Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tips for Not Letting Report Cards Get You Down

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It is that time of year that is typically the most stressful for teachers---

1st quarter report cards, conferences, American Education Week,

and maybe even observations? 

Report cards don’t need to stress you out and give you a constant headache! 

A focus of my school this year is to make sure we utilize report cards to accurately document:

1. how the student is performing in the classroom

2. behavior/social concerns effecting performance

3. level of support currently being provided for student success

4. teacher’s plan for assisting in student growth next term

Let me back up a moment and add that parents and teachers should be communicating throughout the quarter on the student’s successes and challenges.  The report card should not be the first time a parent is hearing this information.

The report card is the place to document the student’s current successes, challenges, and student concerns. 

As I scoured blogs and performed many searches on Pinterest, I so often found suggestions and resources about changing all negative things into positives.

While I do believe you should begin the comment, conferences, and any parent communication with a positive comment, it is essential that you accurately document the student’s status.

The comments section is not a place to list everything taught during the quarter or to copy & paste the same comment for every student.  The comment should be personalized & thorough, accurate & data-driven.

(Please keep in mind all schools, counties, and districts have their own expectations for report cards.  This blog post is my personal opinion from experience and professional development.)

To help you with writing your own report card comments, I have compiled a document that I am also sharing with teachers at my own school.  I printed these on bright paper, backed on a sheet of construction paper, and laminated.  I am recommending that teachers store these in their grading binders for easy access.

report card comment
Click on any image to download and good luck with writing your report cards!

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Technology Ideas (Part 1)

Even though my new position is not strictly technology, technology is still a HUGE part of my job.  My county is currently piloting one-to-one devices at 10 elementary schools.  My school is not one of the piloting schools, but students in first through third grades will begin using one-to-one devices next year.  The other grade levels the following year. 

Staff members received the devices at the end of last year to begin learning and familiarizing themselves.  This year I wanted to make sure the devices didn’t sit in their bags unused, so I have and will continue to look for suggestions for them to begin utilizing with just one device in the classroom! 

We were provided with HP Revolve Elitebooks.  They are dual-purpose, acting as a laptop and a tablet.  We like to call them laplets! (Since we do not like to call them devices… just sounds funny!)

So without farther ado---

Let’s get this blog series started!

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Part 1 of this blog series is focused on using One Note in the classroom. 

For those that are not familiar…

Using the Device for Instruction one note

Prior to this summer, I had not used One Note.  But now I wish I would have used this during college for note-taking.  It would have helped me stay so organized!

Enough with college though, back to elementary school…

So, how can we use OneNote in the classroom with just one laplet/tablet? 

Here are 6 ideas I shared with my staff!

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1.  Search & Find

You can insert an image that you have saved on your computer, find on the internet, or scan in.  Then, in a small or whole group your students could work on a search and find.  I like to type the list on the side so students can see the spelling of the items found.  This would be a great activity to use when needing to regroup your kids, a reward, or if you are sending students to the bathroom in groups.

Below is another version of a search and find.  You could ask your students to find items with a certain letter or sound in their name.  You could also have students type or write with a stylus, something they see in the picture.

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2. Edit

In the example below, I inserted an image from my Cleaning Up Writing (Monthly Writing Activities Pack).  You can insert an image that you have or find online.  If you purchase a product that you LOVE from TPT you can print the page and scan it back into the computer.  Then, you could insert it in OneNote as an image. 

You can use the various tools under draw to edit a document as a class or to review something they edited independently or in small groups.  Last week, I worked with a student using my device as a tablet and let me just say…  he LOVED that he could touch the screen and use the stylus.  It was SO ENGAGING!  I can’t wait to see more students get their hands on the device!

An editing activity like the one below would also be very useful in small groups.  It could be a quick check to see how students are doing with editing.  Can they find the punctuation errors?  Do they struggle to find the spelling errors?

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3. Show Work

Only 2 rooms in my building have SmartBoards, so when I realized we could use OneNote to almost make our boards interactive (touching the device not board), I was excited!  Other teachers at my school were excited to! Below I inserted a picture of  a math task card.  My students worked on these task cards when I was out for a meeting last year.  When I returned, we used a few minutes to go over their work and share our strategies!  Using OneNote allows you to even insert the same image more than once so that you can have more than one student show their work.  You can have the two examples side by side for comparison and for students to revisit as needed throughout the lesson.

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4. Take Notes

In the example below, I inserted an image from Lyndsey’s Animals in Winter Pack.  By not enlarging it to use the whole screen, you can use the right side to take notes as you read with your whole class, small group, or even individual student.   You could have students define words as they read, pull out interesting facts, list words they don’t understand, etc. 

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5. Ask Questions

In the example below, I inserted an image my Print and Teach Pack.  In advance, you could insert questions and stopping points within the text you will be reading.  This would not only be great for teachers, but also if you need to have a substitute.  The questions can already be there to guide them along!  You could also stop as you read and have students develop questions.  You could type or write them along the side of the text to revisit and respond to once you have located the answer.

