About Me

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Hi everyone! My name is Noelle and I am a Special Education teacher (self-contained, grades 4, 5, and 6!) After graduating, I started teaching Kindergarten!!! I had only applied to sub when I was called in for an interview! The following school year I moved schools and changed grade levels. I absolutely love where I am now and what I am doing!

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Classroom Word Walls

At the end of the summer teachers begin setting up their classrooms for the upcoming year.  So much effort is put forth.  Everything needs to be, has to be perfect, down to the last detail.  Where should my math area go?  What about reading? Wait, I need a writing area.  Every teacher puts such careful thought into decorating their classroom.  Now that you have the set up done, it’s on to decorating.  Where should that poster go?  Should I move the behavior chart to a new area?  Where should I hang finished work?  Will the children even see this from their seats?  So much goes into classroom set up and decorations. 

Here is a picture of my word wall before the transformation:

This year, I put a lot of thought into my word wall.  I decided that it was time for a makeover, a re-vamping.  Now don’t laugh, but I made the area itself smaller.  I bet you’re thinking, “Why smaller?” Well, let me explain.

I loved my word wall.  I loved each polka dotted word and letter.  I loved how it matched the rest of the polka dots in the classroom.  I loved how it was right in the front of the room next to the board.  Now you might be saying, “Why did you bother to change it?”

I changed the word wall in my classroom, I made it smaller, but I did so for a great reason! I made my word wall into a moving word wall, that’s right moving!   “A moving word wall? What’s that?” Let me take a minute to explain.  I took my word wall and created a way to put the words directly into the hands of my students! 

Here's what my word wall looks like now:

Transforming the old word wall into the new was super easy too! Each letter is on a magnet, just below the magnet is an adhesive hook.  Each set of words coordinates with the letter.  I just used a hole punch to make a hole in each of the words from the old word wall.  I put each set of words on a ring and hung them on the hook.  Voila! A moving word wall! Now when a student is wondering how to spell a word, all they have to do is walk over to the wall, grab the set they need, and take it back to their seat.

Each letter has colored and black and white words.  The colored words are words that are used often or they are words that have been used in class.  The black and white words are Dolch words. 
My students love being able to help themselves instead of asking how to spell different words.  It makes such a huge difference throughout the day.  I think that transforming my word wall has significantly helped my students, but it has also made them that much more independent!

I would love to hear your thoughts on word walls and how they are used in your classroom! Leave a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Currently - February 2016

I am once again linking up with the fabulous Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the February Currently!

Oh Boy It's Farley

Listening: I have the T.V. on in the background while I work on some things for work.  I love watching Castle re-runs.

Loving: I have a four day week this week.  I am taking a personal day and we're heading to the mountains for the weekend.  The hotel we had our wedding reception at gave us a "mini moon," so we are taking full advantage of it this weekend! I can't wait for two nights away in the mountains and I am so ready for some skiing!

Thinking: I can't wait for dinner.  My hubby made so Portuguese Kale Soup and it smelled delicious while it was cooking!!

Wanting: I wish the dishes would magically place themselves back in the cabinet when they are clean.  I wish the dirty ones would magically hop into the dishwasher.  That's not asking for too much is it?

Needing: I am working on a post about my classroom word wall.  I am a bit  hesitant to post it though.  I put so much of my heart and soul into my last one and really opened up.  I just felt like I put all of this effort into it for it to just sit out there in cyber space.  It sort of made me not want to blog for a while.

Swooning: Meet Darwin!! He finally arrived from Georgia last Tuesday! He's such a calm, loving, sweet boy! He fits perfectly in to our little family!

.. and I am still swooning over this handsome, little man!

Have a fantastic February everyone!

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Struggle with Panic Disorder

The general definition (from The Mayo Clinic) states that panic disorder is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause.

Why am I writing about this? Why should this be a blog post?  Well, Panic Disorder is something that I have struggled with since I was seven years old.  It’s a topic that is very close to me and has changed my life. It’s a topic that people don’t typically talk about.  It’s a topic that gets tucked away because many people do not want to talk about mental health issues.  It typically stays locked in a box.

I feel like I am finally at a place where I am ready to open that box, talk, and share my story.  If anything, I hope this can reach others and hopefully help!  There are many ways to cope with Panic Disorder.  You just need to find what works for you.

