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?

Hollywood Back to School Theme Posters and Activities

Last year my classroom featured a STAR theme since our state test is called the STAAR test.  This year I wanted to change things up a little without having to totally redo my classroom.  After doing some Pinteresting, I've found my "Pin"spiration and got creative.  I've created the following items to add to my classroom d├ęcor.

I wanted an easy visual that would help my students remember my expectations for their hallway behavior.  This was also a super easy way to incorporate the Hollywood theme.

I also created a movie ticket style Noise Levels Poster that I can refer to before turning students loose on work.
I've also created some back to school get to know you activities that can be done with a independently, with a partner and with a small group.

What is your back to school theme?  What are your favorite back to school activities?  Your can find these items in a Back to School pack or individually at my Teacher Pay Teachers Store.  Don't forget to follow me!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back to School Must Haves

Now I know you've already made your back to school shopping list.  Likely you've already purchased most of those necessities and have filled every nook and cranny of your classroom with them. 

Lorraine over at Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies contributed to 2013-2014 Back to School Must Haves emagazine.  According to Lorraine all contributors are incredible teacher bloggers who have terrific recommendations for all sorts of must haves!

Check it out now! 

What are your back to school must items?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Noise levels poster

Have you ever noticed that no matter how many times you remind students what your expectations are for noise level that they never seem to get it?  I've created a Noise Levels Poster for those visual learners that need an explicit reminder.  What do you think?

Monday, August 5, 2013

If I only had minions!

I have to say that I'm very proud of myself,  because I've crossed 5 things off of my list to create. Granted I have about 8 more things to create that will be a little more time consuming. ... like my new iHelp job chart and the a Habit of the Week visual.  SIGH....I will get there,  but I wonder if I should add minions to my back to school shopping list....

Meet the teacher checklist

My campus hosts a Meet the Teacher Night the week before the first day of school.  I love it because I get to meet my new students and their families. It takes away a lot of the first day of school anxiety for everyone.  It also gives students the opportunity to drop off their school supplies. 

Since it can also be overwhelming as so many families will come in all at once, I've created a checklist that each parent picks up as they come in.  This will help ensure that some important tasks get accomplished for every student who visits on Meet the Teacher Night.

Please share what you have visiting families do on Meet the Teacher night :)

Back to School Ice Breaker: Skittles

Using food always gets the attention of my students, but using CANDY is a fool proof way to keep their attention. Even quite kids are sure to participate if it means they get to eat candy in class. 

I love using Downeast Teach's -MM-Game, however, there's always the kiddo that can't eat chocolate.  I've adapted the activity to use Skittles.   You can find it at Getting-to-Know-you-with-Skittles.

 I can't wait to use both this school year!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

It's on! official contract start date is August 19, however,  my unofficial begin date is August 12 with team meetings, leadership meetings and a campus retreat. My free time is quickly dwindling which means I need to keep my back to school prepping streamlined.

Yes.... I've pinned waaaay too many Pinterest ideas.  To make things more manageable I've gone back and created a Back to School board and moved some must-have pins there. You can peruse them by clicking on My Back to School Pinterest Board.

My to-do list includes:

  • Stop by my local party store & dollar shop to pick up accessories to go with my new Hollywood theme. 
  • Hot glue pom-poms to dry erase marker lids for students to use as erasers when at work stations. 
  • Create a Class Dogo reward system. 
  • Create a iPhone looking iHelp job chart.
  • Create an interactive 7 Habits of Happy Kids bulletin board. 
  • Create a "Paws"itive Behavior Chart poster to place above my existing behavior chart and find some Hollywood clip art to attach to my existing behavior chart make to make it look like the one below from

Time for me to get busy creating. ...IT'S ON!

***Don't forget to share what is on your back to school to-do list***