Monday, August 27, 2012

Made it Monday: P.I.P.s (Pinterest Inspired Projects)

Today I'm linking up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for her last weekly Made It Monday!

I finally finished two of my P.I.P.s (Pinterest Inspired Projects)!
#1 Students' Toolbox 
(Inspired by Create*Teach*Share)

This will be used in my student supply center.  Of course, I had to have it match my Animal Print / Safari theme, so I created the labels in alternating zebra and giraffe print!
If you like it, you can download it (well the labels anyway!!) on my TpT or TN store for free. And customize it how you want it, since I've left it in Word. :-)

#2 Clipboards
(Inspired by Classroom DIY)
Some of my clipboards were looking a little worse for wear (including some...uh...."unfortunate" graffiti....) so I decided to spruce them up with some fun duct tape.
Also - I'd love for you to check out my Top 10 Teacher's "Survival Kit" Essentials - and link up your own!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Teacher's Survival Kit Linky Party!

Hi everyone! Since I moved buildings and classrooms this year, I had a chance to start from scratch and truly think about those "must-have" items that I really needed to have stashed in my desk - my "Survival Kit" so to speak.  And of course....since I know I probably forgot something essential - I decided to host a Linky Party and hopefully we can share some ideas with each other as well!
Here are the guidelines:
1. List your top "Survival Kit" items that you keep stashed at school. (Make sure you link to your specific post so we can easily find it!)
2. Please include the button above or a link back here so that your readers can easily find everyone else's posts.
3. Comment on two other posts.

I can't wait to see what you all link up!
Just scroll down to add yours.  :-)

Here are my Top 10 "Survival Kit" Items:

1. Dark Chocolate - It's healthy for you! Right? In any case, every once in awhile okay - nearly every day, a piece of chocolate is just what I need.
2. Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate - Something nice and hot to sip on while answering e-mails or grading papers hits the spot. Especially on those icy Upstate New York winter mornings. I had really liked those Folger's single serve packets, but my new school has a KEURIG - yippee!  Also - I must have a packet or two of Land-o-Lakes Mint or Raspberry hot chocolate. Deee....lish.
3. Healthy Granola Bars - For a little afternoon boost if I need it. emergency lunch if I forgot mine at home. Again.
4. Extra Contacts & Saline Solution - After that afternoon I had to teach with one eye after my contact ripped in half - I always keep an extra pair on hand. (Driving home was scary that day!)
5. Tide To-Go Stick - As I've mentioned before, I am super klutzy, so having this on hand is helpful. Thank goodness we now have whiteboards - I was always the one with the chalk hand print somewhere on me. least that just wiped off!
6. Aspirin - I typically get headaches on the first day of anything new, so this is essential and having it right in my desk avoids a trip to the nurse.
7. Deodorant - Well...because sometimes a little re-apply is a good idea.
8. Nail Clippers & Nail File - I can't stand having jagged nails - they always seem to catch on everything - I've ruined some great sweaters that way. I've even tried scissors in a pinch. Not good.
9. Wisp Mini Disposable Toothbrushes - Perfect when you have a parent conference or a meeting with your principal and your sub sandwich breath just won't dissipate. Yuck - O.
10. Gum & Mints - For me, this is great after lunch or during those afternoons when I'm trying to avoid eating that whole box of above-mentioned granola bars.  :-)

 So...what's in your Teacher's Survival Kit?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Free App to Boost Your Productivity - Guest Post!

I'm thrilled to be Amanda's guest today over at The Teaching Thief!  I've been following her blog for a long time so I'm really excited to be her first guest blogger.  :-)
The Teaching Thief
Just click on the image above to check out my post about a fantastic free App I discovered last year that made HUGE improvements in my productivity (and sleep).
Now what teacher would say no to that?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School Jitters!

Today I'm linking up with Ms. Jessica at A Turn to Learn for her Back to School Jitters Linky!  It's a year of many, many changes for me (changing grades, buildings, starting new programs, etc.) so I absolutely have a few jitters....
I really have to remember that last one. I am committed to making healthier food choices and making time to exercise at least few times a week. And NOT bringing home so much work!

