Sunday, June 30, 2013

Teaching Special Learners

     As some of you know, I have my masters degree in Special Education.  My minor was in emotional/behavior disorders so that is what I focused on the most during my graduate program.  I learned many great strategies for managing behavior but not as much on learning disabilities.  My first year of teaching I taught sixth grade language arts & social studies in which I didn't really use my masters degree too much. This year I will be teaching the same grade and subject but will be having an inclusion class. The sad part is I feel like I have forgotten many of the strategies I learned about teaching students with disabilities.  So part of my goal this summer is to refresh my memory and be prepared with many strategies to use for teaching an inclusion class.

   Currently I'm reading the book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess which is helping me learn how to engage all readers.  I believe this alone will be a huge help when working with students of multiple ability levels.  For anyone who hasn't read it yet, it is a must read for any teacher.  I've been reading it on my kindle and taking notes as a read that I can go back and review again later.

   Another thing I am doing is skimming back through my textbooks from college to review what I previously learned.  There is so much information in these books that I really question how I managed to complete my degree in a year.

    So fellow bloggers, what do you do in your classroom to help special learners?  If you teach an inclusion class, what are some strategies that you use?  Do you structure your classroom in a different way than a standard class?  What advice can you give me on co-teaching with a special education teacher?

Thanks for your help!


Let's get aquainted!

     Today I am linking up with Flying into First for a Let's get acquainted linky party. Click the button below to head over to Mrs. Reed's blog and join in!

  With this linky party you have to write about three topics in the form of a tic tac toe.  I chose to do the first horizontal row.

I went to ________ college and a favorite memory.

I went to Appalachian State University for my undergraduate degree.  A favorite memory I have there came from seeing an Eric Church concert at Legends.  What made this so special was that he is from Appalachian and his fans were completely engrossed in the concert. I was able to stand close to the stage I probably could have touched him if I wanted to. Everyone around me was having a great time which made it a memorable experience.

My favorite subject to teach and why

This is such an easy question for me to answer.  Language Arts is my favorite subject to teach and probably always will be.   I love seeing students get excited about reading. I can still hear my students saying "let me just read one more page."  Having students who don't want to leave my room to go eat lunch because they are so involved in their books is something that I will always want to be a part of.   Having students thank me for helping them find books that interest them is something I can't help but to love.

Dream Vacation

This question is not so easy as there are many places I want to go.  However, my current dream vacation would be probably be to New Zealand.  It is such a beautiful place and I would love to go hiking while taking tons of pictures of the landscape.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

July Goals & Snapshots Saturday

July is right around the corner so I'm linking up with I {heart} Recess to share my July goals.
Personal:  July is the heart of my summer so I want to make sure to capture it with lots of pictures. I will be going to Belize in the middle of July on a mission trip and hope to take many picture there.   I will have time to go snorkeling and to see the Mayan ruins. The picture below I found of the island we will be going to.  I can't wait to see that blue water! 

Family:  My nephew is at my house almost every week day this summer.  He is six years old and currently doesn't have an interest in reading.  I feel like I'm badgering him to get him to read the phonics books he is supposed to be working on.  So this summer I want to try to read more with him and hopefully find something that will interest him.

Health:  I've been running much more lately which is great exercise.  However, I want to stay in a constant routine of running so I will build up enough endurance to run a race.  There is a really fun race in August called the ROC race which is a 5k with obstacles that I want to enter.

School:  I have a pretty good idea of how I want to set up my language arts classroom next year.  However, I'm still questioning how I can change my social studies instruction so that my students remember what we learn for more than a week.  I'd like to come up with a structure for my classroom and also go ahead and prepare some social studies lessons.

Blog: I'd love to learn how to make my own new blog design.  If it seems to take too long then I will purchase a custom made one.

Outside the Box:  Going out of the country in July will be a new experience for me.  I really need to start praying more about it and asking God's plan for me while I'm there.  There are also many changes at my school this year so I need to spend more time praying about it and less time worrying. 

