Friday, August 31, 2012

First Week of School :)

Well, I survived the first week of school! We spent the week setting up rules and procedures as well as launching R-time, Daily 5 and math stations. I am so proud of my little ones for doing so much so fast. We even got in a little science and social studies! :)

R-time: This is a new program that our school is launching this year to work on respect and using manners. It takes about 15 minutes and the kids love it. It involves randomly pairing students and giving them questions or activities for them to do together. It helps them to take turns, use manners and become a more close knit community of learners. We are still working out the kinks but it is nice to see the kids becoming more aware of manners and the importance of working together.

Launching Daily 5: Week 1

I started by teaching the good fit book "shoe" lesson from The Daily Five book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. It is so engaging because you use shoes to represent the different components of picking good fit books. Good fit books are books that the students get to choose, that have a purpose such as just for fun or research, and are based on interest. I brought a tennis shoe, a rain boot, and a high heel to ask students about the purpose for each shoe. Then I pulled out tap and ballet shoes to show interest. Then the next part of the good fit lesson is about comprehension and knowing the words. I used the suggestion from the book and had two students try to switch shoes. I love how this leads to "a good fit for one person may not be a good fit for someone else." This reminds students that they don't have to pick a book just because someone else is reading it. It also allows for students to feel more comfortable with their reading level. I created an "I PICK" chart with the kids and posted it above my library.

I - I choose the book

P- Purpose: Why am I reading this book? (for fun, daily 5, research)
I - Interest: Does this book interest me?
C - Comprehension: Do I understand what I'm reading?
K - Know: Do I know almost all of the words? ( Use 5 finger rule)

Then I allowed the students to "shop" for books in my classroom library and put them in their individual book boxes.

Then I went over the first part of Daily Five: Read to Self. The book is great about including photos of the independence chart or I-Chart. We make one for each part of Daily 5.

The purple poster is my independence chart. It sets the procedures for Read to Self. This leads into the idea that the students need to be able to read for a sustained amount of time. Students need to build stamina to the point of at least 20 minutes per day. Once they build stamina, they will able to eventually do all of the parts of Daily 5 for at least 20 to 30 minutes, allowing the teacher to meet with more small groups.

The thermometer poster is what I am using to track my students' progress. They have to be able to read for a certain number of minutes consistently (3 times) before I fill it in on the chart. They have mastered 5 minutes and we're starting to work on 7-9 minutes.

We are hitting the ground running with our math curriculum. We set up math stations and gave them a pre-assessment to see what they already know about place value to 1,000. I thought it would be way over their heads on the second day of school but they are already working on showing 3 digit numbers in standard, picture, expanded and written form. I placed some tiered activities in my stations that were pretty simple to put together. I placed place value charts, playing cards, and dice in each station. The students were expected to roll or draw 3 numbers/cards and then read the 3 digit number. I had students either building the numbers with base ten blocks, or writing the numbers in expanded and/or written form.

All in all, it was a successful week. I had more than enough stuff to keep the kids busy and I am exhausted.

At least I got a little present for surviving my first week all thanks to my room moms from last year. They knew just what to get me. TOMS! :) I finally used my gift card!

Now to enjoy the three day weekend... :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


On my way home from working my second 12+ hour work day at school, I got a call from my husband saying not to freak out about the cops being at our house. Apparently sometime today, someone dumped a laundry basket full of clothes and set it on fire on the sidewalk in front of our house. After my initial confusion and worry, I realized how incredibly lucky we are. I am so glad it rained today and the fire didn't spread to the yard or house. I know this is a random situation but it got me thinking.

