Thursday, August 9, 2012

Behind the Scenes

Well, I love Pinterest!! Ever since I accepted this job I have literally stayed on Pinterest, looking for ideas for my room. I have found so many cute ideas and I have used a lot of them, plus adding some of my own pizazz! The first idea I found that I HAD to try was the idea of making benches out of milk crates! There were tons of pictures on Pinterest and different ways to structure the benches. With the help of my mom and her creative mind we came up with a cheap way to make the benches. They are ADORABLE and my favorite part of my classroom.

I am going to try and give a short "recipe" for how I made these. They were cheap and super easy! It took me about an hour to make two benches. You can also do individual seats, but I liked the benches better. 

2 plastic crates (Big Lots $2.5)
 1 eight foot boar, 12 inches wide (Lowes)
Foam (I used an old bed egg crate)
Vinyl table cloth (Big Lots $1.00)
2 cloth bins
 Zip Ties

Once you have all your materials, take two zip ties and connect the two crates together. Have Lowes cut the board in half so that you have two 4ft boards. I drilled 6 holes in the board, in order to put the zip ties through to attached it to the crates. I went on a attached the zip ties to the board before I put the table cloth on. Before attaching the board to the crates I cut the foam and the table cloth to fit around the board. I stapled the table cloth and foam to the  board and then placed on top of the crates and locked the zip ties. Then you're done! It was SUPER easy and it was a fun little project for my mom and I. I used a table cloth because you can just wipe it down, without having to worry about fabric. You can use whatever you want. They turned out so cute and look great in the room. They would work for anything! Go try it!

Okay, this is my favorite part of my room! It's so sunny and happy and makes me want to take a seat and read! Besides my benches, I LOVE the rug and the lamp. Both of these items were purchased from Big Lots. Once I had the rug, I knew I just wanted lots of color. All my bins are from Dollar Tree and they are filled with books and then the right bookcase is filled with reading games and small group activities. In the basket by the bookcases are cushions my mom made! :) She had old cushions from our porch swing and she just covered them with pillow cases. There are 6 cushions and they will be used by the students to sit and read comfortably. My next favorite thing in the room are my hand made chalk boards! :) LOVE THEM! I bought four frames from Good Will for $.25 each. I painted the edges and then got chalk paint and painted the glass. SUPER easy. I plan on writing quotes and little inspirational sayings on them to inspire the students. Right now the quotes are all Dr. Suess quotes. I think that's about it in this corner. :)

 AH! The sancuary :) This is my little space. I'm sure I won't spend a lot of time back here, but I still wanted it cute. The rug is from Big Lots, again and so is the black ottoman in the corner. LOVE! The colorful picture frame hanging on the wall is a collage of letters from my students from Wasena. My last day of student teaching, the students all gave me cards saying how much they would miss me. I took some and put them in this shadow box to help me remember why I do what I do. They are too sweet :) Above that is a letter from a little boy that was in my class. This little boy had Aspergers and was the sweetest thing! After I left and after Christmas break they started working on friendly letters. Mrs. Gibson told the students to choose a person within the school to write and send a letter to. This student asked if he could write and send his letter to me, even though I was no longer there. She said yes and there is my letter. It was so cute and sweet and just another reminder that students do pay attention to what you do and what you say. I will cherish these forever. My bulletin board is bare because those were the only two pictures I had in my car. I will be adding more soon. 
This huge box thing is where my students will keep their backpacks. When I first saw this monster I was not happy. It was huge and DISGUSTING!!! I did some major scrubbing and now it looks as good as new! On my bulletin board you can see my calendar and class jobs. On the other side are "buckets" and the title says "We Are Bucket Fillers". While I was at Wasena, Mrs. Stiles read the book, "Have You Filled a Bucket Today". I LOVED the idea and I am going to incorporate it into my class. If you haven't read the book, the premise is that everyone carries around with them an invisible bucket. As individuals we are "bucket fillers" or "bucket dippers". A bucket filler is someone is does nice things for others and builds others up, therefore they are filler our bucket. A bucket dipper is someone who "dips" in our bucket by being negative, bullying, and treating other without respect. We all want to be bucket fillers. I have little pom-pom balls that students will use to fill their buckets. If I see or hear someone being a bucket filler I will put a pom pom in that persons bucket. Students can put pom poms in each other buckets if they feel a friend is being a bucket filler to them or to others. It is a great way to make sure students are aware of feelings and treating everyone with kindness. I'm excited to start! This is not my behavior plan, but ties into my bahavior plan well. I will talk about my behavior plan in another post :) On my table are dry erase boards for the students, the bucket of pom poms and then two more buckets that say "broken" on one and "sharp" on the other. While working with Mrs. Stiles she had a BRILLIANT idea of not sharpening pencils during class! Students were allowed to sharpen pencils during morning work and then that was it! If, during class, your pencil broke, you were allowed to "barter" with me or Mrs. Stiles for a sharpened pencil. You were not allowed to trade us for a nice pencil if you had a pencil that had bite marks or no eraser or that was just not kept in good condition. That would be an unfair trade. This concept was WONDERFUL! Students never got out of their seat to sharpen pencils and we were incorporating a Social Studies skill :)

 To the left you can see my guided reading/small group area. I am still waiting on a kidney table and that will go in front of the posters. The posters will eventually be taken down and a bulletin board will be put up. This will be my word wall for reading and focus wall for math.
The bookcases on the left house all my math manipulatives and the bookcase on the right is all Science and Social Studies materials.