I also found a new link up I wanted to participate in called Snapshots Saturday with Miss Nelson.  The point of this linkup is to share your favorite snapshots and photography tips. This will work great to help out my personal July goal of taking more pictures!

My current favorite photography app is PhotoStudio.  I love it because it has so many different effects you can use.  You can also add text to photos easily with this app.  Here are some photos I edited using PhotoStudio.

The view around our driveway.

This is me in downtown Lexington.

Raleigh Flea Market last summer

Make sure you go link up with Miss Nelson as well. I'd love to see everyone's photography skills!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five for Friday

Today I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.  This week has actually flown by really fast.  Summer needs to slow down.  I have too much I want to accomplish before it flies by.

1.  Monday I went to school to practice with my cheerleading squad.  While I was there I went to my old classroom and saw that my room was completely bare.  Next year I will most likely be in the room in the picture above.  Looking at it right now makes me think of how much work I will have in the fall to make it look the way I want it.  This room is actually a little bit bigger than my old room, however there is a bi-fold door that separates it with another classroom which isn't the best for hearing other noises.


2.  I went to Charlotte this week and had an amazing dinner at Alexander Michael's.   I'm from a very small town so to go into a big city can be both fun and overwhelming at the same time.

3. Yesterday I went with a friend to the park.  It was so hot outside but we had a great time playing putt putt and walking around.  I won playing putt putt, that rarely happens so I was pretty excited!  They also have an animal exhibit with snakes, fish and other animals.

4.  I've spent a lot of time outside this week.  My niece and nephew are at my house everyday so I play outside with my nephew a lot.  We sat outside by the pool and were able to have some butterflies come to us.

5.  I'm saving the best for last! Yes, watermelon flavored frozen yogurt made my week.  It isn't often that I find watermelon so when I do I am one happy camper.  What made the day even better was that I won a free 12oz cup of yogurt by texting their Sweet Frog number.  

Well that is all for this week!  Make sure to follow me on my new facebook page & on bloglovin before Google Reader shuts down on Monday!

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thinking about Thursday Linky, Book Whisperer Live Discussion

     I have had a lot on my mind this summer about what I want to change in my classroom next year so I decided to make a Thinking about Thursday linkup. The purpose of it is to make a post about things you are pondering at the moment.  It can be anything from how to decorate your classroom, how to teach a certain subject or what to eat for dinner!  Then add your post to the linkup for other people to see and give you ideas on whatever you are pondering.

I am currently thinking about how I want to set up my language arts classroom next year.  After reading The Book Whisperer I really want to change the way I teach to better benefit my students.  I will be hosting a book discussion on The Book Whisperer tonight at 8 p.m. EST.  If you've read it or haven't and are interested in how you can change your language arts class then join us on my blog tonight for a live chat.  
I'm also thinking about some good summer reads for myself that have absolutely nothing to do with teaching.  I need to take a break sometimes! Any suggestions?

I also wanted to participate in Throwback Thursday!

This post came from last year before I first started teaching.  It is about the book In the Middle, which really relates to The Book Whisperer.

During my undergraduate reading course I was required to read a few chapters from the book "In the Middle" by Nancy Atwell.  I'm now reading the textbook over again to see what I can learn about teaching middle school language arts.  What I've taken from the book so far:

1) An idea to introduce students to the classroom is to provide a scavenger hunt of classroom supplies instead of just pointing them all out to them.

2) Require students to write a letter to me at least once a week about what they are reading and then reply back to them.  I will be making sure that each student has a one subject notebook for this purpose. 

3) Nancy Atwell structure her daily schedule to include a writing workshop and a reading workshop everyday. I most likely won't have the time for both but I do like the idea of having word work as a bellringer, followed by a mini-lesson and then either a reading or writing workshop which I can alternate each day.   I also like how she emphasizes the importance of read alouds which I think I will end each day with.

