That Kind of Week…and a Friend Saves the Day!

Have you ever had THAT kind of week?? This week has definitely been THAT kind of week and it is only Wednesday!!

Last week I was observed by our Superintendent and met with my Assistant Principal on Monday so she could let me know what went well and what I need to work on. I was then informed that people from outside of the building were coming this Friday to observe me yet again. WHAT?

Before we left school on Monday, we were reminding that it was open house for parents on Wednesday morning and to make sure we had a great activity planned.

Tuesday was no school for Veteran’s Day!! I had the whole day to plan (not relax) my activity for the parents and for my observation on Friday. Did I mention that Thursday is our Parent Teacher Conferences until 8:00 p.m. and that my observation in Friday morning at 8:45? WHAT??

So I spent most of my day planning for my Friday observation when I realized that I didn’t have an awesome activity for my parents. In case you don’t know, I am neurotic!! I can admit it. I stress over everything and over plan for everything. It must be part of my DNA. For Meet the Teacher Night, I had a 32 slide presentation. Please tell me that it is normal!!

So I started to stress when I reached out to one of my favorite groups on Facebook for help. My FB friends were so great and so creative and they gave me so many great ideas!! ๐Ÿ™‚

I finally started to relax, a little. I had a great activity to work on when my parents came today. My kids and parents LOVED it SO much that I just had to share it with you.

A GREAT BIG THANKS to Matt from Digital: Divide & Conquer for saving my neurotic life! I used his Turn into a Turkey activity and it was such a big hit.

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I put the T U R K E Y posters up on my Smartboard and the parents and I discussed each letter and how the letter applied to their own life.

Then my kiddos went back to their desks and began their writing activity. They talked about the letters in TURKEY and what each letter stood for with their partner and parent. Then, my kids started to write. They were so excited. I love to see my students excited about writing.

The best part… The activity was already differentiated! I didn’t have to break my head and think of how to differentiate the activity for my 2nd graders.
My struggling students were given the letters in turkey without lines. I had my students write around the letter about how that letter applied to them.

This student is obviously an artist. ๐Ÿ™‚
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For my other students, I gave them the letters that spelled out turkey with lines. Students wrote about how each letter applied to their life and gave examples.

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When it was time for the parents to leave and for us to stop the activity, I heard moans and groans. They didn’t want to stop. So I had to give more time for the students to finish. It made my heart happy! ๐Ÿ™‚

You can click here to check out Turn into a Turkey at Digital: Divide & Conquer’s blog. I promise, you won’t regret it!

Besides having an awesome activity to work on while the parents were in the classroom, I was also given a great craft and writing activity that I sent for homework.

Easy Teaching Tools has such a cute craftivity!! Turkey Trouble: Craftivity and Writing Activity where the kids have to disguise their turkey and write about it. I can not wait until my kiddos bring in their disguised turkeys and writing pieces. As my kids were leaving the room, one student who has been reading about the solar system whispered, “My turkey will be hiding out as an astronaut.”

Click below to check out the craftivity and writing. I can’t wait to share it with you next week!
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Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,
Rachel

Back 2 School: Behavior Mangagement

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Hi everyone! Today I am linking up for the first week of Mrs. D’s Corner and Miss V’s Busy Bees’ Back 2 School Linky.

Today we are talking about behavior management. What teacher hasn’t struggled with behavior management at some point in his or her teaching career?

Have the nightmares started yet? You know the nightmare when you wake up screaming because your class is not listening or out of control.

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I remember being a first year teacher and of course, getting one of the worst classes in the school. Imagine being picked up and moved out of the way by a 2nd grader because you were interfering with their fist fight!! Uh huh, that was quite a year. That year I tried everything I had learned in college, everything that colleagues had suggested. I even tried bribery…that didn’t work either. But we all know that we just can’t give up. I plugged away until the class was somewhat manageable.

Thinking back on my first year, I cringe. I have learned so much through the years about classroom management.

Here are some helpful hints:

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1. One of the most important tips is to set up your rules and routines on the very first day of school. Your kids need to know what is expected and how the day will go. Start by showing students how they will enter the room each morning, go through where students are to put their things, how to line up, go over where the materials are, your job chart, and being called to a meeting area (if you have one.) Remind students how they are to walk in the halls (I’m sure they will have forgotten! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Make a list or plan of your rules and classroom routines so that you don’t forget any! Review the rules and routines constantly until the students know that you mean business. Often times, you will hear a teacher say, “But I went over the rules and we went through the routine. They just don’t get it.” If you don’t constantly reinforce the rules and routines, the kids will walk all over you.

