Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back To School and a Freebie!

The time has come.  Tomorrow morning, into my carefully prepared and clean classroom will come 23 smiling, excited faces.  Every year is different and with new kids and new combinations of kids, it's a little like a bubble gum don't know what you will get....but if you love bubble gum, it won't really matter....whatever you get will be wonderful.  So tomorrow comes and I'm mentally going through the day in my mind to be sure I didn't forget anything.  And if tomorrow is like every other "first day of school" I've experienced in my 22 years, it will take on a mind of it's own after about 15 minutes or so.  And I'll rethink, change, add to and take away from those perfectly prepared plans. 
So, this year, I want to make sure that I make my expectations clear to students.  We recently had a refresher meeting on behavior.  We are a PBIS school so we have a great plan in place that clearly states expectations to students.  What I took away from this meeting was that I need to continue to teach, teach again, reteach for the umpteenth time...the rules and expectations.  I don't like spending a lot of time talking about why we shouldn't talk in the hallway. I just tell them and expect them to remember .  Not the case!  I was reminded that we have to constantly reteach....reteach...reteach.  So I'm going to remind myself daily to find that positive talk and reteach as often as necessary.  After all, they are 7 years old.  And so, being the teacher that I am and probably you are too, I created a thing to help remind ME as well as students of expectations in our classroom and school.  I wrote it so that you can use the pages where students are writing quick response answers to questions about rules and procedures, or there is another version that asks students to draw a picture of what it looks like in the hallway, cafeteria, school bus, etc.  You can see it HERE.  I've included a free page of the book here for you for free!  Click here for the freebie!

I would love to hear your thoughts about the first day of school and about how you handle rules and behavior!  Please leave me some feedback.  And one more thing....tomorrow is coming! Let's make it the best year ever!

"Every child should have a caring adult in their lives. And that's not always a biological parent or family member. It may be a friend or neighbor. Often times it is a teacher." Joe Manchin

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cooperative Learning/ Classroom Seating Arrangements and a First Day of School Freebie!

I don't know about you but I like to change things up a bit in my classroom every year.  I think that the newness of it all kind of energizes me and helps motivate me.  I've moved bookshelves and my teaching table around.  I've reorganized my shelves and cabinets.  But, one thing that I usually do the same every year is the way I arrange my desks.  We had a presenter come to our school several years ago whose focus was cooperative learning.  After the workshop, I immediately ordered a book from Kagan Publishing.  You can visit their site by clicking HERE!  They have tons of resources and they are all wonderful.  I ordered the book Kagan Cooperative Learning.  You can see the book here.  This book is packed with ideas on how to build an environment in your classroom that encourages and supports cooperative learning.  There are many different kinds of learning experiences in this book.  It is a great investment if you want to use cooperative learning in your classroom.

One thing that I like from this book is the kind of seating arrangements that they use to encourage cooperative learning.  Today I am going to focus on seating arrangements.  I have tried  a lot of other ways but I always go back to this one.  First you need to level your kids from highest to lowest.  My school is a DIBELS school so I use their reading fluency scores.  You list the kids from highest score to lowest score.  Now, go down the list and count the first five names.  These are probably the top five kids in your room academically.  Now, count UP from the bottom and get the next five names.  These are the students that may need the most support.  Now, back to the top, go under the first five names you marked and count 5 more.  These are probably the "medium " high kids, and again, go to the bottom, start after the first five and mark the next five.  These are probably your middle/medium low kids.  The kids left in the middle are probably middle kids.  Now you are ready to assign seating. 
I've attached a drawing of how this all works.  The main idea is that a high kid sits beside a medium low kid.  High kids might not have the patience to work with a low kid.  Across the table, we have a medium high or middle beside a low kid.  The medium kids seem to be more patient with low kids.  The kid beside you is called your shoulder buddy.  So, when I assign kids to work on something with a partner I might tell them to work with their shoulder buddy.  **I have to say here that the kids don't know that this arrangement is about ability levels at all.  I think that this would not be good.  So next, we have face buddies.  Middle sits across from high.  Low sits across from medium low, so they are alike academically.  If something that we are doing is differentiated, face buddies would work well together.  So, I write numbers on their name tags (1,2,3 or 4) . If I want to group LIKE abilities, I call, for example.... all 1's meet at the back table, etc.   Sometimes after a lesson, I'll tell all 2's to go to one corner of the room, etc. and tell the kids to share something in their group of 2's that they learned.  The good thing about this system is that you won't have to worry about making groups of kids to do things.  They are already grouped into ability groups by number. You can make mixed groups by calling 1's and 2's meet, 3's and 4's meet, or 1's and 3's meet, etc.  I write the number onto their desk tag with a sharpie and we are ready to go.  If you try this, you will love it and will wonder why you haven't been doing this all along.  I have attached an example list of kids and abilities to show you how to group your class and I have also attached a drawing of the desks and their arrangements.  If you do this, please let me know how you like it!  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Now, we all know that sometimes certain kids CANNOT sit together and changes have to be made, but for the most part, this works beautifully and you can get down to teaching!    Click here to get the directions.

