Sunday, September 30, 2012

Word Work Worksheets

I had a lot of interest in my Word Work activities that I posted about yesterday.  I got to work and revised the worksheets that I use with my students.  I use these in the classroom and sometimes for homework as well.  They work for Daily 5 centers as well as spelling.

It's available in both of my stores now!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hawaii, Bookbags, and Guided Reading Groups

First, check out this cute 31 bag I won from Tania at My Second Sense - so cute!

When I was in Hawaii this summer, I knew that I wanted to bring back part of the culture to share with my students.

I bought two books while we were on the island and I shared them with my students today:

My students also got their new book bags today!  We had some pretty yucky, all yellow ones.  Now we have all different colors so it is easier for the students to find their bag.

They came wrapped in plastic and kinda smelled.  My students decided they smelled like air mattresses.   Um, what?  Interesting schema they have there.

I am working on being a better Guided Reading teacher.  I just have a hard time planning and working with my groups.  I used an idea from Lesson Plan SOS to create my own Guided Reading Groups bulletin board:

Here's the close-up:

In the "Now Showing" area, I'll place a post-it with the name of the book we are working on.  In the "Starring" area, I will put the pictures of the students in that group.  My board is magnetic, so I am putting magnets on the kids' pictures.  That way, my groups will be flexible.

I hope the kids love it and I hope that it helps me!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One Year Later

Last year at this time, I was dancing the night away with my new husband...

Today is our one year anniversary!

My dad walking me down the aisle.

I had my brother make my husband-to-be a Yoda grooms cake for our rehearsal dinner.  We had to cut into his head!

It was an amazing weekend of family, friends and fun that I'll remember forever.

In classroom news...

I used to have this closet.  It was a scary closet.  I didn't open it.  It looked like this:

Then I worked hard to make it look like this:

And today?  Well that bottom shelf collapsed.  Out of sheer strain from all.that.paper.  And it made me bleed.  It was not a good day, closet-wise.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Poetry in Our Classroom

I love using poetry in the classroom, but sometimes it feels like there isn't enough time!  I started by giving each student a poetry journal for their book bag:

Each week we cut out our poem, color it in and then glue it in our notebooks.

We would practice the poem when I handed it out and that would be it.  The students could read the poems during Independent Reading.

This year, I decided that wasn't enough.  I am going to create a poster for each poem and we now recite the poem together during Morning Meeting. 

 On a random note,  I decided to clean out underneath my kids cubbies.  They haven't been cleaned since I moved into the classroom 4 1/2 years ago.  Talk about wasted space!  And talk about your dusty materials - eww!

Here's the before picture:

And the after:

I was prompted to do this when my students were trying to put away their Fun Friday materials above the cubbies (and wayy above their heads).  I was so impressed and proud of them for taking care of their materials!  But I was a little nervous that the game boxes were going to pop open and rain down on their heads.  Right then, I decided I wanted to dedicate the bottom of these cubbies to materials that they can use during this free time:

So much better!  Way cleaner and much easier for my students to reach.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Brainstorming Take Home Bags

This summer, I read the Book Whisperer {see my post here}.  It really got me thinking.  I wanted to do more than just Book Logs for reading homework this year.  It seemed like such a chore for the students (and parents).  I didn't want my students to dread reading!

I had heard a lot about Take Home Book Bags but was a little nervous to undertake this big project.  I did it anyways!  I asked on my Facebook page and got lots of responses on how to start!

I decided to make enough themed take-home bags for all my students.

I started by purchasing some a lot of books at my local thrift store.

(Raleigh helped)

Then I labeled them with my return address labels from VistaPrint (free!).

I plan to use these bags from Really Good Stuff as the Book Bags:

They are super durable.  I like that they velcro close and have a handle to carry.  In the front pocket, I will put the name of the bag.

I got an idea for checkout procedures from Christina Bainbridge:

Now I'm working on activities to go in each bag.

I found Monique's Book Bags Pinterest Board which had a lot of great activity ideas!

I also want to put journals in each one.  I can't decide if I want  a different prompt for each one or just a generic response.  I would like to have responses from parents and students.  

How do Take Home Book Bags work in your classroom?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Behavior Linky Party!

I'm linking up with What the Teacher Wants! to share how I manage behavior in my classroom.

Since I started teaching (a whopping 3 years ago), I have used a clip chart to track students behavior.  Here is an awful picture of it:

Each student has a clothespin with their class number on it.  All the students begin their day on the color green.  If a student shows positive behavior, they move their clip down to blue.  If they show more positive behavior, they move it down to the superstar.  The same goes for the other direction.  If a student is showing behavior that is not so positive, they move their clip to yellow, then orange, then red if the behavior continues.  

The students only move their clips one block at a time.  For example, if they are on green and do something good, I'll say "move your clip down" and they move it to blue.  However, if they then show a negative behavior, I will say move your clip up and their clip only goes to green.  The clips move a lot during the day, which show the students that their behavior is important all day long.

At the end of the day, the students fill out their behavior charts.  They have a weekly or monthly calendar with smiley faces.  Each student must color in their smiley face for the day that corresponds to where their clip is at the end of the day.

