...but it did! Phew!!! Just like last year, I had tears in my eyes during the end of the year slideshow...which I had made....and it still made me cry! The students singing along to the songs as their pictures flashed across the screen was just too much!!
At the end of the day, our school has a tradition where we all line up as the busses leave and blow bubbles! It's so fun and the kiddos LOVE it!! There were definitely [more] tears!

This last week has been a whirlwind of purchase orders, teaching, gifts to give and gifts to get...and trying new hairstyles! A student asked if she could put my hair in a ponytail....Sure! Why not!
[Three minutes later] This was the end result! Lesson learned: Don't let first graders do your hair!

I made a small thank you gift for my tech squad that included an emoji wristband and a card that said "Thank you for being a "tech"pert!"

 I run a lot of races, but these medals are my most treasured!! "Great ideas" "Always smiling" "Helper" "Lovable". Made. My. Week.

My second graders took an End of the Year Feedback survey which they answered three questions: What was their favorite part of media? What was their least favorite part of media? If they could change one thing, what would they change about media? I loved seeing what they wrote, some silly and some serious. I plan on using this information as one of the sources of data for planning for next year. 

Happy Friday and Happy Summer!!!


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Five for Friday 6-3-16


I officially have ONE more week of school! 3 full days, and 2 half days...woo hoo! These last weeks are sentimental but also in a way amazing...this is when you see the culmination of all your hard teaching bear fruit in the form of students independently completing research projects, from start to finish, in TWO class periods. When your kindergarten clean up routine becomes the same routine you use with your first and second graders. When your second graders give you suggestions for additional tech tools to teach them (They asked if they could create an app or a website for a project and then said YOU DIDN'T TEACH US THAT YET! #sincewhendoIknowhowtomakeanapp?). When first graders begin to create their own Google Docs like the second graders. Okay I'm tearing up right now. I cried at the end of last year and I swore to myself I'd keep the tears at bay! Oh my. And I haven't even made the end of the year slideshow yet!

Speaking of research projects, last week I wrote a post about the research process students use when researching real world problems. This first full introduction for my second graders doesn't take two days, but nine! Read more about it here. 

I am obsessed with my new EC Journal! I designed the cover  myself and I cannot WAIT to use it next year! Read more about the EC Journal here.
And of course I bought a Life Planner on Wednesday when it came out. I went horizontal in colored with a gold coil. They also had an option where you could design your own cover but I couldn't decide what I wanted so I went with a simple heart design. I love you can preview it before you buy it. Now I get to anxiously wait for it to arrive! 

My teaching between field trips, Fun Day and Memorial Day has been a bit scattered (#endofyearcraziness) but I have still been sneaking in some instructional time! 
My second graders the past few weeks have been creating Internet safety presentations for my first graders. My favorite project was a group that first created an awesome poster then planned a skit which they filmed and created an iMovie with. I love when you see students take what you have taught them and make it their own! I also love this picture above...I looked around and realized they were all focused on their work independently with little help from me and took that moment to take this panoramic...I guess that means I did my job but it's a little bittersweet!

Happy Friday!

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