Monday, May 14, 2012

A totally scatter-brained post

Let me apologize ahead of time in case this post is slightly incoherent. I'm watching the Lakers/Thunder game, and the Lakers are getting destroyed. Not cool. Fingers crossed that things start turning around soon.

Anyway, I thought that my post today would be photo-centric. I mean, who doesn't like pictures. I like pictures. Surely you must like pictures. So, my dear 5 followers, today you get pictures to look at.

So, I don't know about your kids, my mine are getting a serious case of summervacationitis. It's a highly contagious infection that quickly spreads through your classroom, causing bouts of daydreaming, frustration, agitation, and desk drumming. The only remedy I've found so far has been a small dose of extra recess at the end of the day. I write "Extra Recess" on the back board, and erase a letter each time the class is too loud or off task. If they have any letters left at the end of the day, we go outside. If the letters are all gone, we stay in.

Me being me, and having the need to make things pretty...well, I might get a little carried away.

I realize that it's completely unnecessary to spend that much effort on letters, but the kids enjoy them. And, they get attached to the letters (I realize that sounds weird). Every time I go to erase a letter, I hear a chorus of, "Not the super-cool E! It's too pretty! Can you take the E that we have left, and make it look like that one!?" 

Granted, a couple of them made fun of me for taking a picture of my masterpiece, but by this point in the year, they should be used to it.

The next stop on our photo adventure is my class library. A couple months ago, the class started revamping the library. One day, I was trying to come up with an easy computer lab activity, and decided that if each student took an armload of books, we could check and see if there were Accelerated Reader tests for each book, and then get them labeled with reading levels and point values if there was a test. 

Much to my shock, the kids LOVED it. They were working like a little office. Some kids were searching the database, others were sorting the books by grade level, another group was running back and forth to the classroom to return books that weren't AR and bring back more books to check. Within 2 hours, the class had checked, labeled, and sorted ALL of my chapter books! A couple weeks later, we alphabetized all of the books by author's last name, and loaded up the shelves (my room was quite a mess in the meantime).

Because we spent so much time and effort on organizing the library, I wanted to make sure that it stayed that way. I grabbed a crate at Walmart, and used a label from this adorable set to make a book return.

Then, I bought some paint stirrers from Lowes (for $0.05 each) and spray painted them in bright colors. I found an awesome metal bucket at Target for $2.50 and used some letter stickers to label it. Now we have shelf markers to use when kids grab books from our library. It also makes it easy for books to be returned to the right spot (since the spots are all marked)!

In Science, we've been working on the biology unit. A month or so ago, I found this super cute mini-greenhouse at Walmart-it came with the seed cups, 4 types of flower seeds, seed markers, the works! I was so excited, because it was going to be a great visual for our plant unit. 

As I've mentioned before, I don't exactly have a green thumb. I'm pretty sure that I seriously over-watered the seeds and that they rotted away due to the excess moisture. Friday afternoon, I decided on a whim to attempt to plant some bean seeds that I had picked up. At this point, I figured that ANYTHING would be better than our sad, empty greenhouse. I was so excited to check my greenhouse this morning and see that my seeds had germinated over the weekend! Even though the kids probably won't get to see the plants get very big, we'll at least have something to look at these last few days.

Ok, I know this has been a seriously long post, but I'll make it worth it for you--I promise! I am a huge TpT fan-I use it all the time! The only other teacher resources that I use more are the e-books I bought form Scholastic's Teacher Express last year. Last spring, I got an email saying that they had e-books on sale for $1. Being a sucker for a good deal, I checked it out. $65 later, I had a ton of teaching books full of lessons and reproducibles. 

I use them ALL the time. I love being able to search the books for supplementary materials and then just being able to print an original to copy. Truthfully, I really don't need any more resource books, but I got another email today for a $1 e-book sale. Before I knew it, I had 63 books in my cart. Showing some restraint, I weeded down my selections to 45 books. And since I'm a bit of a cheapskate, I did a quick Google search for coupon codes. 

Get this. I found a code for 50% off. So not only was I getting all of these books for a buck each, but then I cut that in half! For $22.50, I got 45 books FULL of awesome stuff! I'm so excited! Even if you don't really need resources, I highly recommend checking this sale out--there are HUNDREDS of books for $1! Go to Scholastic Teacher Express, load up your cart, and then use the code "Teacher50" to take 50% off of your total. You can thank me later--start shopping!

Have a happy Tuesday!
P.S. That Lakers game was unbelievably painful to watch. They better get it together for Wednesday's game.


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  2. Ummm this could be bad! I have already added 15 items and I am not even halfway through all the 8th grade books. Thank you soooo much for sharing! What are some of your favorite finds? I might write a blog post about my finds!

    1. Oh my goodness, that's a loaded question! I hit this sale pretty hard last year, and now have a folder on my computer with about 140 books! I use these books ALL the time-it's so easy to just do a search and find tons of resources for your current topic. I'm a big fan of the "No More Boring Practice, Please" books, "Brighten Up Boring Beginnings and Other Quick Writing Lessons,: "Comic Strip Grammar," "50 Debate Prompts for Kids" (my class LOVED these), "80 Sensational Headline Writing Prompts," "25 Wacky Stories That Boost Vocabulary," and just got a couple Independent Reading Management Kits that look AMAZING. I could seriously go on forever. I seriously love my e-books!

  3. I love your idea for the "Extra Recess." My kids have three days left...and they are WILD!

    1. I'm going to post about one of my other tricks tomorrow, but it'll probably be too late for it to help much-sorry about that! Good luck and enjoy your last couple of days!

  4. Kids love growing seeds! So long as the seeds can be over ( or under) watered there is no problem!

    I once organised a competition in my class to see which kid could grow the tallest sunflowers The winner was a girl whose mom and dad ran a plant nursery.

    Talking of resources, your readers might like to visit my website at where you will find interesting science articles about seeds!