Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back to School Freebie!

For most of us, we're fighting the urge to bust out in song and dance at the thought of going back to school. Right?! Pssshhhht! Ya right! If you're like me, the stress is starting to pile on at the thought of "Holy moly, what am I going to teach and wear and do and buy and make and--" yes, you get the point. With that in mind, I started to plan out my first week of school activities, and am sharing a freebie with you. I plan on having my students take their best guess about me before sharing, making it somewhat interactive and fun. Click on the picture to download and enjoy! :)

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hollywood Style Classroom!

Did you know Thursday is August 1st? As in the month most of us go back to work. That's a sad, sad, story, especially for those of us who have to set up classrooms, and aren't lucky ducks who got to keep theirs up from last school year! Needless to say, this mama has been working off and on (okay--a little more off than on) on her room! I went in today to finish painting, and managed to get a few other things done. Trust me.. I have a LONG way to go in this joint!

I painted that black up there with chalkboard paint. I considered painting the columns red, but put some stars (that I'm not done with) instead, because painting is not something I'm especially good at. Just ask my husband.. he'll tell ya. :)

 I also painted those cabinet doors, but think I'm going to add red ribbon around each frame to cover all my mistakes. It'd be perfect if I could find red ribbon with yellow stars... I painted that red back there, too. See the shelf there that is crooked? I fought with it for a while, but you can see who actually won.

Now onto "Monday" made it.. on Tuesday. I tried soooo very hard to get this post done last night, but then my husband wanted to go to the gym, and I couldn't pass that opportunity up. 

So, what is it that I made? Well--the changes in my new classroom, a classroom flag aaaaand....

 I'm super excited about this system, and not just because the behavior chart matches perfectly in my room! I think I have finally found a simple-enough behavior management system that I can actually keep up with. Students begin the day on ready to learn, and move up or down on the chart depending on their behavior. At the end of each day, I "pay out" students. For those students who are still on ready to learn, I give $1. Those students generally are the ones who actually moved down, but moved back up to be where they are. Each step up is worth another dollar, while steps down have consequences. I do carry money around with me such as in the hallway and lunch, because I like to "catch" students doing the right thing and immediately pay them out. It works wonders when you have a chatty line and pull out the, "Man! Sarah I LOVE the way you are being silent in the hallway!" card and whip out a dollar. Your line grows amazingly still and silent! :)

Here's a quick picture of the money that I use..

And the best part... the reward tickets! I'm so over having a treasure box that stresses me out by having to continually add prizes to it. I use these 25 reward tickets, hole punch them and use a binder around them, like this.

This way I don't waste ink printing full pages of each, and the ring fits in my bucket that I keep all the reward tickets in.

Each set of coupons has its own baggy, so they're easy to locate when a student decides which one they wish to buy.

Paying Out!

This is probably the best part of the system! Whenever I notice students acquiring a good bit of money, I have them grab their cash, count it, and have them get ready to shop! How much does each ticket cost, you ask? Well, that part is completely up to you and your class. When I introduce this system to my class, I have them name their top 3 choices of reward tickets. This gives me an idea of how to price them. The most popular of course cost the most, usually between $8 and $10. Not too expensive that they are out of the question, but enough to make the kiddies work towards it! Students come to the small group table ready with their money and what they want in mind, and the whole process tends to take around 15 minutes.

For those students who don't quite have enough money, I take the opportunity to conference about how their behavior needs improvement, and we figure out how much more money they need to get what item they want.

Does this look like a system that would work for you in your own classroom? If so, click here to view it in my TPT shop. Do you like the idea of classroom money and reward coupons, but don't have a Hollywood theme? No worries! I've created a separate file with the reward coupons and classroom money (for any class!) here

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Made it: What Children Value

It finally feels like a summer day here in Florida. I actually got to swim and lay out by the pool without feeling sprinkles (or the typical monsoon weather) falling down on me! I'm linking up again for Monday Made It with 4th Grade Frolics. I love this weekly linky because it pushes me to get up and actually make something.. that's a lot to ask for during summer break!

