Sunday, November 3, 2013

Happy November! Looking Back on Halloween...

So much fun stuff, so little time! I have been having a BLAST with my sweet kindergarteners this year! Can y'all believe it's already NOVEMBER?? I wanted to share some of the things we've been up to in October...

I tried to describe our kindergarten building's really cool common area in my last post, but there's just no way to describe is one angle. All 3 kindergarten classes added spiders and bats to create a SPOOKY Halloween theme! LOVED the "Spooktacular Work" bulletin board set that our teammate ordered this year. It really tied everything together along with the black cob webs! :o) I believe the bats complete with one fact each "I learned that bats..." and the cute spiders came from Deanna Jump's units.

A mom from my classroom brought in the Frankenstein cardboard piece below that has a cut out where the head would be. Each student could peek thru that cut out or the witch version, and the teachers took pictures of all the students. They turned out so cute! 

Here's the witch art project one of the other classes did. Too cute! I think their very talented teacher assistant came up with the design...I believe they added a glittery wart to each nose. Love it! :o)

Here is our other kindergarten teacher's door. She had her inspiration from Pinterest, back when Pinterest was just getting started and does this every year. I'm a little jealous because my door opens outward and I can't do this to my door!! Maybe I can figure out a way to create the Frankenstein version that's floating around out there somewhere...either way, doesn't this just make you smile?!

This is just outside my classroom in the "foyer" as we like to call it. My students and I graphed about if bats are creepy or not before diving into our Going Batty unit. You can also see our pumpkins we carved after pumpkin math...and you can see that most of us think bats are creepy...

We made a very very very yummy witches brew together. There were 13 ingredients...and because one student happened to be absent that day, everyone was able to add in exactly one ingredient to our brew! I bought a $1 cauldron at Target, brought my wooden spoon, put my witch hat on, and turned down the lights. They had a blast! (and so did I!).
There is a freebie for the poem, ingredient list, and ingredient bag labels:

CLICK HERE to go to her TPT store and download your copy.

Then in the art center that week, each student made their witch's feet and cauldron. Under the cauldron flap is a spider, bat, or jack-o-lantern (the students chose what they wanted in their brew!). Here are some more cute spiders and the first of our witches brew art project. 

I'm really annoyed with this...I ALWAYS want to give credit where credit is due..but I cannot find the teacher's blog or TPT where these patterns came from. My teacher assistant created and modified this for us, but it was directly based on someone else's adorable project. If you are reading this and you know where this came from, please leave a comment below or email me!! 

Back to our bats...we kept some of our bat facts in our classroom to decorate and remind us of what we learned.

Feeling inspired, I created a schema anchor chart for day #1 of our bat chats. I introduced the word "schema" (told them it was a very important college word...they were so proud of themselves for remembering what it meant!), and we also learned what a "misconception" is. They were excited to find new bat facts to put into our "new learning" box. Even after I took this picture, we found more interesting facts about bats!

Our little man was a sock monkey for Halloween! He walked around saying "oooh oooh ahhhh ahhhh" in his monkey suit. I could just eat him up!!!

And a big congratulations to my dear friend Joelle and her fiance Michael. We celebrated their engagement this weekend and had so much fun! We wish y'all the very best and are always here for you!! :o)

Okay, I promise this is my last little side note...handsome and I have made a music choice change. Our once country music-rich household with a little bit of rap/hip-hop mixed in (I HAD to listen to the Weekend Blast Off on the Ace and TJ show every Friday just to be able to sing along with Ice Ice Baby, Run DMC's Tricky...really, you name it, I was boppin' my head to it)....we have decided to listen exclusively to praise and worship music. Our pastor's quote from last month was "Turn the crap off and the worship up" ...and I cannot say enough about how it has already started changing little things in my life. Right now my favorite song is One Thing Remains... so I'll leave y'all with makes my heart smile! :o) at peace, and all will be well...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Classroom Tour 2013-14

Happy Labor Day Weekend!
Who has two thumbs and is excited to have a 3-day weekend? THIS GIRL! ;o) .......I know, I's totally corny, but I'm in a corny kinda mood for some reason.
I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but just in case I didn't...I moved classrooms this summer. It is my 3rd time moving in 7 years, so I felt a teeny bit prepared to make the move. Although even the mere thought of moving all of my CRAP wonderful array of teaching tools makes me cringe and have major anxiety every time. I have that teacher hoarding gene where when someone is giving their old stuff away, I can't stand the thought of it being thrown away, and I take it thinking that I can find something to do with it later on down the road. It's a great way to inherit great stuff, but it's also a way to accumulate as much stuff as a 30 year retiring teacher!!! With lots and lots of help from my assistant and the custodians, we packed every last pattern block and book away and moved it across campus to my beautiful new-to-me room in the kindergarten building! Home at last!! :o)

