Friday, August 10, 2018

BTS Decor from Zazzle


It all started with Learning in Wonderland's post about customized pillows from Zazzle....

After I ordered the pillows, I realized I wanted some wall art as well. I played around with some graphics and text and came up with the above. I can't to show you how they look in my classroom underneath my spiral deco wreath!




4 for Friday: Preassesssments


I've made great progress in my classroom, I've managed to get all of my boxes unpacked and put away. I won't be back until teachers report on the 27th. I'll spend the next 2 weeks vacationing with my husband and binge watching Netflix.

This week I want to focus on preassessing your students. It's important to gather data on your students at the beginning of the year so you can pinpoint exactly what they need before formal instruction and assessment takes place. 

Beginning of the Year Preassessments

Newmark Learning has created some wonderful assessments for every grade level in every subject. http://newmarklearning.com/free-resources.html 

1. Reading- I've been using the Comprehension Assessment for years now. I give the Pretest in September and the Posttest in January. I use the data from this comprehension assessment to form my flexible reading skill groups. My students will complete one passage a day for 7 days, I do not give it to them in one sitting.  Groups run from September to January and then January to May. I do guided reading from Monday-Thursday and on Friday I pull strategy and skill groups. Any student that scores 0-2 in a particular skill is placed in that group to be met with on a Fridays. I have 8-12 reading skill groups so I don't meet with all of them every Friday, it rotates. 
2. Math- They have a math assessment but I have never used it. When I taught 3rd grade I used the 2nd grade end of year benchmark assessment to assess what they had retained over the summer. Now that I'm moving down I will use a 1st grade cumulative assessment that targets our state standards (we are not a common core state). I use this data to form my guided math groups. 

3. Writing- It's important to get baseline writing data on your students so they can begin setting writing goals for themselves and so you can begin your list of writing mini lessons they'll need. I'll be using one Fiction and one Nonfiction prompt from Newmark Learning
4. Spelling- Now Newmark Learning does have a Phonics Assessment but I have not used it. My county administers the DSA: Developmental Spelling Assessment to each child. I use that data to form my word study groups.

I'd love to hear about how you preassess your students at the beginning of the year, leave a comment here or hop on over to our Facebook page and leave a comment.

Friday, August 3, 2018

4 for Friday: My BTS Favorites

Summer School is officially over and I'm headed to the outlets with my husband to do some shopping! My whole body hurts just from working 6 hours in my classroom. I went in two hours on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and with this heat... that's all I may be doing until teacher work week, this teacher needs some AC! I have one more day, well half day planned in my classroom and that'll be it. In 3 short weeks teachers report back and I have got to get some rest. Below are my most favorite back to school items!

Back to School Favorites

1. Erin Condren Teacher Planner- I've fallen in  love with the Erin Condren teacher planner. I usually purchase them on sale each April but with them being predated now, I'll probably have to splurge on the newest edition next year. In addition to the planning pages, I love the two page calendar spread for all my important dates, the stickers and sheet protectors to hold my district calendar and pacing guides. It comes with 1 but I add 2 more for $3 for a total of 3. Are you a new customer looking to purchase, check out my referral link! https://erincondren.com/referral/invite/jessicasaunders0426-8175

2. Enso Silicone Ring- After damaging my wedding set and having to purchase another one, I was looking into something different to wear to school. Because let's face it, I wash my hands 80 times a day, sanitize 160 times a day and constantly bang my hands on everything! My #teambff and I decided to get silicone rings to wear during the school year. I've already been wearing mine while setting up my classroom and I love it, it's comfortable and I forget I have it on. I got mine off of Amazon but they do have a website. I purchased the Infinity Misty Gray ring. 

