Saturday, March 28, 2015

Teacher Sanity: An Organization Linky

One of the many things that I wasn't taught in college was how to maintain organization in the classroom.  How are teacher things are organized?  How are student things organized?  What do kids need independent access do?  What do you not want kids to have access to?  Are some questions I think many of us ask ourselves subconsciously and may be different for each teacher's personality and style.

There are many times when I have said to myself - "Why didn't I think of that?!"  So please if you have an organizational idea that you would like to share link up with me below!  

SOAP BOX WARNING:  One thing that really nerves me up is when I hear veteran teachers say things like "Oh yeah I was that organized when I was just starting teaching." and "Someday you won't care that much about having all those papers perfect."  Yes, I may be a bit more critical this early in my career, but after 26 years on this earth I know I am super type A, perfectionist, neat freak, organization fanatic!  So don't tell me what I will and won't do in 15 years.  Sorry, not sorry!

Phew!  Anyways.....

Student of the Day:  Each day there is one student that is the student of the day.  The names are on the stars and are kept in the front of the room.  The student of the day gets the comfy seat pad (which has seen better days and will be my summer project).  This child is basically the helper of all things: calendar, paper passer, office assistant etc.  Anything that needs to be done or can be done will be this child's task.  This way is also very helpful when there is a sub because she/he doesn't have all the kids being bossy, just one! :)  The great thing is the kids do this all independently...switching names and the seat pad.  
Student Stuff:  Our school is blessed that each student has their own cubby space and hook to keep their belongings in.  I printed out special name coloring pages which act as their label for their cubby space.  In the cubby they keep their daily five bags (black Wal-Mart sacks), backpacks, library/AR folder, and probably a bunch of junk because we know kids are all hoarders by nature.  
We have one turn in tray for office notes or homework.  Side note: We do weekly homework and then sporadic math about twice a week so that cuts down on the papers EVERY SINGLE DAY!!  
Before I started teaching I found these mailboxes at the Goodwill for about $12.  They are perfect for the daily papers and have extra spaces for myself and the principal.  I learned the hard way that kids will want to make you and the principal TONS of stuff (especially during the letter writing unit) so having a mailbox can cut down on TONS of trips to deliver the goodies.  I use binder clips on the slots to label and easily switch out each year.  
Here is also where we keep our paper tray that has fun scraps for a variety of uses!  This particular day our book hospital must have been moved because it sits there next to the scrap paper box too.  This way kids are independent in placing torn books where they need to go until I have time to fix them up!
Although my kids have all their own supplies we also have communal supplies as well.  Lost things go here as well - - natural consequence - - keep your things where they belong!!!  One thing we do share 100% are pencils (unless they are special and you teachers know what that means) and glue sticks....I didn't snag a pic of that but hey it would have just been a bucket of glue!  However, it is down where the kids can reach so they can replace glue independently.  
Other than a school issued take home folder my kids have a desk folder and a writing folder.  We use our desk folders a lot so we actually have two so we can replace around Christmas time!  Never fails the kids think I bought them all their new supplies at Christmas when really I have just been storing it for them since back to school night.  

Desk folders keep anything unfinished work or multi-day projects we are working on.  This is especially helpful for guided reading because the kids keep all their stuff!  I keep a can of pencils and any other materials so that cuts down on the time used to get right to work during that precious time!

Writing folders are mostly used during the first half of the year when we use printed paper with big lines.  In January we transition to composition notebooks for writing.
Bathroom Breaks: Also known as the teachers arch nemesis!  We take entire classroom breaks or call by tables every now and again but then of course learning has to stop.  Many times we do something called tapping.  I have the boys and girls listed with their name and picture.  The kid at the top of the list goes to the bathroom/drink and then taps the next kid and so on.  After a while we will go bottom up or even top down and bottom up as long as they are efficient in the bathroom.  Once again something that the kids are completely independent at doing!
At our school the kids have to fill out a nurse note with their name, date, time, and a reason to see the nurse.  This is something they have access to and after permission is given they fill out the information INDEPENDENTLY.  I also keep bandages in the blue zipper pouch and lotion here too.  

It isn't in the picture but right here is also a tin with extra glue stick lids and dry erase marker lids.  Best idea ever!  It is so easy when they have lost or thrown away a lid by accident because we have extras.  They are accessible to the kids so they can be independent.
Our class library is truly a labor of love!  This took me SOOO many hours this summer to complete, however it is one of the things I could never teach without.  This is another area that has been tailored for independence!  There are two sections: Leveled Books and Fun Books.  The students are required to have two fun books and two leveled books.  All the books and bins are labeled the same so the kids are able to browse and return without any help.
Teacher Stuff:  I am a planning freak and I am willing to admit it.  I have anxiety, so having the next week fully planned is always a goal of mine.  I keep my current weekly resources in my labeled drawers and then I have an extra rack for each day when planning ahead or if things need to get shifted around.  Everything has a place!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

No Worksheet Wednesday #4

Sad to announce this is the last week of No Worksheet Wednesday!?  There have been so many great, engaging, worksheet free ideas shared this past month.  I cry because it's over, but smile because it happened.  A big thank you to the Primary Chalkboard for hosting!  If you would like to link up with your own worksheet free idea head on over there now!
This week I introduced cause and effect in some real ways the children were able to experience first hand!
I had only planned to use the egg dropping and popping the balloon as examples.  However, when I saw everyone holding their ears and their reactions to the balloon I was excited to add an effect we were experiencing right then!  I was also lucky that it was a rainy day and I really did see the postman walking with his umbrella to work.
We also started talking about synonyms early this week and I couldn't resist but make these adorable synonym rolls!  First, we sorted the words as a class and then the cards were used to play a find your match kind of game.  I will also be keeping these cards up for a work on words option for a while.