I am so thankful for for my husband, my home, and my job. I get to wake up every morning and go to a job that I love and come home at night to a man who supports me and loves me unconditionally. We have a home, a dog, and a long, happy future ahead of us. We have family and friends that make life even more enjoyable. I'm not sure what the deal is with our little bonfire this afternoon but at least it gave me a chance to take a moment and reflect on all the great things we have going on in our lives. :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ready or Not, Here We Go! :)

It's official, school is starting tomorrow morning! I am a bundle of nerves. I am excited about getting to know my new students, already missing my now 3rd graders, and relieved to be teaching 2nd grade again. Things are starting quickly, I am launching Daily 5 this week and our math curriculum has changed again so we are already working on place value to 1,200 in the first month of school! I am also a differentiation coach for my school this year. Last year I was mentored as part of a pilot but now I'm officially on my own! I am really excited to start tiering activities and implementing math stations right away. I already have a pre-assessment ready for Tuesday. AHHH! It's funny, I am nervous, but this year I feel a little more in my element since I am walking back into the same classroom and teaching the same age group. Last year was my second year teaching but since I was at a new school in a new grade, it felt like I was a first year teacher all over again. Anyway, I'll post updates about launching Daily 5 and math stations as this week unfolds. Good luck to all the teachers out there! It's going to be an awesome year! :)


Monday, August 20, 2012

Daily 5 Library Update!

So I FINALLY finished redoing my classroom library. It was time consuming but so worth it. I am thrilled with the final product! All of the books have been leveled by lexile and placed in or near the correct bins. I also put stickers on each book so the students can put them back where they go.

The red baskets are labeled with letters as well as the lexile level range.
The black baskets on top are for books that come in a series. They are leveled as well.  
Those are the Daily 5 book boxes from IKEA ($2.99 for a 5pack).
The bottom shelf has free choice books.

I am so excited that this is done and I feel much better knowing that it will be easier for my kids to pick good fit books in my classroom!

We're all mad here...

So this week I am officially going back to school. We have a week of training/inservice days and then the new kiddos come back on August 27th. You all know that I have been at school early but a few other teachers joined in the craziness. I have decided to share this post so you can see the MADNESS that has been going on in our hallway since last week. :)

Here's Arianna working on new labels for her new classroom theme.

She also painted new clips and hall passes. Ridiculously adorable.

Then there's Heather who came up to school earlier than I did to get her jungle classroom ready with some new pinterest inspired additions!

Florence added to her Around the World classroom and reworked her Daily 5 areas.

New word wall and magnetic space for word work activities like BOGGLE.
New posters that will have the independence charts when she lauches each part of Daily 5.
Check out her blog,

Joanna created a puppet theatre from a broken down bookcase by cutting the back piece of particle board, covering the whole thing in contact paper, and hanging a curtain courtesy of IKEA to go with her "Peace, Love and Learning" classroom theme. :) After this photo she trimmed the streamers and it turned out super cute.

We also have two newbies in 2nd and 3rd grade this year so we have been jumping around to their classrooms to help them get ready for their first year at ACM. It is crazy busy but I am so excited about the new school year!

Stay tuned for more classroom pictures and finished products! :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Techie Post #3

This is a fun site that my 4th graders and 2nd graders both love. It can be used throughout elementary school to practice sentences, sequence of events, character development, interpreting illustrations, etc.

Storybird is a website that has collections of illustrations that you can use to create an online storybook.

For classroom use, you can create a teacher account and add your class. From there you can share storybirds you have created, create assignments for students, or just let students start creating. It is pretty easy to maneuver and the storybirds each student creates can be published to the online classroom library and emailed to share with family. Teacher and students can also post comments on each other's work which is a great teach piece for being respectful and kind online.

I love this website and I definitely think it can be used in various ways in the classroom!


Why yes, that is a Chocolate Factory reference in case you were wondering... :)

I have to admit, I have a t-shirt addiction...

I just bought Magic School from Shirt Woot! because it combines two of my FAVORITE things.
Harry Potter and Magic School Bus <3

And now, I have discovered another two-for-one t-shirt that I desperately need...

It's Hunger Games and Texas A&M. MIND BLOWN.
I need it but I've already spent all my extra money on my magic school shirt and my classroom so I can't get it at the moment. *Christmas* hint, hint! Anyway. I will just have to admire this collaboration from afar for now, but way to go Aggieland Outfitters. I love this.

