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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