Let me take you back to that time of my life, that time where everything was so uncertain.  I began to have many different symptoms, the main one being a sore throat.  I would constantly say that my throat hurt.  I would pull at my throat, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I continued to pull and pull at my throat each time I had these feelings.  I pulled at my throat so often that I had a mark, a scratch.  It would bleed.  What was wrong with me?  I went to several doctors; still I wondered what was wrong.  I couldn’t breathe, I felt sick to my stomach, my throat hurt.  Why couldn’t anyone help me?  After doctor visits and blood work, they found nothing physically wrong with me.  So, what was it?  Why did I constantly feel like this?  The answer: Panic Disorder.  Being a seven year old child, I had no idea what that meant.  I just knew I never felt good.

Each time I had these symptoms, it was a panic attack.  Panic Attacks have many different symptoms and vary with each individual.  Others that I have spoken to have had attacks because of their jobs, stress, or other major life events.  My symptoms always felt real, and still do to this day.  When the attack first comes on, it starts with my throat feeling as though it’s going to close.  It’s followed by hyperventilating and heart palpitations.  Then my stomach feels upset and I feel nauseated.  I asked for help.  Will someone help me?  Who can help me?  The answer: ME.  How was I supposed to get through this?  How was a seven year old supposed to cope?  The attacks were always the same, but the length of time varied.  Sometimes they were quick, other times they lasted for hours upon hours.  Sometimes they were during the day, other times they woke me up out of a dead sleep.  Sometimes I would pace, other times I would be curled up on the bathroom floor.  Each attack wore me out; I was exhausted by the time the attack was over.

Now that we knew what was going on, it was time to figure out how to cope with Anxiety Disorder and these awful attacks.  I began seeing a psychiatrist.  He prescribed me medications and started to work with me on coping techniques.  I didn’t see him for very long, we didn’t mesh well.  My parents quickly helped me move onto a new doctor.  We continued with medication and worked on coping techniques.  We started with deep breathing exercises.  It was and still is difficult to use deep breathing techniques.  How was I supposed to use this technique while hyperventilating?  I always try, and it’s always hard.  We made deep breathing tapes, yes tapes, to try to help.  We made tapes with calming, soothing sounds.  Again, it was difficult to sit and listen to something when my body seemed to be out of my own control.  Let’s try some more techniques.  Try drawing or coloring, try smelling and using lotions, try distracting yourself, learn the triggers, use the Panic Disorder Workbook.  Again, my body was always so out of control that these techniques were so difficult for me to use.  I continued to attempt the techniques each time, but often felt like they didn’t work.  Some techniques that have worked for other people are running, making a list of positive things, and crying.

Growing up with Panic Disorder was not easy.  The attacks would come on and I would need to leave wherever I was.  I could have been anywhere, school, a restaurant, at the movies, or even at a friend’s house.  There were so many times I would have to leave the room or even leave where I was entirely.  At school, it always seemed as though no one understood what was wrong with me.  That went for teachers, administrators, and peers.  There were days when I would get dropped off at school and not be able to even walk in the door.  I would beg to go home.  However, I would have to push through and make it through the day.  Through elementary and middle school, I would go to the guidance counselor or school psychologist.  I never felt as though they were able to help and sometimes I felt like they just didn’t want to.  Sometimes I would go to the nurse, but only if there wasn’t anyone else there.  One trigger we knew of early on was illness.  If someone around me was sick, I would have a Panic Attack.

Things did not seem to improve when I was in high school either.  Not long after beginning high school my Panic Attacks became a huge struggle, nothing was working.  We decided to try a new doctor, as my current doctor was for adolescents.  I continued to see the doctor, continued with medications, continued with coping techniques.  I just wanted the attacks to end, to go away.  Throughout high school, other students would make fun of me.  Why do you always have to leave?  What’s wrong with you?  You do this to get out of class, don’t you?  Why does this happen when it’s time for a test? Why are you always crying?  What’s that on your neck?  I could never understand why people would kick someone when they were already down.  Eventually, I found a teacher and place I could turn to.  My happy place became the art room.  When an attack would happen, I was able to find a safe place within the art room.  I was finally able to get away from the negativity through art.

Throughout college, I finally felt as though people understood what was happening to me.  I met other people who also suffered from Panic Disorder.  I was able to talk to them about what was happening to me.  I still had the attacks, but a college schedule was much different than a high school schedule and my professors were much more understanding.

I graduated and began my career.  There are days when the anxiety becomes overwhelming and it’s hard to make it through the day, but I know that these kids are counting on me.  I push through.  There are also days when it’s too overwhelming and nothing can help.  I still have those nights where I pace or lay on the floor, but it’s much more infrequent.  I continue to use art as a therapy and coping technique.  Painting, drawing, sketching, and just about anything related to art I am able to use as a technique.  Art relaxes me, it soothes me.  It’s my happy place when my body loses control.