If you are rich and want to steal this t-shirt, check it out at

I also need to save up for the Hunger Games DVD that just came out! I can't wait until next November when Catching Fire comes out. Yes, I am that nerdy...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Techie Post #2

     Here is another website that I absolutely love, It is a free website where you can sign in and make your own spelling lists. The site needs a teacher account but all the students have to do to gain access is look up the lists by teacher name or you can have them type in the link that takes them directly to your teacher page.
     That's the page I use for my kiddos, you can check it out to get a better idea. The site takes your list and generates games the kids can use to practice spelling words. You can also have them take spelling tests through this website and print out the results. It is an amazing site because the kids can access it from anywhere and it doesn't require them to log in. Parents also use it to access each week's spelling words. I LOVE IT!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Super Star Behavior

After some trials and tribulations, I finally re-did my behavior chart. The one I had up last year was bleached out and awful. I FINALLY threw it away and saw this lovely pinterest inspiration from Cara Carroll at

I love this clip chart because you can start in a neutral place and choose to go up or down. The only problem is that the colors on this chart are completely opposite of the color system that we use in K-2 at my school. After some clever editing with paint, I adjusted the colors to match everyone else's color system. Here's how it turned out!

The top one printed out a little dark but I am so beyond worrying about it. Overall I'm really happy that the kids will see that that still start on green but can move up. They can also see that the warnings and consequences are the same colors as first grade.

Techie Post #1

This year, I decided to revamp my classroom library. I have had several books donated throughout the year and as much as I tried to level the books in my library so the kids would find a "good fit" book, I felt that my organization was not enough. I want to have more of a handle on the lexile level of the books in my class library.

Enter this lovely little piece of technology...

WARNING: This is time consuming but you can use this website to look up the books in your library and mark their lexile.

I went through most of the books in my library and grouped them by lexile levels. The students are tested throughout the year with the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI). By organizing my books with the lexile numbers instead of letters like I did last year, they will be more aware of their lexile range, have more access to truly good fit books, and increase motivation to increase their SRI score/lexile level.

Even though this has taken up a huge chunk of my time, I really think this is going to be so helpful in my classroom!

I'll update with a final picture of my library when I finish it tomorrow. Like I said, it is pretty time consuming! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Unbirthday cookies and so much food!

I feel like I have spent the whole weekend eating and well, I'm totally okay with that.

I started out Friday by making cake batter cookies from one of my Pinterest pins.
Check out the recipe here. They are super easy and tasty. :)

Friday night, we went to celebrate a belated birthday at Oddfellows in the Bishop Arts District. The food was amazing. I am going to have to make my friend Arianna write about it on her Dallas blog. You have to check out her blog if you're into fashion, food, and events in Dallas. Here's the link!

Then Saturday, we went to Agave Azul in Carrollton with some other dear friends. I was first introduced to the Tequila Sanctuary two years ago on my birthday. The everything is delicious but I have to say that I was blown away by their fresh, made-right-in-front-of-you, guacamole. It was SO GOOD! I don't really like guacamole but this dish completely blew my mind. If you are ever in the area, you definitely need to check it out. You also have to get the sopapillas with agave syrup. INCREDIBLE.

Alright, that's enough of that. Back to watching the Harry Potter marathon and nursing my FOOD hangover. :) Happy Sunday everyone!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back to School!

Two posts in one day! I'm on a roll!

The past couple weeks, I have wandered up to school and spent hours setting up my classroom. Not the best idea since there is NO A/C!!! My teaching partners and I are absolutely crazy. When I moved to this school last year, I went to school a month early to set up my classroom since I was moving from 4th to 2nd. So technically I am not as crazy as last year, but this situation is still out of control.

Anyway, my classroom is a hollywood/movie theme and since it's my second year in this classroom, I have been able to add some new things instead of starting from scratch like last year. Here are some pictures of some new things I have so far.

