Saturday, August 27, 2011

Matter Song

Next week we will be studying the 3 States of Matter. I found this song created by Have Fun Teaching, but there wasn't a video yet for their song. I went to YouTube and found someone had created a cute visual for the song that will be perfect for my second graders. Here is a copy of the video, but if you would like to hear the original song, download the song, or find the lyrics please visit Have Fun Teaching.

I'm a Survivor! (Of the first week of school!)

Oh. My. Goodness. I haven't been this tired in a long time! Obviously, I have taken for granted my ability to just "know" my objectives and have my organized files ready to back me up. Eleven years in first grade will do that to you! I wanted to shake things up so I moved up to second grade....and I'm loving every second of it! It's just a lot of late evenings preparing and organizing everything. I inherited filing cabinets filled to the brim with materials from several different teachers. I have duplicate copies of everything! I am so sorry that I haven't been posting much at all, but I'm sure you all can understand. At some point, you just have to walk away from the computer (yeah, right) and be with your family. There are only so many hours in the day. Actually, I think I fell asleep while working on the computer Wednesday night. Add to all this work stress that I am the "mother" of a 60 pound dog with identity issues and a nasty chewing habit and you've got a great cocktail for the funny farm! I may have to check myself in for "exhaustion"! Isn't that what all the posh celebrities do these days? Here are a few highlights of our week together. There's not much, I apologize. We have some exciting activities kicking off next week in class and I still haven't sent home permission slips for my parents to release images of their children's faces, so I can't share all of my pictures just yet. Anyway, I hope you enjoy! Have a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful weekend and I'm praying for a successful year for all of my teaching (and student) buddies!
Ms. Liza read Skippyjon Jones to our class!  Our first guest reader of the year!

A gift from the Bridges family!
A gift from the Juarez family!
Tater, the wonder cat!  For all of my families, this is the dog your children will be telling you all about this year!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Calling creative thinkers....I need some quick help!

It's happened.  I've run out of creative "go-go" juice.  Can you help me?  I am designing a seat back for my student of the day's chair but I can't think of a cute catch phrase.  I have a rock-n-roll theme so can anyone come up with something cute?  THANKS!!!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Classroom Pictures

Like a madwoman, I have been up at work for over a week attempting to assemble my classroom.  I switched classrooms....again (4th time in 2 years), so I'm getting pretty good at it!  There was a lot to clean out and I'm still organizing everything but it's getting there!  I wanted to share some pictures of my rock-n-roll themed classroom with you.  I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures.  My camera died and I had to use my phone!  Hopefully, I'll get better pictures soon!  Anyway, welcome!

