Monday, November 5, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I cannot believe how extremely busy I have been!  I know that I have neglected this blog recently, but since school has started, I have been updating and posting on, my classroom site.  I have been working on many different resources for my parents and for my kiddos!

I have also been trying to get different types of useful technology in my classroom.  I would love to get some iPods and a Easi-Speak Voice Recorder to help with reading.  Sooooo, I recently signed up for Donors Choose and hope to get donations so my class this year and future classes can use the items we receive.  If you would like to donate, go to and until November 11th, Donors Choose will match the donation! Just use the code INSPIRE. How sweet is that?  If you become one of our donors, I am already thanking you!!!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Writing Center and a Freebie!

My students this year will do a lot of prewriting, copying of model writing, and creating rough drafts in their personal journals.  When it is time to publish, they will take advantage of the "writing center" space.  Behind my desk is a large space with a privacy desk.  Next to the desk is my center.  It is a 10 drawer cart on wheels.  I labeled each drawer with a different title.  I based these on the materials I have available and the tools/papers I thought my 2nd graders would like to use.  One drawer is writing utensils. Another has tools like staplers, hole punches, and tape.  There is a drawer where I will keep prewriting sheets we have learned to complete.  The 7 drawers beyond that are filled with different types of paper.  I have write/draw, notebook, primary writing, stationary, cards/postcards, and colored paper. I have blank copy paper stored in another area if the students wish to use that. I hope when I introduce this area, that the students get excited to choose the way they wish to publish!  

On the top of the cart, I bought a metal dish rack to store the students' folders. Each folder is numbered to match my student numbers.  Inside they will story their finished writing pieces.  I used the silverware cup to become my "Colorful pens for colorful words" container.  I would love to take credit for the use of the dish rack and pens, but I found both in the fabulous world of pinterest!

Writing Center Drawer Labels

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Meet the Teacher Night ~ Success!

~ The Giving Tree ~
Last week was our "Meet the Teacher" night.  It was a great success!  I had so much fun preparing for the parents and then meeting everyone! I had 21 out of 24 families show up!  That was tremendous.  I had a very calm atmosphere with me spending most of my time greeting people at the door.  They wandered the room, watched a PowerPoint slideshow about me, my family, and highlights from last year. I had donation "wish list" items hanging on a "giving tree" in the hall.
~ Filled Treasure Box ~

I had prepared a packet for each child with his/her name on the top.  Any leftover packets told me who did not show up.  No sign in sheet needed!  Why hadn't I ever done that before? Genius! In each packet was a slip for emails, how the child got home on the first day, a volunteer form, free and reduced lunch information, book order forms, and our team bio sheet.  I laid them all on one table spread out so that the parents didn't think they had to sit down for a presentation.  It was very informal and I did not have a speech!  On the top of each packet I placed a pen.  I bought cheap pens (12 in a pack for $1.00). Then I printed a set of labels with our Sparky mascot and another set of labels that had "We've got the 'write' stuff for a fabulous year".  It also had my email and our class webpage.  I actually had printed too many of the mascot labels, so I was able to put them on kids as they walked through my door.  They thought it was very cool and I was able to keep track of who I already greeted! Another genius moment!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Teacher Space

