Mrs. Landry's Land of Learning

A place dedicated to learning for ALL students!

Still kicking over here!

Hello!  I’m back!  So sorry!  I moved.  Yep.  We’re back in the house.  Thank goodness.  The apartment was about to drive us crazy.  But now it’s been issues with getting unpacked, finding our stuff, and fighting with the contractor to get some fixes done.  To anyone who does construction for a living…bless you.  I could never do the job.  Thankfully my husband is more than willing to do the arguing.  So needless to say I’ve been busy.

School didn’t stop for me just because I moved (although I did take 2 days off to get our stuff to the house).  We did a Dr. Seuss unit (can I say that?!) and had Stick Horse Rodeo (so cute!).  Yes I live in Texas.  🙂  I thought about trying to do a bunch of posts to catch things up.  But right now that’s a little too overwhelming to sort out.  So I”ll just pick up right here and keep going.  Keep moving forward, right?

Okay so this morning is my first day back from Spring Break.  I had a great time cleaning the house and trying to put it back together.  Yes I really did.  Throw in a night at the Houston Rodeo (Jake Owen was awesome!) and some good quality time with my little one and it was a great week.  We finished it off Saturday with some family time and getting to visit with our niece and new nephew.  He’s so cute!

So today I’m back in my room.  Things are not quite the same in so many ways.  You see before I left for Spring Break I did something.  Something that I had been itching to do for the past several weeks.  I rearranged my room.  Now I know y’all haven’t seen what my room was before.  So here is what I started the year out with:

Okay not bad.  I liked it.  But I had 2 whole group areas.  One in front of the calendar that I used in the morning.  The other in front of the word wall and big book stand.  While it worked for a time, I was itching to have my whole group be in one place and to be able to use my whiteboard even with the kiddos on the floor.  So I came up with this:

I’m excited to see how this works out!  Now as you can see I’m not done.  The blank chalk board will become my word wall.  I’ve also got to relabel where the kiddos go for stations.  But now I’m excited for the rest of the school year!  I’ve been recharged!  Nothing like a little spring cleaning to reset things.  😉  I’ll keep y’all posted as to how it works out as well as pictures of the finished product.  Tomorrow I’m hoping to share what I’m doing in stations this week.  I’m almost done getting that post organized.

Happy Teaching!

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Change is in the air…

Yes I’m still here! No my firsties have not swallowed me whole… Yet. 😉 Kidding! I am loving my students and have been MIA from the blogging world trying to take care of them. I almost always seem to forget how draining establishing routines can be on my mind and body. Losing my voice after the first couple of days doesn’t help either. But that’s okay too. Things are starting to take a normal tone. For now. 🙂

So where have I been? Working, taking care of my daughter, and giving my husband the time he needs to work on his masters. Throw in my birthday (meaning family trip to the lake house) and some showers and you get one tired lady! But I digress… My title for this post is significant for a couple of reasons.

First being that my campus said good bye to our principal of three years. She is leaving us for another position. While we’re going to miss her, we wish her luck in her new endeavors and hope she does well. We do not know yet who our new principal is going to be (scary thought!) but we plan to carry on and know that we are going to be okay. Change is not a bad thing.

On that note, here’s my latest news as of this evening. My house (unfortunately) was built with toxic Chinese drywall. It is made with sulfur compounds and emits a sulfide gas. It’s corroding and tarnishing everything as well as being smelly (although we don’t notice it due to the fact we’ve lived in it too long to know). So long story short, we are part of a major settlement to get the house fixed. This means the walls and ceilings are being torn down inside and redone along with HVAC and electrical. Full scale renovations. We are moving out while this is being done. We’ve been waiting for two years now to get the news we got tonight. Our move out date. We have to be out of the house by mid November. WOOOHOOO!!

While I’m excited, reality is setting in and we’re starting the packing process. This may mean I’m MIA more often. I’m hoping not but we all know life has a way of changing how things happen. I’m asking for patience and understanding if I am absent at times. Know that I want to be with y’all but that I must take care of my family as well. I’ll post updates as things really get going and hope to turn this into a fun adventure.

Okay back to teacher mode! So I got an idea of something to make tonight and if it works out like I hope it does, it might be a shareable thing. Like a product you can use. My second one. I’m starting to see where all these teachers get their ideas to create and sell. Here’s hoping it works out. I’ll be looking for input. My room looks better now I’ve got supplies put away and stations really going. I’ll do a picture post real soon. I’ll also share how I stay organized and some of my little tricks to this trade. So stay tuned!

Happy Teaching!

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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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It’s got me! It’s got me!

