Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Made It: Student Birthday Gifts

Guess what?


I will be celebrating with a Dairy Queen ice cream cake later tonight. Not sure if I'm going to share it with the rest of my family though... #sorrynotsorry. Hey, I'm 38+ weeks pregnant. DON'T JUDGE! :)

I posted how I celebrate birthdays in my classroom a few months ago {click here}, but today I want to share the super cute birthday gifts I made for my students this upcoming year. I've never actually given my students birthday gifts before. Not sure why... maybe because by the time I think about doing it, a few birthdays have gone by, and then some of my kiddos would be left out. My principal gives all kids a birthday pencil or pen, so I don't want to do that. And I don't want the gift to be some cheap trinkety thing that breaks or causes more problems than it does any good.

So I thought to myself: what is something that all kids need?


Yep. I will give my students erasers.

I found these gems at the local teacher store: 
These have holes in the bottom, so the students can put them on the ends of their pencils. I thought that some of my rough-and-tough boys (and maybe girls too!) might not want a cupcake eraser, so I got these too:
Then I picked up a package of those small bags you put candy in from Walmart and whipped up some cute labels. I used child labor this project as an opportunity for my children to hone their fine motor skills to help me assemble...
FREEBIE ALERT! Click {here} if you want these labels.
(For whatever reason, not all of the pages are showing up when you click the link. But if you click the download arrow at the top, they all show up!)

Today's post is brought to you by 4th Grade Frolics and the number 32!

Oh and one more thing... Today is the LAST DAY to enter my Oh Baby! giveaway.
 Want to win $20 to my store? Click {here} for the details!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bright Idea: Using Visuals to Establish Routines and Expectations

Are you ready for another installment of BRIGHT IDEAS?! I sure am!

Setting routines and expectations is so incredibly important at the beginning of the school year. It will be an uphill battle for the entire year if you and your students aren't on the same page. I learned very early on in my teaching career to never assume ANYTHING when it comes to routines!

One thing we spend lots of time doing at the beginning of the year is set expectations for classroom and school routines. From transitioning to the carpet, transitioning back to desks, how to organize desks, how to use the pencil sharpener, how to find a book and put it away, lining up, walking in the hall, using the bathroom, hanging up back packs, and so much more, I can't stand the sound of my own voice by the end of the first week of school!

In order to set these routines, my students and I develop rubrics and use lots of photos to create anchor charts we can refer to throughout the year. The first kind is a 3-2-1 anchor chart. In my school, we are striving for 3s. This first chart shows students how to line up to walk in the hallway:
We start by making a list of appropriate lining-up behaviors. Then we practice lining up like a 1: YIKES! I take a picture. Then we sit back down and try it again; this time we are a 2: ALMOST... I snap another pic. We sit back down. Lastly we are a 3: PERFECT! Notice the colors too: red for 1, yellow for 2, green for 3. Green = good to go! After I get the photos printed, I will put the chart together and we review it again. It's hard to tell in the above photo, but the chart hangs right by the door to remind students what to do. 

The awesome thing about the 3-2-1 poster, is that I will hold up 3 fingers, 2, fingers, or 1 finger to signal to the kids where we're at. I also train my kids how to remind others around them to be a "3 Line." You know, because shouting at friends to be quiet and shushing them loudly is COMPLETELY counterproductive. So I teach them to tap their neighbor on the shoulder, give the quiet sign (putting a finger to their mouth, as if to say "shh"), face forward, and be a 3 again. I will change my fingers as we improve, and as soon as we're a 3, it turns to a thumbs up, and we are on our way! I also have green, yellow, and red cards on a ring that I will hold up when we are in super crazy situations, like coming in from recess.

The next one hangs in the hallway. Each student gets one hook, although each hook has two hooks, one on top of the other. So we talk about how backpacks need to be zipped and hanging up, with lunch boxes on the top shelf. As it gets colder, we also talk about how to hang up and organize snow gear. It's quite the balancing act, but it IS possible to hang up snow pants, winter coats, and backpacks on the hooks. And most kids usually have a tote bag too, to carry their snow pants and boots home. Does it require a bit of rearranging? Yes. But I want my kids to be responsible and take care of their belongings.
The second kind of routines anchor chart I have is a list-type poster. Last year I noticed a lot of my kids slouching in their seats or resting their heads on their desks or arms during learning time. So we came up with a list of what "Ready to Learn" looks like. Then we practiced, and I took some pictures of kids who were ready to learn.
I hung up this poster at the front of my room so that I could refer to it if I needed to. There was some serious competition to be in the photos! :) I've also made posters like this for what the Daily 5 stations look like, what math work time looks like, what it looks like to work at a computer/with an iPad, etc.

In case you're wondering, I do this with my class every single year. I do not keep these charts from year to year. I feel that creating these charts together helps students "buy into" the routines, plus I want to use THEIR photos, not photos of my class from previous years. Also, each class has different needs. Last year was the first year we needed to review "Ready to Learn" behaviors, but this year *fingers crossed* we won't have to do that.

If you liked this BRIGHT Idea, please consider joining me on FacebookInstagram or TPT. For more BRIGHT Ideas from over 100 bloggers, make sure you check out the link up below. Just choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

OH BABY! It's Giveaway Time!

I recently hit a blogging milestone (1,500 followers) and my birthday is 11 short days away, and I wanted to do something special to celebrate. I don't really have the time to put together a massive giveaway, so I decided to do something different: A Baby Pool!
 Guess the details of the birth of our Baby #3, and you could win $20 to spend in my TPT store! I've set up the baby pool here. It's free to join and to make a prediction. The rules and how to earn points are listed here, which THANK GOODNESS, because I have no idea how I would tally up who would be the winner! Sorry, giveaway is now closed! Will keep you posted on Baby's upcoming arrival :)

Some details you might want to know about my previous pregnancies:

  • We don't know the gender, although this pregnancy has been very similar to my daughter's.
  • I'm due August 31st.
  • My son was two days early and my daughter was one day late.
  • My son was 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and my daughter was 8 pounds, 1 ounce.
  • Both my kids were born with lots of hair: my son's was brown, and my daughter's was black.
  • I went to the doctor yesterday, and without being too detailed... this baby isn't coming any time soon :)
Out of fairness for those who participate, predictions can be made until my birthday, August 18th, and then I will be closing the Baby Pool. Good luck!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Weekend Warriors Back to School BASH!

I'm teaming up with my Weekend Warrior girls to bring you a Back to School Bash!
I am SO stinkin' excited for the Teachers Pay Teachers Blast Off Back to School sale, it's not even funny. My cart is FULL and READY TO GO! Shhh.... don't tell the hubs :)

We are celebrating the TPT Back to School Sale this weekend with some giveaways. Each of us is giving away a B2S product from our stores, and the grand prize is $5 from each store PLUS a $50 Amazon gift card! Can I enter??? I suppose it would be bad if I did...

My B2S giveaway is so hot off the presses I just posted it to TPT last night! I've been working on this product for almost a year, testing and tweaking it in my classroom to make sure it was just right.

Drum roll please......
What I love most about this new product is that it combines number sense and word problems. Students  are given a Number of the Day to practice determining even & odd, counting and skip counting, and expressing the number in different forms (word form, expanded form, and with Base-10 block pictures). Then on the other side of the page, students solve a word problem, tell the unit, write a number sentence, and explain how they solved the problem. I tell my students "I just knew it" is not acceptable as an explanation for how they solved the problem.  Being able to explain their thinking is a critical skill in the CCSS as well as the Smarter Balanced test that's coming our way THIS YEAR! YIKES! Here's a little bit about how Daily Math Jump Start is set up:

Here are some close ups:
Booklet cover page from the August pack.
Here's what one of the pages from the August pack looks like.
Want to win a copy of Daily Math Jump Start for August? Enter this Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

We aren't done just yet! We're all giving away $5 to our stores. That would be $60 worth of products from these AMAZING bloggers/TPTers:

Oh, and a little something special to help you get ready for this upcoming school year:
Here's the Rafflecopter for the GRAND PRIZE:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to stop over at my bloggy friends' blogs to enter their giveaways too!

Alright, I gotta go and keep filling my TPT cart! WOOO!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

IT'S HERE!!! Third Grade Mighty Math!

I am SO excited to announce my latest creations:

That's right; I've made a third grade version of my Mighty Math assessments!

Here's the low down:
Mighty Math is a set of weekly formative assessments that can be used to evaluate the progress towards the third grade math CCSS. In each assessment, I've included all eleven of the third grade CCSS clusters. Every week, I have a shortened math period (50 minutes) due to my specials schedule. This is my Mighty Math Day. First students complete their Mighty Math assessment. When students finish, they bring their paper to me to spot check. I'll glance it over to make sure they didn't miss anything, but I'm also looking for problems that might be wrong. I keep track of problems that might have stumped a large group of students, so that when the majority of my class is done, I go over the tricky problems right away. The sooner we can review our mistakes, the more of a lasting effect it will have. I will also pull small groups of kids for reteaching and practice, based on which problems they struggled with. While we're waiting for the class to finish, students who have completed their Mighty Math will work independently on unfinished Math Journal pages or on Compass Learning Odyssey (differentiated math website).

Mighty Math has made teaching math TONS easier for me! I have never felt more knowledgeable about my students' math strengths and weaknesses. I feel like I can better target those kiddos who struggle with certain concepts. I've also gotten lots of positive comments from parents about how they feel more informed as well. We use the EveryDay Math program at my school, where the kids work in workbooks that stay at school. The only feedback parents used to get about their child's math abilities was the unit tests, progress reports, and report cards. Now, they're basically getting a report every week, and they know how they can help at home!

Let's take a peek inside:
Click HERE for First Quarter
Click HERE for Second Quarter
Click HERE for Third Quarter
Click HERE for Fourth Quarter
Want to see a close up of Week 1?
I think one of my most favorite things about Mighty Math is the recordkeeping sheets. I'm kind of a nerd for data :) There are three options for keeping track of how your students do on Mighty Math. Here are two of them:
I have one of these sheets for each student. I put a star in the box if they got it right and a check in the box if it's wrong. Usually I'll write a quick note about what the problem was or what went wrong. This Little Love clearly will need extra help when we get to our measuring unit. In the meantime, I am meeting with him (and others who struggle with this strand) for reteaching and practice.

I also use this whole-class sheet so I can ]easily tell where we need extra practice: time, money and graphing, anyone?

Right now, I have all 4 sets set at 50% off! They will be at this price until tomorrow night!

I haven't released the bundle yet, but I'm giving away TWO sets for the WHOLE YEAR! Enter through the Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Up next... FIRST GRADE! Stay tuned :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teaching Kids about Responsibility -- WUYC Book Study, Chapter 8

I'm super excited to join in with some of my blogging friends to share our thoughts with you about an AMAZING book about character education: What's Under Your Cape? by Barbara Gruener. 
I didn't even have to think twice about buying this book and joining in on the book study. Teaching kids about character is critical in order to help them grow into well rounded, productive citizens in our community. Sometimes, I think we expect students (and even our own children) to know what it means to be respectful, kind, perseverant, etc. but that's not always the case. Barbara's book gives real life examples, classroom examples, book suggestions, and even catchy songs to teach your students about what it means to have good character.

Today I'm sharing my thoughts about Chapter 8, which is all about responsibility.
It drives me completely bonkers when, on the day a homework assignment is due, a student tells me, 
"My mom forgot to put it in my folder." 
Ummmm.... excuse me, but your mom isn't in second grade. WHO forgot his/her homework? YOU. YOU didn't put YOUR homework in YOUR folder. I can say that to my students and make them feel all sad and guilty, but what am I teaching them? That's right; a whole lotta nothing! 

To kick start the conversation about responsibility, Barbara says you should ask your students what chores they have at their house. Most children have chores in their house, even if it's as simple as picking up their toys or doing their homework. Chores should be taken seriously, as kids' chores help to make the household run smoothly. Barbara has two awesome activities and games you can use to help kids visualize the importance of chores and what happens if a chore isn't completed. 

Barbara mentions four things when teaching kids about responsibility: choices, consequences, chores, and stakeholders. I was totally with her, until the "stakeholders" part. My second graders are too young to understand what a stakeholder is. But the more I read, the more I became convinced that my students could understand and even give examples of stakeholders. Who is affected if the farmer doesn't milk the cows for a few days? Or a student puts glue in someone's hair?  Or a puppy who gets left outside overnight? Or the second grader who doesn't bring back his/her homework? I know that my students are smart enough to think of all the people (or in some cases, animals) that would be affected if any of those events took place. I will definitely be teaching my kids about stakeholders this upcoming year. Helping students to realize that their actions impact others (as well as themselves), will further illustrate the importance of being responsible.

How can you give your students the opportunity to be responsible at school? Barbara suggests classroom jobs. Do you have classroom jobs? I do. Each student in my class has a job. But how well do you "enforce" those jobs getting done? Me? Admittedly, not very well. I have a library helper whose job it is to take the returned library books down to the library every morning. Except on our scheduled library day, I glance over at the book crate and notice it's overflowing because it hasn't been taken to the library the entire week. Now I need to round up 3-4 kids to haul the books to the library before the library aide has to walk half-way across the school to come and pick the books up herself. Yes, it's the student's responsibility to take the books to the library, but what am I doing to help foster that responsibility?

Barbara says we need to hand over the reins to our students. We can't have that, "Fine. I'll just do it myself." attitude. What is that teaching them if we do it for them? You're teaching them to be dependent. Is it easier to do many tasks ourselves? Yes. I could very easily return those library books myself on my way to the copy room during a prep. But if our goal is for our students to be independent thinkers and learners, students must take responsibility!

Other highlights of the chapter include picture book suggestions and two songs for teaching kids about responsibility. Want to know what they are? Well, you'll have to pick up the book to find out! I also did a quick Google search of videos for teaching kids about responsibility, and there are SO many great finds on YouTube. If you conduct class meetings (such as a morning meeting), you could easily discuss, share, and practice the trait of responsibility for several weeks, if not a whole month.

I urge you to head over to Barbara's website and order this book. It's a quick read, and it really draws you in with all of Barbara's personal stories and real-life classroom examples. I know I couldn't put it down! You can order the book from Amazon as well, but the last I checked, the shipping time is 10-14 days. If you order directly from Barbara, you'll get it right away, and she even autographed my book! SWEET!

What do you do to teach your kids about responsibility? 

Chapter 9 is being hosted by the amazing Katie at Teacher to the Core. Don't miss it!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Weekend Warriors: TPT Organizational Tip

Did you read all those TPT/Blogging/Teaching secrets from yesterday?! I am SO honored to be working with such amazing teacher-blogger-friends! They are overflowing with genius (and lots of "why didn't I think of that??") ideas!!

Yesterday I shared a blogging tip, and today I'm going to share a tip I use to help me stay organized with my TPT products. I have a bazillion clip art images, borders, frames, and papers. Can you ever have too many graphics? I think not! But it's important to keep them organized so you can find what you need, when you need it. I figured it would just be easier for me to make a quick video to show you how I keep my graphics organized. There are many ways to do it; this way works best for me!

As you can see, I need more of EVERYTHING! But mostly frames... who are some of your favorite frame artists? I'm starting to make my wish list for the (fingers crossed) TPT Back to School sale, whenever that might be...

Make sure you check out my fellow Weekend Warriors for more Blogging, TPT, and Teaching Tips!

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