Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Back to School Teacher Letter-GAME CHANGER!

So, I KNOW you have all seen the adorable teacher letters out there.  Especially those that have the QR codes where you read to the kids (whether it's a story, or the letter itself).  I tried to do those in the past few years, but JUST couldn't get the technology to work for me (or find the time to figure it out).

Well.  That was BEFORE I started using Seesaw!  Now-it's easy peasy!

First, type up your letter.  Create your own, download someone's freebie.  I don't currently have my particular letter anywhere to use.  I'm sure you could make your own-maybe even cuter?!

Step 2-Save it as a PDF.  I make everything in PowerPoint.  Go to File>Print>Save as PDF.  Make sure you know where it is saved.

Step 3-go to Seesaw.  Now, if you don't have a new class set up yet, start your new class.  Add one student to it (and add the rest later).

Step 4-Click on the GREEN + sign and add your file.  Once it is there, click the checkmark.

Step 5-Then you have an opportunity to record yourself reading it.  Do it!  Listen to make sure it's okay!  I had to make a few edits to mine.

Step 6-Keep clicking the checkmarks until it is uploaded.  Don't tag anyone.  Just upload with no one marked.

Step 7-click on the 3 dots at the bottom right of the picture of your letter.  (...)  It will give you an option to GET QR CODE for item.  Do this!  {It will open a new tab in your browser}

Step 8-Save your QR as an image---or I just have my PowerPoint screen open and DRAG the QR over to the letter.  Click on the QR to adjust the size.  {If you saved it as an image-find it and add it to your Powerpoint letter, then click and resize.}

Step 9-Save the PowerPoint again as a PDF-OR you could just print from there.  If you save as a PDF, open the PDF and print!

Step 10-copy and send home!  Thanks Seesaw for a great app to use in our classrooms!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Problems Solving Practice for Primary Kids

If you got a problem, yo, I'll solve it........  Problem solving is tricky.  There's just too many correct ways to solve things, that it's just about impossible to REALLY teach it once and done.  It HAS to be done many times.  In fact, daily!

Last year, when I decided to take the "guided math" route, one of my rotations was Problem Solving.  At first, it was just me trying to find worksheets for kids to do while there.  Well, that was rough!  That could potentially be 180 worksheets.  180 times to copy papers... 180 things to correct....  You know.

I needed my life to be more of a "fix it and forget it" for some things to keep me sane.  I do it in the crockpot for dinner a few times a week.  And those nights where dinner is ready for me-those are my favorite.

I had an old booklet that I created when I was in first grade for many years that I pulled out one day and we used it for the week.  Kids completed a few pages a day.  (Number of problems were determined by the number pages and days for the week-could be a math problem to solve together before starting that week!) . I was in love with the small prep work involved and the high engagement.

A product was born.  From that day on, I created a themed pack (or 2) per month.  {The one above was the first one I created when we were starting the two-step process.}  In each pack were a variety of problems for second graders (or high first/low third-depending on the month).  I tried to make more than needed so I could pick and choose what I wanted them to do.  In my room, I chose 15 for each week.  That is 3 problems a day in 12-15 minutes.

As the year progressed, the skills were harder.  At the beginning of the year, it focuses more on one and two-step problems.  By the end of the year, there are still some one and two-step problems, but there is also elapsed time, money, number patterns and much more!

Of course, grading these can be a bit of a pain...  So, a system I had in place had me checking kids' work every 2 days.  I would mark the pages I looked at as I went, so by the end of the week it was much more manageable to go through and correct the rest.  Now, I have to say I have this AMAZING para who worked in my classroom for a small portion of the day and she would help me too.  She created an amazing spreadsheet for me each week to mark the mistakes that the kids had.  She really spoiled me.

My kids truly LOVED completing these EVERY DAY!  They would ask if they could do more.  By the end of the year, they were great Super Solvers!  {Of course, with the nature of the beast of second grade, we still had lots of errors due to the FAST nature of completing work at times..... BUT, looking at performance over time, they GOT the skills needed!  Fingers crossed they still remember next year in third...}

I have individual packs in my store-or a current growing bundle.  The bundle is almost finished and is not quite at full face value.  Here are some of the reviews it is getting!

