Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Great State Plates

I have always loved to travel and some of my favorite childhood memories include family vacations (aka road trips) with my dad at the wheel, mom as co-pilot, and my sisters and I packed in the backseat of the car chanting, are we there yet? We didn't fly anywhere back then, so we took advantage of every opportunity to stop at those silly tourist attractions, roadside parks, Holiday Inns and STUCKEY'S! Of course, dad always missed the exit and my sisters and I would laugh and laugh about how dad always misses the exit (mom didn't think it was funny)! The point is, we loved to buy Stuckey's world famous divinity and shop for rare treasures (aka cheap souvenirs). Some shops featured collectible "State Plates" depicting a map of the state, fun facts and symbols of the state. I never really payed much attention to those plates until now- fast forward to my Social Studies Class/North America Unit/Regions/The United States and I have a flash back. Kids love to make things out of paper plates and I love things that are cheap so, I decided to let my classes use paper plates to create their own souvenir STATE PLATES! Students were assigned a random state (we drew names out of a hat) and then completed a research assignment using the Atlas, the Internet and other resources to find specific facts about their state. They then used the paper plate as a canvas to creatively display their research data and just like that- a GREAT STATE PLATE is born!

My daddy passed away five years ago this month and although I miss him like crazy, I can't help but think of him every time my family takes a road trip. The only difference is- we use GPS and Google Maps, my husband still misses the exits, and we stop at BUC-EE'S- Travel Center. And yes, they have divinity and cheap souvenirs!

Here are a just a few of my favorite souvenir plates~  

See you at Bucee's,
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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Me and My World

Rainy days are always a good excuse to blog (not that I need an excuse) and today it's raining cats and dogs at my house! So, I spent a little time today blog hopping to some of my favorite teacher spots. It always inspires me to see what other teachers are up to and I must admit that it makes me feel a little (well, a lot) guilty that I have been so behind on my post. I really don't have a good excuse other than- life happens. 

My sixth graders are up and running and I am so proud of the way they have adjusted to middle school. We have survived the first fire drills, learning to change classes eight times a day, the lunch line, the pick-up line, conquered combination locks, completed a successful "fun" raiser and yes, we are rockin' the social studies skills!

We started off our year with "Me and My World"-  a fun activity I created to introduce my students to geography and to some of the skills that I want them to master for my class such as; defining the difference between physical and human geography, learning to work in pairs, organizing information, following directions, shading maps and producing a creative project. The finished projects helped me get to know my students better and they make a great bulletin board display for open house. Here are some of my favorites!

Click the link below to download this lesson from my tpt store!

While you are blog hopping today, be sure to check out the new "I Love Clipart" link on my page! It is so much fun to find creative and colorful clip art just for teachers! 

Happy fall!
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Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Madness

It's Interactive Notebook time again! Seems like just yesterday we were setting up last year's INB's. Wow, time flies. Call me crazy, but I just finished covering 113 composition books with clear contact paper for my precious sixth grade social studies students. I know, I know, I am insane! But, seriously for me, it's a labor of love. I realize that some teachers let the students cover them (tried that and wasted lots of paper and class time) and others choose not to cover them at all (personal choice), but it's worth it to me to spend a few hours (four exactly) to protect their colorful cover collages for many years to come. Think of it as preserving history, creating a legacy, or just protecting intellectual property- however you look at it, it just makes for sensational social studies! Students bring magazine pictures from home reflecting geographical, historical, cultural, political or economical themes. We glue the pictures onto the front and back covers of the composition books during one class period (fun day). I use "Con-Tact" brand clear removable paper with a matte sheen to cover them. I purchased mine at Walmart and Target for about $5.per roll. I used about one roll per 25 notebooks. Here are some of my favorite covers so far. Feel free to share these ideas with your students who might need a little inspiration.

My students LOVE working in their Interactive Notebooks! Creating an original cover design allows them to express themselves from a world view perspective, explore and organize ideas and take ownership and pride in their learning. 

Note: I try to collect some old magazines during the summer for students who may not have them at home. Hint: check with your librarian at the end of the school year for old issues that she is about to toss!

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Remind 101

One year ago, I tried a free text-messaging service for teachers that revolutionized the way I communicate with my students and parents. I had always relied totally on written correspondence to get the word out about important events and announcements, but let's face it- the world is texting! I considered using texting, but didn't like the idea of students or parents having my private cell number and I certainly didn't want 120 students responding to my text. Thanks to Pinterest, I found out about Remind101 and my first impression was, "this sounds too good to be true" and "nothing is ever free". I am glad to say that I was wrong!  used it all year with my classes and it worked! The parents loved it and one year later, it is still free! I am thrilled that many of the teachers on my new campus are also hooked on Remind101, which makes me happy, happy, happy! What are you waiting for- start texting and teaching!

