Spelling Practice

Saturday, August 31, 2013

This year we have adopted the Journeys program for our Reading and Language Arts curriculum.  The spelling included in this program has challenging lists of appropriate words that are great for fifth graders!  However, the accompanying activities are a little lacking.  I started a list of different activities that I have done in the past, but it was kind of “same old, same old,” so I went to Pinterest to find some new spelling ideas. 

One of my favorite finds was the Spelling Scribble.  You can see the pin here.  
I also found a great (free) list of ideas here.

After finding tons of new ideas to add to my own ideas, I decided to get to work creating.  I made five different spelling choice boards to use with my students.  The center square on every board is a mandatory “Definitions” assignment, but the kids get to choose two of the other eight squares to complete during the week.  I also added a rubric to the bottom of each page to make grading an easier process.  I put them in my Teachers Pay Teachers store today.  Thisis the link.

Classroom Reward Coupons

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This year, I am starting The Homework Club in my room.  It is inspired by this post at Lessons with Laughter.  If the kids keep their magnets on the homework club board for the whole month, their reward is to choose from a variety of reward coupons. I made reward coupons for things like “Sit in the rocking chair for a lesson,” “Lunch with the teacher,” and “Skip morning work.”  

I actually came up with 25 different ideas for coupons.  I’ve posted them in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

Classroom “Newsletter” – a.k.a. The Update

Monday, August 26, 2013

When I first started teaching, the classroom newsletter was a staple in my classroom.  Now, nine years later, I have transitioned to the digital age, and have found a wonderful replacement idea!  Instead of a weekly newsletter, parents get a weekly update email from me.  The update has three sections: curriculum, news, and upcoming events.

The Curriculum section details what we have been learning about in each subject.  It is also a place for me to mention upcoming tests or important due dates.  The news section has any information about our classroom or the school that is important to get to parents.  Some weeks, this is the biggest section of the Update!  The last section, Upcoming Events, is just a list of dates of upcoming events in our classroom and school.  This is where I list study trips, skating parties, and school programs.

I like the Update emails for a few reasons.  They are much easier to write than the old newsletters that I did (mostly because the formatting is simple – it’s just an email!).  I have also found that it increases parent communication.  They are much more likely to “reply” to an email than to write me a note about a printed newsletter.  I am especially loving the Update in the era of smartphones, because most of my parents get the Update immediately after I send it.  Sometimes I get replies within minutes!

How do you keep your parents up to date?

The Second Chance Pass

Saturday, August 24, 2013

As the year begins in my classroom, there are TONS of procedures to go over, teach, and review.  One thing I hit hard is homework.  I really emphasize responsibility in getting homework done and turned in.  However, I explain that I understand that we all have “oh no!” moments, so in my classroom, I implement the Second Chance Pass.  

During the first week of school, students receive two Second Chance Passes.  The second chance pass has a place for their name, the assignment name, and the original due date.  It also has directions explaining that the pass must be turned in with the late assignment and that it can’t be used for long term projects, only daily assignments.  

I like the concept of the Second Chance Pass because it recognizes that we all make mistakes.  I’m putting it in my TpT store as a free item if you’d like to try it out in your room!

A Letter to the Teacher

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I just finished my second day of school, and am absolutely exhausted!  I am sure that many of you are feeling the same way (unless – lucky you – it’s still summer vacation).

As I start the school year, getting to know the kids is my number one priority.  One of the things I do is have the parents write me a letter about their children to let me know more.  I send a note home in my first newsletter that says:

Your student and I will be spending quite a bit of time over the next few days getting to know each other and all of the new classmates.  However, since you know your child better than anyone, I am asking you to take a moment to write me a note about your child,

What are the things that you would like me to know about your child as we enter this school year?  What are your child’s interests?  What is your child’s attitude toward learning?  How would you describe your child’s character and personality?  Please add anything that you think may be helpful as we begin our yearlong journey together.

The letters I get back are amazing.  Parents give me so much more information about their children than I would ever be able to learn without their help!  I learn everything from food preferences to extra curricular activities to learning difficulties and strengths.  I’ve learned about home lives, medication histories, and even medical conditions – things I wouldn’t normally be privy to.  These letters are incredibly beneficial to me and so, I wanted to share the idea with you!