So... in this picture you see my step-son, Anthony, who will be going into 3rd grade this year. He's a little guy with a big ol' brain and a smart mouth that tends to get him into trouble! No idea where he gets that from--my guess is his father. :) While he is a smarty pants, he is also lazy. When I say lazy, I mean lazy with a capital L. Like, would rather not eat or drink anything if he has to fix it for himself. I sometimes stare at him in amazement wondering if this quality is true of all almost-3rd graders, and if so, sweet Jesus let me be the one to spark some motivation into them!
Anthony has always had chores to do, because we're trying to teach responsibility and that we must work hard for things we want. I felt like he needed a concrete something-to-look-at for these chores, because it's always, "Ah man, I forgot!," or "But mom, you didn't tell me to do that!" Drive. Me. Bonkers. So.. Here you have the simple, yet (hopefully) effective Chores Chart... because what is it that kids his age value? Their money and freedom. :)

All of his weekly chores are listed on the left. Some need to be done every day, such as cleaning out the pool, while others are done once a week, such as cleaning his restroom on Mondays. When the chores are complete, he moves the tack from the Incomplete side to the Complete side. All of these chores are done without being paid, since he is a member of our family and is responsible for helping out.

There is also an Extra Chores side which allows Anthony to earn money for items he'd like to buy. When Anthony first saw this chart the very first question he had was... "So... because they're extra chores, does that mean I don't have to do them?" Sweet. Jesus.
Now to the rules and regulations. Because dear sweet Anthony is lazy, he frequently does a job half-way and claims All Done! ha--yeah right, sucka! So, with that in mind, the rules are stated above.
1. If you chores are not completed, you pay $3 for each chore.
2. If your chores are not completed correctly, you pay $5 and re-do the chore.
3. If you are rude, disrespectful, not listening or lie, you pay $8.
4. If you complain about chores, you pay $2. (My favorite!!)
5. Parents have the final say in all chores.
I'm hoping this eventually takes away the desire to whine and complain at the thought of cleaning up his own messes, and instills the idea that one must work for what they want. We shall see. So far he has paid $8 once, but earned it back by unloading the dishwasher and sweeping & mopping the living room.
Welp, there ya have it! That's the chores board here in the Lopez house! Now go link up with 4th Grade Frolics and show off whatcha makin'!


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Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Liebster Award!

Happy Sunday, everyone! Remember how Sundays during a school year were filled with sadness since it meant we had to work again the next day? Sundays during summer are *almost* sad, because they mean another week of beloved vacation has come and gone. Sigh.. enjoy it while it lasts, my friends!
Anyway, on to exciting news! I've been nominated for the Liebster award from 2 of my blogging friends! (Click on their pictures to show them some lovin'!)
 Liebster is German for "sweet, darling, deloved," and is an award given to bloggers with less than 200 followers. I am honored to receive this award--now onto the rules.
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with less than 200 followers.
3. Answers the questions posted for you by the nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees by commenting on their blog or sending them an email to inform them of their nomination.
Questions from Twitte: 

1. What made you decide to start your blog?
This last year my county in NC began implementing Common Core. I needed new resources and thus began the blog stalking... I figured why not have my own blog?! So after much procrastination, ta-da!

2. What was your most rewarding teaching moment?
Probably my first year of teaching. I had that  class.. you know, the one every teacher dreads because there are that many behavior issues thrown in one? (Or maybe it only seemed that way because I was brand new). Yes. One certain kid gave me a run for my money every. single. day. At the end of the school year all my students wrote evaluations for me, and he said I was his favorite. And he passed all state testing, making major leaps.
3. What song best describes your life and why?
Umm... let me think about this one! ;)

4. How did you know that you wanted to be a teacher?
I always just kind of knew. I was that little girl who loved school and always had it set in my mind that teaching was for me.

5. What is your most favorite thing about teaching? What is your least favorite thing about teaching?
Hands-on learning, where all students in the room are motivated and learning for themselves. Least favorite? Paperwork.

6. Name your all-time favorite read aloud book. 
The BFG for sure!

7. What is the best thing about summer vacation?
Not feeling stressed about upcoming lesson planning, or any due dates in general.

8. How would you describe your teaching style?
I think I'm a laid back teacher, yet strict, who has fun with my students. I prefer hands-on and interactive note-booking, and lots of stations so students are engaged.

9. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?
My favorite subject is probably math, just because I've always loved math. It was what came easiest to me.

10. What is the best educational text you have ever read?
Teaching with Love and Logic. It gives basic suggestions on how to handle students, in a loving and logical way. A very good read for new teachers.

11. What is your favorite way to relax after a tough day at school?
A nap.. rarely does that happen.. heck. Never does that happen!
Questions from Ms. Third Grade
When did you decide you wanted to be a teacher?
I never decided, I just always knew.

