Sunday, January 29, 2012

Report cards done, now back to work

Now that I have finished my report cards, I've returned to my quest for organization.  I bought some more storage drawers, and they have already made a difference.  I have a drawer for papers to be copied, one for game boards, and one for lit activities - now rather than having to search in my cabinets for these things when I need them, they are handy all of the time.  I also made 3 drawers for substitute teachers.  One drawer has the basic sub information: class lists, school information, student medical concernes, etc.  The next drawer is for lesson materials (for prearranged substitute situations), and the last drawer is for extra activities for a sub if they need it.  That drawer includes geometric coloring/pattern pages, extra Scholastic News issues, word finds, math games, and other similar activities.  Knowing that I have all of this prepared for a sub has lifted a huge wight off of my shoulders!  In addition to my new system, I also have my "day of the week system," so subs can just pull the drawer for that day of the week and have the materials right there for them to use.  I have had a sub tub, but I think this will make it much easier for me to be prepared for those last minute situations. 

I also came up with a new way for my students to turn in their work, that I'm excited to start using tomorrow.  It should make recording the work completed and passing it back out much simpler.  I'll post pics tomorrow~

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Word Work

Here are a few new activites that I came up with to perk up our literacy centers.  Since my students always enjoy "making sentences" activities, I decided to make some that had a theme. 

Snowy Sentences

Snowy Sentences 2

I created a few more that I will share soon.  So far, my class has done the first one, and they did a great job coming up with interesting, and complete, sentences.  Have fun!Pin It

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK Day 2012

My first and second graders just finished a Social Studies unit on Great Americans in History.  Last week, our final two influential people were Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.  A team member of mine did this activity with her class, and I loved it so much I had my students do the same project.  I do not know who created the activity originally, but if anyone does, let me know and I will give them full credit for this wonderful lesson.  It was the perfect way to wrap up the unit.  The students were inspired by what they learned about these two individuals, and therefore wrote in a careful and thoughtful manner.  They were all quite proud of their work.  The timing for completing this project happened by accident, but worked out perfectly since today we celebrate the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Organizing for Survival

This year, I was hired for my current position just a few days before school started.  Since then, it has been a daily job to find new ways to organize a space that does not have any storage space.  My latest means to organize my lessons has been my lifesaver.  I saw something similar in another teacher's classroom, and decided to adapt the same method to fit my needs.  I now organize everything by days of the week.  Whatever worksheets, activities, and supplies I will need for that day's lessons go in the corresponding drawer.  There is also a bin for next week's materials so that on Friday, I can pull out that drawer and just as easily put them in the correct drawers for next week.  I think this will also be extremely helpful for when I have a sub.  I won't have to go crazy pulling stuff together, but just pull out the drawer and make a copy of the days's lesson plans.

The teacher who inspired this organization method had each drawer labled for each subject, as well as for art activities, coloring pages, math games, and sub activities.  I also have a bin full of sub activites; however having another set of drawers for sub materials might also be a good solution for my storage and organization issues!  I'm excited to give it a try!
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Difficult Days in First Grade ....

It's been a tough week in the first grade.  All year, personal items have been disappearing from students in our classroom/house.  Unfortunately, this week was a very dramatic one.  We discovered who was taking items, and it has been hard to deal with on all levels.  First of all, I want to know why.  Second, I'm sad for everyone involved.  This is such a tough life lesson for all of us.  As a teacher, I want to make sure that the emotional needs of all of the students are met, and that we are able to move past this as a community, but I am mostly concerned for the student that has been taking things.  It's going to be a tough road ahead for a few weeks.  I keep hoping that I am handling it the best way possible.  I am so thankful for my partner, as well as our principal and support staff.  I would love to hear how others have worked through these situations.  Comments welcome!Pin It

Friday, January 6, 2012

Math - What's the Decade?

Yesterday in my 2nd grade math class, I introduced the concept of rounding to the nearsted ten.  I was suprised how confused many of the students were, even while using a number line.  I woke up at 4:45 this morning with an idea: a game to practice rounding.  This is what I came up with:

The first student draws two cards from a deck, and makes a two digit number.  They then write that number down, as well as the nearest decade number, ten, to practice their rounding skills.  The students played with a partner, and I found that the peer support they received while practicing made a huge difference.  Each student had their own worksheet, but they wrote down both player's numbers.  The kids had fun and did not want to stop.  I think I will use this for a math warm-up activiity once in a while to keep skills sharp.  This game could also be played with dice, or by drawing three cards.

You can download the free worksheet herePin It

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Our Classroom ... A Work in Progress

I thought I would share some pics of my classroom.  I have a long way to go to make it as functional as I would like, but so far, it's coming along ok.  It is a center room in a "house" that holds 7 classes - 3 Kindergarten classes, and 4 1st/2nd grade combo classes.  First, here are a few pics of what the space looked like three days before school started:

Yikes!  Well, since then I have worked endlessly to find a home for everything.  I do not have wall space, so I hang student work anywhere I can - usually from the ceiling.  There are clothespins hung by fishing line that work fabuolously for this.  Here are some pics of our space as of now:

I usually set up my literacy centers the afternoon before I will teach them.  I put each center's work in these bins.  It usually works great for set up, but not as great for clean up - any thoughts on how I can make this run better?

Thanks for taking a look!  I'm always open to new ideas, so please share your thoughts.  Many of you might notice projects that are found on other blogs or TPT - these sights have been a lifesaver!  Thank you to all of these wonderful teachers for their incredible and inspiring ideas! (Whenever I know the source or inspiration for student work, I will share that information)  Have a great Wednesday!Pin It

Monday, January 2, 2012

Snowy Art Project

Even though the holidays have past, I thought that this was a nice project to share anyway.  My students made these as holiday gifts for their families, and they loved them.  WARNING: this was not a quick and easy project!  It was however, an excellent project for talking about different artistic elements: textures, layering, using different tools, and 2/3 spacing principles.  I bought ceramic tiles at a local hardware store for $0.35 a piece.  I then taped all of the edges with masking tape.  This made a frame on the tile, and prevented paint from going everywhere.  The students sponge painted a snowy landscape and brush painted the snowman.  The kids used a sharpie marker to write, "There's Snowplace like Home" (which they thought was hillarious).  After this dried, they painted the carrot nose, eyes, mouth, and arms using toothpicks. The next step was to paint on a scarf using a brush.  Finally, I splatter painted snowflakes on the the tiles (this could be done by students if you have a room with tile floors and a sink - I do not have either, so I did it myself).  I joked with the kids that it must have snowed in our classroom overnight, and once again, I was the comedian.  Anyway, I did spray them with and acrylic sealer so that they could be used not only as a decoration, but as a trivet.  This would be fun to do for other events as well - the first day of winter, Mother's Day, the 100th day of school, etc. 

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Don't just do it, teach it!

On this first day of 2012, my blogging adventure has officially commenced!  I am looking forward to new blessings and challenges as the year unfolds.  My blog title was inspired by a motto that a former teacher of mine had posted in her classroom.  I have often used this same phrase while teaching, and therefore found it to be the perfect, and logical, inspiration for the title of this blog.  As I strive to live up to this phrase, I will share my ideas and activities, as well as creative elements that inspire me.  Best wishes to all in the new year!Pin It