Thanks for stopping by!
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Amazing Authentic Adjectives

We started working on adjectives at least three weeks ago and I have been compiling all of our studies to share with you in one great post!!  I hope you will find some ideas that are new and you can use with your class.  
We started off using the AMAZINGLY TALENTED Babbling Abby author of the Inspired Apple's Pop Rockin' Adjectives Pack!  Click either picture to take you to her TPT store to grab yourself a copy!

Luckily, I am the person at all the parties that creeps over the gift bags and tissue paper JUST in case the guest of honor doesn't want to take them home...I am there to save the day!  I dug around in my tote and found one fitting that would have many descriptive words.
The next day the kids were SOOOO excited to see what was in the bag!  We described the bag, the rocks, eating the rocks and all of the adjective goodness!  The kids had a lot of fun with this activity.

Another engaging and physical activity we did was with a partner.  I cut some pictures from magazines and then the kids rotated around the room to each picture.  They were asked to each write an adjective describing the pictures and to not duplicate any words already on the sheet.  I believe this was a very effective activity for them to deepen their understanding of what an adjective is and not use nouns!
We also incorporated comparative and superlative adjectives which I talked about a bit more on my No Worksheet Wednesday post which you can see HERE!
One of our cumulative projects we did was even more exciting than I had anticipated.  The kids were asked to do a descriptive writing project about their bedroom.  We usually have weekly homework sent home Monday and due Friday but I knew the picture would be more work.  I sent the directions home Monday instead of our weekly homework and had it due the following Monday.  The success of this project was time, love, and creativity!  The kids all did such a good job and it was fun to see their personalities in their rooms.  I am sure the parents appreciated that they probably cleaned their rooms without a fuss too.  I do not have a direct link to where I found this idea but it is credited to Misha Frander.

Hopefully you were able to get some fresh ideas for teaching those tricky adjectives to your kids and getting them to use them as well!!  
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

No Worksheet Wednesday #3 and FREE HEART PUZZLE

We are at it again!!  Challenges ourselves and other primary teachers to go worksheet free!  Read on to see a couple activities we did that were worksheet free!  Click below to head to the Primary Chalkboard and see the other ideas or link up!
The past couple of weeks we have been working on adjectives (I hope to share all our studies in one big post at a later date).  For now, I will share two activities that truly made my teacher heart happy.

Firstly,  I usually do a lot of thinking and connecting before I teach a lesson.  I go through the processing and steps for myself to get the ideas to the kids and then also what I want my kids to get out of it.  THEN, there are other times when I just wing activities and all the pieces fall into place and I go AH-HA I DO KNOW WHAT I AM DOING!!!  I love that affirmation - - - especially as a newbie teacher!

To extend our adjective study we began talking about comparative and superlative adjectives with a fun interactive smartboard file from Lisa Rombach from TPT and the best part is it is FREE and she has a lot more of them!  Click the picture below to get yourself a copy!

I wrote simple verbs on sticky notes and stuck them to the board then gathered some construction paper.  I let the kids pick a paper and a word then had to write and illustrate the base word, the comparative form, and superlative form.
This kid is clever!  ha ha!
It is hard to read in the picture, but this kid was also pretty creative.  The baby is fast, the 12th grader is faster, and Dad is fastest!
Clean is a hard adjective to illustrate....LOVED this one!

The following really made my teacher heart happy because we are also currently working on a habitat research project - - Antartick (love her inventive spelling) and Tundra made it on their pages!!!!
For the Lenten season one of our focuses has been God's gifts and our eternal debt to him.  I made up a quick puzzle heart and had the kids write gifts God has given them.  Then they were to cut the pieces and get with a partner to switch pieces, discuss, and put back together.  They did an AMAZING job and the puzzle was actually the PERFECT amount of challenge for them.

Click the picture to get a FREE copy of the puzzle heart!
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Friday, March 13, 2015

Dr. Seuss Days and FREEBIES!

Well my week of Dr. Seuss fun was cut short by the snow days but we finished up our fun this week and I wanted to share it all with you!  March is National Reading Month so any of these activities would be especially good through the end of the month!
We had a mystery reader scheduled each day, but only got to two because of the snow days!
For Dr. Seuss math we honored his birthday by graphing our class birthdays using this pack I found for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers. 
We also did a fun Silly Cat with a Hat mystery picture that reviewed money, tally marks, place value, and double digit addition without regrouping.  This was the perfect review after all those days off. You can grab this in my TPT store!

We also read this great non-fiction book about Dr. Seuss and also talked about biography genre.  This is another amazing FREE book I found on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Click on the cover page to head on over to her TPT store.  After we read the book and did a bit discussion I had each child write a fact they learned on a little hat and we made a big poster!  If you would like a FREE copy of the hats just click on the picture for the download.
We also did a little arts and crafts using Mrs. White's from First Grade Blue Skies Cat in the Hat craft!  Head to her page to grab yourself a copy.  They are adorable!
Since March is all about reading and we were celebrating a great author I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about genre.  I saved up some old Scholastic Reading Club magazines and got some plain white printer paper and I was ready to go.  No prep, engaging, and rigorous for the kids - Win, Win, Win!

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great weekend!
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