Five for Friday…January 8th

**Happy first week back to school!**

I hope your week was as awesome as mine was! I’m going to share some of the things that made this week awesome. I introduced a couple of flexible seating options to my students (working our way up to full immersion into flexible seating), I have my whole week planned for next week without doing any work at home, I participated in a really fun weekly blab, I found some fun ways to teach Responsibility to my students, and I’m finishing a really fun fiction book and am about to begin an awesome book that you have to check out!

If those sound like things you’d like to read more about… buckle your seat belt, because we’re going to run through them quickly (I know we all have things to do and places to be).

Five for Friday doodle bugs teaching

 

 

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Not long into the start of the year I realized that I had a very active class of students – they find it difficult to stay in their seats, to keep still, and focus. Our P.E. teacher is amazing, and she helped me get floor pedals, and our Special Ed department helped me get a hold of some busy bands (they are like exercise bands that you put around a student’s chair or desk for them to bounce their feet on). I also used a couple of extra desks as “standing desks” – for students to work at standing up. They’re not any higher than regular desks though.

You may have read about my Donor’s Choose project last week – but this week I decided to add a couple of additional alternative seating options, while we wait for the project to be funded.

I brought in an extra yoga mat I have and a lap desk that I never use. I also taught my students about stacking their blocks and showed them the different ways they can improve their posture while sitting, standing, or laying on the floor. I told my students they could sit/lay anywhere on the floor during independent work, as long as their blocks are stacked. Another option is to sit/lay under their desks and to use an extra blanket I had to curtain off the underneath of their desk to help them focus. They can use the lap desk, the yoga mat, the pillows we have, clipboards, etc.

I hope to add additional options this week – I want to lower another extra desk I have, so that there is an option to sit on the floor and use a desk. I also want to see if there is any possible way to raise the two desks I allow students to stand at, to emulate standing desks.

My students definitely love laying under their desks. Here are the students taking a reading quiz yesterday. The student quote in the picture was said during Math, when we have students from other classed come into our room. I did not have to explain anything, my students told them why they’re allowed to lay on the floor, and they did a great job modeling the correct way to do so.

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One of my goals for this year is to get into a zone with regard to productivity and focus – so last week I planned out every aspect of my time. My time at home, my time in the morning at school, and my planning time at work.

I was determined to plan an entire week of lessons during school time. I am proud to say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!! The only thing I have not planned (with resources saved and activities planned) is guided reading. But, my mornings are actually only dedicated to “prep” work for the day, so I could plan each day’s lesson in the morning.

I knew I could accomplish this, because last Sunday I set a 30 minute timer for each of the subjects I teach, and planned a week’s worth of lessons in that time – so when I assigned a subject to spend time planning this week – I made sure I allocated at least 30 minutes for that subject. I also assigned time for grading. I assigned this time using my google calendar – which syncs with my phone – so that it’s easy for me to stay on track.

Don’t get me wrong – I still have some work to do at home this weekend, but I’m determine to minimize it and only spend at the most 2 hours on the weekend doing school work.

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Last Saturday I participated in my second blab! If you’re not sure what blab is – you’ve got to check it out. Especially if you are on periscope and love it as much as I do. I love periscope, but I find that it’s difficult for me to come out of my shell when I’m “by myself” or the only one talking. I’m a shy extrovert, so it usually takes me a little while to feel comfortable being 100% myself around people. On blab you can be online with up to 3 other people – similar to Skype or a Google Hangout, except it’s like periscope in that other people can tune in and participate via the comments. Also – if only 3 seats are filled on a panel, the open seat is usually left open so viewers can call in and participate in the discussion too.

The blab I participated in is Craft & Chat with Jamie. It’s a weekly blab where teachers will get together and create something fun. Last week we created paintings of our word of the year. There is one finishing touch I need to add to mine, but I’ll add another picture when I do that.