How long have you been teaching?
This August will begin my 5th year.

What is your favorite lesson to teach every year?
I always loved teaching fraction lessons, because using chocolate is a MUST.

If you didn't teach your current grade, what grade would you teach?
Well, my current grade this year will be a mixed 2-3 class, but I would gladly go back to 4th grade!

What is your favorite read aloud?

The BFG.

What is one of your favorite projects that your students do?
When in NC my students created maps of our state showing the natural resources. They created map keys first, then used all their materials and placed them in the region they belonged in on the map... the materials were of course mostly candy. See a trend? :) I blogged about it {here} if you want to see!

What is one item you couldn't live without?
My phone.. I'll be honest.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Europe, again. I'd love to do the touristy thing and visit Paris and Italy.

What are your other hobbies other than teaching?
Hobbies indicates free time, correct? Ha! I actually enjoy working out, and try very hard to do so at least 4 times a week, so I would consider that a hobby.

Have you read anything lately? If so, what? 
Do blogs count? :)

What are your plans for the rest of summer?
I have a couple pinterest projects I'd like to create for my classroom, such as bucket seats. I also have TONS of house things I need to fix-up, such as hanging curtains and painting rooms. I may just take naps every day, though. ) I wish!) 
11 Facts about ME:
1. I was born in Germany, which is where my mom's side of the family still lives.
2. I have 3 dogs-- 2 Pit Bulls, Buddy and Dora, and 1 tiny, 1.5 lb Chihuahua, Paco.
3. I prefer a pool over the beach.. the sand gets to me!
4. I love to read, but rarely have the time... teaching, 2 kids, 3 dogs and a military husband--whew!
5. I have a thing for purses and earrings.. my husband bought me a Coach purse and I think I'm addicted.
6. I've ONLY taught 4th grade (for the last 4 years) and am slightly nervous about teaching 2nd and 3rd graders!
7. As much as I love my kids, I don't think I could ever be a stay-at-home mom. I would go crazy.
8. As a teacher, I go back and forth between the decision to get a master's degree to become a principal. Such a hard choice!
9. I secretly wish my husband would get stationed in either Germany or Italy so I could teach there and travel at the same time.
10. I'd like to have a fitness club for kids at school. Similar to PE, but to teach nutrition to teach nutrition tidbits as well and create fun, healthy snacks.
11. I think my husband is going to trade my jeep in for a truck because "obviously" I "need one." Do we believe this? :)
* It is HARD to come up with 11 facts about yourself--good grief!

The 5 fabulous nominees are:

1. Amy @ The Teacher Next Door
2. Lauren @ The Sweetest Thing
3.Paula @ Educating Children with Disabilities
4. Kaitlyn @ Second is the Best
5.Alison @ Rockin' & Lovin' Learnin'

***For my nominees: Because I think you are fabulous, click on the link to my TpT store, pick any item you would like, either comment below what the item is or send an email to mrsmandylopez@gmail along with your email address, and I'll gladly send it to you! ***
11 Questions for my nominees:

1. What's your favorite grade to teach?

2. Would you ever consider teaching in another country?

3. What is your favorite craft to make in your classroom?

4. Can you imagine yourself doing anything besides teaching?

5. Where is your dream vacation destination?

6. We all know teachers aren't supposed to have "teacher's pets," but don't we all?! Describe yours from last year.

7. What classroom theme do you have planned for next year?

8. What's your favorite subject to teach?

9.  What is your favorite fast food restaurant?

10. If you could "hand off" one of your responsibilities as a teacher, what would it be?

11. If you won the lottery, for say 150 million, would you still teach? :)

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Map Time!

It's a dreary Thursday here in Florida.. as it has been since I've arrived in Florida. Whoever labeled this state as "sunny" obviously hasn't been here lately. In fact, it's been raining so much our pool (that I would LOVE to swim in, lay out beside--SoMeThINg!) is almost full to the top. See!

So, because of this awful weather I'm staying inside, attempting to be semi-productive. I've already worked out (Insanity, again), cooked lunch (we're talking chicken with a tomato-basil sauce & mozzarella cheese, potatoes and asparagus ready for the hubster when he got home from work) AND taken a shower. I must say that is a LOT for a summer day--fo' real. This is why I decided eating a Reese's was perfectly acceptable.. right?! I've also decided to link up with The First Grade Parade for her super cute linky.

