Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Beginning of the Year Class Books

I love making class books with my students! I especially love making them at the beginning of the year! It helps students get to know one another and provides us with a few quick activities for the beginning of the year. When the books are finished, they go in the reading center for students to read throughout the year. Here are some examples of finished products!

For this book, read Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Then, place students in a circle and have them fill out the page for the person sitting to the right of them!

Another fun class book!

If you need beginning of the year book page templates and more activities, check out First Day of School Activities!

If you need more beginning of the year materials, check out my Beginning of the Year Bundle!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Makeover Madness

I'm a little late to the Makeover Madness party, but better late than never right??

I was on vacation the week the TPT Seller's Challenge started so didn't get to get this challenge done in time. However, it was a great challenge and something that I have been wanting to work on so here it is!

I know, I know...it really doesn't look that different!! But, I promise it is!! First, take a look at my logo and the handouts. 

Now, look at my logo, handouts, and the new picture I put in it!!

I've been wanting a new logo for awhile. Something simple and circle shaped was what I envisioned, so this challenge made me actually sit down and re-do it! 

My new logo!!

Another thing I've been wanting to do is add pictures to my products. The products I make are products I have used in my classroom and/or products I've used as a Reading Specialist and Remediation teacher. I used to take so many pictures and save everything. Now, I hardly take any pictures, nor do I save much so it has made it very hard to put real pictures with my products. I haven't gotten far, but I did re-do all of my Reading Comprehension Skills Choice Board covers so they all have a picture now! I'm super excited about it and am so glad I was able to finally participate in the first week of the TPT Seller Challenge! 

Favorite Quote

I'm excited to link up with I Heart Grade 3 this week to blog about my favorite quote!
My Favourite Quote
Picking one favorite quote is so hard to do! I was originally going to post a quote from Dr. Seuss- "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those you matter don't mind!" This has always been a favorite quote of mine. If we could get all kids (especially middle school and high school students) to believe this, I think the world would be a better place!

Anyway, I had started writing a post about that quote last week. Then, this weekend, I stumbled upon this quote:

This quote struck a chord with me. I've spent the past three years working with struggling readers. The majority of these struggling readers knew they were struggling. They knew it. They had no confidence in themselves as readers and it showed. Half the battle of teaching them how to read, was making them believe they actually could read...

...which brings me back to this quote. I will carry this quote with me everywhere. It will be in my lesson plan book and my guided reading notebook. It will be displayed in whatever classroom I'm teaching in. It will sneak up on the document camera or in a Smartboard slide. It will be displayed in my sweet baby boy's bedroom and homework spot when he gets older. It will be everywhere! 

I wish I had found this quote earlier. Our students need to know people believe in them. I'm going to drill this quote into each and every student I teach from here on out. They will know without a doubt that I believe in them, that I care about them, and that I love them! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dare to Dream!

I am so excited to take on the TPT Seller Challenge!

We were on vacation last week so I missed Week #1- Makeover Madness, but I am determined to complete it soon!! I will post it when I do!

This week's challenge is Dare to Dream! We were challenged to blog about our TPT dreams so here are mine!

1. Be a stay at home mom! This is actually why I opened my TPT store 2 years ago. I was on maternity leave with my sweet baby boy and just could not fathom going back to work. I was able to go back 80% my first year after opening my store, which allowed me to have Fridays off. This was a huge blessing, but our childcare situation was not a good one, so thankfully, the income I received from TPT allowed me to go back to work part-time this past year! My husband keeps our little one the first half of the week and then works nights, the rest of the week, and weekends. While it has been great to keep out little guy out of daycare, it has left us with little to no family time. I know it is a big dream, but being a stay at home mom would give us the family time we love! Of course, when he gets to be school aged- back to work for me! And yes, my husband has that in writing :) 

2. Family field trips! I want to be able to get up and go! I want to take my sweet baby boy and wonderful husband on day and weekend field trips- to the zoo, beach, aquarium, museums, nature centers, mountains, etc! With our lack of time together as a family and lack of funds to do this, we rarely get to go see new things. I'd love to be able to just get a hotel room for a night so we could spend the weekend exploring new places! 

3. Break the cycle! I want to help those people who are doing everything they can to have a better life, get out of poverty, but just can't do it. Do you ever watch Undercover Boss? There are so many people on that show who are doing everything they can to have a better life. They work hard, take care of their family, but just can't catch up. Those people. Those are the people I want to help. I'd love to eventually start a nonprofit organization where you can nominate people for scholarships, grants, etc. It would be one step in making the world a better place!

So, these are my dreams! Maybe one day, I will make enough to support them! :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Let's Self Assess!

Do you use self assessments in your classroom?

I started using this when I taught 2nd grade:

Students wrote on their papers (mostly tests but sometimes seatwork) how they felt about the topic. You can see below that the student put a ? mark in the top right corner on the pretest. 

This is the same student's post test score and you can see the smiley face right above the 100%.

It was always interesting to see how the students' scores matched up to their self assessments. This student's self assessments correlated directly with the score they received on the tests. There were a few students who never quite grasped the concept of self assessing, but the majority of students mastered it quickly. 

If a student put a question mark on their paper, I always made sure to ask what prompted them to do so. It gave me insight as to whether it was a whole concept or an individual problem giving them trouble. Sometimes it was lack of confidence, which was something I could easily fix with consistent, positive reassurance. 

