29 August, 2015

Open House Invitations

In my school district, it is traditional to have a back to school night the day before school starts. I love it. I get to meet my kids and make sure I have all their names down. I get an idea of what their parents are like. I have volunteers sign up to be room parents and help out at class parties.
This year we did not have a traditional back to school night because we had just gotten into our classrooms less than a week prior to that date. Instead we had a launch party. It was fun and nice to see the kids, but it was also awkward. I don't have information on any of the kids, I don't know who my room mom will be, and no volunteers set up.
We will be holding an open house on Tuesday and I thought it would be fun for the kids to make invitations for their families.
Here's what I came up with:

I found the idea on Mr. Printables. They have the cutest ideas on that website. I used their template and turned it into a Silhouette file so that I could easily cut out the houses with my machine. The kids then wrote the information for the open house on the inside of the house and decorated. The houses turned out pretty perfectly (although I secretly like the plain white houses a lot better than decorated houses). They fold down flat and pop open.
You open the house and it's for an open house. How witty.

18 August, 2015

How to set up a classroom in six days: Day 6

Guys! I forgot to take pictures today because it was crazy, but I decided I needed to post anyway because I would forget later. I am fully planning on taking pictures of everything and doing a thorough blog post on my adorable classroom soon.
I showed up today at around 7:00 and thought I didn't have much to do, so I kept myself busy remaking my getting to know you beach ball. I had a small beach ball that I made last year covered with topics kids might like in order to get to know each other. They toss it from person to person, read the topic out loud and then answer it. Because I was under the belief that I did not have anything to do this morning, I pulled out a big beach ball so that there would be more topics and better conversation starters.
Oh my.
The old ball's topics covered just a small portion of the new ball. Like literally 1/8. I spent over an hour trying to think of more and more topics that could be written on my ball. After I was finished, I looked down and discovered that the sharpie from the beach ball had stained my white shirt. I was dying. My shirt is now lightly pink in the chest area and on the sleeves. My students had better like this ball.
I was stalling until the fire inspector toured the building and declared it good to go for tomorrow so that I could hang my decorations from the ceiling. As soon as the green light was given, I put up my hot air balloons and cursive alphabet. I still have my place value chart to adhere to the wall and then I am done.
We had a launch party from 3:00-5:00 this evening. Because we did not want to stress teachers and make them prepare for an all out open house, we dubbed the evening a behind the scenes look at the new school. The students took a self-guided tour of the premises and went around to their new classroom. I only had four students that did not show up, but everyone I met was wonderful. The parents seemed amazing and the students seem super eager and excited to be in my class. I cannot wait for tomorrow to come so I can really start to get to know those adorable kids.
I had a fun time laughing with the parents and talking with the kids.
I love fifth grade because you can treat them like adults. You don't need to talk down to them. (I honestly think it's demeaning when a fifth or sixth or sometimes fourth grade teacher talks down to their kids like they're talking to a two-year-old. If you treat them like they are older, they will act older. Kids are awesome like that.)

Well, that was my day. I left close to 6:00 and I am completely ready for tomorrow. I cannot wait!

17 August, 2015

How to set up a classroom in six days: Day 5

Guys! Tomorrow I get to meet my kiddos! In 24 hours, our "launch party" will be over and I will hopefully be home, resting for the first day of school.
So yesterday, Wolf and I went on a drive. We love going for drives on Sundays. We drove up to the place my sister will be married (in TWO MONTHS) and enjoyed getting out. I was a little bit stressed yesterday.
We saw a pretty awesome sunset. You get the phone-camera-througha-dirty-window-while-driving-on-a-freeway view.
I think it helps that we have had major haze the last couple days. (Thanks, California, for the smoke from your fires.)

Onto today!
Okay. It was super awkward. We had a major pep rally because my district turns 100 this year! They did a roll call for each of the (dozens of) schools. Everyone cheered us on because we're so cool (and maybe because they feel sorry for us because we're brand new). The rest was boring. And awkward.
The idea was to invite all the employees of the district. And apparently all the high school student counsels and cheerleaders. Weird. We show up to a local university and get to triumphantly walk up some stairs between rows of pompoms being waved by preppy cheerleaders. They were pretty stoked for us. "Go teachers!"
I was dying. I couldn't hold my laughter in and almost started crying. (Why does the district think that the teachers or the cheerleaders enjoy this?) There was a pretty sweet balloon arch that we went under too. And a marching band. (Granted, one of the high schools in the district is pretty cool and gets invited to the Macy's Day Parade on occasion.)
We arrived in the arena and had to wait until every single school arrived. One of my coworkers and I meandered over to our old school and chatted with our awesome friends. I think we were there for almost an hour before they started the meeting. We were entertained by the high school student counsels dancing and singing along to the music. And a random announcer thrusting his mic into people's space and telling them to sing along to karaoke.
The meeting was nice. The entire time I wished I wasn't there.

Once we got back, I worked hard on my classroom and got it just about perfect! I forgot to take pictures in between, but most of the organizing was the last, small things.

It's almost ready! I cannot wait.

