Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lesson Plan Binder and Getting Ahead

With school winding down it's normal for me to start thinking about next year. I call this my "guinea pig time" because as I think of new ideas I like to try them out with the class I currently have. Test the waters, see if an idea or activity works or flops.

I also like to get as much done as I can now for next year. I like to have some of my beginning of the year items copied and ready to go to save myself a headache come August. Each year that I teach I feel like I get more and more on top of the following year's to-do list.

Our math sheets for next year were delivered already, so when my students finish a project early I've been having them unstaple and sort them for me. Awesomesauce! I have our class stuffed animal's binder and bag ready to go, spelling notebooks copied, student information sheets printed and ready to be filled out, and I have started to put together my teacher binder for next year. 

I don't know about you, but I like to have all of my important stuff in one space. My lesson plan binder this year had a lot of sections that I didn't use and it felt like a waste of space. So I created one to fit my needs and am using it the last two weeks of school to see how it goes. Taking it on a test drive!

I'm loving the fun colors and using the Frixion erasable markers to plan. There's no way I could write in a planner in marker without the ability to erase! 
I bought my binder at Staples in the Martha Stewart section. It's actually a discbound notebook that I took the paper out of. It takes a special hole punch that they sell as well made by the Staples brand.

Inside the binder I keep my grading scale, some sticky notes, and the different tabbed sections.
So far it's sporting a section for my student information pages that I have parents fill out every year, class lists, schedules, my grade book, and more! 

If you're interested in my lesson plan binder 

Only 8 days of school left for me, how about you?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

End of the Year Memories

Good Day to you!
Why am I in such a good mood?  Well for me, today means 11 days left of school. Yes, you heard me right E-LEV-EN!

My end of the year has been and will remain quite hectic. Last week I was out sick for 3 days.  Yup, 3 days. My daughter and I both came down with a virus. Thankfully I have great teammates, and really good subs.  One good thing about being home is you get to watch cooking shows, and find some great recipes for meals for when you are better. LOL!

We are testing and doing benchmarks this week...but next week I'd like to start my memory book. I love thinking back over the year and seeing how far my students have come. They have made great gains, and I have had a great year with them. 

For all of you faithful followers reading this today, You will get my memory book for FREE today only!  If you download it, please be sure to leave me some love--and feedback.
Here is the link to the Surf's Up School's Out Memory Book and other fun end of the year activities.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Set of 3

It’s nearing the end of the school year, and already I’m thinking about the beginning of next school year. One practice in my classroom that I will not change, no matter what grade I teach, is my “Set of 3.” I discovered this simple maxim from John Wooden, long-time basketball coach at UCLA. Keep in mind, I’m not a huge sports fan, but my husband is (which makes me one by default, I guess!), so when he brought home Wooden’s “little blue book,” simply titled Wooden, I decided to read it. It’s meant for more than just sports fans, and includes his philosophy on a successful life.

No Whining, No Complaining, No Making Excuses

Although I enjoyed the entire book, I zoned in on this one truism. Wooden’s Set of Three is really part of his Two Sets of Three, but I focus on the second set for my students.

I created this poster a few years ago, and think its simplicity helps the message get through. 

I take time at the beginning of the school year to explicitly teach classroom expectations, including rules, procedures, routines and the Set of Three. As you can see, I have a separate poster for our classroom rules, which all center on RESPECT. These rules encompass everything that happens in our room, so I don’t have to write 27 different rules for each type of infraction that could possibly occur, only to have students find some sort of loop-hole. No sir-ree!

But the Set of Three is very specific to the kinds of behaviors I might see on a regular basis, and this allows me to address the transgression directly, and then move on without losing any significant instructional time.

“But I didn't have time to do my homework.”

Have you heard this before? Unfortunately, I have, all too often, especially in September. Another “oldie but goodie” is “Do I have to?” (Really??) There is nothing that irks me more than a nine-year-old whining.

Like I mentioned, it’s very simple: whenever one of my students says anything that falls into one of these categories, I simply point to the poster and say, “So which one of these three are you doing now?” With no exceptions, the behavior stops, because the students have no argument. I’m not asking them IF they are doing it, I’m pointing out that they are, indeed, participating in one of the listed behaviors. I am not asking them WHY they are doing it, which only leads to a longer debate. I am merely asking them to confirm WHICH one they are doing. Once they do, we are all able to move on, because they know they are expected to stop. I don’t say any more. If the student continues to argue (“But…”), then, with a very stern teacher look on my face, I point again to the poster, and walk away.