This is my door :) My mom came up with "Soar into 3rd Grade with Miss Vaughan". Our mascot is the Eagles and our behavior approach is S.O.A.R. (I'll discuss that in a later post). Anyway, the girls will have their names on the hot air balloons and the boys will have their names on the rockets. I thought it was a cute idea :)

Well, there ya have it. The how and the why of my room. Hope you enjoyed it and I hope you can take something from it! Happy decorating fellow teachers!!!

My First REAL Classroom

Excited, tired, overwhelmed, exhausted, happy, sad, frustrated, pumped, unprepared, and ecstatic are just SOME of the emotions I have experienced over the past week and a half. The first time I walked into my classroom, about three weeks ago, was with my friend Jasmine. We both walked in and I literally had tears form in my eyes because of the amount of "stuff" in my room. All this "stuff" was pushed into the middle of the room and included desks, bookshelves, thousands of books (literally), chairs, a forest from all the paper, and just junk! We stayed long enough to move the furniture around to how I thought I wanted things set up and then we left. I was BEYOND overwhelmed. I definitely had my work cut out for me! Everything was FILTHY, and when I say filthy, I mean black goop EVERYWHERE you looked and dust inches thick. It was disgusting to say the least. I had no idea where to begin. 

These two pictures capture just a fraction of what the classroom looked like after I moved everything. These pictures do not come close to showing how nasty it was. 

Since I work at a charter school, the state provides us funding. However, the funding is based on the amount of students we have enrolled. Most of our furniture is "hand-me-downs" and not in the best of conditions. However, my principal is AMAZING and she goes over and beyond to make sure we have everything we need and anything we want. I have been very impressed! Anyway, on to the demolition. :)
Last Thursday I went to the school for a few hours and I went to town cleaning. I purchased Goof Off, a scraper, sponges, rags, and 409 from Lowes and went to town. I literally spent 5 hours JUST cleaning and the only pieces of furniture I cleaned were the bookshelves. I have 5 bookshelves in my classroom and they are not big. You can imagine how dirty they were if it took me five hours to get them presentable. Goof Off works wonders!!!!! Friday my mom came to school and helped. If you know my mother, you know she's AMAZING and so creative. We finished cleaning everything and then began sorting through things and trying to organized. By the end of the day I had about 60 BUG boxes, FULL of books, curriculm books from the 50s and all kinds of stuff, packed up to be taken away! My room was nother but boxes. After the boxes were removed the real work began, organizing, sorting, and arranging. We got a lot accomplished, but it was still no where close to being ready! 
This week we started our teacher work days. Our principal allotted two work weeks before students come and I am thankful for the two weeks. Monday and Tuesday we spent the day in meetings and I became even more overwhelmed. North Carolina has adopted the Common Core Standards and this year we are implementing them at our school. This is VERY different for me, especially coming from Virginia where we just had SOL's. The Common Core is intense and you have to change the entire way you present material and how you teach in order to be effective. I have SO much material running through my brain it's hard to keep things straight and it's hard to focus on one particular thing. Because our principal could sense the fact we were all overwhelmed, especially us newbies, she decided to allow Wednesday and today days focused on finishing up our rooms. Today I finished mine! There are a few little things missing and things that need to be tweaked, but overall it's finished and I am very proud and excited about the finished product. 
My goal as a teacher was to make my room warm and inviting for my students. I want my students to be excited to come to class and excited for what the day holds. I know that is what most teachers want and I also know that is a goal that is hard to attain, because a lot of students would rather be anywhere but school. However, I am going to do my best to make my students feel comfortable in their learning environment. I feel like I have done that with my room and I am very excited to see their reactions. I LOVE LOVE LOVE 3rd grade and I am so excited to start! My mentor and inspiration for a lot of my ideas comes from my cooperating teacher for student teaching, Mrs. Stiles. I could not have asked for a better student teaching experience. My teaching style is very much like Mrs. Stiles and we got along so well. I have taken many of her ideas and incorporated them into my classroom. I can't wait to share them with you! 
I am going to end this post because it is pretty long and you may be bored. HA! However, I am going to post another post tonight giving more detail about how I did some of my decorating and why, and of course there will be pictures! I know you aren't supposed to write two blog posts in one day, but I am just so excited about the school year and I want to share it all with you. My goal is to be one of those people that make it on Pinterest and have all these followers. HAHA! A girl can dream :) Check out my next post and try out the fun ideas!!