Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Teachers should always use safety precautions when walking around the room...

Alright, I really don't have anything wonderful to share today except the very powerful words of wisdom within this post title. I guess I should back up a little so you can fully understand the comicality of this comment.

So, as I'm introducing Read to Self to my class we worked together to create an I-Chart. This year it was so much easier for two simple reasons:
1. They are not in kindergarten anymore. Let's face it, five year olds are egocentric to say the least.
2. Most of my students participated in Daily 5 last year so they had some background knowledge of the subject.

Moving on- the kids helped me create the I-chart. We had a sloppy copy at school and revised a little bit each day. (It is ugly with a capital U, but at least they got a little writer's craft lesson hidden in there.) For instance, last year we wrote, "Students need bubble space." Apparently that is soooo last year, and we are NOT babies anymore. This phrase has morphed into "Find a spot with plenty thinking room." Yeah, they are pretty proud of that. (Plenty was a superb word choice if you ask me.)

After a couple of days practicing and building our stamina, I opened a can worms when I asked the students to help with the teacher side of the I-chart. I felt so good about this, I mean c'mon I was already sitting with kids, listening to reading, gearing up for guided reading. I felt like I was on top of it. Let's just say they put me in my place.

It started out really well. The first thing they came up with was, "Teachers read with the students." Great, no problem. (By the way, notice the preposition WITH, not the teacher reads to the students. My class rocks!)

Then, another student said, "And they need to listen to us when we read." Check! I'm totally blowing this out of the water.

That's when one of my students blurted out, "Teachers should always use safety precautions when walking around the room." Say what?! Really- he wants me to put this on the I-chart? I'm thinking to myself, what in the world? So I said, "Of course we will be safe when we are walking around the room." He responded with, "No, Mrs. Scott, I really think it's important and you should put it on the chart." That's when I knew he meant business...

"Mrs. Scott, you wear really big shoes. That's not very safe. It's dangerous. You need to be very careful when you are walking around the room."

Point taken. I guess my high heels can be a little intimidating. Maybe I've stumbled/slid a time or two. Honestly, I didn't think they took that much notice. I mean, I haven't taken a kid out- only injured myself. Obviously this is very concerning to some of them. I wrote it on the chart and looked around to see several students silently nodding. I was naive when I thought I could convince them this was not necessary for the chart. Here we are, three school days later and it's stuck.

So this is our new and improved (by that I mean typed and pretty) Read to Self I-Chart.

By the way, if you are interested in super cute I-charts I know you can find some on Teachers Pay Teachers here. She has really cute clip art and fancy stuff!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just what the teacher ordered- more Daily 5!

I don't know about you, but that first week wiped me out! I have a class full of sweeties, twenty-two of them to be exact. Let me tell you, looping is definitely the way to go! These kids are already trained in the Scott ways.

Let's get to the good stuff- more Daily 5. So last week we reviewed the three ways to read a book. I made a handwritten little poster with the kids and if you know me you know I despise my handwriting. So what did I do? I made a spiffy one on the computer, of course. Best of all, I'm attaching it here for you.

One more thing- and I cannot claim this as my own. A sweet little teacher across the hall from me came up with this. She drew it all cute and put it up on the chalkboard. Miss Cooper is the best! Again, I'm not that talented to free draw something like that. So, I made my own. Yes, it's a Read to Self time-o-meter. Great for the beginning of school when we are building STAMINA! I think the kids will love it. When you click here you will get two copies of it, you can decide which color scheme you like better. Sorry, mine only goes up to 15 minutes. Maybe I'll make some other chart to get from 15 to 20. We will just have to wait and see!

I hope you all had a great start to school. Can't wait to get back to blogging on a regular basis!

Monday, August 15, 2011

I like to move it, move it!

Seriously, let's talk classroom music. This has been on my mind for the past several weeks. When it comes to teaching I have absolutely no shame dressing up as Alexis Texas (Hannah Montana's cousin, circa 2008) to teach second graders how to edit. C'mon, "Nobody's Perfect, You Gotta Edit!" Or getting down with my bad self to remind third graders their vowel rules. It's all about finding the right song.

