Thursday, May 19, 2016

Camp Learn Some More


Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

Perhaps I am one of the few teachers who LOVES the last week of school. 

Assessments are done. The pressure is off...well sorta...

I make a commitment to my students that the last week of school we have FUN.  That's right....I said it.  The "F" word.  Fun. 

Fun in school.  Can you believe it?  It can be done.

Every year I do a camping theme for the last full week of school.  My students love it and I love it.

It's kind of adorable how the kindergarteners ask "Are we going to do that camping thing this year?"  They walk down the hall and see our classroom dark, lit by only the glow of camping lanterns and campfire on the SMARTboard and it becomes a big mystery....

What exactly are we doing?
Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.
Since we have tables in my classroom, I cover them all with plastic "picnic style" table cloths I find every year at the Dollar Store. I don't try and save them.  Some things are just not worth it, in my opinion.

I found this campfire by googling "campfire" on YouTube that I keep playing all day for added ambiance.



We leave the lights off, and camping lanterns also help "set the mood." 

The kiddos love bringing in flashlights and sleeping bags too. Inside the tent, I placed a cooler filled with camping themed books. Charlie, our beagle and classroom mascot really enjoyed being "read to" throughout the day.

I borrowed 2 tents from parents since I'm not a camping type of gal.

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

My first graders really handled the freedom and flexibility of having various tasks at "campsites" well.  We went over the rules and expectations beforehand and this helped to set the tone for success.

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

The classroom was set up by various "campsite" or themed academic tasks. Such as...

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

The Math Mountain campsite has time to the hour, half hour and a few time to the quarter hour task cards.

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.
The campsite also has a Trading post where students can "purchase" various camping supplies by showing the coins needed to make each purchase.

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

The Social Studies Campsite is a popular choice for a great review of mapping skills and cardinal directions.

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

Here, students use a map to "find logs for the campfire."

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

The Science campsite has us venturing outside.  You can't go camping without being outdoors, right?

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

By far, creating a boat out of tin foil and filling it with pennies for a fun STEM project is a favorite with the campers! We made predictions, weigh, measure, plan, work collaboratively, and make comparisons with this super fun activity!

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

The campers also enjoy a scavenger hunt...

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

and some dot-to dot- constellation work to review counting by 5's.

Of all the campsites, as I'm sure you can guess, the tent is the favorite, so I save that for the reading campsite.  We call it "Reading River."

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

At Reading River, students enjoy close reads on camping, bears, squirrels, and ants by flashlight inside the tent.

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

At the Writing Ravine, students can write about their camping adventures for the week in their camping journals as well as how to make s'mores


Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.




Campers keep track of which campsites they have visited with this handy checklist:

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.
Campers can earn badges when they complete the activities at each campsite.
Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.

So.....Are you ready to go camping?

Engaging integrated and thematic camping unit for elementary classroom.


You can find this Classroom Camping Resource here.

Do you do any fun end of the year themes in your classroom? I always love hearing from you!














Sunday, May 15, 2016

My Embarrassing Teacher Moment...

Have you ever had one of those embarrassing teacher moments?

You know the ones I mean...the kind where your admin sees something that was not so....well...."becoming" and you just want to yell out, "Wait!  That's not what it looks like!"

Well that happened to me last week.  My school is super big and brand new. Music class is wayyyyy down the other end of the building. Like...in the next town. Well, not really, but it might as well be. 

Let's just say that walking my class of 21 up and down the hall (and especially to music) is not my favorite part of the day.

Anyway, we were walking back from music and this is what I see when I look behind me and my line of first graders.

Students have been photoshopped in "Silhouette" to protect their identity.
 
Not pictured here is the one student who was looking out the window, the other who was skipping over the tile, the other who was spinning around and around the column, and the other who was sitting...yes, sitting...on the ottoman in the lobby.  And as if that isn't bad enough...around the corner comes....Mr. Mulkerin, our principal and....the superintendent.  I mean...REALLY?!!  This is my defining moment?  How wonderful! 
 
Of course you know what happened when we got back to class. 
 
I'll spare you the details.
 
Something had to be done.  Aside from dressing like Miss Viola Swamp, this was about to get real up in here!
 
 
I thought about it in the shower and in my car. At my son's baseball game and while walking the dog- you know, all those moments when you can't possibly write down your great ideas. I did manage to remember most of them and I'm pretty excited about this.
 
I'm excited about it because...it WORKS!  It really works!
 
It's May. Let's keep it real here, the kiddos are maybe listening to about 25% of what I say a day. Ok...more like 15%. So this system had to be "fast and furious."  It also had to be easy because- since we're keeping it real- who has time for anything BUT easy!
 
Here's how it works:
 
 I line the class up and then I walk behind them, not in front of them, with them leading behind like I used to do. They think it is so I can look for a Hallway Hero, and in essence it is.  I get a much better view when I can see them all in front of me instead of when I am leading the line and they are all behind me doing goodness knows what! At about 2:30 every day they start asking me “Who’s the Hallway Hero today?”  So let me share the magic because in my mind…that’s exactly what it is!

I tell the students the following:  “I will be looking for a “Hallway Hero” throughout the day as we walk in a line. A Hallway Hero is a student that shows responsibility and respect when walking in the hallway.  A Hallway Hero is a walker.  It is someone who has their hands by their side at all times and their voices off.  If they are in line and their friend behind them is not making a good choice, they have the right to make a better choice for themselves and move themselves to the end of the line.  I would definitely notice that in a Hallway Hero. A Hallway Hero is someone that I would be able to choose to go on an errand because they are showing me that they are polite and respectful citizens in our school.  Are you a Hallway Hero?  I will be watching.  If you are identified as a Hallway Hero, you will be given a Hallway Hero Award to take home.  You will also be able to choose a reward to cash in and use for the last 10 minutes of our school day or to use the next morning. It's up to you."
 
The rewards are made to be quick and easy to implement in the last 10 minutes or so of the school day. They are simple. So simple, they may seem silly, but to a 7, 8, or 9 year old they can be pretty great.  Coloring on the white board is pretty fun, after all, isn’t it? Now instead of telling them NOT to do it during math time, they can earn it as a Hallway Hero!
 
Here's what it looks like...
 
motivating behavior management strategy to help your students be respectful and well behaved citizens in the hallway
 
motivating behavior management strategy to help your students be respectful and well behaved citizens in the hallway
The above rewards are editable so if you can adapt them to fit the needs of your classroom.
 
motivating behavior management strategy to help your students be respectful and well behaved citizens in the hallway
 
 
You can find Hallway Hero here or by clicking on any of the images above or the image below.
 
motivating behavior management strategy to help your students be respectful and well behaved citizens in the hallway
 
What tips and tricks do you have for teaching respect and responsibility in your classroom and in your school hallways? I always love hearing from you!

motivating behavior management strategy to help your students be respectful and well behaved citizens in the hallway
 

 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Teacher Books vs. Student Books


My husband and I had a wild Friday night.

It started with take out and one thing lead to another.

We ended up here....


I know right?!!!!

What could be better than this!!

It's a used book superstore.

I was on the hunt for Mo Willems' books.

When I arrived I knew exactly where they where and this is what the shelf looked like:

 
Now it looks like this...
 
 
That's because I bought them all. Yup. All of them.  When I when to pay for them I noticed they were the full price of $7.99 for the hardcover books instead of the reduced price of the used books.  The sales lady told me that they can't keep Mo Willems' books on the shelf. They sell them new because they are in such demand.
 
I should say that I hemmed and hawed about the price but I didn't.
 
The truth is absolutely no other series of books has inspired my first graders to want to read like Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie Books. None.  They LOVE them!  My highest readers love them. My lowest readers love them. My average readers love them. I love them.
 
We love, love, love them!
 
That is why, this display of Mo Willems' books has been on display all week in my family room until I bring them into school on Monday.
Teacher Books vs. Students Books. Using your teacher books in your classroom library.
They make my teacher heart so happy. That cute little card on top?  That came in the last book in the series.  That's right....last. Mo wrote his last book, The Thank You Book and it was just published.
 
Folks, if you buy no other book in your teaching career....BUY. THIS. BOOK. I laughed. I cried. I felt all the feels. It was just.....sigh.
 
I'm going to frame the card and put in on a shelf in our reading center to remind us all that we....are readers.
 
I'm promising myself I will not hoard these books. I will not put them on my "teacher shelf." They are for the kids. I will add them to our classroom library. Books are made to be read and enjoyed in the hands of readers. What better way to inspire my present and future readers?
 
I encourage and challenge you to take those books off your teacher shelves and add them to your classroom library. Teach your students how to respect and love books as much as you do and they will.
 
Then thank them for being readers.
 
Someday they may come back and thank you.
 
 



Thursday, April 21, 2016

Store vs. Stylist


I think there are three types of teachers: 

1. The type who love to shop and dress up.

2.  The type who love teaching, but not so much the dressing up part and aim more for comfort.

3.  Those "shades of grey" who aren't so "black or white" on the matter and tend to have days where they feel like teacher type #1 or teacher type #2.

I consider myself teacher type #3.

So when I'm sitting on the floor with a small group of first graders working on a close read, or leaning forward adding vocabulary cards to the pocket chart, I want to look professional (as professional as one can look sprawled out on the floor among papers, highlighters, pencils, crayons, vocabulary cards, and five 7 year olds) without my body parts hanging out


 
But after having kids and hitting middle age....I've packed on the pounds. 

I'm going to spare you the diatribe on all the diets I've tried.

And.... the lack of time I have to exercise. I just hate it. Plain and simple. I. hate. To. Exercise. So I make excuses not to do it. There. I said it. It's out there.

I also love sweets. And carbs. And food.  I live, people!  Therefore, I'm overweight.  Oh well. I live with it.

Sometimes I live with it.

Sometimes I hate it.  Like....when I have to buy clothes because my "normal" clothes....don't fit anymore. I'm this person if you see me walking around a store near you. Only I'm not this skinny.


Truth be told, I hate shopping. Almost as much as I hate exercising. Ok, well not that much....but close.
 
But the time had come. I looked in the mirror and I could not deny it any longer. I had to get new clothes.
 
So...I put on my big girl pants (Literally and figuratively) and I went shopping. 
 
As I was driving to the store I thought, why don't I just do that online thing where people pick clothes for you? I looked into that and Stitch Fix doesn't carry my size.

Ok, now look it...I'm not an elephant. I wear a size 16 pants. Come on, Stitch Fix, get it together!
 
I searched online and found Dia Box.  They have a wait list so it would take 2 weeks my box to come in the mail.  I don't have 2 weeks. So...off to the store I go...
 
I thought I'd compare clothes shopping in the store versus clothes shopping online. Clothing for what I consider,  NORMAL sized people. 
 


 Disclosure:  Since I hate shopping I went to 2 stores on 2 different days, that were not at the mall. I don't do malls. But they are stores. That counts.
 
 
My first stop was Lane Bryant. They are known for accommodating larger sizes so I thought I would do well.  Shopping, trying on, driving there= 1 hr 20 minutes.  Yup, I timed it.
 
 
Hopefully, by now my husband who reads my blog, realized this post was about clothes and stopped reading because I'm about to share what I paid for the clothes I bought. But...just in case he is reading- Lane Bryant was having a sale of 40% off all clothing so I included the before and after sale price.  True story. Your welcome, Kriss.
 
I bought the following items:
 
 
3/4 Sleeve Crew Neck Cardigan $29.97 @ 40% off = $19.98
 
3/4 Sleeve White Crew Neck Cardigan (same price as above)
 
3/4 Sleeve Crew Neck Lime Green Cardigan (same price as above)
A-Line Midi Skirt w/ Centerfold Pleat $41.97 @ $27.98
 
I also bought a bra and nobody needs to see that because I'm not 20 and my bras aren't sexy.
 
Total spent= $166.38
Total Time= 1 hour 20 minutes
Frustration Level= medium.  (Went from low to medium in the dressing room).
 
The next day, I went to Catherine's. Catherine's is a chain store that also sells larger sized clothing for women.  I bought:
 
Black pants $59 (no sale, sorry Kriss)
 
3/4 sleeve pleated shirt, on clearance for $10.
 
Ankle length side slits maxi skirt $59
 
Total Spent= $128.00
Total time= 1 hour
Frustration level= Low
 
My Store Takeaway: I spent $294.38 and 2 hours and 20 minutes of my time with medium to low frustration. I bought 8 articles of clothing and feel like this:
 
 
Therefore, I have determined that shopping is exercise and that must be why I don't like it.
 
 
These happy shoppers? They are happy because they got a workout out in and....it's over. That's my store takeaway.
 
Moving on to the online stylist...
 
I logged onto Dia&Co. and created an account with my name and email address. It asked me for my birthdate, body type, top size, bottom size, dress size and bra size. After entering that in, I poured myself another drink and I accounted for that in the time below. It then asked what parts of my body I am most comfortable with and which I wanted to keep covered.
 
I chose from a checklist of given styles, my style type and which patterns to avoid, as well as what colors to avoid. It even let me share my social media handles if I wanted to so that my stylist could get an idea of styles I have liked or have pinned to Pinterest, etc.  Lastly, it asked how much I wanted to spend on items in a box, what type of accessories I like, pants, skirts, dresses, tops, etc.
 
I then entered in my credit card info, address, and done. The whole thing took 30 minutes. It was easy.
 
Two weeks later the box came as planned and was on my doorstep after we returned from a weekend with the kids.
 
I opened the box and it looked like this:
 
 

Inside was a note from my stylist, explaining what was chosen and how the pieces could be worn:


Hayden LA-Maxine Top $45
 
This was cute and I tried it on:
 
 
This is the same challenge I face in stores. It looks real cute on the hanger and would look real cute on a thinner girl.  On a bigger girl like myself, it made me feel bigger.  Maybe the busy pattern called too much attention? I'm not sure. It is $45 so I am sending it back.
 
Next up:
 
Modamix-Corinne skirt $79.
 
I don't need another black and white piece.  Nor do I need more stripes. But....I love stripes. I decided I should try it on.
 
 
I loved it on!  It flattered my figure and was super comfortable.  I can wear it dressy for school or keep it casual with a jean jacket . It is more than I wanted to spend but I really liked it. I kept it.
 
Next up:
 

Zenobia-Printed Chiffon Blouse $42.00
 
 The colors and pattern would not be something I would normally pick but that is one of the reasons I wanted to try an online stylist (that...and because of the whole exercise thing). I really liked this. But...would it look good on?
 
 
I think so. I'm keeping it. The jeans I am keeping too.
 
Fashion to Figure-Judith Skinny Jeans $42.90
 
When I first saw the color of these jeans I did not like them at all because I am drawn to dark color jeans. When I tried them on, I loved them. They are very flattering and even more comfortable. I never thought I would be able to wear skinny jeans at the size I am. Thanks Dia & Co!  If it has the word skinny in the name and I can wear it....sold!
 
The last piece:
 
Cayenne Necklace $46
 
The necklace is pretty but- way more than I would spent on costume jewelry and I feel guilty after spending so much on clothes already. I returned it.
 
I paid a $20 "styling fee" for this box. It included 5 pieces.  It also comes with a postage paid envelope to return any items you don't want.
 
 
This is super convenient because I can just put this in my mailbox and I don't have to make a specific run to the post office.
 
So the $20 "styling fee" goes towards anything I decide to keep. If I decided to keep none of the items, I'm out the $20. If I kept the entire box, I would get a 20% discount off the order. I put the 2 things I didn't want in the envelope, put the envelope in my mailbox, completed a very brief rating on the box for my stylist and I signed up for another shipment. I can't afford to keep buying clothes so this next box will probably be my last (I promise, Kriss).
 
My Online Stylist Takeaway: Total: $143.90 for 3 pieces
Total Time: 45 minutes. This includes time I spent online filling out the profile and trying on the pieces and completing the survey after receiving my box for my stylist
Frustration level- none.
 
I will take the online stylist any day over store shopping for clothes, but that's just my opinion. I feel like I spent more in the store because it was there, I wanted it to be done, I felt like I "needed it," and I was frazzled.
 
I feel like I got things from my "stylist" that I would not normally choose for myself and I like that. At the same time, the clothing my stylist chose is practical. I can wear to school, on the weekends, out for dinner, etc. I like breaking out of my comfort zone a bit.
 
If you're not a shopper, like me...I highly recommend it. I was very pleased with Dia & Co. They accommodate women sizes 14-32. Have you tried an online stylist?  What has your experience with it been? Please comment and let me know.