I have finished organizing my desk space! We have the equivalence of computer tables with a "pen drawer" as teacher desks.  NOT what they originally were going to get for us!  Since I couldn't use the drawer much, I decided to empty it out and turn it into my keyboard tray!  It has worked fabulously so far! I love that the top of the desk is clean and I can easily get to the keyboard.  I am short, so the fact that I just lowered it for easier typing has been terrific!  My sister also had the great idea to get a wireless mouse for the desktop {She teaches high school and her computer is against her SmartBoard! Why would you put your back to 9th graders?!?}  The mouse works from anywhere in the room!  I can take it with me and if we are working on things and can't get up, we can click from a distance! This will give me some freedom of movement!  And since I can pull up the keyboard tool for the SmartBoard, I can literally be anywhere for any activity! HEAVEN!
This year I put my 2 drawer file cabinet under the desk and I will be keeping my lesson materials and extra folders in it.  I have already added and rearranged some things on the top so that the extra chair can be used by students if they need help or get to sit there for a reward. On the shelf, I organize my resources by subject and love the clean look of the bottom shelf.  Those file boxes are all for science and each box is for a different type! I am working on turning all my files and books into computerized versions {scanning}, which is a slow process, but it is working out great for me!  I actually have wiggle room on the bookshelf! For all my little necessities, I made a teacher toolbox using labels by Kristen Doyle. She created them so that you can change any of the drawer titles! It was fabulous because I did customize it some! I made one of the drawers "Personal" so I can keep nail clippers, eye drops, deodorant, etc. in it.  Some of my extra things were too large {like lotion} so I put my green tin on top to house those items.  I think it looks great and I have been able to find everything as I set up my room!  Unfortunately I have so many of some of the items that I had to create a drawer in the cabinet with "extra supplies".  OOPS! I am not a hoarder, but some things you just can't give away!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Reading Corner

~ Reading Corner before decorations ~
I have pretty much {and finally} figured out my reading corner!  I love how it is coming together!  I started with the large furniture in my room and placed things so I could have a cozy reading corner with the kids.  I had a vision of how I wanted it to look, so that was helpful!  The blue wall is a magnetic (and sort of fuzzy) movable wall that connects my room to my neighbor's.  The white next to it is a magnetic white board.  Once the furniture was in place, I had to get my Daily 5 and Cafe set up!  I bought some adorable clipart with zebras and turned them into my choice cards.  I would love to share this with everyone, but I don't have the license to give the images as a freebie and we all know we can't sell the Daily 5/Cafe materials.  The best I can do is show you the pictures.

~ Daily 5 Choice Board ~
I plan on having the ribbon of my choice boards empty at the beginning of school. As I teach the routines, they will get hung up.  So if we have only learned "Read to Self", then that would be the only card hanging.  I am really excited to use this in conjunction with the Cafe. I put a "Strategy Group" tag at the top so that I can pull the students I need and they don't choose another option.  With my time constraint, I will most likely only get to 3 rounds a day, but I made it for 5 rounds just in case {wishful thinking}.
~ Daily 5 Choice Board - Beginning of Year ~
I used a ton of hot glue and 15 binder clips to make these so cute. I hung it with magnets on my white board. I am really happy with how they turned out!

 I also made my Cafe Strategies Board right next to the Daily 5 Choice Board.  This is hung on the fuzzy wall, using rough velcro!  I am so excited it worked because even though it is magnetic, it needs VERY powerful magnets!  You can get my CAFE Strategies Board at my TpT store, so click on the caption below for the Freebie!
~ CAFE Strategies Board ~
 Once my boards were up, it all came together! I have my lap desks and gardening cushions in a basket, I have supplies on hand sitting on the window ledge.  This year I put a suspension rod on the window and hung my chart paper.  Last year I used the suspension rod for anchor charts and posters.  My anchor charts this year will be up above the choice boards.

In the pictures, you can see one of my shelves for books {I have 5 more shelves of student books in the room!} I have a plastic drawer system to house my Daily 5 and Cafe materials, Reading Skills Group Materials, and Lesson Materials for mini-lessons.  I am hoping this year goes smoothly! I am trying to be super ready for the start of school next week!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Look Book and Reminder Binder ~ Firebirds!

Today, one of my team teachers turned principal :) asked if anyone had Look Book and Reminder Binder forms he could share with his building.  He wants them to start using them as their building-wide discipline plan. Lucky for him, I had redone ours this year with our Sparky Robot mascot and had also redone it with a Toucan theme for a friend at a different building. {See posts for Look Book and Reminder Binder}

So, for all my Firebird friends, here is a handy dandy set of forms just for you!
~Look Book & Reminder Binder Forms - Firebirds!~

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Team!