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2. Do not try to be your students’ friend. Don’t get me wrong, I love my students. I joke around with them and we talk about lots of things but there has to be some type of boundaries. I have seen many teachers crash and burn because they want to be seen as “cool” or want to be their students’ friend (Ladies and gents, the same things goes for parents who want to be their child’s friend!!)

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3. Highlighting the positive that you see instead of the negative. Sometimes I don’t even say names, I say something like…”Wow! Someone wearing the color orange is doing a great job on line.” It’s great. All the kids look down to see what color they are wearing. Sometimes I choose something to say that many of the kids have in common, like…”Someone with the letter A in their name is doing awesome in class today.” The whole class sits up straighter. They are just so stinking cute!
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4. BE CONSISTENT!!! I can not say this loud enough. You need to be consistent throughout the entire year. If the answer is no to Johnny, then it should be no to Suzy.

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5. Develop “The Teacher Look.” Come on…you all know the look that I mean. the “look” that stops students (and husbands) dead in their tracks. The look that says, “Oh no you didn’t, you better stop that now!!” I love that look. The teacher look can silence a whole class in a matter of seconds.

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6. Stickers, pencils, and erasers go a long way. (I don’t consider that bribery. Do you?)

Are you still here? Sorry I am talking your ears off. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve tried many different approaches to behavior management over the years. To be honest with you, different things work with different classes. I started using the Clip Chart about two years ago and my kids loved it. I was really surprised and I know that there are many articles against clip charts. But I say, you have to what you feel comfortable doing. I give my kids a warning (or two) before their clip has to be moved down and I have my kids move their clips up more often.

Last year I started to use my Robot Clip Chart Behavior Management System. I only used it for about month, before school ended. So this year I am starting in September. Both my kids and parents responded well to it. I also stopped using a prize box last year and started using reward cards.

Here is a quick view of the management system.
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I also send a home a weekly report with the students for the parents to sign. Students have a monthly behavior calendar that is used during the month. Each day, the student colors in the color that corresponds to his or her place on the clip chart. At the end of the month, we review the monthly behavior chart and students quickly see how they did during the month. This lends itself to a great graphing activity “How Was I This Month?”

For students who struggle with behavior, they complete a behavior goal sheet.

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The Clip Chart Behavior Management System and all of the reward cards will be 20% until Friday, July 18th.

You can check out the reward cards by clicking here.

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. I would love to know what hints or tips you would give others about classroom management. Click the picture below to head back to Mrs. D’s Corner to read what others have to say about behavior management.

Rachel

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Monday Meet Me

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I am linking up with The Teaching Tribune for Monday Meet Up. This week’s Meet Up Monday is all about me. I am new to the blogging world. I only started this past April and have met so many new people.

Here is a little about me!
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I teach 2nd grade in New York City and I do love teaching. No matter how many times I count the years left until I retire, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

I have 32 second graders in my class this year and probably next year as well. I have an 8 year old son, Alex. His picture is below…boy does he hate taking pictures. I have been married for almost 12 years, but have been with my husband for 17 years. I have been driving him crazy since he is the one who started my blog for me. I keep changing things and asking him, “What do you think about this?” You can see his picture below too, along with my cat who was named by Alex when he was 3 years old. It’s kind of embarrassing now to call “Cutie, here Cutie!” ๐Ÿ™‚

I watch TV while I work. Often times it’s just background noise. I watch Bones, and a few shows that my husband likes. I have to admit that I watch a lot of murder. I usually have on Snapped or ID Investigates a few times a day. My husband just shakes his head at me and says,”The police always suspect the wife first!”

I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, except Country (sorry Country fans!)

I read professional books that I hope will make me a better teacher. I also read Romance books, usually Historical Romance books. Hey, a girl’s gotta dream…right? I don’t get to read much during the school year, but I sometimes read about 3 books during the summer.

I do like to cook. I like to try new recipes and sometimes experiment. I also like to go for walks. How else will I burn the calories from my cooking experiments??

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You can read more about me here

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi.
Rachel

Click below to go back to The Teaching Tribune to meet some more fabulous bloggers!
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Monday Meet Up

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Hi everyone! I am part of a link up hosted by The Teaching Tribune.

