19 December 2013

Holiday Cheer & Book Talk Thursday

Hey Friends!

Today was a really fantastic day! 

Earlier in the week I decided to make cookies for those people who deserve a little something special! My list included 8 second grade teachers (yes, there are 9 of us total), 3 administrators, cafeteria staff, front office staff, my hallway custodian, my husband's workers, the garbage man (or woman), and the mail person.Seriously should have counted how many cookies I made. It was a lot. (Shout out to Hubs...he helped.) I spent Tuesday and Wednesday evening getting them all ready. Last night, I got all the cookies packed in their containers, attached the cards to the tops, and had everything ready to go for this morning. Oh, and wrapped 21 books for my kiddos. I wasn't in bed until midnight. Seriously, what.was.I.thinking?

This morning I got everything into the car, garbage out and cookies on top of the can (I really hope someone saw them before just dumping it - what was I supposed to do?), cookies in the mailbox (I put the flag up), and hubby's cookies in his car. I delivered cookies during my planning, and I must say, enjoyed every last "stop." I also learned, I am turning in to my grandma. Couldn't be happier with this one!

Anyway, today was our class holiday party, and going into it, was a little nervous that it was just going to be total chaos. Good news? It went amazingly well! Bad news? It was, indeed, total chaos. I set up six different center rotations (more on these in another post), book and candy cane exchange.  Parents signed up to volunteer, bring in supplies, and food via Sign Up Genius. Side note - if you aren't using sign up genius, you're missing out. It's quite possibly one of my favorite things ever! All in all, this was the best class holiday party I've experienced so far!

Over the next few Thursdays, I'm going to share some of my absolute must-reads for the holiday season. Books I would recommend to parents, grandparents, and teachers! 

The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck (picture book version) is a heart-warming story, that in many ways most of us can probably relate. The main character, Eddie wants a bike for Christmas. Unfortunately for him, he receives a sweater his mother made instead. Eddie is beyond disappointed. However, his grandpa tells him that sometimes a sweater isn't just a sweater, and that he still remembers the sweater his mother made for him. Eddie is still not amused, but as he drifts off to sleep begins a magical journey. Through his journey, Eddie begins to understand what his grandpa meant, and learns that true meaning of a gift is one given with careful thought, and lots of love.

I read this book to my students each year, and we talk about times when we've been disappointed by gifts, and times we've been really excited about gifts. I ask my students to think about a time when they've chosen a gift for someone else. Usually the class has lots to say about this, and we share many stories of the excitement we felt choosing the perfect gift, and waiting in anticipation for the recipient to discover what's inside. I ask my students to imagine the person opening the gift and being very unhappy. With the help of The Christmas Sweater,  my students begin to understand that there's two people opening a gift, and that being a gracious recipient is really quite important. Such a valuable lesson!

Happy Reading!


16 December 2013

Management Monday!

Happy Monday!

For me, this is the last Monday before the holiday break! Hooray! The kids are getting wild! Management is definitely the key to surviving this crazy time of the year.  Actually, management will make you or break you, ANYtime of the year, but it's usually around these times, when your management system really gets tested.

Classroom management was one of my favorite courses in college, and I'm pretty much obsessed with new management strategies and techniques that are quick, easy, and don't require a lot of prep  or prizes.  I'd like to share different management ideas each Monday...hence, Management Monday!

For the majority of strategies I share, they are really geared toward having students do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. My first year teaching, I basically bribed the heck out of my students. Candy, treasure box, candy...don't get me wrong, it worked, but somewhere along the way,  I changed my thinking, and started the year with clearer expectations so that my students were behaving because they knew that's what I expected versus behaving to "get" something.

One of my favorite management strategies is Mystery Walker! Such an easy way to keep students motivated to follow hallway and line rules. Here's how it works: I secretly choose one student each morning to watch throughout the day anytime we're in line and/or in the halls. At the end of the day, if the mystery walker did followed rules and expectations in the hallway, I announce them to the class, and the class celebrates! I also print these (pictured below) mystery walker wrist awards on colored paper, and give them to the mystery walker to wear home. If the student didn't do such a great job, I simply announce that the mystery walker could have done a better job.

Another one of my favorite strategies is my brownie point pan. Students love it, and I love it! Basically, I got a cookie sheet from the dollar store, and printed pictures of brownies, laminated, and put magnets on the back. I used Washi tape to separate my pan.  With my fourth graders, I had something like 24 squares before they earned a reward. You can choose how many compliments your students have to receive based on the needs of your class.

Students earn compliments from other teachers regarding they hallway behavior. 1 compliment = 1 brownie point. Administrators count for 2 brownie points. Once students fill the brownie pan, we vote on a treat. Simple, simple treats like no shoes in the classroom, heads up 7-up for the last 10 minutes of the day, lunch bunch (lunch in the classroom), and so on. The possibilities are endless, really.

Looking for the header I used? You can find it here!

Stay tuned for new management ideas each Monday! Here are some of the things I'll be discussing in future posts:
  • classroom arrangement
  • organizing supplies
  • managing the paper flow
  • team points
  • desk arrangement
  • transitions
  • individual student behavior and behavior plans (great for RtI)
  • how procedures and routines affect student behavior (bathroom, water, pencil sharpening)
I'd love to hear some of your favorite management techniques and strategies!

