Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Open House Pictures and a Boost Sale

Hello! Tonight was open house and my partner teacher and I had a great turn out. I might be biassed but I'm pretty sure my new group of fourth graders are the most darling things ever.  :)  

Since I actually have some energy tonight, I thought I would share some pictures of open house!

Outside my door was my wish list wall.  I used this freebie  at the top of the wall and used my Cameo to cut out the little hands.  They say "Thank You!" on them.  I put my wish list outside my classroom this year because it usually gets lost in the shuffle during open house since my partner teacher and I switch classes during open house.  
We switch classes so we can meet all our students and their families.  Having the wish list outside was a success this year.  I was very blessed to have lots of parents pick up a handprint or two. :)

Outside our room I had our open house sign in sheet, a welcome sign and a copy a poem called "Unity". My cooperating teacher when I student taught shared it during open house and I just adore it.  You can find this super cute version here

Once my students entered the room, they were instructed to find their desk and visit the various stations I had around the room.  I only had a few since I was going to be talking a little bit as well. 

Most of the stations where dropping off supplies such as: notebook paper, tissues and plastic bags. We also instructed our students to put their school supplies in their desk and allowed parents and students to fill out our back to school paperwork if they wished.  We also had a transportation station so we could find out how our students would be getting home tomorrow.  Dismissal on the first day of school is always so nerve racking!

This was on each students' desk. Included was our grade levels information pamphlet, an email sign up list, Jen's Parent Survey and my student survey. We decided to have our students fill out the student survey at home this year since some of them just take a long time to fill them out and we are always missing a few.  I loved having the post it note with directions on the stack of paperwork because I didn't have to repeat them a hundred times.  :)

After about fifteen minutes, my teaching partner and I each did a little presentation with our homerooms.  We introduced ourselves and talked our behavior plan, communication and our organizational binders.  Then we talked about things pertaining to our subject matter.  For example, I talked about my homework packet and a what a day looks like in my reading classroom. 

After our short presentation, we switched classes.  I briefly introduced myself to my afternoon class, went over language arts information, and mingled with my afternoon class and their families for a little bit. 

We used this amazing template from Ladybug's Teacher Files to set up the formal presentation part of our open house.   You can find it {here}.

The mix of stations and an informal presentation was perfect for my teaching partner and I and we were both glad we set up our evening this way. 

I am going to give you guys a full classroom tour this weekend but here is the view from my door. :) 

I'm off to make my lunch and review my first day lessons one more time but I before I go, I wanted to let you know I am participating in TpT's BTS Boost sale tomorrow! 

Everything in my store will be 20% off and TpT will take an additional 10% off the sale price, for a total savings of 28%! :)  You can check out my store {here}.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bright Idea: Managing Transitions With Music

Good Morning! Today is one of my favorite Saturdays of the month, it's Bright Ideas Link Up time! 

While I've posted about my Bright Idea before {here}, it was really more a "check out what I did and love" mention at the end of a blog post.  I occasionally get questions about it, so I thought I'd share more about how I manage transitions such as lining up for specials and recess, coming to the carpet and getting notebooks out for writing, and going to Daily Five Rotations during this month's Bright Ideas Link Up. 

Before I begin, I want to thank Sandy and Mary for sharing how they use music time time transitions in their classrooms. It has really been a lifesaver! 

I keep a Powerpoint Slide that has all the transitions that my students usually do during the day on it up all day.  Imbedded in that Powerpoint are TV show theme songs.  I play the theme song while my students are transitioning to time them. 

This has been a huge lifesaver for me because bigger kids are so very social and see every little bit of downtime as a chance to talk.  :)  Since I only have each class for a limited amount of time, these songs really keep us on track.  My Powerpoint slide is below. :) 

I used clip art, text boxes, and sound files to make my slide.  Once I had the songs, this literally took minutes to put together. :) Below is a screenshot of how to insert sounds into Powerpoint if you've never done it before. 

While I used Powerpoint, you could use your Interactive Whiteboard software as well if you have one.  I create almost everything for my classroom in Powerpoint, so this was the easiest. :)

I use a mixture of songs my kids know and ones they don't. I love using TV show theme songs because they are short enough that I don't have to do any editing of their length.  I use shorter songs for simple transitions and longer songs for the transitions that take a little bit more time.   For example, I play "Be Ready" when I want my students to do something quick like put a paper in their take home folder.  My "Be Ready" song is the Rugrats theme song. I play "Pass Out Papers" when we are passing out tests/papers.  During this time privacy folders and tests are being passed out for each table, so that requires a little bit more time.  My "Pass Out Papers" song is the Saved by the Bell theme song. 

When creating my Transition Time slide, I also picked songs I don't mind hearing again and again and again since I used it with both of my classes. :)  My class' playlist is below. 

Sometimes I change up songs throughout the year. Sometimes we get bored, sometimes we aren't moving fast enough, or sometimes I just can't bear to hear a song anymore.  Currently, I'm looking for a song to replace SpongeBob because he's been my line up for specials song for three years.  I'm a little sick of him. :)

Using music to time transitions has been one of the best things I've done in my classroom.  It's a fun way to hold students accountable during what can often be an unstructured time.  If my students beat their transition song, I always reward them with a Bingo number, especially if it's been one they've struggled with.  My students love hearing these fun songs throughout the day and once they figure how long each song really is, the songs really do help them speed up what they are doing so that they can complete the transition in time.  

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider 
following me me on FacebookInstagram, or Teachers Pay Teachers for more great ideas. 

For even more great classroom ideas, please browse through the link-up below and click on a topic/grade level that interests you.  Thanks for visiting! :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Storing Extra Student Supplies

Pass me the tardy sauce.  It's Thursday and I'm linking up with my sweet friend, Christina, for Wordless Wednesday.  Back to school preparation is rough. #thestruggleisreal #whereisthecoffee

I spent some time in my room yesterday getting Open House ready. One of the things I did was label my students' extra supply crate.  Our school supply list asks for lots of pencils, Expo markers, highlighters, and glue which is great.  However, it took me a long time, I'm talking years, to figure out what to do with all that extra stuff. 

One year we did community supplies, a flop.  For many years they just kept the extras in their cubbies, desks, or backpacks, a mess.  Last year, they kept a few pencils, one highlighter, one glue stick, one Expo marker and their crayons in their supply pouch. Then the rest went in a large Ziploc bag with their name on it in the extra supply crate. 

When their supply pouch stash ran out, they went and got more from their Ziploc bag. Most of my kiddos were very respectful and didn't get in other students' bags. I only had to watch a few of them.

 I hold onto my homeroom's extra supplies and my teaching partner holds on to her homeroom's extra supplies.  They can only ask to get in their extra supply bag when they are with their homeroom teacher.  

Here's my question for you: How do you organize your students' extra/surplus supplies? 

Click {here} to visit this week's Wordless Wednesday link up! :)  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Made It: Dismissal Board Edition

Good Evening! I know I'm a little late to the party, but I still wanted to show off my Monday Made It. 

My project was made last summer but I forgot to blog about it.  Oops! Back to school is so exhausting sometimes. ;)

Being departmentalized means that somethings that worked in my self contained classroom needed to be tweaked in order to work.  One of those things was my transportation chart. I loved it but I knew it would be hard to manage since I would not be taking my homeroom class to the bus.  We switch classes in the middle of the day, so I take my afternoon class to the bus and once we switch we only have a few minutes to unpack and fill out our planners before some of my students leave for intervention.

So I used some dry erase poster board, fabric (purchased at Hobby Lobby), border and Modge Podge to create a new dismissal board that would a bit easier to manage with two classes. 

My teaching partner and I collected any changes in after school routine notes from our homeroom students each morning and then we passed them off to each other.  

I would review the notes and mark any changes on the posters. I also put my non bus rider student schedules on the board as well.  So for example, if Noah was a pick up MWF but a Latchkey student on T/R that would go on the board and stay up all year.  I attached the rosters for chorus and basketball directly to the board as well, so I knew which students participated in these weekly activities.  A little bit of extra organization made sure everyone was always where they needed to be when school ended.

You can download the home to school notes we pass out to our parents here.  All they have to do is fill in the blanks for absences, tardies, and for the days their child's end of the day transportation changes. 

Since the boards are dry erase, they erase easily.  
So if Michael was only being an after school pick up on 8/11, you can simply erase it the next day. 