So I decided to add a post tonight to feel like I am really getting things done.  After many drafts and additions/changes by my team {all awesome of course}, I finally came up with our general information sheet for parents.  We wanted to show how strong we are and how consistent we are across the grade level.  This is so fabulous because only 2 of us are veterans of the team!  AND last year was the first year of this new building! So we feel pretty good about what is ahead of us.  Meet "Team Zwangerall" of Summit STEM!
~ Team Zwangerall Bio Sheet ~

Not a Slacker! Honest!

I have been so busy lately!  My family finally took our first "vacation" ever and it was only 2 days long!  We drove from Columbus to Cincinnati, back home to Columbus, then back to Cincinnati again!  We figured with it only being a 2 hour trip each way, that it was still cheaper to drive than to get a hotel... not to mention we didn't know what to expect from our 2 and 4 year olds!

Anyways, besides the trip, I have been spending what seems like every waking moment on school! I have been working on projects at home, planning with my team, setting up my classroom, and I honestly don't feel like I am any more ready than I was a few weeks ago!

I have many things that I am very excited about in my room this year.  Some things I have been wanting to try out, some things I just figured out, and some things that have always worked great for me!  So, no I haven't been slacking :) I hope tomorrow that I will have some pictures to post!  I will probably break the code of {1 post a day}, but that will be to keep my blog organized.  I can't help it!  It is easier to read and find information when there isn't a super duper long post with everything crammed into it.  Right?

Well, off to do more work now that the boys are in bed!  Not enough hours in the day and school hasn't even started yet!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Giveaway Awesomeness!

While perusing my recent comments, I decided to check out some of my new follower's sites!  I came across First Grade Fairytales and found that Kelly is doing a giveaway! She now has over 100 followers and will be giving away a TpT gift card!  Check it out!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lovin' Linkies!

I am lovin' Linkies!  All my favorite resources in one place!  Here is a Pinterest Linky!  You don't have to be a blogger, just a pinner!Thanks Debbie Clement at Rainbows Within Reach for the fabulous idea!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop!

I just joined the "Newbie Blog Hop".... That says it all right?  I'm a massive newbie!  I started in July and am addicted!  I can't stop working on my computer and I get so excited to share! Thank you Janis {Grade Three is the Place for Me} for making this hop possible!  

So here are my answers...

1.  I am in Ohio and always have been.
2.  I am a second grade teacher at a STEM school.
3.  I am starting my 12th year after teaching 5th, 4th, 2nd, 4th again, and back to 2nd!
4.  I started bloggin' in July this year!
5.  I think that you need to personalize your page.  I don't pay as much attention to blogs that match another page.  Jazz up your blog in some way!  I have found solace in 

Kevin & Amanda
code it pretty - click for home
Now you go link up and spread the wisdom!  We may be newbies, but we aren't that green... are we?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Busy {Crafty} Bee!

~ Lap Desk Clipboards ~
 While planning for my crate seats, I had originally thought I would use clipboards on the bottom to hide the fabric that wrapped around and have the dual purpose of a lap desk.  Thoughts progressed and I decided the kids would not want to choose between sitting on the crates and using the lap desk clipboards. Since I had enough wood (I used 1/2 inch roofer's plywood), my dad cut pieces so there was a 1" edge beyond the clipboards.  I dug out the fabric from the basement and was sooooo excited to see that I had green and pink polka dots!  Perfect!

~ Side view of unfinished lap desk ~

 I followed the same process I used with the crate seats, except I just hot glued the fabric.  I used "Quick Grip Adhesive" where the clipboard and the wood connected.  To make the handle, I just folded and used fabric "no stitch" glue!
~ Top view of unfinished lap desk ~


Classroom Seating

~ Meeting Place ~
I wanted to share a little more of my classroom seating.  The space is not yet decorated, but my refurbished antique chair from the antique mall last year still looks amazing.  I love buying old things and painting them!  The crates look fabulous in the room :) Last year I bought round bathroom rugs from Target instead of a large area rug.

I love these rugs for 3 massive reasons:
1. They can go anywhere in the room.
2. The kids think they are fun.
3. They are easy to wash - just throw them in the laundry!