4)  "In the Middle" offers many ideas for topics for mini-lessons.  Some suggestions for the beginning of year include:
 -Expectations for writing or reading
 -Conferring with peers: where, when, how
 -How to use an editing checklist for writing
 -Classroom literary resources
 -Procedures for booktalks
 -Setting goals for reading and writing

Recap on Thinking About Thursday Linkup

1) Make a blog post about what you are pondering.  It can be about anything that you want people to give you advice about.
2)  Add my Thinking about Thursday button to your blog post.
3)  Add your blogpost to this post
4) Visit at least two blogs before yours and comment on them.
Have a great Thursday and happy linking!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tried it Tuesday- iHelp Classroom Jobs & Bloglovin

     Over the summer I will be thinking about what classroom management ideas I want to use again next year. Today I'm linking up with Tried it Tuesday from Fourth Grade Flippers to share an iHelp board I made last year.

  I found this idea for keeping up with classroom jobs on Pinterest and decided to try it myself.  My students thought it was cute because they all love their iPhones and iPods.  I really liked it because it was very easy to change their jobs each month.  I kept index cards with the names of students in both of my two classes and could easily see who had already had a job in prior months.

     I'm sure you can figure out how to make this just by looking at the picture.  The pockets may be the trickiest part but all I did was fold cardstock into a pocket and glued down one side.  I then laminated the entire poster and went back and cut slits in the tops of the pockets so that the index cards could slide through.   The best thing about this poster is that it is still in tact and ready to use next year.  All I have to do is make new index cards with my students names on them.

I also am linking up with Tori's Teacher Tips for a Bloglovin linky.  I will miss using google reader but Bloglovin seems pretty neat.  Make sure you click the button below to follow me & stay updated!  Also, make sure to visit Tori to find some other awesome teacher blogs to follow!
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Monday, June 24, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Now that it is summer I actually have time to read what I want to read so I decided to link up with Teacher Mentor Texts. Mainly I am trying to read books that are in my classroom library so that I will be able to recommend books to my students next year.

Children's Novels:

Last week I read Radiance by Alyson Noel.  This is a fantasy novel about a girl who is trying to find her place in afterlife.  I don't read very many fantasy novels so I read this just to be able to relate to those students who enjoy it.  Personally I wouldn't recommend this book to a friend, but I'm sure some kids would enjoy it.

I'm currently reading The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg.  I must say this book is very entertaining.  For any student interested in comedy or adventure I would recommend this to them.

Books I want to read for me:

  How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas Foster has been recommended to me by other teachers as an enjoyable read.  I would be curious to see how he says we should "read between the lines."

 Alex, Cross, Run has been on my read list for a while now.  James Patterson is one of my favorite authors so I hope to find some time soon to read his latest book.

What I recommend this week:

    The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is by far my favorite professional read so far this year.  I am hosting a discussion on my blog this Thursday at 8 p.m. EST.  If you are interesting in learning how to revamp your language arts classroom then read this book or just come join us for discussion!

Book Whisperer Discussion

I'm excited about the response I had to host a Book Whisperer discussion. I've decided to host the live discussion right here on Thursday, June 27th at 8pm EST. If you can't make it at that time then feel free to come by later and catch up on our discussion. For those of you who haven't read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller I highly recommend it if you are looking for a way to revamp your language arts instruction. Feel free to join in on the discussion even if you haven't read the book yet. It is helpful to hear multiple points of view on how to teach reading. I hope to hear from many of you Thursday!

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Follow on Bloglovin

Since Google Reader is coming to an end, I have signed up for Bloglovin.  Make sure you follow me on there to get my updates!