As I begin to plan for a family, I know that I need decrease medications to the point I am no longer on one of them.  I have started the process and am proud of how far I have come (down two doses).  Although there are more attacks right now than there were back in September, I am able to cope.  I am able to distract myself and push through.  I am able to continue living instead of running.  I do not feel like the attacks are taking over my body.  I feel like I am in control.  Finally – I am in control!  It’s been a long road traveled from that seven year old girl to a twenty-six year old woman, but I am here.  I made it down the road.

I’m not writing this for you to pity me.  I am not writing this for you to say how sorry you are.  I am not writing this because things have not always been easy.  I am writing this because if even one person finds help in this, I am making a difference.  I am writing this because even though having this diagnosis made things difficult, I am strong.  I made it through.  I rose above.  I survived – I am still surviving.

Life is like a beach, some days can be rough, others perfectly beautiful.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Currently - Happy New Year!

Wow, has it been a while!?!  My last blog post if from October.  I thought I would get back into things with a Currently from Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade!

Here we go:

Listening: I love that time of day after students leave when all is quiet for a few minutes before I begin my afternoon tasks.  It gives me time to reflect on my day.  What went well?  What could I improve on?  Is it Friday yet? - HAH! I truly enjoy these few minutes of peace and quiet before returning to work.

Loving: I am currently loving life! This past fall was a difficult time for me because of the loss of my grandmother.  It's something I am still struggling with and by no means is it easy, but right now I finally feel like things are where they are supposed to be.  I wish she could be here to see all the wonderful things happening in my life right now:

We closed on our house December 18th!

My husband and I brought back a tradition from when I was a child.  We decided to bring back Christmas breakfast!

We had many laughs with my brother who was home from Oregon,

We attended a beautiful wedding for a cousin and his new wife on New Year's Eve!

So yes, while life has been hard and I've struggled, I am looking at all of the positive things life has given me.

Thinking: Blogging. I really need to get back into it.  I enjoy being able to write about life and teaching.  I think it's a bit therapeutic.  I'm going to be looking in to a few different posts and begin blogging again as soon as possible!

Wanting: We found a dog to rescue and it looks like we will be adding a furry family member within the month! Stay tuned for a post it all goes as planned! I'll be crossing my fingers until then!

Needing: We bought a house, are (hopefully) getting a dog, now it's time to make sure everything is unpacked and in a home!!  We only have a few small things left.  Christmas vacation gave us some time to put most things away and settle in!

One Little Word: Positivity. As I said above, I struggled to see the bright side.  I am now looking at life in a positive way and using that to cope with the loss.  It's hard to always be positive when you feel like breaking down, but I'm getting there and will continue to look for the positivity in daily life!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

LEGOLAND Discovery Center: Boston!

It has been over a month (a very difficult month for me) since I last blogged.  Why not start blogging again with a review of a trip to LEGOLAND Discovery Center: Boston!  

Upon arriving, you are greeted by a life size LEGO Giraffe!

I received an e-mail inviting me to LEGOLAND on Wednesday, October 14.  LEGOLAND was going to be offering an open house for educators to come by the center and check out workshops that are being offered.  After reading the e-mail, I was intrigued.  This seemed like something I could absolutely use in the classroom.  The workshops, designed specifically for students, offer a variety of topics ranging from storytelling to science to engineering to design to math and to language arts!!  The workshops also were developed to address Common Core Standards. Wow! These workshops take place at the center during a field trip, but can be used in the classroom as well!

When you first entered the center, you went straight into MINILAND, which is the Lego city of Boston.  I was in awe of how intricate these Lego buildings were.

Logan Airport and Boston Harbor Hotel

Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium

The State House and "Make Way For Ducklings"

The Garden and The Boston Marathon Finish Line

While at the open house, they had five workshops on display with helpful staff to go explain the workshops as you walked through. The workshops were created for students in Pre-K through grade six.

The workshops are as followed: Spinning Tops (Pre-K to First), Seasons (Pre-K to First), Spin the Gears (Grades Two and Three), Merry-Go-Round (Grades Four to Six), and What a Great Experience! (Grades Two to Six).  Each workshop brought something different to the table. 

Here's a little synopsis of each workshop:

Spinning Tops:
This workshop addresses English, Language Arts and Reading, and Math CCSS.  Spinning Tops focuses on engineering, design, and math. The children create and build tops.  They are able to collect data on whose top spins the longest.  They are able to learn about forces that affect the performance of the top.

