Friday, September 13, 2013

five for friday- second week of school

It was one week ago that I was sitting at home, exhausted after the first week of school.

I wish I could say I felt better one week later (a.k.a. today).....but, this week I went from just tired-- to sick and tired.  Like, can't sleep at night from coughing fits sick.  And losing my voice sick. know how fun that is, right?

One week later, it seems to finally be making a turn for the better.
So, I'm celebrating with a fun "Five for Friday" linky party. 
Yeah, I'm such a party animal.  :)

Linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching....


number one

Sharpening pencils has always been a source of frustration for me.  Maybe because it's a never-ending cycle.  Maybe it's because my electric sharpeners always break pencils.  Or break down.  Or are extremely loud and grating to hear.
This one....sharpens pencils perfectly, doesn't break the pencils, and although I wouldn't call it "quiet"'s definitely quieter and less annoying-sounding than my electric ones.
If this sharpener keeps this up all year, I would be even more impressed.
So excited to have found it through Classroom Friendly Supplies!

number two

I found this idea from Pinterest for a "Mystery Walker", and thought it might be a fun new thing to try this year.  So I took some poker chips that I randomly had accumulated over the years, numbered some round stickers and keep them in a large coffee mug that I got from a student last year.
(I don't drink coffee, so finding ways to use the teacher mugs I get is always a good thing)
Basically, each time we leave the room to travel to one of our specials classes (like music or art), I choose one of these chips from the mug, look at it secretively, and put it in my pocket....announcing that I have my "mystery walker".  The students know that I will be paying attention to this student and if he or she was walking up to my expectations, when we get back to the classroom I will reveal it to the class and they get to come pick a prize ticket.
Note:  If they don't meet my hallway expectations (i.e. talking, goofing around, etc.) then I just put the chip back and say that the mystery walker didn't earn a prize.  I don't reveal who it is though-- it keeps the students guessing if it was them. 
This has worked SO well this year, and it's amazing how a little incentive can motivate the kids to improve their hallway behavior!  Best thing-- the prizes are free and easy like being able to sit next to a friend at lunch, or sitting in one of my rolling chairs for a day.

number three

So this isn't from this week, but I had to share's the second year in a row that I've used this "Welcome Bag" and I think I'll keep doing it.  The kids really seem to love it, it's a sweet way to start off the first day of school, and a chance to make sure they have a couple things they need right when they arrive.

This note explains what's inside the bag.  I can't take credit for coming up with this idea.  I found it through (shocker!) Pinterest, which linked me to the blog Pencils and Magic Wands. The note and homework pass can be found here.

Here's what else they get....some cute stickers, a happy star eraser, a welcome pencil (sharpened with my amazing sharpener of course), and a bright and fun bookmark.

I put them all into clear cellophane gift bags, and staple the note to the top.
Once I had everything in an assembly line, it didn't take long to get it all put together.
Totally worth it to see the kids' excitement finding them on their desk on that first day!

number four

Another new idea inspired by Pinterest....and another success!
Instead of your traditional bathroom passes that students either wear around their neck, wrist, or clip to their shirt....these actually stay in the classroom.
One for boys, one for girls.
Just simple labels (see link below) that I laminated and taped to a bottle of hand sanitizer.
When students need to use the bathroom (not during instruction, but any work or break time), they just take the "pass" and put it on their desk and then head to the bathroom.
When they come back, they can of course use some sanitizer and then put it back on the counter for the next student to use.
It's awesome because (a) I can always scan the desks to see who is gone, (b) I don't have the kids asking me if they can go since they can see where the bottle is, and (c) I don't have to worry about passes being left in the bathroom, wet and dirty from who-knows-what-they-do-with-it in there, or having a kid forget that they are wearing the pass.
My students have learned this new procedure very quickly, and I can already tell that I love it!
Note:  If you want those labels, you can find them FREE through the original blogger I found through Pinterest.  Go here for that post.

number five

One of my awesome fourth grade teaching teammates showed me how she had organized all of her meeting notes for this year into an adorable bound notebook.
Of course, I couldn't resist making my own.....through the seller "A Modern Teacher" I bought the organizer pages on TpT, and then I brought it to Staples for the binding.  The front and back covers are heavy-duty laminated so it will last all year.

Inside, I made tabs to label all of the sections for the different types of meetings I'll have regularly this year.
This doesn't even include special ed meetings, parent meetings, and other random committee meetings!  Whew.  I'm exhausted already.

