Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back to School Activity: "What's your name?"

Fun in First Photobucket
I can't believe back to school is right around the corner. I'm not sure if I'm ready yet (can't I just spend a couple more days in my pajamas?) But ready or not, here it is. I thought I would share one of my favorite back to school activities. Click here for more back to school activities...

I think it's ESSENTIAL to read
 Chrysanthemum Big BookIn case you haven't read this book, it's about a little mouse with a really big name, Chrysanthemum. It teaches children that everyone's name is special to them and it's not nice to make fun of anyone's name. I often catch myself reminding the students with one word if I do catch someone making fun of anyone's name by just saying, "Chrysanthemum." Very important book for 1st graders! Other good books for the 1st day of school.

Then I pass out a half piece of colored construction paper with their name already written on it (see my post on handwriting for further explanation on how I teach children to write). Their homework that night is to ask their parents how they got their names and to decorate the piece of paper.

When the students return to school, they share their decorated name and how they got their names. It really helps me get to know the students. After everyone is done sharing, I tape their decorated names over a clothes pin I hot glue on the cabinets. These pins I use to display their classwork or their writing. I keep their names up there all year long, I love looking at their special names and the unique way they decorate them. :)

Word Wall

I got the idea to write about how I use my word wall after reading about Ms. M's Word Wall. It's so interesting to hear how different schools/teachers do things.
This is what my Word Wall looks like...

Here is a picture of my Word Wall. I got the idea from a substitute who took over a class from a teacher who was on maternity leave. Her classroom was very small and she turned a small space into her Word Wall. When her time was done, she gave me this ABC train.

Pros: This is set up on a dry wall, so I simply staple (shhhh, don't tell) the words to the wall as we add them each week. You can't see it from the picture, but my Writing Station is actually located under my Word Wall. Sometimes during writing time, I let my children sit at this table so they can add one of their new words to their writing.

If I see them looking back at the Word Wall, I make a huge deal of it.
"Did I just see you looking at the Word Wall? That is so smart! You are using your resources to help make your writing better!" :)

My co-worker did this every week last year, I think I'm going to borrow her awesome idea. She CLAPS out all her word wall words.

"A (clap) is for... a, and, as
B (clap) is for... be, because, been"

Cons: I have to step on a chair to reach the top of the alphabet and also sometimes the space can get limited towards the middle to end of the school year. Also, my Word Wall is located at the back of the room, this is a good thing and bad thing because my students have to turn around to see it BUT it helps them start to memorize how to spell their high frequency words.

This year, I typed out all the high frequency words in colorful paper. I did write the words on a sentence strip (cut it to fit), but I think this will make it look more professional and will be easier to read.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Linky Party

Wooohooo, Mrs. Tunstall's having a linky party! Link up, what are your top ten reasons you know it's back to school time?

10. Blood pressure starts to go up again :)
9. Like Mrs. Bainbridge said, the nightmares about things going terribly wrong my 1st few days occur
8. Difficulty sleeping, too many ideas running through my head
7. I begin stocking up on easy 5 min or less lunches
6. The school's laminating machine AND the copy machine run out
5. My school e-mail springs back to life
4. Lakeshore, ReallyGoodStuff, TeacherDirect, OrientalTrading, Scholastics boxes litter my classroom
3. The crayons are new!
2. You're tempted to peak in your co-workers rooms to see their new bulletin board/classroom theme
1. There's a fight over the limited supply of travel coffee mugs, between me and my hubby ;)

Nervous/Excited About New School Year Linky Party

It's a brand new school year and to celebrate, let's have a linky party!

Now apart of TBA's Ultimate Linky Party!

1. Post a link to this blog on your page mentioning this linky party
2. What's one thing that you're nervous about for the upcoming school year?
3. What's one thing that you're excited about?
4. If you're linking up, post a link to your blog in the comment section
5. Click a link of someone else's blog (in the comment section) and comment

I'm nervous about a lot with this new school year fast approaching. One of the biggest things is that one of my co-workers requested me to be their child's teacher! I'm nervous that I won't live up to her expectations! Any tips? Please comment! :)

I'm excited about doing the Daily 5 instead of Literacy Stations. I tried it this summer during summer school and I think it worked wonderfully! I can't wait to see how much growth my class shows in reading this year!

Thanks for linking up!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Currently, I am...linky party

Linking up with Oh Boy 4th Grade for their "Currently, I am" linky party!

listening Adele, can't get enough of her CD

loving- "The Help"

thinking- about getting ready for the new school year

wanting- to make my very own linky party

needing- some new followers! :)



Mrs. Bainbridge
Teaching Blog Addict
Funky in First Grade

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Snack Time

In response to Mrs. Bainbridge's Tasty Linky Party here is my classroom procedures during snack time.

Each month on the back of my behavior plan I used a simple grid in Microsoft Word that I turned into a calendar (I added clip art with my classroom theme). It had the date and a name in each box.  If I had lots of snacks in reserve, I would have a "Teacher" day and I would pass out leftovers with the iconic 1st grade motto, "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit."

