Saturday, August 20, 2016

Memory Books for a New School Year and a Planner Giveaway

I remember when I was in fifth grade and my favorite teacher handed us a beautifully bound scrapbook of our memories from the year. As I looked through mine, I realized it was a keepsake of the pages I'd written the entire year. We didn't know that our teacher was saving the pages we wrote throughout the year about our memorable events, field trips, holidays, and what we were learning in class. 

Last year I decided to introduce something similar to my class. My students created memory books that they also worked on the entire year. They documented experiences such as their first day of school, highlights of each month, our Fall Festival, their birthdays,  and our field trips. I began to see students who were struggling with writing become successful and actually enjoying it. 

As my students finished each page, I collected and organized them inside of a plastic file crate similar to the one below. At the end of the year, it was easy for my parent volunteers to make sure each book was in the proper order so I could quickly bind them with my school's binding machine and pass them out on the second to the last day. 
The students who didn't purchase a school yearbook last year were able to have their friends sign their memory books on the autograph pages. My students and their parents loved the finished products! 
I asked the students to only use crayons or colored pencils on their pages, and to try to keep that consistent throughout the year. They really wanted to use markers, but I found they were too overpowering and didn't look as nice as the colored pencils or crayons. 
I have included a freebie Memory Book Starter Pack in Primary Pick's August newsletter. If you would like to try out this pack, be sure to sign up for our newsletter below, and you will be able to find the Memory Book Starter Pack freebie link to download a sampling of the pages. If you sign up, sure to check your inbox today or tomorrow!

And Now for the Giveaway!
Have you seen the new Posh Carpe Diem Planners? If you haven't, you have to check them out HERE! These planners are beautiful and stylish, and you can decorate them with all of the coordinating stickers and embellishments. This girl is one of my favorite Carpe Diem planner designers! 

Lisa from PAWSitively Teaching and I are giving away an Aqua Carpe Diem Planner with all of the embellishments to go along with it! Included in this giveaway are vertical weekly inserts, the monthly inserts, lots of stickers to decorate your pages, and a set of InkJoy Gel Pens (my favorites to use in my planner!) Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win over $100 of planner goodies! We will announce the winner on Wednesday.

Good luck to you and enjoy your Sunday!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August Pinterest Pick 3 Finds

I haven't quite wrapped my head around the fact that school starts tomorrow for me. I'm feeling nervous, excited, and overwhelmed! I learned so much last year, and I'm ready to take what I learned to make this the best school year ever! 
This month I am focusing on back-to-school related pins. Some of you might be in my shoes, and if you aren't you will be at some point soon! I always come away from this linky with so many great, new pins that I've never seen before! 
(Click Photo Above to See Original Pin)
Have you ever read any of Maria Dismondy's books? They are wonderful, and perfect for the beginning of the year. I love the compare/contrast activity the blogger shared using this book. This would be a great lesson on celebrating diversity at the beginning of the year! And if you are interested, here is a YouTube video of Maria reading Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun. And you can scroll down under Resources for a reading guide here
(Click Photo Above to See Original Pin)
I can remember making a life-size paper doll when I was in third grade. I've always wanted to have my students make them for Back to School Night. I wish our B2S night was more of an open house, but the parents expect a teacher presentation, and need a place to sit and listen to me give the presentation. The kiddos' paper dolls might get squished! Maybe they can make mini versions to sit on top of their desks. 
(Click Photo Above to See Original Pin)
I think my teammates would love this little gift on the first day of school! I plan to buy polish for them in our school colors. A little pedicure set with the tags attached would be really cute too!  Such a fun, free idea and printable!

Be sure to visit the other bloggers participating in our linky for every more great ideas! I hope you find some fabulous ideas to pin! 

This linky is hosted on the third of each month. We would love for you to join us! 
1.  Save the Pick 3 images to your desktop.
2.  Create a blog post using these images to share you 3    
     Pinterest Picks for the month.
3.  Share a link to your full Pinterest page if you would like.
4.  Link up by clicking the "add your link" button below.
5.  Be sure to check out the other Pinterest finds that have 
     been shared and leave a comments on the ones you love!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Monday Made It- August 1st

