Mrs. Landry's Land of Learning

A place dedicated to learning for ALL students!

Wait…Mrs. who?!

I have missed this sooooo much!  So why haven’t I done anything about it until now?  Because life has been that way.  You know what way I mean.  When it just puts other things in front of you that you have no choice to deal with.  Fortunately, my family and I, we are tough.  After our house stuff (read about that here), there’s nothing we can’t tackle!  But unfortunately, it meant some things had to be set aside.  While it meant this, I really did think about it almost every free second I had.  I just could never get my hands on my computer to do it.  But on to what I’ve been up to…

SCHOOL!!  I’ve been at this with my kiddos for the last 4 1/2 weeks!  Whew!  In that amount of time, I have gained 20 little darlings, gotten just about ALL of my reading benchmark testing done (that will be finished tomorrow!), and ALL of my math benchmark testing.  I’ve also gotten my room finished in the last few days (it was mainly little things by this point, but that’s how bad it was).  I’ll post pictures of that for your grand tour soon.  I’m knee-deep in reading and math stations and I, frankly, don’t always know which end is up!  😛

But I’m so happy to be back in my classroom and working with my kiddos.  I’ve got a lot of plans I want to accomplish this year and a lot of that includes creating things myself.  I scared!  I look at everyone’s awesome creations and just tremble at the level of awesomeness they are and what I would love to do.  But I know I’ll get there eventually.  I have a new doormate as my former one went back to her true love in teaching, Kindergarten.  But don’t worry, she’s only in the next hall so I’m sure she’ll pop up on here again!  My new one is a dear friend of mine who is new to first grade so I’m giving (hopefully) a helping hand when needed.

Now I really didn’t have much to share.  But I had the opportunity to post something so I took it.  One thing I do want to share that is totally classroom stuff is iPad rules.  Last year, every teacher got an iPad.  Yay!  Now I have a personal iPad (my hubby so rocks!) that I had already been bringing to use for testing and in my small groups.  It’s not in the most protective of cases so I didn’t want to turn my kiddos loose on it and have the horrible thought (which I won’t say/type just to be sure!) happen.  So I waited for our classroom iPad to come.  And it did!  And it came with an Otter Box!  Hello!  iPad station is on the way!  But we needed rules.  Just like we do for everything else.  So then I consulted one of my best friends…Pinterest.

After looking at various different versions of rules and such, I compiled my favorites and came up with this:

This was last year’s poster btw.  Now I added the last rule.  And let me tell you.  It works.  I told my kiddos that if they fight, the iPad goes away.  For a while.  Period.  Now they didn’t get their hands on it until the last couple of months of school.  So it wasn’t until the last couple of weeks that the squabbles started:

Kiddo: Mrs. Landry!  So-and-so won’t let me have my turn!  It’s my turn to have the iPad!

Me: Gee, do I hear fight over the iPad?  Are y’all fighting? (Yes I knew full well they were!)

Kiddo: NOPE!!

The complainer would then rush back as the offender readily handed the treasured tablet over.  🙂  I never had to take it.  Now I reviewed the rules a lot with them.  That helped.  And when certain situations got too close to me needing to take it, I reminded them what would happen.  Thankfully, that’s all I had to do.

Now this year I’m using the same rules.  But I very much believe that anchor charts should be created with the kiddos.  So I set it up like so:

Then the next school day, I went through each rule and what they looked like as I filled it out with them.  I would write it first and then explain it.  You should have heard the sounds as I wrote rule number 7!  Too funny!  But anyways…Here’s this year’s finished rules:

(Please excuse the feeble attempt at prettiness…I’m not very good at drawing or writing fancy but I do have fun with colorful markers!)  And so far, so good!  Well that’s it for me!  I am GOING to be back real soon to share what I’m doing in my room and what I’m using.  I’ll also be working on a picture tour of my room (and those pictures will be used for my sub binder I want to create) so you can see this year’s Land of Learning.  If you are a follower, thanks so much for sticking it out with me!  I love you soooo much!

Happy Teaching!

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I wanna talk about…ME!

Yeah I know. I’ve been MIA for a while. The time moved too fast for me. But that just means that this is the perfect time to get on this Teacher Week 13 bandwagon and get back in the swing of things! So here’s the first one: (WARNING: Facts may be a bit random…correction…they WILL be random!)

1. I helped make a movie with Melanie Griffith and Michael Douglas. No joke. It’s called “Shining Through” and it was made in the early 90’s in Germany while we were stationed in Berlin. I was a stand-in for one of the characters. So I wasn’t in the movie. But my sister was! I know where she is but you wouldn’t know it’s her. Only brief glimpses but still cool!

2. I sing. Classically. I used to be quite the high screeching soprano. Time, lack of training, and acid reflux have cut down my range. But I can still sing. Classically. Love it too. Only really do it at church but I also have fun singing lullabies to my little one. 🙂

3. Going along with that, I played flute in high school. Yes I was a band geek as well as a choir geek. Proud family lineage too! I went on to march in my college marching band. “The Boldest Sound from the Oldest Town” of Texas! GO JACKS!