So, I've been going back and forth with several songs, artists, and genres deciding what to use in my classroom this year. The last time I was teaching first grade, I had a whole line up of music for transitions. Love, love, loved it! I wish I could remember all our jams but, let's face it, I'm not a spring chicken! Here are a few I remember:
Handwriting: Crazy Frog (the previous year in 2nd grade I used Eye of the Tiger. Classic!)
Word Sorts: You've Got It- Right Stuff (New Kids on the Block- for real!)
Math: Get Your Head in the Game-High School Musical 2
End of the Day: Lean on Me Remix (with hand motions, oh yeah!)

Now, I feel a little anxious releasing our 2011-2012 playlist. I know the moment I press "Publish Post" I'll change my mind about one of my choices. Just know, I use these songs as transitions/clean up. Or, in the case of handwriting, they are used for warm ups. That being said, we do not listen to the song in it's entirety. I usually clip it to about 45 seconds or as needed. Here goes nothing...

Morning/Greeting: What I Am- Will I Am & Sesame Street
Handwriting: Jump- Van Halen
Daily 5: Beautiful Day-U2, The Final Countdown-Europe, Under Pressure- David Bowie & Queen, Get Ready- Temptations
Science/Social Studies: Think-Aretha Franklin
Math: I Like to Move It-Madagascar Soundtrack
Writing: Ain't No Mountain High Enough-Marvin Gaye
Goodbye: We are the World 25- Artists for Haiti (Hooray for Miley and Justin B!)

I'm not gonna lie, I was totally disappointed that Ricky Martin's "Shake Your Bon-Bon" was so scandalous. That was a shame. Here are some songs I strongly considered and will probably find some sort of use for in my classroom. The honorable mentions are...

Don't Worry Be Happy, Can't Get Next to You, anything Elvis, Ice Ice Baby, Stayin' Alive, La Macarena, and Respect.

What's on your soundtrack this year?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dollar Tree Finds- Take 1

Camera cord? Check! My goodness, this post has been a little pill. I finally get my pictures ready and blogger decides to be testy. Sheesh! Anyway, I am very excited to tell you about this Dollar Tree find- the 5 Pocket Organizer. It looks like this

I bought black because it was the only one they had left at the time. The first time I came across this, they had black, dark blue, even a deep green. I should have picked them up then, I just wasn't sure what I was going to do with them.

This year I vow to be much more organized with MY things. I work so hard to give student's a place to keep their things nice and neat, but everyday I'm scrambling to find my misplaced keys before recess. Honestly, I can't tell you how many times I sent a sweet little kid to my room at recess to track down my sunglasses. Oh, and that recess whistle lasted a whole day. It must have fallen in the black hole of K3.

Okay, so to do this I used the organizer, a glue stick, double sided tape, some extra dicut thingies I had laying around, scissors, and two Command hooks.

The hooks are not required. The organizer comes with a string tied to help it hang. I didn't want my organizer to swing around. So, I untied the knot and pulled the string out. (As you can see in the second picture.) Command has some really nice colorful hooks that were very tempting. You'll notice the grommet holes are not that big, that's why I went with these command hooks with thinner hooks.

If you are using Command (or other hooks), go ahead and put them on the wall before you make your organizer all sweet looking. It says it needs an hour to bond to the wall, that was very hard for me to do. I'm a tad impatient and want to see results!

Okay, to start I figured out which dicuts I was going to use. I went ahead and laminated them. Then, I printed labels on regular paper. It would have been smart to print the labels on sticky label paper- thought of that later of course. So my labels are: sunglasses, keys and whistle, nurse pass, bandaids, and I left the green star blank. I'm sure I'll think of something to put in there.

One of the benefits of adding the labels with a glue stick is I can pull it off. I may end up using this organizer next year for something completely different.

Alright, this is where I had to think. I was trying to decide if I should slip the label inside the pocket, or leave the label on the outside. I experimented both ways. In the end, I decided to put the pretty stars on the outside. They got crushed when I slipped them inside. This decision is totally up to you!

Whip out the double sided tape and don't be shy! I put about 4 pieces on the big star, and two long pieces on my top square pieces.

This is what I ended up with. It's pretty low on the wall and right by the door so I can grab things on my way out. It bothers me that the hook on the left is a bit crooked. Maybe I will tie some zebra ribbon around the hooks to hide. That could look good.

Let me know what you think! But before I go, here are a couple of other great items I found on my trip to the dollar store.

Stackable blue bins- LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. The other colors are red, green, and I think black. They also had other stackable bins that were just a smidge bigger.