Thankfully, in the several years that I've used the Set of Three, I haven’t had a student become oppositional with me. That’s not to say that this method is the cure for that. I have had students temporarily shut down after an encounter like I've described. However, my goal is to get the entire class back on task as soon as possible. This can only happen if I refuse to get into a debate with my student.

I don’t see a time when I will ever stop posting and referring to the Set of Three. It’s been a life-saver for me!

I’d love to hear from you: What fast-and-easy on-the-spot behavior management system do you use with your students to get them quickly back on task?

Amy Marie 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Back to School Jump Start! Organizing Tip!

Happy Friday, friends!  It's Ashley, here from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd, and I'm here today to share a quick tip with you about getting your classroom "summer ready" but at the same time prepping for a quick jump start to your classroom prep for back to school!! :) (Please don't hate me for using the B*** t* S***** words haha :) )

In the district that I teach in, we have to pull everything off of our walls, cover up all bulletin boards, take things down from the ceilings, etc... and let's face it - it comes down a LOT faster and a LOT easier than it goes up.  When I think about the monthsssss that I put into prepping my classroom for the first day of school, I always try to figure out SOME way to do it do it FASTER than previous years.  It still always takes me forever, BUT I wanted to share a couple of things with you about what I do that HELP me get my classroom ready when I head back to school.

By the time April and May roll around, my "next year" gears start turning and I start collecting ideas, goodies, organizing tools for the new year.   I collect them/create them/buy them semi-sporadically, and I want to make sure that I have it all ready to grab and go for the following year, so I put them ALL in a large box and label it "Back to School Jump Start!".  Then, when I head back in to start setting things up for back to school, that's my go-to box to start with!

Also, as I tear down things that I keep up all year long and that I know will be going right back up on the walls the following year, I tuck it all in one basket/box too.  It just makes it so simply organized and ready to be at my finger tips when I head back in after the gloriousness of summer! Here is a little snap shot of my "Back to School Jump Start" boxes that I have officially started! :)

This one has a few of my all year long posters - fire drill, inspirational quotes, etc - AND my student name tags for next year.  I've also tucked in some new organizing teacher trays that will be making their debut next year!

The lunch count sign and labels are down and tucked away for the year, too, including some classroom labels, and Mrs. Schroeder letters for my classroom door that I now will have ready to grab and go in August! :)

I'm all about a system, and this one is easy, FREE, and SUCH a time saver when you head back to school!! It makes the back to school craziness go so much smoother!

Oh ANNNNND if you're looking for a fun, summery-ish themed activity or 2 to do for the final few days, check out my newly posted Pirate Palooza!!! It's great for 1st and 2nd graders!! :)

Thanks so much for reading, friends!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Summer Lovin'

Hey, friends! This is Crystal from Once Upon a Classroom: The Tale of Two Teachers! I'm so excited to be back for another blog post. Let's start with a little about what's going on in my life right now...

I just finished my MASTERS!! WAHOO! (insert Happy Dance!) I am scheduled to take my exams in June, and then will have my Reading Specialist endorsement.

Spring is in the air in Chicago, and I'm only 1 1/2 weeks away from running my first marathon! Wish me luck! (I will need it!)

I got some new glasses...

I moved all the furniture out from the walls and cleaned the floors! Crazy, right? However, with these wood floors, it HAD to be done! 

And finally, I'm about to end my first year teaching first grade with these lovelies! Here we are on a field trip at the Adler Planetarium! 

So many fun things are going on in our room. The first grade students at my school continue to amaze me on a daily basis. I always think I will stump them with certain math problems, or reading skills, yet they always come back with some awesome question or response. We are constantly growing and challenging each other. 

In the next three pictures, my students are taking part in a re-engagement lesson from a formative assessment we took. After the students take this, I analyze their responses and put a variety of them on the board. With their whiteboards, the students look at the problem again, and decide which answers are right and which are wrong. Then, they have to EXPLAIN their thinking. Not only does this allow them to analyze math to a deeper level, it creates wonderful, rich discussion about mathematical practices. 

In these two pictures, my students are paraphrasing text! While reading both fiction and nonfiction, we stop, think, and then paraphrase the text. This skill helped lead into our next unit of study on summarizing. It was really great to hear them thinking, asking questions, and then using the ideas of the text in their own words. 

Be sure to check out my new product! It's on sale until Sunday! Enjoy!

