Monday, May 23, 2016

You Rocked the Test Celebration

Back in the fall, I threw a little "You Rocked the Test" celebration for the teachers at my daughter's school. You see, this was the first year that the SBAC test scores were released in the state of California. It turns out that my daughter's school had the highest test scores in the district. This is a pretty big deal. It's a complete underdog story. My girls go to an amazing school with staff that are dedicated to helping their students succeed. It's not even our "home" school. I purposely chose this elementary school knowing that the staff there really "get it". Sure, they could go to the school I teach at, or their home school, but I truly believe the school they attend has an amazing culture where kids really do come first.  It happens to be a Title I school with the highest percent of EL and special ed in the entire district. But their years of looking at learning in a different way with RtI and addressing all learners seriously paid off!

When I found this out, I just knew that the PTA needed to celebrate all of the staff and their hard work! Finally all the work truly paid off and now everyone knew what ROCKSTAR teachers work at this school! I made invitiations and put them in all of the teachers/staff boxes inviting them to the celebration breakfast. 

I went to every thrift store in town looking for vinyl records.  I scored at the Goodwill with sets of 4-6 in one box for 50 cents! I bought a red/aqua digital paper pack and printed all the papers with my new HP Instaink. I cut out tons of circles with my circle cutter to cover up the middle of the records. My patient husband drilled holes into all of the records so I could hang them from the ceiling with fishing line.

For centerpieces, I cut out stars on the Silhouette machine.  I wrote all of the teacher/staff names on each of the stars that were glued onto wooden skewers. 

 I also made a Congratulations and You Rocked the Test banners to hang. 

 For the table runner, I used mesh wreath fabric to run down the center of the table. I added single records all the way down the table with a disco ball I also found at Goodwill.

For the food table, I typed up a note for the teachers/staff thanking them. I also found some old candle stick holders that I spray painted black and hot glued records to the top. The PTA provided bagels, coffee and juice from Panera Bread. 

 This theme was a huge hit with the teachers. PTA was delighted to provide the teachers and staff with a special celebration. It was exactly what they needed... surprise celebration to recognize their hard work.  A little thanks goes a long way.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Award Winning Classified Staff Appreciation

Each year my colleague and I decorate the staff lounge to celebrate our school's classified staff. We have quite a few support staff that work in our program and at our school. Without their help, our program would not run as smoothly. We enjoy decorating and bringing attention to all their hard work!
This past week we decorated the lounge using an Award Winning theme. It really turned out cute and we got lots of compliments from the staff. Since we decorate and celebrate each year, the staff look forward to it every year. 
 Luckily, we invested in a Silhouette last year which helped cut all 200 stars that we hung from the ceiling. I cut the stars and my colleague sewed them together. We make a great team!   

Each year we give the classified staff a little treat. This year I made little swag bags with Zebra popcorn. (Zebra popcorn is seriously addicting! Just a warning!) I bought the large bags of Zebra popcorn from Costco and filled up these cute little treat bags I found on Amazon.  I cut more stars and printed each of their names on the stars. I found these adorable little clothespins at Michael's for the perfect finishing touch. Simple and done!

 The table runner is made out of a roll of polka dot wrapping paper, a folded red plastic table cloth and strips of tickets. Throw on some star confetti, extra stars and some movie clap boards from Party City and it turned out pretty cute!

The popcorn center pieces were found at the Target Dollar Spot. The red starbursts in the center pieces are from Dollar Tree. Seriously simple.

We also provided the staff with a nacho bar on Monday. We typically do a sign up list for various snacks throughout the week. 

We saw this cute idea on Pinterest and created our own version. The "curtains" are plastic table cloths and the gold background is rolls of gold wrapping paper I found at the dollar store. The gold popped and turned out awesome!

We had a great week celebrating our Classified Staff! The lounge looks so plain and boring now that the decorations are down. Until next year.....

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Rise & Shine Staff Appreciation Breakfast

Hey! Hey! Long time no post! Now that the school year is winding down there are so many things to talk about! First off, how the heck do people do it? I don't know how they balance teaching, family and blogging. I just can't seem to get all three down at the same time! But I am looking forward to the summer when I have more time on my hands! Yahoo!
I've decided I'd like to be a party planner in my next life. It certainly taps into a creative outlet that I enjoy. I thought I'd share a few photos this weekend from celebrations during the school year that I helped with. 
One of my many other hats that I wear is Secretary on the PTA at my daughter's school. It's important for my girls to know that I am involved in their education and in their school. I may not be able to volunteer in the classroom or go on every fieldtrip, but being apart of PTA is the right balance for me. Plus, we make time for things that are a priority, right?
So I finally convinced the PTA President to let me decorate for the Staff Appreciation breakfast... oh you know, 24 hours before it happened. No problem. I got this! I quickly threw together some invites for the staff. Complete with Stickles. Because everything is better with a little sparkle.

I quickly put together some last minute decorations for a Rise and Shine breakfast theme. Simple, but bright and cheery. It's all about the colors. I hung some pom poms and lanterns. The huge sun is made out of poster board.

Oh Pinterest. You get me every time! I saw these sunburst pom poms and needed to make some. The round table ended up being too big and my table cloth too short to make the sunburst table cloth. So I ended up hanging them above the food table. I really could have used some more poms and lanterns there, but that's what I had to work with at the time.

I found this perfect little free You are My Sunshine printable. I had some frames laying around the house and decided to resize the prints to make them fit the IKEA frames I had. 

 I added lemon slices to the mason jars for the flower center pieces.  The four lines from the song fit perfectly down the staff table. (The runner is mesh wreath making material and worked perfectly for a long runner.)

