Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Classroom Pictures!

So I have been working in my classroom for three days now. I meant to diligently take pictures after each day so I could really see my progress and how much I've done. Of course, I forgot to every day. So no measuring my work and seeing how much I got done. However, today I was determined to remember aka I set an alarm on my phone to remind me. So here it is! My very first classroom!!

This is the view from the door. To the right is my carpet area, the left is my rainbow table and straight ahead are the kids' table spots!

Please ignore all the junk on my rainbow table, but here is my small group area where I'll do guided reading and math groups. And I really like my student work clothesline. At my school, we have four required bulletin boards, and guess how many are in my room? So I had to be creative about where to display kids' work, but I really like it. There is another one on the other side of the closet that says Work so together, the two say Student Work

Turning around 180 degrees, here is my carpet area. Despite the fact that I have a Smartboard, I decided to have a traditional carpet area since I have never worked with a Smartboard before. So until I get used to it, I don't really want to focus my lessons on it when I don't even know what I'm doing! But here is also my classroom library too! Sidenote, the big whiteboard on the wall just fell off today. It's good thing Evan was there to help me since I don't know what I would have done if it had fell and it was just me in the room. Or worse, if it was me and the kids...I'll have to get to maintenance to fix it tomorrow!

Close up of my library. I made the labels myself - nothing fancy - and I am sorting the books by genre so the kids can find them easily. I thought about making it an authentic library and doing authors' names, but that seems way too difficult, even for me, since I like things to be categorized in ways that make sense. For me, I almost always know what book I want based on the title or what the cover looks like or what the story is about, but never ever by the author. Therefore, I sorted by genre. 

This is my wishing tree. When parents come in for Meet the Teacher night, they can take a sticky from the tree. Each sticky lists an item that I'd love to have for the classroom. Most of them are snacks for the kids, but I also have pencils and ziplocs on there as well. Plus, when school starts, I can just change the words and keep the tree - I was thinking the classic Chicka Chika Boom Boom tree :)

Back of the room. My lovely yet empty word wall is just waiting to be filled and more kids' tables plus a heap of books that need to be organized, put away, and/or returned to the book room as I found out that I have about 50 books that should have been turned in at the end of the year but weren't! And as for my teeny, tiny windows, I found a Welcome Back window cling that I got at Target last year - before I knew my classroom would have practically no windows. However, it fit perfectly up there!

Lastly, my class rules. I thought about making them with the kids, but I also wanted to have rules all set and ready to go. I actually first saw rules like these on Sandra's blog, Sweet Times in First. I adapted them just a tiny bit to better fit what I expect my kiddos to do and how to act.

I still have some things to do of course so it's still a work in progress. But I still have Thursday and Friday to work in it! Tomorrow, we have actual training and then next week is when the hardcore stuff begins. Oh yeah, and the first day of school is next week too - is this real life??

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Treasures 4 Teachers

I, like many of you, am always looking for bargains when it comes to supplies I need for my classroom. Even thought the teacher that I am taking over for left me a ton of resources, I'm still finding myself needing simple supplies like office supplies and general decorating materials. Luckily, one of the other teachers at my orientation (she has taught before but not in my district) filled me in on an amazing store in Tempe. It's called Treasures 4 Teachers. She described it as a goodwill store for teachers. In order to get in, teachers must get a membership, kind of like Sam's Club. A yearly pass is $35 and gets you access to loads of goodies. The store is separated into different parts. The largest part is the $5/bag part. In this area, everything that you can fit into one of their provided bags costs $5. Doesn't matter what is in there; if it fits, it's $5. They were out of the reusable bags that come with the membership so I got a Trader Joe's bag instead to fill with goodies. 
Here is the bag of stuff I got! I could have stuffed it more but there wasn't much good stuff left since I went later in the day.

Inside the bag, there is...
Some paper that I was thinking would be great at the writing center that I (may) have. It's not very pretty paper, but my students won't care.