My favorite of all: BLING! I bought this package because it has several colors. I also bought a package of clear stones. I've used this to bling up some of my letters on the word wall (those vowels of course) and for my Wall of Fame. Fun!

Okay, I'm adding my spinner post next. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dollar Tree - THE Spinner

You've waited so patiently and I'm so excited to share my spinner templates with you today. The picture below shows a few examples of what you will get when download this.

It all started when I saw this at the Dollar Tree. So many ideas popped into my head- I thought I would have to buy at least 20 if I wanted to do half the activities that were already turning in my brain. Instead, I decided to create a template so I could trade out the activities.

Alright, so if you already have your spinners or you are going out to get one I have some advice. Before you walk to the check out counter give your spinner a little wiggle. You want to make sure your spinner will actually spin. I bought 4 spinners, 1 of them had a sticky spinner and will have to be exchanged. Hopefully I saved you some time and trouble.

Okay, now this made me a little nervous at first, but trust me. You want to pop off the black plastic spinner. I was so gentle at first, I didn't want to break it. By my third spinner I was not holding back. The plastic is pretty sturdy, as long as you pull from the middle circle part NOT the skinny arrow. I held the bottom piece with one hand, and snapped the top off with the other.

Now that you have it off, put the spinner on the back on the cardboard. This time with the spinner on the white side. (This is crazy, I know, but I just thought 8 was too many options for my sweet first graders. I wanted a pretty white background for my new and improved spinners.)

Testing to make sure it spins. The first time I pushed the arrow piece in too hard and it was locked in place. I just popped it out a bit and it was ready to spin.

At this point, I was ready to add my new template. The picture you see above was printed on regular copy paper so I could make this post. In all honesty, it should be printed on cardstock and/or laminated.

Anyway, you want to cut just one slit to the middle. I cut betweeen the black and pink sections. When I got to the middle I cut a little circle with my scissors. This is eyeballed I promise, doesn't have to be perfect but you want to fit it around the center of the spinner. Now, you are ready to slide it on.

This is one of my templates with a green background. If you print the background it actually sits a little flatter. In the document above you will get every spinner with a color and a white background. You can decide, but I know some of us are printing at home and want to be mindful of our ink usage. If you decide to print the white background (like my samples above), you can always use removable double sided tape to hold it down if it bothers you. I could just see the edges curling up over time with use.

Here are some more ideas I had for the spinner:

1. Daily 5- One of my favorite things about Daily 5 is the student gets to choose their literacy activity. What do you do when a kid is indecisive? Really, I think one student used this strategy as work avoidance or maybe just to see if it got under my skin. Well, this year, I'm going to put the activities on the spinner. I'll give the student an opportunity and time to decide, but when I'm ready to start my guided reading group we are gonna spin that sucker and the student will snap to work. (Hopefully.)

*Notice I did not put Listen to Reading on the spinner. You can definitely add that if you want. We use iTouches for LTR and if this student is the last to decide, chance are the iTouches are already in use. Talking with teachers about Daily 5, I kinda get the idea that you are all in the same boat when it comes to equipment and managment at LTR.

2. Work on Words/Spelling Station- Throughout the blogging world I've seen several fun, creative ideas for writing high frequency and/or sight words. Super cut tic tac toe boards, menus, etc. I borrowed some of these ideas and put them on my spinner. This way the child will spin to determine how they are going to practice their words.

3. Writing Prompts- Let me start by saying, I'm looping with my class from kinder to first grade. So, the majority of the students have already had me (and the Lucy Calkins Units of Study) for a year. I realize most of you can't whip this out the first week of school, but for what it's worth...

4. So the possiblities are endless. That being said, I also attached some blank spinners and some that just have numbers. Then you can create your own menu to match different subject areas.

Again, thank you for being so kind while I got all my spinner stuff together. As always, please comment and let me know how you are going to use these in your classroom!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hold on for one more day...

Oh shucks! I was really excited about my Dollar Tree posts for today. I even took some VERY detailed pictures. It seems my camera cord has run away from me. That's a bummer. If you can hold on for one more day I promise I will make it worth it!

Okay, but I will give you a little tiny hint. If you happen to be at Dollar tree and notice some colorful spinners- pick them up! (When I say them, I mean 2-3 honestly.) OR if you happen to see a little plastic 5-pocket organizer that looks like a mini shoe organizer- pick that up too! And pick up one for each of your team mates. I mean really, it's a dollar! I promise you will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I made.