And here's a look at one of the meeting notes pages....I've already used it for a few meetings and I LOVE it-- it keeps me organized, focused, and helps me to remember those random things we talk about but I sometimes forget about if I don't write it down.
Now I have no excuse!  :)
And now....I'm finally going to sleep.  For about ten hours. 
Because I finally can.

Monday, September 9, 2013

bathroom transformation....part two!

I've been a little behind in my blogging lately....both with reading my favorite blogs, and writing new posts.  Really though....I have NO clue how teachers keep up with blogging during that week before and first week of school. 

I.  Had.  No.  Free.  Time.

It doesn't help that I literally am not teaching any subject with the same materials/objectives as last year....switching over to the Common Core for Math and ELA, and switching back to state standards (long story) for Science and Social Studies. 

And I caught a nasty cold.'s a small miracle that I'm even writing tonight. 
I just missed blogging.  :)

And I had a great reason to finish my bathroom post-- a fun DIY link that I read about through a great blog I follow.  Thanks to Abby at Just a Girl and Her Blog, I was inspired to join this "party"!  Each week for the next 16 weeks, they have set a topic to blog about.

Since this week's theme is "The Color Blue"....I knew this was the perfect time to write about how my white bathroom walls became blue....more specifically, "Embellished Blue" from Behr Premium Plus.

I'm also going to head over and check out all of the other blogs listed above....probably not tonight....but soon.  I only have so much motivation for one night.  :)
So here's where I left off on my last post....
I had painted my cabinets a dark brown.... Behr's "Thick Chocolate" to be exact.
Also, above this sink was a large, plain mirror and that was taken down.
After getting all the prep done on this day, the next morning I assembled everything I would need to paint the walls.  Which....if you've ever painted a bathroom NOT easy.
Paint, paint pan, large roller for the walls, smaller roller for tighter spaces, a quality angled paintbrush/container to carry around for the "cutting in", gloves (yes, I'm *that* kind of painter-- messy).  Oh, and one more essential item when painting a bathroom....
A close up look of my (super techy-name alert) "behind the toilet painting tool".....also known as a paint-pad-duct-taped-to-a-paint-stick.   It worked perfectly for that tight space behind the toilet, so I didn't need to take the toilet out!
front (painting) side

back (MacGyver) side
I also took down the glass cover off the old, 80's-style? light fixture.   No crying occurred when this came down.  In fact, there may have been some happy-dancing.
 I wasn't planning on changing the fixture that day (I needed help with that), so I was just painting around it.  I did take out the two end bulbs, and I painted around the fixture first since I was going to turn the lights off for that section (didn't really feel like roasting up by the hot lights while painting up high in a small bathroom).
And since I didn't really have time to take any other painting-process pictures, ( you really need them?  It's painting a bathroom.  As I said, it's not easy.  Or fun to watch.) here are the "after" pictures.  It needed two coats, and I still had about a third of the gallon left.

Crazy how different the color looks between the top and bottom pictures.  All about the lighting.
Here's what it looked like next to the newly painted cabinets.
Love this combination!!
The inside of the cabinets weren't very pretty....some spills/stains from the previous owner.

Covered up with some pretty contact paper.
Which....if you've followed my blog....has made it into my classroom in this post and this post.

I also lined my two drawers with the same paper....I might have a slight obsession with it.
Or just a need to find more places to use it. 
Or both.
Anyway....I let all of the paint set for a week before doing anything else. 
With the humidity in the air (this was August) and this being a high-moisture room, I wanted to make sure that everything was set before putting on the finishing touches.
My awesome Mom came over to help install the new light fixture.
As usual when my Mom and I install new electric fixtures, it didn't go right the first time.  In fact, I think she made two trips to Home Depot for me.
Love you, Mimzy!!
I had to touch up with a couple coats of paint since it was smaller than the previous one.
And before putting on the light shades/bulbs, we also hung my new framed mirror!
I love this change-- it's exactly what I wanted and not a bad price (free- since I had a gift card).

It's covered because I put the mirror up before painting around the light fixture.

Then, the shades/bulbs were installed, brushed silver hardware on the drawers/doors (all thanks again to my Mom's help!)....and with some accessories including a new shower curtain, rug, and towels, my bathroom is put back together!
Sorry about the bad lighting in some of these photography + low light + small spaces= not the best quality.

I'm so happy with how it all turned out, and next summer when I (hopefully) can get new floors installed, it will finally be complete!
With the new school year just starting, I will be taking a DIY-hiatus, but maybe once things start slowing down (i.e. summer 2014), I'll be back on the DIY wagon.  :)
For now.....this makes me smile.  Every time I walk in the room.