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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Savvy Schedules

I'm once again linking up with delightfully dedicated for week 3 of her summer series.

Call me crazy, but I L-O-V-E sitting down the week before school begins and figuring out my schedule. It's like unwrapping a present...wondering when my prep time is, what lunch period we get, how I'm going to squish everything into my day, and which recess duties I have. Yep, just like a present...maybe not so much!

This was my morning schedule last year.
But really, I do enjoy figuring it all out every year, but the biggest challenge is helping make it simple and usable for my students. I like to see my day hour-by-hour, so I do the same thing for my kids.
My daily schedule

Last year's daily schedule
This alleviates all the questions about what we're doing next. I put it on the board every morning, and the kids write it in their day-planners as soon as they arrive. If there is an assignment to be turned in, I underline it on the board and they either underline it with a colored pencil or highlight it in their planners. If they finish the assignment and turn it in, they check it off in their planners. At the end of the day they can see whether or not they'll have homework. For the first couple of months, I also check their planners at the end of each day to make sure they are filling them out completely and keeping track of their work. The planners also have monthly calendar pages so kids can keep track of field trips, due dates, assemblies, and holidays for themselves. It's also a great parent communication tool. There is a note section for parents to write in or for me to send a message home.

Head on back to Delightfully Dedicated to see more scheduling ideas!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Reading, Reading, and More Reading!

Next year in 5th grade we've decided to semi-departmentalize. That means we're splitting into a group of 3 and a group of 2 to share our students. Unless something changes (which it frequently does--it's a good thing teachers are flexible!), I'll be in the group of 3, teaching science and reading. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am! I'm really going to miss teaching writing (and maybe math...just a little), but it will be great to focus on 2 subjects instead of 5. So, to prepare, of course I've spent the first half of my summer putting together a science pacing guide and making lots and lots of products for reading on my TPT store, along with reading, reading, and more reading (I've finished 5 books so far, and am almost done with my 6th).

Here are my newest reading products, enjoy! Just click on the picture for the link.
Genre Sort  Literature Theme Sort You can purchase these sorts separately, or the bundle for $1.00 off.

Fiction Book Reports These are a great follow-up for any fiction book!

Novel Study I think this one is my favorite. It's a 24 page activity packet designed to go with any novel (focusing on 5th grade CCSS, but appropriate for 4th or 6th as well). I tried a few different versions of this with my reading class last year before finalizing it. It works great with whole class, literature circles, or independent study.

Have a wonderful summer, and keep on reading!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Beautiful Behavior

I'm once again linking up with Delightfully Dedicated for her summer series. This week is all about classroom behavior.

There are endless plans for classroom management, and I've tried quite a few. Last year I used a behavior scale in which students could move up or down. The consequences for moving down are missing 5 minutes of recess, writing up a behavior action plan, or going to the office (for extreme circumstances only). Then consequences for moving up are:

a) dojo points
b) pawprint
c) King card

a) Dojo points: I began using class dojo last year. The kids loved it! They could create an avatar and earn dojo points towards a class prize. Parents could keep track of their child's behavior from home and make comments or send messages. It really is a valuable tool for school/home communication.

b) Pawprints: Our school has a reward system called "Paw-sitive Passes". Students or entire classes can earn pawprints from any staff member and get acknowledged monthly during their lunch period. Classrooms with the most paws per month get to keep a trophy in their room for the entire month.

c) King Card: Our local King's Variety Store offers coupons for students to come get a prize out of their treasure chest.

These are all effective extrinsic awards, but as a school we wanted to work on more of an intrinsic approach. So this year we are going to begin Stephen Covey's Leader in Me process.
Image result for leader in me If you haven't had a chance to read this book, I highly suggest it. It teaches kids (and staff) how to use the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to strengthen their personal lives as well as relationships with others. We've already had the first session of staff training. I'll keep you updated as we roll out this process to see how it's working. I'm so excited to get started!

Head on back to Delighfully Dedicated to see more beautiful behavior!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!  This has always been one of my favorite times of the year...the parades, fireworks, barbecues, and family. I grew up in a huge family, and every July 4 we went to the town parade then spent the rest of the day at a local baseball park. We put up shades, brought tons of food, and just enjoyed each other. The grown-ups talked about whatever grown-ups talk about, and all of us cousins played softball, Frisbee,  and water guns. The heat never seemed to bother us! As soon as it started to get dark, we spread out the blankets and just anticipated the upcoming show. I remember asking (about every 2 minutes) when it would start. Then the sky would explode! I have to say, our small town went above and beyond with their presentation. The local radio stations would play patriotic music as the fireworks were ignited from the fair grounds. These are memories I will cherish forever.

Now, my husband and I have our own traditions. My husband, a police officer, works at the city parade while I take our kids to a local parade in our neighborhood. Then the whole family (decidedly smaller now) meets at our house for food and games. As soon as it is dark enough we sit in our backyard and watch the firework show ignited from a small island in the middle of a reservoir about a mile away from our house.

Though the celebration is smaller, the spirit and anticipation are just the same. We feel privileged to live in this great country with all the freedoms we enjoy.
My niece, Fae, at her 1st July 4 Parade. In the background my daughter, Allison is giving candy to another little parade-watcher.

To help my teacher friends celebrate, I'm offering 2 of my patriotic products as freebies for the entire month of July. Happy Independence Day! Click on the pictures to go to my TPT page and get your freebie.

American Hero Informational Writing Unit

Patriotic Clip Art