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Today's topic is all about your first year of teaching. I have been teaching for 15 years! I am not sure I remember much about my first year other than it was a blur and pretty rough in the management area. 

At the end of student teaching in December 2002,  a 4th grade position became open because the current teacher was moving to a Title 1 position. The administrator asked me if I would like the position and of course I said "Yes!" However, I was student teaching ELA and Social Studies and the position was Math and Science. Ouch! Thank goodness for the support I had that year! The former teacher came into the room many times to help me teach Math, and I had a wonderful assistant who helped me keep up with paperwork, student progress and much more. But I do remember walking into a new room of new students and not establishing rules and procedures with these students. I knew they already had them in place and assumed they would work with me. I was so wrong and learned my lesson! I surely learned so much in those long 5 months that college definitely didn't prepare me for. The real thing is the real deal and those experiences were growing experiences for me as a professional. 

I can now look back and see how much I have grown as an educator. Even at year 15, I am still looking for new approaches to take with my students to keep them engaged and achieving success. 

A few tips I would give new teachers is 

#1 Establish your Rules and Expectations- Establish your Classroom Rules together so students are held accountable and take ownership. Set high expectations with a No Excuse policy. 

#2 Take a deep breath at the end of the day and reflect on what went well and something to improve on. 

#3 Collaborate with other teachers on lessons, behavior management techniques, etc..

#4 Take time for yourself/family each evening!

Here are the upcoming topics and hosts of these awesome blog topics! 

I am so excited a couple of teachers of Instagram that I have followed for many years, Life In Fifth Grade and  Teaching in Room 6,  are hosting blog topics each week this summer! I can remember when I blogged consistently and when blogging was one of the only outlets to share teaching approaches, activities, and resources with others. That feels like many years ago!! LOL!  I definitely don't blog frequently and have honestly not even updated my blog in the last year or so.  Last year, I think I wrote only one blog post :( Today with a plethora of social media outlets, we can share and collaborate a lot easier especially with hashtags. Hashtags make for one very happy teacher! #hastaghappyteacher

Today's topic is an Introduction or All About Me. 

I'm Erica Shepherd a 4th grade teacher. I have been teaching for 15 years. I began teaching a 4th/5th grade Math and Science for 3 years. I earned my ESL certification and then began teaching ESL to Kinder-1st graders for 3 years. Then because a 4th grade teacher was needed and I missed the classroom, I moved back to 4th grade and have been there ever since. So, for 9 years I have taught ELA and Social Studies, but this coming year I will be self contained teaching ALL subjects. I am so nervous about teaching 4th grade Common Core Math, but am so excited to bring together social and academic learning throughout the day with a new approach.  I am hopeful that as a self-contained teacher and taking on the Responsive Classroom approach this coming year that my classroom climate will flourish and my students will achieve high academic success. 

I am married and have 4 boys. Yes, four boys who keep me extremely busy or at least when they are not playing Fornite! I love to exercise and workout. The last few months I have been working out super hard and watching my diet and I am so excited about the results I am achieving. With 4 boys there's no time for me to go to a gym, so all of my exercise is done at home with workout DVDs, (Jillian Michaels) is my favorite, lifting weights, using my husband's workout bench, and running. I try to get my boys participating as much as possible and occasionally they will run with me in the evenings. Yesterday, I signed our family up for membership to the New Orleans Running and Track Club and my oldest son and I ran in a 2 mile race for the Summer Series. Next year, I turn 40 and one of my goals is to run a half marathon. 

I also love to read! So, I joined a Book Club two years ago with some amazing friends and have read more than I ever had. Our book choice for this month is All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire. It just came in the mail yesterday, so I am excited to get started. 

Now that I am moving into my 15th year of teaching and my 3rd year at a new school, I am excited to continue to grow as an educator and step outside my comfort zone. 

So, that's enough about me. You can check out the hosts' to learn more about them and use the hashtag #teachertidbittuesday on Instagram and Facebook to find all the posts and read along. 

It's Monday again and I'm excited to link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It series.

One of my goals for this upcoming year is to be more organized. For example, having labeled binders  to organize all of our assessments, texts, and testing materials. I've always organized in manilla folders and had it nicely arranged in the file cabinet, but it tends to get messy and I need more order to the order in the folder if that makes sense, ;) So, with those thoughts on folders becoming binders that I'm going to begin with when I get back into my classroom in the next month or so, I have to start with an area behind my desk that is always a mess. I wish I had a picture to post, but I don't, so take my word for it when I say it is a mess.  There's a small area behind my desk that I house all of my teacher tools such as tape, paperclips, white-out, numerous pens because you can never have too many, highlighters, and other things that are all thrown in a purple basket. Every now and then I straighten it out, but when I need something I can't ever find it. Well that takes you to my first Monday Made It below. 

The teacher toolbox! I am so excited about this toolbox. It is going to keep the back of my desk looking sharp. I found my toolbox at Lowe's for $17. You can also purchase on Amazon, but I found the price to be higher. Then comes the labels that I found and purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers. My classroom colors are red and blue, so I went with a nautical theme for the labels. My purchase came from the The Teaching Texan
Three of my boys are wanting one of their own now for their desks in their rooms, so I may be making more of them next week. 

My next Monday Made It was inspired by Joanne Miller at Head Over Heels for Teaching. She made the cutest keychains for her students and I just had to have them. I purchased the keychains for about $6 for a pack of 16 "Playside Creations" keychains. You can find Joanne's template that fits the keychains here. I used scissors to cut them out and the help of one of my boys to put them together. They look great! 

Finally Monday Made It #3 is a recipe that I got from my mom that she found on Robbie's Recipes. We both love Wonton Soup and I was craving it, so off I went to purchase the ingredients to make it. Here's the recipe below. A few things I did a little differently to make it as easiest as possible are I bought green onions already cut and I froze the remainder that I didn't use. I used ground ginger which I know is not the same as grated fresh ginger, but it was easier and I had it already. I didn't add white pepper because I forgot. The napa cabbage was huge in the grocery and I didn't want to buy it because I only needed a small amount, so luckily I found a ginger sesame stir-fry that included the cabbage, snap pea pods, red cabbage and carrots. It contained a few extra ingredients, but it was the perfect amount for my pot of soup. I also excluded the mushrooms, sorry but I'm not a fan. 

This is a picture of all the ingredients that go into the stuffing of the wonton. My favorite part of the soup. It actually makes a lot of wontons. I had about 10  leftover that I didn't use for the soup. I fried them up for my hubby the next day and he ate them with sweet and sour sauce. I had a couple, but not too many. I 'm trying to be good and eat healthy! 

Just a little dab of the stuffing in the wonton wrapper. 

Here's the final dish! I added extra soy sauce to my bowl of soup. It was delicious! 

Thanks for taking the time to check out my Monday Made Its! 

I am super excited to join Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics for Monday Made It. 

My "Monday Made It #1" is decor for my youngest son's bedroom. This was a very simple Monday Made It, but it was painted by Jack with love. We went out to Hobby Lobby to purchase the letter "J" and some red acrylic paint. Adding the letter J has been long over due, 3 years over due. I've had the space there to add the J since he was a baby when the crib was on the wall, but just never could find the time or I would forget to purchase when I was out and about running errands. So, we definitely made this a priority last week. Jack was so eager to help me paint his letter J. Below is the finished product!

Here's Jack helping me paint. He was being so careful. 

Monday Made It #2 is was one of my low carb recipes. This recipe was given to me by my sister. One of my goals for the summer is to eat healthier and to exercise daily. So, I've been going to Pinterest for lots of low carb recipes. Click here to see my Low Carb recipe board.  I've been staying away from carbs and adding more healthy fats to my diets (walnuts, pecans, etc.) Below is a crab cake spinach salad that I had for dinner on two occasions so far this summer. It is yummy! The ingredients are organic spinach, a red onion, walnuts, goat cheese, a crab cake, and balsamic vinagarette.

My last Monday Made It, was not made my me, but purchased off of Etsy for my husband for Father's Day. He plays basketball two days a week and uses a sweat towel that was getting old. So, I purchased him a new one and had it embroidered. Hope his basketball buddies don't make fun of him :) Click here for the Etsy store I used. 

Thanks for checking out my Monday Made Its!

Who doesn't like National Holidays! I sure do and so do many of my Social Media friends. People are  always posting pictures of themselves celebrating a National Holiday. I'm sure there's a hashtag - #NationalHolidays that you can post to and follow.

Well, my students love them as well. They are always so eager to enter the room each morning to find out what the National Holiday will be for the day. Some students will even come into the room and tell me they heard it announced on the radio on their way to school.

Each morning in my 4th grade classroom I display the National Holiday of the day.  I use the site Checkiday

I used this site because it displays an image on various holidays for the day. I look for the one that states National in the front, sometimes there's more than one. So, when this occurs I search Google with each Holiday to see which one is more popular, or the one that Google selects as the National Holiday. I then click on images to find a picture that I can paste onto my Promethean board for display with the National Holiday. However next year I may use the site National Day Calendar.

This site not only gives you the image, but also the history of the day. I may add a job to my classroom this coming year and have a students read up on the holiday and share it with the class to start the day or I may assign a student to each week of school to pick the holiday of that week of their choice to present to the class. OOHHH! The ideas are flowing now!

Displaying these holidays on my board always sparks a discussion amongst students, especially the food related ones. We talk about whether we've eaten the dessert before like (National Chocolate Ice Cream Day) or if it's a well-known person, place, or event we connect it to our learning. I especially love the National Holidays that relate to our Social Studies Unit of Study. This allows for a way to remember and honor the heroism and achievements of the people, events, and our nation's ethnic heritage.

There are many benefits to exposing students to these holidays:

1. They become informed citizens.

2. It increases communication in the classroom and outside of school.

3. It increases interests on particular holidays.

4. It encourages students to explore.

I hope I've sparked an interest in you to expose your students to National Holidays!

So, have you had your Chocolate Ice Cream today? 

Wow! Over the last month my 4th graders have participated in many exciting technology projects.

 International Dot Day

My 4th grade class and a 1st grade class celebrat- ed “International Dot Day” together on Friday, September 16. This is a global celebration of creativity, courage, and collaboration centered around Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot. Students read the book then created beauti- ful artwork while they listened to The Dot Song. 

Oreo Project

The oreo project is an oreo stacking contest created by Jen Wagner.  My students were challenged by three other classrooms around the world through a Google Hangout to see how many oreos they could stack before the tower fell. I began the project with the anchor chart to the left and had students estimate about how many oreos they thought they could stack.
Then we began the challenge with the other classes via Google Hangout. 

Here's what a few students had to say about the project. 

The Math teacher even took the project a step further by using student's collected data to determine the average number of cookies that were stacked by classes. 

Poetry Project

The poetry Project is another project created by Jen Wagner in which students each month learn about a different form of poetry or poet. We participated in a Google Hangout with two other classrooms and shared poetry. We read a poem about Hurricanes which is the topic of our current unit of study in Reading. Then we played a Kahoot game on poetry with the other two classes.

Today I hosted my first techie club which will last for approximately 8 months. My club's theme is Game Design using the platform Google CS First. Students will learn how to code and create their own game. 

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