Friday, October 14, 2011

FRIDAY FREEBIE: Inspirational Sign!

I love this sign! :)  I have it posted in my own room, of course!  I hope you can get some use out of it too. 
Have a great weekend! :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Tip: GIVE LOVE!

Take the time to appreciate your students as children, not learners.  Hug them and love the little squirts unconditionally!!

Albert Einstein (a man with intelligence comparable to my own... :D) once said "Everyone is a genius.  But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will go its whole life believing that it is stupid."  Wow!

Watch me!  I'm inspiring!

Be awesome! 

That is all.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Top 10 Ways to Ensure You Lose Your Sanity in the Classroom

10. Do NOT have a set time for your kiddos to get drinks, eat their snacks, and use the restroom.  Allow them to raise their hand whenever they wish and ask you to go. Remember--we must meet all of their basic needs first!

9. Allow your students to keep their toys at their desk.  After all, we all know toys promote creative play and build life skills.

8. Allow students to ask ANY and ALL questions whenever they want.  Kids are naturally curious.  They have a lot they want to learn!  Feed their love of learning and, please...answer every question.

7. Do NOT give students examples of work!  This only hinders their creativity!  Instead, let them come up with their own ideas for every project you may be working on the classroom.  To maximize this tip, see number 8.

6.  Allow all of your students to hand out any and all birthday invitations first thing in the morning. Remember, students need to feel as if they are the center of your and everyone else's universe.

5. Reward your students for every success!  Great job walking in the hallway?  PRIZE! Chewing with their mouth closed?  PRIZE!  Caught thinking?  PRIZE!

4. Test your students' memory often.  Do NOT clearly explain your expectations!!  Instead, see how well they listened to your directions back in September by letting them just begin a task.  They will step up to the plate and complete all work with 100% effort. If they don't, allow them to pick their own consequence.  Kids will be fair and logical when assigning themselves a consequence.

3. Let your students drive your instruction. Figure out what your students want to learn and teach it to the best of your ability.  This is best done by surveying every single student on a weekly basis.  Complete LOTS of KWL charts together as a class as well.  Post every chart on the wall.

2. Assess your students every hour to see what they have learned.  This is best done using nationally-normed, paper and pencil assessments.  Grade all tests daily. Record all data. Create numerous pie charts, bar, and line graphs to better visualize all data.  (This will make your data more user-friendly!)  Use this data and the results from Number 3 to drive any and all instruction in your classroom.  Most importantly--do NOT forget to color code and label all graphs!

1. Celebrate every holiday!  Kids thrive in positive environments!  Parties help to build a strong classroom community!  Have an entire cabinet devoted to decorations, props, and party supplies.  Replenish weekly using your own money. Please don't ask for help or support--it's best to meet your students' needs in the classroom.

Remember that kids have many needs!  Following these steps will ensure you do just that and that your students adore you!  :D

Friday, October 7, 2011

FRIDAY FREEBIE: 6 Writing Traits Poster!

Happy Friday!  The 6 Writing Traits were pretty popular a few years ago and, in some places, still are!  I created and uploaded this image onto a car door magnet from Vistaprint.  I slap it on the board when we write.  I added velcro to the boxes you see and made little checks to mark what traits we're focusing on during a writing session.  You can do with it what you wish! :)
Have a PHENOMENAL weekend everyone!  I plan on getting out and enjoying the beautiful fall colors.  I hope the weather cooperates! :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Giveaway Winners!

Congrats to my three giveaway winners: April, Alex, & Meg! (Alex, contact me via email and I'll send you your kit!)  Thanks to everyone for participating and sharing your successes! :)

For all you other mustache lovers, I did put together a small freebie pack for you--download some classroom passes and blanks to make your own classroom labels! Enjoy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Management Monday: Great How Tos!

Watch this video.  It is amazing.
Nope--these great How-To's aren't from me!  Occasionally, I pop on over to the Teaching Channel to see how awesome teachers operate their classroom.  Watching these guys do their job makes me feel like a greenhorn.  (<--Oregon Trail reference anyone..?!)  I'm especially inspired by Ms. Noonan.  She has a great energy and her classroom operates in a magical way.  Even watching her speak makes me feel great.  You know how you can just speak to someone and know they're an amazing educator?  Well...this is kind of like that except we haven't spoken. I just listen to what she has to say! :D  When I'm on my total A game, I don't even feel half as great as her!  I was watching some videos yesterday and especially liked the "Managing Transitions" video.  Great ideas!  If you haven't visited the Teaching Channel--do so now!  I've gained lots of valuable information from this site.  (Plus it's quick to watch a video!)  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's time for a giveaway! :)

I'm pretty new to blogging--I started less than 2 months ago!  It doesn't even seem possible!  Either way, I've been nominated for two more awards!  Thank you so very much to Barbara over at The Corner on Character for your kind words and the following awards! Your words were so kind--you have my sincerest thanks!

I think it's time to celebrate all of my wonderful followers!  (You know what this means--time for a giveaway!)
I made a rhyme.  I do it all the time.
So what am I giving away?  Well I'm giving away my Mustache themed kit, because I think it's super fun and sassy and awesome and, although it's not a hot seller in my stores (I can't imagine why...:D), it needs a good home! (Or three.) 

