Friday, March 22, 2013

Filling a Bucket at Student Led Conferences

My school had student led conferences the other day.  I really like these much more than the fall ones, as they are student led, so students can really show their parents what they have been working on as well as what they do while they are at school every day.

Students showed their families:
  • their self assessments
  • read them a "seat sack" book and showed them their reading journal
  • read a bit of a favorite big book to them
  • some of their writing pieces
  • taught them their favorite math game
  • their favorite "academic" computer activity
  • anything else that they wanted to show them (calendar was very popular)

At the end right before they left, I gave each of them their "buckets."  We use "bucket fillers" at our school.  Each classroom has a bucket that students try to fill by doing nice things.  Another teacher in my school said that she had read something about students writing nice things about each other and filling their buckets.  I thought that they would be the perfect time to do this.  So a couple of weeks ago I wrote down the names of every child in our classroom.  We talked about how you couldn't just say that someone was nice, they had to be specific.  Then, I typed up all of their responses for each child.  It did require some time, But I felt that it was totally worth it seeing their faces when they read all of the nice things that their classmates said about them.  I could tell that some parents appreciated it too:)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

FREEBIE Scholastic News Write About Reading

With the Common Core requiring a greater amount of non-fiction to be used in the classroom, I created this for my classroom.  After reading the Scholastic News together, students write about what they learned from the article.  I have a feedback area for students on the top of the page which focuses on different writing target skills with either "well done" or "please practice."  The product includes both 1st and 2nd grade versions.  As it is in MS Word, you can adapt it to fit the needs of your student and class throughout the year as their needs change.  Here is a sample of what one of my student did a couple of weeks ago.  I have my students highlight what I call "topic terms" when they are done, to encourage them to use words from the article in their writing.  They also get to draw a picture on the back about something that they learned about while reading. It is available for FREE at my TPT store.   I hope that you find it to be helpful!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Real Life Math FREEBIE

I feel that one of the most important parts of my job is to show kids why they are learning something, and how it will help them out later in life.  So as both my 1st and 2nd graders are learning about money, I made a unit that will help me do this.  I know that many of my students go grocery shopping with their parents.  As this is a real life skill, this unit connects money to daily use and includes showing a given amount of money, adding money, and making change as well as sorting the food.  Here is a preview of this FREEBIE.

This unit is free (right now) in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, so please check it out if you think that it would be helpful for you and your students!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Assembly and March is Reading Month Special Mystery Reader

Our day was a little started with a wildlife assembly about saving the rain forest.  The kids really enjoyed it as it included a talking bird, as well as a bird who flew around the gym right above the kids heads!  There were some other animals there too.  The kids were really engaged!

Normally for "March is Reading Month," I have special "mystery readers" come in to read to my class.  These are usually parents, or grandparents.  I schedule with the people beforehand, and have them give me 5 clues for the kids to guess who it will be while they wait to be called down from the office.  Last year, we even had a grandfather last year who was a wonderful artist who actually illustrated poster size pictures to go along with the stories that he read.   I have not had a single volunteer this year:(  This is the first time that has happened.  Today my class had a TRUE mystery reader...he was such a mystery that I did not know that he was coming!

We were just getting settled down for snack and read aloud, when the office called and told me that I had a Michigan State Rep. who was there to read to my class, and would it be okay if he came down.  Apparently, there had been some miscommunication somewhere as the office did not even know that he was coming.  I said that as long as he didn't mind that we were having snack that was fine.  I reminded them to be on their best behavior, and they were:)
It turned out really well I think.  He read a cute story (drawing a blank on the title) regarding teeth, and answered some questions about his job.  I really wish that I would have known sooner as we have not talked a whole lot about government yet this year in social studies.  I think that it was a great experience for the kids, and they even got some bookmarks and toothbrushes too!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March is Reading Month Door Decor

My school participates in "March is Reading Month," and we are all supposed to decorate our doors somehow with something related to books.  When I came across Young Teacher Love's blog posting, I thought that even though it is a 5th grade blog, my 1st and 2nd graders can do it as well!  I think that they turned out really well!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Shape Robots

My 1st and 2nd graders have been fascinated with the 3rd graders recycled robots at are in our school media center.  So, when I came across Smiling in Second Grade's post on geometry robots, I knew that I had to do them with my class!  My 1st graders have just finished studying 2D and 3D shapes and need a little more work, and a little review never hurt so the 2nd graders made them too.  The requirement was, they could make a person/creature, and a pet if they wanted only using the pattern block template shapes.
Mine is a tiny bit different...

They then had to count the amount of various shapes that were used in the picture.  You can download the paper that I made for free here  Here are some samples:)

I think that they turned out super cute and each is so unique!  Please don't think that I only have 15 students...I currently have 20 but some are still finishing...  This is one of the joys of teaching a split, I have smaller class sizes (capped at 22 whereas 1st grade is 29, and 2nd is 32 with no aide for either).  I always request a split if available!!!  :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Using Hand Signals in the Classroom & "Emergency" Hat/Necklaces

I wanted to share two things that I feel has made my daily classroom management when it comes to interruptions so much easier!

Hand Signals
I am sure that I am not the only out there who does this in one way or another, but using signals has allowed me to spend more time teaching! Students show the appropriate amount of fingers in the air for whatever they need:
Now, when I am teaching whole class, I can just look at their finger and then nod yes or no without having to stop teaching:)  Anyone else do something like this?  Another teacher who used to teach at my school taught her kids sign language, but I do not know that.

