Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Curriclum Night: Meet the Parents

A few weeks ago my school hosted Curriculum Night, I was able to meet many of the parents, discuss the third grade curriculum, and the procedures of my classroom.  I was overwhelmed by the amount of parents that came to support their child's education. We even needed to grab extra chairs to seat everyone! How awesome is that!?!?
Here is a peek at what was on my student's desks when the parents arrived....the yellow tri-fold is from my district's Writing Committee, informing parents about our district curriculum of the '6 Traits'.  Peeking out of the top of the pile is a pink and green packet of the third grade "I Can" CCSS statements, giving parents an idea of what we will be accomplishing this year.  To the left is a student iPad, used for a special project.  Finally, on top is my fabulous flip book, made with First Grade Fairytales template!!! Her post is amazing, check it out HERE. 
Isn't that flip book beautiful!? I love how bright and eye catching it is AND I loved how it can be used as a quick resource for parents, opposed to the large booklet I created last year.  It took a few minutes for the ol' noggin to figure out how to assemble this bad boy...but I promise it's easy.  On the Contact Information page I also included a QR Code, which linked to my classroom website.  I asked parents to scan the code and follow along while I talked about the ins and outs of our room.
BUT the super fun part of the iPads that evening was the video sharing between my third graders and their parents. This idea came from one of my teammates, she such a smarty I'm so glad I get to work with her!  Our students created short 30 second videos during the school day welcoming their parents to our classroom.  During Curriculum Night, parents were able to view the videos and then create their own video for their third grader! Isn't that adorable!?
My students were SO excited to view their videos the next morning as they came back into the classroom!
That evening I also displayed my tiny Wishing Tree, full of donation wishes for our classroom.  Parents pluck a wish off the tree and grant it, I've already gotten some baby wipes and paper plates donated to the class! Awesome!
The tree came from Michael's clearance section last year and the mini tree skirt was found in a clearance bin at Hallmark last January. :)
Isn't it sweet? It reminds me of a sparkly version of the Charlie Brown's Christmas tree!
Lastly, I just wanted to share my First Day of School pics with my kids! I was a wee bit proud of that sign made from a canvas, leftover chalkboard contact paper, ribbon and paint.
I hope all of your parent nights went as well as mine!!!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Brownie Points and Smart Cookies: Encouraging Sweet Behavior

Everyone always seems to be looking for that perfect recipe for behavior management in their classroom.  Every classroom, teacher, and student is unique and always requires some sort of modification.  However, I am pleased so far with my current management system and thought I'd share.  These ideas are not my original thoughts...I got by with a little help from my friends out in the bloggy world, in my real world, and Pinterest- duh!

First up is my Clip Chart courtesy of the gorgeous Teri at A Cupcake for the Teacher...I feel like we are kindred spirits with our love of cupcakes in the classroom! :) 
**Please excuse the sleeves of our art smocks hanging out of the chevron bin....and the heinous black trash bin & blue recycle bin.  Not everything has to match and be cute in my classroom...right!? Right.

This is my One Smart Cookie Jar.  As a personal incentive for my students, they can earn "Smart Cookies".  At the beginning of the year I pass these things out like crazy, focusing on positive behavior.  It may seem silly to reward and praise students for pushing in their chairs or walking quietly to their desks...but it works folks! Students can also earn Smart Cookies for actively participating in lessons, working well with others, keeping their desk neat and clean, and it also connects to our Clip Chart. If by the end of the day a student has remained on green, they receive one smart cookie, if they've made it to blue, they've earned two...and so on. 

So, you might be wondering what happens with these cookies.  Well, students collect them in these nifty little Cookie Collectors (another great idea from Teri). The collectors are new to me this year also, I scooped them up in the Dollar Spot at Target this summer.  Last year my students collected their cookies in plastic baggies, which worked fine...but I like how these collectors have pockets to also hold my students Reward Coupons by Mel D. at Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations.  On Fridays I open up the Sweet Shoppe, where students can purchase prizes with their Smart Cookies.  My prizes range from some Oriental Trading finds, pencils, stickers, but the real favorites are Mel's awesome Reward Coupons.  The kids eat them up and I do too because most of them are free! Yea buddy!

As a class incentive we work on earning Brownie Points on this pan...I found this idea on Pinterest two years ago and fell in love with it.  If you know who it belongs to, please tell me and I will gladly give credit!

My students can earn a Brownie Point when everyone in the class has turned in their homework, when their caught being great, AND when they receive a compliment from a teacher (that's my secret to being fabulous in the hallway) :)

If the pan is filled up by the end of the day on Friday, my students earn Fun Friday with is an extra 10 minutes of recess before they go home. 

I love focusing on the positive behavior within my classroom and have found that it works for me.  What sort of things do you use in your classroom?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Books with a Common Theme

Have you heard of the fabulous Beth Newingham? I'm kind of obsessed with her...she's a reading guru of sorts and has an amazing collection of resources she shares for free!  I'm in love with her Books with a Common Theme poster.  I've re-vamped mine this year thanks to the inspiration from Molly at Lessons with Laughter and am LOVING the rainbow look!

Throughout the year we will add pictures of book covers onto these posters which list themes such as: compassion, cooperation, perseverance, acceptance, courage, responsibility, kindness, honesty, and friendship. 

There's Leo Lionni's Swimmy on our Cooperation theme poster!   These posters serve as a great discussion topic with my students as well as a tool to use when creating text-to-text connections.  How very Common Core! Ooo-la-la!

