Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get off the escalator!

Ok, I just had to post this video!  It's hilarious and so TRUE!  My principal showed this video to us on our first day back to school and we all died laughing.  I've seen it circulating around Pinterest and Facebook too. It's possible that someone post this on their blog...I can't remember.

I finally decided it was time to share this video with my students when I had 2 different students walk up to me and tell me that their pencil broke.  I asked them "How can you solve that problem?" They give me this crazy look and finally said "I don't know"  Really???  Now, when they ask me silly questions or ask me to help them solve an easy problem, I tell them to get off the escalator.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Class Management during small groups!

It always're at your small group table working with students and another student comes up to ask a question.  It doesn't matter that you've told the class "When I'm working with a student or group, please don't interrupt".  So, I'm trying something new this year!

This isn't my original idea because I'm just not that smart!  I've seen the first idea of the "push light" floating around Pinterest.  While shopping this summer, I saw this push light at the Dollar Tree.  I thought, why not?  So, I wrote "I'm busy" on top of the light and stick it in the middle of the table when I'm working with groups or individual students.  Yet, it still doesn't deter those "eager beavers" to come to the table.  However, I don't have to say anything to them...I just point to my push light. 

Here's a picture...

The next idea I've seen at just about every professional development I've attended.  It's called the "Parking Lot".  The only time I've actually used this in previous years was at Parent Orientation.  This year, I have many students who are having a hard time being independent.  Then there are those students who just have to ask a question, just to ask a question.  So, I created a poster on our plotter (poster's awesome!) and posted it to my door near my small group table.  The students write their question on a sticky note and "park" their question in the lot.  When I finish with my group or they are working independently for a few minutes, I'll answer the questions in the parking lot.  So far, so good!

Here's a picture...

Sorry, I made the picture REALLY big so you could read it!

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Snowball Fight...even in TEXAS!

I know what you are thinking!  Snowing in Texas...NO WAY!  Believe it or not we're having a snowball fight.  Ok, so they aren't real snowballs. It's actually paper, but we are throwing them around the classroom.  The activity is called Snowball Fight and the kids LOVE it!!  Honestly, the activity could be used with ANY subject or content you are teaching.

We were discussing how reader's choose books.  I told the kiddos to come up with only one way they choose books (favorite author, genre, topic, series, ect...) and I gave each a piece of paper to write down that one idea.  Then I asked them to crumble up the paper. On my go, they are to throw the paper.  The kids keep picking up the paper and throwing it until I say STOP.  They find one piece of paper, open it and read their friend's response.  I ask them to add their idea, but it has to be different then what's on the paper.  So, if they happen to have the same thing, then the person who picked up the paper has to come with another idea.

We do this a couple of times and then we discuss as a group what they learned from their classmates.  This is usually when I create an anchor chart of their thoughts.

Here's a few pictures from our snowball fight...

Give it a try...the kids love it!
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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Blocking Organization!

When I first started teaching, I was self contained and only had to help the students keep their desks organized.  I utilized the "Desk Fairy" many times throughout the year.

Now, fast forward many years later and I'm no longer self contained, but I'm blocked (departmentalized). I teach Reading/Word Study to 3 different classes. Keeping the students organized has been a challenge, but a few years ago we came up with a GREAT idea to help the students stay organized.  We have the students keep track of a binder and they take ONLY the binder between the 3 classes.  All other notebooks are kept in the teacher's class and are usually kept in one of the BIG plastic 3 drawer containers.
Looks like this!

Included in our school supplies, we've asked the students to purchase a 1 1/2 inch "View" binder with pockets on the inside, 2 plastic folders with holes & pencil bag with holes.  Below are pictures of how we set up the binder and explanation of everything is used.

In the front "view" pocket, we type up what's included in the binder and where everything goes in the binder.

The front inside pocket is where the student's Word Work folder is kept.  We use these folders almost everyday and students will always have them to review for their assessment. (sorry pictures are a little fuzzy!)

Next, the pencil bag holds at least 2 pencils, computer log-in cards, lunch money, school store money (scissors, glue, markers, map pencils, ect...are kept in the class)

The student planners are next in the binder.  This is where the students write down their homework for the week. (Each student in our district purchases these at the beginning of each year for $3)

The first folder is used mainly for homework assignments.  Students put any homework assignments or field trip permission slips, ect... in the TO-DO side of the folder.

When they finish their homework, then they'll put it in the TURN IN side of the folder.

Once a week, the students take home all their graded papers, notes from the PTA, notes from school, ect...  The students place ALL these papers in the TAKE HOME side of the second plastic folder.  These are papers that are expected to go home and stay.  

On the other side of the folder, students keep their "stamp card".  These cards are their reward cards they use to turn in for things like stinky feet, sit next to a friends, ect... (I'll discuss the stamp card in more details in another post)

In the back pocket, the students keep their daily pages journal for writing.  This is where the students keep a journal to jot down any of their thoughts at any time of the day or night.

In the back view of the binder holds the students schedule.  We usually include schedules for special days like Early Dismissal or PLC days.  This way the students know what time we'll be switching, go to lunch, specials, library, ect...

Now, these binders can last all year long, but most of them will start to wear by mid year.  Also, some kids love those fabric binders that zip up (which I love those too!!!) and we don't mind which binder they use.  Parents really love the binder idea!  They've said that it really helps keep their kids organized.  In fact, I've noticed other grade levels starting to use the same binder system.  

If you are blocked and struggling to keep your students organized, then try out the binder system.  I think you'll be happy with it!  I hope this helps!

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Currently September!

It's time to link up with Farley @ Oh Boy 4th Grade for her monthly Currently Linky!

Here we go...

The 3 things I'd LOVE to do is...

Exercise at least 3 days a week.  If I did, I might not need more energy!  Next, no going to school on the weekends.  Unfortunately, I already broke that one because I went up to school yesterday.  Although, I want to make more of an effort to resist going up to school and try to maximize my time before/after school. Finally, make more of an effort to get together as a team.  In years past, this was one thing our team was really good at doing.  We'd take turns hosting a team get together once a month and I really think it made such a difference.  However, last year we started off good, but life got in the way and we didn't get together much last year. 

Until next month...
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