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6. Create Notebooks

In my new position, I create notebooks to keep track of meetings I attend weekly with each grade level, with my administration, and off site meetings.  It allows me to keep my information organized and easy to revisit when needed. 

In many classrooms, interactive notebooks are being used.  When I used interactive science notebooks in the past, I made a teacher version to use as a guide.  But why not make one in OneNote and save the digital copy for years to come?  That way, each year you can easily adjust as you need to but everything will be organized and ready to project!

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Now it’s your turn!

How do you use OneNote in the classroom?

Or what fabulous ideas do you have for using it in the classroom?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Building Super Stamina

Last year many teachers at my school began using the Daily 5 framework.  After seeing the many successes from last year, all teachers are joining in on the action this year!  

(This is where I am jumping for joy.. but you can’t see me!)

Based off of the reading resources the county provides us (Reading Wonders) and the curriculum they have written utilizing those resources, I truly believe Daily 5 is the best way for teachers to layout their reading block. 

Last year…

I saw the MOST growth in reading abilities and skills.

I witnessed students FALLING IN LOVE with books.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I was unable to get a student who was reading’s attention until a student literally tapped them on the shoulder. 

In my new position as STAT/resource teacher, I have began searching for meaningful resources to use for all aspects of Daily 5. 

My teachers have just began Daily 5 so their focus is on what my post is on today…

BUILDING SUPER STAMINA

The teachers are basically following what the fabulous sisters shared in their book.

They will begin with introducing the three ways to read a book, good choices during read to self, modeling good/bad behavior, picking good spots, and finally

practicing, practicing, practicing---

and building that stamina!

In order to build that stamina, students must be motivated.

I am motivated by setting goals/having a set purpose.

Students need the same thing!

Last year I created a stamina chart on my whiteboard using Washi tape and dry erase markers.  But this year I wanted to be able to provide a resource that all of the teachers could use in their classroom. 

Here is your freebie!  My teachers were excited about it, so I hope you all will be too.  Hopefully, it can help track your students’ growth and motivate them to push farther!  

Click on the image below to download the freebie!

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Also, don’t forgot about my Daily 5 Rotation Posters to establish what the students and teacher are doing for each.  Free on TPT. 

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Click on the picture below to download!

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Animal Wax Museum Recap & Freebie

Here is my first look-back from my classroom this spring! 

Every year in second grade we complete Animal Research Projects.  Ever since I created my Animal Wax Museum Pack this is a breeze for my coworkers and I!

Our students researched, created dioramas, and made their costumes at home with their parents.  In school they wrote their final copies, created their posters, buttons, and animal crossing signs.

Let’s take a look!

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The great thing to remember is that this pack can easily be used for students in grades K-4.  The expectations and support would be different for each grade level but the resources from the pack could be used for all of those grade levels!   I have found some great examples on Instagram of friends using my pack!  I love to see how other teachers use the resources in their rooms Smile 

These are Caitlin’s pictures from Kindergarten Smiles.  She had her students work in groups!

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These are pictures from two second grade classrooms!  Excelling in Second used them for student-led conferences. 

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Here is a freebie to pair with my Animal Wax Museum Pack!

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Included in this freebie is the final report pages with primary and regular lines & the animal fact book my students used as they walked around and learned about each others’ animals!  To download click on the picture or words below! 

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 Animal Wax Museum FREEBIE

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Life Update {Where I’ve Been, What I’m Doing, & Where I’m Going}

life updates

As I began writing this post I was in shock to see the date of my last post….

March 4th…. WOWZERS!

Where does the time go??

In March, I had just began two new projects (still in the works now) and came to the conclusion that I was spending way too much of my life blogging, creating, promoting, etc.

It literally was

TAKING OVER MY LIFE!

I actually would feel guilty anytime I wasn’t working. 

I love sharing my ideas- things that I found to work and not work in the classroom. 

I love sharing my students’ successes. 

I love sharing my creations.

And I love that I am able to not only be a part of the learning in my classroom but also hundreds of classrooms around the world.

But I realized I needed to live my life too. 

We only have one and we need to make it a great one!

So this spring and summer I’ve done just that.  I have taken a break from creating and blogging to spend time with my family and friends.  I have taken three wonderful vacations--- Jamaica, Bethany Beach, & Costa Rica!

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I say wonderful time minus fracturing my nose in two places while surfing in Costa Rica!

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I have read more books in the past month then I have probably read in

the past 5 years!

I was able to have my first bloggy meet-up with Jen from Teacher by the Beach.  She is such a sweetheart by the way!

jen

While doing all of this, I have realized that I missed this part of my life too. 

Everything in moderation, right?

So in order to help myself get back on track and keep a balance--

I’ve made a tentative schedule so that I don’t give too much time to any one thing.

