Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tune into Technology: Technology Management and Organization

I can't believe there is only one week left of iTeach1:1 and Learning to the Core's weekly linky party!  This week's theme is Technology Management and Organization, and let me tell you, I'm all for learning new organization tips!  

I'm sure you've seen the pins on Pinterest, like this one HERE. When the iPad cart was first brought to my room this year, I was eager to change the miscellaneous backgrounds into our classroom number system.  This was an easier system for my students to ensure that they had the correct iPad on their desks (instead of checking the label sticker on the back).  
**No need to panic for me; I don't actually have 30 students! Number 30 is for me to use, yay!!!**

Did you notice, on my home screen the "Class Website" button? Our district's Technology Coordinator showed me this easy trick and I became in LOVE with! In case I wasn't the last person to learn this trick, I figured I'd clue you in.  By hitting the arrow button at the top left of my screen a group of options appears.  Just click "Add to Home Screen" and VOILA! You've just added a button! 

By adding our class website as a button, my students were able to have much easier access to the site, and kept our lessons moving smoothly!

Clearly stating rules and expectations are of course important, that goes without saying.  In my room our set of rules were posted underneath a sign saying "iCare About My iPad".  I apologize for the lack of photos, hopefully I'll be able to add more once I get into my classroom.  

*Photo from: 


At the end of each day, my students are dismissed as groups to return their iPads into the card, before retrieving their homework.  There is a specific walking path that the students follow, which limits areas from over crowing and students bumping into one another.   Two students each week have the job "Tech Team", these students are responsible for checking to make sure each iPad has been returned to the cart AND they are responsible for charging the iPads.  I then check the cart before buses are called and lock the iPads up for the night.  

These systems have worked well for me and I am eager to learn more tips.  Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the link party by clicking on the button above!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It 7/22/13

It's time for another Monday Made it! I just love how Tara's link party keeps me focused each week preparing for school.  This week I decided to create an added prize for my Sweet Shoppe.  As part of my behavior management plan, my students earn 'Smart Cookies' as reinforcement for their positive behavior.  Each Friday, students trade these cookies in for prizes at the Sweet Shoppe.  Last year I introduced the reward coupons created by Mel at Seusstastic Classroom Inspiration and my kids LOVED them! You can purchase them through her TPT store HERE.  I decided to add a 'Mystery Prize' coupon to my sweet shoppe this year by creating scratch-off reward cards! Fun, right!?
My inspiration came from Pinterest...of course!  Here is the tutorial I used to make the scratch-off cards. 
If students choose to purchase a "Mystery Prize" coupon, they will receive one of these scratch-off tickets.  Then, at their desk they will be able to reveal what they've one. 
Prizes range from a free eraser or pencil topper, to spending an hour in the teacher's chair, or getting your picture taken with two friends.  What kid doesn't love getting their picture taken AND getting a printed copy!?
 YAY! I won a pencil!
Thanks for reading. Be sure to check out all of the other inspiring ideas over at 4th Grade Frolics!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Favorite Pin Friday 7-19-13

I'm obsessed with Pinterest...isn't everybody?!?  I'm excited to show off my newest Pinterest finds with the amazing Cara from First Grade Parade! Just click on the picture to find the original source. :)

I'm in love with this bulletin board featuring the Common Core standards being focused on each day.  This is much more exciting looking than the pocket chart I had planned!  (This teacher posted that the superhero capes are worn by the students selected to read these standards aloud at the beginning of the day) How awesome!

I really like this I am a Smart Reader poster! Perhaps I can create this as an anchor chart with my third graders??

I just love the idea of this beach inspired center for sight words!  I wouldn't use it with my class this year....but maybe someday I will!!!

Pink, glitter, and chevron??? Yes, please! I can't wait to show this picture to my manicurist! 

Okay, this cracked me up AND made me fall in love with corgis a little more!