4. Another tie-in. I love my college. It was some of the best 4 years of my life. I met some great friends there, my husband, and got to become a teacher. Totally awesome all around!

5. I’m the oldest of 5 children. 3 girls, 2 boys. Yes my mother needs continued prayers for her sanity. She really is a saint! Love you Mom!! 😉

6. I was of legal age to drink alcohol for 3 days before I could even drive a car. Why do you ask? I turned 16 while stationed in Germany. So what? Well, the drinking age there is 16 and the driving age is 18. Yep. You read that right. They take their driving VERY seriously so that’s why. I turned 16 three days before we moved back to the States for good. So what did my family and I do on my birthday? We went to a local gast haus (restaurant) and my dad…bought me a beer!

7. I used to live just minutes and hours from the different places that “Sound of Music” was filmed in. The German Alps were my backyard view.

8. I learned to ski in those Alps. Haven’t done it since though. :/

9. I hiked around 80 miles in 10 days at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. I was a Venture Scout through the BSA and an opportunity came up for me to go with one sister and my mom. I’m so glad I went! It was a truly awesome experience! We saw bears, I almost sat on a rattlesnake (seriously), and I hiked the tallest peak faster than the rest of my crew. With a knee brace and trekking poles. Granted by the last day, I was in 2 knee braces (one on each knee). But again. Totally. Worth. It.

10. Chocolate is my lifeline. Without it, I can’t survive the school year. Or the summer. Or any time for that matter. It’s a separate food group for me. But funny thing? I don’t like dark chocolate. At all. Yuck. I give it to my husband every time. Luckily he loves it. So it all works out. 🙂

Well there you have it! Go check out other great fun facts about other great teachers!

Happy Teaching!

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At first I was afraid…

I was petrified…

No not really!  That song just popped in my head for the main words- I’m a survivor!  Why?  Because I got through the first day of school.  Only victims are my feet.  They hurt.  But my hubby massaged them for a few minutes and even offered to do it again tomorrow.  Yep.  He’s a keeper.

Oh speaking of my hubby, can I brag on him for a second?  My husband works full time and is currently going to school for his counseling degree.  He comes home and gets straight to work on school work.  He’s got great grades and is a great role model for our daughter.  I’m just so proud of him.  He also had today off (thank goodness!) and still made sure I got out the door super early and got our little one to daycare on time.  OH and he let me stay late to clean up supplies.  I’ll say it again.  Keeper.  I love him!

My first day was great.  I’m excited to get to work with this great group of first grade babies.  Right now I’m going to finish putting numbers on clothes pins and getting work folders labeled so that I may sleep good tonight.  Tomorrow is day 2!

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Ready or not…here they come!

Well tomorrow is it.  The first day of school.  My little first graders will be walking into my room ready for me to fill their eager brains with great knowledge.  And I am more than ready for it.  My plans are perfect and my room is spotless.  All materials ready to be used at a moment’s notice.  It will be a perfect year.

Ha!  Yeah right!

No I am pretty ready.  Friday night I met 17 out of my 19 new first graders that are supposed to walk through my door.  It was so much fun to meet them too.  Before that, I was starting to panic about getting my room ready.  I have been doing a lot of work for my awesome team (I’m team leader for the year) and I got a little behind.  That and trying to make my bulletin board look great, I got some much appreciated help from a great aide in our building and my awesome doormate.  I then stayed a little later after the families and kids left and got more under control.  Tomorrow morning I’m going in super early to avoid traffic issues and finish up what I need to get done.  I’m good to go.

So tonight I’m just doing some last minute prep work and making sure I stay calm.  My prep work involves setting up my weekly binder.  In my school, we divy up our lesson plan writing responsibilities.  We then post them on the district server and it’s up to us to print what we need.  Well I was using a big lesson plan book from Lake Shore and basically was re-writing all my plans.  Well no more!  I’ve been using a binder that I empty and refill each week with the needed plans.  When I move plans out, I put them in a large binder and keep them for a year so I can go back as necessary.  We also get a weekly update from our principal each week that I put in the front of the plans so I know what’s happening around the school.  In my large plan book, I wrote down what we had for CLAMP (computer, library, art, music, P.E.) along with what students were absent and daily conduct issues.  We also have 3 different playgrounds that we rotate through so I always wrote down which playground we were on (someone would always forget!).  While I’m wanting to only use the binder, I still want to record absences, conduct things, CLAMP, and playground rotations weekly as well for my records.

So I created something.  And I want to share it with you.  My first ever creation to share with the teacher blogging world.  I’m a little nervous.  I’m calling it a Week at a Glance.  You can get it here.  The font is from Kathy Law at First Grade a la carte.  She did an awesome job with it and I think it makes the page a little more fun to use every day.  If you like what her font looks like, please let her know.  She’ll be excited to hear it.

Well I really need to finish up, shower, and try to sleep before the big day.  Sorry for lack of pictures.  I’ll do a big picture post some time this week showing off my room and my binders that I spoke of above.  In the meantime, let me know what you think of my Week at a Glance.  If I can modify it for you, please contact me.  To all of us starting tomorrow, good luck!

Happy teaching y’all!