This is my last Monday Made It before school starts tomorrow! I know I won't be able to create like I have been this summer once school starts. I'm so thankful that Tara has hosted MMI because I'm held accountable to create at least one new thing so I can share! Last week I was at my classroom every single day decorating my new rainbow room. I decided to update my freebie clip chart too!
Last year I shared my Low Maintenance Clip Chart and talked about it HERE (scroll to the bottom of that post). I changed the colors to match my new decor, so I wanted to share. This clip chart was so easy to use this last year! Long story short, I always loved the idea of having students clip up, but I can never remember to have them clip up. With almost 30 students, that was the last thing on my mind most times. This clip chart consists of 4 pages, and is similar to a regular clip chart, but it has only four pages to it. Group A is on the top, then Groups B, C, and D hang below. Students clip down if they are breaking a classroom agreement, which is only considered a warning. If the same student continues to make poor choices, I ask him/her to move their clip down a second time. They owe class money at the end of the day. A third time clipping down results in giving up more money, a conference at recess, and parent contact. (I usually like the student to write the parent a letter explaining their behavior.) I know clip charts aren't for everyone, but I need a quick and effective way to manage my class, and this works for me! At the end of the day, I will update Class Dojo according to the clip chart. Below is a picture of how I set up my clip chart from last year. 
If you would like to try it too, I am offering this as a freebie. I have included my ideas for assembly and use. I have also included the small blue numbers for the clothespins. You can buy the small clothespins at Michael's or Joann. You can click HERE to download the clip chart, numbers, and directions.
I hope you were able to take a few ideas with you! Have a fabulous week! 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday Made It-July 25

I'm excited to link up with one of my faves Tara from 4th Grade Frolics this week for Monday Made It and share a few projects I've been working on. I go back today to set up my classroom, and the kiddos come next Thursday- EEEK! I feel like I'm running out of time! Maybe that's because I am! I am excited to go back and start a new year. I learned so much last year, and I'm excited to put some new things in place for this year. 
I REALLY wanted to find the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese letter pasta I'd been seeing all over Instagram. The Targets around me didn't have them for the longest time! I finally scored three boxes last week, so I thought I would make a fun Macaroni and Spelling activity for my students. Last year my students LOVED activities like this one during my Daily 3 rotations. I know my new class will adore this one too. I've added this to my Spelling and Word Work Activity pack.
FREEBIE Macaroni and Spelling Activity
I used an old thread organizer that I wasn't using anymore.  You can find them at Joann's or other craft stores. There weren't enough spaces for every letter, but I was able to put vowels in the larger space and letters T-Z in the last one. The letters shown above are from one box of Macaroni and Cheese. You could make about two containers of letters from one box of Mac and Cheese. There weren't as many R and S letters in this pack. 
FREEBIE Macaroni and Spelling Activity
I made a label to go on the front of my container and a recording sheet for the students to spell out each word and write each one inside the bowl. You could extend this activity and have them trace over each word with a different writing tool. I'm going to have my students decorate the bowl too. They could write a paragraph or sentences about their favorite lunches using their spelling words on the back, or make up silly rules for the lunchroom.  The possibilities are endless! 
If you can't find the pasta letters, or would like to use the paper pasta letters shown on the recording sheet above, I have made a freebie pack for you. It also includes the label to go on the front of you container. You can grab it HERE
My second project is revamping my Kiddo Cash and Class Passes pack. Last year I had the idea to make coin cards in addition to the classroom cash. My second graders really struggled with counting coins. I knew how motivating the cash was to them, so earning and counting coin cards would really help them with the math unit on counting coins. I made each coin on a single card and a variety of coins to count on one card as they master the individual coins. In CA, second grade is the only grade that has this as a Common Core Standard, so I have to make sure they master it this year. Hopefully this will help! I have more info about my classroom money and passes HERE
FREEBIE Labels for Money Organizer
Since I now have coins in addition to dollars, and I'm also changing my decor colors to primary brights, I had to make new labels to organize my class money. I made a few different options depending on whether I'm using individual coins, multiple coins, or dollars. These labels fit inside or outside of the small Starlight drawers. You can download them HERE if you are using classroom money and would like to make your own money storage drawers. 
FREEBIE Labels for Classroom Coin and Money Drawers
FREEBIE Labels for Classroom Coin and Money Drawers
I can't wait to see what everyone else came up with for MMI!
Have a great week, whether you are still enjoying the freedom of summer or headed back to class like me! :)


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Classroom Management and Incentives

