December 28, 2012

Organization Resolutions

Today I'm linking up with Hope from Second Grade Shenanigans and posting my organization resolutions for the new year. I love to be organized. I completely reorganized my classroom this summer. I also stalk Pinterest for amazing organization ideas. I am totally capable of implementing the great ideas and getting organized, but I cannot seem to STAY organized. It's a work in progress....

What's Working


Plastic containers are my saving grace. My room would be a disaster without them. This summer I replaced almost all of them because I have a deep need to have them match. I bought blue Ikea bins to house all my picture books (it took 60 bins, thank goodness I have a loving and understanding husband). I also bought a lot of blue Dollar Tree bins to put my math manipulatives in. I also went to a multitude of Targets to find those great rainbow colored book bins to organize my shelves.
 

I started using planbook.com and love it! I have an intern on my team and I need to get her my plans in advance so she can work on hers. I'm able to make all my plans online and then email them to my team. Then we go over them at our weekly meeting and make any changes necessary.  My planning has become so much more organized! I have a folder on my computer that I save all my plans to and I print out a copy and put it in my teacher binder.

What I'm Working On

Resolution #1: So all those gorgeous containers... not so organized on the inside. I ended buying most of them right before school started and I ran out of time to fully organize and label each one. It's definietely a resolution of mine to finish that this year. I want them completely organized with cutesy labels on each one :-)

Resolution #2: Keep my desk clean! I keep telling myself I won't leave school until it is cleared off. It doesn't happen. I teach after school classes and by the time they are over I'm tired and starving and want to go home. I have tons of nice organization tools to help me, but I'm just lazy about it. I get so embarrassed when another teacher comes to drop something off at my desk and they can't find a clean spot and have to resort to laying it on my chair. Arg... I NEED to get better at this one!

Resolution #3: I want to digitally organize my books. My picture books are sorted by AR level and are super easy to find (as long as the kiddos put them back correctly...). Chapter books are organized by series and are fairly easy to find. My problem is that I keep buying duplicates because I forget which books I have. I order a lot of books from Amazon and Scholastic and I tend to make my orders when I'm at home and don't check all my book bins to see if I already have a copy. A few years ago I started cataloging all my books on librarything.com. It worked great and solved that problem. I was even able to tag books so I could find special books as needed (oh, you need a book on butterflies or Halloween or plants or sharing... I knew which books I had for that category and where they were). But my laziness interfered again. :-(  Sometimes I order hundreds of books at a time and don't want to wait to catalog them all before I add them to my library. So I got way behind. Once I started to get behind I just stopped adding books to my account altogether. I think I have less than half of my books cataloged now, which doesn't help me too much. This summer I plan on re-inventorying my whole library and update my Library Thing account.


So there's my update on my organization. I'm improving, but I definitely have a way to go! Thanks to Hope for hosting this linky so I could write my resolutions down and hold myself accountable for them! Check out all the great posts at Second Grade Shenanigans.

December 27, 2012

Technology Resources & Resolutions

I'm linking up with Kathleen over at Growing Kinders to share some of the technology resources I use and some of my technology resolutions for the new year.


Technology Resources I Use:

I feel very lucky to work at the school I do. We are blessed with so much technology! I love using it and I feel it really helps to close the gap for my students. I work at a high poverty school and many students don't have access to computers at home. They get opportunities at school to become very proficient with technology though. 

Promethean Board

 I LOVE my Promethean Board! I honestly don't know what I'd do without it. I have flipcharts prepared for most lessons and the students are so much more engaged when using the board. It also helps my team stay on the same page. We share flipcharts with each other so we can make sure we are teaching the same material.

Activotes

 I feel so lucky to have Activotes in my classroom. They are like little clicker devices that work with the Promethean software. I can project a question on the board and students can vote which answer they think is correct. The results are then graphed for the class to see. I immediately know if the students are getting it, or if I need to reteach.

Computers

I have 3 desktops in my classroom and a teacher laptop. We also have a mobile lap with 15 laptops that comes in for a good majority of the day. Students also go to a technology class once a week to work on computer projects. Students use computers to take AR tests, Fastt Math, and work on programs like Keynote, Comic Life, Kid Pix, etc.

iPads

A little over a year ago the teachers at my school got iPads. I fell in love with mine! It's nice because we can put school apps and personal apps on it. There are so many useful apps out there! One day I'll do a post of my favorites, there are too many to name right now! Our school also has a mobile lab with 30 iPads in it. My class gets them for an hour twice a week. My class always looks forwards to Tuesdays and Thursdays because those are our iPad days. I cannot describe how sad they get if we have to cancel them for whatever reason. You'd think I just told them their puppy died or something. Seriously sad faces.

 

Technology Resolutions:

MP3 Players

I really want to find a better solution for all my audio books. I've invested in a good amount of CDs, but it's hard to keep them organized and easily accessible. I've tried some cheap MP3 players, but I haven't found any that I really like. I'd love iPods, but they are a bit too spendy for me. I used to use my iPad, but I'm maxed out on storage so I had to take my audio books off. So now I'm back to using CD players. I have a huge CD binder with all the discs in it, but it takes a while to sort though them. Are there any MP3 players you use at your listening centers that you love? I am open to suggestions!

Class Website

Every teacher has a class website through our district. I'm pretty good about keeping it updated, but I want to try to improve it this year. We're not able to do any html or anything, so it's hard to get it looking really nice in my opinion. I've redone it a few times, and I want to spend some more time playing around with it to get it looking exactly the way I want.

Check out Growing Kinders to see her technology resources and resolutions and enter her giveaways!

December 24, 2012

Christmas Craft

Every year I try to come up with something for students to make to give to their parents. I usually do ornaments, but I decided to change things up this year. I modified a craft I saw on Pinterest here.

It was pretty easy to do. I had each student use green paint to make a hand print on card stock. I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the stars and trunks. I put each student's picture on their tree and added some glitter. Then I had each student write their name and the year in gold Sharpie. I bought document frames from the Dollar Tree to put each picture in. I think they turned out pretty cute!


Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2012

Classroom Tour

One of my favorite things is to look at another teacher's classroom! I'm always getting fabulous ideas on creative storage solutions and room arrangements. I tend to spend a good chunk of my summers looking at ideas and then reorganizing my room like crazy. I realized I haven't taken any classroom pictures since school started, so some things are different now. I'll have to take some updated pictures after we return from Christmas Break.

View from the door:

 View from the front of the classroom:

Math manipulatives:

 View from my desk:

 Class Library 
(My AWESOME husband let me go crazy at Ikea a few days before school started and buy lots of Expedit shelves and bins for my library. He even put all the shelves together for me. He's a keeper.)

 Easel:

 I love my Promethean Board!
 Calendar:

 So this is my classroom, my home away from home. There are still plenty of improvements I want to make, but I like to think it gets a little better each year. One step at a time...

December 22, 2012

Welcome

Welcome to Simply Second! I have received so many ideas and inspirations by looking at other blogs, that I thought I should start one of my own. I love teaching second grade and can't wait to connect with other teachers in the blogging world!