Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Honor and Gratitude

I've waited for several months to post this piece because I've been trying to sort my thoughts and words in a way that conveys exactly what I'm trying to say. Several months ago, I was honored to be named my school's Teacher of the Year. After that, I was named Teacher of the Year for my school system, then became part of Alabama's "Sweet Sixteen" when I was named the district 8 Teacher of the Year.  (We have 8 districts consisting of several school systems each in my state, and an elementary and high school teacher were named in each district).

I write this not to receive congratulatory comments, although I am very appreciative of all of the sweet words my friends have spoken to me, but rather to express my thanks and gratitude to my personal learning network. I received a great honor. But I feel that it belongs not just to me, but to all of those educators who have nurtured me, taught me, talked me through issues in the hallway and at lunch, sat next to me in workshops, etc...I am the teacher I am today not only because of my training and passion and desire to be better, but because of all the teachers who are a part of my circle.

From my own teachers in school who were beacons of hope and encouragement, who showed me how a great teacher interacts with students and colleagues. I often think back on them and recall their quiet smiles or snippets from their classrooms. To my Home Ec teacher in high school who let me be her aide and do bulletin boards and help me with scholarship applications and part time jobs. She is such a great influence. To my cooperating teacher during my student teaching all those years ago...I would be hard pressed to find a more caring, encouraging, compassionate person on this earth. Sometimes I still ask, "What would Nancy do in this situation?" To my coworkers...too many to name, but I will name a few anyway. Robin, who taught me how to be super-duper organized and was always a step ahead of me. Super helpful, she would bring me things that I didn't even know I need yet...but she knew. Thank goodness for her! Dana, who was my sounding board and partner during Masters classes and beyond. Creative, artsy, and just plain fun! Connie, who is about fifty times smarter than me (although she would never think that), who trained me as a Reading Recovery teacher and became a great friend in the process. To Melissa, who is super encouraging, smart, and a fabulous mentor. To Cara, who I share a brain and almost a name with. We've worked closely together for years and I don't know where I'd be without her! And there are so, so, so many more. If I wrote this in a novel (which I nearly have) I couldn't list everyone. Please know that if I know you personally or have corresponded with you online, you are on the list!

My point is this: I wish I could share this honor. Because I didn't get here on my own. Each time someone says, "Congratulations," I am reminded of all the people on my list who helped me on my journey. I am the teacher I am today because of the influences in my life, and I am thankful to God for them.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It: Teacher Binder

Two weeks from today, I'll be reporting back to school with the rest of the teachers in my district, and I can't believe how quickly the summer has flown by! I've really got to buckle down and get my head together, which is why I've been working for the past week on my new teacher/sub binders. I don't know about you, but there's just something about having an organized teacher binder that makes me feel like I'm ready to start a new year. I just get this happy feeling when I start to put my new binder together. 

Add that to my love of blue, green, brown, and birds and I've created an epic binder set. It includes a 2013-2014 calendar, pre-made dividers and forms, PLUS a file with every single page blank and editable!

Includes every page in the teacher and sub binder files, but they are blank and editable!

You can grab yours at Teachers Notebook or TeachersPayTeachers

I'm linking up with Tara's Monday Made It linky party. You can check out other teachers' great projects here

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It Freebie

I just love all of the great ideas and cute things I get to see on the Monday Made It linky! I've been going a little crazy making labels for my classroom and wanted to share the love with my bloggy buds:  Editable classroom labels in a polka dot and vertical striped theme:
Grab your copy here!

If you download it, please leave me a comment. I'd love to hear how you're using them. Check out the other awesome projects by visiting Tara's linky:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Covering Up The Clutter

I'm all about hiding the clutter in my classroom. Even if everything is neatly organized and labeled, I just don't like to look at it. For the past three years I've had a green bed sheet hanging from my ceiling to cover up that organized mess you see below, but this year I decided to make it a little cuter. Armed with 6 1/2 yards of blue fabric, my handy hot glue gun, bulletin board cuties, pvc pipe, wire, and of course my awesome hubby, we set to work! It's not completely finished yet. I plan to make paper frames for my three years of class pictures and add them to the scene, as if they're flying through the air in a bird's beak. I want to add the class picture to the scene each year.

Here's another one of my pet peeves...the backpack area. Oh, I know the kiddos have cute backpacks, but I despise looking at them all jumbled up and hanging in plain sight. My solution was to make these cute curtains to cover the mess!

And finally, the project that I actually sewed. After "living" in my room for three years I finally decided what type of curtains I wanted to make. They don't actually hide anything, but I absolutely LOVE the colors and the polka dots! 
Sorry about the bad picture!

151 Leading Sites for Elementary Educators

I'm so excited to have made the list on 151 Leading Sites for Elementary Educators! If you've never visited, you simply must check it out. They have links to teacher blogs and web tools, and everything is neatly organized by category. You can visit by clicking on the image below:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Made It: Library Labels

Finally! I've finished a Monday Made It project. Last summer I went crazy making things all summer long, but this year I've been so busy I'm just now getting to sit and be creative and crafty. My first order of business was to revamp my classroom library labels. I was getting pretty tired of the different colored baskets (green: nonfiction, red: chapter book series, etc...) Plus the red baskets really clashed with the pink cabinetry in my room. Please don't tell me I'm the only one that would be bothered by red baskets and pink cabinets together! I had two options: replace my red baskets with another color or swap out my colored baskets with the white ones in my attic and replace the labels. I decided to go with new labels to match my polka dot theme. And here you have the result:

My library sections will still be color coded, but since the labels are similar there will be a more cohesive look to the library. I plan to use green for informational, pink for chapter book genres, blue for chapter book series, purple for authors, and orange for picture book genres.

I started placing matching stickers on the backs of books many years ago so the students could easily return books to the correct baskets, so of course, I had to make new ones to match my new labels! I print them on Avery 1563 shipping labels. Two book labels print on each shipping label, so I just cut a straight line down the middle of the labels, then stick them on the backs of my books.

I included 120 labels, plus sheets of book labels that match all 120 basket labels. I've also included editable files in each color. If you're interested, you can find them in my store by clicking here

I also decided to make a file of simply blank labels while I was at it:
Find it here.

Want to see some other great projects? Check out Tara's awesome linky:

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Camellia Net: Alabama's Digital Library

Alabama readers, check this out! If you're looking for e-books Camellia Net is the place to go. Camellia Net (Get it?...our state flower) is Alabama's Digital Library which connects libraries all across the state. All you need is a library card to sign up and you can borrow books. I first heard about this service from a friend at a Christmas party last year, but didn't look at it right away. I then got busy and forgot about it until yesterday. My sister reminded me and even went through the site with me, so I decided to give it a try on my Kindle Fire HD. Here's what I found:

Go to the site, and choose your library. To sign in, type in your library card number.I had to do a little treasure hunting to actually find my card!

Search in the search box, or browse by genre.
You're allowed to borrow five books at a time. Each title has an icon in the upper right corner. If the icon is darkened, it is available for check out. If it is gray, you can place it on hold and an email will be sent to you when it is available. 

Tap the book you'd like to borrow and tap "Borrow." 

You'll be given two options: Download or Read in Browser. I chose to download my book and was sent to the Amazon store where I had to choose which device to have the book delivered to. You can also see in the bottom corner that it shows I have two books checked out. After you've finished reading, you can just return the book.

If you're like me, you've probably heard of this before and maybe got a little side-tracked and forgot about this awesome service. Well, here's your reminder! Go log in now before you forget :)

If you're still reading and from another state, congratulations!!! I didn't want to leave you out, so I will tell you that I did a quick Google search and found that most states have a similar system in place.

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