12 December 2013

Book Talk Thursday!

Hello Friends!

Who doesn't love a good book? Lots of people, actually. I believe that people who claim to "hate reading" just haven't found the right book yet. As a teacher, I tell my students that one of my jobs is to expose them to all different kinds of books, in hopes that they will find a book, series, author, or genre that they never knew about, and that interests them. I want to expose them to worlds they didn't even know existed. I want them to get lost in a book.

There's so much good literature out there for kids! With so much out there, it can be challenging to know which books are worth getting past the cover, because let's be honest...most of the time, that's as far as we get. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share one book each week that I think are absolute must-reads. Some share a life-lesson, while others are just for laughs. Every book I share is a book I've read in my classroom for one reason or another, and will continue to use. Some books are used strictly as read-alouds, while others are more of an interactive read-aloud. Most could be both.

I should also note that I've taught both primary (2nd) and intermediate (4th) grades. I use picture books and chapter books in both. These are books that I want other teachers to know about, as well as parents! Unless otherwise noted, the books I share are appropriate across most elementary grade levels. Have questions? Feel free to leave a comment, and I'll happily share what worked or didn't work in my classroom!

Without further, adieu, here's to my first Book Talk Thursday!

Read All About It! is one of the first books I read to my class each year, usually the end of the first week, after we've figured out how to stand in line, what to do if we sneeze, and where the bathrooms are.

Read All About It! tells the story of Tyrone, self-proclaimed ruler of the school. He loves math and science, but thinks that books aren't really something he's in to. During read-alouds, you can usually find him at the back of the rug trying hard to not pay attention. His teacher, Miss Libro always says, "You never know who you're going to meet in a good book." Tyrone doesn't really understand what she's talking about until one day, he and his classmates get swept into an exciting adventure where the story characters come to life, but only for as long as the book lasts. Will Tyrone figure out where he can find his new friends?

The great thing about this book is that usually each time I introduce a new book, or even in my students' independent reading, "You never know who you're going to meet in a good book" becomes our motto for the year. It usually happens at different times for different students, but once it becomes their own motto, I know I've got them hooked!



You can find it here!


08 December 2013

Tis the Season

Happy Sunday!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Which I absolutely love! The tree is trimmed (stay tuned for pictures), the stockings are hung, the mantel is decorated, and our 2013 snow globe has joined the others! Hubby and I don't seem to be so great at remembering what the other snow globes are, as we now have two Christmas tree snow globes in a row, and both of us could have sworn that last year we got something different! Oh well, makes for funny memories! I'd love to know if you and your family have any fun collections that you add to each year for the holidays.

Yesterday I attended my first scarf exchange party, and it was so much fun! Such a great alternative to the white elephant parties, where I never really know what to bring! This was so much simpler - just bring a new scarf to give away, and leave with a new scarf to keep! In addition, there were lots of yummy foods! I brought a corn dip that was absolutely to die for! It was so easy to make, and I got lots of compliments! I like to make this the night before so that all of the flavors have time to mingle together! I wish that I could say that I created this recipe, but I did not. I did, however, modify the recipe. I'm certainly not claiming this as my own, just my version! Enjoy!

Mix together and refrigerate overnight. Serve with chips or crackers of your choice. My favorites are Tostitos and Fritos. This recipe makes enough to fill my 2.5 qt. Corningware dish

  • 2 cans yellow corn, drained
  • 1 can Rotel, drained (I use mild - but change to your tastes)
  • 1/2 onion, diced (yellow or sweet)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Frank's Hot Sauce to taste
So, over at *Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge* Fa La La La La Show Off Your House Linky Party is going on! I thought it would be fun to join in, and show off my Christmas decor. Also, what a fun way to participate in my FIRST linky party! 

Seriously, the most beautiful artificial tree I have ever seen. I've had my eyes on this baby for TWO years. We purchased this at Target last year, the day after Christmas for 70% off! Best. Deal. Ever. It's called a Virginia Pine. Also, it's pre-lit, and well, who doesn't love NOT getting tangled in lights? 

We went with a very natural rustic theme this year. Pine cones, and an assortment of red berries. Honestly, I couldn't be happier, and I didn't have to use a single ornament hook!

I purchased just a few of these springs with apples, and berries on them at Michaels. They tie in with my wreath (which I bought two years ago) and just happened to be sort of a lucky buy. 

This is one kind of the berries I bought at Michaels. So pretty.

My very favorites, are these sort of frosted looking berries. I'm sort of obsessed.

I like snowmen. A little. Hubby claimed he wanted to be Santa. Anyway, I'm going to have to find a fifth stocking for Daisy. I used one strand of garland from Michaels that already had some pin cones in it, and supplemented with a few extra sprigs, and two sparkly apple sprigs that match the wreath on the door as well. The vases I got from Dollar Tree, and just placed some cheap ornaments I got from Target last year, the day after Christmas for 70% off! Seriously, love a good bargain!

I'd love to see the decorations you have in your home too!

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