This display is just as you enter my classroom! The set list will be the location for my picture schedule.  I'm going to place velcro dots on those trim pieces and change out my schedule daily.  I still have some de-cluttering to do in the shelves, but I'm close!  I love the Guitar Hero challenge (behavior board)!  I modified the clip chart system (see previous post) e-book and borrowed the guitar design from the Inspired Apple.  I think it turned out pretty cute.  There are six tuning knobs on the guitar but only five strings....small over-site!  I wonder how long before my second graders notice?
Here is my lunch board!  :)  The wonderful people from the Hard rock Cafe sent me this vinyl lithograph for my classroom! Isn't it awesome?  Each day my children move their lunch clips to the appropriate choice.  Like my picture schedule, I have images for all of our lunch choices and it ends the debate of "I didn't order that!"
This is my "Word Wall of Fame".  I have two shower curtains hiding the most ugly chalkboard and I've magnetized my pocket charts from Target.  I have the alphabet listed in sign language for my children, and I still have to put up all of our beginning words.  You can see the tired table I use for the computers.  Is it just me or is it sagging?  Hmmm....that may not be good.  My book caddy is in the lower right corner.  All second grade teachers have this in their rooms.  It's a nightmare, but I'm determined to organize it before school starts!  (Also, I know the pocket charts aren't spaced evenly, but it'll get done sometime!)
You can see the beginnings of my locker organization.  Each child has their book basket for the Daily 5.  There is simply no room for all of my children to be at the book caddy, so they will put their books here for Read to Self.  Joe Cool is hanging out in my room.  He is awesome.  I've had him for such a long time!  The birthday board is next.  I'm thinking of taking the students' pictures and displaying them instead of using cutouts.  I think it would be cute!
Are you super jealous of my question mark?  LOL!  I'm almost proud of it.  I drew the punctuation marks free-hand (duh..) and at least they're recognizable!  Our second grade classrooms all have these writing rules bulletin boards.  I'm not terribly jazzed about it but it's okay.  You have to rock the zebra trim though!
This will be our gathering area for reading mini-lessons.  I have bedazzled the top of the chart stand but I need more ribbon to do the bottom two legs!  Ooops!  You can see the storage boxes behind the chart stand.  This is where I keep the extra supplies for my students.  Each child has a drawer to hold extra crayons, notebooks, etc.  I've had them for years and it's worked out great!  The student of the day will sit with me on the footstools and be my helper during the mini-lessons.  Inside the cart, I have my beanie babies for reading comprehension and various other tools.
Here is the beginning of my focus wall for Scott Foresman Reading Street.  I love the "turn up the volume" plates at the top!  Cute find for Oriental Trading.  I will use the empty space at the top to display the reading strategies after we've mastered them. I'll attach the beanie babies up there too!
My zone.  Guided reading/math groups, my phone & printer, and all of my supplies.  Adult only area!  :)
The love of my educational life!  My Promethean board!  Aaaahhhhh!  Can't wait to get back to playing with this shiny toy!  Discipline issues are down and attendance is up!  Woohoo!  You have to teach children they way they learn...digitally!  The barstool will be covered soon in zebra print duct tape.  Can't wait for that!  The chalkboard will be covered too by fabric or another shower curtain and I don't think you can tell, but the rolling cart is in zebra print too!  It's just harder to see since the drawers are see through!

Well, there you go!  You're welcome anytime!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

J.A.R. Activity

Alright, it is time to start gearing back up for the start of school.  Really?  Who am I kidding?  I've spent the last week up in my new classroom trying to get things organized and looking cute for the kiddos.  I am desperate to get my hands on my roster so I can begin personalizing things for the kiddos!  I'll be sure and post pictures soon.  I really can't wait to get going!

Anyway, here is an activity that I like to do during the first few weeks of the year.  It is called the J.A.R. (Just Acting Right) activity.  This is a fun way to model positive behavior expectations in your classroom.  I use this in my classroom and we have a fantastic time learning expectations.  One of the reasons that this activity is fun is that we model the behavior correctly, then incorrectly, and correctly one last time.  The kids get the biggest thrill out of being chosen to model the behavior incorrectly.  Whoever models it incorrectly, then has to turn around and show the behavior correctly.  (I usually choose those students that I know are going to struggle as the "incorrect/correct" models.  They're going to screw up anyway to play the "look at me game", so I just beat them to the punch!)  Saves me a lot of grief in the classroom. Get your copy here.

I use the top of the first page as the label for the jar and then cut the strips apart and place inside.  I probably should have laminated everything first, but it's held up fine.  We usually practice three behaviors a day.  I hope you enjoy the activity!  Feel free to "borrow" a copy and please consider becoming a follower if you're not already.  I'm itching to do a giveaway!  :)  Happy Summer!  J.A.R. activity here!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Task Card Giveaway!

Calling all bloggers! Yearn to Learn is having a fabulous giveaway in honor of her 200 followers! She is giving away, not one, not two, but 48 task card sets! Are you kidding me? Hop on over to get registered. I'm crossing my fingers!!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


You have to go visit the Lesson Plan Diva right now. The giveaways are fantastic and you can enter to win a gift card too! Have a great day!