Crystal :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Daily 5 - Work on Writing

Heyo! It's Andrew from Mr. First Grade! I wasn't able to post last month, as my life was becoming overrun by Sweeney Todd rehearsals! We've done 8 performances so far, and we've got one more today and one more tomorrow afternoon. It's definitely going to be very bittersweet when it's all over... I'll have some semblance of a life back, but I'm going to miss the show dearly! Anyways, I wanted to take a second to share a little more about my journey into the land of the Daily 5!

I read the Daily 5 book over the summer and knew that it sounded like something that would work for me. I am fortunate enough to still have an aide in my classroom for all of language arts, who runs her own reading group, which mostly focuses on phonics and writing skills. (I know, right?! Don't hate me).

I generally followed the routine outlined in the back of the book in terms of pacing, and it worked very well for me! When it came to work on writing, I knew that I wanted to have something more than just journaling available for my firsties. I slowly introduced various activities they can do during this time. I use Lori Rosenberg's I Can Write A...Writing Menu, which I highly recommend if you're setting up a writing center! It's filled with gazillions of options for your kiddos to write. At first, I only introduced: letter, postcard, how-to, list, sticker story, and scribble story, which is a huge hit. However... If I read one more scribble story where they turn the scribble into a roller coaster or a mountain, I'll scream. As the year went on, I gradually introduced new options for them to choose, and phase out ones that have been out for a while.

Anywho, here's what my Work on Writing station has shaped up to be. I got the cart from Big Lots on sale for $25 well spent. Basically, I made a drawer for each option they can choose. They know they can choose ONE of these during each Work On Writing, then they must journal. Some choose to only journal, which makes my heart smile.

I decided that the top drawer was going to be their spot to turn in finished writing. There's also a mailbox (which I forgot to take a picture of) that they can mail letters and postcards to friends in the room. In order to turn in work, the students must highlight their name on their paper, mostly because some of the worksheets don't have spaces for names, so they always forget to squeeze it in.

Here's a peek at my writing focus board. Sorry for the terrible not-so-great quality... My iPhone 5 went swimming last summer and I've been surviving on an old iPhone 4 from ebay that has a terrible not-as-great camera. The posters about what they can write all came in the writing menu pack. I also plopped up a few of my "I Can" Statements for things we're focusing on in writer's workshop.

I also put our anchor chart that we created about things to write about. The pencil about what do writers write came from The Teacher Wife.

Do you Daily 5? How has it worked for you? I'd be anxious to see how others have it up and running... I hope to bring you posts about how I run the other stations in my room in the next few months!

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week

Hi There!
It's Miss Nelson and I'm just popping in to say Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!!!! There is a fabulous blog article that you should check out from Jen Hatmaker titled MY WISH-LIST FOR TEACHERS. It really is a wonderful post of encouragement. Jen really "gets" teachers and the field of education. I promise it's worth the read! I hope everyone has been feeling appreciated this week. I know that each and every one of you give so much to the profession. It's time you start taking care of yourself ! My goal this summer is to SLOW DOWN and have a little fun. I'll be making a summer bucket list and I'll be posting my adventures on instagram. I'd love for you to follow along.

 Miss Nelson

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Saturdays in Spring Winner is...

We can't thank you enough for the support you gave us on our Saturdays in Spring series. Last week, we had a giveaway for a $25 TPT gift card. Drum roll please... the winner is...


We will be emailing you with your TPT gift card!

Thank you to everyone for participating!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Saturdays in Spring - Week 4

Our "Saturdays in Spring" is coming to a close, but we have some surprises in store! Last week, our lucky commenters received the full product from the freebies that they downloaded. This week, we have a giveaway going on to win a $25 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card! Check it out below:

Andrew from Mr. First Grade is sharing 20 Floral Papers - beautiful digital paper to use in any creation.

Alyssa from Just A Primary Girl is sharing Monthly Calendar Journals - it includes skills such as money, fact families, time, place value, and weather.

Carrie from Table Talk with C and C is sharing Animals QR Code Cards - an interactive activity for students to use with any animal unit.

Crystal from Once Upon a Classroom: Tale of Two Teachers is sharing Party Planning Math Practice - a fantastic way to practice addition and subtraction money problems.

Serena from Magic Mistakes and Mayhem is sharing Flower Power Clip Art - a fun set of bright flowers that are perfect for any spring product.

Be sure to enter the amazing giveaway!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All the teachers at Collaboration Connection are working hard to bring you the best posts, ideas, products, etc. As a teaching community, it is important for us to collaborate and share! We really hope you have enjoyed the freebies that have been presented throughout the last four weeks. Please be sure to us individually too, to see what else we have going on! Enjoy these freebies, and good luck!!