Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Clipopoly FREEBIE

Last night was Open House at my daughter's middle school (ugh - middle school mom?).  I was happily surprised to find so many creative things going on at the middle school level!

In social studies, the teacher was planning an introductory lesson to early civilizations, in which students would either be hunters or farmers, and would have to compete to survive.

I saw lots of interactive note-booking or journaling planned, and loved the fact that teachers at that level were using so many of the same types of teaching that we use in elementary school - at least that part of middle school transition will be easy!

In English, I saw a Homeworkopoly bulletin board.  I've somehow missed that on Pinterest, and wanted to take a photo, but I think my daughter would have died, on the spot, of mortifying embarrassment.  I mentioned it at school today and found that it's all over Pinterest.  I don't really have any trouble getting my kids to do their homework, so my thought was Clipopoly, as an added incentive for their already great behavior!
I can't wait to print this out in the morning, on our poster-maker.  It's 24 x 24 inches, and I made player chips and rules to go with it, too.  I'm sharing it for FREE for the next 24 hours only on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Click {here} to get your free copy while they last!

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Workshop Wednesday Post-It Note BIG IDEAS

Today I'm linking up with Jessica over at Ideas by Jivey for Workshop Wednesday.

She and I think so much alike it's scary!  I'm teaching a new second grade program in our district this year, especially designed to target reading, writing, and math skills for those students who just need that extra little push to keep from falling through the cracks.  Jessica teaches fourth grade ELA and history (my personal favorites).  But we both taught about using post-it notes this week to help track student thinking during reading workshop. Jivey's students' post-it notes are way more advanced than mine.  This is only our second day of second grade, so that's to be expected, obviously!

We've been reading Chrysanthemum this week.
Yesterday, I realized my students did not know what text-to-self connections were, so we used post-it notes to practice making some connections.  Since this was our first attempt, I gave each student a few notes, explained that they didn't have to use them all, or put them on each page, but that when the book reminded them of something in their own experience, to write their initials on the sticky note, and stick it on the page. I thought it was way too much to actually write the connection, at this point.  They worked in groups of three, sharing copies of the book.  Although I'd already read the story out loud earlier in the day, I showed it on United Streaming and let them follow along in the books.  Every single student "got it"!  They all made connections with Chrysanthemum's feelings and experiences, compared to their own, and they were pretty good ones, too, not superficial, like "Chrysanthemum goes to school and I go to school."  I explained that we were looking for BIG IDEAS.
They had connections like, "When Victoria made fun of Chrysanthemum's name, it reminded me of when I went to daycare, and the kids made fun of my name because they'd never heard it before," and, "When Chrysanthemum had that bad dream, it reminded me of a really bad nightmare I had." WOW!

Early this summer, our local Office Depot was remodeling, and had a huge clearance sale.  One of my best finds was huge (maybe 18 x18 inches) Post-It Notes in pads of 50, for like $2.  I decided to use these huge post-it's for post-it note anchor charts during post-it note lessons.  Yesterday, I made our first Post-It Anchor Chart that says you can use post-it's to make connections about yourself and the text.

Today, we reread Chrysanthemum, and thought about how Chrysanthemum's feelings changed during the story.  We used a Beginning/Middle/End graphic organizer to draw her face and write a sentence about her feelings, with evidence from the text. Whoa!  Heavy stuff for 2nd day of 2nd grade!  My babies did a GREAT job!  They found the exact spots that told how happy Chrysanthemum was about her name, when she changed her mind and why, and exactly when and why she changed her thoughts again.  We added Character Analysis to our Post-It Note Anchor Chart today, leaving room for other connections later.  I have to say, I am absolutely thrilled with this launch of our reading workshop!
Link up to tell us about your reading workshop ideas.  I love learning from my blogging buddies!
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Whooo's Ready to See My Classroom?