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What I want to be when I grow up

Ahh the classic writing prompt used by teachers everywhere.  Always good in a pinch.  Well this time I’ll be the one to answer this as I’m joining up with Janaye at Tales of Frogs & Cupcakes for her linky party.  First one ever!  So here it is…  What I want to be when I grow up.

Truthfully, I’ve always wanted to teach.  Thinking back, it’s really hard to pinpoint what made the decision for me.  I know I’ve known it since I was really young.  That’s not to say I didn’t think about other jobs or professions.  I did.  But every time I moved forward on setting up my grown up life, it always was a step towards my own classroom.  I honestly think it had to do with my memory of learning to read and a couple of key teachers in my school days that did it.  It also didn’t hurt that I was the oldest of 5 children and was around little kids a lot.  Not only was I around them a lot, it was quickly determined that I was good at taking care of them.  Oh how my parents exploited that skill!  😉

But I digress… If you’ve read my “About Me” page, I talk about my memory of reading my first story to my mother.  I do have odd memories here and there of doing sight word cards with my mother… and having a particularly hard with time with the word “and” for some reason.  Great frustration for my mother and me.  But all that went away on the day that I came flying home from the school bus stop shouting, “Mommy I can read!  I can read!”  My teacher had given me my reader to take home and show her.  Funny part, I don’t remember working on it in class very much.  Those memories are kind of fuzzy for some reason.  Anyways… My mother asked me to show her (which was not necessary as I had already thrown my backpack somewhere and was sitting down to read).  As she watched, I slowly got through the story.  By the end of it, my mother had tears running down her face and was in the process of wrapping me up in a huge bear hug.  From that time on I always had a book in my hands.  As I got older and reflected on that memory, I realized that I wanted to help children get that same aha! moment and own it.  I wanted to help them turn those light bulbs on.

But as I already said, that wasn’t the only thing.  There were also some really great teachers.  Let’s see who I can remember.  There was Ms. Waldrop in 2nd grade.  Ms. Brimie in 5th grade.  Dr. Swychowski in AP Government.  Mrs. Tate and Mrs. Saunders in English 11 GT/AP US History. There were several great college professors too.   All of these teachers influenced me in some way.  It was a mixture of how they taught their classes that kept absolutely everyone engaged and how they took a personal interest in me.  I remember Ms. Brimie especially.  On the days that were for parent-teacher conferences, she made them parent-teacher-student conferences.  We all talked about what my learning goals were and what we would all do to achieve them.  And you know what?  She helped me get just about all of them!  Talk about dedication!  Bottom line, I had great examples of what being a great teacher should look like.  I wanted to be just like them during the years I was in their rooms.

So when it was time for college and picking a major, I proudly proclaimed elementary education!  I do not regret it one bit.  Later, my dad told me something that just about sums things up for me, “I’ve always regarded teaching as a calling…not just another job or profession.”  You know what?  I think he’s right.  Teaching is a calling and one I’m thankful I answered.  I get stressed out and wonder what I got myself into.  My husband is right there with me.  😉  But honestly?  I can’t picture myself doing anything else.  I love teaching!

Happy Teaching!

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Who is Mrs. Landry

I teach in a small school district in East Texas and love it!  I have been teaching for the past 6 (almost 7) years and I’m still going strong!  My first four years were spent in 2nd grade and I treasured that experience so much.  There’s something about that age group that is just so neat to watch- they are still so young and wanting to please you as well as be outright loving and yet becoming independent thinkers and learners.  Watching them make this transition is a real treat.  I have a special place in my heart for that age group (although my mother would say I have a special place in my heart for ALL kids…hmmm…maybe!).

But after my daughter was born 3 years ago, I decided I did not have enough new stuff going on that I just HAD to add a new grade level on top of that!  While my first year was a rough transition as I was learning motherhood as well a whole new teaching mind set, it was definitely worth it!  I get to watch my little ones make connections and start reading!  How cool is that?!  It’s awesome!  To be honest, first grade is what I thought I always wanted to teach from a young age as it was the grade level usually associated with learning to read.  Kindergarten now encourages that too but a lot of students need first grade to put what Kindergarten started into place and then BAM!  They become readers!

This makes me want to share why I always thought I’d teach first grade.  I remember reading my first story to my mom when I was in first grade.  I remember running into the house shouting, “Mommy!  I can read!  I can read!”  I remember sitting down with my reader and reading that story.  I remember the tears in my mother’s eyes as I finished and I remember the HUGE hug I got in the end.  Well that was the start of my reading obsession.  Since then, my parents could not get books OUT of my hands!  Combined with always working with little kids (being the oldest of 5 children certainly helps) and always loving school, it seemed only natural that I become a teacher.

So here I am!  So that’s a little about me.  I hope you continue to follow me!

Happy learning/teaching y’all!

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Hello world!

Hello to my fellow educators and parents!

I have been having this crazy idea to create a blog centered around teaching after coming across so many wonderful teacher blogs!  This first post is VERY short as I still need to get ready for the coming week and it’s rather late (oops!) but I just had get started with something!  I’m very excited about this new venture and can’t wait to see what it turns into!  Stay tuned for more in the land of learning!

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