Monday Made It - August 12

Monday, August 12, 2013

It’s Monday again – my last official day of summer, even though we have open house tonight – and time for another Monday Made It with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics.

This week, I made two projects. The first was inspired by this post at Lessons with Laughter. It’s a Homework Club board. I’ve seen several bloggers posting about Homework Club boards and I’m excited to start one in my own room. I followed my blue and green with stars theme for my board by painting the pan blue and adding some green ribbon. I don’t have pictures of these steps, but here’s the finished board.

For the magnets, I bought a collection of wooden stars from Jo-Ann’s and painted them green. 
I painted by hand, which was silly. I totally should have used spray paint! Then I added numbers with a silver sharpie, glued the magnets to the back, and clear coated the final product.

Project number two was a sign for my classroom door. I’m not 100% thrilled with how it turned out, but it’s cuter than having nothing there.

Saturday Summary 3

Saturday, August 10, 2013

This week involved a lot of school time.  I spent four hours Monday working registration, an hour on Tuesday in a meeting with my team, and four hours Tuesday working registration (again).  I was also in and out of my classroom working on finishing touches before school starts on Wednesday.  Unfortunately, we still don’t have our finalized lists, so my project list still has plenty on it.  I guess that is what the teacher work day on Tuesday is for! (That and TONS of meetings of course).

On the Blog, this is what’s been happening:

Wednesday: MathRules

Thursday: StudentTeaching

Friday: TeacherBinder

Teacher Binder

Friday, August 9, 2013

As I get ready to start another year, organization is always at the forefront of my mind.  I am an organization-aholic.  I love containers and binders and folders and anything that can make organizing things easier.  Unfortunately, sometimes I’m a little too organized….I have such specific places for things that sometimes I end up with piles of file folders on my desk.  After seeing teacher binders all over the blog world and Teachers Pay Teachers, I decided that I’d try that to minimize some of the file folder craziness.

So, yesterday, I spent some time creating my own teacher binder.  It’s just decorated with a simple pattern of stars that I found from Ashley Hughes.  You can get the pack of stitched stars at her TpT store here, and she has TONS of other cool stuff!

My Teacher Binder has pages for Class List, Calendar, Parent Contact, Staff Meetings, Student Information, and Student Data.  I also created pages for Parent Contact Log (to record when I email or call parents), Student Birthdays, and How We Get Home.  I’m pretty excited about trying my new binder!

(I did put the file on TpT here if you’d like to try a simple teacher binder as well!)

Student Teaching

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Today I’m linking up with The Polished Teacher for a Student Teaching experiences linky event.  

I had a wonderful student teaching experience.  My collaborating teacher was wonderful and taught me a lot about classroom management, having a smoothly running classroom, dealing with parents, and keeping organized.  She even threw an “End of Student Teaching” party for me on my last day at school.  She had sent a secret note home to parents and all of them sent in small gifts (ok, some sent in VERY generous gifts) for me to open at the party and then all of the kids and I made root beer floats.  The principal even came!

This year, I’ll be hosting a student teacher for the first time.  I figured – “I’ve been doing this for nearly a decade, I suppose it’s time to host a student teacher.”  I’m very excited – even more so after meeting her last week – but a little nervous.  If any of you have hosted a student teacher and have tips to share, I’d love to hear them!

Also be sure to head to The Polished Teacher to share your experiences and read about others’ experiences!

Math Rules

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Yesterday and Monday, I spent several hours at school working registration, meeting with my team (which was wonderful!), and even a few minutes working on setting up the room.  One thing I did was hang my Math Rules wall.  In my room there are four rules for math that I reinforce and emphasize to my kids.  

1. Remainders do not exist (in division)

2. All fractions are division problems

3. The simplest form of any improper fraction is a whole or mixed number

4. There is another way to do the problem.

These rules were inspired by one of my co-teachers during my first few years, Mr. Dowling, so in the photo, you can see that they are labeled as Mr. Dowling’s Math Rules.  Mr. Dowling has retired now, but is still remembered fondly, even by kids who never had him.  So, to honor the fact that I borrowed the idea, I credit him on the posters.

Monday Made It – READ!

Monday, August 5, 2013

It’s Monday and time for Monday Made It at Fourth GradeFrolics!  I am super excited about my project for this week.  I have seen several bloggers featuring their READ signs and letters, and so I decided to make my own.  My classroom is all done in blue and green with stars as a decorating theme and while I searched for some awesome star paper to use, I didn’t find anything I fell in love with, so I decided to go with plain old paint.

