Saturday, August 25, 2012

Exit Slips

I can't believe the first week of school has already come and gone! I am utterly exhausted, but I could not be more happy with my sweet, sweet class of eager learners. It's going to be a super year. I can already tell it's going to be a quick one, too. We stay so busy, it's time to go home before I know it! If only we had another hour...ha!

Today I want to share a strategy to collect Exit Slips that I saw, of course, on Pinterest. On the back of my door, I made an Exit Slip collector using a piece of poster board, left over border, and calendar numbers. I put a number for each of my students (and a few extra in case I get new students over the course of the year). At each of my table groups, I put a pack of sticky notes. Now, when I want students to leave me a comment, question, or suggestion, they write it on a sticky note and place it on their number on the way out the door. I can immediately know who didn't turn one in, and it's a great way to collect them quickly and in an organized manner. I can also place sticky notes right in my conference notebook so that I have a reminder for a discussion topic at our next conference!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Status of the Class

Well, today was the first day for teachers at BES! I have a love/hate relationship with the first few days back to school...I love catching up with my coworkers, but I could do without the meetings, meetings, and more meetings. It's all so important, but I wish we had a whole month to spread them out rather than just a few days!

Regardless, I survived, and I am really looking forward to Meet Your Teacher Night tomorrow! Woohoo for meeting the new set of kiddos coming through!

Today I want to share my Pinterest stolen and adapted "Status of the Class" board for the writing process. First, I moved both of my file cabinets so that the broad side is against the wall. I saw this on Pinterest and thought, DUH! What a brilliant idea to maximize space! I covered the sides with butcher paper and all of the sudden I have two new bulletin boards!

On one I am putting a birthday board (will post in the future!). On the other is my Status of the Class. Using poster board and left over border from my other bulletin boards, I created a six section chart (Prewriting, First Draft, Edit and Revise, Peer Conference, Teacher Conference, and Final Draft). I then used foam stars (glitter stars, of course), circular magnets, and some puffy paint to create a star for each of my students. I used the paint to write numbers on the stars. (My students each have a number that I use on just about everything.) As students move from one stage of the writing process to another, they will move their stars. This gives me a quick idea of where all of my students are, and it will encourage some of my writers who drag their feet to keep in pace with the other students!

Here are some pictures of the finished product:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Crate Seat Craze

It seems like the crate seat is all the craze in classrooms right now. I first saw the idea on Pinterest (of course), and I knew I needed to have some of my own! Soliciting the handyman skills of my little brother, we headed to WalMart and Lowe's, gathered some materials, and set to work! (I cut the material, and he did everything else!)

They were super easy to make, and I love that it can be seating, storage, AND used as a lap board if you pull out the cushion and flip it over!

Here is the list of materials I bought/gathered:

1. 5 crates
2. 3/4 yard of fabric for each crate
3. one full mattress pad (used this for cushion instead of stuffing!)
4. staple gun with staples
5. red duct tape
6. one sheet of plywood (cut into 5 pieces just the right size for the crates by a sweet man at Lowe's!)
7. one roll of red ribbon (to use as handles)


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Color Coordination!

Perusing Pinterest this summer, I saw some very cute and creative ways to re-purpose soup cans. One of my favorite ideas was to use them to hold crayons, colored pencils, and markers in the classroom.

Luckily, my aunt owns a restaurant (Be My Guest in Evans, Georgia), and my brother was able to collect a huge bag of cans for me to use! I bought scrapbook paper on sale at Michaels and busted out my trusty jar of Modge Podge to color coordinate the cans. I then bought $1 plastic serving trays from Walmart to organize them in my cabinets and make the cans easy to bring out all at once.

I love them!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Welcome Back!

Each year as students head back to school, teachers everywhere start putting together back-to-school gifts for their students. In previous years those gifts for me were pencils and assorted candy. Last year our district established a policy for healthier living for our students, and we are no longer allowed to give students food/candy with minimal nutritional value. This policy has gotten me to start thinking a little more creatively as I go back to school this year, and my treats for students have definitely benefited!

I decided to go with "It's going to be a bright year!" as my back-to-school theme. I'm using bright colors and stars for most decorations, and I wanted my gifts to match that theme.

So, here is what I came up with:

1. Neon Sunglasses from Oriental Trading ($20 for 24 pair)

2. Star shaped tags (made them myself!)

3. $50 in Kendrick Cash (made myself for use in our classroom economy!)

 4. Black pen (I have a couple hundred of these stocked up, so I thought I would add one in!)

5. Glow Sticks! ($1 for 15 bracelets at Michaels

6. Neon pencils and erasers (pencils $1 a pack and erasers were less than $1 at Walmart

 7. 5th Graders are #1 Pencils (about $3 a dozen at our local teacher store - Educational Wonderland)

8. A homework pass for use in my classroom.

9. Wrap it up in a neon bag (less than $1 from Walmart)

And you have....

It's going to be a bright year!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Classroom Core Values

Over the years I have collected a few "core values" to use as guidelines for behavior, communication, and writing in my classroom. Students are willing to comply to these positive statements more than any list of rules I could create! 

1. Don't get it right, get it written! 

I was a part of the Midland's Writing Project  (MWP) a few summers ago, and our fearless leader shared this line with us. It's very freeing for students to realize that they don't have to get everything right the first time...they just have to get it down on paper!

2. Write with your heart first, then revise with your head. 

This is also an MWP statement, and it goes perfectly with #1. I love teaching my students to write with heartfelt passion without worrying about making it perfect. Revision and editing are steps that we can take care of once we get our thoughts on paper. Some students never write because they are afraid to mess up. In my classroom, we learn to embrace mistakes because they create the most authentic learning experiences!

3. Cooperate with each other, compete only against yourself. 

4. You can solve a problem any way you want, provided it does not cause a problem for anyone else. 

5. The quality of the choices you make today will dictate the quality of your opportunities tomorrow.

And the number one core value that pretty much takes care of any issue in the classroom...

6. Never stop someone else from learning.