In the morning of each child's snack day, they simply took the snack from their backpack and placed it on the counter for when we had snack time. This way, I could check the snack and make sure that it didn't contain any peanuts (we have a peanut allergy in the classroom). We would have snack right after P.E. in the last hour of the day. While the children were eating, I would continue my lesson or they would eat and work.

Easy to pass out, no mess
Contains no peanuts
No drinks required (Capri-suns or juice boxes OK if desired)
Health snacks preferred

Parents only had to worry about bringing snack once a month
We did not miss any instruction time
We had a variety of snacks every day
The extras were saved for a day we didn't have snack brought in
Birthdays could be celebrated during snack time (birthday child's snack day & birthday were the same, in case they wanted to bring in something special

Sometimes parents would forget (especially towards the end of the year or during baseball season)
If many students forgot in one week, we would be out of reserves
Checking for allergies

What I would do to improve it
Send a snack schedule more than just once a month, bi-weekly
Provide a list of acceptable snack, perhaps even budget friendly snacks

At the end of the year, I surveyed the parents and most of them said that they just needed a little more reminding but they did really love the fact that they only had to worry about snack once a month.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Class Pet Peeves Linky Blog Hop

Guess who's hosting a Blog Hop! Check Out The Bubbly Blonde Teacher!

I love my job and it was very difficult thinking about the different things that annoy me. It comes with a little training in the beginning of each year.

1. Hearing my name a million times a day. "Mrs. Luna, Mrs. Luna, Mrs. Luna." Sometimes I say, "Stop Mrs. Lunaing me!"
2. TAPPING! There is nothing more annoying than feeling a little tap tap on your leg, shoulder, arm, back, tummy. (It's usually accompanies "Mrs. Lunaing me")
3. Being coughed on or sneezed on. Gross!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday

Join Playground Duty for Fill in the Blank Friday!

1. My favorite color is...lime green (sometimes it's hot pink though)

2. My travel destination of choice another country for a new adventure! :)

3. My favorite food is...anything my husband cooks! :)

4. My happy place childhood summer camp, every summer from 3rd grade till 12th.

5. My favorite saying is..."If you sprinkle while you tinkle, be sweet and wipe the seat!" Works with husbands too haha!

6. My dirty little secret is...I lock my door and turn off my classroom light so I can get some work done without any interruptions from co-workers, sorry ya'll!

7. Something friends might say about me is that funny and outgoing.

My New (School) Year's Resolution

My resolutions are...

1. Get to school earlier in the morning
2. Recruit parent involvement & help more than before
3. Create a calm, positive learning environment for all students

Our handwriting song!

This idea isn't mine, but a fabulous idea I adapted from one of my co-workers. It worked so well last year.

At first, I talk to the children about their "1st grade lines" or their "big kid lines" (because big kids write in the lines). I tell them that there's a head line (I put my hands on my head), mid line (hands on my hips), and a base line (hands on down). I tell them that SOME letters  "hang their bottoms down"

I have all the children stand up and we simply sing the ABC song (looking at the lower case letters)except we sing a little song when we get to the ones that dip below the line ...
"a (hands on hips)
b(hands on head)
d (head)
e (hips)
f (head)
g...ggggggggg??? (hands out like we're confused) Hang your bottoms down down, hang your bottoms down, some letters stand real tall (hands on head) some sit on the line (hands on hips) and some hang their bottoms down down (shake ourselves down).
h (head)
j...jjjjjjjjjj???? (hands out like we're confused) Hang your bottoms down down, hang your bottoms down, some letters stand real tall (hands on head) some sit on the line (hands on hips) and some hang their bottoms down down (shake ourselves down)."

and we do that all the way to Z. The kids are exhausted and all smiles by the time we're done with the alphabet, but it teaches them the be mindful of where each letter is and how it's formed.

If you have questions, post below. I hope it was clear enough! :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dance & Learn Phonics!

Every classroom is different and every child is different. We learned this in college when we discovered that there are visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and verbal learners (tell me if I left any out). In my classroom, I like to do a lot of motions or songs to help ALL my children learn. I know that some will get it when I'm telling them, others will get it when they tell me or explain it to another child, and some will get it when they see it....but what about the kinesthetic learners!?

Vocabulary, math, phonics...wherever I can, I try to incorporate hand motions or a dance or a song w/ motions.

I've had children in my class who had attention problems and even one special little guy with a hearing problem. This helped me reach them and even out the playing field.

Here's a program I'm purchasing right now. Take a look at the adorable videos and you'll see how ALL the children are engaged and up and moving (we all know that the little ones need to move constantly).

Heidi Songs

Post a comment and let me know what you think. What do you do in your classroom for your diverse learners?

Linking Party!

Check out this awesome giveaway!