I finally did it!  If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen some of these pics, but if not, here is the Whooo's Wild About Second Grade Safari:
So, my new room's smaller, but I love it now that it's done!  This is the view from the doorway to the hall. We all were upgraded to Polyvision boards last year.  They make Promethean boards look like slate boards!  In this room, I have a TON more whiteboard left over, too.
Here's the view of my two little windows.  I LOVE them, and especially the fact that they could be open in August in South Carolina!!!  My friend Jennifer helped me hang the bunting, and thought of the flowers at each point.  She's so talented!

Pretty much my whole back wall here - you're just missing some file cabinets.  I'm in total love with the WALL SPACE I have in this room!

Our school theme is We're WILD About Learning, so I went with the safari take on that.  My "noodle" tree, inspired by Deanna Jump's has the whole umbrella under all those leaves.  I found the little shutter at Goodwill, added some silk leaves, and thought it helped the fact that my tree is planted in a cardboard box (a lot!).  I will be adding student photos to the circles you see.  They cover clothespins to hold student work on display.

Speaking of Goodwill, my find of the year is this formerly hideous grey/tan plastic mailbox/sorter thing.  It was ONE DOLLAR!  It's in four pieces, so I took it apart and spray painted each a different color.  Guess how many kids I have?  Yep, twelve.  Perfect!

Well, that looks a little messier than I'd like, but it's coming along.  This is my bookshelf behind the famous hide it all table.  I keep all my teaching materials there, for the most part, along with notebooks, teaching resources, etc.
Our cabinetry has built in display shelves, which I just love.  These are some little gifts from students over the years, along with my sub tub, and a family photo.
Even though that bulletin board is blank, this back area will become a working math station (in front of the cubbies) and writing station to the right.  Y'all remember my stools are floor wax buckets from the summer cleaning.  I just upholstered the tops!
The most compliments I've received have been about this library area.  I have to say I love it, too.  My Goodwill bookshelves turned out so cute with zebra wrapping paper hot glued on, then covered in contact paper, and my Dollar General $11 "love seat" is a hit with everyone.  I'll soon have computers where that printer is currently.
I had to show you that bulletin board covered with all the sweetness that came my way at the end of last year.  All those cards are from parents and kiddos, and I've kept them to remind me of those sweeties.

Well, there it is!  Today was the first day for students, and my class ROCKED!  They were excited to be back at school, paid really good attention, and they seem to all work well together so far, too.  It's gonna be a great year!

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Teacher Week Tips and Tricks & B2S SALE!!!

Friday?  Already?  It's hard to believe how quickly this week has flown by, but here it is - Friday night...time for my number one tip for teachers:

On the first day of school, when all the kiddos arrive, all excited to see their friends, unpack all their new supplies, and choose a desk beside their best bud, let them do 2 out of 3.  Which ones?  I always let my kids pick their own seats the first day.  We immediately get seeing friends out of the way and I immediately know who needs to be separated.

But that leaves all those lovely new supplies!  I have a big sign up that says, "Find a seat, begin coloring the cover sheet (I hand out black and white packets, not color) of your Back to School Packet, and DO NOT UNPACK ANYTHING!"  

This is the real tip.  *I take up every single thing every single student has brought in.*  We do it very systematically while working in those B2S packets.  I call for each student to bring me their crayons.  I label them with their names, hand one box back, and keep the other.  Next, it's notebook paper.  I just take all of that and put it in a big basket.  Markers, composition books, binders, and all the rest follow this same procedure.  I either keep it or label it and give some back.  We set up our binders together, with agendas, a poly two-pocket folder, a little bit of notebook paper, and their Weekly Progress Binder inserts.  

The purpose for all my hoarding? I've taken note, over the years, that if I let kids keep all their new supplies, they are either lost, gone, torn, broken, or written/drawn all over within a week or so.  So, I take it all up, and dole it all out, whenever anyone needs anything.  Not only does it save parents' valuable money in replacing supplies, but the idea of sharing is one I cling to dearly, and because I spend over $1,000 each year on supplies, too, I think of everything as "ours".  Now, if someone has special pencils, or anything not on our supply list, that's different. They keep that - I'm not a total thief!  But a yellow number 2 pencil is a yellow number 2 pencil, and a box of 24 Crayola crayons is a box of 24 Crayola crayons.  Notebook paper is notebook paper, and page protectors, well, you get the idea.  It's just far easier for me, and my students, if I have most everything they need, and they know where it all is, and just get it when they need it!  Plus, I really love my table buckets. I've had them for years (bought at Garden Ridge maybe ten years ago), and they still look good, and work perfectly!
Each bucket goes in a tray, where students can store their work-in-progress folders during the day, and each table has a trash can, so we aren't up every two seconds throwing something away.