I want to take this time to introduce you to one FAB-U-LOUS blogger, Angie Olson from Mrs. Olson’s Lucky Little Learners.

If you have not read her blog or stopped by her Teachers pay Teachers store, boy are you missing out! She has some amazing Interactive Math Notebooks you should check out. Mrs.Olson’s Lucky Little Learns TpT store

Here are some facts about Angie.

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Here is a sampler on Measurement that you definitely NEED to check out!

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Stop for stopping by,
Rachel

Click the image below to go back to The Teaching Tribune to meet some other awesome bloggers.

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28 Days Left and a Freebie!

Hey everyone!

I have 28 days left until freedom, I mean summer vacation. I have to tell you I am so jealous of all of you who have ended or who are ending soon. It’s time to start working on my end of year gift. I just haven’t decided on what to do yet. I guess with so many days, I just keep putting it off. There’s nothing like procrastination!!
I’m thinking of sunglasses with a tag that says, “Your future is so bright you have to wear shades.” or a jar of bubbles with the saying, “You blew me away this year!” Hmmm… decisions, decisions.

What are you giving your kiddos or what have you given in the past?

To celebrate the coming of summer and to get me in the summer time mood, I am offering a freebie that is only available through my blog. What better way to get ready for summer than with ice-cream cones.

Click below to download Build The Biggest Ice-Cream Cone: Subtraction
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If you download the game, kindly leave a comment below. I need some motivation to get through the last 28 days of school. I still need to have one observation and my kiddos think it’s already summer. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi!
Rachel

It Feels So Good to Be Bad

Sometimes it feels so good to be bad.
I must confess…lately I feel like my class is so boring. Don’t get me wrong, my kids are always laughing (usually at me, which might or might not be a good thing!)

It’s so hard to find the time to do fun things in the classroom anymore. Everything needs to be “rigorous” and graded with a rubric. What happened to having art in the class? What happened to reading for enjoyment? Since the introduction of the Common Core, it seems like people have gone off the deep end.

Why can’t I hang art work up without student writing? Why do I have to have a rubric with a grade on every single piece of work? Why do I need to include a self reflection and a peer reflection on EVERYTHiNG?

I have to confess, I have a whole stack of papers that I would love to hang up in the room but I do not have all of the necessary paperwork to go with it!

So this week, I had my kids do portraits of a character. We read A Chair for My Mother (part of ReadyGen reading program) and Something Special for Me by Vera B. Williams. I had the students whip out their crayons and markers and draw a portrait of Rosa. It was so nice to see the kids excited.

The first question my kiddos asked, “Do we have to write a paragraph on Rosa?” I had to think for a minute about keeping it fun. Of course my kids love poetry, who doesn’t? I had them write any type of poem they wanted as long as they described Rosa. They were thrilled. Hey, it’s still Common Core right??? (RL.2.7)

After the kids left for the day, I hung up their portraits of Rosa. NO RUBRIC, NO SELF REFLECTIONS, NO PEER REFLECTIONS, NO GLOWS AND GROWS, NO COMMENTS!!
You know what? It felt good. No, it felt great! My kids came in the next day and saw all of their work (the good, the bad, and the ugly.)
You know what I mean ๐Ÿ™‚

I felt like a rebel. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone. Take a look at some of their portraits of Rosa.

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I love how she spelled intelligent (antelegent)

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What have you done in your class lately that has made you feel like a rebel?

Teacher Appreciation

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Welcome to the “Best for the Best”
Teacher Appreciation Blog Hop/Giveaway.
Have you ever felt unappreciated? I know I have!!
Well, we are about to change all that! Just to let you know, I appreciate all that you do for your kids. All of the late nights, early mornings, no Sundays, the trips to Target and the Dollar Tree, and the tons of your own money that you spend.

Let’s just say that I have been called Queen of the Spreadsheets or the Data Queen just a few times. I have a spreadsheet or a checklist for everything. Not only do I have checklists or spreadsheets for everything, I love to color code things. It makes some of my coworkers a little nutty, but I love it.

This is a picture of my math data. I do this for every test for all of my 32 kids. I love the colors!
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Anywho…Today I want to share a checklist that I use daily. This is my Running Records Checklist.
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I LOVE THIS CHECKLIST!!!
I use this checklist to assess my students’ reading behaviors, retelling skills, and comprehension. I made this while my school was using Teacher’s College so it is aligned to Fountas & Pinnell and Teachers College Reading Writing Program (TCRWP.) It includes 4 checklists for the different levels for Levels A through Z. The checklists have the characteristics for A-D, E-G, H-K, and L-Z.

