Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Writer's Workshop First Week Plans

     Today I was able to get into my classroom for a longer chunk of time and get started.  I had to move rooms for this year so I'm pretty much starting from scratch with all of my things in bins and boxes.  Most of it is still in those bins and boxes, but my furniture is all moved around where I think I want it which is a huge accomplishment!

     When I haven't been able to get in my room, I've been starting to plan out my first week.  We have a four day week the first week starting the day after Labor Day.  I thought I'd share my plans with you because I know I always like to see what others are doing in their classrooms to get ideas.  You can click on the pictures below to open up the Google doc of my plans.

    At the end of my plans I included a few examples of student letters to incoming second graders.  If you didn't do this activity at the end of the year but would like to use them to help your students generate ideas for the "What Second Graders Can Do" anchor chart, feel free.  You could also just read them aloud verbally and change the greeting to (i.e. "Dear first grader") to suit your class.
   Here are a couple of pictures of the letters.

     Some details about starting writer's workshop that aren't listed in the plans....

  • On Day 1 I introduce the procedure for getting pencils.  I use 2 pencil cups- sharp and dull/broken.  When a student needs a new pencil, they trade it in for a sharp one.  No students sharpening pencils during learning time!
  • Starting on Day 1 we discuss stamina and work on building our stamina as writers.
  • We keep track of our stamina minutes on a graph.  This is super motivating for the kids!
  • We will use the "What Second Graders Can Do" anchor chart to help us write what we want to do in second grade and to create our class promise during word work time.  I frame the writing of our promise by referring to the chart and asking, "If these are all the things we want to be able to do, how are we going to promise to act in our classroom to help us get there?"
  • I play "quiet work music"during writer's workshop to help kids focus.  Again, they love it!  I use classical music for kids and some of the nature c.d.'s that you can find at Target, Amazon, etc.  

    Let me know what you think about my plans.  How do you launch writer's workshop?

Click on the picture to check out the c.d.
    On a side note, I found these two great files during the TPT Back to School Sale!  Check them out and link up with what you bought!

I am going to do this activity the first day.  I will use one of the "Steppin' into 2nd Grade" writing sheets during writer's workshop.  During our intervention block, I will have the kids complete the craft part.

After introducing this song to my students orally, I'll show them this book.
We will put it in our class library (I have a song books bin) for them to choose from when picking
books for independent reading time.

  I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' and The School Supply Addict!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Made-It Classroom Jobs Clip Chart

   After having a great weekend out of town in northern Minnesota with no internet access, I feel like I am back to civilization now at home.  I am so excited to share with you my Chevron Classroom Jobs Clip Chart.  It includes a header, 16 job cards, and job descriptions for all of the jobs.  And, it's available in 9 different colors.  So, you could use all one color or mix and match them! Click on the picture to check it out.

    This year I've decided to go with a color scheme of green, brown, and light pink in my classroom. Since I  wasn't happy with my job chart from last year (where I used library pockets for my jobs and popsicle sticks with students' names on them), I decided that using chevron backgrounds in my new colors would be a good solution.  And, I've seen tons of cute clip charts on ribbon floating around blogs and on Pinterest that I used for inspiration.  This one, for example, is a behavior clip chart.

    So, I've created a large set of job cards in 9 different colors with chevron pattern backgrounds.  I used the green cards to create my own classroom clip chart (I'll add pics later of final product after I get into my classroom again today).

   If you want to make the clip-chart, you'll need the job cards you choose to use in your classroom, a corresponding header, ribbon, and clothespins.  All you have to do is print out the cards you want to use.  Feel free to mix and match colors for a really fun look!  Glue or tape them to a ribbon to create a clip chart.  Write your students' names on the clothespins and move them around to change job assignments.  So simple!

Clip chart header

Job card in green chevron

Don't see a job listed below that you need?
You can create your own on a blank card!

   Here's a list of all the jobs I included:
  • teacher's assistant
  • librarian
  • greeter
  • gardener
  • supply manager
  • electrician
  • line leader
  • line ender
  • door holder
  • DJ
  • messenger
  • snack helper
  • cheerleader
  • pencil sharpener
  • substitute helper
  • morning meeting leader

   You could also use a pocket chart to store the cards in or attach them to a bulletin board or white board.  If you go this route, you'll just need to also make cards with your students' names on them to assign jobs.  In the past I've just used index cards cut in half.

   I am so excited to have this version of a job chart in my classroom this year.  It will be so much easier to use!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Back to School Bonanza Sale

      My entire Teacher's Notebook store will be on sale all day today.  20% off.  Stop by and check out my Coffee Shop Cafe headings and strategies if you're working on setting up a CAFE board for daily five or reader's workshop.  All of my other items are included too!!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beginning of the Year Parent Notes and Info

     As a new teacher, I remember feeling like the statement, "You do the best with what you know at the time" was so true.  Fortunately, I had a fabulous first grade partner teacher to help fill me in on things that I otherwise might not have thought about on my own.  One of those things was the details of what/how much information to share with parents and to get from them at the start of the school year.  Today I'd like to share with you what I send home in addition to the general information that every parent gets school-wide.  Even though some of the information I ask them for is repetitive for them to fill in, it's helpful for me to be able to have it all in one place and not have to go to the office or to look it up online when I need something.

    We have an open house night before school starts when students come and drop off their supplies, meet us, and get to check out their new classroom.  There's a lot going on and in an effort to not totally overwhelm parents, I only give them notes to read and wait until the first day of school to send home the two sheets I ask them to fill out.

