Saturday, September 13, 2014

Classroom News and Graded Work

Happy Weekend! I stopped by real quick today to show you how I manage graded work and keeping the parents up to date on what's happening in the classroom. At our school we have Tuesday folders because that is the day we are supposed to send home any flyers the school hands out. So to coincide with that, I send home graded work as well. I only do this bi-weekly because it is much easier to manage. I use a mailbox to sort my graded work throughout the two weeks.

Every other Tuesday, I take the graded work from each child's slot and attach a newsletter that includes news on what we are learning and important dates. I also circle the child's work habits and behavior score. (Sometimes, if needed, I will add a note regarding that specific child.) Here is a pic of the one I sent home this past week. 

The kids bring this home and parents are supposed sign the newsletter and send only that sheet back in the Tuesday folder. I've had parents tell me they love this system because they get to see what is happening in class, not only by what I state in the newsletter, but also through their child's work. After the top sheet is returned, I check off that I received it and file it away in the individual student files. I am sharing an editable version of the newsletter so if you'd like it, click on the picture below. (You will need PowerPoint to add the news section. I used Kristen ITC font which is on most computers.) 

Hope this was helpful to someone. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What We've Been Up To!

It's been a busy couple of weeks! We are finally done with beginning of year assessments. Thank goodness! Love being able to get down to business and I am pretty sure the kids do too. This blog post is a hodge podge of some of what we've been up to.
Our county's 3rd grade teachers decided it was best to start with the standard that covers representing and interpreting data first. We knew this was much easier than starting with larger numbers in place value and you can have a little fun while easing back into school. So we've been working on data with bar graphs, picture graphs and soon we'll be doing line plots. We've been doing notebook prompts and centers from my Dealing with Data pack. Here's a picture of one of my kiddo's completed bar graph center activity.

I love that these are low prep and all they need are a paper clip, pencil and dry erase marker. Keeps them busy when I need to pull a small group. If you are interested in either the notebook prompts or center activities, click the pictures below.


For word study I have 3 groups because I use Words Their Way for differentiated instruction. On days that the kids are practicing their words, I pull a group to the back table and play a game with them using their words for the week. The first game I used this year is Tic-Tac-Toe. I made and laminated the boards and the kids choose 9 of the words off their list to write in the spaces. I turn over a word card, and they have to say where in the sort it goes. Then using a dry erase marker, they write an X or O over their word if they have it. The first person to get three in a row is the winner. If we have extra time, I let them play until someone covers their whole board. The kids love it and it helps us practice the word patterns. I'm sharing the boards I made so if you'd like them, click on the pic. 

The beginning of the year is all about practicing what a complete sentence is. We worked on subjects and predicates first and now we've moved onto complete and incomplete sentences. Since we worked on subjects and predicates first, the kids are having an easier time identifying the complete sentences. So today we did a complete/incomplete sentence sort in groups. They had to sort the sentences or phrases under the correct heading. Then once they were finished, they needed to use the answer key to check their work. (Forgot to take a pic!) I was really hoping to use the QR codes answer key that comes in my pack but unfortunately our technology wasn't working out. So we did it the old fashioned way! If you would like to check out the activities I've been using for sentences, click on the picture.

I'll wrap this up by talking about Reading. Once we did the beginning of year lessons like choosing a just right book and building up our stamina in reading, I was able to start conferencing with students. Over the summer, we were given a conference sheet that we could use. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for so I created my own using it as a reference. I copy 2 to a page, front and back and it saves a ton of paper. It's so easy to check off things and makes the conference times quick and painless. If you'd like to try it out click on the pic. 

So that's what we've been up to. Can't believe it's already our 4th week of school! For anyone that just started school today, hope your year starts off great!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Teaching Kindness

The beginning of the year is full of routines and procedures. I also use this time of year to set a tone of kindness and respect in my classroom. On the first day of school I read Have You Filled A BucketToday? 

This is an amazing book that teaches kids how treating others affects how others treat them. Then I explained a system I have in class to help them fill each other's buckets. Every time one of the kids does or says something nice for someone else in the class, I place a cotton ball in the bucket. It's the size of the Target dollar bin buckets. (Sorry, forgot to take a pic!) You can really use any size according to how fast you want the bucket filled.

They can also earn cotton balls if my bucket is filled when others compliment them or they go out of their way to do something nice. Once the bucket is overflowing with cotton balls, they can vote on a class celebration. A couple of celebrations from last year were a junk food party and a game party. The parties only lasted about an hour so they fit into our very busy schedule. This really helped us celebrate being kind to one another and becoming more aware of our actions. 

A new activity I did this year was centered around making the kids aware that once they say something they can't take it back. I passed out a heart to each student and had them decorate it. Then I read the book Chrysanthemum which is about a character that gets teased for her name, by other classmates.

As I read, I had the kids put wrinkles into their heart every time someone said something mean to Chrysanthemum. After I finished reading the book, I told them to put their heart back to the way it was when I gave it to them- without wrinkles. I sat and watched as they said things like, "But it's never going to be like the way it was." Then I explained that words do this to our hearts. When we say something, we can't take it back. We can apologize but they will still leave a mark on our hearts. I loved seeing their understanding of this topic. We had a great conversation and then they glued their hearts to the chart titled, "Our words leave a lasting mark." 

What kinds of things do you do to teach about kindness in the classroom? I'd love to hear how others teach this very important topic. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Meet the Teacher Night

Whew! What a crazy first week back for teachers! My school admin rocks and let us spend most of our time in the rooms working. Love them! I am very exhausted but can't shut my brain off. Thursday was our meet the teacher night. We call it Meat and Greet because we serve hamburgers and hot dogs. I had heard sweet things about some of my kiddos for this year so was looking forward to meeting them. This is the only open house we have as a school and it is very informal. There is no presentation in my class since families pop in at various times between 6-8. My set up was very simple this year. I didn't want it to be overwhelming for the families or myself. When the families walk in, they sign in, fill in their child's form of transportation and pick a day that is best for conferences. 

While the parents were signing in and filling out the forms, I talked with the kids and had them pick out some books to take home. They were leveled readers that I no longer use and figured they would be great to send home. (Forgot to take a pic of it.) After chatting with the families a bit, I gave them a packet with my parent handbook, supply list, the first book order, our district's attendance policy and my contact info card which is magnetic.

My teammate was going to send home book orders that night and I thought it was a great idea! Sometimes I wonder if the parents ever see them and this was a great way to make sure they do. I typed up a little letter to attach to it. If you'd like it, just click on the picture. You just need to fill in the code for your classroom and sign your name. 

Once they were getting ready to leave, I gave them a bag of popcorn with the label Thanks for Poppin In!. My hope is that they go home and talk about the night while having a little treat. 

Some of the kids took a look around the room but there was nothing on the student desks yet. They will be choosing their seat on the first day. This is the first time I have let them do that so we will see. (Am I crazy?) Of course I am totally ready to move them around when needed and will be making sure they know that!

That's about it for meet the teacher night. We are really blessed that Friday and Monday are work days because now I can just focus on planning with my team before school starts on Tuesday. 

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Soaring Sentences!

One of the first things we practice in writing every year is writing sentences. I don't know about you but this is always an ongoing battle in my class. The kids need practice, practice and more practice. A couple of years ago I created some activities to supplement my teaching of this topic. I just redid the whole file because quite frankly, it needed a makeover.

The activities I use come from my file Soaring Sentences. 

Here's a bit about how I use these activities. We start with subjects and predicates. There is a poster for each of those topics. You can also create an anchor chart for whole group reference and use the posters for a center or small groups. There is also a worksheet that you can use for individual assessment. 

I didn't include an activity for subjects and predicates because the kids come up with their own for a fun activity. One half of the kids have to write a subject and the other half a predicate. Then they have to match up the subjects and predicates to create sentences. I then write, what will surely be hysterical sentences, on a chart. 

When we are ready to move on to complete sentences, I use the complete and incomplete sentence sort activity. I give each table team the sort and they have to work on it together. There is a text answer key which can be copied on the back of the sort cards themselves. There is also a QR code answer key. You can easily make this a center instead and include the posters for reference in the center. There are two worksheets that cover the topic of complete sentences and can be used for assessment.

When they write complete sentences, punctuation is also important so I have an activity and worksheet for that as well. I give each table team the activity to work on together and we review as a class. There is also a text and QR answer key for this activity.

Some standards require students to know the 4 types of sentences so I included a bingo game to practice that in a fun way.

You can check out the complete file here. And it will be 28% off during TpT's Blast Off Back to School Sale Monday and Tuesday. I officially go back to school next week and will post pics of my classroom progress throughout the week on instagram so make sure to follow me! Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to Bloggy World!

A Fresh Start

I started blogging back in 2011. I stopped almost a year ago for several reasons that I won't bore you with now. When I visited my blog this summer, I found that my blog background had disappeared. I decided to start blogging again and redo my blog design which is still a work in progress. I took down all my blog posts because I feel like I need a fresh start and because I've learned a few things that I should have been doing all along. So here I go!

A Little About My
Teaching Career

I am going into my 12th year of teaching and all have been in 3rd grade. I did my student teaching in 2nd and never wanted to teach 3rd because it's a testing grade. Well I fell in love and have never left! I just love how independent they are becoming at this age and still have the love for learning. I am a National Board Certified teacher and have been team leader for the past 7 years. I work at a Title 1 school with some amazing people and can't wait to start another year with them.

A New Year

I officially go back to work next Tuesday for 4 teacher work days. I will however be meeting with my team and principal tomorrow for some collaboration and room prep time. I will come back and post some pics of the progress I make. I really want to get most of the set up done before I go back officially so I can focus on planning and collaborating with my team. It's exciting to start a new year but I will miss relaxing and getting up with the sun instead of an alarm. If school could start at 10am I would be one happy girl!

This summer I read Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids by Chris Biffle. My classroom management system has been based on the Responsive Classroom approach but I will be adding some of the WBT approach into the mix. I am using some of the rules from WBT so I created posters to display them. If you'd like them just click on the picture.

Thanks for reading and I hope you come back often to share this next year with me!