Now, about that sale, get your groove on at Teachers Pay Teachers' Annual Back to School Sale THIS WEEKEND!
Thanks to Krista at The Creative Chalkboard for the cute sale sign!
Be sure to check out all the great deals, enter the code BTS13 for an extra 10% off, while you clean out those wishlist items!

Have a great weekend...
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Taming the Wild: Teacher Week Day 4

If Max could tame these Wild Things, I know we can all do a great job with our sweeties!  I met my students today, some for the first time, others, I knew.  I didn't notice any monsters (see above), or even any wild things at all, but just in case, here are my classroom management plans:
First of all, I LOVE Class Dojo!  My kids love it, too.  If you haven't found your mojo yet, check out Class Dojo!  Click the logo above.  Class Dojo allows you to enter each child's name into a software application that you can connect to your i pad, cell phone, and laptop to award behavior points.  Parents can login, with a unique code for each child, to check their progress, and a beautiful individual report is available to print weekly.  Also, at the end and beginning of each day, you can review the day's points by class, individual, or by behaviors to set goals for the new day!  My favorite feature is that after a few days with the site showing on your board, the kids get used to the positive and negative sounds.  Then, you can leave the program up and running, but not showing on your board, and still give those points.  Let me tell you, if either the positive or negative sound is heard, every single child is immediately perfectly behaved, because they have no idea who just earned the positive (or negative) point!

Secondly, I use the clip chart system by Rick Morris, with a little color change.  If you're not familiar with the clip chart, I suggest reading his free e-book {here}, and if you've thought about the clip chart, but you just still love that flippin' a card chart, you should really read the e-book!  The best thing I can say about the clip chart is that everyone starts out on an even scale, and throughout the day, has the opportunity to earn both positive and negative feedback.  It really goes hand-in-hand with Class Dojo, which is perfect for me!  The clip chart and Class Dojo have moved my focus away from negative behaviors ("flip a card!") to really taking note of positive behaviors, and that is SO much more effective!  PLUS, those kids who always do the right thing, actually get rewarded, not just ignored.  The chart above is one I send home, as an explanation to parents.  In my room, the descriptors are not listed, just the colors and headings.  I also just made the walking clip chart, which I can't wait to use.  It's too easy to believe:  use a yard stick, paint it like the clip chart, and put your clips on it.  It goes in the hallway with you, to the cafeteria, to related arts, even on fire drills!  No more trying to remember who needs to move a clip up or down when we get back to our room - it's on the spot!
Thirdly, we're a class of bucket fillers, and I just love that!  When I see kids doing nice things for each other, it warms my heart, and I know it does theirs, too.

Lastly, we work really hard at the beginning of the year, and revisit whenever needed, just plain old doing the right thing, even when no one is looking, because it's the right thing to do.  I think, more than anything, that expression sinks in, makes kids stop and think, and makes a lasting impression.  And isn't that what teaching is really all about?  I think we all probably teach because we want our world to be a better place, and that begins with education, but must include just plain being nice to each other and doing the right thing!

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Organized for Instruction

First, I'll admit it.  I lied yesterday.  I am NOT finished with my classroom, and I do NOT have photos to share with you, but that awful tree IS gone!  As it turns out, my first "official" day back at school was spent mostly in meetings, so I think I spent about an hour in my actual classroom.