We went with a color scheme this year: aquaish, lime green, and black. I ordered all of our borders to coordinate as well as, well, just about everything else. I'm digging it so far. I think it adds a calmness to the craziness of kindergarten! ;o)

Feeling a little silly about it now, but I made sure to take my yearly night before kindergarten photos of our room and then didn't get a chance to blog. That was 2 weeks ago. So, without further ado, I give you our 2013-14 kindergarten classroom...

Okay, pretend like you walk into the kindergarten building. There is a large center room with all of our blue cubbies. The three kindergarten classrooms open up from this center room. When you walk up to my room, there is a little alcove (my assistant and I joked that it is our foyer and we were going to put her desk out there so she could act as our secretary). Here is our alcove with a storage armoire, entry table, and our owl tree...

 Then as you walk in our official front door, straight ahead is this view:
(The curtains were my August project and turned out better than I thought they would! I'll post about them a little later...) All of this furniture was in the old room, but this rug was left behind! Love!!!

If you stay standing at the door and turn left, you get this view:
(student tables and my teacher area in the back...LOVING my storage!!)

Better angle:

New behavior chart:
(I made the green thing on top and the color cards, classroom rules are from another teacher...linked in my last post)

STILL standing at the front door, turn right, and here's what you'll see:
(Remember my last post and the brownie points? That's them along with a few other great Pinterest finds like the labels and class motto)

Loved how this turned out! I simply typed up the words "teacher helper," etc. and glued them to the pink paper. One of our K teachers had the letters for Helpers and is letting me use them.

View of my assistant's desk and the art center. MORE FABULOUS STORAGE!

More curtains...and my wonderful parking spot outside: about 10 steps from the back door! 
{Spoiled Rotten}

View from my teacher area:

Grandma's rocking chair and my updated calendar meeting area:

Future word study/writing center in the little alcove in our room:
{Definitely needed the curtains so we can close them when other children are playing on the playground during center time!!!}

Computer/Listening Center:
{I think I'm going to switch this with the word study/writing center so we can utilize this bulletin board a little better}

So that was the set up two weeks ago...this is an updated picture from Friday. We put up the word wall and the alphabet cards that go with our reading series. Also, the blinds in our room only go down that far, so the sun shines in our eyes first thing in the morning on the carpet. Did some switching around and trying the rocking chair on the other side of the room. HOWEVER, I do not like my back to the front door, so I need to find a solution fast!

New arrangement:

New word wall and some student work:

Do you have a suggestion on what I should do with the big windows in the morning? I'm thinking about asking for another set of blinds to put on the bottom of the window.

Thanks for checking out our room! Hope your school year is going well so far! :o) at peace, and all will be well...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy Students, Happy Parents, Happy Teacher, Happy Classroom

Hello all! Summer is just ticking away!!!! Where has it gone?? For us, it's gone to the beach, to the mountains of NY state, to the river, to story hour at our local library, to the pool, it's gone on walks, to cookouts....I guess it's gone a lot of places, so I can't complain one bit! :o)

Teachers, do you feel like you start a new job every August/September? I was reflecting on the anxiety excitement of meeting a new group of students each year, and how, to me, it's like beginning a new job every year. Each August I spend at least 3 sleepless nights before the first day of school going over my checklists and supplies in my head. I reflect back on the previous first days of school and try to squeeze every ounce of what-was-successful and what-FAILED...I'm already starting to do that now...make it stop! :o)

The real reason for this post: today I want to talk about classroom management. Duh-duh-duuuuummmmm!!! Y'all, I swear I have used a different form of classroom management every single year. Some have worked - eh. Some have worked - okay. But nothing has really struck me as the perfect method. Even what we used last just wasn't the right fit for that group. It was a great theory...but just didn't work.

