Monday, December 12, 2011

You Asked, I Answered :)

A little Q & A...

Q: When do you grade?
A: Ummmm…grades?! HA!! Just kidding. In our district, we don’t technically do grades in K-1. We do a 1-4 numbered system, each number representing their level of mastery with 4 being the highest {mastered}. We enter our grades at the end of each 9-week grading period and I base their “grades” on classroom performance & informal/formal assessment.

Q: How do you stay organized? How do you organize all your units/TpT stuff?
A: If anyone who knows me well is reading this, they’re LAUGHING right now because I am SO not organized. Well…it doesn’t look like I am anyway. I like to call it organized chaos. I think that’s my ADD ;) I write EVERYTHING down, so that helps. I also keep a running to-do list at ALL times!!! I organize all my center/station activities into those big 9x12 tabbed envelopes and store them in my filing cabinets. I organize all my thematic ideas/printables/templates/tracers into labeled file folders in a separate filing cabinet. I keep all of my TpT units {packets} in monthly binders…that gives me quick access to things I need to print and it’s easier for me to see the overall idea of what I’m doing before I start to plan. Everything else is organized on my Pinterest board….HA!!!

Q: How do you make your TpT packets?!
A: I use Power Point to create EVERYTHING!!!! I’ve used it for the last 7-8{ish} years exclusively. I don’t think I’d know how to use Word if I tried! HA! Honestly, it just seems so much more user friendly to me. Also, I'm using a PC {*I think* someone asked me that, too!!}

Q: When do you make your anchor charts?
A: Sometimes I’m really on the ball and I’ll create my anchor charts BEFORE I introduce a concept. Please notice that I said *sometimes*. I always tell my kids that our anchor charts are rough drafts. Sometimes we’re going through the material with a quickness, so tend to write a little sloppy. I expect my kids to always do their *personal best*, so I can’t very well display something that isn’t my personal best. A lot of times I’ll edit the anchor charts and create a brand new version after school and then I’ll hang it up before the kids come back in the next day. Most of the time, I like to remake my anchor charts to be much smaller so that they fit in the classroom better. I do laminate them so that they can be stored easily without getting ruined!

Q: How do you balance school and work? Do you go in early or stay late any nights?
A: Is there really a way to balance?! HA! Seriously though…I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my *job*, but my family will always come first. I have to know that if I didn’t get a chance to finish preparing for the next day, then I just leave it be. IT WILL GET DONE. Sometimes I get to school early, but most times I’m doing good just to get there on time. I do stay late…probably ‘til about 4:45ish…and then that’s that {my boys have to be picked up by 5.} Being with my boys is my top priority, so whatever I don’t finish gets left behind…until the next day. I make the most of my breaks…recess, lunch, specials…sometimes I stay in my room for lunch and work on things that need to get done. My boys LOVE coming to mommy’s classroom, so I’ll occasionally bring them up on a Friday evening {because I have a ROCKIN’ nightlife ;)}, we’ll pick up a pizza, and then hang out at school. It’s a win/win because I get things done and they have a blast. Truly. *Sometimes* I bring things home and work on them when the boys go to bed, but I really love spending time with Mr. Spouse so that doesn't happen too often. I am definitely a night owl and I usually don’t go to bed ‘til anywhere between 11-12. If something NEEDS to get done, I’ll find a way to do it! There’s definitely a fine line you walk trying to keep a balance between home and school, but you have to know where to draw that line! Family comes first and I don’t want to miss any memories!!!!

Q: When do you find the time?
A: I don’t feel like I do!!! Just remember that when you’re reading this blog, you’re seeing the *highlight reel*. I know it seems like I get a lot done…and sometimes I really do!…but I honestly don’t always find the time!!!! I've gotten really good at time management the last few years, but it's still a work in progress :)
Q: You mentioned you cut things out for your kids to make the actual project go more quickly...when are you cutting these things out?
A: I’m usually cutting these things out during my breaks…recess/lunch/specials. Sometimes I’ll get to school a *little* early and do it then and sometimes I’ll cut things out RIGHT before the activity. Just depends on how much needs to be cut! If it’s a HUGE project, I’ll also enlist the help of some of my moms!!! God bless them!!
Q: How did you revamp your Daily 5 block?
A: Y’all *might* remember me mentioning that I had to revamp that block of time to better fit the needs of my class. I have to be totally honest. While I do love Daily 5, the structure stresses me out {gasp!!!!!!}. I tend to be very structured…I like to know where my kids are supposed to be and I thrive on routine. I think the kids do, too...especially this year's sweeties. I love all the components of Daily 5, but the structure...notsomuch. Instead of doing 3 minilessons and breaking in between each rotation, I do one short lesson before we start our station work. My stations consist of word work, listening, a literacy activity, & writing. When the kids finish their work before the time is up, they can read to self or someone. We also have a D.E.A.R time before our station time, so they can read to self or someone during that time as well. Right now, they work on these things EVERY day. SO...every day they visit word work/writing/listening/literacy AND guided reading. The activities in their stations change every day as well. Some days are VERY simple {magnets for word work...completing a writing prompt...etc.}, but most days are VERY hands-on and include some type of activity I've created that focuses on the concepts we're covering in our curriculum.
Q: I know you do daily five, but how much time do you usually give them and take to teach in between?
A: Technically not *Daily 5* {see above}, but I give them about 15-20 minutes for their station work and then we rotate. I'm sure I'll be revamping this after the holidays! HA!

Q: Can / are there any more monthly math tub ideas you can put on tpt or post on the blog?
A: YES! I’m working on several right now!!! They should be all ready to go by the beginning of next week!!

Q: How many parent volunteers do you have helping during daily 5 and what do they do?
A: None. My class is SO much different this year than last. I had multiple parents helping daily last year, but this year just isn’t the same. It took me a LONG time to get my kids to be able to work independently and meet my expectations. I needed their full attention before bringing another adult into the classroom. Last year, my moms would come in and help the kids work on special writing projects or assist them as they worked independently in their literacy stations. I’ll start asking for more help after mid-year assessments and at that time I’ll have my parents help kids with sight word practice, writing, and word work type activities.

Q: Where did you get that cute red and white striped shirt that you wore underneath the Grinch shirt?
A: Thank you! It was actually a maternity shirt I used to wear when I was pregnant with my last little itty. I got it at the Gap. My husband would tell me I looked like ‘Where’s Waldo'?’ when I wore it. I shoved it into the back of a drawer and never wore it after that. I can’t believe I randomly found it when I was cleaning things out to take to Goodwill the other day…perfect timing for Grinch Day! And he wonders why I never get rid of anything?!?! Seriously...I'm one more piece of junk away from being an episode of Hoarders!!! HA!!

Q: Do you cut a lot of your crafts by hand, or do you have a cricut or silhouette that you use?
A: I do have a Cricut, but everything you see in my classroom is cut by hand! I cut it all myself….or have someone help…because I don’t want instruction time to be taken away from doing too many crafts. Plus, waiting on things to be cut on the Cricut takes WAY too long and I'm *slightly* impatient ;)

Q: Where do you get the borders you use on your worksheets?!?!
A: If you notice, I typically use the SAME dang borders on EVERYTHING!!! For the life of me, I can’t remember where I got them!!! I downloaded them when I was really big into digital scrapbooking. I found them on one of my old digital scrapbook paper CD’s. However, I do know that you can find A LOT of those borders/frames on digital scrapbooking websites and/or Etsy!!! There are TONS out there!!!!! I'm just being a cheapy and haven't bought anything new :)

Q: How do you "license" or whatever you do to be able to use copyrighted graphics on your work?
A: If you plan on selling your materials, you need to BUY a license from the graphic designer. The cost and terms vary by designer and can usually be purchased directly from the website. When in doubt, contact the designer!! Don’t just assume it’s okay to use something if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for!!!

Q: How do you format things so they will show up the same to your users just as they show on your materials even though they may not have those particular graphics?
A: I turn everything into a PDF file. However, this isn’t always compatible with every user. Sometimes my things turn out all icky. They look fine on my end, but someone will email me saying they look all kinds of messed up on theirs. Dangit. I’d LOVE to know how to stop that from happening, so if anyone has the answer, let me know!

Q: Do you have a portable photo printer in your classroom?
A: No! I sure don't!! When I print photos for my classroom, I just send them to the cheapest place I know...Wal Mart!!
Q: What photo softward to you use with your camera?
A: I use Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3 to do ALL of my editing. Basic adjustments in Lightroom then I export to CS5 for bigger edits. If you don't have access to this software, I heard that is a good online alternative :)
Q: Where do you get your fonts/graphics/borders/etc.?
A: I get my fonts all over the place. My favorite fonts come from Kevin & Amanda, and I've heard that a lot of people also like Sugar Frog Fonts. I also LOVE Miss Tiina Fonts!!!!
My graphics are typically from Scrappin' Doodles. I also use Digi Web Studio and MyGrafico, too!
Q: Do you ever sleep??
A: I have kids. I haven't slept in the last 4 1/2 years :) HA! Seriously...I average about 5-6 hours of sleep each night. I know that's lame, but I CANNOT go to bed without having some down time first. My boys don't get tucked in 'til around 8:30{ish} and our bedtime routine and prayers can last quite a while. By the time I get back downstairs, it's late and I need some "me" time before heading to bed. Plus, Mr. Spouse and I catch up on all our DVR'd show, so we need time together, too!! I'm definitely a night owl...I can get SO much more done when things are *quiet*!!!

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