June 13, 2015

Reflect & Refresh: Part 1

Yesterday finally felt like summer.

I woke up without an alarm, enjoyed my coffee while catching up on blogs, went to the gym, spent two glorious hours by the pool, met up with friends for happy hour, and then enjoyed a relaxing dinner with my husband at home! 

Pretty much PERFECT! 

Today, I'm excited to be linking up with Destiny at Terrific Teaching and Learning for her Reflect and Refresh Linky Party. The end of the year is always a good time to think about what went well and what changes could be made for next year. As we all know, live and learn or in this case teach and learn. :)


I feel like communication is a strength for me. I really try to keep parents informed of what's going on in our classroom. As a fourth grade team, we send out a 4th grade Newsletter each week with curriculum updates, important dates, and reminders. I always attach the general newsletter to an email that includes specifics for my class. I think the biggest thing I have learned with sending weekly emails is to keep them direct and to the point. I use headings and bullet everything. I want it to be quick and easy for my parents to read. The best part is that if parents have questions, they can reply back to me in that moment. It keeps the doors open for communication all year long!

https://www.remind.com/Remind 101 (now just called Remind) is another absolute gem of a tool for teachers! If you don't use this, you simply have to start. I'm telling you... parents love it! It is easy to send out quick reminders on anything from "Field trip tomorrow - don't forget a sack lunch!" to "PTA Performance tonight at 6. Hope to see you there!" The app has even updated so that you can send messages to a selected group of parents. This was awesome when I needed to send something out to only my tutoring kids or only my students who were missing work. You can also send pictures! I could quickly blast out pictures from our field trips and/or classroom anytime. Simply awesome!


Okay, so I had a new room this year which meant I had to figure out the perfect furniture arrangement for that space. Y'all... I NEVER did! I moved things around so many times throughout the year and simply never discovered the perfect way to house all my students, their desks, my teacher desk (which is mandated to a specific spot due to technology and naturally is the worst place in the room for it), my group gathering area, my guided reading table (that bad boy is HUGE), my entire classroom library, etc.  It drove me crazy all year. So... this fall my mission is to figure it out. There has to be a way. I just haven't discovered it yet.

For classroom management, I stuck to my tried and trues.
  • I love the positive clip chart that you have seen everywhere! My kids love it too. They work so hard to get above the chart or even off the chart. 
  • Wiggle seats have been a lifesaver each and every year for my squirrely kiddos. They are awesome! 
  • Go Noodle was a great way to take quick 2-5 minute brain breaks during our exceptionally long morning. The kids loved the zumba dance ones and I have to admit watching them follow along was priceless. Another classroom favorite was Kitty High-Five.


Student technology. What to say?  Does anyone else have a hard time incorporating technology for student use when you have extremely limited access?  I want my kids to use product based apps and participate in activities like Kahoot but that is so tough with only 4 iPads in my classroom. It takes forevvvvver! And you know one is always on the fritz when you try to use them. Any tips?  Please help! This is one of my major goals for next year.

We made great progress this year getting into more hands-on science and developing our science notebooking skills as a 4th grade. This is the first year where my students filled up their science notebooks and some even ran out of pages! We also survived the first year with new math standards and a new math curriculum. Yahoo! And...I started using some of the strategies from Notice & Note, but not enough. I want to do so much more! 

My Big Summer Goal:

I've already started my summer goal of reading all 20 Texas Bluebonnet Nominees for the upcoming school year. My school librarian does a great job encouraging students to read bluebonnets and I like to be in the know too! I've completed 1/20 of the goal so far and you can read all about Quinny & Hopper on my current edition of Fiction Friday!

My other goal makes me a little nervous. I have a TPT store and have posted lots of different things for free, but I have never sold anything. I'm intimidated by all the copyright mumbo jumbo and I also feel like it is my way of giving back to all the other countless teachers who have shared their awesome stuff with me for free.

Then, the other day I was looking at my product activity and one of my products had been downloaded over 10,000 times!!! Holy cow! I couldn't help but think "What If?!?"

So, now I'm wondering...what if I gave it a try?  Not to toot my own horn, but I came up with some pretty sweet activities this year that I know my class loved and the rest of my team loved, so... maybe others would love them too and possibly pay for them?!?  I would greatly appreciated any advice in this area.  How to get started?  I know it's a huge time commitment, so is it worth it?  Please share your knowledge and expertise.

Whoa... that was some good reflecting.  I feel better. :)  Overall, it was a really good year. It's hard to believe I just wrapped up my 8th year of teaching. Where does the time go?? Now, it is time to relax, recharge, and get energized for next year which has the potential to be even better!!  

Thanks for reading my thoughts and sharing your thoughts with me.


  1. Oh my goodness, I can relate to SO MUCH of your post! I moved my classroom around countless times too and still couldn't figure out the best arrangement. And the technology thing--I only have 1 iPad (and it's my personal one) so I miss out on stuff like Kahoot too. As far as the TpT thing goes, I'm not gonna like, it's WORK. So many teachers are selling now so you really do have to put time and sweat into all aspects of it. BUT...if you have that ambition, GO FOR IT! Thanks for linking up!

    Terrific Teaching and Learning

  2. Room arrangements are tricky. I like to see what other people have done in their rooms. Then I use their setup. Good luck.


Thank you for taking a moment to share your thoughts!