Monday, September 24, 2012

Washroom Worries Solved!

This being the beginning of the year, I'm not too fussy yet about my students using the washroom when they need. Last year, I had a strict emergency-only policy during class time, and it was a bit annoying constantly reminding my students of the most appropriate times to leave the room. So this year, I have a simple routine that looks like this:
My students use the W sign for washroom or water so as not to disrupt the class. (Basically, if it's a lesson, I turn the sign to "now now.") Since I know that sometimes kids just can't wait, we use the W turned sideways to show an E for emergency! It's working so wonderfully. Today I forgot to flip the sign to "not now" before I started the Math lesson, and when one girl put her W high in the air, I didn't break my talk to say "oops, sorry, not now..." but simply turned the sign around and she immediately put her hand down. I have three sets for around my room because I am often standing in different areas. I'm loving this! Click the picture to grab it.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Friday, September 21, 2012

Birthday wishes

Alright, so I know this video went viral weeeeeeks ago, but in honour of my wonderful husband's birthday, I'm posting here for all to enjoy:
Jeff and I met in Korea (crazy enough we grew up only 40 minutes away from one another...small world), so suffice it to say that this video has had a special place on our laptop for the past while. There are so many familiar things - Gangnam Station, where Jeff played ball hockey; short skirts; neon; things that don't make sense in the most hilarious ways - that just scream "Korea" for us. If you need a song stuck in your head, you should watch.

Moving on to the more educational... Jeff teaches middle school/high school here in Kuwait and last year, being faced with a completely new culture and students that really needed structure and lots of guidance, he started using Class Dojo
People love it, I'm telling you. He was actually asked to write a feature post on their blog this summer, which you can read HERE. Not only am I married to a kind, funny, and very intelligent man, but he's also a truly great teacher. He has a middle school blog - "A New Classroom" - so feel free to send all your middle school or J/I teaching buds over to read about his adventures! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Great things!

I'm not one of those teachers that misses school on the weekends. Yes, I go home and do a lot of school-related work, but I really do enjoy having those couple days off. Since tomorrow is Thursday and the last day of our school week here, I find myself feeling a little worried. I'm worried because I actually have such a fantastic class this year that I may (may!) end up missing them just a little this weekend. Don't judge me. They are seriously fantastic.

I am loving the Daily 5. We are three days into Work on Writing, two days into building stamina, and my class has gone from four minutes to fifteen minutes of writing. In a day! Whaaaaa? My mind was literally blowing up for the whole quiet, focused fifteen minutes of actual writing I saw today. Maybe not literally, but you know what I mean. I can't believe I didn't disturb them with my mental mania.
That's right, he's already underlining words he's unsure of. Did they catch on quick, or what?
We glued our heart maps onto the front cover of our journals.
Here's one of my artists. I definitely told them that the picture is last, but I guess he was fresh out of ideas. I am certainly not about to be upset, since our stamina chart says 15 minutes! (Wait, did I mention that?!?) This kid wrote tons about zombies. He has a serious infatuation and it cracks me up.
A robot lover.

Here's our clip chart after a Social Studies lesson about smart and poor choices and how these can have a direct affect on each person in the class. These awesome little monsters come from Kathleen at Growing Kinders. They are so bright and colourful and my group got a kick out of the sad monsters. I will definitely work this lesson into beginning of the year plans for next year. Loved it! 
PS - See all those kids on Amazing? I'm not kidding about this being a pretty fantastic class.
And finally - I could hardly believe it but I won my first giveaway! Yay! Many thanks to Kristen at I Do, We Do, You Do for hosting a giveaway and for choosing me. (Electronically and randomly choosing me, that is - anyway, feeling good!)
I won a few great products that I'm pretty darn excited to use this year. More about that later. Now, to tend to my poor sick husband. Back to school busy-ness, I'm sure. (He must be really sick, though, because he agreed to have KD for dinner tonight. The man hates pasta and loves to cook, so for me to throw a box of pasta into boiling water and call it dinner, well... I'll just call myself a lucky lady and thank my stars.) 
Good night, all!
- Amanda

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Talking about solving problems

This is a tough topic for some little friends. Am I right? Really, it's no surprise - they are still learning to recognize, process, and understand their own emotions. I've found (in my 1.1 years of teaching - ha!) that children really need to be taught skills to solve problems with their peers. I had a lot of hands-on last year, a lot of tattling, a lot of miscommunication, a lot of misunderstandings, and a lot of emotional outbursts among my students. I took quite a few Social Studies periods to teach about problem solving. It started to work. Phew! Saved me. So this year, I have a plan to teach these steps - before the problems start. I hope to have my students follow a four-step plan:
1. Think - Is this a big problem or a small problem?
2. Say - "I do not like that because...." or "Please stop."
3. Ignore
4. Ask - a friend or a teacher for help.
If you're interested in this model, I made titles to create an anchor chart with my group. You can grab it here:
How do you teach problem solving in your class? I'm all ears for new ideas. This week we're doing a fun little activity using our clip chart to help students understand the types of behaviours that are expected at the top of the chart, and those that may get you placed near the bottom... I'm looking forward to it! Photos and credit to come.