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Like many schools, our school has adopted a character curriculum and we teach it during morning meeting every day. We take one character trait a month and do a variety of activities and lessons with the students to help them understand what it means to exhibit that character trait and why it’s important.

This month we are focusing on Responsibility and we did two really fun activities: What’s on Your Plate? and Fill the Jar.

First, for What’s on Your Plate? – students had to think about all the things they are responsible for, they also thought about the things that they like to do for fun. Then, we did the Fill the Jar activity so they could understand the importance of prioritizing. When we take care of our responsibilities first, we have time for the fun stuff. You can check out this activity here, it’s a freebie in my store!

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Last, I’d like to share the books I’m reading or getting ready to start reading. I am about to finish 11/22/63 by Steven King.

51gir4mu2b2l-_sx321_bo1204203200_It’s a really good book and if I wasn’t so busy trying to focus on work and blogging, etc – I believe I would have finished it in a couple of days. There is a Hulu 6 part series getting ready to start in February, which I am very excited about! Have you read this book or seen the trailer for the series? What are your thoughts?

 

I plan to start reading Crash Course by Kim Bearden (the co-founder of Ron Clark Academy) tomorrow. I’ve heard great things about the book, and I love Kim!

518ly3ayxtl-_sx327_bo1204203200_If you want to keep up to date on what I’m reading – you can always check the goodreads info on my side bar —->

 

How was your first week back? Have you got a planning schedule in place that works for you? I’d love to hear about it. Do you use flexible seating? What professional development book are you currently reading, or dying to read? I hope you had an amazing first week back, and that the second week is even better!!! 

If you’d like to join the 5 for Friday blog link up, you can click the Five for Friday image at the top of this post.

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Five for Friday… January 1st

**Happy New Year!**

I am so excited for everything this year holds for me and for YOU!! Yes YOU!! You are going to do amazing things this year! For this five for Friday I wanted to share some of the things I wish I had known as a first year teacher, or at least earlier in my career. 

Five for Friday doodle bugs teaching

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Is there a scholastic warehouse near you? You would know because they would advertise big sales. You can also check for sales here. If there aren’t any sales right now, you can register and get emails when there are sales – you can do that here.

Why should you care about this? Well… when I first started teaching, I spend hundreds of dollars on books for my classroom. Then I even did a donors choose project for more books – which was great and very helpful. But…I will never hardly ever spend another dollar on a book for my classroom. Here’s why:

Whenever there is a scholastic warehouse sale, they have volunteers work the event. Volunteers are “paid” in credit to spend at the sale. I also have a lot of fun volunteering at these events – getting to know the books that are available, chatting to people about books… etc. I have been able to not only build up my classroom library (and sometimes my personal library too) but also get enough books to give to my kids for birthdays and Christmas.

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This was my classroom library at the beginning of the year- more books have been added since.

If you are interested, make sure you check the “volunteer” box when you register for the events – here is the link again. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me – I’ll help in any way I can.

 

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When I was a first year teacher – let’s be honest- I was just trying to make sure I was teaching the curriculum and my kids were learning, while building relationships and learning…. always learning. But, one thing that I did need to do on occasion, was create an assessment or worksheet for my students (that was not already created on teachers pay teachers (tpt) or such).

I created these assessments on Microsoft Word using the standard fonts. I had no idea that Powerpoint is actually MUCH easier and user friendly. Also – there are so many free fonts and free graphics on tpt (just make sure that you review the terms of use if you want to sell any of your creations).

To make it even easier – I already did the search for you! If you need to know how to install and use fonts – let me know in the comments I’ll be happy to share on a future blog post. Same goes for more details about using PowerPoint to create materials for your classroom (or to sell).

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Do you have an interactive whiteboard in your classroom? If you don’t – you should totally do a Donors Choose project for one (more about Donors Choose coming up) – they’re awesome!!

Did you know you can create PowerPoints to use on the interactive whiteboards? You did? So it’s just me that is behind on the times? That’s okay. Did you know that you can get products on tpt to use on your interactive whiteboards? Well, you can, and there are some for free too!!