Look at my previous, more stressful days:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

16 August, 2015

How to set up a classroom in six days: Day 4

I thought I would only spend an hour or two in my classroom for day 4. Little did I know how wrong I was.
So Wolf and I left the house at around 8 to head over to the school. Halfway down the street, I chickened out and asked to go shopping first. I hate shopping. Who knows why I decided that was a good idea. So we went to our local produce shopping center and the everything else store. (We always go to two stores.) Then we stopped by the American Craft Warehouse Sale. It was their last day and everything was reduced by another 40%! It was crazy. For $30, I bought 6 12x12" pads of paper, 4 6x6" pads of paper, and 7 12x12 pads of paper that was one paper repeated in a case. It was glorious!
We stopped back at home to drop off everything and then headed to school. It was a good thing we decided to go shopping first because as I eagerly walked down the hall, the anticipatory feeling that the whiteboards would be hung filled me. We walked in. No whiteboards. Grrr. I really hate these construction people.
I stopped the project foreman and asked about the whiteboards/bulletin boards. "Yeah, sorry. I'll have them do your room next." He found the hangers and instructed them to "do the green room next." I'm glad Wolf and I got there around 10 instead of just after 8. We would have been stuck for a couple hours. The hangers didn't get in for another 30 minutes, but they worked really quickly.

As they worked, Wolf and I taped their numbers on the cubby holes.

Here I am sneaking a picture of the bulletin board going up.

 They are beautiful!

As we waited for them to finish, we also put their math books and folders in the assigned cubby holes. We finished around the time they grabbed their gear and left. I have five amazing bulletin boards and two whiteboards. Thankfully they are the same size as the ones at my last school so I knew the fabric I had would work perfectly!

Wolf and I were quick to put up the fabric and my adorable border-ruffled streamers. To hang the fabric, I always pin it first and then staple around the pins. That way, if I need to make adjustments, I just move pins instead of remove staples. It's so much easier if you need to make corrections.
I hung up the streamers with really short pins. They worked perfectly and I didn't have to smash the adorable streamers with a stapler (I hate it when you see stapler imprints). The tips of my fingers still hurt badly from doing that. Brand new bulletin boards are tough and those pin heads are tiny.

Around this time, my wonderful friend Kimberly called. "I'm coming over." She didn't ask or try to set up a time. She knew I would be slaving away and she said she was going to help me. I love friends like that. She was also a wonderful help to have because she is an expert at classroom tables. She has tables in her classroom so she had wonderful hints and tips for my questions. It's also good to have a teacher on hand when arranging classroom supplies in a brand new classroom because they can offer advice on where to put stuff. She helped me position the clothespins for my birthday banner outside my classroom and hang my class dojo banner. Then, she and my husband completely alphabetized my library!

After she left, Wolf and I tidied up. The tables are mostly clear and almost everything is put away. I only have two days left to make my classroom kid ready. Tomorrow we are celebrating my school district's 100th year anniversary! It's kinda exciting, but it will waste almost three hours. Thankfully, we still do not have much in the way of school meetings.

Read about my other days:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

15 August, 2015

How to set up a classroom in six days: Day 3

After day three, I was technically halfway over time wise, but I definitely feel like I could be close to finishing setting up my class.
On day three I started setting up functional student decorations. I was so happy to reach that point.
I didn't take as many photos today because I was all over the place.
The day started with a quick meeting because it was technically our professional development day. My principal managed to terrify me. He announced there was no glitter allowed in the classrooms. (I used to be such a glitter hater; I'm almost surprised to see how much I enjoy a tasteful dash of the sparkly stuff now.) I wasn't as bummed because I thought any glitter hater should be sent a box of the stuff in the mail, but because I made so many decorations with glitter paper this summer and it would take a long time to remake it without glitter paper.
After the meeting, I took my glitter cursive alphabet in hand and marched down to him, demanding to know if that was okay, or if I could simply laminate over it. (Was he a hater of the possibility of glitter on the ground, or was he a hater of the idea of glitter?) He laughed a little when he saw how terrified I was of the anti-glitter rule. He clarified the rule for me: No glitter projects for the students.
That's okay.
After the short meeting, I quickly got to work. I wanted to clean the clutter to make it easier for the five schools that had volunteered to help us. As I was cleaning, my first whiteboard was delivered! I also made a couple more fabric covered boxes to complete my supply. (I love how they look!)
Then my own classroom organization was cut short so that I could fulfill my duty as a member of the leadership committee and welcome volunteers to our school.

(The leadership committee is an amazing opportunity I have this year. There are three amazing teachers on it--the other two working on their admin masters. We assist the principal in whatever he needs. We're a step below the principal--and the intern vice-principal we get--and a step above the grade-level team leaders. We help make decisions and help the school be as amazing as possible.)
I welcomed schools and directed them to where I thought they should go.
Lunch was next.
After lunch, my old school came by to volunteer. I was so happy to work with them for an hour and they were amazing! They got so much done. They stayed for a couple hours and seriously got as much work done as I could have working a day and a half. I will definitely miss those guys.
Near the end of the time those volunteers were at my classroom, my father and a woman he is dating right now came by to help for the rest of the day. They were an amazing help as well.
We are piloting the Wonders program for our district this year. All the boxes were sent, but there was no sense of organization amongst the supplies. There were also no storage containers sent (as you often see with literacy programs). They helped organize the guided reading books which took a long time for the four of us (about a half hour).
That was about the end of the day. We were told my whiteboards and bulletin boards would be put in around the time we were leaving. Husband and I were planning on returning after dinner to put up the fabric and bulletin board border I made, but upon inquiring about when the building would be locked up, the project manager said 7:00. Too late.
I cannot wait to come back in today! I can hang my bulletin board displays and almost get my room perfect.

