Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Energized for the new year! TLAP!

My lesson plans are finished.  I have met my new kiddos and their families.  Morning work is on their table and sight word table names are up.  We are ready to go... Kinda.

I know that I talk about Dave Burgess and Teach Like a Pirate CONSTANTLY but I just cannot help it-  he is a fantastic motivator.  On my beginning of the year staff goal sheet-  I honestly wrote- "Implement more engaging strategies like Dave Burgess."  

One section of his book is titled- "The First 3 Days of School."  It is a short read but it describes some of the amazing techniques that he does.  He is a high school history teacher  so some of these activities scare me since my kiddos don't even know how to ask to use the restroom yet!  However they are important in developing rapport and classroom environment during the first few days.  I need to not only teach rules/ routines but also capture and peak their interest so that cannot wait to come back to school the next day.  

I have been participating in the Monday evening #tlap twitter chats.  If you are on twitter-  I highly recommend it-  even if you are not brave enough to participate-  you can still read tweets.  :-). I have learned a lot!  

On there I was pumped up to leave my normal "boring" first week routines to rest and "jazz" it up a bit. I wish my firsties could read more day 1 so I could have "shocking" messages...  Oh well!  I'm still proud of them-  just have to make it more visual!   Here are some ideas:

-  Day 1 teach kiddos to shake hands.  Tell them it is just the first part of a "secret" handshake.  They have to come back the next day to learn the next part.  
- Since we take a lot of assessments-  each time we will listen to "eye of the tiger" and do dramatic stretches or
do koo-koo kangaroo etc. before the assessment time.  I will tell them that we are "working out/ stretching their brain."
-When teaching bathroom and hallway rules-  we will of course motivate them by a friendly competition.  Boys vs girls
Or by color of hair etc.  Winners are
going to get some ridiculous yarn necklace with a toilet or Solo cup toilet
trophy etc.  For the hallway-  These trophies will be a mouse or something for "quiet as a mouse."  These trophies 
will travel back and forth all day.  "Who will it be this time?"  
- During independent time (Ha!  August first graders and the word "independent" never go in the same sentence!) I plan to have subject appropriate music playing.  
-I love Whole Brain Teaching!  I plan to even jazz this up a bit.  Instead of "class", "yes!"  I plan on using a different and more catchy phrase.  Perhaps "macaroni and cheese."  "Everybody freeze!"  Or you can't go wrong with- "STOP!"  "Collaborate and listen."
-Also when I teach the "scoreboard" the smiley faces will be replaced with something else- I'm just not sure what it will be yet!  
-I also love the idea of giving groups of tables a mini tube of toothpaste.  Have them squeeze it out- then tell them to put it back in.  This leads to a discussion that once you say a hurtful thing that it is tough to take it back.  

Hopefully some of you are ready to "dive in" and add more real life and engagement like me this year!  I hope to "see" you on the #tlap twitter charts on Monday evenings!  

I better go and attempt to get some
shut eye... No more mid- afternoon naps
until June again!  


Monday, August 11, 2014

First Week of First Grade Plans

I ALWAYS forget what I do the first week of school!  It is the one time of year that I actually need fairly detailed plans.  If you are someone that forgets over the 6-8 weeks just like I do- feel free to download my plans (specific to me) for free to get some ideas.  I am quite sure that I have forgot some really important items.  :)
I also have included a 1st and 2nd week "checklist" of things that you need to remember to do.  Knowing me- after starting school on Wednesday- I will be adding to that list each day.  That way I WILL remember next year!  :)
Meet and Greet is tomorrow so I am sure I will go back to having radio silence for a couple of weeks.  You know how the beginning of the school year is.. 1.  You lose your voice  2.  You go to get at 6 PM!  (That is early for me when I typically go to bed between 2-3 AM.)
Enjoy getting to know your new classes.  I know that I cannot wait!  :)
Click here to download my first week plans.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Almost ready for Monday!

It is only 2 days away until I finally get to meet my new school "family."  I have the first week lessons typed up, papers are in their correct day of the week tub, and I have a stack of independent fillers ready for them.  Yet-  I still never feel 100% ready!

I still want to organize or change this- or change that...  Yet-  I know it is time!

Here is a peak at our room:
Ready for Meet and Greet! :-)

Right inside the door is our new word
work center.  This is not finished yet!  Yikes!  I just keep reminding myself that they will not be ready to even use it for a few weeks.  I always teach them how to use the paper practice items first.  
This houses our math board.  Under the easel houses materials for guided math groups.  Along the bottom of the board are comprehension strategy charts.  These are going to be moved and replaced with the 7 Habits of Happy Kids posters.  First grade is trying out the program this year and I am REALLY excited about it! The bathroom
wait list and passes as well as the clip chart are also here.  Hopefully I will be surprised on Monday with a Smartboard hanging there as well!  Last week a box arrived with one inside!  :-)
Here are our Book Browsing Boxes along the window.  I purchased new neon blue boxes this year.  Lol unfortunately I only ordered 24 and as of Friday have 27 students.  Therefore had to use some of my 9 year old dark blue tubs.  You also see our "just right" book library, comprehension goal tubs, iPad station and mailboxes.  