I tracked students' self assessment symbols in my data notebook. I had a simple chart with students' names to the left (under the purple paper) and scores to the right. You can see the top of the notebook has the test name and the scores are underneath. Next to scores, there is the self assessment symbol.

These self assessments led to great conversations with students in which I gained insight into their feelings about topics we were covering in class. 

How do you self assess in your classroom??

Friday, June 12, 2015

Bare Walls!

As I walked around school today getting my end of the year checklist finished, I couldn't help but notice all the bare walls! I spent my first 4 1/2 years teaching at a school that did not have a lot of wall space. When I transferred schools, I had one huge wall with nothing on it!! I couldn't stand it! I knew we were going to fill it up with anchor charts and spelling charts throughout the year, but I wanted it to look pretty at the beginning of school for open house. Since I didn't want to put just a bunch of random stuff on it, I made this poem:

I was going to wait until the beginning of the year to share it, but then I thought why not share it now so you can go ahead and get a wall ready for next year ;) 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Class Friend!

Meet Spike!

When I taught first grade, Spike was our class friend! I put Spike, a composition notebook, and a disposable camera in a small bookbag and students took turns taking him home for the weekend. They wrote about what they did and were allowed to take up to 5 pictures of Spike's adventure. 

Don't mind the date here! I hang on to things a little too long!! In my defense, this activity has always been a favorite of mine throughout all my years of teaching! :) 


My class even decided to get the teachers involved! Each Monday, they would vote on which teacher they wanted to take Spike home. Teachers got Spike during the week since students had him on the weekend!

Spike was such a fun class friend. The students couldn't wait to see what Spike did while he was away! It was also a great opportunity to get a little bit of writing in!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Parking Lot Activity

Last fall, I found this parking lot idea on Pinterest and made it for my little one. We were working on learning letters and he loved it! Sometimes I would tell him where to park the cars, and sometimes he would tell me! 

He has since mastered all the upper case letters so I decided to start working on matching the lower case letters to the uppercase letters. I knew I needed to make him a new parking lot so decided to make this!

I wrote the lower case letters on construction paper and taped it to his cars. 

Since I had more spaces than letters, I decided to do the numbers 1-4 in the bottom corner. 

This got me thinking of all the different ways I could use this in the classroom! I mean what kid wouldn't love doing this at school?! I work with 2nd graders and know those boys would play this game for hours and not even know they are learning! It would be great for centers, rainy day recess, guided reading group word work activities, and so much more!

Here are some of the ideas I came up with to use in the classroom.... 
1. Matching lower case letter to upper case letter
2. Matching dots with corresponding number
3. Matching addition or subtraction sentences with number answer
4. Matching number to number word
5. Matching synonym to antonym
6. Matching picture to corresponding beginning letter sound

What are your ideas?!
Please comment below how you would use this in your classroom!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Character Trait Awards

This week I have been teaching whole group lessons in 2nd grade classrooms. We have been learning all about character traits! While the focus has been on determining the character traits of characters in our stories, I decided today to have students do character trait awards for each other. Seeing the smiles and proud faces as students were presenting and receiving the awards made me realize we need to take time to do things like this more often! Now, onto a few of my favorite certificates...

One of the quietest, sweetest 2nd graders wrote this one! It caught me off guard and made me laugh!

After this award was presented, I asked for the backstory- evidently, the whole class was going to be in trouble because someone would not admit their wrongdoing. Well, this sweet boy said it was him even though it wasn't! He saved the whole class from getting in trouble!

Love the "in my knowledge" part!

Honesty is the best policy!

The rest of the awards just show how thoughtful the students were! 

I will definitely make it a point to do activities like this throughout the year! What a great, positive class activity!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

End of Year Student Gift!

Do you need an End of Year gift idea for your students?! Give them summer learning buckets! Summer learning buckets are the perfect way to keep students engaged and learning over the summer!

Each year I put different things in my summer learning buckets. Almost every year I have gone to the Dollar Tree and bought pencils, erasers, and dice. One year, I even got packs of 3 rulers for a dollar! I haven't seen them since, but keep an eye out just in case. Then, I usually go to A.C. Moore and use my teacher discount to get buckets for less than a dollar a piece but have also used Dollar Tree and Michael's to buy buckets, too. 

I always put a reading log, a writing journal (either notebook paper stapled together, or, if I have enough copies, a printed writing journal), clock that students have colored and put together, calendar, and parent letter in the bucket. In the past, I have put flash cards, shapes, workbooks, children's books, and bookmarks in them. The contents of my buckets really just depend on what I have in my classroom at the end of the year!! I encourage students to complete the activities over the summer and bring their finished work to me at the beginning of the school year for a prize!

If you need a parent letter and ready-made materials for your buckets, check out my End of Year Summer Learning Buckets product. It is editable!!


I am so excited to finally introduce  my very own teacher blog!!

I can't wait to share my ideas with you all, and at the same time keep all my ideas in one place! Do you have a hard time remembering everything you do from year to year? I sure do! So, this will be my space to keep all my random thoughts, activities, and ideas in one place! I hope you enjoy it!

(My favorite beginning of the year bulletin board, but it also sums up how I feel about this new blog journey we are about to venture on!)