Thursday, October 4, 2012

Spaghetti and Marshmallows anyone?

Today, our middle school students (grades 6-8) worked on teamwork, goal setting and building character.  They moved through the middle school classrooms and worked on activities to meet these goals and have a little fun. 

Since I teach Reading/Writing only, I thought it would be fun to branch out and avoid reading and writing today.  So, we built towers out of spaghetti and marshmallows (think tinker toys).  It was loads of fun!

Each team received approximately 50 pieces of spaghetti and 50 mini marshmallows.  The object of the game was to build the tallest free-standing tower in the room. 

Our rules included points to include EVERYONE in the group and use positive words only (any student using insults or inapprorpriate talk would disqualify their entire team). 

Here are some photos:


Note to self for next year:  Bring more wipes to school.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Losing my best (furry) friend :(

Last week we had to say good-bye to my best friend in the world, Ms. Sasha.  We only had her for 3 years but I'm pretty comfortable saying she was the love of my life.  She was ill, though, and is now at peace.  Here is a picture of her beautiful smile :)

School started two weeks ago and it has kept me extremely busy.  Photos to come soon. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Upper Elementary / Middle School Reading Freebies

I created this graphic organizer to be used with any fictional story or novel.  I also thought it would work well for the days my students earn time to watch a movie.  I often feel like we are wasting time, even though they've earned it AND everything I show is based on literature, so I think this will do the trick for my guilt. 

This next item is a sequencing graphic organizer that can be used to sequence main events or show a cause and effect chain. 

Finally, I created an organizer for vocabulary words.  I'm not sure if I will use this for every word, but I think it would be great for non-fiction texts. 


I'm in complete denial.  Although I'm leisurely reading some teacher books at home, I haven't been able to set my alarm to go in to school.  I end up sleeping in a bit and then farting around the house.  The next thing I know is it's noon and the school closes at 3:30.  This results in me staying at home. 

Is anyone else in denial? 

Monday, August 6, 2012

BTS Nightmare

It happened.  I had my first BTS nightmare last night.  I still have 4 weeks left of summer. 

It was the first day of school and I hadn't done anything in my room yet.  I got to school really early with my new vacuum (see previous post) and my principal wanted to use it to vacuum the steps.  Only instead of steps, it was an escalator.  And instead of my regular principal, it was some man I didn't know.  We were panicking because it was the first day, a half day of school AND administrators were coming through for a formal walkthrough already.  I got to my room and things just kept falling over, so I went to a room adjacent to mine and found a baby kitten.  Man that cat was cute. 

This happens a lot.  I'm not looking forward to sleeping tonight. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

So I went to Target to buy a vacuum...

...and I spent over $40 in the dollar section.  LOL

I did buy the vacuum.  I stay up super late in the summer and recently saw an infomercial for the Hoover Windtunnel Air and fell in infomercial love.  We have a Hoover Floormate hardwood floor cleaner that we love, so I figured it was worth a try.  With friends coming to stay this weekend, I think I'll be cleaning tomorrow. 

Anyway, got some awesome stuff in the dollar section at Target.  I usually try to avoid that area because I end up getting stuff I have no use for.  Here is a photo of the loot:

Purple pocket charts!  I have them in lime green and turquoise from years past, but I prefer stuff that isn't primary colored.  I got two packs of the puzzle border for our Autistic support teacher.  My 7th graders read two novels that center around Autism and end up volunteering in her room during centers.  I had one student ask me how many years of college are required to become an Autistic Support Teacher.  :-D 

The key chain is for my classroom key and the master key to the lockers on our floor.  I got the magnetic container for our refrigerator as a place to store our BoxTops for Education.  Finally, I SCORED with the dry erase pouches.  Class size in my district goes up to 34.  My Target had exactly 34 of them, so I knew it was a sign.  Here's a closer pic:

I guess it's a good thing my vacuum rung up at $20 less than it was marked!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fantastic Finds!

I always tell myself that I need to stay out of my local thrift shop.  I realize I spend money there, but I always end up getting such good deals.  I guess the same is true for the Dollar Tree! 

I found these baskets at the Dollar Tree today.  Perfect in color, I only needed 3 but I bought 6 of course (in case of breaking in the 

Another great find at the Dollar Tree was this word-find book.  Each page has an historical event and arond the box of letters there is a paragraph explaining something about that event.  All of the words in the word-find are written inside that paragraph in all capital letters.  I bought this for or Social Studies teacher.  It's great!