    So, at open house, they will get the following notes from me.  The first one below is like a cover sheet.  I usually copy it on colored paper and staple it to the front of the packet.  Click on the picture to open the pdf that includes a cover sheet for kindergarten - fifth grade.  You just have to write in your school phone, email, and sign it before making copies.

     The next two forms I send home are specific to my classroom but I thought it might be helpful for you to see the type of information I share with parents right away at the beginning of the school year. You will need to re-create these two sheets to fit your own classroom and school.

    Finally, on the first day of school, I send home the following two forms for parents to fill out and return by the end of the first week.  I usually copy these 2-sided on colored paper so it's just one piece of paper to send home.  You can click on the pictures to download and use each of these.

    I know this post has a lot of text, but I hope that you are able to use the forms I provided and take some ideas to use from the others.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fun Transition Chant

     Transition times can be challenging for many reasons.  One thing I have found to be really helpful is to transition to music or chants that I say or we say together.  So, today I wanted to share a quick transition chant with you that works well when going from whole group to independent work at tables/desks.

Teacher says:   1, 2, 1, 2, 3 Looking for a ready table, who could it be? 
                        (call on a table to go that looks ready)
                        4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Green table transition, please don't be late!

                        Purple table, purple table, who could you be.  
                        Walk to your table quietly.

    You can repeat the transition for as many tables as you have.  The chant is easily adaptable to fit different classrooms.  You could use the word "group" instead of table.  If they are going to centers, the last line might be, "Purple table, purple table, who could you be.  Walk to the listening center quietly."
The possibilities are endless! And, they love showing you that they are ready to go in hopes of being the next table called.

How do you help your students transition smoothly?

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Learning is Tweet" Monday Made-It

    At the end of almost all of our professional development sessions, we do some kind of individual exit slip to have a chance to reflect and share what we learned, what we're still wondering, etc.  I've been thinking for a while about how I could do something like this for my second graders to hold them accountable.  I've played around with the idea of having it be a part of our end of the day closing circle activities or doing it at the end of a subject (math, writer's workshop, etc.)  So, earlier this summer I saw this picture on Pinterest and really liked the idea of having some kind of visual where kids could leave a sticky note as an exit slip.

    I have also seen another cute one with the heading "Tracking our Thinking" with a paw cutout for each student, but I can't find the source or picture again.

   So, I decided to make a chart that could be used for all subjects where I could give kids different directions for what to write about on a sticky note.  That way, I'll be able to go back later when I have time to see where each student is at in his/her thinking.

   Here's my version of an exit slip chart entitled, "Learning is Tweet."  Get it? ;)

Exit slip chart


    I will add numbers to it still so I can assign each student a number and they'll know where to put their sticky notes.  I know that the birds are not the exact size of the sticky notes like the picture from Pinterest, but I'm ok with that.  I made mine with 36 birds because that is how many second graders I will be teaching for math.  The rest of the day I will just have my 26 kids from my own class.

   To make the chart, I used the bird pattern I had left from the Faith, Hope, Love canvas I made (see that post here).  I traced the bird onto the back of 2 sheets of scrapbook paper that I chose.

   I don't have a Cameo Silhouette, so I cut them all out by hand. Then, I started at the bottom of the poster board and marked off every four inches until I had six rows (24 inches from bottom).  I made really light lines with a pencil horizontally across for each row so I could line up the bird fairly straight. Then, I glued them down with a glue stick.  

   Finally, I chose a fun font and printed out the letters.  Again, no Cameo :( so I cut them out by hand and glued them down.

   I think I will use stickers to add the numbers.

   For home, I made my hubby a sweet anniversary card for our 2nd anniversary tomorrow!! :)  I was also inspired by Pinterest for this...surprise, surprise.

Pinterest version...

My version...

Here's a few of my favorite wedding pics.

Happy Monday!  I'm linking up to Tara's Monday Made-It Linky over at Fourth Grade Frolics!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Must Have Picture Books Linky Party

      Picture husband is continuously amazed at just how many I have and why I keep buying more. :)  Each year I try to incorporate at least a few new (to me) picture books in with all of my favorites.  Here are three that I think are worth knowing about.

1.  Thinking about the beginning of the year, a new favorite that I discovered last year when trying to incorporate some social studies content on cultures was The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi.

Click on the picture to check out the book.
This story is about a little girl who has moved to America from Korea and has trouble deciding on a name for her classmates to call her.  They create a name jar to try and help her decide.  In the end, she decides that she loves her Korean name and helps them learn how to say it.  This is a great book to use when doing name activities in the beginning of the year and to celebrate differences.

2.  Another book that is a must-have is Have You Filled a Bucket Today? I know this is a more well-known book but it really is fantastic to use in the beginning of the year and re-visit throughout.  It gives your entire class a common language to use when talking about behavior.

Click on the picture to check this book out.

The premise of this book is that everyone has an invisible bucket.  When you do/say kind things to others, it fills their buckets and your own.  When you do/say unkind things to others, it dips into their buckets and your own.  Children love it!

3.   One other book I love to use toward the beginning of the year as we begin studying comprehension strategies is Amazing Grace.  

Click on the picture to check out the book.

This is a story about a little girl named Grace who loves to use her imagination and act out things she's heard/read in stories.  When her class will be performing the play Peter Pan, she dreams of being Peter. Some of her classmates tell her she can't because she's a girl and she's black, and Peter was neither of those.  In the end, she gets the part and learns she can do anything she puts her mind to!

These are just a few of my favorites.  I'm linking up to The Teacher's Wife Must-Have Picture Books Linky!

The Teacher Wife

What are some of your favorite picture books?