Super happy nerdy Star Wars May the 4th Be With You Starfest Weekend!

I had an absolutely stunning time at Starfest last weekend.  I’m still reeling over how wonderful it all was.  I had the privilege of listening to some amazing authors speak about their experiences not only as writers but as fans.  I had a lovely time in the costume contest, wearing my delightful Watchful Dress – I wonder if anyone recognized it?

I come back inspired as a costumer, writer, and even as a teacher.  I want to bring these experiences with me into a classroom, because I feel so inspired by them.

I’ve got a lot of things going, and every one of them is exciting.

Made just for me.

I am a week and a day (officially… of course I was back and forth and into this and that all summer) into my new position as technology teacher for the elementary grades at my school, and I’m finding more and more that it is clearly my place in the universe.

I am incredibly lucky to take two of my deepest passions – technology and education – and blend them into a learning experience that is so essential, so needed in our schools today.  As I’ve told colleagues and even some of my older students, use of computer technology and the Internet has moved so fast in the last 15 or so years that it’s nearly impossible to understand the consequences of it.  It was my generation that developed the Internet as we know it, all the promise and pitfalls, the miracles and bullying, the beautiful and horrifying edges of all of it.  We ran headfirst into the technology without thinking what we were creating; the Internet was – is – my generation’s atomic bomb.

I have been charging my oldest students with using what we’ve created for good, demanding that they learn how to use it well, with grace, for proactive means.  Even the littlest I am pointing in the direction of positivity and understanding: first and foremost, listen.

It’s a transformation for me, too.  In my new position, much of the staff has come to rely on my technology literacy for their everyday uses; even the administration has given me responsibilities that I’m suited for and challenged by.  That’s given me the opportunity to take charge, use my areas of competence, to help others, smooth paths, and open doors.  I feel proud of what I do for students and colleagues alike.

My principal sent me an email last week after seeking my advice on a particularly pesky problem, saying that my new position seemed made just for me.  I can’t help but agree.

The end… the beginning!

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The view from my desk in my nearly-finished classroom.  School officially starts tomorrow, though I have been here for several weeks preparing, decorating, and testing students.

It’s come to my attention that – at least for the next little while – teaching will be keeping me impressively busy.  So I shall be taking a  bit of a blogging hiatus until I see how things will settle out.  I want to give my students all my energy (thought I of course won’t forget to care for myself!) and focus on this tenuous first year in my career.  I’m uncertain when and if I’ll be back to blogging here regularly, but I anticipate a few fun projects and great ideas will be shared periodically.

So, with much love, I bid you adieu… for now!

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

But what if it is?  Can you fix it?  Is it worth the DiY?

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This rocker was left outside another teacher’s room with a sign saying it was broken.  It looked in good condition, but after sitting in it (not necessarily recommended…  Please don’t risk injury, haha!), I noted that the only flaw was a loose right armrest due to a missing screw.  An extra screw and 30 seconds later, the chair was good as new and sitting in a place of honor in my classroom!  I’d been hoping to have a rocking chair for reading, and now I got it!

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Then there was this little table, sturdy and in good condition, but the top was a mess.  Even after cleaning, it was patchy and stained.  My solution?  Paint that tabletop!  Now it’s a great extra addition for the classroom, useful for students to use as a group learning area (also it fits neatly under one of the other tables, storage win!).

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What DiY projects have really paid off for you?

Two weeks later…

I’ve been steadily working on my classroom, and I’ve just about got it where I want to start out.  Furniture is in place, number and alphabet lines are up, library is.. well, halfway sorted.  Now all I need is kids!

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A lot of the walls are still bare as we’ll be creating charts with students.  I love the bunting, and I’m planning on having the kids create more for the rest of the room.  I’m so excited!  Just two weeks until school starts!  Wow!

Alpha-bunting!

I’ve been at it all week decorating my classroom and have come across a need for an alphabet line.  My students will mostly know their letters, but an alphabet line is useful for creating alphabetized lists.  I decided to keep on with the bunting idea!  I went ahead and created both upper and lower case letters in a PDF file that I will printout on colored paper and trim to the right size.  It’s easy to do on your own, just make sure your top margin is as small as possible!

source: ruffled

Need an easier idea?  Try the bunting printable with these cute patterns over at Ruffled!  It’s so cute!

What make and takes have you found additional uses for?

Here it is!

OMG you guys, I can’t even contain myself.  THIS IS MY CLASSROOM.

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It’s a great 30’x26’ space, and I’m expecting about 27 kids for my very first class!  I’m mapping out my arrangement of the room, but I’ve got a great blank slate to work with!  What should I do?  Throw your ideas out, I’d love to hear them!

Back to School?

Holy cow, is it really that time?  Sure is!  Most schools will be starting in just a few weeks, about halfway through August, and we sure are close to that!  In celebration, here are some fun projects to prepare for the big return.

source: Dollar Store Crafts

Rhonda of Dollar Store Crafts developed this adorable pencil cuff!  Great for teachers and kids alike, it’s a way to show off one of our favorite classic writing utensils.  Think of all the things you can do with pencils, wow!

source: Factory Direct Craft

This adorable burlap pencil case is printed with a little foam and some paint to create a block print.  Super cute and of course functional!  Thanks, Factory Direct Craft!

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Finally, our own speech bubble chalk boards take nothing more than foamcore, a knife, and some chalkboard paint.  Make any shape you want!  Fun first day photos, anyone?

What are some of your great projects for back to school?

This is all I have today.

Source: weddingbee

Today, in addition to the biggest wedding of the century, was my final day of student teaching.  I’m taking a week off to sleep (kind of, because I will still be job-hunting), subbing for a few weeks, and then starting 6 credits of graduate research courses.  Then I’ll be planning a wedding.  And starting a new career.

So, ladies and gentlemen, good night, and good luck.

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What am I saving for storage?

Now that I’m in full-on preparing-for-teaching mode, I’ve been saving all sorts of containers left and right.  Spice jars, pickle jars, peanut butter jars, you name it, I’ve got some!  I’m saving them for a number of purposes: to store small craft supplies, for pens and pencils, or even just because I like the look of them.  Here’s a few I have in stock!

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Spice jars!  These are the kind that typically come from the Simply Organic line at Target, and I love them because of their classic square shape and screw caps.  I’ve been collecting these with plans to keep them at home for small craft items like gems and buttons.

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Glass jelly jars are wonderful for so many things, even as cute drinking glasses!  Right now, this one is storing a few buttons and wrapped with a bit of leftover ribbon for some decoration.  These are also great for storing pens and brushes, even mixing paints and other raw materials.  Need them to have an even more distinctive look?  Try coating the inside with paint for a unique display (and to hide any messy stuff inside from view!)!

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Ah, the plastic peanut butter jar!  This I am planning to take to my classroom for storage of small items.  Unlike the glass jars, there’s no risk of breakage with this little guy, but you can still easily identify the contents.  Small items like dice, counters, pompoms, or pattern blocks will fit perfectly and safely into this container, even around the littlest of hands.

How are you repurposing your leftover containers?