As you can tell from the picture, I use a lot of positive reinforcement in my class.  It is a rare day when a student moves past yellow.  If I see a child behaving incorrectly, I will praise the students around him/her for doing the correct thing.  It usually gets their attention!

At the end of the year this year, I decided to toss my clip chart.  It was falling apart and completely faded.  I wanted to stick with the same concept though.  The only thing I wanted to change was to move their clip up for positive behavior and down for negative behavior instead of vice versa.  I also wanted to add some word reminders on the posters.

Here is the brand new clip chart:

Yes, on my kitchen table.  I don't go into school much during the summer.  And, yes, it's polka dots!

You can grab it in my stores: 

*I have an updated version as well, look for it soon in my stores!*

Additionally, I use a whole class system as well.  The students start the week off with 20 minutes towards Fun Friday.  As a class, they can earn or lose minutes depending on their behaviors.  If the whole class is quiet in the hall, for example, they earn a minute.  Anytime they earn a compliment from another staff member, they earn a minute.  However, if they can't quiet down to listen to directions, they might lose a minute.

At the end of the week, the students are given free time on Friday.  They are allowed to use pattern blocks, computers, puzzles, etc for the amount of time that they earned [if they finished all their work].  Works like a charm!

Phew, that was a lot of information.  Are you still with me?  What does behavior management look like in your classroom?

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Do I Write About?

"I don't know what to write about!"  
Is that a common complaint in your classroom?  I created a graphic organizer for my students to fill in with writing topics that matter to them.  We fill in the chart at the beginning of the school year and they keep it in their Writing Folders all year.

Any time a student comes up to tell me that they have no ideas for Writer's Workshop, I tell them to check their chart:

Usually, at least something jumps out at them and they are off and writing!

Check it out for free in my {TpT} store!

I'm linking this freebie up with: 

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Learning the Facts with a Donation

One of the most important concepts in the Math Common Core for second graders is fact fluency.  They need to have those facts memorized!  I put together a product to help the students practice and to keep track of how the students are doing.

You start with a binder:

Inside, is a chart for the whole class.  Each time a student successfully memorizes a fact set, the teacher marks it off on the classroom chart.  It is a quick visual to see where each student stands.

I created a tab for each student:

Behind each tab, is a page for each set of facts.  I test the students in one set of facts each week.  I check off the facts that they get correct.

If a student gets all the facts right twice, they bump up to the next set of facts.  If they get one or more wrong, they get to take home a set of flash cards to study from the file bin:

Here are the flash cards that I use to test the students:

And I organized them in an index card bin:

Check it out!


Today, my husband and I participated in our 8th Walk to Defeat ALS walk together: 

We met at the walk 8 years ago.  A few months prior, my grandfather had passed away from ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease.  A couple years later, his father passed away from this horrible disease.  Needless to say, it is a cause near and dear to our hearts.

Since I finished my "Who Knows the Facts?" product today, I am going to donate all the proceeds that I make from this product through the end of September to the ALS Association of RI.  Please consider purchasing it, if only to donate to this cause.  I thank you so much!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Made-It!

I had a dilemma this year.  I started using the back wall of my classroom for our schedule and our Morning Message/notes board. My back wall, however, is a folding wall, so the white board does not have a ledge.  Where to put my markers and schedule cards?  

I used to have a plastic magnetic box, but I left a white board eraser in it over the summer and the eraser melted to the plastic - eww.  That idea was out the window.  Then I found this at Target on clearance: 

And, while I believe in peace, I'm not lovin the pastel peace signs for my classroom.  Time to paint!

Ok, so the orange (after 2 coats) didn't work out so well.  I decided to go with a dark blue and then cover it in polka dots to match my classroom!

So excited to hang them up in my classroom today!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Classroom Scavenger Hunt Freebie!

An activity that I have done every year with my students is a Classroom Scavenger Hunt.  I always do it the first few days of school to help the students get acclimated to their new classroom.  I have the students work with a friend and they walk around the classroom with a clipboard looking for things that fit the different categories.

Here are my kiddos in action this year:

They did such a great job working together!  I give them about 15-20 minutes to work on it.  If they finish early, I challenge them to find another thing in the classroom that fits each category.  I also let them know that it is okay if they don't finish.  At the end, I call them all to the rug and we go over some of the answers together.  A lot of times, they come up with things that I hadn't even thought of!

You can pick up this freebie in my {TpT} store!


I'm linking this freebie up with: 

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

I also decided to jazz up my Classroom Jobs a bit.  Here is a {really bad} picture of my jobs from last year: 

I display all the jobs on the board and each student has their own classroom number (which I use for everything!).  At the beginning of each month, I take down all the numbers and randomly call the students to change their job.  They then keep their job for the whole month.  I make sure they choose a job that they haven't already had so that everyone gets a chance to try something new.  I also let the students know they might not be able to do every job.  I've never had an issue with it!

In the packet, I included small job cards, large job cards, student numbers and teacher checklists to keep track of which student has done each job.

Check it out!



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