Now I am a binder clip junkie so I pretty excited to find the jumbo ones! I love binder clips and the jumbo ones are great to use in binders to keep stuff separate. I also got one of the receipt paper rolls for writing down each day we have been in school. I also found some adhesive putty. The package is opened and half of one of the rows is gone but that's ok! I also got those little circles that reinforce three hole punches. I'm super clumsy when it comes to three hole punching and I always misalign the paper so there are papers that have awkward holes. But now I can fix them with these lovely gems! Lastly, I got a stack of cut up cardstock. The size is small, but I know I can find some use for them. Bookmarks perhaps?

Now, there are three other sections. The next section is a price as marked area. As the name suggests, all the items in this area are a la carte so you have to check the prices on each individual item. This is where the furniture and nicer office supplies are. In this section, I got...
A magazine holder! Just one thought as it was the last one there after another teacher piled like six into her cart. Oh well, I'll take it anyways! And for that price?!?! I didn't get any furniture since most of it was filing cabinets and I already have one, but I bet there are book shelves and stuff there on a regular basis.

The next section is my favorite: the free section. In this section, everything is free! Free, free, free! So I got these beauties:

Big, three inch binders! New, they would have definitely cost me probably like $7 or more apiece, and I walked out with them for nothing. There were heaps of binders in the section so you could definitely get enough for all your kids there if you wanted to. 

The last room I went was the book room. All of the books in the room range in cost from 25 cents to $2. I picked up a few kids books so add to my collection and I found a Fountas and Pinnell phonics teacher resources for second grade for only $1! Even though I'm not teaching second grade, I feel like it still might be helpful! Plus, for only $1, I couldn't not get it! 

Lastly, they also have a school supply store that sells new supplies, but at reasonable prices. I didn't get anything there since my school supplies everything kids need. 

So I am pretty pleased with my purchases! I will definitely be going back again soon to look for more treasures. So, if you live in the Phoenix area, I would definitely recommend going and checking it out! I think there also might be one in Tuscon, but I'm not entirely sure. Click here for more info! 

Tomorrow, I'm headed back to school to work in my room some more and I have a new hire meeting at 2:00! Have a wonderful rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Destination: Summer Vacation

So tomorrow, I'm diving into my new classroom to try to get something accomplished. It's like the opposite of a hot mess in that it's totally empty except for the furniture pile.
But until then, I found an awesome linky by Krista that I just had to do! I'm so fortunate in that my parents adore traveling and have been taking my sister and I all over the world since 2nd grade.  So, I have developed a love of travel and if I could, I would travel all the time. I hate the aspect of getting there (airplanes really aren't my thing), but once I'm there, I am so happy. So here are my top three vacation spots!

1. International: Paris.
Paris is probably my favorite city of all time. The architecture, the lights, the food, the fashion, not to mention the historical sites. I love it all. Being in Paris makes me so happy, and if I spoke French, I would definitely move there. I have been to Paris twice, and each time, I never want to leave. It's truly a magical and wonderful city!

2. National: Disney World.
So my family is a huge Disney fan. It was the trip in which I went on my very first airplane ride. I was in second grade; my sister was in kinder, and we both had the time of our lives! 
First trip to Disney! We're sitting on Minnie's couch, which is sadly no longer there D:
Since then, I have been probably ten times. During high school and college, my family would go every year around Christmas time. Disney is completely right when they say that it is the most magical place on Earth. It's so true. Everything is better in Disney. One of my friends is working there for a semester and I am completely envious of her since she gets to live magic and make it happen!

3. Close to Home: Chicago.
I'm doing my old home since I just got to my new home, but Chicago is a city that has so much to do. There is something for everyone whether you love museums, musicals, animals, night life, shopping or food. Yet somehow, I've never seen least I don't remember seeing it.

Buenos noches!

Monday, July 23, 2012

First Peek and I'm Linking Up!

Hello everyone!

So today was a big day for me in my teaching career: I had my very first day of new teacher training AND I got my keys, laptop, and student roster AND I got to see my classroom for the very first time! So exciting!!