I highly encourage finding some meaningful activities to use during centers or rotations — don’t be the only one who touches the board in your classroom. I have some ways to manage this with small groups of students using one board independently during a rotation – I’ll share in a future post.

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Donors Choose….. have you heard of it? Have you ever submitted a project? It really is an amazing organization – and I’ve learned so much about promoting a project from some teachers on social media.

First – I have a project right now, it’s a big one, but I’m almost half way there already! I kept putting it off, because I knew it would be asking a lot – but I’m so glad I did it. I’m still surprised by the generosity of people, especially people who do not even know me or my students. But, what’s been the most rewarding is seeing my students fired up about it. They’ve even donated a dollar here, five dollars there – they’ve been inspired by the generosity of strangers and that is something special to see.

If you’d like some help promoting your product, I’d be happy to share the tips that have been graciously shared with me – just let me know.

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These are the resources we are asking for – click the image for more information.

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The last item on my agenda is TPT etiquette – which could be a whole blog post on it’s own, but I’d rather do a shortened version here…so, at lightning speed…here it is:

  • When you download a free product, the seller who took the time to create that product would really appreciate it if you could follow his/her store and provide feedback on the free product. Many sellers make items free to get some feedback, especially if you snag the item on sale or as a flash freebie.
  • Provide feedback, whether it’s free or not- there’s nothing not many things worse (as a seller) than seeing that people have purchased your product, but you have no feedback for it. Please let us know how you like the product, and now – TPT gives you points towards store credit for giving feedback for paid purchases – so it’s a win-win!!
  • Lastly — please stop sharing paid products with your teacher friends. It’s against the law, and poor etiquette. I know you may feel like you can’t say no to your team mates or teacher friends, but we need to change the culture of how teachers treat TPT product copyrights. If you know you can’t help but share with your team – buy extra licenses for products…Most extra licenses are half the price of the full price item, so a $1.00 product becomes a $2.50 product – which is not that bad. This should be a conversation you have with your team at the beginning of each year – share the policy with your team and agree to always purchase additional licenses for products – you can also go and purchase additional licenses after the fact.

Okay – that’s it, I’m off my tiny soap box… but I hope you’ll consider helping me change the conversations and culture of how bargain TPT buyers treat sellers. (I share this taking full responsibility for my past mistakes in these regards – but once you know better, you can do better, right?)

SO… are you ready to register as a volunteer at a local Scholastic Warehouse? (If you sign up, someone will email before an event and ask if you want to do it, so there is no commitment yet) Yes YOU!! Will you try to get your students using your interactive whiteboard more often?  How about Donors Choose, would you like tips for promoting your projects? 

No matter what – I hope you’re as ready as I am to make 2016 AMAZING!! I  don’t know about you, but I can’t wait…

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Five for Friday

Five for Friday doodle bugs teachingI’m linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday…. my first one!

Five for friday 1Something that has occupied most of my week has been Teachers Pay Teachers. I got 3 sales this week – my first sales ever!! Which made me feel pressure to improve the product, as I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to make the Homework Binder Inserts editable so that teachers could personalize it to match their homework policies. I’ve finished it and am just waiting to hear back from a seller whose product I would love to include in the pack. As soon as I hear back, I will post the revision!

**revision is up**

Here is a sneak peak in the meantime! Homework Binder preview watermarkedI also added a math homework menu, for those days/weeks when things get crazy and you can’t run worksheets or find a valuable activity that students can complete independently. As well as an extra spelling menu – I plan to switch out the menu half way through the year to change things up.

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I love to draw and doodle, and hubby even bought me these awesome pens and black notebook for Valentines Day this year. I haven’t done much in the book, partly because of time, and partly because of hesitation and fear I guess. BUT….not anymore!!! I watched one of my favorite periscopers yesterday and she did a quick lettering tutorial – which totally inspired me!! She recommended this youtube channel and I’ve already watched a couple of the lettering tutorials. I’m totally hooked, and cannot wait to “fancy up” my anchor charts and other classroom posters, etc!!

