I am in full swing of decorating my classroom since school starts on MONDAY! Yikes! Luckily, it's been a breeze since the awesome folks over at Walls Need Love let me review some of their products!

Walls Need Love is a company based in Nashville who makes vinyl decals for homes, offices, and classrooms! The art from them is fully made in the US and is so fabulous!

First I chose some colored dots.  I wanted to make a statement on the boring white wall in the back of my classroom.  It's what you see when you first walk in and it totally reminds me of a jail: white cinder block and bars on the windows!

First, I washed the wall with a little soap and vinegar and let it dry overnight.  Then I put painter's tape diagonal stripes on the wall.

Next, I started putting the dots on.  I used a tool that came with the vinyl to make sure they were really adhered to the wall.

Here are all my dots on the wall.

And last, I peeled the tape off.  Voila! I just need to finish sewing my curtains and hang those puppies up and that wall will be done (and way less jail-like!)

Next, I went to tackle my back door.  WNL has lots of adorable decals that are marketed towards a nursery, but I knew this alphabet chart would be adorable in a classroom, too!

Here I am smoothing the decal on with the tool.  You get to pick what colors you want the alphabet in and another color for your personalized saying.

In the baby nurseries, the decals said "B is for Ben" and things like that.  Mine says "F is for First Grade!" I love it! I'm just waiting on some border I ordered and that will be taped around the outside of the door, finishing off the look.

So now that you've seen what I was able to do in my room with the decals, now it's your turn! Walls Need Love is giving away one decal of choice to one lucky reader of Teaching With Style! Good luck!

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Today is the day that teachers go back to school for opening week.  Next Monday - kids come! So for me, it's buckle down time.  I gotta get my room and my plans all ready for the first week in my new classroom and in my new school.  

I shared a few pics of my classroom progress on instagram.  

Here is what I saw when I walked in for the first time.  The sweet custodians moved all of my boxes in after the secretary made me leave them in the office back in June. 

Here is after the first day of furniture arranging.

Then it starts to get bad as I unpack boxes, take everything out of the cupboards, and generally make a huge mess.

Empty book bins with boxes and boxes of books waiting to be sorted.

HUGE mess on my desk.

Tech cart spewing out technology.

So.over.whelmed.  I can't handle this!!!

Now it's finally getting better.  I cleaned out the art cupboards, the teacher book cupboard, and the manipulative closet.  My boxes are all unpacked and most things have found a home.

Here is my To-Do list for the week, as I'm going to Oahu this weekend to visit my good friend Angelia from Extra Special Teaching.  We get to take our hubbies out to see Jack Johnson (my musical LOVE!)  But because we'll be gone, everything in my room has to be done THIS WEEK!
  • Finish putting away the library books
  • Finish organizing math manipulatives
  • Finish sewing computer covers and curtains
  • Arrange my desk and teaching area
  • Put away all the stuff on the tables
  • Put out name tags, practice workbooks, etc on student desks
  • Put together homework folders, portfolios, and data binders
  • Clean out the posters drawers and construction paper drawers
Luckily, I've already gotten all the shopping done that I need: Mr. Sketch Markers, stickers, prize box items, matte photo paper and ink, composition books, and extra boxes of crayons and glue bottles.  It helps that we live on a bigger island now and have options for shopping!  I've also been able to utilize Coupons.com back to school sales! Not only can you find coupons for places like Target, Staples, and Office Depot, but you can even enter the Back to School sweepstakes at Coupons.com and maybe win $2,500! 

So make sure to check out Coupons.com, and also check back here in the next week.  Not only will I have another post for the Teaching With Intention book study, but I may also show you sneak peeks into my finished classroom! I have so many fun projects planned for my room and I can't wait to show you!
I'm back from my week of professional development with the Hawaii Writing Project! Today we will be chatting about chapters of 5 and 6 of Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller.

To start at the beginning of this book study with me:
If you are interested in getting college credit from Concordia University for joining this book study, you can get all the details hereIt costs $127 and you can join in just by following along and sharing your thoughts in the comments. At the end of the book study, you will have to complete a written assignment summarizing what you learned and how you will apply it.

Don't forget to make your Book Study Journal!


Chapters 5 & 6

My favorite quote of this chapter was on page 68.  Debbie tells us that the point of her telling us about the schema lesson isn't so we would duplicate it (which, of course, we are free to do).  But "the point is to know who you are and what you're about when you're teaching based on your beliefs, your students, and the environment you are creating."  That is so powerful.  That gives teachers the reassurance that we are doing good work in our classrooms.  It helps us know that if our hearts and heads are in the right place, we will make good decisions for our students. 