First I went to Jo-Ann’s for my letters.  I LOVE these because they remind me of Dr. Seuss lettering.  (Of course the letters went on sale the day after I purchased them, so I’m in the process of buying new ones to return for a price adjustment, but they are all out of A’s!)

Then I painted the insides of the letters green,
the outside of the letters blue, and I finished them with some Mod Podge for a glossy (water resistant) finish.  I’m REALLY happy with how they turned out!

My Classroom Library

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Going to the library is one of my favorite things to do….it always has been!  And I remember scouring my teachers’ classroom libraries for the perfect book when I was in school, so when I got my first classroom (9 years ago) my goal was to create an awesome classroom library of my own.  I’m not 100% thrilled with the quantity of books – you can NEVER have enough books! – but I feel like I have a pretty strong selection.  With that said, today I’m going to share my classroom library with my readers.

This is the main section of the library.  I organize the books on the left by series with a label on each basket for the appropriate series.  Then in the middle shelf, I start organizing the baskets by level.  
We use AR in my building, so each basket is split up by AR level.  There is a colored dot on each label depicting it’s level, and then each book has a matching dot on the spine.

This is my nonfiction shelf.  It doesn’t have nearly enough on it, but with the cost of books, it is a slow going process to fill the shelf.  At least the kids like the books that are there! (Also, don't mne my mess of a desk in the background...it's still a work in progress...)

That’s a look at my library…what do you do to organize yours?

Saturday Summary 2

Saturday, August 3, 2013

It’s Saturday and time for another Saturday Summary!

This week was pretty tame.  I spent some time in the classroom, but most of my time was spent relaxing and enjoying my last full week of vacation.  Next week, I’ll be working registration two days and spending a lot of time putting finishing touches on the classroom before school starts the following week.  One highlight of my week was the Summer Recess I had for my class from last year.  It was so nice to see all of my kids again!

So…here’s the blog summary:

Wednesday – No blogging today – I was sick and didn’t have anything scheduled

What have you been up to this week?  

August “Currently”

Friday, August 2, 2013

It is August (already) and I’m going to be linking up with Farley from Oh Boy Fourth Grade for this month’s currently.

LISTENING – I’ve been on a huge Ingrid Michaelson kick for most of the summer.  Her songs are so cheerful and they just make you smile.

LOVING – Every morning this summer I have enjoyed drinking my coffee while watching Good Morning America and trolling education blogs.  I’m REALLY going to miss the routine when I go back to school!

THINKING – How on earth is it already August!?!  My summer project list still has so many things to accomplish and I’m not sure how I’m going to get it all done!

WANTING – I’m actually making pretty good progress in my classroom this year, but I could get a lot more done if I knew what my daily schedule was going to be.  BUT I can’t plan my schedule until I know when my specials are, and I won’t know that until the first teacher day.

NEEDING – As I said, my progress in the classroom is really going well!  I’m at the point now where I need a class list to make any more progress.  Unfortunately I probably won’t get one for another week.

B2S MUST HAVES – I still need to make a Homework Club board for my room.  I got the idea from LessonsWith Laughter and am excited to try it this year.
Sharpie extra fine markers are my obsession in my classroom.  I use them to grade, to write lists, to write just about anything you can imagine.
A chiropractor appointment is my last must have.  I was never a believer in the chiropractor until I threw my back out last year and gave it a try.  Now, I’m obsessed!  The fact that my chiropractor adjustments come with a 60 minute massage probably helps with that obsession a bit too!

Why Jo-Ann’s is Amazing

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Last week, I was reading blogs and learned that Jo-Ann’s gives a teacher discount…where have I been that I didn’t know that!?  So on my trip to buy some things, I signed up for the teacher discount card.  

As if the extra 15% wasn’t awesome enough, they gave me a calendar that is filled with fun classroom ideas each month.  The best part, though, is the last page of the calendar which has coupons for every month.  The coupons range from 50% off an item to 25% off your total purchase (which is amazing!).

I’m sure many of you already know about this calendar, but it was new to me!  So, if you haven’t already, head to Jo-Ann’s for a fun calendar and some great coupons!
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