The Lesson Plan Diva: 500 BLOG AND FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS GIVEAWAY!!: "This totally snuck up on me but I am so grateful to have reached 500 followers on my blog and my facebook page. As you know I love to give s..."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Be A Guitar Hero

So, it's no secret by now that my school is doing a rock-n-roll theme.  To go along with that, I'm using "Be A Guitar Hero" as the header for my behavior board.  I use a clip chart system in my classroom and I've always had a way for children to move "up" the board and be recognized for going above and beyond normal good behavior.  I thought I was doing a good job, but then I read this fantastic eBook about clip charts and it got my little teacher heart to going pitter-patter!  If you would like to read this fantastic eBook (for free), just click here!
Clip Chart eBook

Forgive me if I start to ramble a bit, but I'm using this blog as my brainstorming session, and I'm hoping to receive lots of comments and ideas on this post....don't fail me now readers!  Ok, I'm not going to use all of these sections on the clip chart, but I am using most of them.  I re-colored my areas to resemble the keys on the guitar from Guitar Hero and I found a similar font used in the game to type my headings. Take a second and scroll through the pictures and then I'll tell you my ideas!
Part of the title-this area will be used for the "top of the chart" kids!

Positive Reinforcement areas
All students begin each day in this area
Warning and Consequence Zones
Now, you're getting an idea of my plan.  I really want to work on rewarding positive behavior in my classroom.  I'm thinking that when students move keep their clips on "Great Job" 5 or so times, that I'll take back their plain clip and give them a red one to use, then they can work on earning "Outstanding" 5 or so times and I'll trade their red clip for a green one.  Making sense?  For those little over-achievers (I'm thinking of a certain blonde-headed boy), they can keep going and work to moving their clip up to "Guitar Hero" and they'll get to bedazzle their clip 5 or so times.
I'm even toying with the idea of taking their picture and posting it on a Billboard's Top 25 Hits chart or something!  Maybe standing there holding their bedazzled clip.  Then, students can work to be "off the chart" and I'll take their clips and place them on my sparkly little lanyard.  I just really want the emphasis to be on the positivity.  Good with you guys?  Too much?  I need feedback.  If I'm going for this, then I have to spray paint a lot of wooden clothespins this summer (and maybe buy some more stick-on jewels~ that little blonde headed boy is being raised by a "sparkly momma"!)

Now for the "Think About It" area....ick.  I'm viewing this as my warning zone from last year.  I always tell my kiddos that the warning zone does not mean trouble, it just means you need to think about your behavior and make a choice.  We all have off moments.  If children fix the choice, then their clip goes back up.  Now, I've always used a painted yardstick before and I have these icons from Boardmaker attached with velcro.  Children move their clip to a specific spot identifying the behavior I need fixed.  So I have icons for "listening", "quiet", "hands to self", "work", etc. Should I add these icons again to the blue area?  Your thoughts?

My favorite, no most intriguing, part to this clip system is the "Teacher's Choice" zone.  This is a gray area.  Now, I always conference with my babies when they hit the warning zone, so they'll know what's coming if they choose to not improve their behavior, but this gives me some flexibility in how I respond.  I like this.  Fair doesn't always mean equal.  Some children just need the "look"...some need a note...some need a whipping (just kidding), but seriously, I want to be able to respond to each child individually in the way that suits their emotional needs.  Too gray?  Just right?  Your thoughts......please!  I need feedback on this one!

Oh yeah, should I add all this to black posterboard and put the "Guitar Hero" on a headstock so it looks more like a guitar?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Jigsaw Cooperative Activity

I have never used the jigsaw strategy, but after hearing about so many others having success with this activity, I think I'll give it a "go" next year. I love to have my students work in cooperative groups.  Talking grows dendrites!  I love to have my students teach and problem-solve with each other, but I've never had them switch groups during the same activity.  Now, we will jigsaw next year!

I will pass out the jigsaw cards and call a group based on shape, letter, color, etc.  Students will get into their respective groups and begin the discussion/activity.  If and when I want them to regroup, I'll call out a new sorting rule and the students can look at their cards and find their new groups.  I wanted to add more detail to the cards, but MS Office wasn't cooperating well with me this morning.  I left a few blank cards at the end, so you can make your own cards if you'd like!  I made a set of 22 jigsaw cards and you are welcome to them!  Click here for the jigsaw cards!

Jigsaw Cards