Now I was a little apprehensive about this new teacher training business. When I was doing my student teaching, any small bit of professional development caused my head to ache and I would get very antsy and uneasy. However, today's training was so wonderful and applicable and engaging! I was shocked! We had three sessions: one about professional learning communities, one about poverty, and one on classroom community. I think that all of these topics will be so important as I begin my teaching journey and I am very glad to have been given so much information! I also got to meet the other new teachers at my school as well as the team leader for first grade and the principal and assistant principal (both of them are so nice!).

And my classroom! I am so pumped about it! It's a huge room with a walk-in closet and two huge large cabinets for storage. I definitely won't be short on storage! There is also a Smartboard and four computers that students can use. Of course I have no idea how I want to arrange it or where to even start actually. I plan on blog stalking to get some ideas about it. And I got to see my roster list although I'm trying to resist labeling everything as kids move around so who knows if that is my actual class list. But currently, I have 23 adorable firsties :)

View from the door - lots of space!!!

View from the back corner!

All the chairs and tables! And Evan poking around :P

Anddddd, I'm linking up! Amy over at Step into 2nd Grade is having a super fun linky about us! So...
1. I have been rocking pink neon toenails for over a year now. I just keep repainting them the same color since it's so bright and summery. I always get compliments on it and I adore it.

2. I love animals and for the longest time, I wanted to be a veterinarian. But then I discovered that math and science weren't really my thing so that was the end of that. I something wonder how my life would be if I hadn't given up so easily on it, but I am beyond happy with being a teacher.

3. Along those same lines, my perfect job does not exist. I would be a professional animal petter and go around petting and snuggling animals all day long.

4. I don't have any hidden talents. And I hate the question "What's your hidden talent?" because I have none.

5. I love to cook and bake. It's soothing for me. But I hate cleaning up and will often let dishes "soak" in the sink for days on end.

6. I am super cheap and not afraid to admit it. I hate spending money and avoid it at all costs unless it's a gift for someone else. But I usually try to get things on sale or use coupons. Or better, for free!

7. I am from Wisconsin, but I hate the Packers, the Brewers, beer, and cheese..well actually most dairy. The sports teams are because everyone treats them like they are so special. When the Packers played a perfect season except for the one game that actually mattered, everyone was devastated. I was celebrating. Beer, I just hate the taste and smell. And cheese is a texture thing. The worst is semi-melted cheese (like pizza cheese). If I get too much in my mouth, I start dry heaving. However, I love cheese fondue and string cheese. So kinda weird. I'm also not a fan of milk...unless it's chocolate. Yogurt I occasionally like. Ice cream is the only dairy food I always enjoy eating, and let's be honest, it shouldn't even be considered dairy.

8. I love to grocery shop. There's just something about being surrounded by food and planning meals. Although I always hate the bill at the end :(

9. When I was little, I really wanted to take horseback riding lessons. But there wasn't a stable near my house (darn you city living!) so I pretended my bike was a horse. And during my senior year of college, my dreams came true and I took riding lessons for one semester. But being on a college girl's budget, they were too expensive to continue taking. 

10. I have snoozed with a baby kangaroo. When I was in Australia, I volunteered at a kangaroo rescue facility that took in orphaned joeys. At night, since it gets so chilly, we had to take the joeys to bed with us to keep them warm. Pretty much one of the coolest things ever. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Finally Here!!!

