Thursday, July 26, 2012

Getting to know you! Sharing....

Every year, I want to get to know my students's part of that critical relationship building that needs to happen in your classroom in order for your room to work as a classroom community. 

I always bring in something to show my kids a little bit about me first.  A few years ago my family and I went to Boston and I brought in pictures and a bobble head to share with my students.  That year I sent this note home and had them bring in one object a day.  I sent it on a rotating basis - picking on name out of the star sticks randomly and gave them this ticket to communicate with the parents.

Most years I send home a paper bag with instructions stapled to it.  This is actually something we do school wide from Kinders to 5th grade!  I still pick names randomly and give them the paper bags the day before so they won't forget.  Expectations are critical for both students and parents.

Again, I start with my bag.  I decorate it and fill it with five objects that tell a little about me.
    To The Moon and Back
  1. I always have a book that I am currently reading (NOT 50 Shades!  ha ha)
  2. I put a small magnifying glass in the bag...because I am known for loving science!
  3. I put a dog toy for my puppy Peyton. 
  4. I include a shell from my love of the Rivah (We have a house near the Chesapeake Bay)
  5. Last but not least is a picture of my grandmother, Mimi, who was a teacher and who inspired me to go into teaching in the first place!

You can get the instructions for FREE here...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Routines for the end of the day

Have you ever noticed that there are always a million things to do after school?  Have you, like me, watched enviously as some teachers walk out the door when the last kid does...while you still face a million things to do to be ready for the next day? It's all about being prepared...the time you put in before the day starts, they better your classroom will run and the more your students will learn!

Several years ago I started this after-school daily jobs list...and it has helped me to get items completed quickly and with help from my students.  This teaches responsibility! 

At the end of the day, I have my late bus students look over the list.  Each child picks a job that they can help with at the end of the day to help me get on track for tomorrow. 

What ever they don't help me with, I can easily see what I need to do to be PREPARED...

You can download it for FREE here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Art Supplies...routines

  Yikes! This is not how I want my art supplies to look in the classroom.  But by October, many of us start to lose the newnest of our class supplies and they do start to look like that. Yuck.

How can we make sure that doesn't happen?  By teaching routines and practicing of course. 

One of the important practices that we should all do that first 30 days is TEACH our kids HOW to take care of supplies.

Classroom Freebies TooMany of us have spent HOURS creating cute baskets with this one I found on Pinterest from .

But have we TAUGHT kids how to TAKE CARE of supplies?

I have created another page for your teacher binder on routines.

It is available for FREE here! 

By the way, I am heading out of town for a few days to celebrate my parent's 50th wedding anniversary....

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Made-It....Early Finisher Board

Have you seen this idea from Shelly Gray?  I am so excited to have purchased this kit for the year! Yes, the entire year! should I explain you ever have students who finish quickly? Do you ever need something to keep them busy and engaged?  This board is an amazing idea that is simple and uses activities that are engaging and meaningful. 

How does it work?  Well first you need to set up the board into seven sections: Journal it, draw it, make it, solve it, do it, read it and write it. The headings stay the same all year, but the activities change every two weeks. 

For Journal It!  You have three journal prompts written on strips that you cut apart and put in the small pockets.  The students pick the prompt they want (choice!) and glue it into their Early Finisher Journal as the heading...then they write.

Other activities have reading passages, math problems, activities to create, maps to make, etc...

In the words of Shelly Grey....

**This resource is also sold in eight-week packages; however, you will save $10 by purchasing the Complete 40 Weeks together. Also, with this complete package you will receive an 80+ page supplementary file of extra activities at easier and more difficult levels. (This Supplementary Package is not included with the individual packages). If you would like to check out the individual packages, please see the links below:
Weeks 1-8

I am so excited to have it made and can not wait to use it this year!  Keep posted for more ideas of how to use it, who should help you and how it works!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

First 30 Days...bathroom proceedures.

I started off writing these tips as they were introduced each day...the tip for today, does not come on day four...rather on day one.  How do you manage going to the bathroom? Here is how I introduce it:

Activity:  Bathroom procedures:  This year we are far away from the bathroom so we will really need to pick appropriate times to go.  Let’s talk about when you think it is a good time to go.  I will take a class break before specials and after lunch.  When we go as a class, what do you think I expect you to do?  Come up with a class list of rules for the bathroom to resemble something like this:

1.       Wait your turn: quickly and quietly

2.       Use the bathroom; quickly and quietly

3.       Wash your hands; quickly and quietly

When else do you think you might need to go during the day?  What kind of policy should we have in place?  List times and discuss when it is okay to take a break.  What do I expect you to do? Make a class list of rules that are appropriate (walk to the bathroom, don’t fool around, come right back).  Model the bathroom procedures now.

If you want your own copy, you can download it here for Free.

Other ideas I have found this summer on blogs that I am going to implement in the fall. 
CLutter Free Classroom has some excellent ideas including bathroom cards.  This is a great visual that shows who is out of the classroom as well as keeping it clear that only one girl at a time can go during independent time. 

She also has a great post about keeping data on when and who is going to the bathroom daily. 
You can find those on her website as well.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

First 30 Days...Good listening

Working on routines for the first 30 days is crucial for classroom management.  If you want a classroom full of engaging activities, you need to teach students how to handle it first! 

So for day three, we will focus on Good Listening skills.

Say: Many times during the year you will need to listen to your teacher when they are talking.  You will also need to listen to other classmates during class discussions.  You may even want classmates to listen to you.  What are some important things to remember when listening to a speaker?