Now, the first day for me is quickly approaching.  You might already be back at school.  I made a first day of school "get to know me" kind of game that I'm putting on here for free!  Click here to get the free game.  Let me know what you think!

Ok, let's get ready! Time to go!
Monday, August 4, 2014

Back To School Sale, An Interactive Math Journal Freebie and Some Inspirational Reading!

It is finished!!!!!  I have been wanting to write an interactive math journal for awhile.  I started back in the spring and as of 10 minutes ago, IT IS FINALLY FINISHED!!!!!  It covers every standard in second grade Common Core Math.  I think the kids will love these activities.  They will be cutting, coloring and gluing WHILE they are doing math.  There are games, flashcards and flip books.  This journal is 252 pages and will last you all school year.  I have listed a freebie below for you.  It is a Race to $1.00 game.  Click HERE to get the freebie!  I hope your kids enjoy the game.  If you want to see the entire journal, click HERE to go to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Now, you may know that for today and tomorrow, Teachers Pay Teachers is having their Back To School Sale.  You can save as much as 28 % off of those products that you really need to start school. 
Now is the time to get Back To School Reading and Math Centers, click here, !0 Days of Back To School Math- this reviews all of First Grade Math, click here, Morning Work For August click here or for my Back To School Memory Book click here.  The great thing is that these items are on sale today and tomorrow!  Happy Shopping!
I'm excited about getting back into my room and getting things ready for the kids to return on August 25. It seems like summer only just started but before we know it, excited, happy kids will be coming in the classroom door.  I know that it is easy to become overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done.  This summer, I have been reading Awakened; Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching by Angela Watson.  This book is very inspiring and I have highlighted a few quotes that I plan to keep near this year to encourage myself! 
"Your mindset is ultimately the reason why you love teaching or despise it."
This is so true and Angela does a great job in this book of helping us see what are healthy thoughts and what kinds of thoughts will just bring us down.  We have a very important, valuable job but we have to admit, it is a very difficult job and the burnout rate is very high.  Angela reminds us to "reframe" negative thoughts, sort out what you know is true and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.  Gosh, I wish she would just come co teach with me!   Let me end with this quote from the book:
"How do some teachers cheerfully give their all day after day in the most troubled and challenging schools? They have optimistic explanatory styles.  They believe that good things are happening and worth focusing on, that problems will not last forever, and that their own efforts are making a positive difference.  The optimist sees setbacks as situation-specific, temporary and changeable."
Ok, so that is a challenge to us all as we approach the new school year.  Buckle up!  Here we go!
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Free End of School Acticvity....We did it!

Back in the summer, it seemed a long, long time away!  But now it is here for some of us and just around the corner for others.  We have worked hard, planned extensively, re-planned, laughed, cried? maybe, but  hopefully we have moved a group of sweet kids from point A to point B!  We all get them there in different ways.  If you have taught 2 years or 20 years, you are probably already thinking ahead to next year and what you will do to make it an even better year!  That's just who we are!  I would love to hear what you plan to do differently next year.  I think that I will try to differentiate instruction more for reading and math.  I think that it is important to reach each kid where they are.  I know it sounds impossible but I'm going to give it some serious thought this summer.  So, to celebrate the end of this school year, I'm making my end of the school year iremember book free for 24 hours!  If school is already out for you, print it for next year!  Click HERE for the free book.  Let me know how you like it!  Thanks for following me this school year!  One goal that I have is to blog MORE this summer and next school year!  Have an awesome summer!
Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I've Reached A Milestone! Get your freebie now!