How about you?  Any back to school jitters?  Link up right here!
Back to School Jitters Linky Party

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Classroom Makeover Sneak Peek

This afternoon I was finally able to coordinate with my design assistant (AKA my awesome incredible fabulous amazing Mom!) to help me redo my bulletin boards.  Since I realized today that I haven't shown y'all my new classroom, I thought I'd give you a "Before & After" sneak peek at what I've been working on over the last few months.


My first day moving in. This is the students' cubby area. Be thankful you can't see all the boxes I dragged from my old school behind the counter!


 Getting better.... Am I the only crazy one who brings a feather duster to school?


 Ahhh....much better! I just can't stand piles-o-stuff out where everyone can see.
Better feng-shui with bins from Target. :-)


Blah corkboard above the Student Supply Center I am creating. (Hey - I just noticed someone wrote "hi" on it....hmmm.......)


Black paper with giraffe animal print trim. I've always loved black background paper- things just seem to "pop" out more.


A small blackboard and super loooooooooooong corkboard at the back of the room.


Black paper and alternating zebra / cheetah print squared sections. Let me tell you - maneuvering that huge piece of paper was a bear and STILL it has ripples.  Oh well - there will be other things covering it up!

Just two more weeks to add the finishing touches!
Okay, I'll try not to freak out about that now.......

So what have you all been doing to prepare your classrooms?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Get-To-Know-You Activities & Beautiful New Teacher Binder!

Like just about every teacher, I devote lots of time during the first few days helping our class get to know each other and memorize everyone's name  After they complete their Student Survey, I always start with a Get-To-Know-You Bingo....
and then have students interview each other and introduce their partner to the class. Sometimes we play 2 Truths and 1 Lie. (That's a fun activity where a student shares two truthful item about themselves and one lie - the rest of the class has to guess which is the lie.) Then, their first homework assignment is to create an Artifact Bag. This activity also works really well to introduce the concept of inferencing.

If you like it, you can grab it for free through my TN or TpT shops. It's in Power Point so you can edit it any way you want.

I also decided to splurge a little on some nice Lilly Bimble digital papers and design my own covers, section dividers, and spine labels for my Teaching Binder. If you like it, there are 11 pages left in Power Point format to allow you to customize each page to your needs - changing titles, colors, font - whatever you want! ($1.50)

Just click on one of the images to see it in my TN store. You can also get it at TpT if you prefer....

What are your favorite Get-To-Know-You activities?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Show Me Sunday: Educational Time Fillers

Time for Show Me Sunday on 3-6 Free Resources
This month's theme: Educational Time Fillers
Teachers always grapple with what to do when we've got a few extra minutes between lessons or suddenly the movie we planned on showing won't stream through Netflix (Grrrr!!).  It's always a good plan to have few ideas in your back pocket for those moments. So here are my top 3 educational time fillers:

This is a fun site that donates rice for submitting correct answers.  I display it on our Promethean Board and have students take turns answering questions to see how quicky we can fill our bowl. Our favorite subjects are Vocab, Grammar, Geography and Multiplication Tables.  (Plus, it's for a good cause!)

2. Hot Seat
There are several variations of this game, but this is the version that has worked best for me...
1. Divide your class into two teams with everyone facing the board.
2. Place one student from each team in a "hot seat" - the two chairs or stools that are placed in front of the class with their backs to the board.
3. Write a vocab word on the board.
4. Each team gives the person in the hot seat clues to help hem guess the word - synonyms, antonyms, definition, examples, etc...  Whichever group gets their teammate in the hot seat to say the word first wins a point. Then repeat with two other students in the hot seat.

3. Mad Libs
Kids think they're just making up silly stories, but really it's sneaky parts of speech review. I always have several class copies of them available just in case.  :-)

Honorable Mentions:
Sparkle, Mum-ball with mentioning key facts about a topic, free reading and read alouds. What are your go-to time fillers?

Gather some other time-filler ideas and join the Linky Party right here!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What's Your Style? Teacher's Fashion Linky!