My classroom was ready for volunteers at the beginning of the day! One entire table was filled with stuff for them to do.

The Chick-fil-a cow (named Cow) came by. Pretty exciting.

I hung up my job chart!

This is the only picture I got at the end of the day. You can see my husband on the left and my dad on the right. My volunteers hung my map and (behind my husband), my library check-out system. They also completely finished my stack of stuff to do. All the tables are where I want them and their storage units are filled and ready for my fifth graders.

See my other days:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

13 August, 2015

How to set up a classroom in six days: Day 2

Today was a lot less physically exhausting, but a lot more exhausting in other ways.
My husband started off by alphabetizing the library. Once he had placed all the books into rough piles, I noticed he had alphabetized by title instead of author. He was wonderful enough to jump right back in and reorganize the books. We made a deal and instead of organizing it completely, he just organized it by first letter in the last name. I'll have someone else finish the job tomorrow. I think that this idea is super important. Even though I just have a few days to get my room in perfect order, arrange pieces in your classroom the way you want. I am a little worried about having strange people help me tomorrow because I don't know them and they don't know just how I like things (or how OCD I am). It did take a bit of time to reorganize the books, but I know I would have either hated it all year, or spend time in a few weeks to put them the way I like them.

The mess started to diminish throughout the day. Because the cleaning and organizing is so slow, it's hard to tell that the mess is getting smaller. Here is a huge hint to make your life better when doing the frantic classroom setup: Clear out the boxes as you go. Don't do it all at once, but as soon as you have two or three, take a small break from cleaning and organizing and flatten them. (Throw them into the hallway if you are allowed.) Yesterday I did not do this and the mess did not seem to get any smaller. Today we chopped away at the pile every hour or so and it seemed to get more organized faster. For example: Take a look at this picture

And now look at this lovely one. Granted, it is a different angle, but it was only taken a couple minutes later. The construction workers had left the large box the television was packed in right in the middle of the classroom. I pulled it into the hallway and the improvement was amazing.

Another thing I took time to do today was slowly get ready for volunteers. All those piles on the left table are my notebooks with the papers to be glued onto the cover sitting right next to them. Don't be that person that welcomes helpers with, "I do need some help, let me think about what is most important..." or "Let me dig out all the supplies you need to do this; it will just take a minute." Have everything ready to go. I don't really have a "top priorities" list. As long as I need it done before the first day of school, I have it on a huge list, ready to delegate to volunteers tomorrow.

One part of moving in that makes me anxious is that there are construction workers still adding parts to the rooms. If you look in the first few pictures, I am missing my carpet trim that goes along the perimeter of the classroom against the wall. You wouldn't think that someone would get too worked up about not having trim in place, but I was instructed I could not place anything against the walls until the trim was put in so that they could come in and do their jobs. Here is an exciting picture of the trim laid out and ready to go on the wall. The awesome workers were done with my classroom in ten minutes or less. Too bad hanging bulletin boards and white boards does not go as quickly.

Once the trim was up, I took full advantage. Another little tiny detail I learned this afternoon is that I will not be getting a teacher desk this year. I'm not heartbroken over this news. I've thought about getting rid of my desk each year, but have not thought through the logistics enough to really go for it. The news was shocking because this was the first time I had heard it. My classroom design changed several times today after receiving news like that.
As many of you do, I will have my headquarters at my kidney table. It will be under where the TV is.

I stashed my science supplies under some counters and added a curtain. The curtain was made a year ago, but it matches my wall perfectly.

Another fun idea for nice and neat storage: I saved some of the nicer boxes that I packed in and hot glued some adorable fabric to one side. These were placed above all my cabinets for extra storage if needed. (I still need to make some bigger ones with aqua triangle fabric.)

Tip. While breaking down boxes, careful not to let the scissors slip and cut you instead of the cardboard.

One hard thing today was getting rid of memories that are no longer needed. I created two adorable paper airplane garlands last year that just don't fit this year. They went into my trash box.

The desks started getting clearer. I only have a few items still in boxes.

Here is what the classroom looked like right before I left. Not too shabby. I have almost everything put away and I am ready for volunteers tomorrow. Tomorrow five schools are giving up half of their professional development day to help out.

An awesome mom donated this IKEA cabinet to me last year and I love using it. This year it will hold our data binders. (You can also get a sneak peek of the birthday chart.)

Here is a preview of my teacher space. I am keeping all my picture books back there and an old little cupboard that I owned when I was a youngin.

See my other days:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6