Thanks for reading! I'd love for you to follow me on Pinterest, just click HERE.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Classy Classroom Websites

I'm excited to link up with Aylin, Amanda and Kristin from Learning to the Core and iTeach 1:1 for another week of Tune into Technology.  I look forward to reading these posts allllll week, and have not been disappointed so far! My pin boards are filling up and those rusty wheels in my brain have been turning thinking about how to incorporate all of these fabulous ideas in my room this year!

This week's theme is classroom websites, which I can admit....mine needs help! My district supplies every teacher with their own website, which we can customize to fit our individual classroom needs.  Last year my website was mainly used as a communication tool with my classroom parents.  However, nearing the end of the year I began to implement more links & tools for my students. I'm hoping to continue this process and incorporate my website into our learning environment.
Here is what my sidebar looks like.  

On the welcome page I have important things going on for the week listed (assemblies, permission slip forms, tests & quizzes) as well as this little guy.....
I got this button from Scholastic, it takes parents right to our page for ordering new books! :)

Things to Know About Third Grade: Some important things to know about third grade are listed, my policy on water bottles, and our district's snack policy.  

Weekly Homework: My third graders and their parents are busy people! I like to give parents and students to opportunity to plan ahead (and use time management skills) by listing all of the homework for the week.  My students have a weekly reading log, which requires them to read 5 out of 7 days.  Knowing that they have math & science homework on Wednesday hopefully prevents some  "I Can't Finish My Homework" melt-downs.  

Third Grade Websites  and Hot Reads have website recommendations as well as book recommendations for my third graders.  I've read about Draggo on Learning to the Core and am VERY interested in using that to help organize my websites for students. 

Monthly Projects: Last year, a fabulous teammate and I came up with optional family fun projects each month.  Our idea was to promote talking about literature, creating something fun, and writing about the experience as a family.  The prize for completing these projects was to present it to the class AND have your picture with your project on the class website.  It was a BIG deal.  

iPad Goodies: Here is where I attempted to organize and show off my students' iPad creations near the end of the year.  We uploaded Keynote presentations, Google Drive documents, Fotobabbles, and iMovies.  Students loved being able to view these assignments again on their iPads and parents appreciated being able to view their child's work.  :)

Homework Helper: This is my biggest goal for my classroom website.  A few weeks ago I wrote about how I use Show Me during math.  After creating a short instructional video for my students, I then posted it under the Homework Helper.  Students & parents could view the video and help when the homework had them stumped.  I'm hoping (fingers crossed) that I can keep up with the video tutorials!

I'm looking forward to learning about more ideas on how I can spruce up my classroom webpage.  Leave me a comment if you've got a great idea for me! 
(Comments are like virtual hugs & I love them!) 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dave Inspirational Pirate

Hey There! It's no secret that I love Dave Burgess's book Teach Like a Pirate, you can read my original gush post here.  There have been a lot of great posts floating around, you can check out Stephanie's post from 3rd Grade Thoughts here AND enter a chance to win a copy of Teach Like a Pirate!

I decided to pull some of my favorite quotations from the book and create some pretty printables to hang by my desk...maybe I'll even slip some inside my planner.  You can download the pictures above!
For more summaries and reflections on this book, check out Third Grade Tidbits' and Rowdy in First Grade's Teach Like a Pirate Book Study!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Made It 7-15-13