Create: As a group brainstorm what good listener's look like, sound like, act like on an anchor chart.

Model:  With a student volunteer, model telling a personal narrative about a pet animal. Have the volunteer show what a good listener looks like.

Practice:  Have the teacher read a book to the group, like Martha Speaks,  while the students practice good listening skills.  At the end, practice Turn and Talk with a partner telling a personal narrative about a pet.

Reflect:  What did we do well? What should we work on to improve next time?

If you want to download this for your Back to School Binder, it is available for FREE here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Routines and Procedures: Turn and Talk

One of the procedures that I use in each and every content area is Turn and Talk.  This strategy is used throughout the day - at whole group meeting time, at tables during class discussions as well as in small group. In order for it to be done correctly, it must be introduced correctly.  If not, it may be misused as social me! (Been there, done that!)

How to introduce it?  In our new Benchmark Reading series First 30 Days they suggest you introduce it and model it like this:

Say... "We will be using a thinking strategy called "Turn and Talk" throughout the year.  When I ask you to Turn and Talk to your neighbor, I need you to sit knee to knee and face each other.  You will share an idea based on a question or topic that I assign you to discuss."

Model:  With a student show how you want them to sit (knee to knee; face to face).

Practice:  "With your partner, discuss why it is important to listen to your partner." 

Reflect: Why is it important to listen to your partner?  Share responses as well as appropriate noise level expectations.

Practice:  Share with your partner a memory you have with your family.

Reflect and Close:  While the students are sharing, listen.  At the close, say "I heard _________ 's story about his/her family. Would you like to share it with the group?"  Then practice dismissing and returning to seats with your chime or bell signal.

For a FREEBIE that you can print and include in your back to school binder, click here!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Routines and Proceedures to Get You Going...

I  think I mentioned that our county has just purchased the new Benchmark Literacy Reading Series.  This series is NOT a basal - but rather a research based system of mini-lessons based on strategies (both metacognition and comprehension skills) as well as a guided reading approach with small books.  One of my favorite components is their resources for the First 30 Days in reading and writing.  It ties is nicely to the First Six Weeks of School that we teach through Responsive Classroom.  To read more about this series, you can check out their blog here.

cover of The First Six Weeks of SchoolTo read more about the First Six Weeks of School and Responsive Classroom - click here

First routine to establish - How to get ready for whole group instruction. 

*What to work on :  smooth transitions to and from the circle as well as how to sit at the circle (or another designated whole group spot).
* Why?  We will use this area for whole groups instruction in reading, math, science, social studies, writing, and morning meetings so the routines need to be seamless.
  • Begin with a signal - either a bell, a clapping pattern, a click or calling by table groups.  Practice the signal so that students know what the signal is and what to do when they hear it.
  • Model how to come to the area - walking calmly & carefully and with a purpose to the spot.  Sit down and wait quietly until everyone is ready.
  • Discuss what to do while at the spot:  Eyes on the speaker, Raise hands to speak, Side Conversations are not appropriate unless it's a Turn and Talk time, Focus on what the speaker is is important.
  • Practice ending the group and returning back to student seats.

If you use the same common language and routines in every content area, you will have limited disruptions and less behavioral problems.

Here is a sheet to add to your binder to help you remember routines for the First 30 Days.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Routines and Proceedures...the first 30 days..

We Read, We Blog, We TeachThere is a really good book club going on for upper elementary teachers about using the Daily 5 and the CAFE book.  It is posted on We Read, We Blog, We teach...
  The schedule on the side tells you when and who is blogging about what...

I have read both books in the past and have implemented "parts" of the systems along with Laura Candler's reading workshop approach. 

This year....we have added a new reading series to the mix...but one I think will work really well with all three of those books and systems.  It is called Benchmark Literacy.  I attended a session last week that discussed the importance of setting routines and proceedures for the first 30 days of both reading and writing.  Add Guided Math into the mix and you have an amazing plan for the first 30 days of routines and proceedures. 

So...thinking about routines...each day you will introduce a new proceedure...including what to do, how to do it and anchor charts to match.  As I have been reading through these books, it occurred to me...wouldn't it be smart if they all connected some way?  Isn't there a way to use a common language? 

As I read and think about the routines to start the year, I will think about how to connect these three AMAZING resources at the start of the year.  What do you think?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

RTI...what to do???

40 Reading Intervention Strategies for K-6 Students: Research-Based Support for RTI  I have taught for many years (let's say I'm closer to retirement than college!).  Over the years, Special Education qualifications have changed dramatically. 

We keep getting students with learning issues, but the possibility of them recieving special education services is more and more unlikely.  Still, we have the pressures of No Child Left Behind and making sure our subgroups make AYP. 

I decided this summer that I was tired of waiting forever for support and it was time to take matters into my own hands!  As a mother of a child with high functioning Autism (luckily he has a 504 plan!) and an aunt of a dyslexic child (yes, that is a true diagnosis!) I hate the thought of these kids struggling in school while their teachers are WAITING for help.

This books is AMAZING....I found it at Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle last night.  I love the way you can look up a problem area (say difficulties with inferences) and you get suggestions and systematic lessons to teach our struggling students during a Tier 2 lesson.  One of the lessons I LOVE involves breaking down pronouns to help students understand what they stand for and how they help you understand the text. 

There are several PDF's available for FREE on the website that promotes the book. 

Hope it helps you too....