Friday, December 20, 2013

Five for Friday: The Week Before Christmas Break

My school let out yesterday at 2 PM meaning today I got to lounge around and do a bunch of nothing.. except venture through the crowds and chaos that is Target. I love everything about Christmas Break! This break will be bittersweet as it is the last couple weeks Lilly and I will get to spend with my husband as he'll be deploying soon.. sigh. The life of an Army wife. Anywho.. here's what's been going on this past week, in Five for Friday!

1. I have the best class mom EVER.

Seriously, I don't think I have touched any lamination this school year. My wonderful class mom stops by my room every single morning and asks for work to do. She is willing to stay all day and do all the tedious things that teachers just don't have time for. We ordered this gift for her from MimiLu Boutique, which is also where I ordered a necklace for myself. LOVE.

2. Party Time

 Do you see this spread? Class mom organized this Christmas breakfast and brought in most ALL the food and goodies. Her parents brought in the equipment needed to make pancakes and eggs, and pre-made the bacon before school. There were 4 breakfast casseroles. Four. I tried all of them. One of them twice. There was hot chocolate and cute cups with lids and marshmallows. And juice. My kids were in heaven! (See why she gets the necklace?!)

3. Presents & Crafts

 Another awesome parent came in and led craft making with my kiddos. The picture above is a a tile with the student's silhouette. Earlier in the week all the kids had their pictures taken. The pictures were then cut out and glued face down to the white tile. Modge Podge was put on top for 3-4 layers and left to dry over night. The tile in the picture isn't dry, which is why it looks streaky. I just wanted to sneak in an action picture so I wouldn't forget. The students got to take these home as Christmas gifts to their parents.

These Christmas trees weren't exactly easy to make, but they turned out cute!

4. Totally unrelated, but...

 Lilly got new shoes! I can't resist a cute pair of mini-me shoes, especially when they're on sale! I swear her feet grow overnight!

5. Going back to the Christmas breakfast...

 Class mom didn't just bring in a wal-mart bag full of spoons and forks. Nope, she's too cute for that. She had 3 separate bags for spoons, forks, and knives, and even napkins! This way 4 students got to help out and pass out materials!
 And these? Place mats. Yes, I know. Adorable.

And when she brought this in, I died. Seriously?! I told her she would need to stay with me again next year, because her daughter just so happens to be low in every area possible, even PE. :)

Relax and enjoy your vacation, my friends!

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Five for {the last} Friday {of December!}

Praise Jesus it is Friday... because I am beat! Today I woke up with a HUGE smile and TONS of energy that lasted until approximately 4:04 pm. Which is the time I pulled into a packed Wal-Mart parking lot. It's as if my energy suddenly disappeared at the thought of even getting out the car and fighting the crowds. I had a mini battle in my mind going back and forth between feeding my family today or not.. I of course ended up fighting the good fight and settled with a rotisserie chicken, fruit and guacamole. Point is--I'm one TIRED teacher. But who isn't the Friday BEFORE CHRISTMAS BREAK?!?!? Here's 5 reasons for my fatigue..

1. Christmas decorating.

I had a very sweet (and super organized) mom come in today for an hour and lead my class in making crafts to decorate our class Christmas tree and room. She's the same mom that brought in the Christmas tree... which truly makes my heart smile! The kids adored this, of course, and so did I. Super mom had the genius idea of bringing along 6 5th grade student leaders to help my 3rd graders. Pure. Genius. This meant us teachers got to do some tidying up and whatnot. Love.

2. Major Organization

I have the bad habit of buying or creating a resource, printing the original copies in color, copying them for my class, and then placing this original *somewhere*. This ultimately means I end up throwing it away or never finding it again, and then have to re-print this paper (using more colored ink), usually at an inconvenient time.. such as during math stations when I run out of recording sheets. Not any longer! Today I created a huge Original Forms binder that holds all these miscellaneous papers. I sorted all the papers into common piles, such as all math station originals or ELA station originals. I used a tabbed divided and put all the related documents behind it in page protectors. In the picture above you see an UNRAAVEL tab, and behind it you would see the strategies posters I copy each year onto cardstock. Easy peasy!

3. More Main Idea Ideas

On Wednesday I blogged about how I was teaching main idea in my class. You can read about that here. I then found this awesome game that my students responded well to. We played Main Idea Bowling in small group and it was a huge hit.  

Now, I didn't exactly follow the directions that were included with the packet I purchased because I have 6 students in my small groups, so I had to make it work for us. Here were my directions and how we played:

1. Each student received 1 purple playing card, 1 scorecard and 1 main idea bowling ball.
2. Students first share their main idea with the others in the group.
3. Students take turns drawing a supporting detail pin and decide whose main idea it supports. If they are correct they put their pin on the card matching the bowling ball--so not necessarily their own card!
4. For points, they multiplied the number on the bowling ball times the number on the pin. That's the number they put on their scorecard. Gotta get that multiplication practice in somehow!
5. If a student doesn't get the answer correct, another student (going around the circle, picking up where we left off the last time) gets the chance to answer for half the point value.
5. There are gutter ball cards, where students get to take a pin off someone's board and add it back in the stack. This person also earns half the point value of the multiplication equation. This sometimes means dividing 3 in half, which is a teachable moment!
6. The winner is the person with the most points after all the bowling pins are used.

