Saturday, June 29, 2013

Five for Friday - Beach Week, plus Owls and Chevron

I know I'm a little late, but I couldn't miss out on my last chance (for a while) to link up with Doodle Bugs!  I've just come back from my vacation week, so my Five for Friday is mainly beach-y, but I'll start with some school related stuff!

1. I've decided on my classroom theme - Owls and Chevron!  I've got two new products in my TpT store for this theme - number posters and a calendar pack.  Check them out by clicking the pictures below!  And if you like them leave me a comment letting me know which product you'd like.  I'll give 3 away next week!
My calendar kit includes days of the week, 5 sets of calendar numbers, months of the year, a weather board, and headers for yesterday was, today is, tomorrow will be.  

 My number posters are for numbers 0-20 and include full-size and half-size options.

2. I spent the week on Hilton Head Island.  My family goes there every year and it is always so beautiful!

3. While we were there, I got to take out my baby sister to celebrate her 21st birthday!

4. And of course my favorite part of vacation was seeing my two favorites!  Isn't my nephew the cutest?

He really liked listening to music on my iPhone...he loved the earbuds!

5. My sweet niece Morgan has changed so much.  I saw her about six weeks ago and she was barely walking.  This week, she ran all over the beach!
 Don't you love her teensy little ponytail?

I hope all of you are enjoying your summer!  Don't forget to leave a comment with your email and your choice of Owl/Chevron product!  I'd love to give some away!  And if you haven't already, follow my on bloglovin - just click the button to the right!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ten Pin Linky - Classroom Management

As I said the other day, I am always looking for new ideas to encourage good behavior!  So I'm very excited for Ashley's linky this week, all about classroom management ideas from pinterest!

Here are some awesome pins I want to try this year:
1. In the past, I have usually done a prize box, but these coupons are great ideas that would motivate kids!

2. Having a "secret student" each day (who can earn extra dojo points) would be another great motivator.  

3. Morning Meeting is a great way to build community and start the day on a positive note.  This teacher has awesome activity cards and other ideas for morning meeting!

 4. This activity, which goes with Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes, is such a great way to help students see the power of kind and hurtful words.  I did this last year with my first graders and they loved it!

5. Another important part of behavior management is teaching kids to identify and process their feelings.  I love this Thumb Print Feeling book.  It would be great to do after reading Todd Parr's The Feelings Book!

6. And these are great cards to remind students to do with those feelings.  You could also remake them with pictures of kids doing each of the steps.

7. I love these questions to begin a conversation on classroom expectations.

8. Stating clear expectations for everything is key to good classroom management.  I love this freebie poster for Turn and Talk behavior.

9. And I know this isn't technically classroom management, but I'm sure any kindergarten teacher will agree with me - kids tying their own shoes will save you a lot of time and hassle.  Don't you love this Pete the Cat board?  How inspiring! 
10. Last but not least, here is an awesome music video about respect!  Perfect for a discussion starter or a reminder.

Do you have great classroom management pins to share?  Go link up with Ashley!

Also...I have finished updating my 7 Habits books so you can print them double-sided.  If you've purchased them, go back to TpT and redownload!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Teacher Tips

Today I'm linking up with Caitlin at Kindergarten Smiles for New Teacher Tips.  But before I start, let me quickly put in a plug for bloglovin' since we're days away from the death of google reader! Click the button on my right side bar to follow my blog on bloglovin! ----->

It is still hard for me to believe that I am not a new teacher...I'm about to start my fifth year!  I feel like just yesterday I was nervously leading my first class on a tour of a school I didn't know! 

Here are some tips I hope will help all the new teachers out there:
1. Don't expect to be perfect.  You will make mistakes.  We all make mistakes.  So don't beat yourself up when something unexpected happens or a lesson doesn't turn out the way you expected.

2. Do make a personal connection with every family and every kid during that first week.  It's hard because the first week of school is crazy, but your families will love it if you make a phone call home to compliment their child.  Just set up a schedule to call 4 or so families each afternoon and tell them something positive about their child.  I also give out awards during the first week of school, for friendship skills, being helpful, good listening, etc.  My students are so proud to feel like they achieved something BIG so soon in the year.

3. Don't assess during the first week.  I understand that many teachers want to jump in and get data for all their students as soon as possible.  I am all about data, however, I've found that testing during that first week will give you very skewed data.  Students are making a huge adjustment - coming back to school (or to school for the first time), learning a new classroom, meeting a new teacher and new classmates.  It's a lot.  Any kind of testing can add undo stress.  And, because you haven't yet built a relationship with your students, they may not perform to their full ability.  I would wait 1-2 weeks to start assessing, giving your students lots of successful experiences and chances for relationship-building before then.

4. Do begin with academic activities where everyone can succeed.  In kindergarten, we start with lots of name activities and a focus on fine-motor development.  Most children already have some background knowledge in writing or at least recognizing their name, and we can build from there.  Here are some examples of the activities I do that first week.
 Write their name with a sharpie and have them decorate with stickers.  (It works best to spread out the letters to prevent overlap with the stickers.  And they turn out best if you only give them one color sticker to use...otherwise, it's hard to see the letters clearly.)

Draw a large block letter for the first letter in their name and add several lines to separate the letter into sections.  The kids were instructed to color each section a different color.  We used these pictures to make a class ABC book.  (e.g. A is for Ashley.)  And we taped the letters to the ceiling least until the fire marshal made us take them down.  

5. Don't cover your walls completely with commercial materials.  There is so much cute stuff out there, and it's easy to fill up all your bulletin boards before the kids come in.  But wait and let the kids create artwork to fill your walls.  Do shared writing and anchor charts.  Add photographs of your children and their families.  It helps them take ownership over their classroom.

6. Do have fun!  This is such a special time and you will make memories you will never forget.  Enjoy it and remember why you became a teacher!

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.
                                                                  -Emma Goldman     

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Linky Love - Mentor Texts and Classroom Management

I am loving all these summer linky parties!  Today I am linking up with two wonderful blogs...

First, I am sharing Science Mentor Texts with Collaboration Cuties.
I absolutely love teaching about animals, and Gail Gibbons has fabulous non-fiction animal books.  My kids loved learning about bats this fall.  This book had so much info that we only read a little each day, and they begged to read more!
Bats is a great introduction to informational texts.  It has a variety of information and many non-fiction text features that you can focus in on.  It also has super interesting facts that keep the kids hooked!
We used this book in the fall when we learned about bats, but we came back to it later in the year as an example of All About Books.  The kids learned about diagrams, captions, and different ways to organize information.  I highly recommend this and any of Gibbons' other books!

And now, for my second linky...
The Applicious Teacher is hosting a weekly idea share, and the theme this week is Classroom Management.  This is the perfect topic for a linky, because I feel like I can never get enough good ideas for classroom management.

My school follows PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support), and I truly believe that the best ways to prevent behavior problems are:
  1. Engaging activities
  2. Precorrects (Reviewing expectations before a transition or new activity)
  3. Praise for correct behavior
That said, we all have certain kids who need a little more.  This year, I used a ticket system for about half a year.  I gave out tickets for any positive behaviors I saw.  I did not take the tickets away for bad behavior.  Part of PBIS is focusing on the positive (hence the name :).  But, I did do a lot of proximity out tickets to well-behaved children near a child who needed to make a better choice.  At the end of the week, any child with ten tickets could buy something from my "store."  My store included old happy meal toys from my assistant's grandchildren, silly bands, used books, and themed pencils and erasers that another teacher was giving away.  
The ticket system worked pretty well, but I couldn't use it when we were in the hall, cafeteria, or outside.  And I had a few very disorganized students who always lost their tickets.  So then I heard about Class Dojo.  I'm sure you've probably heard all about it, but it's a free website you can use to give points for positive behavior.  It is super easy to set up and use, and you can access it on your smart phone, computer, iPad, etc.  I loved being able to grab my phone and give dojo points anywhere!  I worried that my young kids wouldn't be motivated by something that wasn't tangible, but they totally were - especially because I paired giving out points with praise.  At first, they used their dojo points to buy things from our store (just like with the tickets) but as the year went on, they really didn't even need that motivation.  Just getting the points and the praise was enough.  

In the last month of school, we did experience some summer-itis, where everyone (including me) was struggling with behavior!  I read this fabulous idea from A Teeny Tiny Teacher!  She explains it better than I can.  But, I didn't have a music box, so I just used my iPhone.  At the beginning of the day, I pulled up a song and played it throughout the day when the kids got talkative.  When they stopped talking, I paused it.  And if they had music left at the end of the day, they got a small treat - sticker, gummy worm, silly band, etc.  The kids loved it, and it helped them to work as a team when they were beginning to get kind of tired of each other.

So, those are my *everybody* behavior strategies.  But...sometimes, I have a child who needs more direct and consistent feedback.   For them, I use a behavior chart.  You can find a bunch with different themes here.  And here are some charts I've used:
I left them in Microsoft Word so you can edit them to match your schedule, so you will have to download them before they have the right formatting.  Let me know if you have questions or need help with any of them!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ten Pin Linky Party - Classroom Decor

I am linking up with Ashley to share my ten favorite classroom decor pins. Click on the pictures to go to the pin.
Even though the year just ended, I have all sorts of ideas for next year's classroom.  I really love this color scheme...I used a lot of aqua and black this year, but would like to incorporate more green and some pink, too.

I'm also hoping to redo some very old bookshelves in my room and maybe paint them similar to this color.
I have seen some awesome ceiling tile art, and as long as I can get my principal on board, I would love for each of my students to decorate one of our ceiling tiles like this.
As for themes, I usually don't have a big theme running throughout the classroom, but I'm becoming more and more obsessed with owls and other birds.   Here are some awesome things I might incorporate!

And I love the idea of creating a timeline of photos and writing throughout the year!
I think this is a really cute idea for the writing center, to keep everything organized and in one place.
And I've always wanted to have a tent of some sort in my reading center.  This one looks like it'd be a good size...just not sure how difficult it would be to make.
I actually made glitter clothespins last year, but never put up a clothesline.  I'm hoping to use my clothespins A LOT more this year!

And wouldn't this be a cool project?  I would love to have a rock from each student surrounding our playground.  You could even send them home with materials to be painted as a family.

That is my ten!  Of course in the next few weeks, I am sure I will find a thousand different things I want to do in my room.  Especially as I look through everyone elses' ideas on Ashley's linky!  Be sure to link up and check out all the great ideas!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ending the Year!

Woohoo - summer is here!  Well kind of... I have 1 more work day, but then summer will be here.  We had so much fun our last week of school!  We did Field Day, had a pizza party, an ice cream party, and kindergarten graduation.

Our graduation was super cute and simple.  I ordered hats from Really Good Stuff, and we just decorated the top.  I wrote "2013" in glue and the kids picked a glitter color to shake over it.  They loved them!
We did two songs - this 7 habits song and Movin' on to First Grade (neither of these videos are of my kids...just ones I found on youtube :)  We also did some Readers' Theater presentations.
 These are from our LLI kit, which made it very easy to find parts that were appropriately leveled for each student.  They did such a great job during our practices, but during graduation, their voices were all so quiet!  At least they are familiar stories, so it was okay if people couldn't hear every word.

For end of the year gifts, I sent home these wordles...a fabulous idea from Amanda!  I included everyone's name, the student's favorite thing about school, what they want to do when they grow up, and a few words I think describe them.

I just put them in dollar store frames, but my students loved them! So grateful to have a new, fun idea!

Our last day of school was just a half day and pretty low-key.  We read Oh The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss and I had my students all sign a certain page.  I started doing this last year, and it's really cool to look back at each kids' signature.  I told them I need their autographs for when they're famous presidents and scientists one day :)
It was a great wrap-up to a great year and now I'm ready for summer!  Looking forward to relaxing and having some time to work on new things for TpT.  I hope everyone else is enjoying their summer so far!  What fun things did you do to end your year?

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