3. Tieks Ballet Flats- Have you heard of these? They are my newest favorite shoe and it's all I wear now. Before you mention the price, if you have family and friends give you gift cards for Christmas and your birthday, technically you're not spending your own money! That's how I've purchased 3 of the 5 pair I have. Since I'm on my feet all day, just like you, I need comfortable shoes. Before I discovered Tieks my Clark's flip flops were always on standby. My feet swell something terrible and are usually throbbing by the end of the day but with Tieks they don't anymore. I can literally wear them all day with no problem and they're super cute! I bought my first pair, Silver Screen, last summer, I got Tangerine and Fuchsia (my ABSOLUTE favorite color) for Christmas, Matte Black for my birthday and I just purchased Cool Grey thanks to my summer school pay. I really want California Navy but we're buying new living room furniture (did you know that they are making furniture that have electric recline in the headrest and footrest and equipped with USB ports so you can charge your phone?!?) so I gotta save that money. Everything I read said to size down, I'm a size 8 to 8.5. But due to the swelling the 8's were just too snug so I sized up to a size 9 and now my feet are in heaven (all of my friends sized up as well). Check out my photo that's on the Tieks website, I was on my way to church on Resurrection Sunday in my pink Tieks!   


4. Essential Oils- So yes... I'm that person! I love my  essential oils. I've been into them for about 2 years now and they have made all the difference in my health.
I took a picture of some of my favorites. I use Balance as a calming agent during the day. Serenity at night before bed. I love to rub Peppermint across my forehead and on my neck when I need rejuvenation. I diffuse Motivate in my classroom during teacher work week to well... um... to keep me motivated. And then there's OnGuard, their immunity support blend. I use the hand sanitizing mist, foaming hand wash, diffuse the oil in my classroom and even take it internally to keep from getting sick! I have a Modern Essentials oil book that tells me how to use them. I wear them topically, diffuse them at home and in my classroom and take some internally. In two years I've only been sick once and it was the mildest case of Norovirus my doctor had ever seen, my symptoms literally only lasted 4 hours! Some people buy theirs on Amazon, I have a membership with them so I buy them wholesale. 

I'd love to hear about your BTS favorites, leave a comment here or hop on over to our Facebook page and leave a comment. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

4 for Friday: Growth Mindset

Just one more week to go and summer school will be finished and I can finally REST... I'm just going to pretend my principal didn't email me yesterday and tell me my room was ready whenever I wanted to come in, get unpacked and set up!

Back in June I had the honor of attending a professional development in which my good friend Adrienne was presenting how she cultivates a Growth Mindset in her first grade classroom. Which got me to thinking about what I've done and can do in my own classroom. This week I want to focus on developing a Growth Mindset in the classroom.

Growth Mindset in the Classroom

1. Learning Environment- My go to resource for teaching this is the Mindsets in the Classroom book and their Resource book. Here's what it says about the learning environment:
  • Teacher believes that all students can achieve at high levels.
  • Deliberate instruction of perseverance, resiliency, grit and persistence. 
  • Teacher feedback/praise is based on effort, process and strategies used. 
  • Students are given opportunities to safely struggle. 
  • Failure is looked at in a positive light. 
  • Grades and scores are not emphasized. 
  • Students are saying "I don't understand this yet. I'm am not going to give up. If I practice, I will get it."
  • Teacher is saying "Let's think of a new strategy. Yet. I can see the effort you have put into this. Keep Trying."
2. Parent Communication- It is very important to communicate growth mindset to parents so that they understand and support this mindset at home as well. I give out this newsletter to my parents at Back to School Night. I also cover it in my presentation. This can be downloaded for free from Teachers Pay Teachers
3. Literature- There are so many books that can be aligned to growth mindset. I like to read them during morning meeting. A few of my favorites are:

4. Activities- There are tons of resources available for teaching growth mindset, some free... some paid. Here are the links to my favorites:
Do you think you could implement any of these ideas in your classroom? Have an idea to help cultivate a growth mindset in your students? Leave a comment here or hop on over to our Facebook page and leave a comment.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Great Pencil Challenge

Ladybug's Teacher Files Great Pencil Challenge
So I'm implementing Ladybug's Teacher Files "Great Pencil Challenge" in my 2nd grade classroom next year. I wanted a way to teach responsibility and also conserve the pencils that my students bring in. In the past my students have had unlimited access to brand new pencils and we were always out of them by March or April and they brought in 8 packs each! It's my first year doing it so after doing some research, here's what I came up with....

At the beginning of each month, students will get a brand new sharpened pencil with their number on it. The challenge is to have that same pencil by the end of the month. Any student who has their challenge pencil by the end of the month will get a brag tag.
 