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I was lucky enough to attend the ASCD Conference on Teaching Excellence this summer, for the second year in a row. Once again – I’ve come away with so many great ideas!! Last year I focused on two things, explicitly teaching grit and trying to incorporate teaching strategies that would help boys succeed in the classroom. They were my 2 biggest takeaways from that year.

This year, I have a three BiG takeaways:

#1 Providing consistent and meaningful feedback

#2 Keep students engaged in their learning through reflecting on objectives, learning, and effort.

#3 Pacing (which goes hand-in-hand with student engagement)

Providing timely feedback can be the most challenging thing for a teacher – especially when you have more than 20 students (which is not often the case in our Title 1 school). The presenter of the session on feedback said that it has been scientifically proven that in order for feedback to be meaningful – you have a 2 day window. Otherwise, the student will actually have to relearn the material as opposed to simply making corrections or clarifying their understanding.

With this, and takeaway #2, in mind, I created goal accounting templates (I like to call them student objective tracking/reflection recording sheets, because that is what they are.) This will help provide 1 of 3 types of feedback – reflective feedback. Expert feedback is provided by the teacher, and clarifying/indirect feedback is peer feedback (which you could have students engage in during turn and talk).

I plan to make the goal sheets part of my every day routine to either have the students jot down the objective, or provide them with it on a label to stick in (if I know I’ll be short on time). Students then rate their level of understanding, between 1 and 4. After the lesson, they go back and rate their effort (1-4) and their level of understanding now. Eventually they will record their assessment results for that objective/goal.

Below is an example of different ways students could write the objective – they do not need to write the whole thing out if you’re pressed for time or have students who struggle writing neatly.

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This picture was taken a week ago – at my bestie’s wedding! It was such a fun-filled day and night!!

My number 4 is my fourth grade team. I work with ladies that I can truly call some of my best friends!! I love each of them as people and professionals. We are all so different, and have different styles of teaching, but we work so well together. I dread the day that we get separated, which is probably inevitable…. but, until that time comes – I pledge to enjoy every day working with them and learning from and with them!!

five for friday 5  My number 5 is simple: Periscope!

Periscope has changed my life. And I don’t say that to sound dramatic, I’m serious!! I’ve followed teacher blogs before and follow teachers on instagram, etc…. periscope is different. It makes the people behind the blogs and instagram accounts real…

Through watching teachers on periscope, I have realized my own personal gifts and talents as a teacher. It has given me confidence to step out of my comfort zone and try things that I didn’t think were “for me” – such as teachers pay teachers, a teacher blog, hand lettering….

It has also given me the freedom to really push myself and be the best I can be. When you’re in your own teaching bubble, it can be difficult to push yourself. I know that for me, at my school (and I’m sure it’s the same at many of your schools) the job is so challenging and emotionally draining because of the wonderful little people we teach. Teaching is only the tip of the iceberg with these kiddos. That being said, there is a culture of “you have to take care of yourself” or “I can’t put extra time into this job, i have a family/life/stress that needs attention” at schools. Sometimes this makes me feel like I shouldn’t be putting in extra effort – because it’s not the norm…. and I’m not saying that we should put our jobs before our families, or our own mental, physical, or emotional health…

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I truly LOVE teaching, I LOVE planning, I LOVE going to professional developments, I LOVE trying new things/intiatives in the classroom, I LOVE it all….. so why should I feel guilty for putting in extra time and effort?

Periscope has connected me with many like-minded teachers (not that there aren’t any at my school — there are plenty!!) who are wonder women! They give me hope that I too can find a balance between being the best teacher I can be, and having a separate life!

If you’re still reading – thank you!!

Please let me know what you think in the comments – I’m interested to know if I’m the only who feels/felt this way!

Have a great weekend!!

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