So once again I’ve been so busy working that I have not been able to come up for air and post some progress.  But luckily I beat things back enough to get out for the weekend.  For the most part my room is done.  I’m just doing finishing touches really.  I start inservice tomorrow and the kiddos start arriving on the 27th.  I’m really excited to get going.  But before I could let myself, I just had to do one thing.  I knew what I was getting myself into when I started but I could not put it off anymore.  Doing the cute finishing touches would be my reward.  So I took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet.  I organized my filing cabinet.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  (Cue screeching violins!)

Here’s what it looked like (although I forgot to take a true before picture so you’ll see the start of my work):

Hey wait?  Where did the stuff go?

It’s already being worked on here…

…and right here.

So where did all this come from?  Well when I changed to first grade 3 years ago, I inherited this room from a retiring teacher.  Need I say more?  Of course I wanted as much as she wanted to give me as I was new to the grade level.  I didn’t even have experience in it during my college days.  Well she had soooooooooooo much stuff that it took her several months to bring it all from home!  Yikes!  But she gave me her files.  I tried to get started on getting it sorted and figured out.  What did I learn?  One there was A LOT of stuff.  Two she had several copies of files.  She must have had a set of files at home AND at school.  No joke.  So I just made do with just cramming everything in the my two file cabinets and telling myself I would get to them gradually.  Yeah right.  Oh wait!  I found more in my storage spot!

So since I got my room well set up earlier than I normally do, I decided I couldn’t ignore things anymore.  I got to work.  It took about half the week to do all of reading, language arts, and math.  Science and social studies will have to happen as the year goes as we’ve done some reorganizing there.  Science is no problem.  It’s a small amount.  Social studies on the other hand.  Well…Take a look:

Yep.  2 crates full.  But this includes seasonal stuff.  I’m talking there are files called Spiders, Indians, Snowflakes, Penguins, Valentines Day, and so much more.  So this will happen as the year progresses.  It was easier to get it out of the cabinet completely.  As I go through it, the sorted files will go into the cabinet in order.  So I cleaned everything up and made it look so much better.  Here’s a look at one drawer:

See?  Much better!

So did you tackle a chore you’ve been putting off for a while?  Or did you do a complete overhaul?  Please share!

Happy teaching y’all!

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Arranging those desks

So I’ve not been able to be in my classroom really working as I’ve still not gone shopping.  😦  I’ve also been at a couple of meetings, a workshop, and helped to select a new member for my first grade team!  Hurray!  But I did manage to get in and arrange my desks.  Now I’m having to plan for some large numbers.  Although since we’re bringing in another first grade teacher, it won’t be 23 anymore.  Whew!  But I’m making sure I can get a good number in there- 20 to be exact.  Like many of you fellow educators, I struggle every year with the decision on how to arrange my student desks.  And it’s not just a beginning of the year problem.  Oh no.  It’s all year long.  And once those darling kiddos walk in my door, the added challenge of putting them in the right place just makes my head spin!

But last year, I had a couple of students who qualified for special ed. inclusion support.  This meant either an aide or a special ed. teacher came to my room to work with these students.  Fortunately, I was allowed to take advantage of this and they also helped me work with my other strugglers.  I could have 2 groups going simultaneously.  But here was a tricky part.  I have only one small group table (love that table too!) and both of us could not use it at the same time.  I also worked to keep those students grouped together so that the aide or myself could be in one place for the most part.  Well that was easy.  Then one day I was in my doormate’s room and she had a group of desks arranged differently.  The lightbulb clicked!  I asked her what made her do it that way and she said it allowed her to stay at the front of the room, and teach sitting right in front of those students to help keep them focused. Then, when they moved into an independent practice, there was no time wasted moving to the table and all students could get right to work and she could easily observe those needy babies while still watching the rest of the class.  I immediately went to my room and made a change.  Love it!  This is what I did:

So simple and yet so great!  I put an extra student chair (grown-up sized chairs are rare in my world of small children) in the middle space.  It worked great.  I sometimes moved some students to work with my aide/teacher support and the students did fine.  If there was no sub for my aide and I was on my own, I was able to teach easily from the seat and still be right there next to my little darlings.  So this year I decided to do this with 2 groups.  Why?  Just to try it.  I know I’m going to have several struggling students and I might have to spread them out a bit for some basic logistics.  Not sure yet as I don’t have a finalized list and I won’t until right before school.  But at least I have the floor space!

The picture below shows a minor adjustment that I forgot I made last year as well.  Big thanks to Jan (my doormate) for helping me remember!