Many of the subs who worked with my class last year remarked how easy it made dismissal for them. Plus if I have to leave right after school, our office staff can refer to it if there is any confusion at dismissal. Our dismissal board is certainly one of our most used classroom tools. 

If you would like to see more fabulous Monday Made It Projects, make sure you visit Tara's blog for this week's link up! :) You might even see a product of mine in one of her Monday Made It Projects! :) 

Have a great week, friends! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: August 6th

Helo! I wanted to link up with my sweet friend, Miss DeCarbo, last night but yesterday was our wedding anniversary!  :) So I'm linking up tonight, I don't think she'll mind. :)

Earlier this year, I went to a painting class with some of my friends.  While I had fun with the girls, it was a horrible experience for me.  The teacher moved too fast, stood in awkward positions that didn't allow me to see what she was doing, and played music a little too loud so I couldn't hear her directions clearly.  Additionally, there were "helpers" that walked around and rather than help me, they deflated me by saying things like "Just what are you trying to do here?"  I felt extremely frustrated the entire time.  The pace of the class was way too fast and I couldn't keep up. I was constantly several steps behind. I couldn't wait for it to be over. 

On the way home, it hit me.  The frustration I felt must be how some of my students, especially my strugglers, must feel on a daily basis.  Since my painting is what you would say beautiful, I was tempted to throw it away.  Instead, I hung it up in my classroom as a reminder.  As a reminder to slow down, to give clear directions, and to be patient with my students.  It reminds me daily just how frustrating learning/trying something can be. Daily it inspires me to be a better teacher.  

I know this isn't a very Wordless Wednesday, so sorry Christina, but I DO have a question for you.

Do you have anything in your classroom, a picture, quote, or a special memento, that inspires you to be a better teacher?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Made It: Storage Edition

Hi guys! How are you?  I had a very busy and productive in my classroom today.  This is the first year in three years that I haven't had to move classrooms.  It has been glorious.  Essentially everything is unpacked and ready to go.  Well everything except for my library, but I did put all my books in their new bins and my new bookshelf is built. It just needs a good sanding and staining job.  Special shout out to my husband for building it for me! :)

This evening I'm linking up with the lovely Tara today to share some projects I did today in my classroom for Monday Made It!

I have been in love with Catherine's {The Brown Bag Teacher} Literacy Center Storage since she first posted it but I just never had the time to set it up myself.  Today, I got busy though! :)  

I used food storage containers from Target because they were a lot cheaper and I was really looking more for a way to store my task cards.  So I purchased these small containers.  They did, however, have larger ones that would fit large envelopes and recording sheets. 

 Labels are from this decor pack from Hope King.

I have two more containers that I need to make labels for and a could probably stand to use another package of containers as well.  I just know I'll love having my tasks cards and center activities so organized this year!

 I also got to work organizing my seasonal centers and fluency games.  I use these containers and LOVE them. :) I glued some labels on them and sorted my seasonal materials into the appropriate bin.  

Look how pretty they are all in a row! I just LOVE it! :) 

Finally, I organized some of my small group materials.  Time is so valuable when it comes to small groups and I found my kiddos wasted a lot of time last year because they came to my reading table unprepared. So I shopped my classroom and found an adorable basket and some of these cute cups that I previously used for a book raffle.  I already had some IG friends ask me about the cups. I got them at WalMart around Easter time. :) Inside each cup I put materials I commonly have my students use during small groups. 

Inside each cup is a piece of felt, I use these for dry erase marker erasers, a reading pointer, two different colored highlighters, a dry erase marker, and a pencil.  I branded these supplies as mine with some Washi tape.  I plan on storing these cups in a cute basket I found in my classroom, that was originally from Big Lots, and passing them out at the beginning of guided reading groups.  

Hopefully this will cut down on our transitions during our guided reading groups and will help us get started right away! I'll use Clorox wipes a couple times a week to clean off the supplies to prevent germs from spreading around.  :)

So apparently TpT has a sale today and tomorrow. :) You can visit my TpT store by clicking {here}

I'm about to go shopping myself, so I can tackle my next Monday Made It...my library.  This isn't my new shelf, but my two current ones set up so I could get my library books off my student desks. :)

Thanks again, Tara for hosting us all! :) 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My Back to School Lesson Plans and a TpT Sale

Hi friends! I have received a few messages on my Facebook page from teachers who are moving from the primary grades to intermediate and were curious about my back to school lesson plans.  

