Sunday, December 1, 2013

I'm Thankful For...

A Thankful Idea (borrowed from a colleague)

A few years ago, I taught next door to a wonderful lady that always had a way of making her students feel so loved and welcome.  One of the many things she did was during Thanksgiving time.  One Monday morning, we would walk up to the doorway and find a poster similar to this.  She did it every year and each statement was personalized for each individual student.  I began this tradition for the first time last year and my students LOVED it.  They spend so much time reading my comments about each of our classmates.  They walk in with smiles abound!  This year, I decided to pounce on all that love that my poster created and get them to fill in a Thankful For Our Classmates sheet.  We are going to bind them and put them into a class book that everyone can read.  This will be a great way to fill our buckets whenever we need it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

THANKful for New Ideas

Let's see...5 + 6 + 2...  Has it really been 13 years!?? I have been teaching for 13 years and I love that I can find new ideas and try them out.  Every year I start out with a list of new ideas I found over my summer blog hops.  Now that I am joining this wonderful world of sharing ideas, my list just keeps growing and growing.  I am so excited to see such wonderful new ideas on the Blog Hoppin' Linky Party.
So here's what topped my list this year:

Where in the WBT have you been all my life?

Whole Brain Teaching!!  I found this towards the end of last year and tried to use some of it.  This year I am making a better effort to try to include this style in at least some of my subject areas.  My kids love it and really seem to be learning. I am hoping that the more comfortable I get with it, the easier it will come as a natural teaching style for me.  If you haven't seen what WBT is all about -- just google it and there are lots of resources most of which are free (or click WBT in my subtitle to take you to the WBT website) and tons of youtube videos.  Here is one of my favorites.  She is amazing!
Of course, I also found some great posters and resources at TPT (most of which are free).
I found these posters for free on TPT as well as some smart board lessons & power points.

 All you have to do is put it into the search box and find the resources that work best for you!!

Classroom Economy

I have always been a learner.  You might call me one of those life-long learners.  I secretly enjoy doing all that professional development that districts send us to.  Shhh!  I only share that passion with my students.  That being said, one of the many SD's I attended when I taught in Irving, TX stuck with me.  It was put on by another teacher in the district.  She taught 3rd grade and had a complete classroom economy up and running.  I thought it was such a fantastic idea.  Unfortunately, I taught 1st grade and didn't think it would work quite as well with that younger age.  This summer I began researching and found several resources.  I figured I could try and implement this concept into my classroom now that I feel so comfortable in my grade level.  It is up and running.  My kiddos LOVE it.  We started at the beginning of the year during procedures.  Instead of just introducing jobs and rotating students, we discussed what jobs would help keep our classroom going.  Then we listed them and the duties tied to each (of course I encouraged some that I specifically wanted).  The students actually applied for the jobs they wanted with a job application.  I chose them based on their applications and some teacher recommendations for certain, more responsibility required jobs.  I also determined pay rates, bonus opportunities, fines, and rent amounts.  The students are really learning about saving, spending, needs, wants, etc.  We have auctions with different types of things to buy (lunch with a friend in the classroom,  treasure chest items, computer time, show & tell day, slippers in the classroom, change seats for the day, etc.).  We have typical classroom jobs but we also added a banker, police officer, and team manager.  
Each student has an Economy Folder to hold their money and info sheets

Found this awesome product HERE

Our cash box
It's definitely a work in progress and I am learning as I go.  Keep in touch to find out how it goes.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

THANKful for Activities Like...

Landform Sculptors

I can't take credit for this idea.  Last year was my first year at my current school.  Later in the year, we had a teaching objective that focused on different types of landforms and continents & oceans.  My team sent out a request for playdough in brown, turquoise/blue, green, and light brown/beige.  They even attached a recipe for those creative parents that wanted to create their own instead of buying.  The amount of donated playdough was HUGE!!  After our study of various landforms and continents & oceans, we gave students a workmat (my students used manilla folders and other teachers gave them cardstock).  Students were encouraged to create their own continent.  On it they had to include at least 4 different landforms.  Most were so eager and excited that they included all the landforms.  We even used small labels and toothpicks to label the different landforms and name of the continent.