I haven't been blogging as long as most of you blogging beauties, so my post is still from this year, back on March 3rd.

Map Time!
North Carolina Natural Resources

On Friday of last week we ended our SS unit on natural resources in NC. What a better way to end than creating huge maps using cAnDy?! Oh yes, it was such a glorious mess! Ha! I put students in groups to work, and we began by making map keys.

After making the map keys I had the idea of using Angry Bird gummies to represent hogs, but of course I thought of that after the fact. Anyway, I had already created baggies of supplies for each group to save class time, so next students sorted all their materials, then got to work. Here are some of the groups hard at work:

It was fun to see how well my students worked together for this project. Some groups tasked out who should do what, while others did everything together. Getting the Twizzlers to stick was a bit of a headache, but we'll see tomorrow morning how well they held together.

Viola! Here's a finished product:


Nooowwwww.... I highly doubt I'll be using this same NC map since I live in Florida, but I'm sure I can implement it somehow into the new curriculum. But for all of my NC blogging buddies who haven't gotten an opportunity to complete this project, I HIGHLY recommend it. The kids LOVED it and so did I !

Now, go link up with Mrs. Carroll at The First Grade Parade for some Throwback Thursday lovin'!

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I got the J-O-B!!!

That's right... I got the job I blogged briefly about yesterday! When I received a phone call today from Dr. Dawson at Edge Elementary I was expecting to hear news about whether I was invited to the second round of interviews. Instead, I was offered the 3rd grade teaching position--heck yessss! Here's the school!

Now comes the fun part.. setting up my classroom! I LOVE that I'll be in a new space, with plenty of time to prepare and organize, because this means I can plan out which bulletin boards go where, and which stations go here or there. I've been trying to create a mental to-do list and am having trouble putting my steps in order. What do you think?

1. Since I'll be teaching a 2nd and 3rd grade mixed class, and I've only taught 4th grade before, I need to first dive into the Common Core standards to see what is expected of my students this year.

2. Once I know what needs to be taught, I can then create a layout of how my room will be set up, based on which stations I'll need.

3. I'll be doing LOTS of guided groups, because I'll have a big variety of learning levels, so my small group area needs to be extra special. I would LOVE pictures or ideas that you have!!

4. As for what comes next, I can't even begin to think of that right now! My brain is in overload!

Well, just a quick post tonight sharing my good news. Again, please share any tips you have, especially if you have taught a split classroom before. It'll be my first year!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Made It! {To Florida, Teacher Info Cards} & a job update!

Man! What a crazy/busy summer it has been! First of all, my family MADE IT from North Carolina to sunny Florida! We headed out towards the end of June and have been trying to unpack boxes, paint, organize and everything in between, while still entertaining an almost 2 year old. I feel like I need a vacation! :)  Here are a few pictures of our adventure down here.

Gotta be one of my favorites!!!


 I'll be sure to post more pictures of the house as we get more accomplished. Currently we have one room painted and a hot mess everywhere else.  It's only driving me slightly insane! But anyway...

I feel like I've been SUCH the slacker lately when it comes to blogging and creating materials. Well, truth be told, I have been! But every single time I sit down to type or heck.. let's be honest, even turn on my computer, I see a box that needs to be put away, or a mess to clean. Life, basically. So, I was DETERMINED to create at least something small today to make sure I still could!
At the beginning of each school year, I always send home a newsletter of sorts to introduce myself and give parents my contact information. I prefer parents call my cell phone number rather than the school, because I'm sure to get any messages that way. Problem with the newsletter is that it usually gets thrown away, so I decided for this year to make business teacher cards. Very simple to create, with the background from Ashley Hughes. I cut out the cards, laminated them with Scotch Self-Seal laminating pouches, and cut them again. I'm thinking of putting magnets on the back of them so parents can put them on their refrigerator, but I'll first have to locate my magnetic tape for that.

Now... for a JOB UPDATE!

Do I have a job yet?! Nope. Not yet. I did, however go to an interview on Friday and should hear *tomorrow* if I made it to round two. If so, then I meet with the 3rd grade team (there would be 3 of us) and the decision would be made from there. It's almost the perfect job in the perfect location, so say a prayer for me.
3rd grade position? Did you catch that? Yes. I'm excited! Except what the heck do I do with "The 4th Grade Journey"??? Help!!!
Alright friends.. it feels good to be back! Be sure to go link up if you haven't already done so! :)
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