So I compiled a post for you guys of my first eight days of school.  Make sure you scroll all the way and down read the entire post for links to the products and freebies included in my back to school lesson plans! 

Our first week of school is a three day week and our second week is a five day week.  

As you can see, we spend a lot of time learning and practicing procedures, building community, and getting to know each other.  I feel this is SO important, no matter what grade you teach!  You might feel the curriculum crunch, but I promise you WILL make up that time.  Especially if you are doing the Daily Five.  Model and practice those procedures again and again until your students get it right.  Time invested in that now will pay off, I promise.  The years I jumped right into curriculum have been some of my rockiest years.  I certainly teach academics those first two weeks but my main focus is on rules, routines, and community building.  

I use a lot of my own products during Back to School.  I've been using them for years and combined, or alone, they really make the first few weeks back to school a lot of fun.  I use Fabulous Back to School Fun , Story of My Name Unit, Cooking Up a Great Year Together Unit, Types of Sentences Activity Pack, and my newest product, School Year Scrapbook during the first few weeks of school. I'm really excited about School Year Scrapbook because we will use it all year long to document our memories of fourth grade! :) 

I used to do a school scrapbook with my third graders and they loved it.  However, I stopped doing them when I taught second because their monthly pages took forever because we literally cut and pasted things onto our monthly pages.  I forgot about them until I ran into one of my former third graders, who is now going into tenth grade, and she told me that she still has her third grade scrapbook and how special it was to her.  So I spent some time this summer turning our messy and time consuming scrapbooks into something more manageable! 

The new version has NO cutting or gluing! All you need to do is select one of the included cover pages and select a monthly page for your students to complete and assemble them before school starts.  I plan on using the stapler setting on our copier that puts a staple at the top and bottom of the page, this makes the packet into a booklet.  One of my coworkers is planning on hole punching the pages and putting them into folders.  

I included multiple options for the beginning and end of the year and for each month. I have options for August-July.  All you need to do is select the pages that best fit your class.  

On the first school day of each new month, I will have my students fill out their scrapbook page for the previous month.  This literally takes twenty minutes tops.  They brainstorm their memorable moments, write about their favorite memory, and color the picture on the page to give it more of the scrapbook feel.  I let them choose memories from home and school, but you can do what works for you!  Here's an example of a completed page:

School Year Scrapbook is a yearlong memory book and makes an awesome keepsake for your students.  I can't wait to show you pictures of our scrapbooks throughout the year. :) 

I just added a few new pages too! 

I also get by with some help from some friends during Back to School!  I plan on using Amelia's Back to School Essentials Pack this school year.  I always spend hours searching for my back to school forms (parent volunteers, party sign ups, etc.) on my computer, so very I'm excited to have all the adorable ones in her file right at my finger trips! I also use this adorable All About Your New Teacher Editable Book  by Brooke Hilderbrand every year! My students always get such a kick out of it! :) Our first two weeks in reading are spent on reading strategies and I use Ashleigh's amazing Reading Strategies Unit.  Seriously, go check it out.  Everything you need to get your students really thinking about their reading is in one easy to use file.  It is pictured under reading in my visual plans.  I also plan on using this great back to school making words freebie from Sheila Melton.  It's perfect to have out on my students' desk during back to school.  

I have my students complete my Getting to Know You Freebie for morning work during back to school as well.  :) 

I use the Daily Five to organize my literacy block and follow The Sisters guide for implementation pretty much step by step.  I highly encourage you to read the book if you are thinking of implementing the Daily Five with your students. There are lots of great blog posts about it out there about the Daily Five but the book made it all click for me.  You can find the Second Edition of The Daily Five {here}

You can also find a list of the books I use with Cooking Up a Great Year Together to promote a caring classroom environment {here}.  The Toothpaste Words activity is offered as a freebie on my blog {here}

All my units that I have in my visual Back to School Lesson Plans will be one sale during Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale! :)

You can visit my TpT store by clicking {here}

Enjoy your day, friends! I hope you found my Back to School Lesson Plans helpful.  I'm off to go work on my Monday Made It! :) 
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