This workshop addresses English, Language Arts and Reading, and Science CCSS.  Seasons focuses on science and speaking and listening.  This workshop teaches about seasons in a hands on way.  Students build and share what they know about the current season.  THis leads to a discussion about weather/weather changes.

Spin the Gears:
This workshop addresses English, Language Arts and Reading, Math, and Science CCSS. Spin the Gears focuses on engineering, design, and math. Students build, model, and experiment with gears.  They explore the difference between drive versus driven as well as clockwise versus counterclockwise.  Force and effort are also touched upon.

This workshop addresses English, Language Arts and Reading, Math, and Science CCSS.  Merry-Go-Round focuses on engineering, design, and math.  In this workshop, students are able to create their own Merry-Go-Round.  They explore gear ratios and experiment with gear trains.  They look to find which spins fastest.

What a Great Experience!:
This workshop addresses English and Language Arts and Reading CCSS.  What a Great Experience! focuses on English Language Arts.  Students are able to build with LEGO bricks to tell a story about an experience they've had in their city.  They are able to use MINILAND as inspiration.  They create characters, a setting, and a plot.

All of these workshops have printout to use in the classroom before, during, and after the workshop.  They can be found easily on the LEGOLAND website!

After exploring these wonderful student workshops, we were able to roam around the center.  There are two rides that students can go on as well as a Ninja Training Course! Children can build cars and race them down different slopes.  There's an earthquake table where students can build skyscrapers to see if they can withstand an earthquake!  They can also climb through a construction site!  There's even a 4D Cinema!

Here are a few pictures from exploring LEGOLAND!:

Becoming Ninjas!

Meeting a new friend!

It's crazy what can be made from LEGO bricks!

Thank you LEGOLAND Discovery Center: Boston for such a wonderful experience! I can't wait to use LEGO bricks more often in my classroom!  I am really excited to share this experience with my students and hope that one day a field trip to a workshop can be made into a reality!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Teacher Week: Classroom Reveal

I am linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week: Classroom Reveal AND #2GETHERWEAREBETTER!!!  Here's a peek at where I spend my days!

Let's start right at the doors.  I am obsessed with my doors this year!!! I love the game of Scrabble so when I saw something similar I decided to go for it! I played around with the tiles on my living room floor before putting them on the classroom door.

On the inside of my doors I have a behavior chart and charts that say where each student is going after school.  I use a behavior chart with number 1-10.  Students start on a 5 each day and generally move up to a 10!  As they move up the chart they can earn things, such as: stickers or free time.  I try not to move down for negative behavior.  I try to give them a first chance before having to move a clip down.  Since we cannot cover the glass on the door with paper anymore, my assistant made some curtains to hang.  We can close them if there is a lock down, if needed.

I am working on getting this chart on TPT, stay tuned!

On either side of the doors, there are lockers.  I take full advantage of the lockers.  I use magnets and clips for my job chart.  I also keep track of who is out of the room and where they went.

You can find my job chart here or by clicking on the photograph.

After students go to their lockers in the morning, they choose their lunch.  There are different choices for lunch each day and pictures are switched in and out.

This year I received two more computers and brand new desks!!!! How exciting is that?!?!  I could barely contain myself!!!

In the above picture, you can also see where my math terms will go as well as math posters as we continue through the year.  You can also see the AR board.  For every 5 points a student earns, they receive a sweet treat on their ribbon!  Their mailboxes are on the left side of the picture too!

I also decided to reinstate a Morning Meeting this year.  I changed my calendar area around to incorporate the meeting!

I am so glad that I opted to add this back into my schedule!!!

I also revamped my word wall this year.  I decided to make a moving word wall.  All of the words are on rings.  Students can take the rings of words right to their seats if they need help with spelling! We've been in school for two days and it has already come in quite handy!!  I also added a focus wall.  I will be posting daily objectives as well as why we are learning what we are learning.  I also purchases a new alphabet to match the polka dot theme to my room.

You can find multiple word walls and labels here or by clicking on the photograph!
(Dolch Words Pre-Primer through Grade 3)

I also added a writing process poster to my writing area.  I really like the way the area turned out!

I'm also working on adding the writing poster to my store.

Finally we have my library area.  This is just half of my classroom library.  I have bins labeled by letter on this side of the library.  Non-fiction books are on the other side, not pictures.  Also on the other side are seasonal book and book studies.

The library labels can be found here or by clicking the photograph.
(Labels are by Lexile, Guided Reading, Genre, and DRA)

Thanks for stopping by to see where I spend my days with my students!!