Today is my first day of school with students and I'm super excited to start off this school year with a bang!  One of the things that I want to work on as a teacher is to work at staying refreshed throughout the school year.  I'm super guilty of worrying and stressing myself out over nothing.  I know I need to work on that.

So, I'm linking up with Mrs. D's Corner for her final Building Blocks of B2S to share my top four tips that I'm working on this year to help stay refreshed.  I hope you'll work on these with me.

Find something that you LOVE to relieve the stress!  

Do you love to read or take long baths?  You need to find something that helps you de-stress and stick with it.  My de-stressing thing is Jazzercise.  I go to the late class at 7:30 almost every evening.  I would love to go to a morning class but since my school starts at 7:15, it's not possible for me.

A few of the reasons why I love Jazzercise is that I can punch and kick and the stress is gone.  Plus, they have awesome music and fun challenges to help me stay motivated.  Jazzercise really helps me keep the stress away!  Make sure you find something that helps you keep the stress away!

Leave work at work!  

That's right, you read that right!  I'm totally guilty of NOT doing that and it's caused a lot of extra stress and has taken away from time with my family.  This is my tenth year of teaching and this is something that is a must for me this school year.  I know that I'll have to shut my door at times and tell people that I'll have to talk later, but I'm going to have to do it.  Both of my boys are growing so fast and I need to have nights and weekends to really spend time with them.

Stay late a few days but have a few days set to leave on time!

This is another thing that I struggle with but it's something that I need to follow through with.  If I'm always at school late, I'm never going to be able to refresh.  My goal is to stay late on Mondays and Wednesdays but to leave on time or shortly after the other three days.  I can leave at 3:15 and I think before 3:45 would be great for those three days.  My boys deserve that :).

Make time for you!

As teachers, we often forget to make times for ourself.  Spend time with friends, get a pedicure, go shopping, go to the movies with your husband or wife .... Make time for you and don't feel guilty about it!

I hope those tips help you stay refreshed this school year.  This is my tenth year and I need to make it count and stay refreshed.  I know it will help make me a better teacher for my students.

How do you stay refreshed during the school year?

Hey y'all.  I'm busily preparing for my first day with students on Monday and getting some of my favorite first week of school activities ready.  Luckily, that is the topic for this week's Building Blocks of B2S linky.  I can't wait to share two activities that I do with my second graders each year.

It's never too early to build up your classroom community with your students.  I have my students work collaboratively as much as possible.  It helps me see who works well together and who needs a little nudge to work well with others.

One of the first collaborative activities that we do as a second grade class is to write our classroom contract.  We spend lots of time consuming different read alouds that discuss working together.  Here are two of our favorites.

 The Energy Bus for Kids by Jon Gordon

David Goes to School by David Shannon

After we finish reading these and a few others aloud, the students work in groups collaboratively to write down how they think our class should run.  They write down their thoughts and then they share them out to the rest of the class.  We pick our favorites and then we write our class contract together.  We use positive language and sign it to say that we agree to follow our contract.

Another important activity that I start during the first week of school is building my independent reading routine with my students.  Independent reading time is crucial in second grade and it's important that I teach them to find "just right" books and help them build up their reading stamina.

We create reading anchor charts together and then we hang them in our class library.  You can see our reading stamina anchor chart and "just right" books anchor chart.  After we create an anchor chart, we find our "just right" book and a quiet spot to read to work on our reading stamina.  We practice our independent reading routine every day.  It really helps to work on the routine as early as possible!

We also use this set of reading passages from my Back to School comprehension pack.  They are great because the stories are differentiated and are great practice during our independent reading time.

I really love building community and routines during the first few weeks of school.  I know it helps my students tremendously and helps us throughout the entire school year.

What are some things that you do during the first few weeks of school?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Hey y'all!  I'm back to link up with Mrs. D's Corner for her Building Blocks of B2S linky.  This week is all about building relationships.

I really do love the beginning of school because I love getting to know my new students.  The first couple of weeks of school, I include several getting to know you and team building activities into my daily lesson plans.  The students really enjoy them and I love learning about each of my new students.

This year, I'm super excited to try these sticky note posters from Confessions of a Teaching Junkie.  My students always LOVE writing on sticky notes!  I've learned that sometimes they write more than they would share out loud.  I know they will be the perfect way to get to know my students a little better.

Another way that I build relationships with my students, is to involve them in our classroom contract.  It's not just my classroom, it's OUR classroom and the students need to be involved in how it runs.  We read books and discuss what should be included in our classroom contract.  We come up with postive statements and then we all sign it.

Lastly, I love hearing about my students' goals for the school year.  We discuss what goals are then we draft out our goals.  It is so much fun to hear about my students' goals!  I also love helping them reach those goals.  Here are some goals that my boys and I wrote down.

How do you build relationships with your students?

I'm linking up with my friend Stephanie from Mrs.D's Corner for her four week Building Blocks of B2S series.  I'm very excited to share a little about my "Meet the Teacher" night with my second graders.  Here are three tips that will help your meet the teacher run smoothly.

Tip #1: Greet Them at the Door

I love meeting my new students and parents at the door.  I love shaking each of their hands and introducing myself.  If I have a parent ask a lot of questions, I will tell them that I'll contact them after to schedule a meeting.  I try to answer small questions, but I keep it short in order to make sure that I talk to all of the parents.  I also remind them that we have a back to school night in a couple of weeks and I'll be able to answer questions in more depth then.