"Emergency" Hat/Necklace
I have had an "emergency" necklace or hat for many years.  These usually go along with my themes.
Sports-sport necklaces that I got at Party City
Camping-antler hat
Students know that when I am wearing these, it had better be "super duper important" to interrupt me.  If they start to ask me something, I point to the hat/necklace and they usually walk away and talk to me when I am available a few minutes later.  If it is important but not an "emergency", they can write me a sticky note.  I mainly use these during guided reading, guided math, and while testing students.

I wish that I would have known about these my first few years of teaching!  :)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Educents: Teacher Deals

For those of you out there who use Groupon and Living Social, I am hoping that this will be of help to you!  Educents is advertising that they are the same thing, but for teachers.  Educents will offer a wide variety of educational materials for teachers selected from the best suppliers in the education industry.  Their products are advertised as ranging from online curriculum, learning tools, educational toys, software, study guides, e-books, classroom videos and tutorials for all subjects available at 30-90% off!  They are launching on April 2nd.  You can sign up here to learn more.  If you sign up now, you will get a $15 gift card!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Find bloggers from your state!

I came across something wonderful on a new blog that I came across Apples and Papers.  If you get a chance, go to Fifth in the Middle to link up with other bloggers from your state. You can grab your state's button on that blog as well to add to your blog:)  Although I enjoy following bloggers from around the world, I'm looking forward to learning and sharing with other bloggers from Michigan!  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Extra Day Off=Contest

I got today off unexpectedly due to some confusion at the nearby high school this morning.  We don't get too many snow days around here, so this was a blessing in many ways!  First, one of my living room lights decided to burn out last night.  I didn't think that having one light missing would make such a difference!  So, once I enjoyed my coffee, I went out and purchased 4 new bulbs that are supposed to last me at least 6 years.  I am so proud of myself for installing them on my own as I am not very tall, and have very high ceilings:)

After I finished changing the lights, I did use my time wisely in working on report cards.  I thankfully brought home a lot of report card stuff last night to work on.  Just have math and spelling to go...yay! 

I have heard about Erin Condren planners for a while and decided that I had some time to research them today.  You can click on the picture to see what I am talking about.

Anyway, I decided that I would not want to spend that much (roughly $50) on a planner that is not exactly what I would want to make my life easier.  So I then got distracted by making myself my own planner for next year.  Now, I do plan ahead (but generally not that far ahead:)  Although, when I was in college I did plan my sophomore -senior years in advance and walked into my adviser's office and she said that I was set.  I would like to think that I have settled down a bit since then!

 The grade/lesson book includes the following sections:
-Cover (add your own personality to it with a picture of your family or a pet)
-August-June Calendar that can be used any year (you can make a July if neebe)
-Curriculum map
-Parent contact log
-Classroom volunteer log
-Student information forms
-Daily plans at a glance
-Guided math plans
-Literacy center plans
-Shared reading plans
-Grade book for multiple subject areas (currently set at 29 students but you can add or subtract from that)

This is fully customizable by can add/delete columns as needed, and change colors, fonts, etc. :) There are not dates on anything so you can print and reuse this year after year!

The following are pictures from it:


I am willing to give this away to the first two people who can answer this question correctly:
Which college am I a HUGE fan of (hence all of the green and white which I put on my planner along with my favorite mascot this year:)?
A. Tulane Green Wave 
B. Marshall Thundering Herd
C. Michigan State Spartans

Make sure to include your e-mail address!  If you are interested in purchasing this customizable lesson planning and grade book, you can purchase it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Monday, March 4, 2013

"It's my turn!" "No, it' mine!"

I am joining up with
4th Gr Flipper
for "Tried it Tuesday." I don't know about you, but I have the worst time of keeping track of whose turn it is for special things in my classroom.  This is a solution that I just came up with (although I am sure that someone else in the world has probably also done it but I just never saw it).  Anyway, I hope that it will help out at least someone reading this:)  I created a list of my various reading and math groups, and keep track of whose turn it is with push pins.  My "teacher assistant" of the week (they keep their jobs for a week in my classroom) has the job of moving the push pins down to the next person after reading and math.  If the reading/math captain is absent on their day, I just move it to the next person and they miss their turn. 

During literacy centers, my reading captain gets to sit in the rocking chair on their day.  They really like this and there is no arguing about who gets to sit there:)

During math centers, my math captains have several jobs and privileges.  When they are at my table for guided math, they get to sit by me and pass out and collect everyone's books and math folders from their group's math drawer.  They also get to sit in the teacher chair with wheels at the computer for their computer math time.  In addition, they get first choice of math activities/games when they are at the math game & activity center.

These push pins have made my life so much easier and so much less arguing in the classroom!!!  Oh, the things that you wake up in the middle of the night thinking out...push-pins:)  I tend to get many of my classroom improvement ideas in the middle of the night...LOL:)

Does anyone out there have any other ideas to aid in this area?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March Currently

Sorry for my absence, school has kept me so busy during the week!  I have also be fortunate to have a bit of fun too on the weekends:)  I took some pictures this week that I hope to post soon to hopefully help others.

I am linking up with Oh Boy 4th Grade for "Currently."  Happy March!  Now onto looking at my March school folder, on March 2nd (I am a little behind...).