I'm kind of convinced that the entire system of rewards in general just doesn't work. See, my goal is to teach children (or reinforce) that you behave in the classroom (and everywhere) because it's the right thing to do and you just have to do it. I cringe when there's a promise of a reward just because they did something they were already supposed to do. Take the rule of Respect, for example. You're supposed to respect your teachers. and other children. and all adults. PERIOD!!! I don't believe a child should get a sticker or prize for being respectful. I know, I know...there are many conflicting opinions on this subject. But in my personal opinion, children are going to grow up into adults. If you expect something in return of your good behavior, what kind of an adult do you turn out to be? Would you want to hang out with someone like that? Would that person be successful in the workforce? If you are a teacher who does the rewards system in your classroom, and it is working wonders for you, then I don't diss you for doing it. Especially in some of the schools in my county, there are children who have no idea how to behave because they were never taught to. So rewards, for them, at first, may be necessary. However, in my school and in my past 3 classes, the students have already been well groomed in the areas of respectfulness, waiting their turn, etc. So I don't have to teach them HOW to do this...I simply play off of what their parents have already instilled in them.

**  Okay...stepping down from my soap box. ;o)  **

I have always used the color system in my classroom, just in different forms. Last year I made this:

Y'all have seen this before...not new...totally borrowed from everyone else with the color system. Start on green, move up to purple for being superb, go down a color for breaking a rule, blah, blah, blah. Every week that a child was on either green or purple all week, s/he would go to the treasure box and get to pick a ticket like these:

CLICK HERE to go to First Grade Fever to download your free copy

They were really fun! Stinky Feet was a favorite (some of my little girls painted their toes in honor of using their stinky feet card! :o) And all of that was working all well and fine, but do you know what happened? They started doing extra little things just to go up to purple and get a reward for it. And once they were on purple, the extra wonderful behavior stopped, because there was no where to move up to after that. Just thinking out I crazy for being annoyed with well behaved children????  ;o) Do you understand what I'm annoyed about? Please someone stop me if this is ridiculous!!  LOL...

Now for the consequences: We had certain things that would happen if the students went down a color (time away, limited or no recess, etc.). No matter what color a child was on, if it was blue or worse, a note went home. Every time. Yep, y'all heard right: every time a child misbehaved, no matter what, we sent home a note that had to be signed and returned. To make it more time efficient, I sent home something like this:

CLICK HERE to download (I don't know who this is made by...just found it by googling)

PARENTS: ***If any of last year's parents are reading this, and you have feedback good or bad on the frequency and content of the notes, will you please email me? I would love to hear how you liked/didn't like them.

For what it's worth, I think we sent home 20 notes total last year. If even that many. I don't recall a day where a child went past yellow (the second offense). And there were maybe 2 times someone went to yellow all year. We just didn't have behavior problems like we've had in years past. I don't know whether to credit that to the notes that made parents immediately aware of any could-be problems or whether our class was just that great.

We also use the Brownie Points system that is floating all around Pinterst. I made "brownies" (googled "brownie clip art" and printed a bunch and then made a sign in Word) and laminated them and put magnets on the back. Each time they received a glowing report from a resource class teacher (meaning not even one child got in trouble), they earned a Brownie Point, and we stuck one up on a cookie sheet at the front of the room. When they earned 12 brownies, we did something special. The students voted on what they wanted to do. Some rewards were Picnic Snack (we ate snack on blankets outside), Shaving Cream Party (I brought shaving cream, and let them play with it on their tables), Movie Party (they got on their rest mats all together at the front of the room and watched a short episode of Shawn the Sheep on my Netflix account), etc. So really all rewards were either free/fairly inexpensive, and they all had tons of fun with each one.

CLICK HERE to download brownie images and sign for $2


I found this over the summer and LOVE IT!!!!

CLICK HERE to go to the original blog post, and download your copy. Check out her other posts too - love her!! This is from Kimberly Gillow at Funky First Grade Fun.

I haven't decided on whether to have anything displayed other than these two rules and the class motto that goes along with it.

I'm definitely keeping the Brownie Points. For the sake of our resource teachers if not for anything else!! ;o)

So questions: What works in your classroom? Should I use rewards for the very best behavior or bag it? Should I make a new display besides the color system that's a little more simplified? Keep the old one? Wait and see how this class's chemistry is? Any and all feedback is welcomed!!! :o)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes...

...How Do You Measure A Year???
Not even going there. Not EVEN going to mention how I haven't blogged in over a whole year. Definitely not going to mention that my sweet baby boy is going to be ONE YEAR OLD in two weeks!