And a small peek at my Saturday: 
A new year means a new batch of my scratch cards must be made. I'm looking forward to giving the first one of these out!
- Amanda
Classroom freebies

Friday, September 14, 2012

Come on, TpT

Just a few photos to start:
Daily 5 mini-lessons

My first Wow! Work installment. This little guy has the neatest writing, and not only did he write the most, but he wrote the most sensibly!

Yellow pages to highlight the vowels on our Word Wall

First rotation of classroom jobs

Beginning our Math stations (this idea from Cassie at Adventures in Teaching). I have a forty minute Math lesson period everyday. About four times in our six day cycle, I have a second forty minute Math block. These double blocks are not side-by-side in my schedule, so we do a forty minute lesson and practice period, then in the next we have our BUILD rotation where I'm able to work with my small group. Thanks, Cassie!

We have three simple rules for our school, so in the first week we made the 3Bees at CBS. This idea adapted from Teri at A Cupcake for the Teacher - her Valentine bees are super cute!

And now a quick rant - 
Anyone else ever annoyed when TpT won't let you upload a file because "An item already exists with that title. Please alter it a bit. Thanks."? It is the most annoying thing! Of course there are other items with that title, because that title explains perfectly what it is, and no, mine is not the first of its kind. And then, because I've had to alter the title, when I do a broad search for items like it, mine does not show up on the home search. I tried SO MANY variations on the titles and nothing would work.... So now, I have a product called "3 Ways to Read a Book - it's the only title that fits. Please allow it." in my shop. haha It's a good thing this is a free item :)

- Amanda

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Just want to share a great linky Cynthia is having over at the 2nd Grade Pad: all about freebies! Great idea, or what? Great idea.

I linked up with my last freebies: 3 Ways to Read a Book, Addition Houses (for even and odd street) and a Book Lovers anchor chart. If you're shopping for great freebies from other bloggers (when are you not?), go check it out!
- Amanda

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hurray for 100!

Thanks to Kelly for letting me know THIS important piece of news: there are just over 100 people following me now!!! Thank you to each and every one of you. I hope to be as inspirational as all of your blogs are to me. 
Now, since I didn't notice the number jump, I haven't planned any sort of giveaway. Instead, I'm just going to share some things I'll be using this year.Click the pictures to download.

3 Ways to Read a Book poster.  I am overhauling my Literacy Centers to start Daily 5, so I've started creating a few introductory lesson supplements. I'm excited to switch, but I'm still learning. 

Book Lovers anchor chart pieces

AND grab my alphabet line for FREE today :)

When I get it finished, I'll post my "Problem Solvers" anchor chart. Last year I had a lot of issues with students having hands-on so this year I'm going to try to get ahead of it while the class is still fresh.

Thank you again to everyone!
- Amanda

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Feeling like a winner?

The lovely Tori from Tori's Teacher Tips has reached 400 followers (!!!) and she's having a giveaway. I'm contributing any item from my TpT for it - winner's choice, and many other great bloggers have added to the list of wonderful prizes. Click the picture below to head over and check it out: 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

So far so good!

I'm pretty pumped about this year. Great group of students so far, great teaching team again, and a lovely new EA to help me out. I don't feel in a haze this first week like I did last year - stepping off a 17-hour flight into desert heat at midnight and teaching at 7:20am the next day was a tad {understatement!} overwhelming and made for a less than thrilling teaching introduction on my part. Now we are practicing routines, {most} things are where they should be - including my brain! - and I have much more accurate expectations. 

Although my class list has gone from 25 to 29 to 27 to 28 already in the first two days of school, I feel like a happy teacher! We have a very high male population at our school, so I have 21 boys so far... I have some super cuties and super smarties so I'm looking forward to working with this group. With a week to set up my classroom, here's how it's shaping up:

Clock numbers - I'm hoping to use these in lessons somehow this month.

My Morning Meeting procedure and "Give Me 5" visual - thanks Mrs. Wheeler for this idea! It's kind of hard to see, but each hand has a little monster picture that focuses on eyes, ears, hands, body and mouth, like this guy:
I got the clip art from My Cute Graphics.

A place to hang fantastic work I receive.

My circus-inspired door complete with "Admit One" tickets that say "Welcome to grade two ___________" I'll use those later to assign classroom jobs.

And my alphabet. {PS - It's only $1 on my TN!} 
There will be a lot more going up as we get into more back to school lessons and activities, and while I don't l.o.v.e. everything about the room so far {my new EA has already declared I am a perfectionist haha}, it is a really great start! I hope everyone is enjoying being back and hopefully getting more than just half of what has been planned done with your classes, which is really all I've managed....
- Amanda

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pencil Poster Freebie

After just one week back in Kuwait, we're sweating buckets. I don't know how I could have forgotten just how hot it is here in the summertime. It has been really great to be here in time to set up my classroom, though, since last year we arrived the night before the first day of school!
Recently I've seen some great posters hanging around the interweb for back to school inspiration. So many wonderfully creative teachers out there! I decided to make a simple poster to remind students to always always always write their name on their paper. I don't know about you, but it drives me nuts when I get No Name work! I know this won't be a cure but it's cute anyway!

School just started yesterday so if I have any energy I'll try to get out an "All About My 27 New Friends" post later in the week!

Click HERE or on the picture to download.
- Amanda

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday