Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to Teach Student Organization

We all have those students. It's dismissal time and they are lined up for the bus.  In a moment of panic, a little darling hands you a note that they are supposed to be picked up today. The note is crumpled, ripped and partially wet.  Ummm....thanks. This is the same student that can't find their homework, they have no idea where that signed permission slip went, and their cubbie could rival a college dorm room.

Before I had kids I swore I was not going to raise an insufficient human being on this planet. And then....I had kids. 

Rather than remind Tyler 75,000 times to make his bed I just did it for him.  I had to get to work on time so it was easier to put his homework in his backpack for him. Who the heck has time to watch a 9 year old stand with the cabinet wide open for 10 minutes staring at the cereal boxes as if the decision he is about to make is as important as world peace? "Buddy, Mom has to get to school. Choose a cereal and let's get eating."  Then it was teeth brushing, shoe finding, and shoe tying and the "Oh wait, I can't wear these todays. I have gym. I have to wear sneakers."  

And then it hit me. The next morning when the same scene replayed it hit me like a ton of bricks. The phone was ringing, the dog was outside barking to come in, I had spilled coffee on my blouse, and I stubbed my toe on the edge of Tyler's bed as I was making it. I was already 10 minutes late and I hadn't even left the house yet.  Where was Tyler you ask?  Outside. Playing basketball. Stop. The. Madness. 

After dropping Tyler off I started to think about that boy at school- the one who handed me the note at 3:05 all ripped and crumbled with his papers falling out of his backpack that he worked so hard on that day. I thought about whose job it is to teach children how to be accountable, responsible, and organized. Is it a parent's? Aren't they just as busy and harried and stressed and overworked as I? Someone's got to teach them, right?  But....who in the world has time for that?!!! If I was going to take this on it is going to have to be quick, easy, and something my first graders could begin and maintain with minimal help.  I was on a mission. Saving children from their disorganized mess one pile of papers at a time. I asked parents to donate binders.

and plastic file inserts with a pocket for the binders. 

I labeled the folders: Spelling, Reading, Math, and Notices and placed them in the 3 ring binder for each student.

Any homework that goes home and once it is completed, goes in the folder, in the pocket.  If they have spelling homework, it is in the spelling folder.  Math homework is in the math folder, etc.  And guess what? I don't get emails asking if there is spelling homework anymore. I also don't get notes at 3:05 anymore.  The kids LOVE having binders like "big kids."  They are invested and they have bought into my master plan. Hook, line and sinker.

And that adorable and sweet but incredibly unorganized son of mine? He has a binder now too!

He has his class schedule in the front and his spelling words for the week on a ring of index cards.  (The handwriting....well.....that's another blog post).

Tyler records his homework each day in his student planner which always stay inside his 3 ring binder with the plastic folders.  We added a piece of ribbon to the back as a place holder. Now there are no more school papers all over my car that have fallen out somewhere between school and home and vice versa.

I'm now off to tackle "Bed Making 101" with my youngest.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week: Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of Teacher Appreciation Week!  If you missed out yesterday, you can check out some great teaching secrets for your classroom HERE.   Also, you don't want to miss out on the two giveaways we are hosting this week.  If you didn't enter yesterday, you can do so now.  Make sure you enter for both prize bundles so you have double the change to win!

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #2 Here

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #1 Here

Today, we are offering a collection of high quality classroom resources at a huge discount.  Below is a list of Best Selling Resources that have been discounted by 20%.  You can receive an additional 10% off at checkout by using the code THANKYOU.

Are you implementing close reading in your classroom? This Close Reading: Weather resource is great to use for anytime of year and it's on sale.

An InLinkz Link-up

We have also put together a collection of $1.00 Deals to help stock up your classroom for the rest of the year and next year.  I know I have added several of these deals to my cart.  Don't forget to use the code THANKYOU at checkout for maximum savings!

 These sight word resources make agreat for review or as an intervention tool for sight word recognition. You can find "Paw-fect" Sight Word Practice: Fry's List 1 and "Paw-fect Sight Word Practice: List 2 are on sale for $1in my store today.

Monday, May 4, 2015

What Works? Successful Teachers Share Ideas from the Classroom

I'm very honored and humbled to be able to share my post among some of the best of the best.  Marissa from Inspired Owl's Corner and Lisa from Pawsitively Teaching are amazing teachers!  I think teaching may very well be the toughest and yet the best job on earth.  In celebration of teachers everywhere who give their hearts, love, laughter, tears, and dedication to their students every day we are sharing our secrets, our "tricks of the trade" sort of speak and hope you find some great ideas here yourself!
My district has begun a big shift from the Daily 5 model for reading to balanced literacy. Although the two models are similar in that they are both models (not curriculum) for reading instruction, they also differ enough that I have been quite busy finding resources to gauge my instruction.

The balanced literacy model is heavy on mini lessons that emphasize a literacy skill. These skills focus on reading comprehension skills (such as visualization, inferencing, story retell, character traits, etc.)  It involves using a mentor text to introduce the skill and then a mini lesson that focuses on that skill.
This book is awesomeness!  I love how it not only gives lesson ideas, but each literacy skill is also broken down into lessons. There are lists of mentor texts for each skill/reading strategy.

Some of the best writing I have seen my students do is when they can grab a clipboard and sit somewhere in the room and relax a bit.  Whether it's sitting next to a friend, laying on the rug, huddled under their desk, when I give my students some freedom and choice I can see their creativity really shine through.

I have used this classroom behavior management system for years and it truly works. I love how I can print out for a sub the same note that I send home to parents regarding the system, so that if I am out my sub is able to keep our behavior plan consistent.

We formulate our classroom rules together, I write them on chart paper and the students sign it. Each student gets a pocket with 4 cards (pink, orange, yellow, and green.)

 I purchased this one from Lakeshore Learning but you could easily use any type of pocket chart or even a calendar chart. If you prefer not to display the pockets, and rather leave them with students at their desks or as individual behavior plan for students, this system can work both ways.

Each student starts each day with their card on pink since I am "tickled pink" with their behavior. If they break a classroom rule, they turn their card to orange and in the process of doing so, they tell me (usually privately) what mistake they made and how they can make a better choice the next time.  If they break a classroom rule again, or need another reminder, they turn their card to yellow, have a 5 minute break and tell me how they could make a better choice.  If their card goes to green, they know that results in an email, note, or phone call home.  If their card stays on pink for the day they get a hole punch on their punch card.  Nothing fancy, just an ordinary hole punch.  After 15 hole punches, they may either choose a prize from our classroom prize box or they may choose a reward coupon.  I don't know what it is about them but the kiddos love reward coupons. 
I store them in this plastic bin for nails, screws, etc that I got at a hardware store for $8.

Because the reward coupons have been so popular, I made "Brag tags" to go along with them.   Students proudly wear them to show others how their their positive behavior and academic acheivements make us, as well as themselves so proud!  They love being stopped by our principals, teachers, and even older students to ask why they are wearing one! Recently, some of the kiddos have been asking me if rather than wear them, if they can collect them like playing cards. Some of them have also added them on rings to hang of their backpack.

This complete behavior management system (punch cards, reward coupons, and brag tales) can be purchased separately or at a reduced rate as part of a bundle in my store.

How about some goodies to make your life a little easier?  We have an incredibly fabulous giveaway in store for you!  You can enter below.  The more entries you have on the rafflecopter the more chances they have to win!  Good luck!
Just take a look at everything you could win...One lucky reader will win this entire prize package!!!
Prize Bundle #1 Includes
PLUS....$140 Gift Box of Fabulous Teacher Supplies sent to you from Amazon
We aren't finished yet....take a look at everything a second lucky winner will win!!!
Prize Bundle #2 Includes
PLUS....$140 Gift Box of Fabulous Teacher Supplies sent to you from Amazon
Be sure to enter both rafflecopters for a better chance at winning one of these amazing prize bundles!

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #1 Here

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #2 Here

You won't want to miss out on all the other great secrets being shared by successful teachers!  Be sure to check out all the other great posts below.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May Pinterest Picks

It's May! Wow! When did that happen? Time is just zipping by folks!  As we begin winding down the school year it's great to have some cute activities, ideas, and projects on hand. So without further ado, here are my top 3 Pinterest Picks for the month of May.  Many, many thanks to my fabulously talented friends Marissa from Inspired Owl's Corner and Lisa from Pawsitively Teaching for hosting this incredible linky each month. It is always packed with amazing ideas and resources so make sure you check out the  other bloggers who have linked up too!

 This image does not link to a website. It is just an image.
These bird houses, made out of recycled milk cartons, are just adorable. These would look so cute displayed in our classroom as we continue learning about habitats and shelters. 
Click on the image to go to the original pin.

 This dandelion fork craft is darling! I'm thinking of having my first graders write a poem about making a wish that we could do in correlation with this craft. We could display them in the hall outside our classroom.
Click on the image to go to the original pin.

What a cute Mother's Day project this could be!  I really like to use fingerprints or handprints as parent gifts. Using a child's unique fingerprint is so meaningful to parents. I still have mine that my son made in preschool and he's going into fourth grade!

I hope you have found some useful ideas to use in your classroom!  Don't forget to check out the terrific ideas posted by the other bloggers listed below too!