~ Rug (folded) and Knee Rest ~
This year I also bought foam gardening knee rests to use as "bottom" cushions when on the floor.  They were on a ridiculous clearance, so I was only able to get my hands on 11 matching ones.  C'est la vie!

Crate Seating... Yes, me too!

~ Crate Seat ~

I saw the crate seats on Pinterest (about a billion and a half of them) and thought they were so adorable!  I decided I could do that too to add a little something extra to my room!  This year I have a little more space than before and ended up {for the time} with 2, YES TWO, meeting areas!  I am so excited!
~ Crate Seat with lid off ~

So I talked to my dad and he helped me measure and cut the boards for my crates I bought at Walmart.  My sister was in town visiting and she helped me (after many visits to Joann's) get black vinyl, thick ribbon, and poly-fill.  We laid down the fabric, put a layer of the fluff, placed the board, and stapled like crazy!  We used black cotton fabric to cover the bottom.  I wanted my seats to be durable, washable, and functional.  I can wipe them off, use the ribbon handles to lift the lid off, and store things inside.  I am so excited about how they turned out!  I only made 4, but they are perfect!
~ Bottom of Crate Seat ~

Thank you!!!!!!

I have been extremely grateful to people that put the time into creating easy tutorials for bloggers.  Two phenomenal ones I have found are...

Kevin and Amanda 
code it pretty - click for home

Thank you for everything!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sparky Classroom Helpers

"Sparky" Classroom Helpers
Here is another fabulous freebie to my "Sparky Friends"!  I updated/changed my classroom helpers for this coming year.  I decided to have the little sparks apply for their jobs and then keep them for at least a month. I am tired of them not knowing what their job is or how to do it, so after some web cruising, I found that this is the way a lot of people "OUT THERE" do it!  So I will give it a whirl!

Reading Trackers

~Various Reading Trackers~

I L.O.V.E. using different tools to help students track while they are reading.  I have scary halloween fingers, magic fairy wands, blue "EZC Reader Strips", drink stirrers, and whatever else I can get my hands on.

~Various Reading Trackers~

This year, I found some new things to use!  I ordered the "We're #1" fingers from Oriental Trading.  I think the kids are going to go ga-ga over these!  I should have ordered more than one set!  The crazy straws are from the dollar store.  The sticks on the right I made myself!

~DIY - Reading Trackers~

I was walking through the store looking for new trackers, when I saw drink stirrers.  I was going to buy them, but when I took a good look at them, I realized I could make some of my own for a lot less money!  I bought bamboo skewers, snipped the sharp end off, and cut them in half.  I used spray paint from the garage to paint the shortened skewers.  Then I pulled out my bead collection and decided on the wooden beads.  Unfortunately, these took a little longer to make than anticipated because not all the bead holes were big enough.  Out came the jewelry making tools and I was able to enlarge the holes.  The beads are tight enough, that I didn't even have to use any glue!  I think if I can make an entire class set, I will be able to use them for writing in the air as well!

Book Box Bags? YUP!

~Book "Boxes"~
I have finally finished painting my new book "boxes"... errr... "bags"...  I decided this year to scrap the typical book boxes and use bags!  During reading, my students move around - a lot!  In fact, they have the opportunity to leave the room and use our common learning area (ELA).  Last year, the book boxes were a mess!  They were hard to carry, they fell over, they even busted!  I am hoping to resolve those issues with these bags! I kept looking at cotton or canvas bags that were WAY TOO EXPENSIVE. I bought reusable Giant Eagle shopping bags {my fabulous husband's idea}.  So for $1 each, I was able to get enough matching bags!  They are obviously store bags, but I don't mind so much because they match and we do a 9-week unit about the 3 R's, so isn't it perfect?  I bought some stencils and fabric paint.  I used (here's the genius) lint roller sheets to punch out the stars with my Sizzix!  They stuck on there beautifully!  I put a star/number on each side and they are so cute!  I hope they last through the year and maybe longer... If not, I have some spares to change out the awful ones!  Portable, fashionable, and washable book boxes!  I am so excited!

