Tuesday, August 11, 2015

3 More Weeks

I can't believe my summer vacation will be over in just about 3 weeks! So since school is coming up so close and many other teachers have already started, I wanted to share a few things that I used last year and I loved and my students loved.

  1. Class Dojo! I've blogged about using ClassDojo before, which you can read here. Since I have started using it, I've only had one negative thing said about it from a parent and all it was, was that her kiddo did not like seeing the negative icons on the report. True, having  a blaring red thumbs down isn't the most fun thing to see, but the students and the parents need to know if the child is misbehaving. I don't draw attention to the negative, it's a quick "hey let's not do that", record it for the parents so they can discuss it if needed. Other than that, I have had nothing but positive reactions. Parents love being able to check in and see how their child's behavior is going during the day. Are they helpful? Do hey listen? Are they kind? Things like that. Another feature I used quite a lot last year is their messaging. It comes up like a text on my phone or ipad and it's an easy way to get quick notes from parents or to check in about certain parts of the day. If anything major ever happens I always call, but in the case of something minor it's been easier to let parents know what happened. It may look intimidating, but if you give it a chance, you will be very happy you did. 
  2. GoNoodle! With moving to a full day this next year, I'm excited to use this website even more than I did last year. This site has great brain break videos to help students get the wiggles out, calm down after recess or before a test, and even ones to help with review. There are little monster champs that the class can choose and for every 10 videos, the champ grows a little. The kids loved seeing the change of each one. The site is free, but I signed up for their Plus videos so I can have the kids spell sight words with their bodies, and type in custom questions that match our curriculum. It's fantastic!
  3. B.U.I.L.D for Math by Elizabeth Hall - these monthly packets are wonderful. You can read about her post on them here and here. I've never done math stations or centers before until I saw these. She makes it so easy to divide up tubs and put these activities in but also put your own in as well. My students really liked the books. I never even thought about putting math books in with math centers but it totally makes sense since we use book in literacy stations! She has loads of great ideas. She has a subtraction chant, that really helped my students remember about subtraction. 
  4. Math Journals! Oh wonderful interactive math journals, where have you been all my life? I first discovered Deedee Wills' math journals, which are great. They are all story problems that match up with the Common Core. You can download a freebie set of them to try out.  I actually started to use these on Wednesdays for Calendar Math for Word Problem Wednesday or Work Out Wednesday. The other days I use Karen Jones' interactive math journals for kinders. I love how students cut out and paster (great for fine motor) and then paste them in to their journal. These don't take very long either, only about 10 minutes. 
These are only a few things I discovered last year that I am excited to fully implement this year. BUILD has lots of copies that I have printed off and am now I'm trying to figure out how to laminate since our laminator at school is currently down. My goal this year is to find things that I can use over and over each year. The math journals from Karen Jones have lots of copies, but luckily a lot of them have multiples on each page so you won't have to make as many copies. Deedee Wills has put hers with 24 to a page, which is great! except when you have 25 students. :) You can read about what she does here.
I'm taking a break from going into my classroom so I don't get tired of being there, but I know if I go in about a week before school starts, then I'll be able to get everything together and be ready for my new group of littles!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New Year and New Schedule

Again, apologies. I've been leaving the blogging to others and just following them. I had just a great year last year with my kinders and am looking forward to a whole new group for the whole day! Yup my district has finally decided to go to a full day K program and I finally (after almost 9 years of teaching) get to be a full time teacher! I'm excited and nervous. I think this is why I have been doing so many projects this summer because I know I will not have the time like I have in the past.

I've got a slightly new set up in my room (which is not by any means done). I switched to round tables and carpet squares (which was a happy accident I'll explain in a minute), and moved some big furniture around so now I have a little book corner instead of it sticking out into the room. The tables are great but they can only fit 4 at each one so I have to have more than I had of the double-desks, which I put 3 together to make a group of 6. I'm very inspired by the whole no table, no desks thing many people are doing, but I just can't wrap my head around how that could work for me in my classroom. Maybe some day.

Ok so the happy accident with the carpet squares. Someone in a Facebook group posted a link about kid carpets on Wayfair for not very much money at all. I was stoked! I've been wanting a classroom rug so there was a space for each kiddo and they weren't crammed together on my current carpet. I found one I really liked and from the picture I thought I was getting a big square rug with 30 spots. Great! I go away for a few days and when I come back my husband has put this little box on the counter. I was confused as to how a big square rug was supposed to fit in this tiny box. Well low and behold the listing was for squares that when put together make a big carpet. I was going to send it back but then my husband suggested that I put non-skid stuff on the back of each one and the kids could use them whenever they work on the floor. (Yes I know I could just get rid of the tables and use these, but like I said, maybe someday). So another thing I'm excited to use this year and hopefully it'll work out.

So our full day is going to be much different from everyone else's full day plans from what I've seen Our school has 3 recesses; morning, lunch, and afternoon. I really liked the plans of only have two; lunch and afternoon. Much for time to get things done and not have that interruption in the morning. I should also say we start at 8:35 and our first recess is at 9:45, so I was perfectly happy skipping that one but I got a whole lotta push back and people thought I was crazy. So 3 it is.
Here is a mock-up of what I'm thinking. My plans usually tend to change once the year starts depending on how things are going. Week 2 Plans

I hope everyone has a great year! I'll try to be a little more diligent with posting.