Simply comment below telling everyone ONE thing that's going well for you this year in your classroom!  I'll pick three winners at random on Wednesday!

I'll pass on my award in a future post!  (I know, I said this last time.  I'll get to it...I swear!)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I Want To Change the World! (A soapbox post)

When I first started teaching, I thought it was super important to reward kids for everything they did.  I was fresh out of Grad School and was a certified teacher and school counselor.  It was my goal to change the world and I was going to do that by combating apathy in today's youth and instilling passion, problem solving, and change!  I quickly realized that I was being ridiculous.  (Not because of my goals--my goals are still the same!!)   It was ridiculous because of the notion that my students needed a prize or reward for everything they did.  Part of the reason, in my opinion, that the educational system is falling apart is because entitlement has somehow worked its way into our kiddos' brains. My theory on this is simple: today's parents are a product of a "have-not" era.  They started agreeing to give their children EVERYTHING they never had. In today's world, this is easy.  We're "advancing" at faster rates than ever before. The most popular products used on a daily basis weren't even fathomable 5 years ago. (On a positive note, this is probably what prevented our nation from a true economic depression!)

All of these societal changes trickle down to today's kiddos. They're growing up in a tough time. I was chatting with one of my fabulous colleagues the other day and we were discussing the lack of patience in our students. If you think about it, my 3rd graders have spent more than half of their life in a downward spiraling economy.  Parents are unemployed, broke, and stressed to the max.  We all know the power of modeling and little patience is what is being modeled.

I reflect on the world often and I'm constantly trying to rationalize where we are, where we're going, and what I can do along the way. Although a life burden, my conscientiousness helps me to start changing the world in my classroom.  What do today's kids need?  They need a true adult role model--someone friendly, polite, respectful, a problem-solver, independent thinker, and deliverer of life-long lessons. They need to see passion, energy, pizazz, and the ability to dream. They need someone to idolize, love, and go to in times of need. They need to be challenged and to learn to work hard.

The educational world is changing quickly too.  Everyone I know in my school is stressed.  We're worried about our jobs, new standards, our new teacher evaluation system, our students, our budgets and lack of supplies, testing, our emotional well-being, and whether or not we'll get parental/public support ever again. Our patience is short too but we need it now more than ever before.  I am so passionate about what I do, but I'm so often saddened by the situation of today's teachers.  The veteran teachers in my school comment on how teaching used to be fun.  Yes--past tense. I often feel as if my timing was horrible.  I'm lucky to even have my job, so I'm often discouraged that I won't be changing the world anytime soon.  I'm just trying to hold on for the small chance that someday I can. In the meantime, as I spend endless hours doing the basics, I can only hope that one day, I will earn a voice to combat the larger picture and the support from those around me to do so.
As a reminder to myself and my fellow teachers--don't lose sight of why you teach. The world will come back around.  I do truly believe that when our current students become parents, they'll get the same wake up call that I did my first year as a teacher--It's not what's in your hand that makes you feel good, it's what's in your heart.

Friday, September 30, 2011

FRIDAY FREEBIE: Scientific Method Handout!

In the spirit of Science Week that I'm seeing all over the blogging world, I thought I'd post a Science freebie this week!  Now, I don't have a whole lot of homemade Science stuff..I still feel like such a newbie to teaching!  BUT I do have this bad boy--a handout to help teach the Scientific Method! 
 On the backside, you'll notice a handout for an experiment I used to accompany teaching about the Scientific Method. (I totally stole this idea from What the Teacher Wants!)  My students LOVED the Diaper Experiment last year. I only wish I took pics! And do you know how many corny jokes you can come up with when you're working with diapers?  SO MANY!  It's great! 
 Have a great weekend! :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

THURSDAY TIP: Using RAFTs for Cross-Curricular Projects

How many of you use RAFTS in your classroom?  A RAFT is a writing project that outlines the assignment in a concise and organized way.  You assign students the RAFT by selecting the Role, Audience, Format, Topic, and a Strong Word.  You can use RAFTS for larger writing projects or as a method to check for understanding. One of my favorite RAFTS that I use in my room is the Pumpkin RAFT.  Here's the project:
FORMAT-- Persuasive Essay
TOPIC--Please don't carve/smash me!
STRONG WORD--annihilate 

I use the five-paragraph essay format for this project. Kids enjoy taking the perspective of a pumpkin.  I usually do some "inspirational activities" before the writing project begins to help them think like a pumpkin, namely "babysitting" one for a while.  We even adopt one for a class pet for a week. Good times! :)

RAFTs can be used for anything though!  Teaching about the circulatory system?

ROLE--Red Blood Cell
AUDIENCE--Other parts of the blood
FORMAT--Thank you note
TOPIC--Thanks for your help with doing my job!
STRONG WORD--collaboration

Teaching place value? 

ROLE--A comma
AUDIENCE--3rd Graders (or whatever grade you teach)
FORMAT--How-To Guide
TOPIC--How to place me in between periods
STRONG WORD--placement
 The possibilities are endless! :)  Here's the rubric I use for my Pumpkin Persuasive Essay! (Note: This is from my work with my former 5th graders.  I will modify the assignment this year for my 3rd Graders.)