Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Class Job Tips and freebie

Have you figured out a good system for choosing class jobs?  It took me several years to figure out a system that worked for me.  The way I originally did it, took up too much class time.  Plus, I would usually get a few notes from parents about their child not getting the job that he/she wanted. After trial and error, I found a system that seemed to solve most of these problems.

 I have also pinned different ways of organizing jobs on my Classroom Management Pinterest board.

In the picture below is an example of how I organize jobs in my classroom.

At the beginning of the year, I number my students alphabetically.  I divide the class into 2 groups and put them on a ring (see at the top of the board in the picture).  For this example I have 24 students.  So, students #1-12 are on ring 1 on the left and students #13 - 24 are on ring 2 on the right.

Students #1-4 and #13 - 16 are put on the chart.  The following week, all the cards are moved across and down one row and #6 and #13 are put on the back of  rings 1 and 2.  The next week #5, #17 are put on the top row.  The following week all of cards are moved across and down one row.  
This pattern continues throughout the year.  You don't have to keep track of which students have done which jobs.  Students don't complain about not doing a preferred job because they know eventually it will be their turn.  If you wanted to add a little seasonal fun to this chart, use seasonal calendar numbers for the students' numbers.

If you use numbers instead of students' names, you will save time when you are setting up your classroom in August.  

I made two versions of this for you.  They are both free.
Click HERE to download the PDF format.
Click HERE to download the EDITABLE version.

I used KG Second Chances Sketch font by Kimberly Geswein.  The font is free for personal use.  If you want the editable version to look like the PDF version shown above, you will need to use this font.

Fern has a few tips about class jobs to share with you, too.  Be sure to hop over to her blog!

Fern and I are adding something new this summer.  Summer is a great time to catch up on your reading.  I love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books.  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for Tuesday Teacher Tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

Each week we will choose one person who shared a tip on our blog who will get a $10 shopping trip.  We will announce the winner in the following Tuesday's post.  The winner for this post will be announced next week.

The winner of last week's post is:

Click HERE to read Mrs. Wilson's tip which is located in the comment section.

Do you have a class job tip to share?  Be sure to include your email so I can contact you if you're the winner of the $10 shopping trip.

Looking for more ideas?  Check out these!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Multiple Intelligence Approach: Syllables

You have probably heard your parents or grandparents say that they remember where they were when they heard that President Kennedy was shot.  There are a few of those experiences like Challenger Space Shuttle and President Reagan being shot that I will be able to tell my grandchildren about.

As a teacher, we often have experiences, that aren't necessarily life-altering like the examples above, but these experiences do have an impact on us professionally.  I was just starting out in my teaching career, when I stumbled across an article about Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligence.  Talk about one of those great "Ah Ha!" moments.  At the time, I had only taught for a few years, yet I had noticed that some students responded differently to different types of lessons.

Have you ever had that experience where you feel like something is on the tip of your tongue but you can't think of the exact word that you're looking for?  That's what I felt like when I would reflect over my lessons.  I noticed these differences with students yet I couldn't put a label on it until I read this article.

Click HERE to read a review of this book.

After reading more articles on this topic and learning styles, I decided to overhaul my centers.  Social and science topics were the overall theme of my units.  Each center was named after a person who demonstrated a strength with the various types of intelligence. Here are a couple of examples of a plant unit:

Intrapersonal - Shel Silverstein center:  Students wrote poems about a tree or flower.

Logical - Mathematical - Isaac Newton:  Student completed an area and perimeter assignment that was about a garden.  

I just finished a new Syllable Thumper and ABC order center which is a perfect way to incorporate music with your lessons.

First, begin with a simple song.  I like to begin with something easy that students are a familiar with like Humpty Dumpty.  This video is great because it has the words and the music.  Have your students clap the syllables that they hear.  Afterwards you can make a list of 1 syllable words, 2 syllable words, etc.

Click HERE to watch the Humpty Dumpty video.

Next, tell your students that they are going to make a Syllable Thumper. You will want to send home the note included with the packet ahead of time asking your parents for oatmeal containers or containers of the same size and shape.

Pictures to decorate the Syllable Thumper are included.  There are colorful ones and black and white ones.  The School Time packet that would be a great addition to your Back to School lessons.  It can also be taught at any time of the year.  I also have an All Star Syllable Thumper packet that would be perfect for Presidents' Day, Veterans' Day, and other patriotic holidays.

You can use these sorting cards with your small groups, whole group, or set it up as a center.

This is a fun time to incorporate some simple music instruments into your lessons.  Music teachers are usually happy to loan bells, sticks, and wooden blocks.  I found the bells in the picture at Michael's Craft Store.  