Click the link below for a short video about how Remind101 can work for you!
Click Here To Learn More

Until next time- 
Happy texting!
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Monday, September 2, 2013

The Finished Product

Happy Labor Day! I hope that everyone was able to get a second wind and enjoy a long weekend with family and friends. Although I had the best intentions of sharing the excitement of the first few days of school with you (in real time), I quickly realized that opening a brand new school is a whole new kind of crazy! I am just now coming up for air and finding time to blog! I can't wait to share the pictures of my new classroom with you. I hope you like my new space as much as I do! I am so blessed to have such a beautiful place to teach. After waiting all summer with anticipation, the construction crew finally moved out and we moved in to our brand new school on August 17. It came down to the wire, but we managed to open the doors for open house on August 25, (my birthday) and school opened for students on August 26. What a magical day! 

What my classroom looked like two weeks ago! A blank canvas!
I have lots of spots! I made this sign for my door and I just love the re-positionable spots I found a Hobby Lobby.

Welcome to Room 141- that's the spot for Social Studies!
The teacher's spot!
Wild about my new desk
A spot for my books!
I love my chevron baskets and cubbies for storage!
Colorful pennants are the perfect alternative to a curtain. I love how the chevron, zebra and dots come together here.
My favorite spot! 
This is one my student's favorite places to work.
A spot for reading about the world! 
Oh, the places in the world we will go this year!
This book rack was being tossed out by someone else and it made a perfect addition to my reading spot. One teacher's trash is certainly another teacher's treasure.

Supply caddies ready for group work!
Supply Center
Cork strips for hanging student work.
Motivational spot!
Word Wall- GRAPES for Social Studies
Artifacts from around the world. I love my chevron crate benches.
Magnetic Name Plate for my desk and of course, more spots.
I love my new room!

Have a great week and remember to be SENSATIONAL!
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Freebie First

Newsflash! Today is a day of first for me! I just posted my first product in my TpT Store and- it's a FREEBIE! I finally took the plunge and conquered my fear of putting something out there for the entire teacher world to view! I hope you will visit my store and better yet, I hope you will download my FREE Champs Expectation Poster! Here is a sneak preview- 

Positive classroom management is always a priority for me during the first few weeks of school and displaying this poster helps me reinforce my expectations with students in a fun and colorful way! Check out my Classroom Management Page for more info on CHAMPS!

Thanks to KPM Doodles for the amazing clip art alphabet! I love her doodles! Check out her blog too!

KPM Doodles

Speaking of first, today was also the first day of teacher training on my brand new campus! Meeting the staff, taking a site tour of the brand new building and seeing my completed classroom for the first time was so much fun.

Our mission "Building a Legacy" is perfect for our new campus. I'm in Room 141. I love saying that! The paint is barely dry, but I get to move in on Friday and I can hardly wait. So, look for some updates on my room by the end of the weekend. 
Our first official tour of the new campus! As you can see, they are still putting on the finishing touches!

I hope that your school year is filled with exciting "first" too and I would love to hear what you have planned for the first day of school! 

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Favorite Things

Happy Birthday Chandler!
This weekend I took a road trip to San Antonio, for my grandson's 8th birthday party. It was a quick trip, but I would not have missed it for the world! Thank goodness my husband did all of the driving so I had time to enjoy the beautiful hill country scenery, read a new book on my Kindle, visit with my mom and check-out some new blogs on Bloglovin! Traveling for six hours (one way) also got me thinking about some of my favorite things. Of course, family will always be at the top of the list followed by Starbucks, Cracker Barrel and sweet ice tea! Thanks to my iPad and mobile hotspot, I had a chance to pin some of my favorite new teaching ideas on Pinterest (follow me) and add a link list of my favorite Social Studies websites to my blog! 

Janet and Susan
Grading papers may not be one of my favorite things, but my favorite children's book, "The Little Red Pen" written by Susan Stevens Crummel (who also happens to be one of my dearest personal friends) and her sister, Janet Stevens is a must read for every teacher and it just happens to be Chandler's favorite too! Every time I grade papers, I think about this adorable book and it makes me smile! Even my sixth grade students love to read it. 
Susan Stevens Crummel

Here are a few of my favorite things for my new classroom! 

My FILETASTIC in zebra print from Mardel's.

I am wild about these bright new borders!

My chevron tubs from Lowe's.

What are some of your favorite things? Do you have a favorite blog, website, book, teaching tip? Share it with us!

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