This is the teacher area.  The green basket is where students turn in lunch money.  The yellow basket is where students turn in notes.  Before I used this system- I was trying to juggle talking to students, collecting money, finding where 8 students placed their notes etc. Currently the reading table contains labeled tubs for Meet and Greet supplies. I somehow forgot to take a picture with it. 

This is my favorite wall!  I plan to draw names weekly and have students choose to display something on the left bulletin board.  The right board is our new word wall.  In the middle is our writing center.  The walls contain inspirational paintings.  On the student desks you will find a folder with an "All about my child" form (you can find it on my TPT), a remind101 sign up, a welcome letter for parents (you can find a copy on my online classroom www.grefirstgrade.weebly.com), mystery reader sign up, volunteer sign up, and finally any district beginning of school forms.  The red bags contain a pencil, starburst with the tag- "I'm BURSTING with excitement that you are in my class!"  and the back to school magic confetti poem with a tiny bag of confetti.

Right now-  my math tubs, fiction and nonfiction library are covered with a massive box containing our new Smartboard!  Even though I couldn't take a picture-  I am delighted! :-)

I am going to write my next post from my computer so I can add images of our first week of school plans.  :-) I am anxious each year and would love to know what other people do!  Hopefully you will be inspired or feel more at ease after reading my plans.  :-)

Have a wonderful day!  


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Reading binder

In the past I have used a cheap folder to house reading materials. By mid year I had to bust out the packing tape and tape all of the seams.   This year I have upgraded to a much more sturdy binder!  

There are a few more items that I want to add but so far this is what they contain:
Spelling pre-test.  Each Monday students use a dry erase marker and attempt the new words for the week.  If they get them all correct-  students receive a challenge word list focusing on the same skill. 

These are interchangeable.  They are word work choice boards.  Students can use a dry erase marker to cross off a skill that they used during the week.  I have sets of these for sale on TPT.  Before students use these boards they have daily word study items to complete.  (Ill
post about this sometime later.)
I love this!  This comes from
Second Grade Story Window.  You can download it for free.  I highly recommend going to her site and checking out "chunk spelling". I use a modified version of this for word study.  http://www.secondstorywindow.net/home/2013/07/2nd-grade-chunk-spelling.html 

Next is our Phonics Dance chart.  As we introduce chunks- the students color the box in.  This serves as a resource for them as well.
This is our writing words notebook.  It has all of our district sight words plus room to add more.  As sight words are introduced-  students highlight them by green, yellow, or red by the type of word that they are.  You can purchase this as well on TPT. 
I love this!  This was created by Jodi Southard.   There is a reading passage and common core friendly daily comprehension tasks.  The passages are fairly interesting to the kiddos as well.  It is just a great way to slip in some
extra comprehension and reading practice.  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Comprehension-Notebook-1st-Grade-Edition-910528 

This is a part of how our district uses the phonics dance program.  Students use a page as a new chunk is introduced.  

I really hope that these hold up better than the folders from last year.  

When I login on my computer I'll try to add links.  :-)

Enjoy this beautiful Saturday!  


Friday, August 8, 2014

First hour of school helpers

Is it just me or does everyone get the first hour of school sweat?  When 27 pairs of eyeballs are staring up at you, you hear "teacher, teacher!"as they tug on your arm, some have school supplies and others brought it the night before, some can stay in their seat, others pretend to be airplanes flying around the room.

I LOVE teaching first grade.  However that first hour-  is enough to give me nightmares! I try to be proactive.  We have meet and greet and each parent receives this paper:
It helps a lot with students finding things around the room.  I have used a cute poem in the past but I've noticed parents are in a hurry to get to the other classrooms so I made it simple and to the point!

I also have assortments of baskets of books on each table, supplies in table baskets and a very simple coloring sheet on the table for the first day of school.  However, I still get those first day "sweats!"

This year we have enlisted the help of our in house preschool teachers.  They are going to hand small groups of our students to us (it is a giant school and a ton of ways to get to school) and we will get to walk those 3-5 students through hanging up their items, lunch count and finding their seat.  These amazing teachers have even offered to stay for the first hour to make sure things go smoothly.  If that wasn't enough-  show up to help us for dismissal!!!  

So-  to thank each of them- I am giving them Riesen, Hugs, and Lifesaver candy with this tag:
You can download the tag for free here.