There are two different extension assignments included.  If you'd like to add a little fun, let your students mark the number of syllables with a BINGO dauber.  

Looking for more multiple intelligence ideas?  I have been adding some pins about M.I. to my Good Stuff Pinterest board.

Click HERE  to visit my Pinterest board.

Do you have any multiple intelligence tips to share?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Morning Messages


Work harder not smarter should be stamped across every teacher's doorway because we never have enough time to do all we need to do.  Do you ever leave at the end of the day thinking, "Wow!  I got everything done.  Now I can go home, make a real meal, and relax."  If you are like most teachers, you are probably making a mental list on your way home of all the things you need to get done between now and tomorrow morning, right?

I stumbled across this work smarter way of doing morning messages when I was doing my long term lesson plans when I was pregnant.  I love morning messages for elementary students and feel they do a great job of reviewing skills, but it was so time consuming to write a message on chart tablet.  The tablet is big and bulky.  It was a challenge to take it home with me to prepare ahead of time which meant I needed to do it at school.  I didn't always have extra time to write a quality message at school.  

I didn't want my maternity leave sub to have to write messages.  She was going to have her hands full with getting to know 22 little kinder kids and all that entails.  I did a little brainstorming and decided that I can type much faster than I can write by hand.  

So, I typed up my first morning message, made a transparency (did I mention that this was in 1999), and put it on the overhead projector.  Since this was kindergarten, this was a very teacher directed lesson.  Volunteers helped by filling in the blanks, circling word wall words, circling first letter of the sentence with a green marker, circling punctuation mark at the end of the sentence with red, etc.  

Once my students learned the format, I had the paper waiting on their tables for them.  I gave them a few minutes to see if they could figure out some of the message.  They loved it!  Eventually, some of the tables began to work as teams.  I loved the cooperative learning that I was seeing and all of the reading taking place.  

Eventually, I could see my students were getting restless with the format.  They were getting through with it much too quickly.  So, I organized a check in station like the one in the picture below.  After students put away their backpack, lunch boxes, and turned in their homework, they picked up their morning message at the table by the check in station and found out what their tasks was for the day.  The tasks are the cards beside the number.  The number is their group number.  In the beginning, I only gave them one task.  Later on, I gave them 2 tasks.  If you shrink the cards or you have a wider pocket chart, you can give them more tasks.  You can assign the same tasks to different groups.  
TEACHER HINT:  In this picture is the small pocket chart from Target's Dollar Spot.  I printed the differentiation cards at 75% so I could fit two for each group.


I thought you might like to see a sample page and answer sheet of morning message. This would perfect for your Back to School lessons.
Click HERE to download this sample.

I have a wide variety of morning message packet.  They are available in topics such as:
I also have monthly packets for the following grade levels:
By request, I bundled my September - May grade level packets.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back to School: Lunch Time Tips


Is lunch time one of those times of day that you dread? Can you relate to this video when lunch time rolls around?

At the beginning of the year, students in the primary grades, have so many new things to learn.  After learning restroom procedures, how to come to the carpet, how to lineup, walk in the hallway, and what seems like hundreds of other details, is it any wonder that they go a little crazy when it's lunch time?

When I taught kindergarten, I included this story in my Back to School presentation:

One year during the first week of school, I thought I had my kinder kids settled for lunch so I could go to the teachers' lounge to eat mine.  One of our cafeteria monitors came in and asked me to speak to one of my students.  The little boy was crying and they couldn't calm him down or find out why he was upset.  This was the little boy's first time to buy a lunch.  But, when he took a bite of his food, he became upset because "it didn't taste like his Mom's food".  Luckily, our cafeteria manager had some peanut butter and jelly so she could make him a sandwich.  I tell my parents that the moral to this story is young children have enough adjustments to make the first few weeks of school.  Parents can help by sending a lunch from home so it is one less thing for them to worry about during this hectic time.  

Many of my parents did send lunches the first few weeks of school. This had expected bonuses!  I had more time to help the ones who bought a lunch the lunch line procedures because I had fewer buying a lunch the first few weeks.  The lunch from home group was less stressed.  When the lunch from home group began buying a lunch, the other group already knew the procedures so they were their buddies.  