Want to see more?  Check it out in my store by clicking any of the pictures above, or by clicking HERE!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Oriental Trading... for teachers!!

Okay.  Now, I have to admit.  I've really only shopped at Oriental Trading for party goodies for my home and for prizes at school.  When they asked me about wanting to try out their "Wish List" I was a little hesitant at first, because I wasn't so sure what I would be putting on it.

Well...  let me tell you.  Do you know that they have actual teacher resources now?!  School Girl Style inspiration decoration....  "Use it now" resources for classrooms?!  I am hooked!

As for the wish list....  I've started to create my list and will be adding things as the year goes by (since, well, I did just start... so I'm not quite in the routine of things yet)  What even better---I will share my wish list with my PARENTS at our Back to School night!  I can't tell you how many times I've gotten things for my own kids' birthday parties and didn't quite make that minimum requirement for free shipping....  If my kids' teachers would have a wish list, I could pop onto it and purchase something from it instead of just buying something extra that I REALLY did not need.

Here are some things that were on my wish list that Oriental Trading sent to me to try out!  Maybe it'll give you some inspiration for your year as well!

{Paint chip cards....  SOOOOO many uses for these!  From those "Shades of Meaning" standards, to even math facts....  This pack come with A LOT of cards!  That box was heavy!}

{Fun bookmarks for my students...  The noses pop out to hold the page!  What kid wouldn't love that?!}

{No Name magnetic clothes pins!!!!!!!!  Comes in a pack of 24.  While I hope that I don't need them all.......  I've already had to use 3 of them on the first 3 days of school}

{How cute are these shark counters....  These have endless possibilities as well!  I'll be using them to create a fun math center----details to come later!}

{Other Ways to Say.... cards.  They have these for different grades!  This will be PERFECT at our writing table!  And to also help with those "Shades of Meaning" standards too!}

{And, how perfect are these presidential posters?  Totally perfect for any time of the year, any grade... but I plan on doing some president teaching BEFORE the big election!  Make it relevant!}

{How SWEET are these cupcake duckies!  They are going to be perfect for my birthday cups this year!}

{This craft will be perfect for our "Fall" party!}

If you need more inspiration to go and start your Wish List on Oriental Trading...  Come check out my wish list!  I was given items to review, but I know I will be back to use the wish list feature.  (I already buy things from them all the time anyway!)  I highly recommend it!  What have you found that you need on Oriental Trading's site?!  Comment below!  I love finding new things/

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Classroom Rules--Keep it Simple!

In the many years that I have been a teacher, coming up with rules has always been a struggle.  I could never find rules I "liked" well enough to buy...  Kids would come up with about a million and one different rules...  I never had the same rules each year!

Last year, I had a big "ah ha" moment.  Why throw rules at these kids like they don't know what to do.  I mean, most kids KNOW how to behave-or know at least what it SHOULD look like, right?  I mean, when's the last time one of your little babes said, "WHAT?!" when you say you shouldn't run with scissors?!  Kids have enough to remember during the day, why add to it with a bunch of rules?

What we did:  Kept it simple!  TWO rules:  1.   Be Kind.  2.  Work Hard.  Think about it.  Doesn't ALL of those other minuscule rules fall under one of those 2 rules?
*Write your name on your paper:  Work hard (or be kind--to your teacher! ha!)
*Raise your hand to speak:  Be Kind
*Walk in the school: Be kind (I mean, if you run, you can hurt others, or even yourself and that's not kind!)

I created a quick, simple packet to include these.  These are actually rules I'll have in my classroom for TWO years in a row so far!

It includes the rule poster (as well as the font letters I used to create the other parts of the display)

It also includes a little pocket chart sort where you can work together (creating that caring classroom climate) sorting those many rules we had under the 2 BIG headings.  {Don't mind my electrical strip that goes down my wall.... off centered..}

As well as a few pages for the kids to work on during the first few days of school to review what our simple rules should be like!

Also included are sample letters we sent home to our parents last year.  We also include a clip chart in each of our rooms as we are to have the same system across the grade level.  I worded it in a way that the letter could be sent no matter what kind of clip chart you had.

