Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Classrooom Management Linky! Grab TIPS AND A FREEBIE!

I am linking up with a few of my teacher friends to bring you this fun Classroom Management Linky!  This month we are sharing classroom management tips to make your life a bit easier less-overwhelming.  Let's face it, teaching is HARD! 

My tips include: something OLD, something NEW, something BORROWED, and something TRUE!  
Something OLD...

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Absences happen!  Students get sick, have appointments, throw up, etc.  Inevitably, students will be out of your class and missing your instruction for a multitude of reasons.  While instruction is tricky to make-up, keep your students accountable for gathering missed work by using a bulletin board space in your classroom for missed work.   At the end of each school day, I place any extra assignments in these folders and students are directed to get them upon their return.  It keeps my desk clear of extra paperwork and allows students to grab what they missed.  A win-win!

Something NEW:

Champs Display!  DO you utilize CHAMPS in your classroom, if so, grab this NEW display I just created.  Mine needed a refresher.  If you have no idea what CHAMPS is, grab it anyway because you may find that you are already needing an overhaul of your classroom management strategy.

What it used to look like-clearly a bit dated!

My updated version with student pics to come!

Something BORROWED:

I LOVE what Middle Web has shared as her TOP 10 Ways to Sabotage Your Classroom Management!   Click on her image to see her tried and true tips.

Something TRUE:
I LOVE this quote!  I think that every person in the world can use it as a mantra when life is getting the best of them.

Check out what my other teacher friends have to share!
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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tackling BULLIES in School! A Teaching Resource and a FREEBIE!

Your school year has begun, and you have a new crew of students that you are working to learn more about every day!  You have created a seating chart, learned student names, taught those first lessons, and things seem off to a successful start.  Then out of no where, you get wind that things aren't as copacetic as you thought, your students are having issues and bullying behavior is under way.  What do you do?

I have found the first days of school to be magical, but quickly learn that negative peer interactions and strained friendships can derail a school day for my students before they have even gotten started in the classroom.  So I have armed myself with a few tools that I can utilize on the fly.

I have found that many of the novels I LOVE to share with my students incorporate bullying, which inspired this teaching resource. I want my students to 1) recognize bullying behavior, and 2) have tools to respond. These CHIT CHAT cards will encourage both of those goals.

While you don't have to read these novels, I have found various scenarios of bullying from popular novels and shared these scenes in order to generate discussion with my students through these CHIT CHAT CARDS. I want them to be able to identify bullying behavior and determine how they would respond if they were a witness or observer. Students will simply: read the scene shared on the card, discuss the scenario, and respond based on the focus questions on the chit chat cards.  You can utilize these with partners, small groups, or for whole class discussion.  You will have nothing to grade, but everything to gain in the positive peer relations you will help develop in your classroom environment.

 As a language arts teacher, bullying is a topic that also inspires strong feelings in writing.  Capitalize on that with these FREEBIE journal prompts.

If you are looking for novels that incorporate bullying into the plot, check these out...

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Crash by Jerry Spinelli 
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Lottery Rose by Irene Hunt
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
Wringer by Jerry Spinelli

We can't change that bullying exists, but we can do everything in our power to help our students see the impact and work to change a bullying culture in a positive way.

Best of luck this school year!

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Monday, August 17, 2015

"What do you LOVE about your child?" Getting to Know Your Students Through Parents

Today is our last official day of summer, it is incredibly hard to believe that 77 days have come and gone and tomorrow we tackle another school year. As a teacher-mom I always wonder what will walk through that classroom door.  I would love to chat with my students' parents, grandparents, or caretakers over a cup of hot coffee to get the nitty gritty, but I know that is not possible.  So my favorite thing to do is make phone calls home after the first day or two of the school year to find out what I can about my students.  In addition, I always want families to know that I truly care about their child and can't wait for what we have in store.
This year I send three children off to new adventures-a 4th grader, a 1st grader, and a two year-old pre-preschooler.  I am already so thankful for my children's teachers and all they will do to teach my kiddos this year.  I know they will teach them, care about them, and do everything in their power to make each day the best school day possible.

So how do you get the info you want to learn about your students?  What questions do you ask kids and families in order to learn as much as you can to make the school year the best for everyone?  Do you give a parent interest inventory or parent questionnaire?  Do you make phone calls?  I would love to hear your "getting to know your students strategy."  Here is mine...I just ask, "What do you love about your child?" or "What is your favorite thing about your child?"  Simple, but I promise the responses to these questions will make you see that kiddo in a whole new light...

Here is what I would offer the teacher that asked me that question about my three...

I LOVE Brennan's enthusiasm for fun!  Having fun makes him genuinely happy!  Brennan is not very excited about school!  Once he realizes how much fun fourth grade is and that he can trust his new teachers, life will be grand.  This may take a few days, but he will come around.  He is smart, but he would much rather be taking part in sports, riding his scooter, playing with his friends, and listening to music.  All four at once would be ideal!   Don't let him be a minimalist, because he can do so much more than he cares to showcase, he just needs a prod now and then.  He is a rule follower and will be listening carefully to EVERYTHING you say.  He is a bit of an old soul and will be that boy laughing in the back of the room because he is the one who "got" that witty joke you just shared that went over everyone else's head.  If you have ever read the poem, "Love That Boy" by Walter Dean Myers, it sums my boy up perfectly.