So we finally have made it to the Valley aka 1820 miles from Milwaukee aka Phoenix. The drive out here wasn't too terrible since there were two of us to "split" the driving (I say that Evan did more driving than me but oh well!). We left Milwaukee on Tuesday which was really difficult for me. I wasn't emotionally ready to make the jump and ended up crying a lot that day. It got a little better after stopping in Dubuque to visit some of best friends who just recently got married, but overall, it was a pretty bad/sad day. The drive itself was fairly uninspiring and long. But we made it today!!!! Yay!!! We're currently staying in Evan's aunt's house, which is located a bit north of Paradise Valley, until we can find an apartment closer to Tempe so Evan can easily get to ASU. Evan's aunt used to live in Phoenix, but recently moved to Wisconsin to be closer to Evan's grandpa. So we're borrowing her house so we didn't have to sign an apartment lease site unseen or stay in hotels until finding a place. Definitely really lucky! Although it is hot here, it's not all that bad as long as you're not doing any hard work outside. And by hard work, I mean unpacking a car full of stuff. We both felt like we were dying when we finished. After stocking up on groceries at the local Fry's and grabbing lunch at a cantina, Evan and I stopped at Target to get a few necessities. And of course, I have been reading about all the awesome Dollar Spot finds that teachers have been getting so of course that was my beeline. I think I got some pretty cool stuff!
I already have a few pocket charts, but couldn't resist a purple one! I got a yellow notebook to take with me to inservice next week. I seriously wish more companies would make more yellow things! It's always such a struggle to find. I also got some name labels for table spots and two pails for my sharp/unsharp pencils. My favorite thing I got were the puzzle pieces. I think on the first few days of school, I'm going to give each kid a piece to write their name and decorate and then we can put the puzzle together and hang it on the wall to show that we fit together even though we're all different!

And since I've been so busy this week, I haven't had time to accept an award from Jenny at Luckeyfrog's Lillypad (one of my favorite bloggers too!) It's the Versatile Blogger. Yay! So the rules for this award is that you have to pass it on and list 7 random facts about yourself. I'm going to pass it on to:
-Sandra at Sweet Times in First (who probably already got it but oh well)
-Teresa at 2nd grade Pig Pen
-Ashley at That's So Second Grade!
-Heather at The Busy Busy Hive
Now for the random facts about me:
1. When I was younger, my sister and I were going to buy an old red barn and become farmers together. Obviously, we decided against it...
2. I love playing board games - any board game - with anyone that will play with me.
3. My favorite color is yellow for two reasons: the first one is because it is such a happy and sunny color, and the second reason is because I feel like so many people ignore it for a more popular color such as pink or blue.
4. I love to cook and bake and am always excited for new recipes.
5. I love a good bargain, and will rarely buy anything full price. I also love thrifting and finding treasures in looked over locations.
6. I have traveled quite extensively for someone my age. My parents both love to travel and whether I liked it or not (I always did though of course!!) took me all over the place on family vacations. One of the most unique places I have been is Russia and Estonia!
7. Although I have been taking Spanish since the 6th grade, I'm still really terrible at speaking and it is one of my vows in life to get better at it. So hopefully living in Phoenix will help!

And I just linked up with the Newbie Blog Hop at Grade Three is the Place for Me! So if you're new to the blogging world, go and check it out!!
If you link up, there are a few questions about yourself to answer so bloggers can get to you know a little bit more! Here they are:
1. What state you are in
2.  your current teaching position
3.  your teaching experience
4.  when you started blogging
5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

So here are my answers! 
1. I'm from Wisconsin but just arrived in Phoenix, AZ today!
2. I am currently [going to be] a first grade teacher.
3. Pretty minimal; just student teaching and practica.
4. I started blogging a few weeks ago!
5. Always comment when you get freebies! It lets the teachers who worked so hard to make them know that they are appreciated!

Well that certainly was a super long post... thanks for sticking with me! Next week marks my first week of inservice! I'm a little nervous but mostly super excited! I hope everything is great since at my student teaching placement, I tended to loathe professional development. We'll see...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tomorrow and Must Have Picture Books!

So tomorrow is the big day - the day that will most likely be one of the hardest days ever. Tomorrow is the day that I pack up my life into half of a CRV and drive the long drive to my new home and life out in Phoenix. It's becoming a tad bit more real to me as my most important belongings are packed up and sitting in the living room, waiting to be shoved put in the car. Yikes! But as anxious as I am, I am pretty excited to get to school. My new teacher inservice starts on Monday and goes until Friday so in less than a week, I'll be attending trainings! Eeeek!! I can't believe how fast everything is going. 

