Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Elf on the Shelf

This year we will be having an elf on the shelf in the classroom.  It has been so hard with all the "have to" stuff- report cards,  CFAs to administer, teacher evaluations, professional development plan, IEP meetings and so on.  I find it difficult to make room for the fun holiday crafts and projects. I don't want my students to miss out on these things so I will do "elf on the shelf"! That will give them something to look forward to when they walk in the classroom and let them imagine what the elf did last night.   This will also give them something fun to write about in centers or writer's workshop.  I have collected a few of my favorite sites for ideas for my mischevious elf.  You can click on the pictures or links for the places the ideas came from.
 Idea #1 came from Saddle Up for 2nd Grade.  I love using the magnetic letters to write messages to students.  I think mine will scale the white board to spell out the message.
Idea #2 came from Life With My Littles.  It is definitely that time of year, when go through so much kleenex.  As my students get sick, this will be fun to lift their spirits.
Idea #3 came from A Few Shortcuts. We are a LEGO classroom, so this is a must!
Idea #4 comes from Simple As That Blog.  This would be simple to put up too!
 Idea #5 came from Seusstactic.  I just need to get a slinky for this one.
 There are also so many great products that can go with Elf on the Shelf on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I really like these:
Teach More Fear Less wrote letters to introduce and say good-bye. Click on the image below for the Freebie.

The Panko Post created this product that has notes written and ready to go! This freebie is in powerpoint format so it is easy to edit to put in your elf's names. This is such a TIME SAVER!!
And Of course, here is another freebie for your elf to have a diary for the students to write about the elf's adventures.  I like this product from Kindergarten Smiles.  I will create journals for students to write individually.  You could also do a class book and have students take turns writing through the month.
I hope your Christmas is blessed and we all make it to our Christmas Break soon! Now I need to plan the class Christmas Performance.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Elf-tacular Giveaway

I am excited to be a part of some amazing teachers, authors, and bloggers.  We have a group called Spotlight on Elementary.  You can find our group on facebook, instagram, twitter and we have a store full of just freebies on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I hope you are enjoying our hop and getting to know a few. If you would like to enter in the giveaway, here are the instructions:

While you are here, I wanted to share one of my favorite winter books Snowmen at Night.  There is a few of these in the series.  When I love a book, I create extension activities to use in the classroom.  You can find this one on TPT.  I included a retell activity where students put the snowballs in order that they occur in the book. 
Students can refer back to the book for support to put the snowballs in order.  There are also a no prep math center.  I did make this pack for 1st and 2nd grade students.  In this center students will covering standards: 1.NBT.C.5, and 2.NBT.B.8.  There is also an additional printable for each of these standards. 
I love to include the family in our school community when possible.  I added an at home activity they can do with their family or they can also do the activity in the classroom. Students create a diorama
of what their snowmen do at night.  I supply the child with some basic supplies and let their imagination do the rest.

Students then write about their scene and then you can set your room up with the displays for students to read and explore.

 I also like to use this book to help me teach my students about adjectives.  Students describe their snowmen at night and then the next day.
I do recommend this book and I am sure your students will love it too.  If you are interested in this extension pack, I have it on sale this week while we run this giveaway for just $2.00.

Good luck on the giveaway!! Head on to the next blog...


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Movie Theater FLIP

This was a mini-flip.  This happened right around Halloween, so we decided to this instead of a party.  It was a surprise to our students.  While they were at lunch, we flipped the two rooms quickly!! My room became a movie theater and my colleague's room became the concession stand. 
I put a marquee above my door and used a plastic table cloth for a curtain. I used Christmas lights to make a center isle.  I also had my flashlight to look up and down rows if needed.

We had been working on counting money so this went well with this flip. We had the second grade students work the concession stand and sell/take tickets to the movie.  Each student was given $5 to spend.  Our kinders got 5 dollar bills.  Our 1st graders got 5 dollars in quarters and our 2nd graders got $5 in a mix of coins.  Those working the concession stands had to count the money to make sure they got a dollar for what was purchased.   The week before we asked for donations from parents to supply our stand.  I asked the local movie theater to donate the popcorn boxes and a neighbor of mine donated kettle corn.

We sold hot dogs, candy, drinks, popcorn and tickets.  We used play money- just in case that was not clear. This was a lot of fun for all of the students!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Crime Scene Math Investigations

This past week was AMAZING!  After my visit to the Ron Clark Academy, I feel rejuvenated and ready to "Set the Stage to Engage." This past week we were able to flip an extra room in our building to be a crime scene.  I deputized our first and second graders. [I will be adding a kindergarten version of this soon] We were dressed with detective hats and badges. Then I took them to the crime scene.  Students were grouped into 3 to 4 students per group and went through the following stations.  First was the cold cases.  Students had to find the clues in word problems to solve the word problem.

Station 2 Students were adding up money at the "evidence locker". Students were able to check their work by scanning QR Code.

Station 3: Students had to diffuse a bomb.  I took yarn and zigzagged it across an area. Then I put some mental math problems for them to gather as they make their way through laser field.  The goal was to make it through the laser field answering math facts before the bomb (timer) goes off. 

Station 4: The line up is where students have to solve to find the true suspect. 

Station 5: This was our crime scene.  I put down butcher paper and added foot prints and a chain knocked over with stuffed animals and play food tossed about.  I also added a crazy creature body taped off. Students looked for the evidence tents with flashlights to work on place value and expanded form. 

 In the last station students worked on more word problems.  The word problems were written backwards so they had to use a mirror to read,  There were problems also written small so they needed a magnifying glass to read. 

