Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Check out my piles!!

TAH-DAH!!  Welcome to my very first link-up courtesy of Mrs. Bainbridge's Class.  (I feel silly saying linky, I'm new to this blogging stuff.  Give me time) ;)

So here's my story...

I am something of a pro when it comes to packing up my room.  At my old district, of the 6 years I spent teaching I've had to pack up and move everything out of my room about 6 times.  Yikes!  Once, I moved rooms during the school year, with the kids in the room, in the middle of the day, given a 3 days notice (not complaining, It was a move for the better ;)).  So yeah, I got this under control.

This will be my first year in a new district, I cannot wait to get my junk out of the attic.  (That would be my ENTIRE classroom)!!

Pile one consists of boxes I've been through this summer.  Nice and organized.

The second and much larger pile is everything else.
Who knows what I have back there!  It's been a whole year since I've been in a classroom :(

Everything from books,

to files, 

to pet paraphernalia.
(Yes, that's a rat cage and fish tank.
Doesn't every classroom need a rat and fish)? 

I've pretty much packed in everything I could get my hands on.

Did I mention that I can't wait to get into my classroom??  Less than a month and I can start setting up!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The First Days of School Book Study part 1

Every summer I like to read How to be an Effective Teacher the First Days of School by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong.  It's a tradition.  It also helps me to start the year organized, inspired, and confident.  Here are my notes from each unit, plus additional information from internet searches, Pinterest, etc. that I found useful and actually do/use in my classroom from year to year.
I have read this book cover-to-cover at least 6 times!
Must read for new teachers.

Unit A helps you to understand why you are teaching in the first place.

1.  Why you need to succeed on the first days of school:
  • Consistency is key:  this creates a safe environment for students that is also predictable and nurturing

Key elements of classroom management

  • Script the first few days of school
    • Some examples from the book and from online searches:
    • Key steps to include in your script:
      • Greet students
      • Assign seats beforehand
      • Have an assignment on board
      • Introduce yourself
      • Teach procedures
      • Explain rules and daily procedures (included in discipline plan)
      • Introduce centers and classroom (and how you want your materials treated)
      • Organize notebooks, label folders
      • Practice, practice, practice!!!
    • Note:  This is a very important step that I do every year.  Before the first day of school, I go over my old scripts and change it up to make it work for the new year.  I make notes to help with planning for the following year.  It gives me piece of mind the night before the first day and everything runs so smoothly!  
  • Establish good control in the first week of school
    • Know your procedures and how you want them to look
      • Sample procedure plan
      • List of daily procedures
  • Know what you are doing
    • Do things right and consistently (consistency is key)!!!

2.  What is an effective teacher?
  • The effective teacher
    • has positive expectations
      • be clear and state these expectations
    • believes the learner can learn
      • don't "write off" your low groups
    • knows that the learner will perform at the levels we expect.
      • low expectations = low levels of achievement
  • A good classroom manager
    • establishes a productive and cooperative working environment
      • all part of management plan
    • designs lessons for student mastery

3.  How you can be a happy first-year teacher:
4.  How you can be an effective veteran teacher:
  • embrace change
  • teach as enthusiastically as you expect your students to learn
    • use the summer to recharge!
  • remember that the school was built for the students, you are employed to serve them
  • don't isolate yourself, be proactive
  • don't be cynical
  • bad habits are difficult to break
  • LISTEN!!!
5.  Why should you use proven research-based practices?
  • It is erroneous to teach as you were taught.
  • Teach based on achievement and the success of your students, not fads
    • if something isn't working, toss it and try something new
    • don't force a lesson because you want to stick to your plans, be flexible 
  • Examples:
  • Know what, how, and why you are doing something.

This concludes Unit A from How to be an Effective Teacher the First Days of School.  I hope you found this helpful.

If you are reading/have read this book, what did you find most helpful from this unit?  For me, it was the scripts.  I cannot tell you how helpful it is to have those first few days organized!

