Saturday, August 30, 2014

A "Work Together" Blog Hop!

You are in for a treat!

Many of the Who's Who authors have teamed up for a special blog hop. It's a "Work Together Weekend" everybody!

With Labor Day coming up, we thought it was the perfect time to share ideas about students working together in the classroom. Our participating authors each have a post, located on each of our own blogs, with a link to the next blog in the hop. Enjoy reading all of our ideas and picking up a bunch of great freebies as you hop along through our blogs.

Are you ready to jump in? Click HERE to head on over to Second Grade Stories, with Lisa.

Oh, and have fun!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Teacher, I Don't Remember Why I Moved My Clip!"

New Behavior Strategies to Start the School Year With
Hello! This is Crystal McGinnis from Mrs. McGinnis' Little Zizzers. I have officially been back to school for almost two weeks. I teach Kindergarten, and the first few weeks of the school year are very physically and emotionally draining. We spend the first few weeks teaching the basic routines over and over and over again. One of the most important things that I must teach my kinders (in order to preserve my sanity) is the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. As important as I know that this is, it can also be equally frustrating. I use a color clip chart system in my classroom. My kiddos move their clip up and down depending on their positive and negative behavior. This works great for me except for one minor detail. My little darlings often cannot remember why they have moved their clip throughout the day. When I ask them why they have moved their clip, I usually get the same response of "I don't remember." I do keep a clip board and write down the reasons the clips are moved up and down throughout the day, but I am not sure that this is teaching my kids the behavioral lessons that they need. After thinking about a way to solve this problem and give my kids a chance to show ownership for their actions, I created this behavior specific clip chart to use in addition to my regular behavior clip chart. This behavior specific clip chart lists the rules that are being broken, instead of just listing a color that the student is on. Here is how it works. If my kiddos are asked to move their clip down, they move their clip down on our regular clip chart. I then have them place a clip with their name on it on our behavior specific clip chart. This helps my students by seeing exactly the reason that they had to move their clip. (not to mention this helps me remember also because I often forget why clips are moved) I tell my students that I will keep an eye on my behavior specific clip chart. If I notice that a student changes negative behavior to positive behavior, he or she will be able to take their name clip off of the chart. If a student continues to have negative behavior, he or she will have to practice the behavior that is on the chart beside their clip. This practice will occur during recess time.
THIS IS MY BEHAVIOR SPECIFIC CLIP CHART. It lists the actual behaviors that I expect in my classroom. If a student breaks one of the rules, he or she places his clip beside that rule.
I have only used this system for a few days, but so far it has worked very well. You can get a copy of this clip chart by clicking here.
Mr. Potato Head Class Behavior Incentive
I picked up this Mr. Potato head to use as a class wide behavior incentive. Here is how I will use it. Mr. Potato head will start his day with no body parts. My students will have to earn his body parts in order to have a reward. If I notice that the entire class is listening to me while I am teaching, I will give him an ear. If I notice that the entire class has their eyes on me while I am teaching, I will give him an eye. If the class walks correctly down the hall, I will give him legs. (I will try to connect the behaviors to the body parts) If Mr. Potato head has all of his body parts by the end of the day, my class will get free play time.
Something else new that I am trying in my classroom this year are these behavior tickets. The tickets match the colors that are on our regular behavior clip chart.  
I purchased baskets that match our clip chart at the Dollar Tree. I then copied
behavior tickets on colored paper that match the colors of my clip chart. At the end of the day, students are invited to take a behavior reward ticket that matches the color that he or she landed on that day. The student then takes this ticket home in his or her folder to show their parent their color for the day. This made reporting positive behavior to parents simple as there are no charts to fill out. 

I also have a second set of colored baskets that match my clip chart. Students who land on pink get to choose a small prize (candy) from the pink basket. Students who land on blue get to choose a small prize (a sticker) from the blue basket.
I also like to send home behavior reward certificates at the end of each week. I usually do not have time to write the student's names or the date on each one, so I created this set of behavior certificates without the signature and date lines. Instead, all I have to do is copy them and stick them in my student's folder. Simple as that!

I would love to hear what behavior strategies work for you in your classroom!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

2nd Grade Chapter Book Read Alouds

Hello! It's Allison Stuckey from Stuckey in Second!

I thought it'd be nice to put together a list of the chapter books that I plan to read to my class this year and have them all put together and ready to go. I asked this question on my Facebook page and OOOOOh my goodness I had a HUGE response! I need to somehow keep that post and/or make a huge list out of it so that I won't forget any of them! I thought I'd share my current (as of today!) plan for chapter books to read to my kids this year. I honestly felt like I was living under a rock because I hadn't even heard of some of these titles and they were ones that some teachers were suggesting over and over again in the post. Where have I been!? LOL

As teachers were responding to my question, I quickly ordered these three titles from Amazon because I realized these were obviously a big hit. They were suggested over and over and over again. I can't wait for them to arrive!!!
I also plan to read some other books that introduce a series to my students, so they are motivated to read the other books in the series. Now, mind you, this is my PLAN, and even though this will be my 10th year teaching 2nd grade, I'm not sure how many books I will actually fit into the school year. I suppose it all depends on my new schedule! But, here are some of my ideas:

Also, another classic, mentioned OVER AND OVER (so glad it's still popular!)
Click here to follow my Facebook page and see the complete list of teacher suggestions for chapter book read alouds!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Starting the School Year Off Right

This is Jessica, from What I Have Learned.

Happy Back-to-School time.  Boy am I exhausted!  We started back to school on Monday.  Students' first day was Wednesday.  I'm always so tired as I get back into the routine of it all!

Here are a few tips for you first few days back, from my classroom, to yours.  This post is a bit wordy . . . it's kind of a brain dump.  I'm hoping you'll find some tips in it to help you with your own students over the next few weeks!

Go slow

very slow.  So slow, it's almost painful.  Slower than you think you should.  Okay, maybe not that slow.  But, serious, we spent the first hour going over classroom rules (in a fun and interactive way) and establishing procedures for pair sharing.  I'm starting Whole Brain Teaching this year and it has been so fun teaching all the procedures!  The next hour was spent establishing Read to Self (Daily 5).

Model, Model, Model

Model the right way to do things.  Model the wrong way to do things.  Then, model the right way to do things.  This is established with Daily 5, but can be transferred to anything you want students to do.  Walk in a line, put their papers away, etc.  Model it.  Have students model it.  Have students model doing it incorrectly.  Then have the same students do it correctly.


When you see incorrect behavior (or when something annoys you).  Then model some more.  Call out the behavior.  Or students will think they can get away with it!

Keep it positive

I've decided this year to focus on positive behavior management (through the use of Whole Brain Teaching).  I've realized (don't know how it took me 16 years!) that negative feedback doesn't really work for the students that I really need to reign in.  For most of my students, just establishing good practices is enough to keep them in line with gentle reminders.  My most challenging students don't need more negative feedback.  They get enough of it at home and have had it in previous years.  I've got one kiddo this year that is pushing all the buttons.  It's been a challenge to catch myself and try to redirect the behavior rather than become negative and turn toward a punishment mentality.  I'm trying though!

Admit your mistakes and your fears

Show students that you are a real person, too.  There was a time this week when I couldn't find a set of papers.  There were times when I said something wrong (learning new processes is hard).  Admit that you don't know it all.  It will ease their fears.  We read Wemberly Worries on the second day of school this week.  I admitted that I worry that I won't teach them well.  I also admitted that I was afraid that they wouldn't like me.  Just trying to make it real, people.

Plan more than you think you need

Overplan for the first couple days or even weeks, until you figure out the rhythm of your classroom.  It's better to have more in your back pocket than you think you need.

Come up with some sponge activities or "fillers" 

for those extra 10 minutes that you can't do a full lesson, but you can't do the next activity.  Have those in your "back pocket" to use when you have a couple extra minutes.