...In case you were wondering...I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, happy, sweetest-ever-in-the-whole-world baby boy three weeks after my last blog post (looking back at my last post, it kinda looks like something bad happened since I didn't say anything after 36 weeks of pregnancy...). Thank goodness that's not the case! I've just been blogging-lazy and very busy with kindergarteners and a brand new (not-so-brand-new-anymore) baby. Definitely not even going to show you a picture or two... ;o)

 One of our first family pictures! (Is it inappropriate to mention that Nate was born intervention free? (like, no pain meds, not even an IV...just a mama, a very supportive daddy, an exercise ball, and a TENS unit!)...I'm just one proud lady that we planned all of that and it actually happened the way we wanted!
For some reason, looking at this picture, I had some great memories pop back into my head...anyway, thanks for allowing that side-bar! ;o)

Newborn pic...Go Pirates! :o) 

Nate at 11 months (during the Tropical Storm Andrea)
First time playing in his new pool the day after the TS

Now that I've got that off my chest and out of my system...WELCOME TO SUMMER, BABY!!! This has been my first full week of summer home with my sweet little man. Let me just tell y'all....I had the PERFECT class this past year. All I do now is sit back and just marvel at how wonderful a year we had together. I had 14 students - 7 sweet girls and 7 lovable boys. I would take any one of them home as my own child. And their parents! Y'all, let me just tell you about their parents! Anything we needed...anything AT ALL was done almost before we asked. Laminate cut, word study games glued and cut out, take-home-books sorted and stapled. My class mom was the leader behind the most wonderful parent cohort ever!

THIS is the dream class...this is about 2 minutes after the last parent left our classroom. You could have heard a pin drop!!!! Seriously!!! My assistant and I were literally standing in the back of the room pinching each other trying to get ourselves to wake up to meet our new class. ...we still haven't woken up! 

LOVED our new document camera and projector this year! Made life with few magnetic manipulatives so much easier! Students and teachers alike loved the activities, video clips, and race games played with this throughout the year!  ....and I just reminded myself of yet another blog post for this summer! My sight-word powerpoint race. LOVE IT! And hopefully you will too.

OMG, I have so much to share with you guys and gals! I think I'm going to do mini-posts this summer. I have to share all of my successes (and not-so-successes) from this year! I think I'll start with my behavior management plan from this year and plans for next year...y'all won't believe what I'm going to do! The horror! The nerve! Do WHAT?? ...some of the few comments I'm sure that will roll around in your minds when I tell you what I'm conjuring up for next year! ;o) These sweet children won't know what hit 'em!  (okay...maybe it's not THAT strange...but strange for modern day classrooms). That's all I'm gonna say! ;o)

Mommyhood calls...Nate's trying to tell us that he is NOT going to take no stinkin' afternoon nap today! He's too excited about our dinner guests! :o) at peace, and all will be very well...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Behavior Management

Hello, all!

This is officially my 3rd Friday of summer! We get out a little earlier than the other schools in my area. Today's my handsome's official last day with his students. Yay for being married to a teacher!! It's almost time to start our 3rd summer of love! :o)

I wanted to show you my behavior management system. I've used four different systems in the past 6 years. This one seems to work the best...but as usual, next year I have a few tweaks to make.

To understand where I come from when speaking about discipline (and by the way, "discipline" is defined as a way of teaching the consequences to our actions, both good and bad), here is our class philosophy that I wrote this year and kept in the student homework folders. The first two pages are kept in homework folders to remind parents of the rules, what colors mean, and the consequences for the colors. The third page is posted in our room directly above the behavior chart. Feel free to use it or to adapt it to your own philosophy! :o)

Classroom Rules for Folder

Each student in the class has a pocket with different color cards inside. Everyone starts on green each day and moves up or down the color system according to behavior. We use a calendar packet that has extra work for each day of the month. The students record the day's color on the front page of the calendar (calendars are adapted from Kelly's Kindergarten CLICK HERE to go there!). Here's a picture of our pockets in our classroom...they are attached to the side of my large filing cabinet.

The way our system works is that you can move down if you break a rule, but then go back up if your behavior improves. I've only done this for kindergarten. In first grade, you didn't move back up at ALL!! But with the color system, if a student has a warning and then breaks another rule, even if s/he improves the day, the highest color s/he can go to is green. Purple is reserved for those students who go above and beyond and do not need any warnings for behavior.