Link up!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Expectations & Managing great classroom behavior

If there's one thing that I'm good at, it's developing my behavior expectations immediately and maintaining my expectations throughout the year. I never thought my scary professor in college, the one who dressed to the tee every time we had class but when you came up and asked a realized that there was a thousand little toilets on his tie, would make such a huge impact on me.

I am a very young-looking (I've been asked if I was a 5th grader before) new teacher. Parents would mistakenly think that I wouldn't be able to control my classroom, but little do they know I'm the one the older teachers send their children to.

Here's my tricks:

1. Never yell- if you yell, the student realizes that they can get a reaction out of you and they know you're no longer in control. Besides, you would not want your child's teacher yelling at your baby.
2. Be firm- I don't threaten. I give one warning and if the child continues to misbehave I follow through with a logical consequence. All the while, I'm staying calm.
3. Give the children a voice- ask questions to understand the child's reasoning of doing a particular behavior. My supervising teacher in my student teaching would say, "I....I...." to encourage the students to focus on THEIR behavior (I always thought she sounded like the seagulls in Finding Nemo).
4. Be fair- Set the expectation for the entire class. There's always that one child in class that never gets in trouble, but they need to be held to the same standards as everyone else. A rule is a rule, an expectation is what I expect.
5. Consult- Every year and every child is different. I still find myself shocked when a student displays a behavior I've never encountered before. Asking other teachers who may have had this experience before is a great way to get an outsiders perspective. When talking to the parents, I often inquire about the child's well-being or if this is a behavior seen at home.
6. Be loving- My students have consequences because I love them. I'm sad that they're making bad choices, but even the most difficult student to love probably needs it the most. I try to find something wonderful in each student. If I don't respect them, they won't respect me.

Here's what happened recently:
I had a student who was having an off day. He didn't want to work and it seemed like he was a little frustrated when I did my non-verbal reminders (tap tap on a desk her, pointing to the assignment there). After station time, I called the class over to on the carpet for a story. I noticed that he hadn't picked up his station. He looked like a bomb about to explode when I called his name and pointed to his area.
"Do you need help picking up these things?" he nods and I send a classmate over to help him clean up.
The classmate returns with one of the materials, a white board, stepped on with a big dent in it.
"Oh no," I say, examining the board, "This is such a shame, now other people won't be able to use this!"
The first student looks up sheepishly.
"Do you know what happened to this board?"
"No," he lies and fidgets.
"I hope you'd be honest and tell me the truth."
"Ok, I did it."
I tell the child to go move his clip and we agree to discuss it later, my students were almost finished gathering on the carpet for me by this point.
Four little words, "Go move your clip" is place holder for a classroom interruption. My students know that each time they move their clip, there's a consequence and a loss of privilege. More importantly, they know if they argue or throw a tantrum it'll be another clip move. The discussion later, is a better time to respectfully discuss the situation further.
When the students are back working in a group, I call the student to stand with me outside in the hallway. (Isn't it amazing how your students can tune you out at the important stuff, but perk right up when someone is"getting in trouble"?)
"You told me that you stepped on the white board and broke it, why did you make that choice?" I calmly ask, getting on his level
"I don't know" as he shrugs and looks away
"Were you upset?" offering him an emotion he might have been feeling, knowing that he might not be able to understand how to verbalize this yet
"Yes, you just told us to clean up and I wasn't ready to be done."
"I understand that you must have been upset that you weren't finished, why do you think I asked you to clean up?"
"It was time to move on," he offers.
"You're right, and we have so little time here at school, that it's important that we move on quickly. You'll have an opportunity to go to that station another day. Why do you think it's wrong to break something that isn't yours, even when you're upset?" I ask, hoping to prompt a little self-reflection.
"Because it's not my things and it's not nice."
"You know that when we make a poor choice, we have to move our clips so that we can learn from our mistakes and become big kids who make good choices. I know that you don't want to break my things, just like you wouldn't want me to break your things. It's not fair and it's not right, even if you're upset."
"Yes ma'am."

I try to give my students a voice and a choice. I offer them a consequence but also a chance to redeem themselves, so they feel like they're in control of their own behavior. They know that I'm sad when they slip up, but happy when they prove that they're capable of behaving as expected.

Here's some other tips:

Classroom Management-Teaching Methods
Tips for Managing Behavior
Free Printable Behavior Charts

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Linking up?

Here's my blog dilemma.

I have a blog to share and bounce ideas off of the brilliant and diverse minds of teachers, HOWEVER, I need to attract teachers to follow my blog in order to engage their minds. How can I build a community of teacher bloggers and avid commentors?

Comment if you're out there!

Too many ideas!

IHello! My name is Mrs. Luna and I am a 1st grade teacher entering into my 3rd year of teaching this fall. Getting my teaching stride, my head feels like a frog hopping from idea to idea. I think that's one of my favorite things about teaching, my mind is constantly being challenged with new situations.

I hope that you will find my blog helpful in telling you ideas that didn't work, could have worked, and the ones that worked successfully!

Happy reading!