Let me tell you, it was not an easy task to pack up all of my teacher supplies that I have been collecting over the past few years. I packed up my most favorite kids books and some bulletin borders and a few other accessories into one box and half of my suitcase. I think I also put a few things in the boxes for the kitchen and bathroom too!! Evan just doesn't understand that teachers need lots of stuff! I hope that teacher that used to be in my classroom left a lot of good stuff since I feel like I'm practically starting over with my collection. I'm hoping to [somehow] get everything down eventually. So if anyone has any suggestions/ideas, please let me know!

The Teacher Wife

And I'm linking up in my very first linky party! The top five kids books! Right up my alley! So here are mine:

1. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Chicka Chicka Boom BoomI love this book, as many teachers do. It's so great for teaching the letters and there are so many wonderful activities that go with it! Plus I love the way the author describes some of the letters!

2. A Nice Surprise for Father Rabbit
NICE SURPRISE FOR FATHER RABBITThis is one my favorite books from when I was young. It's about two bunny children who want to do something nice for their dad, who is working late and is stuck in a bad snowstorm. They work so hard to make everything nice for him and they try so much to wait up for his arrival, but ultimately fall asleep. When Father Rabbit finally makes it home, he is tired and cold and hungry, but when he sees the nice things his children did, he instantly feels loved and happy. It's a wonderful book about being thoughtful to others around you and that one nice thing can make someone's bad day better. I just love it!! it can be tricky to find though.

3. Corduroy
Another of my childhood favorites (I even had a stuffed Corduroy!!), Corduroy is just a darling book. I think it's great to teach about persevering and not giving up, and I like how money can be touched upon since Lisa buys him herself. 

The Night Tree
Night Tree
Another book about doing kind things for others, Night Tree is about a family who,every Christmas, decorates a tree with treats for animals in the forest. Eve Bunting wrote it so it's beautifully written and I always feel like I'm there with the family whenever I read it. (Of course, it was another of my childhood favorites - sensing a pattern here?!)

5. Elephant and Piggie Books
There Is a Bird On Your Head! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)I adore these books. Not only can I do so many voices when I read it, they are just so darn funny! And they make kids want to read. They are wonderful and are definitely on my wishlist.

And one last thing, Sandra at Sweet Times in First is having an awesome giveaway with some cool math resources! Be sure to check it out!

That's all for now! Next time I blog, I'll probably be in Phoenix! Surreal to say and crazy to believe!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Packing, Packing, and More Packing! Oh, and an award!

It is T-5 days until D-Day aka the day I leave all I know aka the day I leave for Phoenix! I'm starting to feel so many different emotions about it. Excitement and nerves, anxiety and happiness, ready for the adventure yet terrified of it all. 

But I don't really have time to freak out about it since I have a million and ones things to do. I am going to check out a possible venue site for my wedding tomorrow. It still seems so surreal that I will be getting married next summer!!! Yay!!! Also, Evan and I are going to a wedding this Saturday and then on Sunday my parents are hosting a graduation/going away/engagement party. And I still have SO. MUCH. TO. PACK!!! Here is a before picture of just my clothes. 
Yeah. It's just a little ridiculous. And that's just clothes. And I just cleared out of my apartment in Madison so there is even more stuff! Seriously, I don't know how I accumulated so much stuff and somehow didn't notice. I bet that I'll feel the same after my first year of teaching and I'll be standing there in front of the closet in my classroom, pondering where all this stuff came from!

But good news! I was able to sort and organize my clothes into one suitcase and one duffel bag. I have a huge pile of stuff to go to Goodwill and since I'm keeping all of my heavy sweaters and boots here for when I return to Wisconsin in the winter. Now the tough part is next - determining which things from my teacher hoarding pile do I need right away and what can I get at a later date? I've been collecting books for almost a year and have a pretty great collection. Moving them will be the tricky part though since I probably have like 500 books (I'll definitely do a post on that next!!)

And more good news! I got my first blog award! It's from Janis over at Grade Three is the Place for Me! A special award for bloggers who have less than 200 followers! So I definitely qualify for that!
Here are the rules for the award:
1. Link back to the person who gave it to you.
2. Post the award to your blog.
3. Give the award to at least 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers. 
4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have been offered this award

So I am passing it on to a few of my favorite bloggers that I have been following before I started my own blog!

