Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My teacher goals

     Today I am linking up with Jess from I heart recess who is hosting a back-to-school goals linky party!  I always like to choose new goals for myself each school year, but am sort of embarrassed to share that the two goals I chose for myself last year (stress management and classroom management) are ones that I am still working on!  But maybe those will be life-long goals!  Ha!  Anyways, here are my intentions for the next school year....

What are your goals for next school year? Click on the button below to get to her inspiring blog post! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My New Teacher Planner

     It has been a long time since I've posted on my teacher blog, but am feeling inspired to do so again and thought I would share what I'm currently excited about:  my new teacher planner! Plus I love seeing how other teachers stay organized! I have been changing things up every year and this year I picked up a teacher planner that I LOVE from Office Max.  What I like about it is that it's basically an academic calendar with the dates already in it.  The months are tabbed and there are both monthly calendar pages and colorful weekly planning pages within each month.  I also like that is has pages for holidays/special date throughout the year, which I plan on using to write out my year-long plan for when I'll be teaching different units.
I slid the cover of last year's planner into the sleeve on the front.  I'll just need to update the school year!  

This page is designated for most-often used  lists including: to-do lists for home and school, my wish list,  things to share at the next PTO meeting, things to share at the next K meeting, and things to share in my parent newsletter.  

I added a folder to this page (with angry bird washi tape!) to store stickers that I made for the planner. 
So one draw back of using a planner like this, is that you have to write EVERYTHING in it.  I liked the idea of having pre-made stickers for the events that happen often including all of our special area classes, our weekly school assembly, special events, birthdays and sub days. 

Year long calendar
More space for lists:  schedules (of ELL, SLP, OT teachers), preferred subs, room parents, and parent volunteers.  
I like this page to use for planning my units throughout the year! 

Birthday page
I will plan on taping my schedule onto this page once I have it figured out.  
Monthly calendar page
Weekly planning page (I'll have to add more photos of what this page will actually look like when I use it!)
I can tape in any pages I want to refer to throughout the year, including the phonics pacing guide.  It's taped in as a flap so since it's a double-sided page. 
THE END  At the end I taped my password list (all washed out, don't worry) and I taped a folder flap onto the last page so that I have a place to store papers that I'm taking between home and school  
So that's my teacher planner for this year!  I have been so inspired with all of the digital/online teachers planners that I have seen, but know that I need to have some sort of paper version...a place where I can write down notes throughout the day.  I am also really inspired by the Erin Condren planners and LOVE to see filled out planner pages, so I'll plan on adding some more photos later!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Inspired by Marcy's post on Searching for Teacher Balance I decided to join up with 2 linky parties with this post and share about 5 back-to-school Tech Tips.

Five Back-to-School Tech Tips  These are a bunch of ideas for taking care of all of the usual back-to-school parent communication without all of the paper!

1.  Post a parent welcome letter on your class website.   I usually send out both an e-mail and a paper letter invitation at the beginning of the year so to make sure that they know how to get there.  I let them know that newsletters will be published on our class website and that lots of general information they may be curious about can also be found there.

2.  Post a welcome letter to students on the class website.   I used to send welcome postcards to students, but now I post a letter to them on our class website.  Last year I also recorded a message with VOKI so that students can watch and listen to a cartoon version of their teacher welcoming them to school.  I also post pictures of the classroom, so that they get a chance to get familiar with and feel less anxiety about their new school.

3.  Put curriculum night information on the class website and use that night to show parents how to navigate the website.  I like this idea better than printing out all of the documents, which both requires a lot of paper and which many parents will often lose and ask me about later.  If it's on the website, they can access the information any time they want.  This requires a good working class projector, however, which I hope to have by the time school starts!!!

4. Use Googledocs for Conference and Volunteer Sign Ups.  I used to always print out paper versions of sign ups for both parent-teacher conferences and volunteering in the classroom.  Last year I tried sign-up genius, which is a good online option, but requires lots of time to enter all the e-mail addresses and such.  Google docs seems to be a more simple solution.  I'm even thinking of having google docs sign ups open on the classroom computer on curriculum night and then keeping a link to them on the class website for parents who need to sign up later.  Here are some screen shots...though the bottom part is cut off...

5.  Use Survey Monkey at the beginning of the year to ask questions of parents and find out more information before the first day of school!  It's a good alternative to the paper versions that I used to pass out on Curriculum Night.  I usually ask about hopes/dreams, strengths, concerns, transportation information, nicknames, allergy information, etc...  It's nice to have a chance to hear back from families before the first day of school!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I heart washi tape!

I heart washi tape!  There's a Washi Tape Wednesday post on Kindergarten Crayons that inspired me to share ideas for using washi tape in the classroom.  Because it's sticky and removable, there are so many great uses for it and now that more stores are carrying it, it's so much easier to find.