On page 69, Debbie quotes Frank Smith, a psycholinguist who was an important contributor in reading process research:
We can only learn from activities that are interesting and comprehensible to us; in other words, activities that are satisfying.  If this is not the case, only inefficient rote-learning, or memorization, is available to us and forgetting is inevitable.
I have had a lot of training in teaching ELLs.  I am GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) certified, took a college course on the SIOP model, and was trained in Susana Dutro's Focused Approach to ELD.  Even though I only had 4 ELL students last year, I still teach my lessons with ELL strategies in mind because I feel that they help make knowledge accessible and comprehensible for all students.  So, for example, I try to be very explicit in my thinking while I am reading aloud, no matter what the purpose of the book is.  I may be reading a book about the pumpkin life cycle, but I'll still think aloud about words that are tricky or new information that I think is interesting.  I also try to teach with a lot of visuals.  I am not an auditory learner, myself.  I would never expect my students to be.  I've blogged a lot about GLAD and ELD.

To make lessons interesting, I try to add in elements of fun, ala Mary Poppins ;)  I try to plan lessons where kids are out of their seats and working with partners or groups.  I also try to choose text that is interesting and fun for them to read.  Adding in technology is a great way to get student buy-in and automatically makes the lesson more fun.  My classroom is definitely not one where students are seated working silently.

The Shark File lesson is a great example of making learning fun and comprehensible.  Students had to get out of their seats to post their sticky note.  They got to work with a partner to read the book.  The teacher helped them think through their schema to help them notice similarities and misconceptions.

I made a printable version of the file folder for you to print, assemble, laminate, and hang in your classroom.  All you need is text and sticky notes!

I've noticed that with the basals I have taught, they focus on skills and not necessarily reading strategies.  This coming year, my school has purchased a new reading curriculum that I will be required to teach.  However, I'll be allowed to supplement based on student need.  I plan to do most of that supplementing in my small groups.  I feel that is a great way to deliver instruction that individual students really need and is a great time for strategy instruction.  Last year I made a set of the beanie baby reading posters and plan to use then with my firsties this year, too.  You can grab your set for free, here.

I also really love the series Comprehension Toolkit.  There are a lot of wonderful lessons around comprehension strategies that can be taught whole group or small group.  I plan to utilize these, as well.

When I was getting my reading endorsement, I made a list of picture books that help teach each strategy.  These titles would be great to add to your "picture book" tab in your Teaching With Intention journal, along with Debbie's awesome list of shark books on page 67.

1. Schema and Connections: What you know about what you are reading 
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
Fireflies by Julie Brinkloe
My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston
Koala Lou by Mem Fox
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Hazel’s Amazing Mother by Rosemary Wells
Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
The Two of Them by Aliki
Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie dePaola
2. Questioning: Expert readers ask questions before, during, and after they read
All I See by Cynthia Rylant
Amelia’s Road by Linda Jacobs Altman
An Angel for Soloman Singer by Cynthia Rylant
Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger
The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland
Monarch Butterfly by Gail Gibbons
The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
Why is the Sky Blue? By Sally Grindley
The Wise Woman and Her Secret by Eve Merriam
Yanni Rubbish by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim
3. Creating mental images: Make a picture in your mind.
Close Your Eyes by Jean Marzollo
Color Me a Rhyme by Jane Yolen
Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky by Georgia Heard
Footprints and Shadows by Anne Westcott Dodd
Goodnight to Annie by Eve Merriam
Greyling by Jane Yolen
I Am the Ocean by Suzanna Marshak
Mountain Streams (CD)
The Napping House by Audrey Wood
Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant
Night Sounds, Morning Colors by Rosemary Wells
Putting the World to Sleep by Shelley Moore Thomas
Quiet, Please by Eve Merriam
The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer
Say Something by Mary Stoltz
What Does the Rain Play? By Nancy White Carlstrom
When I’m Sleepy by Jane R. Howard
Wild, Wild, Sunflower Child by Nancy White Carlstrom
The Zoo at Night by Martha Robinson
4. Inferring: Figure out things the author doesn't tell us (meaning of a word, author’s message, how a character feels, overall events of the story)
Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky by Georgia Heard
Fireflies by Julie Brinkloe
Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
For the Good of the Earth and Sun by Georgia Heard
Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger
How Many Days to America? By Eve Bunting
If You Listen by Charlotte Zolotow
Miss Maggie by Cynthia Rylant
Mother Earth, Father Sky by Jane Yolen
Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola
The Royal Bee by Frances Park
Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Where Are You Going, Manyoni? By Catherine Stock
Winter Fox by Catherine Stock
5. Determining importance: Find out what are important details in the story you are reading
Dorling Kindersley Readers
I Can Read About…
First Discovery Books
Eyewitness Books
National Geographic for Kids
Time for Kids
Ranger Rick
Zoo Books
Kids Discover
6. Synthesizing: The way your thinking changes as you gather new information
The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionni
Charlie Anderson by Barbara Abercrombie
Fables by Arnold Lobel
Fredrick’s Fables by Leo Lionni
Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola
The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills
See the Ocean by Estelle Condra
Smokey Night by Eve Bunting
The Story of Jumping Mouse by John Steptoe
The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor
Tea with Milk by Allen Say

I really loved the Lesson Design tool that Debbie shared on page 80.  I think that the questions really help us think about why we are teaching the lessons we are.  It helps us evaluate the lessons.  This is true for any basal we teach, too.  If we can't say why the lesson is important, which standards it covers, or why we are teaching it, then we need to skip it and supplement with something more meaningful.