I LOVE Lilah's smile!  She has a smile that lights up her whole face.  She loves her friends and likes to do special jobs.  Lilah can't wait to be in school!  She is a people pleaser and has a love for learning.  She can be very sensitive and will cry!  A hug or quick snuggle will make everything better.  She LOVES art and could make books all day long.  She often needs a bit of a nudge and some kind words of encouragement before she believes she can do anything!  She has a loose tooth that may come out any day now.  She will want to help you with any teacher task that needs completing.  She will adore you a bit more each day and she will walk to school excited to have your smiling face greet her.

I LOVE Landon's love for life!  There is pure joy that oozes out of him when he sees something he wants to explore.  Landon has been by my side since March 7, 2013.  He is a busy boy who seems older than his two year-old body because he has been trying to keep up with his big brother and sister.  He LOVES TRUCKS and anything that has to do with TRUCKS!  If you can make trucks CRASH, that is even better.  He loves to listen to books, color, and share with friends.  He is going to love his time with you.  I know the first few days are going to have some tears, so thanks in advance for the extra snuggles I know you will give to him. He doesn't know it, but he is an expert at physical comedy and will have you giggling at his resemblance to Chris Farley.  I just hope he strives for more than "living in a van down by the river."

When you are considering how to best get to know your students, check in with those parents!  I promise they will LOVE sharing those favorite things!  Best wishes with your school year!

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Oh, Snap, It's Almost September!

I am finding it particularly hard to believe that I am already preparing for September.  While school has not started in our household, it is right around the corner-Tuesday, August 19th, in fact!  We are trading our swimsuits and pool bags for school clothes and backpacks.  Where have the last 10 weeks gone?  While jam-packed with fun, it has flown by!

In order to keep up with all that the fast-paced school year brings, I am teaming up with my teacher friends and and sharing some teaching resources for September.  While this month tends to be loaded up with establishing routines and assessing student ability levels, it is also a time when we take time to remember a HUGE event from our American history-September 11th.

I struggled to find a resource to share what that day was like four years into my teaching career, so I created a reader's theater and reading literature toolkit in order to help my students best understand the events of that day and the impact it had on Americans.  Your students will LOVE performing this reader's theater script and then having the opportunity to compare it to a nonfiction selection.  The discussion that this resource generates it priceless.

Included in this 23-page toolkit:
  • clear directions for easy implementation
  • CCSS covering both ELA: RL& RI and History:R.H.4-8.4
  • 7-page, 12-character reader's theater script
  • reader response questions
  • context clue word work
  • an informational text with reader response questions for Close Reading and compare and contrast work
  • a Venn diagram for compare and contrast between the two texts
  • interview questions
  • research sites for student research
  • research bubbles, an interactive tool for recording research 
Click either image to grab this 23-page resource for $2...

Best of luck navigating the start of school, the month of September, and everything in between. Check out these other great September resources...

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Do This! Not That...Back to School Blog Hop

I am teaming up with my Lesson Delicatessen friends to bring you our DO THIS! NOT THAT Back to School Blog Hop!  As teachers we are always reflecting on what works, what bombed, and what needs some tweaking!  I am all about self-reflection.  Read on if you want to find out about a blunder I have made for awhile as a 6th grade teacher...grab a great FREEBIE, and find more valuable ideas and goodies from my buddies as you head through the hop!  The last stop lets you enter to win a $100 TPT Gift Card!

I had the opportunity to go to Las Vegas this summer and meet 1,100 other teachers that are passionate about their work in the classroom, blogging, and creating the best classroom resources.  It was an AMAZING adventure and I was so fortunate to share the experience with my children's kindergarten teacher, Jonelle Bell from A Place Called Kindergarten.  I adore this lady and am so grateful to have had this experience together!

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I attended blogger meet-ups and had the chance to learn a great deal in different conference sessions.  What I wasn't prepared for was introducing myself repeatedly and sharing "All About Me."  I was separated from Jonelle due to teaching different grade levels, and it was a bit overwhelming to branch out and talk to so many others I truly wanted to "Get to Know."  I wanted to meet everyone, but the environment was busy, loud, and a bit intimidating, at times.

What I realized is that so is EVERY SINGLE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!  For so many of my students it is busy, loud, and overstimulating.   Add to it a first day activity that I thought was fun for the students, but has potential to be truly uncomfortable for many.  You know the one, students have to get up out of their seat and ask everyone in the class a question, then get all of their peers to sign next to said questions on their paper?!  For a number of years I decided to implement this Class Signature Scavenger Hunt on the first day of school without realizing how it is loud, it is busy, and it is overwhelming to new and introverted students. DON'T DO THAT! I, too, plan to take a break from these intense hunts and I plan to...