List of ways that I have used washi tape in the classroom:

  • Students used washi tape to tape their body shape stencils to the inside of their science journals, so that every time we learned about a new body system, they could trace the shape of a human body and draw what they learned.  
  • Students taped their "foot" cut out for measuring to the inside of their math journals, so they wouldn't get lost.
  • I created a laminated class book that lists the class rules on each page and I taped photos of current students following those rules in the book.  I can remove the photos and reuse the book with new photos next year.  
  • One of our calendar activities was to add a penny to the board each day (and trade them for a dime after 10 days and a dollar bill after 100 days.)  I used the washi tape on the white board to divide up the 1s, 10s, 100s place both for the money and for the spot where students wrote the numbers.
  • I'm using washi tape for my word wall this year to divide up spaces on the white board.
  • You can use it to mark where the students should stand in line.  I've used painter's tape for this for years, but washi tape comes in so many more fun colors!
  • You can tape things to the white board if you run out of magnets and you can remove it and reuse it easily.
  • I used it to tape checklist into notebooks.  For example, I have a notebook that I use for keeping conferring notes during writer's workshop that I use throughout the year.  I change up the checklist each month though so that I can keep track of who I visited and it removes nicely when taped in with washi tape.  Much better than gluing and ripping!
Now that washi tape is becoming easier to find, I'm excited to see how other people are using it!!!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Classroom Cubbies

One crafty classroom project that I worked on over the summer break was fixing up my classroom cubbies! I have a cubby shelf that I use in the classroom where I pass out papers that need to go home with students. I was putting sticker labels on the bottom of each cubby space so that kids would know which one was theirs. One problem with this is that some of the labels would fall off, while others would leave a residue if I took them off. The other problem was that you couldn't see the labels once there were papers in the cubbies. I saw this great idea on pinterest that solved both problems (photo links back to pinterest so you can see who created it!)...

And here's what I ended up making... I covered up the yucky edges with duct tape and then collage-pauged numbers onto binder clips for the labels.  I only put up to 20 so far (wishful thinking!) but may add more once I find out how many students I'll have this year.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guided Reading Book Study--Chapter Two

Chapter Two of the Guided Reading book is all about assessment and grouping.  For Kindergarten, she recommends doing Letter ID and Name writing for all students at the beginning of the year, which I already do.  For the students who do really well,  she then recommends doing a word list assessment and running records (which I do) and dictated sentences (haven't done, great idea) and writing samples (which I do for writing workshop).  This at least inspires me to get my assessment binder organized and prepared for back to school!

She also talks about how to analyze running record errors, which I know how to do, but do not tend to do regularly.  I'd like to do more of this this school year AND use that information to support what I work on in reading groups.

She suggest that the running record info can guide the focus of reading groups and could address any of the following:  risk taking, self-monitoring, decoding, fluency, oral retell, and comprehension.  Helpful!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Guided Reading Book Study CHAPTER ONE

    This summer I decided to join in on a book study of the book Guided Reading that is being hosted by teacher bloggers from freebielicious!  I am already behind, but still want to enjoy the book study!  

    I currently teach Kindergarten and love the way that I run centers.  I allow students to choose which centers they go to, but always have at least one required center per day which is usually the phonics center.   They can head on over to the snack center when they get hungry, which eliminates the need for me to schedule this in  later.  I also require students to come to the guided reading center when invited.   I'm hoping to get ideas to help this time run more smoothly and to strengthen what I do during guided reading time!  

     I just finished reading chapter one, which is all about preparing for guided reading, and here are some of my thoughts:
  • She suggests a method for teaching centers that involves working with one group of students at a time.  Though I like this idea of teaching in small group, many of my centers only have space for 3 students, which would mean that I'd have to teach it anywhere from 6-8 times, so I'll have to think about how to make that work....
  • Love the idea of having a signal to show kids that they many not interrupt guided reading (maybe a stop sign) and to share about that at a class meeting.  Maybe I will make a list of what types of things would constitute emergencies and post that as well.  Good advice to not acknowledge students who decide to interrupt--just keep on teaching!  (I'm not good at that!)  And I like her suggestion to take notes and analyze the reasons behind interruptions that do occur.  
  • I already do many of the center ideas that she lists, but I love the idea of the word wall center where students can practice spelling words with different materials.  
  • I like the idea of allowing kids to keep class library books, in addition to guided reading books, in their little book bags.
  • I already mark the clock so that I'll know when center time is ending, but may also use her idea of using a timer to keep me on track when working with guided reading groups.
  • I like the idea of using bins to organize guided reading group materials and I plan to use this new organizer from Lakeshore for that: 
  • I like how she mentions the importance of teaching kids to use a whisper voice during centers and the idea of having one student be the whisper monitor!  I'll have to talk to parent volunteers and support staff about doing the same.  Only exception would be using a soft voice when addressing a small group.  
  • Last of all, I like her "observation chairs" idea for students who are disruptive during guided reading time.  I did something like this last year, but like the idea of planning ahead for it and maybe even teaching kids ahead of time how to handle it if they get invited there.  
Lots of good ideas!  Now I'll check out ideas from other teachers before reading the next chapter!