I think that using this planning sheet for each lesson might be a bit cumbersome.  However, I can see myself using it for units and key lessons.  Hawaii just adopted a new educator evaluation system.  In it, we have to do things called SLOs - Student Learning Objectives.  It's basically a SMART goal with data to prove that our students made progress.  I think that if I used this lesson design tool in conjunction with my SMART goal, I will be able to write a very effective SLO.

By using these, I'll also have a really great outline of my best lessons to use in following years and to share with my colleagues.

I think I am good with the explanation part of the tool.  I like to show kids why we are learning something and how it affects their lives.  I am also good with the explanation/modeling aspect.  I am reminded of when I taught kindergarten in a high ELL school.  80% of my kids did not speak English at all, so I modeled, modeled, modeled! I love to use cooperative groups.  In fact, my students sit in groups at their tables and have an elbow buddy.  Then they sit in assigned spots on the carpet and have a carpet partner.  They also do math centers with a math partner.  THey have multiple opportunities to work with a variety of other students throughout the day to help enhance their understanding of concepts.

Student feedback might be an area that I'll have trouble with.  Last year I implemented a 1-4 formative assessment strategy.  Students could give me a 1-4 hand signal to tell me their understanding.  I also used it to grade their papers.  I felt that since we were both using the same system, they would understand the grading much better.  This year, I want to get better at using the students feedback and recording it for my use: to make my lessons better and to provide necessary review opportunities.

Now it's your turn! What did you think about this chapter? Just chime in on the comments!
This is the 2nd year in a row that I'll be using a lesson planner from my friend April at A Modern Teacher!
A Modern Teacher

Last year I went with The Chevron Chic Teacher Binder

This year, I decided to go with the Happy Day planner

April gives you two options: a PDF that you can print out and hand-write on or a PowerPoint file that you can type in text boxes to personalize.  I decided to personalize mine with fun fonts.  Did you know that you can use Hello Fonts and KG Fonts free for personal and non-commercial use?  You only need to buy the licenses if you plan to sell your original creations.  How cool is that?

Here is the front of my planner.  I started with a pretty blue binder from OfficeMax.  I used HelloWoohoo to type my name on the cover.

Here is the inside.  I bought a Post-It Pocket for the front of my binder.  I put some direction cards from Miss Kindergarten inside that I want to remember to bring to school!

Here is the front page with all my new info typed in.  I also have a Post-It Insert.

Here is my first section: Student Info.  I will keep my class list, student and parent information, and anything about my class that I want to keep on hand (i.e. not lose!)

I used these printable, sticky tabs on my laminated section covers instead of dividers.  I then reused some plastic binder pockets from my planner last year.  

 I already typed up my school supply check-in sheet for the first day!

My second section is School Info.  Here I will keep notes from my principal, staff meeting agendas, master schedules, anything related to my school building that I need to keep for the year.

My third section is Standards.  I included April's math and ELA CCSS standards that came with the planner, as well as my Hawaii State Standards sheets that I shared last year.

The fourth section is my Calendar.  I printed out a yearly calendar that April included in the planner in black and white to save on ink.  This will help me plan IEP meetings, PLC time, even ballet and karate for my own kids.

This is a Classroom Events page that April created.  It should help keep me on track!

The last section is my Weekly Plans.  I haven't printed them out yet because I haven't seen the bell schedule for this year yet and I'm not too sure what my daily schedule will be yet.  When I do get it all figured out, I'll print out 1 copy, then make more on the school's copy machine, to save ink.  I'm a huge fan of typing in everything I can on my lesson plans (weekly library time, recess, lunch, etc) so I don't have to hand write as much each week.  It makes planning a breeze! 

I even put a sticky pencil holder on the back of the binder!

Now that I've shown you my planning binder, you have a chance to win one of your own! Good luck!

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I'm here with a Bright Idea for July!

I've moved into my new classroom and have started moving things around.  I'm so lucky, since the teacher who was in my room last year left a lot of decor items up for me.  One including the word wall.  She left little tacks underneath the letters on these cupboards and I'm not sure what they are for.

So I decided to make my own interactive word wall! First, I typed up the sight words from our new basal series that we have to teach, Wonders.  I printed them, cut them out, and laminated them.

Then, I stapled black ribbon underneath each letter card on the word wall. 

Next, I needed to gather materials to make the words interactive.  I decided to use glue dots (on sale at OfficeMax!) and clothes pins.

I put two glue dots on the pin.

Then pressed the card onto the pin.

And pinned it onto the ribbon.  Now the kids can come up to the word wall and clip on and off words that they need to use during writing! 

I am so excited to use this system in my classroom this year! 

If you liked my bright idea, please make sure to follow me!

Don't forget to check out all the other Bright Ideas in the linky below!