*Posted with permission.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Preparing for the First Day of School

I love to-do lists.  They make me sane even though I will probably do only half of the to-do's.  I will take the summer to map out my classroom and how I want those first few days to go so that I'm prepared when the whirlwind of in-service meetings begin and then you are left with a day and a half to get your classroom ready.  Maybe some of these ideas will inspire.

Pocket Chart Ideas:

Daily Graph
Story/Poem of the Week
Mountain Language/Math
Weekly Spelling/Sight Words list

Sticker Chart Uses:

Weekly Behavior
Accelerated Math/Reading
Book Club


Math Vocabulary (with pictures/examples)
Science/Social Studies Theme with Literature
Quality Work Examples
Themes/Units (per grading period)
Writing Examples/Themes
Student of the Month
Important/Current Events

Preparing for the 1st Week of School:

Getting to Know You Activities
Ice Breakers
Team Building Games
Practice, Practice, Practice!

To Create Before School Starts:

Center Labels
Name Tags for Centers, Word Wall, Jobs, Graphs, Attendance
Pet Record for Feeding, Cleaning, Take-Home
School Supply Reminder Letter, Record, and Labels
Sight Word Check List, Flash Cards, Activities
Student Folders, Portfolio Check List, Observation Records
Parent Communication Binder, Print-Outs, Contact Info
Data Binder, Scores, Small Groups, Check Lists

The hardest part for me is coming up with a theme for my classroom each year.  I've done jungle (Where the Wild Things Are) and Space (Doig's Discoverers) most recently.  I made a little brainstorming list of possible classroom themes for next school year:
Deep Sea
Daring -
Dancing -
Darting -

Or I can use a familiar book series/character as a theme:
How Do Dinosaurs...?
Amelia Bedelia
Curious George 
Where the Wild Things Are

As the year progresses, don't forget to take pictures!  Take a picture of each student for BOY, MOY, EOY, photos for a monthly newsletter activities, name tags, etc.

Your ideas, input, comments are welcome and much needed!  Please let me know what your first day of school must-haves/traditions/preparations are.

As the summer progresses, I will add to this list and hopefully include documents, pictures, and links that may be helpful.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

KA-BOOM! (A basic facts game).

This game is a great alternative to Around the World with flash cards.  I picked this up at a training my first year of teaching and I've been using it ever since.  The kids love it and it allows every child a chance at answering the math facts.

All students stand at their desk.  The teacher walks around the room with the Kaboom can to each student one at a time.  The student will:
1.  draw a card out of the Kaboom can,
2.  answer the basic fact problem,
3.  answer correctly and the student stays standing,
4.  answer incorrectly and the student sits down,
5.  draw a Kaboom! card and the student sits down.
The last student standing is the winner.

Here's how I made my new Kaboom cans...

One can for each operation
1.  Clean the empty cans.
2.  Measure and cut colorful scrapbook paper.
3.  Glue paper on cans.
4.  Add stickers and done!

You can print out the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division cards here.

Side note, have fun with it!  Do a little dance or make up a cheer when we get to the doubles (1+1, 2x2, etc.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Display Poster

In order to explain a project, here is a handy poster you can add to your bulletin board.  I like to add specific TEKS too.  This is especially handy for open house or when visitors come to school.

This is actually way back in the day when I was student teaching in a 2nd grade classroom.  (I miss you Cohort K)!!

A closeup of the poster.

Daily Folders

Here is a form that I created after years of trial and error.  I wanted to make something that would give parents as much information about their child's day while keeping it simple and quick for the teacher to fill out on a daily basis.  This is just a sample that can be customized to fit your school's behavior plan and color charts.

Behavior Calendar


I like to be prepared ahead of time for the first day of school, so I print out labels for my folders, journals, notebooks, etc.  Sometimes I spend too much time organizing, but that's what keeps me sane.

P.S.  I don't use all these labels in a given year.  I was just trying to cover as many bases as possible.