Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The End is Here

The time has come.  Yesterday was closing day.  Monday was our last day with the kids.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to summer, but I honestly will miss my class!  On the other hand, I'm so excited for next year!  The kids I will have next year are the kids I taught during my very first year when I taught kindergarten!  They visited us last week for transition day, and it was so fun to see them!  I was asked a lot of "do you remember my name?" and "can I be in your class?"...and I loved it!  We gave each second grader a top ten list after their visit.  The now fourth graders wrote the top ten things you should now about third grade to pass along.  You can see my top ten list here or grab your free copy for any grade k-5 at my TPT store!  My kids came up with some great tips!  A couple that stand out are "care and share" and "listen and learn" from one of my sweet girls.  In some of their tips I could here myself talking!  I guess some of what I said this year has stuck with them!

Before I can move on to thinking about next year, it's time for me to reflect on this year to see what worked well and what I can improve.  Amber at Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher is hosting a linky party that is just perfect for sharing reflections on the past year.
Click on her blog title or this picture to join in and link up!

So we all know that every year has great moments and...ummm...slightly less than great moments.  For Amber's linky party I'm sharing a little of both - 3 great things and 3 not-so-great things!
source: Bing Images

It's Grrreat!

(Did Tony the Tiger read that to you too?)

1. Chapter Books

This year I asked my fellow third grade teachers to do something a bit different with me for reading halfway through the year!  These wonderful ladies were two of my second and third grade teachers, by the way!  Like always they followed me into the unknown and trusted my ideas.  Did I mention that I love them, and I'm so thankful to be teaching with them?  We used scholastic points to order a class set each of the original Flat Stanley and Sideways Stories from Wayside School.  We also ordered 5 each of 5 different Judy Blume books for literature circles!  My reading group started out with "Sideways Stories", and as soon as we started reading I was in love!  It seems so much more real to be reading from a chapter book than from a text book!  As I looked around at all of my kiddos with that little yellow book in their hands all following along and waiting for their turn to read, it finally seemed like we were really reading.  Does that make sense?  All of our kids loved it too!  They were so excited about reading, and they hated to go back to the basal.  I really hope that next year we can get a couple more classroom sets or series for literature circles and do even more real reading!

2. Hands-on Math and Math Journaling

This year we also went back to self-contained classes in third grade, switching only for reading.  In the past we changed classes several times a day, and I taught all of the math.  I liked this year so much better simply because we had sooo much more time for math!  We got to do some great games and hands on activities to supplement our learning.  One of my favorite activities was the perimeter and area activity I blogged about last month!  Check out that blog post for pictures and a freebie!  

Last summer I attended a local "branch" of the National Writing Project (highly recommended, by the way) and developed an action research project to improve writing across the curriculum - math journals!  The first set  of journals I developed were designed to be used with Every Day Counts Calendar Math and to help us review even and odd, multiples, and place value!  I blogged about my October Journal and posted it as a freebie way back in October!  I quickly figured out to number their pages before copying their journals - it made things run so much more smoothly!  Why didn't I think of that in the first place??  Each month I made a new set of journals.  Some of the pages stayed the same, some were left out or combined, and some new pages were added.  Our journal always reflected what we had been learning and helped us keep it fresh in our mind to review all year long!  Hopefully I'll be adding lots of ready to use math journal packets to my pretty empty very new TPT store this summer! 

3.Pinteresting Ideas and Donors Choose

So I have found 2 new loves this year...shhh...don't tell my husband!  Just kidding, I'm pretty sure he's noticed!  I love pinterest, and I love Donors Choose!  I have gotten sooo many good GREAT ideas from pinterest to use in my classroom!  You can see some of the decorating ideas I've used at this blog post from August!  A pinterest inspired, super cute, and really fun project the kids did at the beginning of the year can be seen here!  The perimeter and area activity I mentioned above was pinterest inspired too!  I have lots of school related pins and lots that aren't!  Visit my boards and follow me!  If you need an invite, email me and I'd be happy to send you one!

Donors Choose has been so great for me and my students this year!  I submitted my first project at the end of June last summer, and we have had three projects funded up until now!  All of the items we've had donated will be loved for years to come!  I am so thankful to all of the donors who have helped us out!  I couldn't give my students all of these things without their help!  I have two more projects that I'm hoping to get funded for next year's class to enjoy!
Thanks for making our journals better binded and more colorful!
So thankful for fun, factual, and mysterious chapter books!
TAG Readers thanks to the wonderful donors!

The Not-so-Great...


1. Organization

Ugh....organization.  This has ALWAYS been my BIGGEST problem!  I am so not an organized person at home or at school.  I'm trying to get better...I have so many things pinned!  haha 

I did reorganize my reading series materials this year, and I do LOVE it!  I bought 3 drawer organizers and labeled each one with a story from our basal.  Vocabulary word strips, leveled readers, worksheets, and any other materials for that week are kept inside of that drawer!  Here is a peek at that part of my room.  It's not a great pic or a close up, but they are the white containers on top of our cubbies.

2. Writing...consistently

I have to admit...I'm getting there!  My writing instruction is improving all the time, so this one could almost go in the great section (definitely in good)!  After my summer experiences with the writing project, I had big goals for myself to have my kiddos write every day!  Unfortunately, I didn't achieve that goal.  However, we did write much, much more this year, so I'm saying it's a small win...I just want to be more consistent with it next year!  I really want to implement writer's workshop though, and I just didn't get to it last summer.  My plan for this summer is to research and prepare for writer's workshop and hopefully start in the fall!

3. Moving

BIG changes are happening in my district, and I do mean BIG!  Almost everyone is moving this summer - most to different buildings (different, not new...we're switching), some to new classes (that's me).  We have to pack everything in our rooms for the move at the end of May!  EVERYTHING!  I've only been teaching for 3 years now (I'll be starting my 4th in August) and I have so. much. stuff.  I feel for my colleagues who have been teaching 20 - 25 years!  I'm still packing!  We were lucky enough to have a  fairly large storage closet on our floor this year, but we won't next year.  Uh-oh!  Look at all of the boxes from our storage room...and we're NOT done!  Where will all of this stuff go next year??

So that was my year in a nutshell!  I had a great group of kids and enjoyed our year together!  I'm so, so excited to get my kindergarten kiddos back next year!  Hopefully they haven't grown up on me too much!  

Do any of you guys have tips for writer's workshop??  Any suggestions or info I need to know?

Check out Amber's blog and link up with her!


  1. Thanks for linking up! It sounds like you've had a great year!

    Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher

  2. Thanks Amber! We did!


  3. I found you from Amber's linky party and I'm now following your blog!

    The REAL Teachers of Orange County

  4. Omg, I love Donor's Choose too. I had 3 projects funded this year and am so happy!! Pinterest is how I got into blogging;) I hear you on the writing. Lucy Calkins looks promising, but I feel like I need some training!! I did see a book on Amazon that I want-Launching Writer's Workshop by Denise Leograndis. It seems simpler and a better way to get started. Good luck!!

    Surfin' Through Second

  5. Yay! I love new followers! And great news...I had another project funded Friday night!! I was so excited when I checked my email Saturday morning and saw that congratulating email! Thanks for the tips Corinna, I've heard a lot about Lucy Calkins too and I'll check out that book you suggested!