I encourage you to call your retired friends, stay at home moms, PTO and ask for help!  I know I feel a LOT better knowing that I will have that support!  :-). 


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I am one lucky girl! Warning- mushy post!

I have always considered myself a "people lover."  I love meeting, talking to, and being around people.  Just recently I have befriended an older lady which I tend to run into on the weekends.  One day she turned to me and said- "Danielle- do you know why I like you?"  I was a little on edge to hear her answer because she is one of those friends that you never know what is going to come out of her mouth!  I asked why.  She said- "You don't judge and talk to everyone and treat everyone equally regardless of community stature, race, age etc." She then told a story about how recently some people were being nasty to her at a birthday party telling her she shouldn't have been there because she wasn't in the same social class.  It made me sad to hear it!  It made me realize that I need to keep doing what I am doing to model friendliness to my little first grade students.  I also thought that it was BY FAR the nicest compliment that I have ever received!  Hopefully I can keep living up to how she views me.  :-). I tricked another one into thinking I'm nice!  :-)

This is a bit of a mushy post because I wanted to highlight some of the amazing people in my life.  

First up- my hubby.  This weekend will be our 6th wedding anniversary!  I cannot believe it has been that long!  He is amazing.  He like most men is a "fixer."  He can fix pipes, computer problems, and dinner.  He however can also can weld anything including fancy art sculptures and fix a car.  He is a VERY busy man with a ton of business ventures but still takes the time to help this anxious lady out!  He just spent 8 hours in my classroom putting together shelves, hanging things, stuffing folders etc.  I am very blessed to have him in my life.  

Here is a peak of some things he did (I forgot to take a lot of pictures!)

He worked on 3 more walls of my
classroom but I forgot to take those pictures!

Up next are my teammates-  one is returning from last year and another is new to the district.  I cannot tell you how much I rely on them both!  For personal advice, for thumb tacks, for sharing resources ,or copying duties.  I am very lucky to have them!  I still meet with my teammates from my former district and we started a Pinterest sharing session dates.  We gab, eat, and give each other Pinterest classroom things like "brag tags" that we made for each other.  I LOVE my teacher friends.  No one quite understands a teacher like a teacher!  
This is a lovely little treat that was made for me this year:

Then there are amazing friends that I don't get to see that often but we keep up by random text messages.  These are friends that are great even if you don't see each other much.  It might be once a year but no one ever gets upset.  I have happy hours and breakfasts planned with these friends because with our busy lives it is tough to stay in touch.  I am not morning person so those 6 am Friday breakfast meetings are a killer but TOTALLY worth it!  

Recently one of my super creative friends painted these inspirational quotes me for and my hubby hung them!  I am
NOT artsy.  So I am so thankful for her taking the time in AUGUST when she is a teacher herself to make them for me.  :-)
On the proud wall are "I met my
Goal today!  Ask me about it!" badges.  This is a stolen idea from my principal.  She gives out jeans stickers that say- "I'm dressed casual today because..."  Love that idea!

I cannot post about friends and leave out Rob and my very best friends.  They are amazing people.  The type like my friend from the beginning mentioned- "don't judge."  They are the definition of true friendship.  My best friend is super intelligent (come on she is a scientist!) and fun.  We spend every weekend together.  However they still cut out my lamination, hot glue thumb tacks to clothes pins and help me when things just get stressful.  They are the type of people that I won't ever have to ask for help-  they know when I am overwhelmed and just "do things" to help.  Rob and I are very lucky to have met such selfless and amazing friends.  We have only known them for 3 years-  but it is definitely a friendship that will last a lifetime.  

And... one more!  I am very lucky to have 4 siblings!  Unfortunately I only see some
of them every couple of years due to living across the country from each other.  But I  grateful for those that live close to me and their significant others, my in-laws (who are DREAM in-laws), my dad, aunts and uncles.  :-). They are there for hanging out, playing games (my guilty pleasure), helping me and giving advice.  :-).

Now you might ask (if you made it this far) why I took the time to post this.  
I had a tough year last year (perhaps you noticed a lack in posting!). However I  am bound and determined to keep my positive attitude and just focus on the amazing things in my life.  I encourage you to do the same.  It is too easy to dwell on "poor me."  I had a friend share a quote with me last year that I love- "Don't think less of yourself.  Just think of yourself less."  So I am determined to do just that and remember and think of others and the amazing things in my life.
It is easy to do because I am surrounded by amazing people which makes me a very lucky girl!  

Thanks for reading!  :-). 

And...  Wrote this on my phone again.  You know what that means.  Super sorry!  


Monday, August 4, 2014

Clip chart

There has been a lot of hype lately regarding the behavior clip chart.  I have always liked the move up and down chart but was wondering if there was something to this hype.  I have been reading blogs and articles and think there are some really valid points.  