Does your lunch program offer different choices?  While it is nice for the students, it can create headaches for the teacher and cafeteria workers serving the food.  At one of my school districts, we had several different options and the cafeteria manager wanted us to line up our students in the following order:
  • 1st:  Students purchasing milk and/or dessert.
  • 2nd: Students purchasing 1st choice.
  • 3rd: Students purchasing 2nd choice.
  • 4th: Students purchasing sandwich.
Now, when you teach little ones, you know that the best laid plans of mice men and all that, right?  Yes, I can have them lined up correctly in the classroom, but and this is a big but, we have to walk a little while before we get to the cafeteria.  I swear at times it was like no man's land.  When my students entered no man's land, our perfectly wonderful line order disappeared.  Not a great way to make a good impression on the cafeteria manager when you are new at a school.  She literally was yelling at me the first day of school.  I had just moved to this new state and had a new job.  Not a happy first day of school for me!

So, I put on my thinking cap AND I did a little retail therapy.  Shopping always makes things better, right?  I was strolling through Target, when I found some colorful, plastic clothes pins.  I did a little brainstorming and figured out a solution to my students getting out their line order when we enter the no man's land.  

I clipped a blue clothes pin to the collar, sleeve, or some part of the clothing, preferably chest height or higher of the students who were in the first group of the line order.  I clipped a green clothes pin to the 2nd group, red clothes pin to the 3rd group, and yellow clothes pin to the 4th group.  The students who brought a lunch from home did not get a clothes pin.

It was easy to see if anyone got out of place because the clothes pins are bright and colorful.  The cafeteria workers complimented me on them.  They could see from distance how many more first choice lunch trays they needed to make by looking at the pins.

My students wore the clothes pins to lunch.  Once in a while, one would get broken but it didn't happen very often.  I did purchase double the amount that I needed.  I figured there would be some that would get lost or broken.  Any left overs I could use the following year.

For some reason, colorful plastic clothes pins are very hard to find - at least where I live.  I could only find wooden clothes pins.  I did try dyeing those but found that the wooden ones break easily.  I ordered these on Amazon.

I hope you have been joining us each month for our Bright Ideas Blog Hop.  My friends and I enjoy sharing ideas with you.  Don't forget to pin these to your Pinterest board so you'll have them handy when you need them.

I hope you will follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Bloglovin' so you don't miss out when I share more ideas and freebies!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Tie Your Shoes


How many times a day are you asked "Can you tie my shoes?".  If you teach little ones, you spend a considerable amount of time at the beginning of the year tying shoes.  When I was pregnant with my daughter, this became an issue for me because it was uncomfortable to bend over tying shoes.  I always included a message about either work with your child or send them with shoes with velcro until they learn how in my Back to School night speech.  But, not all parents followed this suggestion.  At the time, I was teaching kindergarten in San Antonio, TX.  I wondered if children there learned to tie shoes later because the weather is warm most of the year so they wear flip flops and sandals most of the year.  

You know how McDonald's markets to children with Happy Meals.  I decided to take the McDonald's approach with this skill.  To do this, I created a "Wall of Fame".  I hung up a simple sign - nothing elaborate.  I told my students that when they could show me that they could tie their shoes, I would give them a shoe to decorate and write their name on.  The name would be placed on the "Wall of Fame".  Plus I would give them a piece of shoestring licorice.  Shoestring licorice is hard to find.  In Texas, I found it at CVS or Walgreen's.  I now live in California and looked at these stores but they don't carry it.  I spoke to the manager of one of the stores and she suggested pull 'n peel Twizzlers or Sour Punch straws.  These both look like shoelaces.   

The McDonald's approach worked like a charm!  Suddenly my students (according to reports from my parents) were wanting to practice tying their shoes at home.  It was completely worth a little time to make the Wall of Fame and the cost of the candy.

The unexpected benefit to this was the goal setting that my students learned from this experience.  Our Wall of Fame grew to include other skills.  You can read about it HERE.

I made a freebie for you.


You can use this as the sign on the Wall of Fame to tell the goal or you can use it as a cover for a class book.  Students can write the steps of tying their shoes on the page below and then you can combine the pages into a class book.


Click HERE to download this freebie.

How do you encourage your students to learn to tie their shoes?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Information text tips and resources

Have you noticed a difference in the informational text scores when you compare boys and girls?  One of the presenters of an inservice I attended told us that girls typically score lower than boys in the non-fiction/informational text section of standardized test.  

As you can imagine this caused many of us to look through our classroom library through with a careful eye.  I was one of the guilty ones who had bookshelves full of wonderful stories but they were mainly fiction.  I had one teeny tiny basket of non-fiction stories.  Sad, isn't it!  I think my own preference for fiction had influenced my buying choices.  I knew it was time for me make some changes.  