Tip #2: Have a System Setup for a Stress-Free Event 

I try to make sure that I a system setup for "Meet the Teacher".  I want to meet my parents and students, figure out how they go home, have them drop off their school supplies, and check out the room.  I set up a place to sign in, a place to look at tranportation, and I have their supply boxes ready to put their school supplies in.  I also have boxes out for big supplies like construction paper, ziploc baggies, and tissue boxes.

I've used Reagan Tunstall's Editable Table Signs for the last three years and they have really streamlined "Meet the Teacher" for me.  The parents and students follow the numbers to complete tasks.  It's like a fun game and it saves me a TON of time!  If you haven't checked them out yet, you totally need too!  Click on the cover to see them in Reagan's store.

Tip #3: Figure Out How They Go Home

I don't know about y'all but I'm always worried about dismissal on the first day of school.  One of my main goals during my "Meet the Teacher" is to find out how my students go home.  Right next to my sign in sheet, I have a sheet where the parents write how their child will go home.  I also have a bus map and transportation name tags in a tub next to the transportation sheet.  This will help save me time on the first day.

My "How Do We Go Home?" labels also are a huge help.  Not all of my students come to "Meet the Teacher" and I keep the labels and transportation sheet handy on the first day for parents to fill out as they drop off their children.

It's also super easy for my students to move their label when their transportation changes.  You can click on the cover below to check them out in my store.

I LOVE teaching writing using the writer's workshop model, but each year my students were really struggling with editing.  I tried lots of different things!  I even used some different anchor charts that I found on Pinterest.  After awhile and some practice, I noticed a difference in my students editing.  I'm very excited to share three of my top tips with you guys.

I know that as teachers we hear this ALL the time but it's super true.  If you want your students to be great at editing, you have to edit your own writing.  Make mistakes and edit them in your own writing.  I LOVE having super pretty anchor charts but you know what, they don't help my students when it comes to editing.  Perfect writing doesn't happen, we have to edit our writing.  I cross out often and then remake anchor charts...and you know what ... IT'S OK because I'm modeling the writing process to my students.

"I edited my writing, and I didn't find any mistakes!"

I hear that ALL the time y'all!  Please tell me that I'm not alone!  Bless my students' little hearts because finding mistakes in your own writing is super hard.  That is why I have my students partner up when it comes to the editing stage in our writer's workshop model.  They grab a partner that is also editing and each of them grab a colored pencil.  They switch papers and edit their partner's writing.  I teach them that they aren't allowed to have a pencil during the editing process because they will just erase and rewrite it.  I want them to cross things out and know that it's ok to make mistakes.  The best thing about colored pencils is that they can visually see the edits that their partner made in their writing.

My last tip for helping to teach editing is to have your students practice.  At the end of last year, I would write a morning message and my students would edit it in their journal.  It was super easy for them to edit during our morning routine and it gave them the practice that they needed.

This summer, I started thinking ahead to the next school year and I decided that I wanted to create a stronger morning routine that helped my students get the extra editing practice that they needed.  I came up with these daily editing paragraphs that I'm super excited to try out with my students.

I'm going to project the big cards onto my Activboard and have my students edit them in their writing journals.  I'm also planning on putting the copies of the big cards in my writing center for the students to edit again for extra practice.  If you laminate them, they can write on top of them with an expo marker or you can use the clear pockets like above.

Big cards printed out for the kids to edit for extra practice.

Plus, how perfect would these recording sheets be to send home for homework.  I love how not only do they have to edit the paragraph, but they have to answer questions about what they edited.

Click on the photo above to check out this learning to edit daily paragraph practice.

I hope these tips help your students with editing.  Editing takes practice and if you model for your students, they will start to follow your lead.  Happy editing!

First of all, let me gather myself while I get over the shock that it is AUGUST!!  Y'all this summer was too short!  It feels like it gets shorter each year.  This school year is going to rock and even though I'm sad summer is over I'm going to make the most of it.

Since it's really August, I'm linking up with Farley for her fabulous Currently linky.  Here we go...

LISTENING:  My husband laughs at me but I'm super obsessed with Bunny from grav3yard girl on YouTube.  She is a Houston girl and she shares some super fun makeup tutorials and some super funny follow me around videos.  You should check her out!!

LOVING:  I got to hang out with some of my Houston teacher blogger friends today!  We went bowling and I had so much fun....even though I'm a horrible bowler.  I'm so blessed to be able to call these girls my friends in real life.

THINKING:  I'm working on some back to school word problem cards but I needed a break and Currently is just what I needed to get my mind off word problems.

WANTING:  I'm so sleepy!  I need a nap!  I woke up pretty early for my hair appointment and to run some errands.  Man, getting back into school mode is going to be so hard!!

NEEDING:  I really need a new classroom rug for my classroom.  My old one doesn't match my colors anymore and it's super dingy.  I would love to hear where you guys got your classroom rug.

B2S RAK:  I love getting little notes in my box.  My goal is to leave some little encouraging notes in my coworkers boxes during back to school time.

Make sure you head over to Farley's blog to link up with your Currently.

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