FYI- If you live in the North Dallas area: I cleaned the Richardson Dollar Tree (off Coit and Beltline-ish by Whole Foods) out of 5 pocket organizers. Manager said he gets another shipment in Friday, should have lots at that time. Lewisville Dollar Tree has lots of spinners, no organizers but they supposedly got a shipment today. Crossing my fingers because I need more. Dollar Tree in The Colony has lots of everything when I checked last weekend. Good luck!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Classroom Photos

I'm ashamed to say this is actually my second week to be working in my classroom. Last week I honestly only worked half days. This week is GO time. I am so excited to be a mentor teacher again this year, in fact I think I'm more excited about her room (blank canvas) than mine! Anyway, that's why I'm a crazy woman getting my stuff done so that I can be available to help her. Ahh...the first year of teaching.

Anyway, here are some pictures to give you an idea of what's going on in Mrs. Scott's room.
Believe it or not, this is one of my favorite parts of the room. Since I have a T-INY teacher desk, I decided to organize my supplies in this. Last year I stapled it sideways under my Smartboard for the kids' word rings. (See Daily 5 pictures to check it out.) This year the shoe organizer is mine! (Although I'm still strongly considering buying another so we can nicely store word rings.) Did you notice the blue bucket of Runaway Crayons? Love that! When the kids find crayons on the floor, or wherever, instead of shouting, "Who lost their yellow color?" They just throw it in this bucket. Then, if you happen to discover one of your colors/markers have gone missing- just check the runaway buckets!
Hats off to my husband for fixing my numbers. With the heat of the summer this board was literally drooping, but he made it look nice again. Extra bins on the tables, sorry about that. Oh, and a really nice desk chair that I will not be using this year. Our speech teacher has her eyes on it. FYI- the purple bulletin board is for math stations and I'm going to use the chalkboard for my math word wall.
Okay, so the alphabet is missing, but there is a good reason for that! We are using Handwriting Without Tears next year, hooray! Unfortunately, we are still waiting to get letters to hang in our room. Oh well, I'm ready when they arrive! The green bulletin board will be for the fabulous day students. I'll post more pictures when it's finished.
*Ignore the fan in the middle of the room!*
This is where I keep track of the student jobs. I'm definitely going to have to move it this yearbecause the big book case is blocking it. Until I can figure everything else out, it will stay here.

I'm falling in love with this part of my room. My room mom putting together the rest of my book boxes. That's why it only goes across half the way. Trying to decide for sure what I'm going to put on the bottom shelf. With that crazy bulletin board fabric (from Ikea by the way, $1.99/yard plus it's over 60 inches wide) I need to keep it clean on these shelves. If you can see that black chair on the left side, my 2006-2007 class made that for me. It has all their sweet names on the back. Even though it has my maiden name and old school on it, I will use it every year until it literally crumbles under my bum.
This is what it looks like when you walk in my room. The blue bulletin board is blank, but I'm going to use this to post "How to Choose the Right Fit Book" with the kids. It will probably be blank until the second week of school. Is it just me or does that clock look realllly small up there in the corner. I will need to invest in a new one soon, this one is not so great at keeping the time anyway.

Those extra chairs stacked in the back bug me BIG time. :( Cubbies need to be labeled but I will save that for tomorrow.

As you can see, I still have a ways to go, but I finally feel like I'm making head way!

Tomorrow I will post some of my favorite Dollar Tree finds and how I used them in my classroom set-up. Design on a dime, right Cara?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Break Time Ideas

Last year I had a wiggle worm in my classroom- imagine that! I tried everything to help this student control their impulses. Finally, I came up with a list of break time ideas. Every twenty minutes (no joke), I would send this student to the hallway to take a break. I made a tape square on the carpet right outside my door, about 2 feet by 4 feet, for the student to do their activity. The activity took no more than thirty seconds and then they would return to the classroom. This helped the child focus, even if for just twenty more minutes, and it helped the rest of us keep our sanity.

So, since I'm looping with my class and I will have this precious child again, I made these break cards. I'm attaching them here for you to download. I made some a smaller size to laminate, hole punch, and keep on a ring. I will most likely assign the activity for the child to do. In the hallway I'm going to post the big pictures on the wall just above the base board. Of course, I will teach the whole class these activities and use them as needed in the day. Oh, and I will NEVER make this a punishment or use them negatively in the classroom. Honestly, I wish I could bottle this energy- somedays I could use it.

