Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Getting Ahead of the Game, Week # 2

I am back today for Week #2 of my Tuesday summer blog series called, "Getting Ahead of the Game." Each week I will give you a little project to help you be ready for August. Let's jump right in! 

This week's challenge is...Drumroll please! 

I like to have my forms ready for parents to fill out on Meet the Teacher Night. Why? Number #1: Parents can fill out all of the information right there and leave it with you. Small children's backpacks often eat papers. 
Number #2: I know how everyone is getting home, and my odds of losing someone significantly decrease, hehe. That First Day of School dismissal is killer...Amen!
 Number #3:  I feel like I already "know" my kids before the first day. 

Everyone has their own preferences for what forms they like and don't like. There are tons out there to choose from, but here is what I have ready for this year...

I try to keep it simple and just have one student information form. I like to copy it on colored paper so that it is easy to find in my student information binder. Download this form for free HERE. I always leave the back blank too, in case parents want to write me a novel. ; )

Each year I create a Meet the Authors board that includes a little biography of each student and a place that they can display their work. Read more about it HERE. I use this little form to create their biography. I leave it on each student's desk at Meet the Teacher Night so that they can fill it out with parental help if needed. It's just one more thing i can have ready to go!

Download it for free HERE

I also LOVE using Donors Choose to fund materials and experiences in my classroom. It's like Christmas when your stuff arrives!

 After a project is funded, pictures of students using the materials are shared with the donors. A photography permission form is required for each student. The beginning of the year if the perfect time to get this done too! Read more about how to use Donors Choose HERE

My school is currently in shambles. Really! They are replacing the roof and road and I couldn't go up there even if I wanted to. So I won't be copying anything until the school opens back up in August. There is nothing worse than creating something and losing it in the computer file black hole mess. I am all about folders this year. Exhibit A:  

I am keeping everything I need right here in this "Beginning of the Year" folder so I can just print and go come August. Score! 

DON'T FORGET: Make a few extra copies of everything so you are prepared when a new student comes. Avoid the new student scramble!

In years past I have created a classroom handbook that went over the routines and procedures of my classroom. It was really helpful! The only reason I quit doing it is because my team created a grade level handbook instead. It's nice to have all of the information in one place. Also, we don't even print out the handbook for parents anymore. We just create a QR code for parents to acccess the information online and send it in an email.

I used to have a Classroom Volunteer form, but last year I finally decided that I really don't use it. If I need help with something, I just include it in my weekly newsletter/email and parents respond on a need-by-need basis. I don't have time to look through 22 pieces of paper to see who checked the Take It Home Volunteer box. I think it's a great idea, it just didn't work for me; so I'm not going to waste my time with it this year. You live, you learn. : ) 

I know this week is a BIG challenge, but you will L-O-V-E yourself come August when all you have to do is PRINT. 

Just joining us? Check out the previous challenge below.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Getting Ahead of the Game, Week #1

I sure hope this post finds you on SUMMER VACATION! Today kicks off a little Tuesday summer blog series called, Getting Ahead of the Game. Every August I want to kick myself because I have so much to do to get ready for the school year ahead. This year I am going to try and do a little project each week to lighten the work load of August and get ahead of the game! I challenge you to join me... Do you accept?

This week's project is super simple! Are you ready?!?

1. Get rid of the junk mail!I get so many random emails that I never signed up for, and they add up in my inbox quickly.  Spend some time clicking the Unsubscribe button at the end of each email so they won't haunt you for another year.

2. Go through and delete any unneeded or unread messages! Won't it feel good to see that clean inbox with ZERO unread messages? 

3. Create a new email signature. Spend some time looking for a favorite quote to add to your signature, or link your class website or Facebook page. This will be at the end of every email you send this year, so let it work for you and save you time. Check out this great tutorial from Rebecca Coleman to get you started, or check out these free social media buttons that can be added to your signature. 

4. Create folders to get you organized! Create a Parent Communication folder to drag in important emails from parents, or an Action Needed folder for emails that require a response or something that needs to be done. Create a system that works for you!

These projects are meant to take less than an hour, be done at home, and help you feel good about going back to school. What are you waiting for? Get this checked off your list!

I hope to you see you back next Tuesday for "Getting Ahead of the Game," Week #2!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Doing the Frog Hop

Oh how I love teaching about animals! We have had so much fun learning about frogs and their life cycle this week. We started the week off with this super cute book called, "I Don't Want to be a Frog!"

We made a T-Chart and listed why we would or wouldn't want to be a frog.

Then everyone drew a frog and wrote their ideas in a speech bubble.

They turned out really cute and it was a fun way to discuss opinion writing.