4. Organizing Classroom Coupons

This year I implemented a Hollywood themed classroom economy for student behavior incentives. You can read about that here. My students seriously adore this system. Each and every morning they eagerly raise their hands showing me their planner is signed so they can earn their Hollywood bucks. In the past, when it's time to spend their money on coupons, I just throw all the coupons on my table, in no particular order. Today, since I was already in the organizational zone, I handled that fiasco as well!

I keep all my coupons in this index card box. The same coupons are on a binder ring so students can easily decide what they'd like to buy. Today I went and actually wrote the price on each and every card, along with the letter it lives behind in the box. Simple enough, right? Yeah.. took me long enough, too! :)

5. Christmas decorating... at home!

Just a few pictures of what I've got so far!

This fireplace needs some love, I know!

I think it's time to snuggle up on my couch with my munchkin now. Share your week with us!

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lots of "Stuff" to Share!

Christmas Behavior

Can you feel it? Christmas break is right around the corner and I can definitely feel the joy coming from my students and the longing for a much needed break. Yesterday about drove me to a crazy house. Their behavior wasn't "bad," but it wasn't what I call good, either. Their focus was on anything BUT learning and I felt like I was talking to a brick wall even during small group. Ugh. So... I came home last night and created a Christmas behavior chart that I introduced first thing this morning.

I started off by telling my crazies that I felt crazy, because they drove me bonkers yesterday. Of course they laughed, but quickly stopped when they saw I was (fake) serious. I did invent this with some humor, and had to smile to myself when I saw their faces of horror as I was explaining.

First I told my students they needed 15 presents in order to attend the winter festivities on Wednesday, December 18th. From there, they had to work with a partner to fill out the other blanks, and then we went over the answers. We discussed ways to lose presents, and then brainstormed ways to keep presents. I told my students those who kept more than 20 presents may get special treats and those who had less than 15 would get coal. And work sheets. And no fun. <--all of that was said in a mean teacher voice, by the way. Then they cut out the behavior chart and left me with the signed portion. Why did they have to sign it, you may ask? This is my proof of their knowledge of my expectations for the next week of craziness, so if they happen to lose more than 10, and cannot participate, and decide to tell a not-all-the-way-truthful version of a story to their parents, I can whip this bad boy out. That is that. :)

It worked GREAT today. I marked off a few presents in RED. I felt like the grinch, but at least it's a Christmas color?! Overall though I will say their behavior and engagement was so much better. Click on either of the pictures below to download a copy for yourself. Or, to purchase a set of behavior charts for the entire year, click here!

Here is a sample version for you to see. 

You've been R.A.C.K.ed

Have you heard about all the craziness of random acts of classroom kindness? This is my first year participating with my class so I thought I'd share some pictures.

I bought this pack from What The Teacher Wants.. 

There are editable forms for you to create your own acts of kindness. Because I have a sweet friend who has been sick for 5 days, I thought it'd be a good idea to make our first act towards her.

All of the students wrote notes and cards and stuck them in this envelope which her mom picked up for her. I included a note myself and a bottle of energy. Her mom told me she LOVED IT all and read each card 3 times. 

Tomorrow we will be gifting our principal with cards and letters. My favorite part will be the part that says, "My principal has probably been principal for _______ years." Those are the best types of questions.

And finally, Main Idea ideas:

Why am I trying to teach/review such a HUGE thing right before Christmas break? Yah, I'm asking myself that, too. But, with the help of the behavior chart above, it worked well today. Like seriously, REALLY well! I'd like to share a couple resources I TRIED that helped me TONS.

1. Flocabulary main idea rap. Seriously, it's worth the 3 minutes to click on this link and watch this rap. It is meaningful in every way. You won't regret it. For real.

2. Main idea bags. These are a hands-on way to teach main idea and your kids will love it. And you. After you show them the rap. :)

3. And for stations, we're using some main idea task cards that I made.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Flash Freebie!

Hello, friends!
I find myself sitting here dreading even the thought of writing lesson plans. I've been "off" for the last 12 days and am being such a procrastinator. In true procrastinator fashion, I'm delaying the lesson-planning process even more by writing this blog post and offering my Bloom's posters as a flash freebie, until I go to bed. Which won't be until I write said lesson plans. Such a slacker. Anyway, download and please leave feedback! :)

I'm sure you've heard about the big sale at TpT where you can get a 28% discount?! Stock up your shopping cart now!

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