Here is a short walk through of our Crime room:

 We had so much fun with this unit.  Students spent about 10-12 minutes per station.  I hope you will try doing this or something like it because the excitement in the eyes of the students is amazing. What is more amazing was the learning that was going on and how engaged each student was.  I put together all the stations in one unit here.
I also used some signs from The Engaging Station 
She has some good ELA investigations if you want to move your CSI towards ELA.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Writing about Reading

I am soaking up some amazing Professional Development these days! I went to a session held by our district with Benchmark ( the fabulous presenter Sarah Winston).  I really enjoyed it and feel I can implement some of these strategies in the classroom.  This session was writing about reading and getting writing to be less of an assignment and more of a way to "linger" with a book.  The presenter from Benchmark was great and shared the following strategies.  Here is a picture of an anchor chart that has a menu of different writing students can do when writing.  She does NOT recommend putting all these out at once but introduce slowly.
She read a book titled: "Those Shoes" She modeled how a teacher would read it and had a "Reading/Thinking" Stick that she used to demonstrate to students how good readers read and stop and think.

The first strategy she used was Stop and Jot.  She chose a spot in the text were she stopped and would have students infer what the character was feeling, or predict what will happen next.  Students would stop and jot on a small square or on a post it.  Students then gave the post its to her and she would post on a continuum type rubric so students and teacher could discuss how their response could move up the continuum.  It was basic-on target-sophisticated. So for example if students were writing about how a character was feeling, students that just stated the feeling would be scored in the basic.  If they included text evidence, they would be on target.  If they included text evidence and character traits they would be sophisticated.  Using the continuum, students know what is expected and strive to be sophisticated. Sarah also shared Graphic Organizers and Summarizing which needs little explanation. She did say you do need to have anchor charts on summarizing is a must so it is clear to students what is expected of them. Another strategy was writing long.  This is when you take one of those ideas that you jotted down and expand and write long.  The Double entry journal is great for pulling evidence from the text.
Student could also create a timeline, create a poem, journal or sketch.  I liked sketch because it is a way for students to work on visualizing what is being read.  Students should include important details.   Students also could do an Internal External Journey.  This is like two parallel timelines that line up through out the story.  The top line maps out the internal/ the inside feelings the character has throughout story. The bottom line is a physical timeline of where the student is when they were having those internal feelings. Students can also Lift a line.  This is when they write long to a line that sticks when them from the text.  The last option we went over was letter writing.  This is when a student feels so connected to a character that they can write to them. This next pic is a bit blurry but I like the simple code students can use while reading. 
She also shared some great prompts for discussion during reading. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ron Clark Academy

Last weekend was a trip of a lifetime!! No matter what I say in this long post, I will not be able to relay how much the trip and the knowledge I gained changed me! I went with some amazing blogging/instagram friends Teaching and so Fourth, Teach 2 Reach, Engaging Station, Teaching 3rd with Mr. G, Head over Hills for Teaching, Our Best and Brightest, Little Lovely Leaders and Miss 5th. We met up in Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Ron Clark Academy.  We were amazed by what we saw and learned.  Mr. Clark is a dynamic teacher and so is the whole staff at RCA.  We were met in front of the school by students and staff. Here is a picture before our day at RCA began.
We started our day with Mr. Clark giving us a quick talk on top of the tables of the cafeteria area.  
RCA focuses on RIGOR, ENGAGEMENT AND CULTURE. They are extremely successful in these areas.  They also use the Essential 55 Rules in their school.  I love these rules and will try to touch on how these are seen in the school but honestly this is a school that just needs to be seen!! Below is the book - I love all his books.  This is a great one to start with.  I also recommend the audio book. 
We were able to observe classrooms and attend workshops held by staff members.  The school was beautiful and each classroom was designed by the teacher of that classroom.  

The school does not have bulletin boards but photos of students and their families all over the hallways.

We sat in Mr. Clark's 5th grade math class.  Wow!!! It was hard core.  The students were doing harder algebra than I did in High School.  This was only after a week of school.  The expectations the school puts on the students are high and the students meet those challenges.  In the classroom, we saw teachers standing on stages, tables and chairs.  You would also see students doing the same.  Students tracked teachers and/or students as they spoke. They had to sit up, lean forward and track speaker.  When students spoke in the classroom, they did not raise their hands but stood up to answer or respond to discussion.  The students spoke in complete sentences and if another student disagrees, they stand up and say " I disagree with _____ and this is why_____"  The conversations they were having were amazing.

At RCA you will see some creative teaching in the classroom.  Teachers make their learning personal.  Mr. Fleming states it perfectly: They are interested when it is about them!  They make it engaging.  While we were there, Hope King was doing a book tasting in her class.  Wade King shared several lessons that sounded fun and I wanted to be a part of like Word Sneak and Egg Roulette.  Throughout the day you would hear kids singing, chanting and cheering each other on.  The school uses a house system.  It is like fraternities in the school  There are 4 houses that compete through the year.  When students come into the school at 5th grade.  The new students spin the House wheel and runs up to go down the slide.  When they come down the slide the wheel has stopped designating which house they will belong to and their house is at the bottom of the slide accepting them into their house. 
We were there on Friday, so at the end of their day they houses danced/sang/rapped.  After the houses performed, teachers then chose students to spin the wheel for their house.  Here is a video of this.  I want you to notice a couple things in this video. 1.  At RCA teachers are constantly speaking with their hands and moving with purpose.  2.  The students are following one of the essential rules of congratulating classmates.  They don't just clap; they are sincere and enthusiastic towards that students accomplishments.

After our day of training we were slide certified and now ready to head back to our schools.  We take back our new understanding of what our schools should be!! If you have the opportunity, PLEASE go!! You will not regret it.  

The kids were the sweetest and were a joy to speak with.  They sang to us at the end of our day. This melts my heart!!