Old School Character Masks

Yup -- that's right.  I took it back to the old school days of making characters.  I usually do a character pumpkin around the end of October like so many other teachers and I decided I wanted a change.  A collegue of mine had an old printout for instructions to make a mask out of a wire hanger and pantyhose.  We used it to create a project that students focused on a character from a book they read.  We spent our time learning about character traits and how to understand characters in books.  The students then chose a character and completed a project.  They presented their characters with great detail about what they are like and what they did in the story to prove that trait.  And of course they brought along the mask.  It was so much fun and a great change from pumpkins.

Turkey Settings

Not too long after the character mask focus, we jumped into analyzing a story's setting.  We really dove into how authors use describing to help a reader picture a setting.  We were simultaneously working on creating our own stories and developing setting details.  This project has them write a story about a turkey and develope a setting for him/her.  They created a visual representation for the turkey character and where the story takes place.  You can grab this Talkin' Turkey project at my TPT store.

This one lived in a refrigerator - teehee

& this one lived in a bubble!

Stop by Blog Hoppin' for some more THANKful Activities.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My 1st Linky Party

We Are THANKful Linky Party!

I decided to join my first Linky Party.  And...I'm arriving fashionable late.  So I will play catch up and post both Monday's & today's ideas.  I have always loved so many of these ladies blogs as a go-to for ideas and tips.  Now they are joining forces as Blog Hoppin, and having a 'We Are Thankful' Linky Party.

We Are THANKful for:


Every time I turn around, my job has another great technology resource available.  But with the excitement, along comes the dreaded need for ANOTHER userID and password.  I try to keep my login information as close to each other as possible but I began to lose track after my list of various resources continued to grow.  I can only imagine that I was complaining about it one day to a fellow colleague and she showed me her list.  A-ha!!  Why didn't I think of that?  So I created a word document that had a list of all the school resources we have usernames and passwords for and I keep it on my "Handy Dandy" Clipboard.  
 Of course, it is clipped to one of my clipboards that has several other important documents and so it get's lost in the stack.  So -- I added a small, blue paper clip to it on it's lower right hand corner and it allows my fingers to find that specific page in a quick second when I am logging on to BrainPopJr or some other great resource.

Helpful Hints

#1 - "Handy Dandy" Clipboards
Let's refer back to those "Handy Dandy" clipboards I mentioned above.  I had a colleague that always to carry around a clipboard.  She kept lots of various important lists, schedules, forms, etc.  I started with just one and my clipboard fascination has evolved to 4 this year.  I found some really cute animal print clipboards at Walmart this summer and grabbed them.  Each clipboard holds certain important things I might need in hand quickly.  This has allowed me to not have to dig through piles to find these items (which was something you might see me do often before).  One clipboard holds my lesson plan, class schedule, class list, student ID numbers, transportation info, my login document, and other VIP papers that pertain to my daily needs.  I have another clipboard that I keep records of grading, rubrics, check-off sheets, class-at-a-glance assessment/progress scores, etc.  The third clipboard holds all the documents my students and I use to keep our Classroom Economy/Behavior Management System running smoothly.  The last one has been used as my schedule & information for volunteers that come into the classroom to help.  I'm pretty sure I could find uses for more, however that is what I am using right now.  

#2 Math Fact Rings
Another helpful tidbit that I can't believe I didn't start before is my fact card rings.  I saw a pin for this idea over the summer, so I created some printable flash cards.  I keep them stored on binder rings by sets.  The students check out the set they are working on and keep it hung on a hook I put on their desk.  They can grab the ring of flash cards at any point in the day when they are finished with assignments.  This allows for practice all throughout the day and it is differentiated for their focus at that time.