DO THIS...(and grab this FREEBIE)
The purpose of this Getting to Know You! Chit Chat Cards resource is to allow students to have the chance to share about themselves and listen to a peer while providing them with a focal point to begin their conversation in order to generate even more thoughtful discussion.  These question cards give students the chance to engage in conversation with a peer or small group without overwhelming them and sending them all over the classroom.   

Simply PRINT, LAMINATE, CUT, and EXPLAIN!  Have students share their thoughts with a partner or in a small group.  These cards will encourage positive peer interactions from that very first day of the school year, while making students feel more comfortable with one another.  That is our ultimate goal, right?! 

Enter my ELA Made Easy Upper Elementary Bundle Giveaway (a $90 value) below.
Then, head to my friend Amy's blog, Teaching Ideas 4 U, and snag another great tip and FREEBIE!  Best of luck as you and your students tackle the 2015-2016 school year!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back to School Book Favorites: The Recess Queen and a Chit Chat Card FREEBIE

What back to school books do you love to share with students on those first days of school?  I have a bunch that I have adored reading aloud to my my own children and my enthusiastic 6th graders over the years, but the picture book The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill has quickly become one of my newest favorites and one I can't wait to share with my 6th graders.

The Recess Queen is a fun, rhyming story with perfect illustrations that truly showcase the impacts of bullying and how bullies truly have the ability to negatively impact those around them.  Quick summary-"Mean Jean" wants to be included in recess activities, but has no idea how to go about playing thoughtfully with her peers, and she bullies them.  So a new girl, Katie Sue, arrives at school, not knowing Jean's reputation, and asks Jean to jump rope.  Jean's bullying ways change immediately, and she realizes how nice it is to have someone to play with at recess.  It is a light-hearted look at a serious topic that is overwhelming students in our schools today.  I promise, even 6th graders will love it! 

This book opens up the opportunity to discuss with our students, "How can we be less like a Mean Jean and more like a Katie Sue?"  To encourage even more discussion with this text I have created these FREEBIE chit chat cards to get students thinking, reflecting, and chatting.
•Print and laminate Chit Chat Cards. You will need a few sets for student work/chit chat.
•Read the picture book The Recess Queen.
•Pass out the Chit Chat Cards.
•Partner students and allow them time to read through and discuss the Chit Chat cards.
•Have them discuss as few or as many as time allows.
•Bring group back together for a whole class discussion

Your students will love this book and the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas about this thoughtful book.

Best of luck combating bullying in your classroom and school setting!  I hope this resource gets your students talking, thinking, and reflecting on ways to make bullying a thing of the past.
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Check out these other great Back to School favorite reads...

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Student Conversation about Text in the Classroom Using Chit Chat Cards

I have to admit that as a 6th grade language arts teacher, I LOVE a quiet classroom.  I do not like CHAOS, I do not like LOUD, and while I am in complete confession mode, I can't stand when things are not organized and out of place!  I know, I am one of those teachers!  In my classroom I prefer students in a structured routine, under control, and highly productive.  If I am speaking your language, read on... 

What I also realize is that I have to offer my students opportunities to engage with one another, which can get a little louder than normal.  In addition, I have to allow them the chance to shift around the room to work with others, which can get things out of place, and it is ALL GOOD.

In considering the needs of my students and my own personality, I came up with an idea to allow students more time to engage in thoughtful discussion with one another, but in a productive and meaningful way.  My idea also comes with the added perk of having one less thing to GRADE...Chit Chat Cards.

I have taught 6th graders for 15 years, and one thing I can tell you for sure is that they LOVE to CHIT CHAT with one another. Because our day is so fast-paced and so much needs to be crammed into class time, and minimal time is set aside for student discussion, I came up with the idea for CHIT CHAT CARDS.        

Instead of writing down all of their thoughts or recording their responses, they have cards that keep them focused, on-topic, yet able to listen, speak, and discuss. As teachers we don’t need one more thing to PHYSICALLY GRADE! These CHIT CHAT CARDS can be used as a formative assessment after reading any fiction or nonfiction selection and can be used during partner time, small group, whole class discussion, or for reading conferences. Genius, right?! Use them how you see fit, but use them. These CHIT CHAT CARDS are also a perfect tool for reading intervention. I promise your students will love the time they have to interact, share, and discuss text.

  • Print and laminate Chit Chat Cards. You will need a few sets for whole class work.
  • Have students read any fiction or nonfiction selection.
  • Pass out the Chit Chat Cards.
  • Partner students and allow them time to read through and discuss the Chit Chat cards.
  • Have them discuss as few or as many as time allows.
  • Bring group back together for a whole class discussion.
  • Allow students to listen, share, and discuss their thoughts.

My plan is to print a class set, laminate, attach to a ring for easy, accessible use, and distribute for student discussion upon the completion of a text.  With this fun classroom resource my students are focused, engaged, and interacting, in a structured, controlled, and productive way while enhancing their understanding of reading literature, informational text, and speaking/listening standards.

Grab the BUNDLE here...

Happy Productive Chatting!

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