This little celebration came together quick and the teachers really enjoyed it. As a teacher myself, this is really the least I could do to thank them for all of their hard work!

 But they sure were surprised when they came into the breakfast the next morning to new couches, tables and a rug! PTA showered them with love this year! Now they have a cozy place to relax and enjoy their breaks. You do not want to see the couch that was there previously. This was a major splurge, but the teachers are worth it!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Year, New Look

Welcome to my new and improved blog! Isn't it pretty? I am super pleased with the end result thanks to Gabby at Instruct and Inspire. Sadly, this talented blog designer is no longer designing blogs. I am just very happy I was on her wait list and able to squeeze in before she closed her design shop. Thanks Gabby! 
With a new blog, it's forcing me to really look at my goals for this little blog and my TpT store. Naturally, we would all like to do more. If only there were more time in the day! Seriously. But I am going to give it a go. 
Look for new things to come.... very soon. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Making a List... Checking it Twice

The big Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Smile Sale is nearly here! I'm filling up my cart with all the must haves to get me through the next couple months. What's on your list?

Close Reading- it's new to my classroom and a challenge for my students. I found these simple Close Reading activities from Mrs. Thompson's Treasures. I tried out the Fall pack and loved them! I need the rest of the sets for the rest of the school year.

I am in LOVE with these interactive writing activities by Jessica Tobin. They include real pictures that help my students really understand what they are writing about. It makes it very concrete, which is exactly what we need. I used the Fall pack during the last two months and fell in love. The writing rubric is perfect for grading the paragraph. I am looking forward to seeing progress by the time we get to that summer pack!
If you're looking for something fun for your classroom, why not try my best selling product? This set gives you 18 different activities to use as word work centers with any word list. It's super easy to prep and go. 

My whole store will be 20% off starting Monday! Go fill your cart and have fun cyber Monday & Tuesday shopping! Don't forget to go leave feedback for your past purchases to earn credit toward your purchases you'll make on Monday!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Calendar Skill Sticks

 Yesterday I talked all about our class meeting routine. One of the things we use in my class are Calendar Skill Sticks. 

After we do most of our meeting, each of the kiddos pulls a stick from our Calendar Skills can. These questions challenge the students and work on those calendar skills that we don't hit on everyday, but are essential questions.

The student reads and then answers the question. If they need help, we work together as a group to answer the question.

Today I am giving way two of my Calendar Skill Sticks! This product has 36 calendar related skills questions. Simply print them out on white or colored paper and then glue them onto large craft sticks.  Pop them into a labeled can and you are good to go. Easy peasy. Add these Skill Sticks to your calendar routine and challenge your students.

Enter to win a set for your classroom below. I'll pick two winners on Thursday morning (9/10/15).

Monday, September 7, 2015

Class Meeting Routines

Do you and your students have a morning meeting? This is such a great time to connect with your students and for them to learn basic calendar, math, and other skills.

In my class, we do our class meeting after lunch. That's when the majority of my students are back with me... so we wait until the end of the day. In the past, I wasn't feeling "calendar time" and often skipped it. Now that I have added in some new skills and tasks, this is a fun and engaging time for all of us. Let me show you what our Class Meeting looks like...

First up, we read our daily message. Everyday the message varies. This is a great way to remind the students about schedule changes or fun things coming up. But we always write the date two ways. Sometimes I add in a skill, like circle all the capitals or vowels. Sometimes it's a task like write your phone number.

Next, we do our basic calendar skills.  I hand out those little wooden stars that read Today is, Tomorrow will be, and Yesterday was. We find the day on the calendar and go through each star. The students place the star stick into the correct envelope and find the day to attach to our signs with velcro. These signs are available in my Simple Black & White Classroom Decor pack. 

For those of you that are curious, I actually made my own pockets on my calendar. I used old school transparencies and actually sewed them onto the calendar for pockets. I can't handle velcro and the numbers being all wonky. =)

Then we count how many days we have come to school. We write the number on a small white board and then change our hundreds straw chart.

We answer our question of the day. These are two pizza pans covered with wrapping paper and ribbon. I used magnetic paper and printed out all of our names onto magnets to make it easy to respond yes or no to the question. (Next year I need to make the magnets way smaller!)

Now we move on to our number of the day. I used the Silhouette to add this circle and title to my white board easel. I am in love with vinyl and could find 101 uses for it, that's for sure!

I pass our our Class Meeting binders and a fine tip expo marker to each student. 

We record the number of the day and we figure out the chart below. One more, one less, ten more, ten less. 

Often times we have to pull out the base ten blocks to figure out 10 more and 10 less. These are tough math skills for most of my kiddos. But it's such good practice! 

 Next, we write our number of the day in word form and expanded form. I found these calendar/math skills here. I copied them and slipped them into page protectors. When we're done, the students use a 1/4 of a wash cloth to clean off their pages. We save LOADS of paper this way.

 Last up in our books, we make the number of the day in coins. I always try and have the students show me two different ways to make that amount. Once again, not an easy skill for some of my students. If we have time we do several other skills in the back of our binder. That includes writing our address and phone number. Graphing the weather, etc.

After our binders, the students get to pull one stick from our Calendar Skill Sticks jar and answer a question. I'll blog about these tomorrow. There will be a giveaway as well! Come back tomorrow!

This is where I store most of our calendar and meeting supplies. Everything tucks in nicely between the white board on our meeting area side and on the backside I have a pocket chart with vocabulary words for our writing area. This is a Lakeshore easel that I took apart and spray painted black. I know lots of teachers out there have them, and it's actually really easy to do. 

Do you have a class meeting? What activities do you love to do during your class meeting?