First, I needed to find some adult non-fiction books.  No, I wasn't going to add these to my classroom library.  I felt I would do a better job of incorporating it into my day at school if I was "walking the talk".  I visited my favorite used book store and discovered Malcolm Gladwell's books.  Have you read any of his books?  They are amazing!!!  I was hooked on a new genre! So many of the things he talks about I could easily apply to the school setting.  The first one I read was The Tipping Point.  It is a must read for everyone, no matter what your profession is because it can be applied to a wide variety of situations.  His books are so good that I don't wait for the paperback to come out or even to find them at the used bookstore.  I pay full price for hardbacks, they are that good!  

  • Click HERE to read the preview for The Tipping Point.
  • Click HERE to read the preview for David and Goliath.
  • Click HERE to read the preview for Outliers
  • Click HERE to read the preview for Blink.
  • Click HERE to read the preview for What the Dog Saw.

Then I began to notice that I do read more non-fiction than I gave myself credit for.  I read magazines like Prevention and Readers Digest.  These magazines are full of information.  One day while reading an article I thought, why don't I find a way to incorporate magazines into my lessons more often.  Granted, I have used Scholastic News and Time for Kids.  But, I have not used the monthly magazines that many of my students subscribe to at home.  

I visited several local thrift stores.  I found a huge collection that only cost 25 cents a piece.  Most of them were either Zoobooks or Ranger Ricks.  This was a good start but I knew I needed a wider variety.  So, I sent home a note asking parents for donations.  My parents were more than happy to donate.  They told me that they hated to throw the magazines away but their child no longer read them so they were taking up space.

There are many wonderful online sources.  Click on the picture to visit the sites below.

When a friend who is stressed out and feels overwhelmed comes to me for advice, I always tell them the same thing.  
  • Integrate!  Integrate!  Integrate!  This is one of the best ways to use your time wisely.  Some students have to hear something several times presented several different ways.  You will begin to see those little lightbulbs going off during your center time about a science concept when you do this.  
  • If you have 5 centers that your students rotate through each week, make at least 3 of them yearly centers.  What I mean by this is the format of the center will not change throughout the year.  Only the skills will change, but HOW the students complete the work will remain the same.  When you do this, you've cut down on 60% of the questions you'll get during your small group instructions.  You'll cut down 60% of the time you spend explaining how to do the centers on Mondays.  What will you do with all of that extra time you are saving?  I'm sure there are other things on your to-do list!
I made a Magazine Center as one of my yearly centers.  From time to time, I would send out a S.O.S. to parents that I needed more magazines.  This helped give us a variety and keep the interest of my students.  This is an easy way to ensure you always have informational text lessons in your plans.  Click HERE to read more about this center. 

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back to School: Measurement Center

Back to school is a great time to review skills when you are teaching classroom procedures.  My students always love measurement centers.  Give a student a measuring tape, ruler, seamstress measuring tape, and they are happy, happy, happy.  And you know what that means right?  If they are happily engaged with their center, they are not interrupting you when you are working with your small group or doing your beginning of the year assessments.  It's a win-win for everyone!  

I think there's a little Bobbette and Bob the Builder in every student.  I like to set up a monthly measurement center.  It is not always the assigned center that they are required to do.  Sometimes I set it up as a center for my early finishers.  I keep the same format so students can do it independently.

I just finished a new measurement center called School Time which would be perfect for your Back to School lessons.  Students will practice measuring school-themed pictures.  This can be used at any time of the year.  This is the first time that I have made a Measure Me! Plus center.  It is a little different than my other Measure Me! packets.  This packet has 20 pictures instead of 12 plus it includes an additional 2 pages that can be used to set up an open ended center.  

I love using ribbons in the measurement center.  You can use different colors to add a seasonal touch.  I bought the bag of ribbons in the picture for $1.99 at Hobby Lobby.  What a great deal!

These are the 2 workpages that you can use if you set up an open-ended center.  You can have students measure ribbons, seasonal shapes, or things found in the classroom.  Each month you can set it up with different things and use the same page(s).  Keep the pages in their portfolio to see how their work changes throughout the year.

There are 2 sets of cards.  Each set contains 10 school-themed pictures.  Students will practice measuring to the nearest half inch on set 1.  Students will practice measuring to the nearest quarter inch on set 2.

Each set has 2 copies of the same picture.  To help with differentiation, one copy has a line showing students where to measure and the other copy does not have a line.

There are 2 assignments for each set of cards so you can differentiate.  Answers are included so you can make this a self-checking center.

Do you follow my Facebook page?  From time to time, I like to give one lucky teacher some of the goodies I use in the pictures from my blog post plus the lesson packet.  This is one of those times!  If you found this post before July 21st,  go to my Facebook page and look for the first graphic on this post.  I will choose one teacher who leaves a comment under that post.

Click HERE to see the preview file that will give you a closer look at this packet.


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