So I've reached  a milestone in my TPT Store! Thank you all so much! I couldn't have done it without your help. To celebrate, I've made my Morning Work for May free until next Sunday, May 25.  Hop on over to my store and get your copy now!  You can click HERE!  This morning work has work for 20 school days.  Each week has four days of work with the fifth day being a test on that week's skills.  I have morning work for every month in the school year.  This morning work is a combination of grammar and math and only takes a few minutes for students to complete.  Check it out and if you like it, please leave me some comments!  Hang in there!  It's almost summer!
Monday, May 5, 2014

Free Mother's Day Poster and It's Time For A Sale!

It seems that Mother's Day always sneaks up on me.  And then I panic and then I ultimately come up with something cute.  I just made a poster that your kids can color/draw/write in for their moms for Mother's Day.  You can get a copy free by clicking HERE!  Here is a look at the poster.
I also have a basket of flowers craft and a coupon book for Mom if you need an easy and inexpensive idea for a gift.  They look like this:

You can look at those in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  Click HERE for the flower basket.  Click HERE for the coupon book.
Now, it is time for the Teachers Appreciation Sale on TPT. The sale is Tuesday and Wednesday so you don't want to miss out! I know my cart is filled and ready to go!  Don't forget to stock up on those things that you have been waiting to purchase.  I love this sale! 
So only 24 more school days until summer!  Now would be a great time to buy those Back to School Reading and Math Centers to get ready for the beginning of a new school year!  Happy Teaching!
Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fun With Measuring And Fun Spring Activities With A Freebie!

We are well into enjoying Spring in our classroom.  We have been working on measurement for a few weeks now.  We started with MD 1-6.  The kids really loved measuring each other with this activity from Amy Lemmons.  It's in her measurement pack.  I had the kids get with a partner and then take turns measuring each other with a tape measure and recording their measurements. 

This week we started 2.MD 9-10 which is collecting and using data to make line plots and answer questions about them.  The kids LOVE going around the room and asking all of their classmates their favorite color, ice cream flavor, etc.  We played SCOOT on Tuesday.  Each kid gathered data.  They went around the classroom and measured 12 different objects using inches.  They used this information to make a line plot.  After that, we all wrote the same three questions about the graph.  Next, we played SCOOT.  Each student sat in every desk and answered the same three questions about the graph on each desk.  I think by the time they went to 21 desks and answered questions, they were pros in reading line plots.  They love getting up and moving around!  This measurement unit is full of fun graphing activities. It has lesson plans, a student book, quizzes and homework.  Here is a look at the entire unit. 
You can get it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking HERE!
So Easter is next week.  It's hard to believe that we are there already!  It's one of my favorite times at school and I love that second graders still love to hide and hunt eggs.  I usually let the boys hide eggs for the girls and then the girls hide eggs for the boys.  After we finish, we divide the eggs up equally so that everyone gets to take home the same amount of eggs and candy.  It works really well for us.  I love making this cute bunny every year too!  We wrote an imaginative narrative last week.  The Easter Bunny left us a note telling us that he had a cold and couldn't deliver the eggs.  He needed us to help so the kids wrote a story about making the eggs and delivering them.  Then they made this cutie!

If you want the pattern for the bunny, it is in my TPT store.  If you want the entire writing pack, it is in my store as well.  Click HERE for the Bunny.  If you want the entire writing unit, click HERE!This unit has activities for the three types of writing that is required in the Second Grade Common Core ELA Standards.  There is a narrative activity, informational and persuasive writing activities with decorative paper to write the completed stories on as well as the pattern for the cute bunny. 
Now for the feebie. I needed a quick writing activity that would brighten up the room and bring spring inside!  I made this quick "Top Ten" list about Spring.  We brainstormed things that we love about Spring and then the kids wrote their top 10 favorite things and drew a picture to go with it.  Here is a look at how they turned out.
This activity is included in my April Printables for Spring.  I've attached it for you for FREE!
Click HERE to get the writing activity.  If you download, I would love some feedback!
That is all for now.  We are almost to Easter Break!  It won't be long until we are all soaking up the sun and relaxing!  Happy Spring! Happy Easter!