  • I intend to have a cup of "emergency pencils" in case theirs breaks during the day.
  • If their pencil is dull at the end of the day, they have the option to put it in the "to be sharpened" cup.
  • Once their pencil gets too small to sharpen, I'll replace it with a new challenge pencil and it won't count against them. 
What do you do in your classroom to manage pencils? Do you think this is an idea that you could implement?

Friday, July 20, 2018

4 for Friday: Leadership in the Classroom

Week 2 of summer school is in the books and my husband and I are headed to the Lakeshore Learning Store today! I was able to visit when I vacationed in Ohio earlier this month but they weren't having their annual sale yet so I only purchased a few items. 

This week I want to focus on how to incorporate leadership into your classroom. I base my classroom leadership around the 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey.

Leadership in the Classroom

1. I first like to start out with the 7 Habits of Happy Kids children's book. Whether you focus on the habit for a week, month or day. I always start with this book. It has a cute story that goes with the habit along with follow up questions on how the characters used the habit and suggestions/ "baby steps" for children to implement it. Whenever I see a child demonstrating a habit they earn a brag tag for it. They can earn them more than once. 
7 Habits Posters
2. On the day that I read the story about the habit we are focusing on, I like to send home a flyer to the parents so that they can reinforce the characteristics of that habit as well. 
Parent Flyers
3. Last year was the first year I implemented tried to implement Leadership Teams in the classroom. As I said before, I had a rough crew last year and was never really able to implement them. But next year is a new year and I'm looking forward to trying again! They can be found in the Resources folder of the Teaching Oasis. 
 
 

4. Another way to encourage leadership in the classroom is to have students create a Leadership Binder/Notebook. You can do as little or as much as you want with these notebooks. You can use it for journaling (my favorites are found here), to track student data, or as a portfolio. I created some covers and dividers if you would like to implement them in your own classroom, you can download them here.
Do you think you could implement any of these ideas in your classroom? Have an idea to help grow your students into positive leaders for their peers? Leave a comment here or hop on over to our Facebook page and leave a comment.

Friday, July 13, 2018

4 for Friday: Positive Classroom Environment


After a long and arduous school year, I am thrilled to be on summer vacation...even though I've taught a week of Camp Invention and I'm currently teaching summer school. I'm excited to have time to get back to blogging and I'm super excited about this new blog series, so let's jump right into it!

Positive Classroom Enviornment

1. The main component of creating a positive classroom environment starts with you. I know... I know... easier said than done. But when I start to get ready in the morning and can't find the energy to have a positive attitude, when my stomach starts to hurt the moment I get in the car, and those times, though rare, when I actually cry all the way to school...I walk into my classroom and I'm immediately uplifted. I've tried my best to make my classroom a welcoming, motivating environment. It doesn't take much, there are many resources out there for you and some great printable posters on Teachers Pay Teachers. I especially like these Positive Posters and posters from Digital Divide and Conquer. So with the bright and inspirational decor {and the smell of my essential oils} I can usually turn my frown, upside down.

2. I implemented the Super Improver Wall from Whole Brain Teaching years ago. My student teacher this past year loved it so much that she's implementing it with her first graders next year. With the SIW, students can earn stickers to level up the wall for anything you want. So pass out those stickers, the students love them! If you want to read more about it, check out my blog post here

3. I implemented Brag Tags {SMART Tags} in my classroom two years ago. Students can earn them for a variety of reasons but I especially like to give out the tags that relate to positive choices and character traits. Check out my blog post here to learn more about out I implement them and how you can get them... for FREE!

4. I bought this Positive Notes bundle last summer and I LOVED writing my students notes daily to encourage and celebrate them. I got great feedback from the parents of students who were absolutely excited to receive these notes. I used the square size and just purchased the clear sticker pocket sleeves from Target to put on students desks so I can slide the notes in them at the end of the day for students to read in the morning. You can download a free set of Fun Pun Notes here. Are you and your student's into Emoji's... she's got a set for that too!

Do you think you could implement any of these ideas in your classroom? Have an idea to create a positive learning environment? Leave a comment here or hop on over to our Facebook page and leave a comment.