Friday, August 31, 2018

Classroom Tour Coming Soon

It's the end of teacher work week and I get to meet my 23 "smart cookies" today, there'll be no 4 for Friday but stay tuned for a blog post of my classroom tour this weekend! 

Friday, August 24, 2018

4 for Friday: Parent Communication

I don't know about you but my summer is officially over! Teachers in my district report back to work on Monday. I've spent my week lounging, lesson planning for the first week of school and designing posters for my classroom.

This week I want to discuss parent communication. I would say that it's one of my strengths, though parents may not have the time to read and explore all that I send home, its there if and when they need it. 

Parent Communication
1. Parent Flipbook- Some teachers give this to parents at Back to School Night but I choose to give it to parents at Open House so that they can have a snapshot of our classroom before school officially begins. 
My parent flipbook includes our Daily Schedule, Classroom Celebrations, Homework Policy, as well as information on our Smart Tags (brag tags), 7 Habits of Happy Kids, Whole Brain Teaching and how parents can contact me. I purchased my flipbook from Learning in Wonderland and added my content. 
2. Parent Handbook- I pass our my Parent Handbook during Back to School Night (which happens 3 weeks into the school year), instead of putting this information in a slide show, I put it in a handbook for parents to refer to when needed and I spend BTS Night, discussing expectations, curriculum and classroom management. 

My Parent Handbook consists of detailed information about the above information. Like I said earlier this is generally information that would be included in your BTS Night presentation but I found that I have more time to discuss the ever so important behavioral and academic expectations as well as the curriculum and what their child is expected to master during the school year. I got this idea from Primarily Speaking

3. Monthly Newsletter- Last school year I switched over to a Monthly Newsletter as opposed to a Weekly Newsletter and it was the BEST decision I have every made! I didn't have to worry about getting the weekly newsletter written, printed and copied every week which freed up quite a bit of time for me. 
Last year I would copy our Monthly Project on the back of each monthly newsletter. Now that I'm going back to 2nd grade, I'm copying "Family Write Night" ideas on the back of each monthly newsletter. 
4. Weekly Email Updates- Although I switched to monthly newsletters, I still wanted to keep my parents informed weekly of what was going on in the classroom. I found that sending a Weekly Update on Sunday evenings was perfect. I could "draft" the email all week if needed, so I wouldn't forget anything. 
 I always included general reminders first, then included important dates and ended with what we were learning that week. Those topics directly correlated to their Learning Handbook so they knew exactly what to study.

I'd love to hear how you communicate with parents, leave a comment here or hop on over to our Facebook page and leave a comment.

Friday, August 17, 2018

4 for Friday: Favorite BTS Read Alouds

My 4 for Friday is pretty late today... my husband and I have been vacationing at Massanutten Resort this week. Indoor Waterpark, Ziplining, Tubing, Rock Climbing, Go Karts, great food and great weather! 

Now that my vacation is over and I resort back to work in one week, it's time for me to look at lesson planning. Here are my favorite back to school read alouds.

Back to School Read Alouds

1. Do Unto Otters- This is most favorite back to school book! It's a great book about manners and the perfect book for character building. Usually we would just discuss the book but this year I took it a step further and purchased the unit from Stories by Storie. I hope to include activities from this unit this year. 

2. Jelly Donut Difference- This is a great book about spreading kindness. It's become one of my favorite books. This year I plan to read it at the beginning of the year as opposed to middle and I purchased the unit off of Stories by Storie and will include activities from there. 

3. Potato Chip Champ- This is another book about spreading kindness and even explores empathy. Last year I read this at the beginning of the year and did the potato chip craft and displayed it for Back to School Night. 

4. The Bad Seed- I just discovered this book this summer, bought it from Scholastic. 

From School Library Journal-Corn kernels, pistachios, peanuts, and other seeds gasp and point as a "baaaaaaaaaaad seed" goes by. When others mumble about him, he can hear them because he has "good hearing for a seed." The bad seed tells "long jokes with no punch lines," lies "about pointless stuff," and never puts things back where they belong. But he did not start out that way; it was only after a traumatic experience that he became "a different seed entirely." 

After I purchased it, I found a great unit that tied the book to Growth Mindset

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

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. 

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!

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.