Using Classroom Cash and Passes as a Classroom Incentive
Money is such a great motivator inside the classroom and out! For the past ten years, I have used classroom money and passes as an incentive for my student. It has helped to reduce behavior issues while teaching my students important life skills such as counting, saving, and budgeting money. I know that some people have an issue with extrinsic motivation. I always think about how even adults need a little extrinsic motivation sometimes, (none of us wants to work for free!) so I am perfectly fine using it in my classroom to motivate my students in a positive way. The students buy into it and will work hard to earn it. I save valuable time since I don't have as many behavioral issued to deal with.
Using Classroom Cash and Passes as a Classroom Incentive
My students earn Kiddo Cash for things such as positive behavior, completing their classwork, turning in their homework completed every Friday, and returning important notes. They lose Kiddo Cash for off-task behaviors during independent learning time and receiving yard infractions. I don't take their money away if they don't turn their homework in on time. I feel that second graders still need an adult at home to help them to be responsible, so I don't penalize them for that. 
I used to think that using a money system in the classroom would be too much to manage. Remembering to pay them, giving them time to buy their passes, and redeem them seemed like a huge time waster to me. For over ten years when I taught fifth grade, I passed out tickets for positive behavior and had a weekly raffle. It got expensive to keep my raffle basket well stocked. When I moved to third grade, I had to switch to a money system because that's what the grade level used. Every month we had a day where students bought and sold items with the money they earned. I was surprised the learn how easy and effective it was to use money in my classroom. 
Using Classroom Cash and Passes as a Classroom Incentive
I announce to students when they can purchase passes and redeem them. It's usually before our first recess and at the end of the day. The big motivator is that the classroom has to be cleaned up in order for me to sell passes or open the store. I usually have dependable students to help me sell passes or redeem them when I open the store. I keep a certain amount of passes inside the container above. I like to rotate the passes so students have various choices, but not too many. Some of the passes I use are treats that I buy, such as pencils, granola bars, and stickers. Others are privileges that don't cost anything such as free time, wear flip flops in the classroom, and sharing. Parents always ask me what they can donate, so some of the things I ask for are the treats that I need for my store. I try to keep items stocked inside a basket such as crackers, pretzels, juice boxes, and granola bars since students are often hungry at our first recess and don't always bring a snack to eat. I keep pencils, stickers, and candy inside a set of small Sterilite drawers. 
Using Classroom Cash and Passes as a Classroom Incentive
I charge different prices for each pass. At the beginning of the year, I pass out dollars. I choose how much to give them each day, and they aren't allowed to ask for money or they lose it. I display the price list shown above and students can use it to see if they have enough money to buy the passes they want. 
Every year my second graders have a difficult time when we get to the counting coins unit in math. It's a second grade Common Core standard, and if they don't get it with me, they won't get it again. As the year goes on and we get closer to learning about coins, I plan to pass out the coin cards instead of dollars and change my prices to coin amounts. I will set an end date for redeeming the dollars and everyone will start fresh with coins. To start off with, I have individual coins, then we will move into counting several coins on a card. This should help motivate and help them to learn how to count coins! 
Using Classroom Cash and Passes as a Classroom Incentive
I use the classroom cash and coins in conjunction with ClassDojo and my low-maintenance clip chart. Students pay $5 at the end of the day every time they clip down. If they don't clip down, they get $5 at the end of the day. The clip chart makes it easier for me to keep track of behaviors and ClassDojo is easy for me to update parents at the end of the day or when I have a free chance. 
If you want to see more pictures of my Kiddo Cash and Class Passes, you can click HERE. I also have a two bundled sets HERE and HERE
If you use classroom money in your classroom, how do organize your money? I use the small Sterilite containers above to store mine. They include different coin labels and dollars. You can download them HERE if you would like to make your own set.
If you haven't used class money and passes in your classroom, you should give it a try! Thank you for stopping by and enjoy your weekend/week! :)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Creating Community with Student Choice