We also learned about the frog life cycle. We started out by sequencing it together with these posters and then created these little frogs!

The leg and eye placement on this frog had me laughing! 

 They turned out so cute and required very little prep on my part! Just copy on colored paper and done!

Of course we added some frog themed activities to our literacy centers too. Each of these activities include a recording sheet too!

Students matched each lily pad sentence with the correct frog punctuation mark. Next, they practiced writing their own sentences to match each punctuation mark. It was a great review activity!

We also sorted parts of speech with this pocket chart activity. 

All of these activities can be found by clicking the unit below! : )

We have tadpoles in our classroom too! We have these really cool wireless microscopes on my campus that we have been using to see the tadpoles up close. I can hold the microscope while students watch on their Ipads and take pictures! It's amazing!

P.S. We also learned about the fish life cycle and I attempted to hatch fish eggs with my class too. I received some fish eggs from a science training I went to and unfortunately their fate was pretty grim. Let's just say "I took them to the pond..." : ( On the bright side, I made a little freebie in their honor. RIP little fishes!  Download this fish life cycle craft for free HERE! ; ) 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

THE Adjective Fashion Show

After reading Hope King's ebook, Set the Stage to Engage I knew I had to add an Adjective Fashion Show to my lesson plans this year. We already taught adjectives in the fall, but my students needed another good review so this was PERFECT. I took Hope's idea and I created a lesson to really meet my students needs and keep them engaged! WIN-WIN!

It was super easy to transform my room into a fashion show. I just moved the desks into two rows facing each other with a red carpet in the middle, a.k.a. red butcher paper. AND word to the wise, tape it down! I forgot, insert embarrassed face here. I bought a fashion show song on iTunes for 99 cents and added a microphone from the party store and we were ready to boogie!

 We started the day with a little pre-assessment to see who remembered what an adjective was! I placed index cards at each students desk and put a big picture of me dressed like a silly goose on the Smartboard. They wrote adjectives to describe me!

Pretty soon it was fashion show time! I did something extra special and let my students sit on top of their desks. They used their white board and wrote as many adjectives as they could think of as each person strutted their stuff. 

They were so precious!

After the fashion show ended, I created a little response page for students to show me their learning!

They drew themselves on the front and listed some adjectives to describe themselves. 

You can download this response sheet for free HERE! : ) Have fun! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

You just can't hide that TEXAS Pride

I'm not going to lie, when I was hired to teach First Grade, a Texas unit was the first thing that popped in my head! In First Grade, students are taught the symbols of our great state! One of my most vivid memories from First Grade was learning about Texas! My precious first grade teacher did such a great job of making the different places in Texas come to life with her stories. My favorite was her story about going down the Rio Grande River in a kayak and flipping over in the water. We made this little book all about Texas and I still have it 20 years later. Our Texas unit also overlapped with Open House, so I wanted to make sure we had lots of fun learning to share with our families! 

We kicked off our Texas unit with a class book! I love a good class book! Each student illustrated a page or two for our Texas Alphabet Book.

Here are two of my students reading the book to their parents at Open House.

Use this to make your own alphabet book!

Our next Texas project was a Texas Scrapbook!  I created this interactive Mix and Match Texas Scrapbook to teach my students about our great state. It includes tons of different Texas symbols, people, places and facts for students to complete.

I really wanted this scrapbook to be interactive and allow students to research. On this page students used Google Earth to label different cities on the state. 

For the cover I took a picture of each child in their cowboy gear! We colored a  cowboy hat and just attached it to a sentence strip! 

I used manila folders to bind the scrapbooks together and let students decorate with star stickers. I also added raffia ribbon on the sides for a cute touch. They loved reading these scrapbooks to their parents at Open House. 

We also wrote cowboy and cowgirl stories! My students pretended that they were a cowboy or cowgirl and wrote a story from that perspective. 

And of course we had to add a craft to go with our writing!

They turned out so cute and they were a hit at Open House! The craft and other writing prompts are available HERE. 

Students also decorated a boot at home and brought it back for our bulletin board! 

We also made this little WANTED posters to hang in the hallway. They drew themselves as an outlaw. #precious

I think my favorite Texas project was our Texas Weather video! I love when I can integrate various subjects and technology! We were learning about weather, so I thought it would be fun to give weather reports for different cities in Texas. We used a green screen to record our weather reports and then used iMovie to add picture backgrounds to match each city. 

Students used the Weather Bug app to look up information for their city and write a script. The fun microphone prop came from the party store! This green screen was created using a large piece of green fabric. 

We LOVED watching our finished project and sharing it with parents! They were so impressed with our use of technology and all of our Texas knowledge! : )