1. Laura at Mrs Castro's Class

2. Aimee at Pencils Books and Dirty Looks

3. Heather at The Meek Moose

4. Heather at The Busy Busy Hive

Of course, some people's buttons aren't showing up, but I am too tired to figure out what the problem is; perhaps tomorrow! Have a wonderful night!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Folders and Notebooks and Spirals, Oh My!

Hi everyone!
This past weekend was wedding weekend for my very best and dearest friend. It was truly a wonderful day - long - but wonderful nonetheless. She and her new husband Ryan are great people and I loved celebrating their special day with them :)

Beautiful day for a beautiful bride!

So today I received an email from the first grade team leader at my new school asking me about folders and spirals for next year. Since my school has a 90% poverty rate, the school provides all of the supplies for the kids, which I think is fantastic since school supplies can be so expensive and the lists can be extensive. So anyways, the team leader emailed me asking me how much of each item I wanted. As a first year teacher, everything is so new to me that I was almost thrown into panic mode. My first real decision as a real teacher - do I want my kiddos to have a poetry spiral?! Would a folder work better? What about a math journal? A science journal? A thoughtful log? I'm sure veteran teachers are chuckling just a bit, but the fact that I had to decide makes it that much more real that I will be a real teacher next year, responsible for giving 23 kiddos the knowledge they need to help them do great things. So after I debated for quite some time, I decided on a poetry spiral, a thoughtful log, a math journal, and a science journal. For folders, I decided on a writing folder, a take home folder, a resource folder, and an extra in case one gets beats up over the year. I think that seems pretty good, but I'd love some second opinions if anyone has any ideas or if I missed something completely obvious!

And one last thing, Kate over at EduKate and Inspire is having a giveaway! There are some awesome prizes that I would love to win! Go check it out!

Also Lacey over at Wild about Teaching is celebrating 500 followers, something I hope to celebrate at some point! She is having a huge giveaway with some sweet prizes so definitely go and investigate!
Wild about Teaching!

And Tonya over at Tonya's Treats for Teachers is also having a giveaway. She is celebrating 300 followers and is giving away $10-$30 of her creations from TPT! So exciting!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Welcome to My Blog!

Hello All!

So this is my very post, and I'm pretty nervous about it! I spent all last night working on making look nice, which took way longer than I thought it would so bear with me as I tweak it to make it look just right!
My name is Liz, and I just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Elementary Education and a certificate in Gender and Women's Studies. So, needless to say, my very first year of teaching is just around the corner!
My lovely cohort and me on Graduation Day!!! (That's me in the back row, second from the right!)

As my blog name may suggest, I am not teaching in Madison, or even in Wisconsin, as there are certainly not many valleys around here. I am packing up my life here in Wisconsin in just a few short weeks, and moving across the country with my wonderful fiance to start a new adventure in Phoenix, Arizona. Evan will be starting graduate school at Arizona State University, studying conservation, and I will be teaching in a first grade classroom. It's kind of a huge leap to move so far away, but we thought long and hard about it, and everything about Phoenix for both of us just seemed so right. I fell in love with my new district at a career fair that I attended, and Evan really loved ASU so we think it's meant to be.

Evan and I are pretty excited to start a new adventure!

So, needless to say, packing up is NOT something that I am looking forward to nor is the 25+ hour car trip. But I am excited to have my own classroom next year and have a change of scenery as Wisconsin winters are not my favorite. I prefer nice, warm, sunny weather. I also love the color yellow, books, animals, and chai tea lattes! 

And what better way to start off a blog and a start of a new adventure than find out that I am a winner!!
Michelle over at Just Wild About Teaching emailed me today and informed me that I won a $20 gift certificate to Amazon! Which is great because I really love Amazon and I really want these books:

I've been reading some other bloggers who are doing book studies of these books, and they both seem like excellent resources to have!

Well, I have lots to do tonight - my best friend is getting married in just two days to her high school sweetheart...well technically less than that! So we're going out to dinner to celebrate my engagement and her almost-marriage!

So excited for Alyssa's wedding!!