Don't forget to sit down

while your students are engaged in an activity, sit down.  Really take a seat.  Watch them.  See how they interact with one another.  Observe the choices they make.  Look at their personalities and see how they work together to make you classroom unique.


Inhale.  Exhale.  Relax.  Take some time for yourself.  Treat yourself to a coffee, a massage, a pedicure, a cup of tea.  Anything that allows you to breathe and reflect.  I keep going and going and going, that I often forget about myself during the first few weeks at school.

I hope you're first few days of school go smoothly with few stressors and that your students are amazing little learners!

Friday, August 22, 2014

No Pencils for 20 Days

"Kindergarten students shouldn't pick up pencils in math until after the 20th day of school," said our local district math coach.

Our math coach wants us to focus on counting, and not worry about having students write numerals, especially when most of them are unable to connect the numeral to the amount at this point in the year.

Even though this might seem a little unconventional, I have established a daily routine with not a pencil in sight.

Here is my current math routine (focusing on Counting and Cardinality):

1.  Number Talks with Number Strings - currently using subitizing dot plates, but will soon introduce five frames and ten frames with dot patterns.

A number string is a series of related computation problems, which at the beginning of Kindergarten is a series of  related numbers - (dots which are counted).

Students sit on the rug as I show the first dot plate, for a few seconds.

My questions are:
"What do you see?" and "How do you see it?"

And a student may answer:
"I see five dots.  I see two on the top, two on the bottom, and one in the middle."

Then we do the same routine with the other plates in my number string.  Here is an example.

2.  Real World Problem - currently doing this whole group on the rug and charting, but over the next month I will transition to individual math journals - after the first 20 days of school.

Here are a few examples of the kind of counting problems that I present to the students.

Trace or draw your hand.  How many fingers do you have?
Write your name.  How many letters are in your name?
How many crayons do you have in your pencil box?

3.  Counting, counting, and more counting - with a large variety of manipulatives
I challenge my students to count higher than they did the day before.

We review counting strategies.  They grab a baggie full of counters and spend about 15 minutes counting.  I circulate around the room having students count to me.

4.  Wrap Up on the rug
We reflect on the learning during counting time.  I have 1 or 2 students share how many objects they counted and a strategy they used.

My students are enjoying our math time.  They are learning how to correctly use and count with manipulatives, and they really love to count every day.  No boredom here!

12 more days without pencils???  Not a problem!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Augmented Reality is Cool

I am so excited to show you something I learned with Nancy Alvarez, author extraordinaire, on the Who's Who blog at the Technopalooza conference. Several weeks ago I flew to Texas to present at a conference. My session was on augmented reality. Haven't heard of AR? Well there are a lot of great resources and apps on the market. At its core, AR is when you scan a "trigger image" and some type of overlay appears on your device. It might be a picture, a video, or even some type of 3D image. I like to think of it as QR codes on steroids.We presented on augmented reality and I made some nursery rhyme AR dice. When I arrived in Texas, I realized I forgot to bring my scissors and tape. I needed them to cut out my AR paper dice I had made for my session. I didn't want my paper dice to get damaged on the flight. So at the conference, someone showed Nancy a fabulous idea for creating my dice using a wooden block and Mod Podge. So you might be thinking, "What does this wooden block have to do with AR?" Well rather than tell you let me show you.

Really cool, huh? If you are interested in learning how to make your own AR resources check out my Google site. If you would like the trigger images shown in the video you can click here. Hope this information helps you! I love to share ideas for using technology in the classroom. Come visit me sometime @Tech with Jen.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Starting Reading Workshop in a fun way!

Do you  know Chunky Monkey? How about his pals Eagle Eye, Stretchy Snake, Lips the Fish and Skippy Frog? Oh, can’t forget Flippy Dolphin! If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, you are missing out on a really fun way to teach decoding strategies to your little readers!
Decoding is one of the first things we teach our students for a strong foundation in reading. It’s important to build a repertoire of strategies and become flexible readers, since often one strategy doesn’t work. Step in all the characters mentioned above- each character represents one decoding strategy: sounding out, looking at the picture, skipping the word, etc.