With all that I have shared so far, I also wanted to tell you all about my new position at my school.  I will be a .5 3rd grade math pullout teacher and a .5 STAT teacher.  In my county, a STAT teacher provides job-embedded professional development, instructional coaching, and any other support to help make teachers and students successful.  I am so excited about this new experience!

So, in the coming weeks expect to see me catching up by sharing some experiences from the past few months of school as well as some new products in the works Smile 

Keep an eye out!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Organizing Reading Groups

This school year my school & entire county made major changes to our reading block.  In the past, we had homogenous classes and taught reading and writing as a whole group for the entire block.  But this year, we have heterogeneous classes and are expected to teach a short shared reading lesson and then pull small homogenous groups.

I have fallen in LOVE with teaching in small groups!

I know my students so much better in terms of their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Small groups allow me to meet the students’ needs much quicker and more thorough then ever before. 

While I pull small groups, my other students do Daily 5 rotations.  I do not run Daily 5 exactly how the sisters explain it in their book.  I had to make some changes to work for my class and my county’s curriculum. 
(A blog post will be coming soon on Daily 5 in my room!)

I have a horseshoe table that my school purchased for me this year.  This summer Lyndsey from A Year of Many FIrsts took a trip to Ikea, where we purchased the stools purchased below.  We don’t just use them at our small group table but around the room as well!

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Pictured below are my small group signs.  These are always posted and help the kiddos keep track of which group they are in.

I used the full-page group signs for keeping track of my reading, phonics, and fluency groups. First, I print and laminate the signs. Since groups are flexible, I need to be able to adjust them frequently. I use dry erase markers to write on them! Three signs are for reading groups (in the first picture), one sign for my fluency group (in the second picture), and one sign for my phonics group(in the second picture). I use magnetic clips to keep them up and use clothespins to attach them to each other. I didn’t want to permanently attach them incase the number of groups I use changes.

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Just about everyday I pull each of my small groups, typically for about 20-25 minutes.  Sometimes the times fluctuate depending on what the group is working on, if any students are absent, or if students are pulled by the speech teacher, special education teacher, occupational therapist, or ESOL teacher.  Below are my fluency and phonics groups.  These groups change often based on the skills being focused on or observations made. 

I meet with these groups in addition to small groups.  Not every day but when it fits in.  Sometimes these groups are given something specific to work on during a Daily 5 rotation.

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When reading groups are not in session, this is what the ledge behind the horseshoe table looks like.  Pictured are my three reading group baskets, my notes binder, timer, and to the left my Buddy Binders which I frequently get the kiddos started on as they leave small group.  (This is an activity they can do during Daily 5.)

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I used half-page group signs that I created.  I backed them on construction paper, laminated them, punched two holes, and used O-rings to attach to the baskets. 

While reading groups are in session, this is what the ledge behind the horseshoe table looks like.

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I use the reading group baskets to organizing materials I will be using with each group in the next few days.  These help keep me sane and organized! 

Here’s a peek:

Currently my Turtles are using my Donavan’s Word Jar Book Companion Pack

They work on the comprehension questions & extension activities in this pack while applying skills & strategies.

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Currently my Frogs are also using my Donavan’s Word Jar Book Companion Pack

They primarily work on the comprehension questions in this pack while applying skills & strategies.

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Currently my Dragonflies are using my Print & Teach Pack.

This pack includes passages at three different levels- approaching, on-grade, and beyond.  My Dragonflies are currently working in the approaching level text.  This pack has been a huge help in my room since it includes all of the of the common core standards for informational text.  My Frogs and Turtles haven’t began to use this yet, but when they finish Donavan this is what we are moving into! 

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The picture below shows the shelf underneath the ledge behind my horseshoe table.  This is where I store some of my go-to materials I use on a daily basis. 

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The light blue bin is pictured below.  I use the markers and scissors when we build vocabulary on the sentence strips in the picture above.  The index cards I keep on hand incase I need to add any word cards to student’s rings of words to practice.  The red pens and erasable pens are for “special” days in small group.  They are a big deal for my kiddos so we use them sparingly as a motivator! The dry erase markers and erasers are used occasionally on laminated passages and frequently on white boards.

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Below are the student supply bins on the shelf behind the horseshoe table.  Students know that these are their bins to go in whenever they need supplies in small group if I don’t put them out for them.

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During small group I take frequent notes on the students’ strengths and weaknesses in fluency, applying strategies, word attack skills, writing, and following directions. 

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I use quarter-page group signs for organizing independent work for my three reading groups. By having the groups turn in their work in separate bins, grading is much easier! I can grab a stack from a basket and have all of the same activity together. This makes it so convenient!

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In small groups this year I have found myself using some packs I have previously created and also felt the need to create more to work on specific skills.  Pictured below are the resources I have used or have ready to use this year. 

resources i use

To download my reading group signs and for more information on how I use these in my room and resources I use in small groups,

Click here to download the freebie pack from my TPT Shop!