I will say that the downfall to this approach has been successfully communicating the ENTIRE day to the parents. A student would get down to blue, but then have a great rest of the day and end up on green. Unless it was an honest child, the parent potentially never knew there was a problem. THAT is a problem for me. I feel like it taught my students that they could mess up but then if they corrected it, no one would ever know and they could continue to act out... Did I communicate this to the parents? Yes. Did it improve these students' behaviors? No. Keep reading if you can...I have a solution...  ;o)

I don't know about you, but I LOVE pinterest!! It is so cool! So in my surfing of the site, I found this fabulous tool that I'm going to start next year. I'm going to adapt it to my own classroom rules and colors. PLEASE check out the link to see.

If you click it, you will find a wonderful send-home note that is not only extremely informative, but it is super quick to fill out at the end of the day. I didn't have pre-written notes, so I would DREAD having to write out a note at the end of our busy day.

For next year, I'm thinking that I will create one of these notes for each "bad" color (blue, yellow, and red). They will all look the same as far as the behaviors they list, but the heading will be different. Even if a child is on green at the end of the day, if s/he went down because of a misbehavior, a note will go home to alert the parent. The reason why I love the choices to check on this specific note home is the way it's worded. "I CHOSE to blah, blah blah..." Every single one is "I CHOSE." Because it's true. I (as the teacher) didn't choose to act that way...the child did! No one took control over the student and MADE him/her make that choice... I love the wording!! :o)

The unfortunate reality is that as sweet and caring and kind and loving and ADORABLE as these children are, they learn to LIE!!! They learn to lie so quickly!!! They are SO SMART, and they totally understand that if they did something wrong at school and their parents find out about it, they are going to get in trouble at home. This sucks!! And they know it.

I had several students who rode the bus home in the afternoons, and if there was any kind of note in their folders, a select few would hide them in the crease of their seats on the bus! So I started recording notes home on carbon copy paper. However, this paper is one of my moms in my class had an absolutely brilliant idea! Listen to this: write a note home and make sure it goes home with the student. BUT, before you put it in his/her folder, take a picture of it with your camera on your phone (don't tell me you can't do this - it takes 2 seconds and is VERY affective). Email or text message it to the student's parent either right that second or after school (I know some schools are strict about cell phones, so you could do that OR ask permission from your administrator). That way, the parent knows something is coming home AND their child has to be responsible to give it to mom or dad. LOVE IT!!! Thanks again to that mom for the suggestion. :o)

So I think that's it...we go to the treasure box every Friday afternoon. Only the students who had purple EVERY DAY get to go. I'm obsessed with John Rosemond, and he is a stickler for not rewarding bad behavior. It seemed to work well, because we have super great treats in the treasure box, and the students who didn't get to go truly seemed to work harder the next week.

It's not perfect...if you have any further advice or suggestions, PLEASE let me hear them!! I need all the feedback/constructive criticism I can get! at peace, and all will be well...

Oh, PS: 36 weeks preggo!!! Only 2-6 more weeks till we meet baby Nate! :o)

Pinterest inspired "mobile" above his crib - Handsome worked hard to put these up and I am in love!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy Spring!!!

Remember the "chia pet" heads we made last year? Well, this year, we out did ourselves! This is how they turned out this cute!! ;o)

CLICK HERE to find that post for directions.

This year, we put velcro dots on the back of our friends' eyes...and also to their puff ball noses. :o)

Around Easter time, just before Spring Break, we had this as our Word Study Center. Again, it's a free printable from Shannon. The plastic eggs were left over from last year. :o) They LOVED them! I typed up word cards to go into the eggs and color-coordinated them to the color of the eggs. This helped the students tremendously. They spun the egg, read the word, determined if the word was real or nonsense. Then they recorded them on their "Egg Family" sheet.

Click the button to go to Shannon's page for the free printable...

All About March...

Here's March in pictures!

Happy 100th Day of School!

Counting by 10's ice cream cones...

Counting by 5's to 100...we hid these candies all over the room when the children were at specials. The candies had a circle label with a number on it. The students came back and could each find 5 pieces. They matched their pieces to the numbers on the 100 chart. They had a BLAST...especially when we got to eat some! :o)

I know we've all seen these...but I LOVE THEM!! Two students at 100...

Then we made pizzas. We split up into 2 small groups and sorted the pizza toppings. They counted the toppings and recorded them. When finished, they put the toppings all over the pizzas. LOVED IT!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!
(Writing Center)

Leprechaun Traps...

Footprints!! He came in through the window and stepped on our art project paint!!!  ;o)

Some of our traps... at peace, and all will be well...