Have fun!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Polar Animal Research

It's hard to imagine snow here in Texas where it is currently 106 degrees, but here goes nothing...

For this project we let the students choose which animal they wanted to research. Again, Nancy Deveneau and I went to several libraries to find books. In the end we narrowed it down to about eight different animals. (Sadly, there was not enough literature out there on the arctic fox- bummer!) Since the kids picked their animals the groups were multi-talented and had varied levels of readers. This worked out perfectly!

One important thing we did in the library before we officially started research is make a list of the books we were using. The kids had a typed piece of paper titled "Resources." Then it was numbered 1-6, although some groups had more than six and had to add on. The students wrote down the titles and authors of all the books (in groups of course, we don't want a student to get writer's cramp). In some groupse we had Zoobooks and other magazines so we showed them how to record this as well. Then, we let the kids look through the books and explore.

Before we started the project I asked the students to fill this out to the best of their ability. At the end of the research I allowed them to go back and add on. This was great for pre and post asessment.

After recording their resources and the pre-assessment (so about the third day), I gave each student a research packet. This included the research project page on top and all the corresponding pages behind it. I stapled it booklet style (three staples on the left side) to keep it together. I knew the kids would be flipping back and forth A LOT. Okay, confession, this was way more copy paper than I was comfortable using. I'm all about going green, but honestly it was worth it in the end.

Size it Up

X Marks the Spot

Predator and Prey

That's Me!


Habitat Scat

Sorry the picture wouldn't upload- but this is one of my favorite pages!
Five Fabulous Facts

A couple important notes about this project:

1. I went old school style and handwrote the page numbers. Yes, I'm sure there is a way to combine all documents and have a pretty little typed number on the bottom. If you figure that
out, please email me the upgraded copy! I didn't bother with this because I wanted to print my pages front to back and save trees. Once I had a finished copy front to back I added the page numbers to the bottom corner AND on the tic tac toe board. I wanted the kids to be able to find the activity fast.

2. On the X Marks the Spot page, again I went old school. I printed a world map from our online social studies resources, cut it out, and glued it on the page. Sorry I left a big blank space there, forgive me!

I hope this helps you in some way! If you use it please let me know how it works for you!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Research Unit

Long time, no blog! What happened to July?

So, today I'm posting one of my favorite research units. Three years ago I worked with an amazing teacher, Nancy Deveneau, to create this. Actually to say she is amazing is not giving her enough credit, I would give my right pinky to teach another year with her!

In first grade we had two research projects a year. The first unit was nocturnal animals which we started at the end of October and worked until Thanksgiving break. Nancy and I combed through several libraries to find nonfiction books that would be the "right fit" for our kids. We checked out over 30 books between our school library and two local libraries. We shared the books between our classes. First, we modeled how to conduct research in a whole group setting on bats. We did this for several days. Then, we assigned kids in groups and took them to our library. (Yes, I know, I hate assigning them in groups without letting them choose, but you will see in our next research unit that we gave them many more options when they had a research project under their belt.) We sorted the books by tables- so the skunk kids sat together, owls, etc. We had parents come in to help and of course our librarian was fantastic! We spent 30 minutes in the library for three days. After we worked for 30 minutes Mrs. Deveneau's class came in for thirty minutes, etc. On the fourth day the librarian talked to the kids about online resources and gave them time to practice. The fifth day of research the students printed some new info from these resources in the computer lab. Below are the pages they would fill out while in the library. Download the Owl Page

Download the Skunk Page

Download the Raccoon Page

After a week of researching the kids worked together to make their presentation boards. Within their groups they decided how they wanted to present to the class. Some groups performed poetry, others used this script to create a newscast. If you would like to see their podcasts click here. The third and final week of this project, the students also had to do some independent work at stations. This included an All About Book production and a descriptive paragraph about their animal using the stoplight writing method. I gave each student a grade using this rubric.

Also, tomorrow I will be posting our polar unit. We did this in January when the kids were really soaring with their reading and had experience with research. I LOVE the arctic/polar project we came up with and can't wait to share it with you. You will definitely see how we layed the foundation with night animals and then built up. Enjoy!