To download Beth's Books with a Common Theme poster click HERE

You'll need to click on "Literacy Links" on the left hand side
Then, "Reading Workshop"
Finally, you should find "Read Aloud/Theme Study" and download the posters!
A HUGE thank you to both Beth and Molly for their creations and inspirations!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"I Can" Succeed with CCSS

When I hear the phrase, Common Core State Standards I still get butterflies in my lie.  However, this year my district has invested in Wonders a CCSS aligned ELA curriculum and I'm thrilled with it so far! If any of you out there have this same series, I'd love to talk with you and see how it's working for you!

In an effort to make myself more comfortable with these new standards I had typed up the 'I Can' statements for third grade to fit into a little pocket chart back in May.  My thought had been to become more fluent in these standards AND to serve as a reminder to myself on the end of the year goal.  When we came back to school our principal announced that she would like us to post the "I Can" statements our class is working on in our classroom as a means to help the students become aware of our standards...DONE-ZO!
So, here they hang on my little $1 pocket from Target.  They're not the cutest things in the world, but I wanted my font to be as large as I could make it.  I printed the math "I Can" statements on green and the ELA statements in pink to serve as some sort of visual organization.  I WOULD share them with you, but the wording is not mine...and I just don't feel right about it. 
I CAN tell you that I also added an "I Can" section to my weekly classroom newsletter to help familiarize parents with the new standards as well. 
Has your school started the transition to CCSS yet? What sorts of things are you doing to help ease you and your students' prepare for 'THE CHANGE'??

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Read Aloud Organization

I like pretty much EVERY teacher adore reading aloud to my class. I never get tired of introducing them to new information, topics, and characters! Plus, their excitement is completely precious! Something I do get tired of... my coveted collection of hardcover books being trashed.  So, to keep my beloved collection safe, I keep all of my read aloud books separate from my classroom library. 

Now before you scold me and tell me that books are meant to be read and shared with students and all that jazz....know that after I do share a book with my class it is placed on a special white book shelf.  Students are welcomed to pick these books up and read them, however they aren't allowed in their personal book bags. This allows certain books to be showcased and shared with the whole classroom without their poor teacher crying over a destroyed book.

I've organized my read aloud books in these amazing multi-purpose bins from The Container Store.  You can check them out HERE, I love that they're clear, sleek, and sturdy. 

My read aloud bin collection includes: science, social studies, math, writing, poetry, reading, and character education.  It's so much easier for me to find the book I need for a lesson this way.  I'd really LOVE to organize the books in my reading bins by strategies...but I just haven't found a way that works for me yet. 

If you have any ideas please share them with me! Do you keep your read aloud books separate? How do you stay organized in your classroom?

Thanks for reading and keep cool!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Currently it's HOT...I Mean, September!

School is back in session folks and I'm eager to get the ball rolling! Sooooo....what better way to do that then by linking up with the beautiful Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade!

Although most of this is pretty self's typical to talk on this little bloggy thing, so here I go.
Listening: The new Civil, love, LOVE!
Loving: The ease back into school mode! The kids started with a 3 day week, next we'll have 4...and then...the dreaded 5 day week! Waaahhhh! (Just kidding!)
Thinking: This is pretty much the usual thoughts that are running through my mind and probably through most of yours!
Wanting: To visit some old friends from my days at Monmouth College! This weekend I was able to chat with my Cooperating Teacher/Friend from my student teaching days for a couple of hours.  It was SO nice to catch up and made me realized how desperately I miss her and so many others! A reunion needs to be in my future soon!
Needing: Mosquito spray and relief from the heat! I've been trying to soak up as much air conditioning I can this weekend to prep for the week! Phew! It's been hot and humid, which is always a recipe for some pretty awesome hair.  I've been getting eaten to death by mosquitos lately...but it's probably my own fault. I'm such a baby when it comes to putting on mosquito spray- really who can stand that smell!?  Although someone was telling me about 'girly smelling' mosquito spray?? This is news to me...
And finally...something that I'd love to do for myself: Drink more water and worry less.  So many of us just go, go, go and forget how important it is to take care of ourselves as well as others. This month I'm going to try and remember to take care of my breakfast, drink water and stay hydrated, sleep, and most importantly stop worrying about everything that has to get done!
Okay, now it's your turn! What are you CURRENTLY thinking? I'm headed to Farley's to check it out!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ziploc Bags and Kleenex...Oh My!

This blog post may be deliriously boring for those without a Type A personality and a compulsive need to be organized...
It's back to school time and your kids show up with full backpacks.  Our classroom has been well stocked with glue sticks, lined paper, sticky-notes, and of course boxes of the much needed Ziploc baggies and Kleenex!  I am so grateful for the supplies, but I struggle to find a place to store all of these boxes.  It's an internal dilemma between my obsession of having a cute clutter-free room & keeping the supplies in a place that's easy to get to for both my students and myself. 

If you enter my room, it's no secret that I love storing and organizing things in plastic shoe boxes.  I found one trick that helps to cut down on the excessive amount of space all of those Ziploc Baggie boxes take.

Ta Da! My favorite shoe boxes come back into play! Now I know it's not fancy...and it may in fact be pretty darn boring...but I love it.

Of course, not all of the baggies fit here, but I'm able to empty quite a few boxes into my shoe box organizer which cuts down on some of the space issue. 

As for the Kleenex collection...last year I had a fabulous piece of furniture in my room which concealed all of my boxes.  However, in my furniture purge this summer that piece is now gone. :( So this year I decided to fill these pink bins I had used for book storage during the summer as my Kleenex storage during the school year.  It's not the greatest...but I prefer to look at those bins than 60 boxes of tissue!