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As I listen to my kids read aloud to me, I check off the reading behaviors that I notice. This checklist includes levels L-Z but my students are currently levels L-N. I shaded in the characteristics that I was not observing because they are for higher levels.
After asking both literal and inferential comprehension questions based on the story the students read, I give their level a low, medium, or high.

After I assess the students, I make my groups or my individual conferences. I like to use the checklist to preplan my groups or individual conferences, but it doesn’t always happen. ๐Ÿ™‚

As I said, I am the Queen of Checklists. I want to share another checklist that I use with my kids. This checklist is based on oral reading behaviors and I usually use it for my struggling students. Surprise, surprise! It is color coded! I did include a black and white version of the checklist for you also. I know not everyone is nutty like me.

Click the picture to get the checklist for free. If you download it, please leave feedback!
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Thanks for stopping by to say hi!
Don’t forget to hop through the rest of the blogs and enter the giveaway.

Continue on The Best for the Best Teacher Appreciation Blog Hop by clicking the picture below.

A big thanks to Amy from Teaching in Blue Jeans for putting this amazing blog hop together. Click here to go back to her blog.
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Rachel

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Free Bowling!!

Hey everyone!

I know this has nothing to do with teaching but I wanted to share a free bowling program with you. Many of you are getting closer to summer and the kids will be out of school. (I’m so jealous! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )If you haven’t heard, Kids Bowl Free offers free bowling to kids during the summer. All you have to do is sign up!

My husband and I took advantage of this last year and my son loved it! It is available throughout the U.S and in Canada.

They even offer a family pass for parents to bowl for the summer for under $30.

Kids Bowl Free

Rachel

Teacher Gifts

So as we know, Teacher Appreciation Week is fast approaching. I can honestly say that in my 16 years of teaching, I think I may have gotten one card from a student for Teacher Appreciation. Don’t get me wrong, I receive cards, gifts, and tons of chocolate throughout the year. But for some reason…There never seems to be any recognition during Teacher Appreciation Week. There have been years that it has passed and I didn’t even realize it!

This year, my son decided he wanted to choose his own gift to give to his two teachers. I showed him all different things, all different prices and he couldn’t find anything that he thought was just right.

Finally after over a week of searching for possible gifts, I found a website that sold personalized gifts. He looked through the website and decided on keychains. PERFECT!!

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They are similar to buttons you can make with the kit. My son, Alex was so excited when they arrived at the house and he can’t wait to give them to his teachers.

What do you give to your child’s teacher for Teacher Appreciation or what is the best way someone has shown that your were appreciated?

If you want to take a look at the website, here it is.
Mother's Day

I Need A Dollar Tree

I hope everyone had a great Easter or at least a restful break sometime this month. I only have one more day of spring break before I go back.

I have accomplished so much this week. Unfortunately, that did not include actually school work. I created this blog. Yay! Go Me! I am running my first giveaway that ends tonight. I even created a multiplication pack with my first craftivity! I simply love it!

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Anyway, I need a Dollar Tree by me. I see all of these amazing posts and ideas and many of them involve items from the Dollar Tree. The closest Dollar Tree to me is over an hour drive away! OVER AN HOUR! I have tons of 99รง stores and a dollar or more stores by me. But lets face it a 99รง store is NOT the same as the Dollar Tree. I am so jealous of those of you who live close to a Dollar Tree (My husband thinks I’m crazy!!) But I think you understand… I hope. ๐Ÿ™‚

My mom lives about 5 minutes from a Dollar Tree. Too bad she lives in Pennsylvania and it takes about two and half hours to get there. But I went over the weekend to celebrate Easter with her and yep, we hit the Dollar Tree.

I was so tired of my dice falling all over the floor and disappearing. So I bought some cute little containers to put the dice in. I know this idea has been posted before. I apologize for not giving credit to the original poster, but I can’t for the life of me remember where I saw it. If you know, let me know so I can give some credit.

10 of these containers for $1.00!!!
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I also bought some cards to replace my missing or ripped cards. In the 99รง store, the cards are 99รง each. Score! In the Dollar Tree, 4 packs of cards for $1. So I need a Dollar Tree by me.

What do you love about the Dollar Tree? Do you have one near you?