My first day of school twenty years ago looked much different than it does today. Back then, the students would walk into the classroom on the first day of school and find the desk with their name tag on it.  The classroom rules were posted and I taught the students the rules and procedures they were expected to follow. After a few weeks of school, I would form groups and tell students who they would be sitting with. I was the Queen of my Queendom, and the students were expected to obey what I said. I learned over the years that I could accomplish the same goals in an easier and more effective way and empower my students at the same time. Today I want to share my how I changed my ways and enriched the environment of my classroom.
Student Seating
Every year I let the students choose where they would like to sit on the first day of school. When they walk in the door, I tell them to sit wherever they feel most comfortable. It's important from me to observe my students' interactions with one another. This also helps to relieve some anxiety, since they are able to sit next to their friends. I am able to see which students work well together, which students work a little too well together, and which don't get along and shouldn't work in the same group.
The Perfect Classroom
After a few of the typical getting-to-know-each other activities and a tour of the campus, I bring the students back to their seats and ask them to close their eyes and visualize the perfect classroom. I ask them what kinds of things they would hear other people saying in a perfect classroom and what would they see happening in a perfect classroom? I also ask them how it would feel in a perfect classroom. I have them think about these questions for a minute, then I ask them to work in pairs to discuss their thoughts. Next, I have pairs form into groups of 4-5. Each group is given poster paper, and they write down the statements everyone in their group makes. I walk around the room and observe and refrain from commenting on their discussions. After students are finished brainstorming, we post the charts and discuss them. They usually talk about hearing only positive comments being made, no put-downs, students working nicely together, sharing, etc. Everyone comes to the agreement that we would all like to have the perfect classroom, and in order to achieve that, it would involve everyone working hard to create the positive environment we've imagined. I leave the posters up to refer to as I'm teaching the first few weeks of school.
Student Created Classroom Rules
Have you ever had your students create the classroom rules? You have to save your pretty classroom rules posters for the second day of school if you do this! I have students work in groups and come up with the rules they think are important to have in a classroom. After everyone brainstorms and records their ideas, we discuss them as a class. I tell them I will take their ideas and compile them into 5 or 6 classroom rules. Surprisingly, the rules they usually come up with fit into the rules I have already established. We call these rules our "agreements", since everyone helped to make them and agreed to follow them. (I also added these agreements to my Class Dojo behaviors). Students really buy into following the agreements because they helped create them. Empowering our students to have a say in the rules they are expected to follow makes our time in the classroom easier.
Farm Animal Antics Freebie
Forming Collaborative Groups
After a month or so of observing students working in pairs and groups,  I like to form permanent collaborative groups. I ask them to write the names of 5-7 other students who they think they can work well with. I promise them that I will do my best to choose at least one of those students to be in their group. I make a really big deal about their permanent groups. It's always fun to form the groups using candy or some other non-traditional way of grouping. I have also used gum, cookies, and animal sounds to create collaborative groups. Another idea for grouping is to have a picture or sticker of one animal, insect, sport, or any other theme for each group you are making, pass them out, and have students get into their groups by category. Students love variety and novelty!
I have created a pack for you to download HERE if you would like to use some of these activities in your classroom. The picture above is a really fun grouping activity involving farm animals and is included in the pack. 
I hope you've found some ideas you can use for creating a positive classroom community. Be sure to check out the previous posts and freebies in this series by clicking on the pictures below. 

I would love to know how you create a sense of community in your classroom. Leave me a comment below!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Community Building Ideas and Activities

Creating a Positive Classroom Community
Last week in this post I shared how I strive to create a positive classroom community beginning on the first day of school. Right from the start, students need opportunities to build a sense of community and bond with their classmates. One thing I've found that has helped to create a positive classroom community in my classroom is sharing circle. Every morning after I take roll and lunch count, I call my students to come up front to the carpet and sit in a big circle. Students practice thoughtful, attentive listening while their classmates share one at a time. Everyone gets a chance to speak, and I allow them to pass if they would rather not share. Sometimes I have them answer the same question and other times I have them pull a question out of a bag. You can use any questioning prompts to get them to share such as: what is your favorite movie, song, book, food, etc. The ideas are endless! I like to change it up each day to keep it fresh and fun
Another activity for sharing is to have students pass around a card with pictures on it and ask them which picture they are feeling most like and why. There are no right or wrong answers. They always come up with the most unique responses.
If I don't give students a bag filled with prompts or a card to pass around, I give them something to pass around such as a stuffed animal or a plastic toy microphone. All eyes are on the person who is holding the item. 
Sometimes students don't want to share, and that's fine. I allow them to pass. After everyone has a chance to share, I ask if there is anyone who passed and would like to share. Most of the students who pass end up sharing at the end. 
Creating a Positive Classroom Community
What I love about coming together for sharing circle every morning is that I can get a quick glimpse of how my students are feeling. Sometimes students are having a rough morning, and other times they are going through something difficult at home. By knowing this first thing in the morning, I can give those students extra attention throughout the day. It gives me a heads up and I will know to be more patient with them if they are having issues. Their classmates tend to do the same when they are aware. When I consistently do sharing circle, I have less behavioral disturbances during the day. Students get a chance to speak and be heard first thing in the morning and are less disruptive. Sometimes we talk about issues that are going on during recess or lunch. It helps them to resolve their problems so they are better able to focus on their classwork and sets the stage for a positive classroom culture. 

At the end of the first day of school, I like to have my students get into sharing circle and tell about one positive thing that happened to them on the first day of school. It's a great way to end the day and send them home feeling happy about their new classroom. I spend about a week doing sharing circle first thing in the morning and the end of the day. After that, we get together for sharing circle in the morning only. 
I have created a Sharing Circle pack for you. I hope you find the tools included helpful if you begin using sharing circle in your classroom. You can download it for free HERE
FREEBIE Sharing Circle Activities
Thank you so much for stopping by and enjoy the rest of your week! :)