Saturday, November 8, 2014

Everything is Fun when it's Mini

I know there is a big debate on classroom clip charts. I see both sides of the argument. I am not a huge fan of kiddos having to clip down in front of the whole class. I try to avoid embarrassing my students at all costs. I do, however, like that some students clip up and are rewarded in front of the whole class. Up until this week, I used a big clip chart that looked like this:

As with anything, it was starting to get a little old. So I went back to the debate and thought about what I could make. I knew I still wanted a consequence/refocus system but I also wanted to keep the reward aspect of the clip chart. I wanted something that was also, a little more individualized. I wanted something that I could discreetly, have a student clip down to think about it. I could just be walking around the room and quickly and quietly, clip a kiddo up or down without the class knowing. 
 I decided to make each kiddo their own "mini" clip chart. Since it was a "mini" version of the clip chart, I only made four sections for it. This is what I came up with: 

I LOVED the size of these little guys! However, now I needed some mini clothespins! JoAnn's had a big bag for $3.00. SOLD!! They were perfect, except for the fact that they were a tad boring. I needed to fix that ASAP! I bought some Mod Podge ($5) and some Washi Tape ($3) to fix this problem. With a great pair of scissors and a lot of patience (working with mini takes a lot of thought and work! Ha ha!) I created this:

Sooooo much better!! Now it was time to put these little guys into action! I needed to somehow, someway, hang these guys somewhere. Remember, I do not have desks, only tables. I thought about putting it next to their name, but I hate cluttering up their work space. So I bought some Velcro squares and did this:

I love them and the kids love them even more! So I want you to enjoy them, too! They are FREE in my TPT store! Go and have some "mini" sized fun with your class!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Parent Teacher Conferences

How can it be my first set of Parent Teacher Conferences already? Wowzas!! Well, it snuck up on me like crazy! Last week, was our PTC.

 I like to be very organized when I meet with parents, some might even say I go overboard with this. ;)

I look at it like this, I want to be able to use the full 10-15 minutes and make it worth the parents coming in. I want them to leave with the feeling that it was totally worth their time to come and talk to me. I also want them to feel like they have left their kid in capable hands. :)

Here is what my table looks like during conference week.

Yes, yes, yes. That is a glittered out blue and orange pumpkin. It's fall conferences! I had to make it festive! Ha ha!

There is a method to the madness. Each pile is set for me to give to the parents or for me to use as a guide. I use this sheet as a tool for parents to see where their student is at. I went and broke down each skill in each academic area and put three columns: beginning, developing, and mastered.  I then put an X where their student lands. This helps the parent understand the report card a little better and gives them an idea on where their kid is at and what can they start working on at home.

I know it is a lot, but I feel parents grasp a little more on what is going on with their student, then just by looking at the report card.

My memory is not what it used to be! Ha ha! I now take notes with each child as I talk with their parents. I like bright colors, so I used bright sticky notes to help with this. I got the idea from Suesstastic. She does amazing things with bright sticky notes!

I loved doing this! Everything that I told a parent I would do, I remembered thanks to this note system. #lifesaver

I also ended this with a thank you note. I wanted to thank the parents for coming in. I know they are busy and I wanted to let them know that I appreciate their time.

All in all, I had a great turnout and feel that my conferences were organized and well put to use. Success! :)

If you are looking for some organizational ideas on PTC, please, try my pack. It has a ton more stuff in it! It is available in my TPT store. Enjoy! :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Falling into Centers

Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year! I just love everything about it. This is the time that I am really getting deep into groups in my class. I am a huge group work gal. I have five groups, all based on their reading level, and I work with each group on specific skills.
While I am working with a group, I have to have my other kiddos doing something. We have iPads and computers, but sometimes they grow tired of the apps or sites we use. I decided to make some Fall Literacy Centers that would add a little fun to our group work time. I based it on major things that I need them to be working on.

In these centers, we work on sight words by putting autumn leaves and apples on a tree. When they are at this center, I have them, not only say the word, but they need to use it in a sentence. They loved trying to create a big fall tree!

Next, I had them working on antonyms and synonyms. I made Acorn Antonyms and Sunflower Synonyms. Students need to work quietly, finding the synonyms and antonyms for each word. Once they have found a match, they need to record it on the sheet provided. This was a great "teamwork" center.

Then, I had them working on the ending -ing. I used words where they just needed to add -ing to the end, no changing letters. They need to say the word on the apple, write it on the sheet provided, they need to put it in the -ing apple basket, as they do this they need to say and write down their new word.

I also added a fun syllable sort. Students needed to say the word, clap it out, put it in the correct number column, and then write it down on the sheet provided. I think they enjoyed this one the most! The love to clap out those words!

I needed some sort of writing activity. I decided to have them choose a Fall themed word card and they had to create their own story about that word. The students got a kick out of this creative writing center. They were all so creative with their stories!

Last, I had a sight word coloring sheet. They just used the key and colored according to that key. This was a great reinforcement of some simple sight words.

All in all, my students had a blast doing this. In fact, they have been asking to do them every single day! I have been trying to do them at least two times a week. They love it and I love that I can work with groups while knowing my students are working on skills that they need to strengthen or reinforce! The centers are in my TPT shop, go and check them out. Happy Fall! :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Spinner Fun

Mrs. Davison! Mrs. Davison! I need help! This is what I was used to hearing day in and day out. I thought, there has to be a better (and quieter) way to help my kiddos without them distracting others. So I decided to make these spinners. I wanted to find an easy way for my kids to let me know when they needed help without shouting across the room. Here is what I came up with:

I love the diamond shape and they are not bulky at all! I use these with every single student. I just tape these on the side of their name-tags. This is how I use it. Everyone starts on green, this tells me that everyone is on track and doing good. 

When a student starts to feel that they are getting stuck on a question or a direction, they can spin to yellow. This tells me that they aren't quite stuck yet, that they are trying to work it out, but that they may need my help in a little bit.

When a student is absolutely stuck, they can now spin to red. This is a great and easy way for me to see who needs help asap! This is also a great way for a kiddo to tell me they need help without announcing it to the class, this really helps with that confidence piece.

As I was making these, I was thinking to myself "Self wouldn't it be great if you did this exact same thing but with a self assessing piece?" I love to have my kids assess themselves on their work. I use this as a conference tool when I meet with them on their writing. I also love to use it to see how confident they feel over certain concepts we touch on. Lately, I have used this on how they feel their understanding is with place value. I used to do this with a finger system (1-4). Now I do this:

When I have the students assess themselves, I really work on them to be honest with themselves, how they feel about the concept, and their quality of work. We go over what each one means each time we assess.

Rookie (1) means that the concept is still new and they are not very confident with it yet. It also means that they do not feel their work quality was strong with this assignment.

Apprentice (2) means that they are starting to understand the concept but it is still pretty new to them. This also means that they feel their quality of work could use a little more.

Scholar (3) means that they understand the concept but they aren't quite ready to be tested on it. This also means that they feel good about their work, but could use a little more practice on it.

Master (4) means that the student completely understands the concept, feels very confident about it, and is ready to be tested on it. This also means that they are proud of their work and feel that they did what was exactly asked of the them.

This is what the spinners look like beside a name-tag. The kids love to use them every chance that they get!

Now I completely understand that there are some kids that want to give themselves a 4 every single time. The first time this happens, I always have a "test" ready (it might be on paper or it may be orally). This usually sets the tone for making sure they are honest with themselves about where they are at.

I have also made fun classroom posters to explain each spinner. I have these hanging in my classroom.
You can find these fun little spinners in my TPT store. Enjoy and Happy Spinning! :)