I just LOVE Tara's link party on Mondays! I've gotten so many great ideas and have found some amazing blogs from it!  
Back in May my whole class was buzzing as things were boxed up and the room began to look bare.  They HATED it! My class even made me promise to not take down the paper lanterns in the library corner until after the last day of school. :)  During this process I overheard a conversation between two students that completely made my heart melt!  
Student 1- "Most teachers buy stuff for their room, but our teacher makes stuff."
Student 2- "Yep, and when people make stuff home-made for you, it means they really love you."
So precious and so true! I love my classroom. I love my job. Most importantly, I love my students!  I truly believe a comfortable, colorful, and organized classroom creates the best learning environment.  These quotes from my students make me proud of all the hard work I do all year long!
So, back to Monday Made It....for those of you who don't know, my classroom is a sweet shoppe theme. You know, because learning is sweet!!!!  All around my classroom you can find ice-cream scoops of success, smart cookies, brownie points, glittery lollipops, and these adorable cupcakes!
These cupcakes can be found all around the room for decoration. Here's two of them hanging around our classroom library. :)  So, I decided this summer to add the cupcakes to my positive behavior reward system...enter THE GOLDEN CUPCAKE AWARD!!!
I'll pause for your reaction...(ooooo-ahhhh)
I'm not sure how I am exactly going to be using this...perhaps it will sit on the desk of the student with the cleanest desk...or best behaved table grouping?? I'm not sure, BUT I'm hoping it'll be a hit! PLUS I always think it's a great idea for a teacher have some extra special rewards in your back pocket so to speak.
AND, since I was having so much fun I decided to make a silver and bronze cupcake award too!
Unfortunately, I can't locate the blog from which I got my directions on how to make these cute little guys. So here is my cliff's notes version of the tutorial.
Materials: cupcake wrappers, Plaster of Paris, Styrofoam spheres, Light Spackling, paint, glitter, pom-pom, & hot glue gun
First, I place my cupcake wrappers into a cupcake pan and pour Plaster of Paris into each wrapper. This creates your cupcake base. Let these dry overnight before moving onto the next step.
Second, I glue 1/2 of a Styrofoam sphere onto the top of each cupcake base with my trusty hot glue gun.  This creates a nice rounded top for my cupcake.
Third, I mix a small amount of paint (for color) with my spackling.  This will be my frosting! I use a disposable piping bag to help, however you could also spread the spackling on with a plastic knife.
Finish it off with a sprinkling of glitter "sprinkles" and a sparkly red pom-pom and you're all set!
Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out other great ideas from Tara's partay!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Organizing Your Classroom Library...

Whenever I think about organizing my classroom library...I cringe, I shudder, and I break out into a sweat.  (I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that!)  We teachers have SO many books that we like to make available to our kiddos, but organizing and keeping track of those books can seem like a daunting task.  I'm always on the hunt for new organization tips and tricks, so I'm linking up with Fun in Room 4B and Ladybug's Teacher Files to share what I plan on doing in my library.

 Here is a shot of what my library looked like last year.  I kept this area as simple as I could, in hope that it would help keep it organized! My little monsters did pretty well, although I did have a classroom librarian, who was in charge of keeping the library in order at the end of each day.

I wish I had a close up of my labels, but they stated the genre of books and weather or not they were considered informational or literature.  On the back of each book in my library was a label sticker that matched the bin it belonged in.  Also, I used those circular garage sale stickers to identify the reading level of each book. (Again, sorry for not having a picture)  I do not organize my books by reading level.  I like my students to shop for books as they would in a library, practicing identifying what genres they enjoy reading, and then checking to make sure it's a 'good-fit book'. 

This summer I decided to spruce up my library bins with a nice clean look! I used these adorable gray labels from Elementary Organization and am happy with the results!   I plan on printing them on cardstock and laminating first.  Originally, I had thought  I would adhere them to my using Velcro tape, however after reading Ladybug's great post about hot glue I'm rethinking my process.  :)
If you'd like to purchase these book labels, head over to my TPT store by clicking on either image and check them out.  There are 118 labels in the pack, so there should be plenty of choices for everyone!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday!