The arguments seem to all have the same overall idea of disliking it because of the emotional well being of a child.  Some arguments include:
1- embarrassment of having to move their clip down.
2-children have a visual comparison of behavior.
3- ruining the day of a child by making them move their clip down.

I have gone back and forth all summer trying to decide-  "What am I going to do?  What is best for my students?"

I decided to keep doing what I've been doing for 5-6 years.  The clip chart with multiple colors where you can move your clip up for positive behaviors and down when you make mistakes.  In my opinion-  first grade is a perfect time to teach the lesson- "we all make mistakes-  the important part is to learn from them."  I believe this system mirrors this thinking.  

As I think about the articles and blog posts that I have read- I wonder if the clip chart systems that the articles mention are the "negative" color charts that only record and focus on downward movement.  If they are-  I personally have some of those same arguments listed above.  However with the "new management" charts by Rick Norris (like I use)- I think that I disagree with some of the arguments.  

The first argument is regarding embarrassment of moving your clip down.  I NEVER yell at a child in front of the entire class to move down their clip.  We always have a quiet discussion at my or their desk.  Usually if there has been an issue-  other students already have seen or heard the child do the action anyway.  So the class already knows about it even before I interfere.  I also only display the "positive" colors for students to see.  I hide the "negative" colors behind my desk.  Special cases there could be a child that is embarrassed of moving their clip down or even up.  Those students always receive other management devices.  How can I expect a child to learn if they don't feel safe and their emotional well being taken care of first?  

The next argument about students comparing their behavior to peers...  I don't know what to say about this one.  I don't want to hurt their feelings.  I do however try to have very specific criteria layed out for clip up and down moves so students know what I expect for either up or down move. (I have these signs on TPT.)  I often will make "special" criteria for some students to make it more
achievable. I love the quote floating around- "Fair is what each person needs to be successful."  That is completely true in a classroom.  Like I mentioned above- if the chart doesn't work for some students-  we find and use something that does.  There is never a "one size fits all" in teaching!  If there was-  it sure would eliminate a lot of my planning time!

For the third argument regarding "ruining" their day- I model and share stories of mistakes that I have made.  Usually the first 2-3 weeks of school it is tough on students if they have to move their clip down.  However they soon "get" the mistakes idea and only appear motivated to correct their mistake.  Overall-  I still think this is a  very valuable lesson for students to learn.   I don't want students full of anxiety all day of worrying that that might move their clip down.  I can't imagine coming to work with anxiety that the principal would catch me chatting with teachers during the work day.  (Let's be real-  sometimes a student does something amazing or says something hilarious and I just have to share!) However I am not on edge because 99% of the time I am following my plans and I know that my principal trusts me.  I think that the system is teaching the students that I believe in them and know they can fix the mistake.  

Upon reflecting after reading these articles- I decided to make a few changes.  One change I made after reflecting was taking away the token economy associated with behavior.  I now am making a giant economics unit where the students apply for classroom jobs and jobs earn different wages.  Therefore students have to make a choice to apply for a job that they really like but may not pay as much or a job that pays more.  Students have time sheets that are calculated every two weeks from our "accountants."  Then students are paid once a month before the class store from our "bank tellers."  I also am adding services that students can buy this year at the store.  Including, "Personal day off of work."  The money is now associated with their jobs (with a bonus structure too!) instead of behavior.
(I need to "pretty" these job items up and then will post it to TPT in the next month.). I am really excited for this change.

Another change is how I am
now choosing to reward individual behaviors.  For behavior I am now using the awesome classroom reward tickets.  My friend saw them on Pinterest and made me copies.  I need to find the original so I may give them credit!

I leveled these cards by the more
desired rewards.  Each is stored in a matching folder color.  
The "negative" colors have behavior homework pages.  The "top of the chart" (black) area also has reward certificates.

These are the rewards:
-Top of the chart= gemstone added to clip, certificate, prize tub and can choose any of the reward tickets
-yellow= prize tub, yellow reward tickets or below
-Orange= orange or pink reward ticket
-Pink= pink reward ticket
-Red= chance of earning a pink ticket
Student earns 1 spot to write their name on the 120 chart.  Each Friday I will draw a few numbers.  Those students will
erase their name and get to choose a pink reward ticket.  

I am grateful for the clip chart debate going on.  It forced me to think and reflect upon my current behavior management practice.  I think these changes will work well for my students and I am excited to see how well it works out this year. 

***. I LOVE the Blogger app since I can write and add pictures directly from my phone.  However there are plenty of autocorrect errors.  Please excuse any errors that I have made!  Once I'm near my Computer-  I will fix these errors!  :-)