Aren't using this across your grade level?  No worries!  I also included an editable template for you to create your own.  Of course you are free to use the wording I used too, since you'll receive that copy too.  I also added in an editable template for you to create other rules to sort in the pocket chart just because I know that I couldn't have managed to get every rule every classroom could possibly have had in my little ole packet.

Click {HERE} to grab this packet!  Please remember that if you do use this across your grade level, the packet is for one classroom use.  If you click and purchase additional licenses, you'll get those at 50% off!  Thank you so much for being considerate!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cleaning Up Handwriting

I'm going to talk about a little thing today that is quite an issue in all of our classrooms.  Handwriting.  I have a love-hate relationship with it...  as in I just hate(d) it.  Coming from First and now in Second, I always thought that there was NO way I could correct bad handwriting.  They've been doing it for so long, right?!  Well, that all changed when I attended a conference at the beginning of the year on WRITING.  Yep.  WRITING.  Not handwriting.

Guess what.  Handwriting is to writing as math fact fluency is to math... or sight word recognition is to reading.  In order to be a good writer, you have to be a fluent hand-writer!  A huge lightbulb went off when I was learning/relearning some important facts of just handwriting!  I had to present at a faculty meeting afterwards and this was the handout I created.

Handwriting is a motor memory skill.  It's something that is automatic and they could do with their eyes closed!  {Do you find that your students are sitting and thinking about the right way to form a letter?!  Or can they write fluently-and legibly?}

What does that mean?  Well, I'm still not one to think that there is one right way to form letters.  (i.e. Zaner Bloser, D'Nealian, etc..) But I do believe that all should be able to write the letter in whatever way your district requires.  Kinds need lots of practice with fine motor skills, so even copying a letter that it's "the way you want them too" is still practicing handwriting and fine motor skills.

You can relearn how to do things, it just takes some practice.  Think of things you had to learn to do differently--possibly in your teaching.  Just like us, kids can "relearn" handwriting.  Teaching handwriting is also very active-ON YOU!  The final product isn't what we are to be looking for-but rather how they are forming their letters and the only way you can help is by running around.  {Now, this is one area I'm still struggling with-cause, I really don't have time to "teach" handwriting---but keep reading to see how I'm now fitting it in!}

How I'm managing:
I created pages that take very little time to complete, yet is giving students time to practice their letters.  {I actually have 3 different sized print.  Large-kindergarten/beginning grade 1; medium: first/beginning of second; small: second/beginning of third}  I told my students that I was very frustrated with their handwriting and that we are now going to CLEAN UP THEIR HANDWRITING!

What students will do:
See it.  It's important to see the letter on the page written correctly or at the very least-neatly!
*Trace it.  Students trace it.
*Copy it.  Students will copy the letter above.  I have dots for where their pencil should start the letter.
*In these 2 sections, students are encouraged to erase the complete letter if they make a mistake-NOT just PART of the letter that doesn't look right.  We want them to form the letter correctly from the start.

~Hide it.  Students will cover the top part of their page, so they cannot see the letter at all.  They will write their letter as many times it will fit.  Afterwards they will circle their best letter.  They will put a box around their worst-AND FIX IT.  NO ERASING HAPPENS IN THIS SECTION.  This is important for ME to see how they are forming the letters.  This is how I am making up for that time I don't have to run around and watch everyone making their letters.  I can easily see where letters were started.

~Close your eyes.  This is my students' favorite part.  I have students place their pencil point down towards the left of the page at the bottom and will tell them how many letters to make.  Then they will CLOSE THEIR EYES and make the letter!  This is where the motor memory comes into practice.

You do not need to have a specific program to do these activities.  However, I needed something to help me in the classroom, so I have created these packs if you are interested.

{This pack is perfect for Kindergarten or beginning writers! and possibly beginning of first for a review}

    {This pack would be great for end of first grade; beginning of second grade for a review}

{This would be great for 2nd grade-beginning of 3rd for review!}

{OR all 3 in one bundle!}

What's Next?!  I plan on making a D'Neilian and a cursive pack just like these.  You will also find numbers in the near future and I plan on creating "review" packs that will be sight words!  Right now I will have the 3 packs bundled with intentions of adding the numbers and sight words.  (Cursive will have it's own pack as will D'Neilian,  once I find a good font to use for those)

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