At my thrift store, I got two great Webster dictionaries for $1.25 each.  I plan to keep collecting them because my middle schoolers need a bigger dictionary than the kind I bought at the dollar store in years past. 

Oh, and I also found two kitchen stools that match perfectly to our butcher block counter tops for jst $25 each (of course, I had a coupon). 

 Perhaps someday my kitchen will be finished and I'll post a picture of that online.  For now, I cannot let anyone see what it looks like, since it's so embarassing. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Time for a laugh :)

I got some bad news today about my loving doggie, Sasha.  It appears she isn't doing well healthwise and may not be around much longer.

I needed a laugh, so I made a humorous poster to hang in my classroom.  I uploaded it to TeachersPayTeachers (as a freebie). 

How many others also have CDO?  lol 

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Summer Freebie

I am really spending my summer days relaxing, and it is nice.  I will try my best to start working on school stuff in August, but I'm trying to take it easy. 

Since it's been awhile since I've offered a freebie, I'm offering you an August 2012 - September 2013 black and white polka dotted calendar, for free :)

If you are looking for other calendars, I have plenty.  Some also allow you to type before printing!  Here is a link to my calendar selection:  Mrs. Croak's Calendars

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Edit: Thrifty Finds!

I promised myself I wouldn't shop a lot for school this summer, and I would focus as much energy as I could on renovating our home. (Books for my classroom library were, of course, exempt from this rule.)

Yesterday I went to the Dollar Store because my husband needed envelopes.  I found magnifying rulers for $1.00/each that I believe will be great in reading groups for students who need to stay focused on the lines that we are currently reading. 

I also went to the local thrift store to "buy large print books for grandmom" and we found plenty of them for her at $1.25 a piece.  She reads a few books per week and we're pretty sure she's read most of the large print books at her library.  I found some books for my library, but also got nice hardcover dictionaries for my students to use for $1.25 a piece.  REAL dictionaries -- like the kind people get you as a graduation gift before you head off to college.  I've got some dictionaries from the Dollar Tree, but they are built more like quick reference guides.

I also bought this lamp.  I left the shade on the shelf at the store because it was hideous and I felt bad throwing it away.  I covered the area where the bulb goes with a dinner napkin and some tape, then went to town with chrome spray paint from Krylon.  This is the result:

I used a Clorox wipe today to wipe off the spray paint dust -- what is that stuff anyway? -- so all I need is a good lamp shade.  I am DEFINITELY going back for another brass lamp.  There is too much chrome spray paint left in that must be used!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth Freebie!

Happy July 4th! 

Here's a freebie:  Patriotic Labels
*These labels are made using Avery template 5163 (2x4").  There is a text box already, so all you need to do is add your text and PRINT!

Stay safe, everyone!  Much of the country is under a heat warning.  Don't forget that continous hot weather causes dry earth.  Fireworks of any kind can start dangerous fires in your neighborhood.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Grading Papers Binder

This was a popular item when I maintained  I often feel like I'm drowning in papers to grade, so I came up with a binder that allows me to keep things organized. 

 I like to buy view binders and take a trip to Michael's scrapbook paper aisle. 

 I purchased these folders at Target for a little over $1.00 each.  There are 12 in the binder.

 I keep a quick class list on the inside and write in grades as I grade work. 
I use an online gradebook, but this gives me a quick glance to see who still owes me work. 

 One assignment goes in a folder and is placed at the front of the binder. 

 I created a page with laminated cardstock that says "Graded Papers".  When I finish grading something, I move the folder from the front and place it behind this page.  When I get to school, I can just pull out any folders behind this page to hand out or file.

I keep answer keys in the back of this binder for the marking period.  There is always a need to grade something later (from an absence or late assignment).  This way, they are all in one place. 

My binder isn't fool-proof, but I like that I can take the whole binder home, or just pull an assignment if I'm in a rush.  I can also grab a folder to take to meetings if we have downtime. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Word Study Activities

Here is a photo of my word study set-up:

I set up three of the same activity in a set of drawers.  Here is a photo "play-by-play" of setting up my "Bottle Cap" word study drawers:
(drawers from Target.  They are available in many other places as well.)
 Many months of saving up water bottle caps.  Consonants are labeled in black marker.  Vowels are labeled in red marker.

 (laminated directions hot-glued to the bottom of the drawer)

Here are direction sheets for the word work activities my upper elementary students did on a daily basis:

Daily 5 Continued

I started posting my "throwback" to my Daily 5 information here.  In my original post, I discussed my Daily 5 choice board. 

Here is a link to the cards I used: 

I have fancy cards in my TpT store that allow you to write in your own choices: