Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Informal Daily Writing Checklist

I've finally created a daily writing checklist to use during writer's conference or for informal observation as I walk around during writing time. This would also be handy for Daily 5, Work on Writing. This will help me collect data that I can then use for both grade cards and for other student data purposes.

I plan to put this sheet on a clipboard, write the date at the top, come up with how I want my coding system to be (letter grade, 3/2/1, +/-, etc), and quickly and easily mark what I observe for each student on their daily writing/work. The categories covered/included are capitalization, punctuation, and complete sentences. I won't use this every single day, but maybe a couple times a week. This then keeps all of my informal observation data in one place, or I can easily transfer it to my gradebook.

I am going to include a free copy of it in case you'd like to use it also in your classroom!

Enjoy, and I hope you can use this! I've included both a student numbered version (if you use student numbers in your classroom for confidentiality purposes) and a blank one for you to write in the students' names.
To download, either click HERE, or click on the picture below.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Teachers Impact a Child's World

As another week comes to a close, I wanted to share something with you. Our school IRT (instructional resource teacher) sent a link to Kylene Beers' blog post (Kylene Beers is a prominent literacy specialist) from August 20. I just had to repost the link to her post, "Why I Hated Meredith’s First Grade Teacher: An Open Letter to America’s Teachers". Click HERE or click the name of the post above to visit her site. Take just 2 minutes to read through her letter. What an awesome and powerful reminder about how what we do can really impact a child's life. This is the reason we are all in this profession, and it is sometimes good to remind ourselves of that. Before you get bogged down in the craziness of another school year - the paperwork, the behaviors, the test scores, the disgruntled parents, the rude staff members, etc..., just remember that your students cherish you, look up to you, and will remember you and your love for the rest of their lives, even if they don't show it to you immediately. Your impact will live through them, and that is why your job is so important. Make the best of this school year with your kids. As Winston Churchill once said, "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." Please, just take a few minutes to read Kylene's letter. You won't be sorry. Happy 2012-2013 school year!!!
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

IPICK Anchor Chart

Oh the many differences between 1st and 2nd grade... :-)  The list is long, but one major difference, at least in our school district, is the amount of time you have to set up you guided reading/Daily 5 time. In 1st grade, we have 6 whole weeks to get set up and go over expectations. In 2nd grade, we start in 2 weeks or less. AAGGHH! 2 week to go over Daily 5 and teach all of our minilesons???!!! Gasp. However, it can be done. Luckily, the 2nd graders know a lot more about expectations and learn a tiny bit quicker. For instance, I could skim over some of the minilessons like choosing a gathering spot, picking a signal, etc..., because the kiddos already knew those kinds of things.
Anyway, the students LOOOOVED the shoe minilesson (if you haven't read the Daily 5 book, you must must must - such great information) that preceded the IPICK lesson. They just thought it was hilarious that I brought in so many different kinds of shoes, and they about died of sheer delight when I showed them my husband's shoes, put them on, and asked if his shoes fit me (keep in mind that I wear a women's size 5.5, and my husband wears a men's size 12 - a bit of a difference, haha). This lesson was definitely a great hook for choosing books. We then made the IPICK anchor chart, and students got to practice choosing their books from our classroom library. Here is a copy of our anchor chart - more pictures of some of our other lessons to come later! Happy Thursday! Can you believe how fast the school year has gotten into gear???

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cool Down Strategies Revisited

Remember how I posted that post at the end of last school year with the free anger management cards (I think end of April or beginning of May 2012)? Well, we went ahead and STARTED the year, this year, with having a whole lesson on anger management. If you missed that previous post, you can click HERE to go to the free download of those anger choice cards, or you can click the picture below.
After reading the book When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang, we talked about things that might make us angry. Students then discussed what they could do when they got to the point where they were angry. Next, we talked about how it is completely ok for students to feel frustrated, angry, upset, disappointed, etc... We are, after all, human, and humans have a range of emotions. However, we talked about the fact that even if we feel angry, frustrated, upset, etc..., we can't deal with those emotion in a way that will hurt or bother others or ourselves. The class brainstormed some ideas of how they deal with their anger "appropriately" (after discussing what appropriate would look and sound like), and we talked about how you might use different strategies at school and home. After sorting out which strategies might be good to use at school, we made an anchor chart.

 I then introduced the quiet spot, and went over my expectations for when a student feels they need to go to the quiet spot to calm down. I placed a laminated copy of the above discussed anger choice cards, and students will use a dry-erase marker or vis-a-vis pen to mark which choice they picked in order to calm themselves down. They will be expected to discuss this with me later when they return or when we have a break (which strategy they chose and how it helped them calm down). I also went over the calm down sensory box that our school counselor graciously put together for us (includes a glitter jar, marbles hidden in clay, buttons to sort, and letter beads to string onto string), and we discussed those expectations as well. All in all, this turned out to be a great reminder lesson for these kiddos, and I feel like students will not be intimidated or feel threatened or scared to express their frustrations in a calm and safe manner. Fingers crossed anyway! ;-)

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to School/Get to Know You Glyph

Well, I found out today that, apparently, when I speak in Spanish, I sound like Dora the Explorer.... :-/ My kids (I have quite a few Hispanic/Latino students) told me today that my Spanish sounds like Dora, but my English sounds normal. Haha! I was like, wow, I sound like a 7 year old, or however old she is! :-) Oh dear me...

Anyway, we all know that teachers do much more than teach academics. We teachers play many roles in the classroom, and one of those roles is to teach and reinforce life skills and social skills. I teach at a Title I school, and many of my sweet darlings need some practice on social skills at school. My teammates and I are spending the first couple weeks teaching basic social skills, based on the format described in the Boys Town social skill curriculum. I've made posters to go with each skill, and I have the posters hung up in my room to refer to all year long. Two of the very first skills we taught, were listening and following directions. After we taught, very specifically, the steps for how to listen and follow instructions, the students then got to practice those skills. For listening, the students played a Get to Know You Fan n' Pick game, and for following instructions, we thought it would be fun to have the students make a glyph. The students had to listen to the directions, and they had to follow the correct instructions for each part/detail of the glyph.

If you wanted to use these in your classroom, you could say the categories and directions out loud, or you could put the directions on the SmartBoard if you wanted.The learning statement goes out in the hallway with the glyphs! :-)

These glyphs turned out super cute, and the kids had a great time while practicing some social skills that they will need in just about every situation in school, home, and life! :-)
To get a free copy of the directions and the hallway learning statement, click HERE, or click on the picture below to download.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Prize Catalog

I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE not having a prize box anymore. There are so many great reasons for moving to a prize catalog instead, including not having to spend money on prizes  rewards being more matched to Positive Classroom. Seriously though, it is a great feeling to not have to worry about prize boxes anymore. I do, however, still have students "buy" prizes from the catalog, especially in 2nd grade, as this helps with math and social studies skills.

As one of my individual behavior management systems, I randomly give out "fake" pennies to students for exhibiting positive behaviors. Students can then count and trade their pennies in each week or every other week (*bonus math skill time). Students can then trade their money in for certain "prizes" in the prize catalog (or they can save their money - *bonus social studies economics skill time). I place the prize catalog in sheet protectors and store them in a binder. Students can then look through the prize catalog whenever they'd like. Here are the prizes included in this catalog:

$0.10 - Happy Helper (classroom helper)
$0.25 - Super Supplies (students get to use smelly markers or fancy pencil)
$0.30 - Leap Frog Line Jumper (line leader)
$0.40 - Stinky Feet! (shoes off in classroom)
$0.50 - Cool Cat in a Hat (wear a cool hat in the classroom)
$0.60 - Littlest Pet Shop (stuffed animal on desk)
$0.75 - Be Proud, Read Aloud (read a book to class, friend, or adult)
$0.80 - Show n' Share (bring something to share with class)
$1.00 - Teacher Chair (sit in the teacher's chair for the day)
$1.15 - Computer User Time (extra computer time)
$1.25 - Swip Swap (switch desks with a friend)
$1.50 - Lunch Bunch (lunch with a friend and the teacher)

There are also some coupons in the back, so that when a student chooses a prize, he/she can take home a coupon to show his/her parents (this also works so parents know it's ok to bring a hat/object to share/stuffed animal).
And that way, too, students have something tangible to show their parents.

I have posted my version of the prize catalog on TpT, but it does cost a small amount. To take a look at what I use, click HERE or click on one of the preview pictures below.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bucket Filler Slips

We are a Bucket Filling classroom! If you haven't read "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" by Carol McCloud, you must! You can find the book at most bookstores, including the one below.

There are so many awesome Bucket Filling resources on the web and with fellow educators right now, and it is really neat to see how different people implement it in different ways. The key to bucket filling is that we all have a secret, invisible bucket (I teach that it is in our hearts). When you do kind things, you are filling people's buckets and your own. When you do things that are not kind, you are dipping into other people's buckets. We all want to be bucket fillers, not bucket dippers. I have seen some super cool classrooms that have actual buckets for each child. In our class (keeping things a little more simplified), we have a single bucket - the compliment jar (see my earlier post from last year). Students can write thank you notes to others for filling their bucket, or they can fill someone else's bucket by writing compliments. Then, at our class meeting or during sponge times, I will read a few of the slips aloud and then give it to the corresponding student to keep. We always talk about who maybe needs their bucket filled at our class meetings, and that way no one is left out. My students love filling our compliment jar, and really enjoy giving and receiving their slips. They are allowed to write during writer's workshop or during the writing portion of Daily 5. The bucket filler concept is one that I feel students can really understand and visualize. Here are some free slips for you to use in your classroom if you like! :-) Just click the link HERE or click on the picture below to download.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Class Agreement

First of all, Happy New School Year! The kids have officially started, and we are already just about in full swing. I'm in 2nd grade this year (love teaching 2nd grade), because I looped with my class. We've been 1st/2nd grade loopers for 6 years now at my school, and I've really enjoyed it. There are so many positives about looping, especially that you already know most (if not all) of your kiddos and parents. The beginning of the second year is so smooth, and it's nice to be able to jump right into things. However, this may be my last year of looping for a while. We may take a temporary leave so that we can focus our attention and energy on Common Core and MTSS (RTI in other states). That way, we can become really knowledgable and comfortable with the new curriculum. :-) I'm very excited about all of the changes and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to become familiar with Common Core in both 1st and 2nd grade, and I'm ready to now delve deeper into it!

I always make a Class Agreement with my students (consistent with Positive Classroom). We usually talk about and brainstorm the agreement together, and then I write it on chart paper to make our own little Anchor Chart and have the students sign it. However, thanks to Pinterest, one of my coworkers found this SUPER cute idea, to have the kids brainstorm things we will do as a class this year and then mount it and hang it from ribbon. So while it was the same concept of having the students come up with the agreement, we typed it up instead, and we are displaying our class agreements on all of our doors (all 2nd grades at my school). Here is the finished product for our class:

I think it turned out pretty cute, and the kids love it. We can now refer to it throughout the day, and other people entering our room (we keep our door open a lot) can also see what we're "all about." :-)

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Back in the Swing and TpT Sale

Are you all back to school officially yet? We went back Wednesday, and summer already feels light years away. :-) Once school starts, you've got to be ready to hit the ground running! I am so so excited, because I've got my planbook ready to go! I'm one of those dorky ones who lives to get my binder set up every year. Yeah, I should probably get a life, huh? I will post pictures of how I set it up later. Anyway, TpT is having a big ol' sale right now - 2 days, today and tomorrow. They've paired up with willing sellers, and in my store, you can get up to 28% off using the promo code "BTS12". Click the banner below to head on over to my store!

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Freebie: Class Information Sheet and Parent Communication Log

We all know that teaching is not just about the time spent in the classroom. :-) There are a lot of other components to teaching, and one of those is components includes making frequent contact with parents (including those "good" phone calls and notes). Here are two documents to help you with keeping the information together and recording it.

The first document is the Class Information Sheet. This is a very simple document that keeps your students' information all together in one place. While this seems like a super minimal document, it has proven quite handy for me throughout the year! I always fill it out at the beginning of the school year and post a copy by my classroom phone and put another copy in my plan binder behind the student information section. Once you've compiled it, it also makes a great resource for fieldtrips! To download it for free, go to this link HERE, or click on the picture below.

The next document is the Parent Communication Log. This document is so handy for tracking all those times that you make contact with a student's parent(s). Just keep a copy in the front of each of your student's file folders in your drawer, and fill it out each time you make contact. This information can come in extremely handy for various situations, including filling out referral paperwork. If you need more copies, just make extra copies of the 2nd page, and staple or paperclip them to the back of the 1st page. Included is an area for student and parent contact information. That way, you are only having to reference 1 document when you call, e-mail, write a note, or have a conference with a child's parent(s). Hopefully you can use this! :-) To download the Parent Communication Log, go HERE, or click on either of the pictures below to download.

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

1st TpT Sale!

Well, the title says it all. I'm throwing my first TpT sale ever! I have been a busy bee with committees and setting up my classroom (thank you dear husband for moving my heavy furniture for me with my bum ankle and for doing all the other stuff I asked. You should win a hubby of the year award - for this year anyway, ha.), and I haven't done too too much with my blog or TpT. However, because of that and with the new school year about to begin, you can visit my TpT store for 10% off for the next 4 days. As you know, most of my items are free, as I really do enjoy sharing things with my colleagues (which includes all of you bloggy friends of course), but I do have a few things that are a small cost, as they were just a tiny bit time consuming. :-) This little hobby has really turned into quite a joy in my life - thank you so much for being a part of that! Visit HERE to take a look around. You can also click the picture below. Have a blessed weekend!

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