I’ve always taught these strategies to my students, but they’ve never learned them as well (nor enjoyed them as much) as when I started using these cute characters. So I made reading strategy packs to go with each of the characters and they are my best-selling items! (If you already own these, I have just updated the fonts and frames, and added printables to Chunky Monkey and plan to work on the others throughout the year :)!).
To give you an idea of how each pack is structured, I’ll show you my Chunky Monkey as an example: First, I introduce the chunking strategy with the interactive PowerPoint presentation to engage the kids from the start. There are small printable word cards to use with this presentation to find the small words in the bigger words on the PPT slides.
 Then, students continue to practice the skill throughout the PPT. At the end, it encourages students to use this strategy every time they read, followed by a certificate they can fill out when reading to show which word the strategy helped them figure out.
After the presentation, I use the Chunky Monkeys to model the strategy in a big book or poem.
Then, it’s the kids’ turn: I hand out the chunky monkeys and have them read independently and record when they used the strategy to help them figure out a tricky word.
Finally, we share. I also include follow-up activities that can be used as centers or small-group reinforcement.
My good friend Jennifer Drake from Crayons & Cuties in Kindergarten came up with a little song to help kids remember this strategy:
So cute! I can’t wait to use it this year :). Read more about the Chunky Monkey in her blog here.
OK, so I teach each strategy in a similar way and we, of course, review throughout the year. As I teach the strategies, we build this anchor chart that we reference frequently. You can get the pieces  for FREE  in the preview here:
After teaching all strategies, use the review bundle throughout the year to remind students of their strategy bank! It includes a PPT with all of the strategies, reference bookmarks, and anchor chart pieces. 

There’s no better time than the beginning of the year to start implementing a program like this, so that you  are consistent with the strategy names throughout the year.  PLUS, with TpT’s big back-to-school sale today, it’s at 28% off so I don’t want you to miss this sweet deal! Here's a cute sale pic by Jillian Starr =).

Hope your reading workshop gets off to a great start! Happy Back-to-School!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School Tips, Tricks, & Freebies!

Well, here we go again.  A new school year!  We've been in school for 2 weeks now.  In kindergarten, these past weeks have been all about setting the rules and procedures for the year.

I've also introduced my kiddos to reading and math centers.  There has been a LOT of hands on activities because I want my kids to learn how to work together and be engaged in learning.  We've used play dough, shaving cream, bingo dot markersclothes pins, and marker & white boards.  OH my!  The kids have been learning and having fun.  It makes me happy to see them enjoy learning especially at the beginning of the year. 

Tips for the Beginning of School:

*Over plan!  It's better to have more than less.
*Tell your class that you believe in them!
*Tell them your expectations every day.  
*Build relationships with your kids and their families from day 1.
*Follow through with what you say!
*Be as organized as possible!
*Be flexible - you don't know what each student is going to bring to the table.  Be ready for anything.
*Rest as much as you can!  Good luck with that one :)

New Tricks that I've Found Useful:

*I use colored tape to organize my white board.

*I use a 5 frame when I want 5 (or less) students to give me their answer.  I mark a dot for each person who gives me an answer.  Then, I have the class tell me how many more kids we need to participate.  It's a perfect way to introduce the 5 frame informally!

*Use carpet samples from Home Depot as erasers! 

Reading & Math Centers for the Beginning of the Year:

Okay, so I may have spray painted over 200 clips for this center.  I wanted each kiddo to have his/her own bag with pictures and clips.  I spray painted the colors to match, so the kids knew to put the right color in the bag.  They were engaged and loving this center!  Click {HERE} to grab the counting cards.  Click {HERE} for more. 

Roll, Count, and Dab!

Click (HERE} for the play dough letter pack!

Here are some back to school printables you might find helpful:
I printed the uppercase & lowercase letters from this pack and put them in protective sleeves for the kids to practice with an expo marker.  Click {HERE} to check it out.

Brain Breaks that Kids LOVE!

What are your favorites for the beginning of school?
Have a great year!