Time for some fun stuff! Today I'm linking up with Jess over at From Blood to Books for her Teacher's Fashion Linky - awesome!
Here are the guidelines....
1. Tell me your favorite store(s) that you like to get your "teacher's fashion".
2. What are some of your favorite accessories?
3. What type of shoes do you teach in? (i.e. heels, flats, wedges, etc.)
4. Do you have a "go-to" item in your closet? (i.e. sweater you wear weekly, shoes you wear daily, etc.)
5. Have you ever had a fashion "uh-oh" at school? (i.e. heel broke, button popped off of blouse)

1. Favorite Stores:                                                                                                                                    The Loft (Ann Taylor)  - The Loft has nice styles most of the time at a reasonable price.  Usually great tops and sweaters. And sometimes their skirts just fit me perfectly.  Pants though - not so much. (Where are these Amazon women who are over 6 feet tall??)  Occasionally I will pop down to Ann Taylor - their items cost WAY more, but they wear like iron, never fade, and last forever. Here's a cute dress I found at The Loft that I'm considering....what do you think....too pink?      

The Limited - I started shopping here about 2 years ago and have fallen in love. I found the cutest gingham dress there last week that makes me feel like a character on Mad Men. (One of the sweet, chaste, non-smoking ones! If there are any on that show.....)  Here's a picture of Keira from A Pretty Penny wearing it.
 2. My Favorite Accessories
I don't wear too many accessories - no headbands (they give me a headache), rarely scarves, and I'm not into purses. But I do like jewelry! My favorite place to get inexpensive bling is Kohl's and I also have a ton of Lia Sophia from that year when everyone I knew had a party. I especially like funky styles like owls, and I have more than 20 pairs of holiday earrings.

3. Favorite Shoes
In warm weather I really like a little heel, but nothing too high. In winter it's all about the boots. I found an awesome pair at Clark's last year..

4. Go-to Items
Black slacks, black t-shirts...pretty much anything black!  I have to force myself to add some color or else I'd look like Johnny Cash! Also - I have multiple black and white Ann Taylor camisole tops that I wear under just about everything. They're smoothing, help out when a shirt is just too low cut for school (don't you HATE that?), and when a sweater or other top is too sheer. (I seriously think most stores are getting super cheap and making everything so thin to keep prices low.)
5. Fashion "Uh-Ohs"
  • My first year teaching, Open House was just a couple hours after school. Since it didn't seem worth it to drive 25 minutes home and then back, I just had a snack after school and starting arranging things. Well.....I snagged my skirt on a desk and ripped a HUGE hole in it! I had to speed home to change and then rush back just in time. 
  • Since I'm generally a klutz, I NEVER wear white.  At least dark colors hide all the EXPO marker stains and little coffee spills. 
  • I also once had a kindergarten student tell me that my shoes looked like "little girl shoes". Yep - never wore those again!
Are you adding some new items to your teacher wardrobe this year? Link up and tell us about it!

Friday, August 10, 2012

6 Steps to Launching Read to Self - Daily 5 Book Study, Chapter 4

Chapter 4 is all about how to introduce (or "launch") the Read to Self component of the Daily 5. So here are the 6 steps!
    1. Explain & Model 3 Ways to Read a Book
    These include:
    • Reading the pictures
    • Reading the words
    • Retelling the story
    and can all be taught on the first day or broken up over 2-3 sessions. Here is a cute chart I found at Mrs. Richardson's Class website. At first I thought "Reading the Pictures" wouldn't really fit a 5th grade classroom, but then I remembered all the times I browse a magazine or look through a book myself. I AM previewing the images first, and then reading the text. I just need to expand what is meant by the phrase.

    2. Complete "Read to Self" I-Chart
    Create an "Independence Chart" with students by first brainstorming why we read to ourselves and then discussing appropriate behaviors for both students and teachers during Read to Self time. I like how the Sisters directed their students' thoughts by asking, "If someone were to visit our class during Read to Self, what would they see happening?" Here is a nice example of an I-Chart created by Sarah from Student Choice in the Classroom.

    3. Correct Model / Incorrect Model
    As with all the other expected behaviors in the Daily 5, having students model correct ways to do the task AND the incorrect way is key. Again, remember to have students name what appropriate behaviors they see in the Correct Model.  Also - have that "tricky" student demo the Incorrect Model and then the Correct way.

    4. Three Minute Practice
    Place students around the room (this is key - don't let them choose for themselves yet) and have them practice Read to Self for three minutes or until the first child goes off-task.  (Older students might be able to start with 5 minutes.)