Larger Word Work Bottles

~Large "Letter Find" Containers~ 
~Filled with different types of letters~
Today I made larger versions of my "Letter Find" containers.  I used some single serve juice containers.  Removing the labels was super easy!  I filled the bottles with hot water and let them sit a minute.  The labels peeled right off!  A few sticky spots were taken care of with my bottle of Goo-Gone.  Using different letter beads, charms, scrapbook embellishments, and chip board letters, I filled the bottle about 1/4 full. Then I filled the bottle (leaving 1/4 on top) with plastic craft filler beads.  I am super excited to put these to good use in my room!  The options and possibilities are endless!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Look Book and Reminder Binder ~ Toucan Style!

~Look Book and Reminder Binder Toucan Theme~
So one of my friends over at another building has decided to use the "Look Book" and "Reminder Binder" discipline program too!  This one is for all my Toucan friends and any Toucan fans out there!

For the trademark information on this program by Patricia Wolf, click here.

Look Book and Reminder Binder

~Sparky Look Book and Reminder Binder Forms~
Our school uses the "Look Book" and "Reminder Binder" discipline system and I decided to update my forms!  I put all the forms I use into one document and used our mascot pictures of "Sparky" throughout the pages.  I even added some forms that I thought other people in my building liked to use!  So, this is for all you Summit Sparks out there :)

For the trademark information on this program by Patricia Wolf, click here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Being proud, I went to show my mom this blog, but realized with her that most of my worksheet links aren't working.  The place I stored them was asking her to log-in.  SO.... I decided to add them as freebies on TeachersPayTeachers.  However, they are still working on the site and I can't get it to work!  I will continue to fix the problem, so pin it, bookmark it, whatever you need to do and I promise it will get fixed!


~Cafe or Craft Headers and Topics~
My team and I have decided to use the CAFE this year in our rooms.  We have been discussing either using the acronym CAFE (which I like for its purity) or the acronym CRAFT (I like the version of T being "terms and vocabulary").  I first saw this version on Ladybug's Teacher Files.  I decided to create my own signs, headers, and tags.  I included tags for either version.  I pored over the Cafe Menu in the book and online.  Then I found a menu already aligned to the common core for second grade! I was ecstatic! Then I went through the common core on my own and created more strategy cards.  I plan on using the strategy tags by putting them on a ring for reference. I can hand these to the students to write the personalized tags. There are blank tags in this set to use for the personalized tags.  If you have any suggestions of how to make the collection more thorough, please send me a comment!


After hours of toiling over GIMP... I think I have the background and title I want for my page! YIKES!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Word Work Test Tubes

I had these fabulous test tubes that use to hold cookie sprinkles.  I gathered up my letter beads, embellishments, etc. and purchased a few more.  Then I found craft plastic filler beads (used to fill bean bags and dolls) to cover up some of the letters inside the container.  I call them "Letter Finders".  The kiddos will shake them up, look for letters, then create words.  They can create words based only on what they see or they can create the words using the sound focus of the week.  They are small and will store easily with the Word Work centers/games.

I also plan on getting some clear plastic bead storage containers to create some more.  I thought about petri dishes, but I am not sure they are deep enough.  Small, portable, and cheap is the way I like it!
~Letter Find Printables~

Birthday Balloons

So I have seen quite a few different sites now with pixie stick birthday balloons.  I really liked the ones at "Teaching in Flip Flops".  I thought it would be a great idea to create some of my own.  I had problems finding the giant pixie sticks, so at the dollar store, I bought 2 packs of the regular sticks.  I used my Sissix machine to cut out birthday balloon shapes, created some labels, constructed the balloons into 'pockets', tied some ribbon and I have some very cute balloons too! I decided to use 2 together since the pixie sticks were small. 

I also added a tag that tells them to have lunch with me.  I took it a step further and made single balloons (without labels or ribbon) and will keep them ready for the birthday cuties that stop by on their rounds with treats.
~Happy Birthday! Labels~

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