Sunday, September 8, 2013

Proud to be an American!

In the next two weeks we have to dates on the calendar that I absolutely love!  Our fine country observes Patriots Day on September 11 and Constitution Day on September 17.

I love to teach students about this activity, although, breaking it down isn't easy.  I've come up with a few ways that makes learning about Patriot Day and Constitution Day fun and gives them the gist of each day.

 For Patriot Day we'll talk about the Twin Towers.  (It's hard to believe that students in my class weren't even alive when this happened!)  I always share where I was at and how I felt.  We talk about how they experience changes due to the September 11 attack whenever they go to the airport.  Each student creates a heart flag.  Students color the heart flag and stick the Pledge of Allegiance to the back.  (I've also used it for our Veteran's Day Ceremony by printing it out on cardstock and gluing a popsicle stick to it to create a patriotic fan.) This year I'm thinking of using the heart flag to create a hanging garland by taping student flags to yarn and hanging them around your classroom.


I also have 3 patriotic border writing pages that allow me to tailor my activity to letter writing, poetry or reflective response.  My students will also enjoy coloring in the patriotic border.

My students have fun creating shutterfold books so I've come up with a few different ideas for students to create shutterfold books for Constitution Day.  First students can glue the preamble to the front of the shutterfold book and then glue in their timeline activity to the inside.

How do you teach your students about Patriot's Day and Constitution Day?  You can find these activities at my TpT site

Monday, August 19, 2013

Classroom Helpers

I think it is very important to put students in charge of daily classroom tasks.  It helps them take responsibility while taking many tasks off of shoulders.  Students take pride in their jobs and make the classroom run smoothly.

This year I want a fun way to display the leadership positions.  While Pinteresting I found this great way to display classroom helper positions...

I'll be working on my iHelp display this week.  Though I really like the set up above, I want icons with some pizazz. 

Back to School Staff Development

Today was my first day back at school and I'm so excited about two pieces of staff development I received.
First,  we learned about Writing in Science.   It goes beyond having students prove what they learned and having them explain what they've learned by using content specific vocabulary.  It covers a variety of Science topics and includes material lists, step by step directions and a CD-ROM that even provides example videos.

Next,  our principal purchased Stemscopes, which provides awesome Science lessons based on state standards.   Besides the lessons are vocabulary cards,  concept songs, interactive games,  and cross content activities for Reading, Math and Writing.
What staff development is your campus providing this year? What staff development would you like? What staff development can you do without? 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to School Activities

One of the things I absolutely LOVE about back to school is getting to know my new students. Most of them I've seen in the hallways since they were in kindergarten and many are younger siblings to students who have already been in my class.  I want back to school ice breakers to be meaningful, because I use the information I get from them during the school year.

One thing I want kids to learn from day 1 is that I use food very, very often to teach concepts. Because I may not know about food allergies until it's too late, I like to start with the Skittles Ice Breaker.  It's very much like the M&M Ice Breaker out there, however, I use this because is friendly to students who have allergies to chocolate.

Another activity we do is the All About Me individual inventory.  It gives me basics about my students that I will use during the first few weeks of school.  The most difficult blank students will need to fill is their birthdate.  Since our campus is in a developing community, many students may know the name of their street, but not the house number and they feel the pressure when there is something they need to fill out that they don't know the answer to.
I also like to do some goal setting with my new students.  Nothing too in depth, because that will come later in the year.  I just want to help them focus on a new school year.  I do this with a simple goal setting page that they can work on independently and share with the class.
I also love to begin a time capsule that we'll take out at the end of the year and place in our year books. It's fun to see how their cursive signature has changed as well as their simple favorites that they were so sure about at the beginning of the year.
What activities do you like to have your students work on at the beginning of the year?

Back to School Routine: Spelling Contracts

Setting daily and weekly class routines is a must in any classroom.  Especially when teaching in a collaborative classroom where students with learning disabilities are learning along side regular education students.  This can get a little sticky when working on Writer's Workshop, because some students need more attention than others.

An easy weekly routine that requires little maintenance is the use of Spelling Contracts. 

All that I need to update is the date, spelling words and Word Hunt labels.  Contracts are handed out on Monday and collected on Friday.
What does your spelling practice look like?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Speeding ticket

Have you ever been grading an assignment that receives a low grade that you know is not reflective of the students knowledge?  I utilize differentiated work stations in my class and students often speed through their tougher stations to get to the "fun" stations.  I've created a "speeding ticket" that I can staple to the top of the assignment so that the student will have some choices on how they can improve their grade.

Our Class Promise!

One of the things I stress to my students is to always do their best and act their best even when no one is looking - that shows TRUE CHARACTER!

After looking at different Character Education materials and back to school class contracts that all students sign, I've created something that I can print, laminate and post in my classroom.

What do you think?  What would you include in your class promise?