    5. Check-In  & Reflection
    At the end of the time, call the students back to your gathering place using your signal. Ask students to self-assess how well they did with thumbs up or thumbs sideways as you mention all the criteria from the I-Chart. Discuss any changes that might need to be made to the chart.

    6. Repeat!
    Repeat the practice and check-in once or twice more that first day, adding a minute or two each time to build stamina.  Each day afterwards, briefly review the I-Chart at the beginning, model, and then start Read to Self time again, adding more time as the students are ready. If students are having trouble, try more correct/incorrect modeling.

    By the way...Amazon just shipped my new chimes today and I can't WAIT for them to arrive!!  I love how I was able to hear them first on Amazon before ordering - cool feature!  :-)

    Thanks to Mrs. Pelaez for the awesome recommendation!

    **Coming Soon: Read to Someone/Listen to Reading, Show Me Sunday: Educational Time Fillers, Fashion Linky & Sneaky Symptoms of Teacher Stress

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    What's Wrong With Cash for Grades?

         Do you see anything wrong with parents giving their children money for good grades?  What about schools?  Those question were explored recently on one of my favorite podcasts - Freakonomics Radio. Steve Levitt was discussing (as he put it) "bribing kids to do better in school".

         He and some colleagues conducted an experiment in three Chicago schools where they gave students $20 on the spot if they improved their performance from the last time they took a test. The students had no prior notice they would be offered a reward, so the study just measured how cash incentives influenced effort at the time of the task. (I can just imagine the looks on their faces when a $20 bill was placed on their desks - LOL!) 

         Researchers also studied the effects of other types of rewards (some were given less money, some were just given trophies or trinkets) and when the reward was given to the student.

    The results are fascinating......
    • Gains are only seen when you give students the reward right away - a month later doesn't work.
    • Trophies and trinkets worked for younger students (Grades 2-4) but only money worked for older students (Grades 5+).
    • Effort improves most when you give students the prize first and then take it back if they don't improve - referred to as "loss aversion" theory.
    • The effects are seen more on Math tests than Reading tests.
    • Boys are far more responsive to any type of incentive. As Levitt says, "boys basically completely slack off unless the stakes are really high." Whoa......
    (To download the full paper, just click here.) 

    As Levitt and others have argued, if you pay students for good grades, they'll have a little push to build up good habits and hopefully those will persist beyond their school years.

    So what does this mean for educators?  Should we run to the Dollar Store to stock up on trophies and other prizes? I'm not so sure..... I'd be happy if parents offered ANY consistent incentive for their children to do well in school. 

    So what do you think?  Is cash for good grades a good idea?  What incentives do you offer in your classroom?

    Saturday, August 4, 2012

    Student Survey, Parent Contact Sheet Freebie & August Currently

    It's August! Time to link up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for this month's "Currently".....
    As I flipped my calender over into August a few days ago, I realized I needed to kick things into high gear and starting finishing all those projects I've started through the summer! Many of my old beginning of the year stand-bys that worked so well over the past 7 years in middle school need to be tweaked and adjusted for 5th grade.  I updated my Parent Contact Form, keeping it basic and just printing it on blue paper so they'll stand out in my binder.
    If you like it, you can download it for free through my TN or TpT shops. It's in Word so you can edit it any way you want. that I know (at least a little bit!) how to create colorful and more interesting things using digital scrapbooking images and Power Point, my old hand-outs just look so drab!  So I redesigned my Student Survey that I have my new class complete as a warm-up on the first day. It includes 48 reflective questions designed to help me get to know my students at the beginning of the year. Plus - I kept it in Power Point format so you can add or delete questions, change the background, etc to customize the survey anyway you want it! ($1.00)

    Just click on one of the images see it in my TN store. You can also get it at TpT if you prefer....
    Also - speaking of back to school  items, I'm going to try something new this year - Personalized Goal Banners! (Aren't these cute??) Now I just have to figure out a way to attach them to my ceiling...
    These were created by Andrea at Right Down the Middle. If you like them, the template and some samples pictures are available through her TpT store for $2.

    What are your Back to School Must-Haves?