Friday, September 28, 2012


Wow- I looked at my blog this afternoon and realized what a complete slacker I have been since school started. I loved blogging this summer and while I try and get on daily and check on my bloggy friends and see what they are posting...I have been a complete "no-show" when it comes to posting on my own blog. Thank goodness for my Carolina Girl Guest Blogger friends, I doubt I would have any posts at all.

I honestly can't believe that we just sent home interim reports this week for the first quarter. We also have finished our first unit in Social Studies. We also took out first field trip last Friday to see Spirit of America in Columbia, SC. I am going to blog about it tomorrow but here is a sneak peek at  what we saw....from a post on my classroom blog. My kids wrote about their favorite part (don't mind the spelling and grammar errors...we are working on that...I am just excited that they are blogging!!!)

My 5th graders are really doing so awesome, and I am so proud of them. As you may know, I looped up to 5th with my 4th grade class from last year. It has been an awesome experience so far. I really love my kiddos, but man, do they wear me out. I come home exhausted every day.  Which explains why I am usually too tired to blog.

October is poking around the corner, the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler. My Hokies are playing very well and in a few weeks will be playing up the road in Clemson, SC so I will get to see them play for the first time in a long time (not counting every weekend on TV of course!!).   I am  really starting to get in the fall mood, and plan on doing a little fall decorating tomorrow.

I can't believe it is almost midnight and I am still awake. I would usually already be in bed because I typically get up early on Saturday before the family is up and moving (except my hubby on the weekends he works) to finish up lesson plans, grading, etc. But one of my goals this school year is to try and finish my lesson plan by Thursday night so that all I have to do it grade papers.  This is the first week I have been successful. In fact I posted all my plans last night and sent our our weekly assessment in reading to my team this morning. And when I  left school this afternoon, I brought home my small teacher tote instead of my huge 31 teacher tote!! I have a few papers to grade tomorrow afternoon while I watch football, but other than that I am going to enjoy a schoolwork free weekend.  Hopefully this will become a trend and I can reclaim some of my life and enjoy a little more time with my family.  I will keep you posted....

Well, it is getting late so I am going to go crawl into bed so I can start my little snoozefest. Looking forward to sleeping in and then enjoying a little coffee on the patio with my hubby tomorrow morning.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I "heart" Book Retriever!!!

Helloooooo....I know, I have been MIA since school started 3 weeks ago! I am sorry! But I am finally coming up for air and I waned to share about this app for the iPhone or iPad that I fell in love with this week. It is called Book Retriever and it has totally changed my life and the process I use for facilitating book check out in my classroom library. Before I go one, NO, the company that developed this app is not paying me to endorse this app, I just love it and I wanted to share it with all of you!

Since I began teaching, I have always my students to take home books form my classroom library to read at home. I want them reading every night and in fact I require them to read a minimum of 20 minutes a night. However, I teach in a Title I school and found out early on, that many of them did not have any books at home to read.  I couldn't require them to do something without them having adequate  resources to do it.

My first year of teaching, I (naively) used the honor system for borrowing classroom books.  If they borrowed a book, they knew (or so I thought) that they had to return it. With the size of my class, I really had no handle on who had what book. At the end of my first year, my classroom library was missing about 60 books. I couldn't go to the last student who borrowed a particular book that was now missing because I had no idea who had borrowed it.

The next year, I started using index cards to facilitate check in and check out. That worked great for a few year but I still had missing books and a lot of times I did not have an easy way to figure out who had it, nor did I have a way to notify parents if the book had been checked out but was not returned.

A few months ago, I came across the app "Book Retriever" and it upped my game plan for facilitating book check in and check out in my classroom. It has also helped me manage my classroom library more efficiently.

This app uses bar-code technology and the books bar-code/ISBN number to scan in the books in my classroom library.  I can then set up a list of my students (I have 2 classes of 5th graders this year with 20+ students each) with info such as parent name, email address and phone number.  When a child wants to borrow a book, I scan the bar-code, and voila, check it out to them...

 The company who develops and sells the app (it costs 99 cents for iPhone or iPad)  is The Classroom Library Company. They have a huge database of books embedded in the app so as soon as you scan the bar-code on the back of a book, the book's info comes up (most of the time) and you just add that book to your online class library.  The app will then recognize that bar code/book for you to check it out to a student.   There have been a few glitches (we all know technology is GREAT--when it is working).  However, noting major, that would keep me form continuing to use it and go back to my old methods. The app even allows you to create your own bar-codes. However, you have to have access to a wireless printer.  I have one at home but not at school. Eventually I will have my entire classroom library bar-coded.

I really love this app...check it out. I think it will change your life (okay, maybe just make it a little easier!!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Carolina Girl Guest Blogger- Lana from For the Love of Teaching

Hey y'all!  This is Lana from For the Love of Teaching.  I am so excited to be a part of Patti's Carolina Blogger Series!  Thanks Patti for hosting this series and allowing me to be a part of it.
If you are interested, I would love for you to join my blog to follow along on my 4th grade adventures.
Today, I would like to share how I use my Cricut machine and vinyl to add personalization to my classroom and keep things organized.  The Cricut machine was a gift for my birthday to use for scrapbooking, but I have found that I use it more for school than anything!  Here are a few projects I have used vinyl on. 

Project #1:  Group work bucket (where I include sticks with student names), Our Class Bucket (where we add pom poms for good behavior), and Cheers (where I have funny little cheers we do for a break).
Project #2:  Last year I bought this tote from Target and added vinyl to store my clipboards.  I love it!
Project #3: I use this as my homework bin where students turn in homework in the mornings. 
Project #4:  I use the drop boxes for a variety of things.  You know when student's come in first thing in the morning with lunch money, field trip money, notes, etc.  This drop box is perfect to hold those items until I can take the time to sort through them.  I made one for me and one for my partner teacher.   
Project #5:  I bought this dish pans from Wal-Mart to use to hold our Math journals, Language journals, and Family Message Journals. 
Project #6:  I even personalized Swimmy's fish tank!  Swimmy is our classroom fish. 
Project # 7:  These bowls from the Dollar Tree are the perfect size to hold our class crayons and colored pencils. 
Project #8:  This bucket from the Dollar Tree is used as our class treats (a.k.a. candy)! 
Not only does adding vinyl make things super cute, but it really does add to the organization of your classroom. I am continually striving to make my classroom as organized as possible and labeling things with vinyl has helped in that process! 

Thanks for reading along today and thanks again to Patti for allowing me to participate in this series!