I can't believe another week of summer has gone by and it's time to join up with Cara at The First Grade Parade to share some of my favorite pinterest finds!
1. I'm kind of obsessed with these free Lilly Pullitzer inspired binder covers! That bright pop of color will surely inspire me to keep up with all of my paperwork...right!? ;)
2. I love the recycled Altoids tin and magnet letters used for making words! It's simple, easy to make, and easy to store.  If I had little ones I would definitely use this...pinning for the future!
3. I love being able to incorporate the importance of proofreading in a real world setting for my students.  This teacher had students correct tweets from NFL players. My boys would love that!
4. Pineapple Lemonade...sounds like the perfect summertime drink  to me! Yum!
 5. AND something that made me laugh! Change the tiger into a flamingo and Brad Pitt into Zach Morris and it's pretty much spot on!!!!
Thanks for reading! I would love it if you followed me on Pinterest, just click on the button below!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gaga for Google Drive App!

I am loving Tune into Technology on Thursdays with Amanda and Aylin at Learning to the Core and my neighbor (practically) Kristin at iTeach 1:1! This week's theme is iPads...which for some reason really had me stuck (weird since I had a whole classroom set of iPads in my room for 3 months!) Anyways, I decided to share with you how I used Google Drive during a novel study. 
Google Drive, or Google Docs as it was formerly known as, is used consistently amongst faculty and staff in my district through our e-mails.  When I was encouraged by my district's Tech. Director to use it in my classroom...I was well...stumped.  However, after some great ideas from her, the light bulb FINALLY switched on and I decided to use Google Drive to support some documents during a novel study.  To those of you who are not familiar, Google Drive allows you to create a document and share with an audience (your classroom) the settings. 
Since, this had been one of my first experiences using Google Drive with my class, I created two documents to use throughout the entire novel study.  The first was a Character Trait map, like I said I kept it simple and easy to read and manipulate for my students (and me).  When a new character was introduced in the story, we would stop to add them to our list.  The list of characters grew quickly, as well as their lists of traits the more we got to know these characters. 
The next document was a building vocabulary list.  For this, I had pre-made a list of vocabulary words for my students. Before reading each chapter we pulled up the vocabulary list and students used their dictionary app on their iPads to find the definition.  I loved how everyone was completely involved with the process, my students scrambled to find the definition, because they wanted to be the 'winner' who would type it into Google Drive!
As far as management of Google Drive, I would recommend designating a spot for each of your students to type out their thoughts, especially when working on a class document at the same time.  If not, you may have students typing over one another and that could cause all sorts of messes!  On another document I numbered lines and my students typed in their designated classroom # spot.  For these documents, we were have a classroom discussion while filling them out, so after a student shared an idea, they typed it into the document to be saved.  That way, everyone's idea is heard/seen without the panic of "Where did my sentence go???"
  Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the Tune into Technology link party for more great ideas!
P.S.- Can you guess what novel we were reading??? It was a BIG deal for my lower readers! :)


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Books that Build Character

I'm participating again in Deann's picture book linky party at First Grade and Fabulous, although I don't think my Amazon cart can fit anymore books in it!

This past year my class and I would have what they named, "Friendship Circle Time" on Friday afternoons.  During this time I would read a character building picture book and then raise questions for discussion.  My students favorite time was at the end of our discussion, they would move into a circle.  Each student plucked a name stick from my cup and thought of a positive compliment for that class member.  We would go around sharing our compliments and leaving school for the weekend with 'full buckets'! 

I LOVED reading The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss to my class! I used this around Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a great way to talk about equality and fairness.

Munro Leaf's Ferdinand is an old classic!  I love to use this story to illustrate how we are each unique individuals and need to be true to ourselves like Ferdiand.
In Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy's book The Juice Box Bully was a great read aloud for my class at the beginning of the year.  It depicts a school who has taken a stance against bullying by making a promise.  The characters in the story face challenges of standing up to bully. 
The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens and Susan Crummel was probably my FAVORITE picture book purchase of last year (to be truthful I have A LOT of favorites)! Originally I purchased the book to use for a personification lesson, however the story has a great teamwork aspect! AND there were a lot of fun characters in the story, which means their teacher had a lot of fun voices while reading ;)  
Be sure to check out First Grade and Fabulous for other awesome picture book finds!