The Book Whisperer Project

   I just finished reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  I must say it certainly didn't take me long to read.  This book has made me rethink how I will teach language arts next year.  The overall idea of the book is that students should be given time to read what they choose to read and teachers should be passionate about helping them find good books to read.  This past school year I tried to find whole class novels that I thought the majority of the class would enjoy reading but I always knew it was impossible to find something that sixty students are going to all enjoy.  Now that this book has given me the encouragement to teach language arts in a different way I have to decide exactly how I want to run my classroom next year.  Here are some things I have to ponder throughout the summer:

1. How will I set up my classroom library?

2.  Will I set up a classroom library checkout system?

3.  How will my readers notebook look?

4.  What requirements will I set up to assess that my students are growing as readers?

5.  Will I stick to the 40 book goal Miller suggests in her book?

6.  How much time will I give students to read in class?

7.  How will I continue to address the common core while allowing students to read what they want?

     The great thing about my school is that teachers are given a lot of freedom to teach how they want as long as they are following the common core standards.  There are no novel requirements, however most teachers in my school teach using whole class novels.  For some, they have great test scores using this strategy. However, I really want to foster a lifelong love of reading in my students so I'm going to give The Book Whisperer movement a try.

     I'm sure there are many other teachers out there planning on trying this next year as well.  I'd love for us to get together and feed ideas off of us other as to how we plan on setting up for the new year.  It would also be fun to keep in contact with each other as our school year progresses to learn from each other what works and what doesn't. 

     If you are interested in collaborating please comment on this post and include a link to your blog or a way I can contact you.  Once several have commented I will put together a live chat session where we can start planning together. Please note that this isn't a book study I am trying to start. I believe another blog is doing that.  This is just a way for everyone to discuss with each other how they plan on revamping their classrooms. I'm hoping that we can also remain in contact with each other to see how it is going.  Feel free to add this button to your blog if you are interested!

Monday, June 10, 2013


As today was our last day of school, I'm just now having time to do Farley's currently for the month!
Listening:  I am currently watching The Foster's on ABC Family.  I have been trying to find a new summer show since all the good ones are on break till the fall.
Loving:  Today was the last day of the school year.  If that isn't something to love then I don't know what is!
Thinking:  I have been so blessed this year to have met such wonderful people and to make such great new friends at work.  I have grown a lot as a person and I'm so thankful for everything God has blessed me with.
Wanting:  I am hoping to go to the beach within the next week.  I need some time in the sun and a break away from everything.
Needing:  We still have a few teacher work days left and I hope to make the most of them by organizing my room for next year.
3 Vacay Essentials:  I can't lay outside without having a book to read so I must have my bag of books with me or my nook.  I also can't live with sunglasses, I don't even care if I get a tan line.  Cherries are also essential for the beach.  I love taking a bag of Bing cherries on the beach with me.  I can eat almost a pound in two days. At least they are semi-healthy!

Year One Down!

    Today was the last day of school for students.   This year has been pretty challenging so I can easily say that I'm glad it's over.  There are SO many things that I will be changing next year that I'm pretty excited about.  What I need right now though is a break from everything to do with teaching.  We have teacher workdays until Thursday and then I will be vacationing for at least a week.  I'm planning on visiting a friend from college and then going to the beach with a co-worker.  When I get back from the beach there are a lot of things I have still have planned for the summer.  One of the biggest things I am looking forward to is going on a mission trip in July to Belize.  A large group from my church will be going to do various things such a food ministry, building a classroom and vacation bible school. 
   Also in my agenda for the summer is to catch up on some leisure reading.  I've got a whole Pinterest board dedicated to books I want to read.  I've also been reading a book called "The Book Whisperer," which is making me want to read even more so that I can better recommend books to my students next year.  I also plan on spending some time getting back into shape by doing some running.  I ran a 5K a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it.  I want to try to keep up with running so I can race.
   I guess what is most exciting about this summer is that I am completely free!  I don't have anything or anyone to tie me down.  No summer classes or boyfriend, so I'm really looking forward to a summer to myself. I want to take the time to relax and rejuvenate for another great year of teaching!
    Happy summer everyone!
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