I actually was a copycat and got this from Cara Carroll at The First Grade Parade.
I used these names for my jobs last year but it was in a pocket chart that kept falling down so I decided to switch to this one this year. The assistant director is basically my assistant for the week. They will get to check for green folders each morning and then help me with random things throughout the day. The leading actor/actors will be students designated to help other students if I am working at the back table, unless it is something they can't help with. The set director/s are students that are in charge of making sure the library and other daily 5/math station areas are being taken care of properly. The script deliverer is the student who will pass notes to the office or across the hall to my teammates. :) The prop director/s are in charge of supplies for various lessons throughout the week as well as pencils. Lighting and cleaning crews are pretty self explanatory. The key grip is in charge the library book boxes and Daily 5 checklist. They will make sure that the library books are put back properly and the students are taking care of their personal book boxes. That's what the numbered boxes are in the photo below. I got a 5 pack of the boxes for $2.99 at IKEA.

This is my new Daily 5 clip chart. I painted and numbered the clips. I use numbers in my classroom for my job chart, behavior chart, and this chart so I don't have to remake the clips each year. Don't worry, I still know each kid by name and I don't refer to them as #12... haha. I can't remember where the graphics came from for these because I got them from another teacher.

That's all for now. I'll keep posting as I finish things so you can see the whole room.

I love rap music.

Over the course of the weekend and this week, I keep getting asked what type of music I listen to and then see shocked faces when I respond. I forget that I am in a profession now where I am constantly meeting and interacting with new people that seem to think I am some kind of a professional. Haha! I do and have always LOVED rap, hiphop and R&B. In fact, those that know me well from high school and college have been subjected to several hours of listening to me sing/rap along to just about every inappropriate song you can think of.

If you are also registering a shocked look on your face, I understand. I'm pretty sure if you read my last post, you probably thought I listened to country or kid's songs but hey, I love rap and I'm not ashamed! I have always loved memorizing lyrics and rap gives me a bit of a challenge. Not to mention the beats are incredible, most of the stories are real and raw, and the lyrical abilities of some of my favorite rappers are just amazing. Now with that being said, I am not going to say that I agree, support or participate in what I sing along to. It is just one of those not-so-guilty pleasures I have. Some of the songs are just so catchy. I actually spent today working in my classroom listening to my Old School Rap station on Pandora. Check it out if you haven't already...

Here's a sample of the mixtapes and CDs I have been listening to lately... Most are mixtapes that my husband burned for me when we were dating. Actually, the first interaction I had with my now-husband was when he offered to drive me and a coworker to our cars at the mall because it was raining. He was blasting 97.9 the BEAT (local hiphop station) and I immediately knew that I wanted to know more about him. Now over 6 years later, we still share this passion for ridiculously inappropriate music and I love it!

My passion for rap music has recently transferred over into the classroom in a good way. I use educational rap songs in my classroom all the time. If you haven't heard of Jack Hartmann, you need to look him up. He has several educational songs. My favorite is FORCE. It is perfect for teaching force in second grade science.


I also use this rap video to teach my students about doubles addition facts. :) The kids LOVE these videos. I even had my kids make their own rap video teaching near doubles. They got to wear hats and sunglasses. It was pretty adorable.

 Well, there ya go. I'm now going to go work on stuff for my classroom while blasting some old school rap on pandora. :)


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Since everyone else is doing it...

Alright, so several people I know are getting into blogging and I have decided to be a follower. I am officially one of "those people" that have jumped on the blogging bandwagon.

Just to tell you a little bit about myself, I am a happily married wife, second grade teacher, and Texas A&M graduate. (WHOOP!) I plan for this blog to be my outlet to share various things in my life, but in about a month it will mostly be teaching stuff, just to give you a heads up. I absolutely love teaching second grade and it definitely shows when I'm up at school way too long and missing out on my social life. :)

As for my blog title, I chose Life and Love in Wonderland because I am obsessed with Alice in Wonderland. Even though it is not the easiest read due to some of Lewis Carroll's ramblings and vocabulary choices, it is one of my all time favorites. I love the world that he created because it is full of so much creativity and ridiculousness but also shows real conflict and the internal struggle of a young girl. Ever since I was little, I felt that I could connect with Alice on various levels and no, not just because she was blonde. :) I could go on but I'll save that for another post.

Picture courtesy of

P.S. I'm also a little bit of a pinterest addict and I have an Alice in Wonderland board if you want to check it out! Alice in Wonderland Love <3

- Caitlin