I rotated my large cubby shelf and was able to move my computer desks down.  This gives me more room up front, easy access to the station tubs that will go on the shelves, and a small area between the computers and the shelf to put my pocket chart stand when not in use (which reminds me I need to find that thing as it’s not found its way home yet!).  I’m sure you can see that I’ve labeled my shelves and I can tell you’re curious.  Just wait.  😉  I’ll get to those.

So how is your room coming along?  Are you just getting started, almost done, or not even thinking about it yet?  Let me know!

Happy Teaching!

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My 2012-2013 Classroom! Part 1

Well I got into my classroom  yesterday for the first time since I left in May.  You know what?  I was excited!  I usually see the whole process of setting up my room as a big chore that I want done as quickly as possible before inservice starts.  Once inservice starts I don’t usually have enough time to work in it anymore.  Especially this year since I am now first grade team leader.  But after all the blog stalking and pinning all over Pinterest, I’m pumped!  I walked into my room and saw a blank slate.  Quite literally as we’re required to keep our wall hangings to a minimum.  Here is the starting point:

So since I had my 3-year-old with me(as you saw in the first picture) and the A/C was not turned on and I live in East Texas (enough said), I have not done much.  I have moved all the big furniture into place and wiped them down with baby wipes (they are part of the school supply lists and great for this job).  Here is another look with some quick early work done:

Since these photos, I’ve finished putting the shelves in place and wiped them all down.  I have also put the desks in a large grid for now until I figure out how I want to arrange them.  I am also currently working to streamline my colors to just blue and yellow.  So I’ve taken down all of my border and any fabric that did not match.  Oh and by the way, I love fabric for my room boards!  They take years to fade!  I’ve been using this same fabric for about 5 years now and still don’t have to replace it!  I would show you a picture of all this other work except I didn’t get the chance as my daughter wanted lunch and fast!

So what are my next steps?  Well I’m going to get the needed fabric and border and finish putting them up.  I’m going to clean and re-hang my curtains for the shelves and windows, and I’m going to start putting things back.  What’s that you say?  There isn’t much to put back?  Where is everything?  Well it’s right here:

We have a storage room on our hall!  Would you believe it used to be a classroom?!  Very small!  This is my parking spot (as designated by masking tape on the floor) where all my personal teaching stuff are.

Most of this will go back in my room when I’m done.  I’ve got some storage drawers that I’ll be lining in my colors to spruce them up as well.  Want to know how to do that?  Head over to Kinder-Craze and see this post.  You’ll love it!  I’ll post more pictures once more has been done.

Happy Teaching!

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Spring…I mean Pinterest cleaning

So in all my blog stalking, I’m seeing a reoccurring trend of organizing and sprucing things up.  My idea of fun!  I love being organized!  I always get complimented on how organized my room is.  I’m sad to say that there are many days during the school year where my classroom is in better shape than my house.  I know I’m not the only one!  But during the school year, I spend way more time in my classroom.  AND there are A LOT more bodies in my classroom.  AND it is a A MUCH smaller space than my house.  Okay I’ll stop justifying as I’m sure you get the idea.

Well I saw an article from Teaching Blog Addict concerning Pinterest (you can see it here).  It talked about making sure the links actually work and how to pin from a blog so that you can actually get to the blog posting and not a list.  Many a good idea has been lost to cyberspace if not pinned correctly!  Well it also talked about how to organize your pins.  So as we all know, we can’t create a board within a board.  So you have to figure out a system that works for you and makes sense to your followers.  Well today the itch to clean up my boards finally got irritating enough that I had to scratch (it was also raining cats and dogs all day so I was bored).

Okay so I got started with one of my smaller boards and it went pretty good.  So then I looked at my biggest board.  The one labeled “Ideas I like for school”.  A whopping 270+ pins on that board.  Oh joy.  Well I knew that the best way to systematically go through each pin was to create a series of new boards and then move my pins to those boards essentially emptying the current one.  Well it’s slow moving work let me tell you!  I have to make sure that each pin works and that it’s something I want to keep on my boards.  Also, I found a couple of pins that the links didn’t even work.  Why didn’t I do this when I was originally pinning all this stuff?  No clue.  But now I’m a determined gal!  I will get this done before the end of summer!  So anyways, it’s a long slow process and it will not get finished tonight.  I can also see how in the future, as my boards get more cluttered, how I’ll be doing more such cleanings later on.

But I will say I’ve been inspired by the blog posts about organizing and arranging classrooms that I can’t wait to get into my room next!  School doesn’t start for another month but I’d rather start sooner than later and do it slowly than rushed.  Of course some of these ideas were found on Pinterest!  Want to see what I’m thinking of?  Follow me on Pinterest and you will!  I’ll be posting more on that G/T book study in the next few days once I get more read.

Happy teaching y’all!

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