#3 Baskets on Desks
I'm sure most teachers have some sort of set up with materials on table groups.  In the past, I have had community supplies as well as individual supplies.  I have now evolved to having some community and some individual.  For example, they each store their own crayons, colored pencils, scissors, and markers in their desks but I have collected all the dry erase markers and pink erasers.  I put these in the baskets on each table group and they use them as they need to.  But the best part about my baskets is the sets of books I keep out.  My class has their own book bag with books from the classroom library they have checked out for the week.  They are always welcomed to grab their bags for reading when they have down time.  However, I have found that they love to also just grab a book from the baskets.  I have several books on various levels and various genres.  I also include the science readers that our district discontinued a few years ago.  My kiddos really do sometimes just dive into the various readers at their table and love to share what they find in them like vocabulary words, spelling patterns, and other concepts we've covered.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Idioms (or shall I say Literal vs- Non-Literal Meanings)

Alright - our school-wide focus is on how to translate the state objectives and create high rigor lessons that really meet the expectation of learning.  So after lots and lots of thinking and searching for great resources, I found some great learning ideas to go along with Literal & Non-Literal meanings.  I found a fun idea about introducing idioms to the students by letting them use alphabet cereal to create words and then telling them to "eat their words."  I didn't find Post Alpha-bits cereal at our local store so I settled for alphabet shaped cookies.  My kiddos were so excited and inventive in finding ways to make letters of words they wanted to spell.
 Look at that LONG vocabulary word!!

 She created the letters she needed with pieces of cookies!!

When I told them that now I wanted them to "eat their words," they were excited because who doesn't love a snack but it also led us into a great discussion about what that phrase can also mean.  Throughout the days we spent talking about idioms, we referred back to ourselves LITERALLY eating our words often!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More In My Store

I came home today as soon as I could make it out of the parking lot.  It seems as though I've caught a little something from my lovely teenagers.  I HAVE to be at school tomorrow so I came home, took more meds, and hopped in bed.  After a quick nap, I then got on the computer and added some more to my TPT store.  I wanted to put out a few more items that could just be needed separately such as: flash cards and timed tests.  Stop by and take a look.  Now I'm going back to the medicine cabinet and try and take care of this cold.

Click HERE to go to my TPT store.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My first TPT product is finally available!!

Introducing...FEAR FACTOR!

Hello friends.  This is my day of firsts.  Today will be the first day I post to my blog and the first day I publish my original creation on TPT.  I have had this goal set since the end of last school year and it just seems that so many other things took over.  But, big thanks to my hubby -- Dennis for pushing forward with the work I began and getting my idea onto the computer and ready to share. <3

Click HERE to visit my TPT store for this product

So here's the scoop.  I have come across some great ideas to help my kiddos master their addition and subtraction facts, but it just didn't seem that I could get them exactly where I wanted.  I decided to put together some of those great ideas and create a yearlong challenge to get them motivated and moving through mastery of those facts!  My 2nd graders no longer feared those puppies.  Last year, I had such a great success with my creation.  Parents are still telling me how great their child did and excited they were. I decided to make it cute and bring it to life to share with others.  But, boy oh boy, I did not realize how daunting the task would be.
Brag Shirts & Awards

The Fear Factor Challenge works like this.  We start with +0's and go from there.  Students work their way through each set of addition facts until they are all mastered and they can successfully complete a mixed timed test.  After addition, it is on to subtraction facts and so it goes.  By the end of the year most are so successful with both addition and subtraction that they even begin working on those dreaded multiplication facts awaiting them the next year.  The excitement is so great.  It's even hard to contain it on here.  Wait...I haven't even told you about the BIG celebration!  At the end of the year, we have a proper "FearFactor" challenge to end our climb (Miley's song just popped in my head as I typed the word: climb").  Students who have met certain goals in their challenge climb are then given the opportunity to challenge themselves one last time..."Fear Factor" style.  Awards are given and even brag shirts are distributed.  It was such a long work in the making but awarding their accomplishments was the best reward for me.
Our "Fear Factor" Feast of Challenges

I'm so excited to finally be able to share this with you.  Hope you find it to be as much fun and filled with the same success as I did.

<3 ReddishAnn