Now, as for organization, my OCD is all over it!
If you have upper and lower cabinets, use one set of upper, per subject, for your teaching manuals, other professional books on that subject, teaching kits and materials, and mentor texts.  Use the lower cabinets, directly below, for any charts, manipulative materials, activities, etc. for the same subject.  In other words, organize by subject first, then by "stuff".
This photo from last year is super blurry, because I tried to crop it closely and enlarge it, but if you look very, very carefully, just under the doors on the cabinet trim under the handles of each set of cabinets, there is a label that identifies the subject area.  These two say "Reading/ELA" and "Math".  These were my upper cabinets, so just below them, under the countertop, were all my Reading/ELA props, games, big books, charts, etc. and all my Math materials, anchor charts, games, etc.  I also loved double using the cabinets as my word wall, because I had literally zero wall space last year.

Baskets are your Friend!  I have all kinds of baskets and bins, mostly from the Dollar Tree or Dollar General, even the Mighty Dollar, that hold every little thing.  Each one is labeled and they hold like items, so, in my science cabinet (at the bottom, of course) are several clear 10 gallon totes, each labeled with a particular unit.  Everything I need to teach about animals is in one, matter in another, etc.  Those containers all match.  

 In addition to my teacher toolbox, on my personal bookshelf, I have flat baskets labeled "to grade", "to file", "to copy", and "volunteer".  These hold all kinds of papers, and are all the same size, but are different colors.  I've had them forever, and I LOVE them!  I have used them for my students, too.  They have had "green folder", "math homework", "spelling homework", and "classwork" baskets.  But this year, I have my wonderful Goodwill find, with 12 slots (and I'll only have 12 students), so I'm going to try having each student have a slot there, instead.

Each of my students has a "personal library bin" to store several books from my classroom library in for a week at a time.  The classroom library is also divided into bins.
These are for students to
keep in their cubbies
These are all labeled by genre,
topic, author, etc., on my shelves.
 Even inside my students' desks, there are baskets, used as drawers:
{source - Pinterest} mine are a little different.
Inside my storage closet, are all kinds of labeled baskets, too, for school supplies.
I have a lot of learning file folder games in this storage unit that holds bins like drawers, too.
When all else fails, use a tablecloth!  Under this table, I can hide clutter, in a pinch, if some kind of emergency arises, like a surprise visit from someone ultra-important!  You can see lots more baskets on the bookshelf, too.  It's part of the obsession.

I am loving my teacher binder this year, and have also created student binders, so my students can stay on top of things too.  You can click the pictures here to get your copy of each!

With everything labeled, and in its place, I can find things so easily, not waste one minute of instructional time, and even my volunteers and students know where everything is, so they can help grab anything at any given moment.  Now, Teach!  (well, next week, anyway)

Visit {my TPT store} for all those labels I talked about, the teacher toolbox I use, and more organizational tools!

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Classroom Digs???

My classroom digs are on hold until tomorrow.  I went in to school today, but all I finished was my door, hung my curtains, and finished painting my "walking clip chart".  And, although I have a NEW PHONE (!!!!!), I only took one photo as I was walking out the door to take Clare to the doctor.  I promise to finish tomorrow, and to take photos.
My classroom library is somewhat done, but I realized I HATE
that tree and vine, once I took a picture of it, so down it comes tomorrow,
I went to Dollar General on my way home and bought pool noodles
to make the really good palm trees I have pinned!
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll remember the phone saga from {here} and {here}.  I finally beat the Verizon people down and actually got my upgraded phone 10 whole days early (she said with a touch of sarcasm).  I'm so happy I could dance!  In fact, when I was in Las Vegas last week, I actually accidentally dropped that old piece of junk on a concrete floor, and it fell apart into four pieces, but DID NOT BREAK! I was totally mad and slammed it down on the floor four more times, but was unable to break the dumb thing.  Needless to say, I'm a happy owner of a new Samsung Galaxy s 3 (see?  I didn't even want the new one!).

To my readers from yesterday, Clare's appointment was uneventful today.  The neurosurgeon ordered an MRI to be able to tell us if she'll need another tethered cord release surgery.  Thank you for your comments, prayers, and concerns!  We're hanging in there, trusting in our Lord.

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