Sunday, September 15, 2013

Who doesn't love a good deal?!

Hello readers!  Teachers spend WAY too much money on their classrooms and Teachers Notebook & Teachers Pay Teachers don't help because I want to buy SO.MANY.THINGS.  I think I need an intervention!  Since I have a shopping problem when it comes to all things school, it's so nice to save some money.

Did you know that Walmart will donate to your room?  Last year, they donated pumpkins for our pumpkin book reports.
Can't wait to do these again this year!  Original idea can be found here.

This year, I asked Walmart for some 3 drawer carts.  They no longer donate specific items but they donate gift cards.  I submitted a letter on school letterhead and a donation committee met to decide how much money they will give you (they meet weekly at our local Walmart).  They gave me a $25 gift card.  The had these 3 drawer carts on sale for $8.
I'm not a huge fan of the green but it was the only color on sale....it's the campus edition cart and the local university's color is green.  My district colors are green and yellow so this works!  I needed 4 of them so essentially, they donated 3 of the carts.  I'll post about how I'm going to use these later (after I figure it out..too many ideas).  So if you want/need supplies, submit a letter to Walmart! 

And speaking of saving money, have you seen this educents bundle?!  A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.
[Image: KIDLETTE CLIP ART BUNDLE]

Click the picture to check it out!

Now it's time to relax before school...have a fantastic Monday friends!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Starting Math Groups

**It's the last day to enter my giveaway!! Make sure you do it before midnight!

I hear from a lot of teachers that they struggle with doing guided math groups.  I LOVE the way my math time runs so I'm going to share with you how I start it.  I have 3 groups (1 per grade level) so I have 3 stations. 
1. Teacher Time (math lesson)
2. Seat Work (independent practice from the math lesson)
3. Game (any sort of activity to work on the current or previous skills)

To get started, you will want to grab my free first week math stations which are on my facebook page.  You will also want to have some games that go along with your first unit and maybe some fact games.

I start math rotations on day 1.  (I take a lot longer to introduce ELA centers).  The first day my students go through 3 rotations of all game like activities.  We begin by talking about staying in your station spot and working the whole time.  We have already talked about being kind and working together earlier in the day.  The talk is quick.

Then I explain each station:
1. Pattern Blocks: "Use the blocks in this bin to make these pictures."

2. Counting Bears: "Use these cards to make a pattern.  Let's look at this one.  The card has the bears in this order: Red, yellow, red, yellow, red...what comes next?  what comes after that?  Perfect!  Copy the pattern and then see how long you can make it!"

3. Snap Cube Counting: "Grab a number card and build a tower with that many cubes." Then I hold up a number and ask what it is and make a tower with that # of cubes.

These are quick and simple enough for young students but still engaging enough for my older students. 

While they do the stations, I walk around and praise them for all good behaviors I see.

Day 2 I add in seat work.  Again, we discuss working the whole time & what to do if you finish early.  I also tell them that I expect them to work quietly.  I show them where the manipulatives are so they can get what they need.  The first seat work tasks are simple like this:
Name In a Ten Frame: first day?
(Click to go to the site)
I also throw in a fact assessment within the first few days.  Again, while they work, I walk around a praise good behavior.  I also go over things I see that we need to correct.  We still do 3 rotations so the kids do 2 games and a seat work activity. I do this again for another day or 2.

On day 4 or 5 (or 6 whenever the kids can play a game and do seat work successfully), I add in the teacher time.  My first session with them is going over expectations for our lesson time.  Th next few sessions, I introduce new math games for the students to use.  Adding new math games quickly gives them a bigger variety of games to play and therefore reduces behavior problems.

If you need 4 groups, add a math fact station.  I would introduce the stations the same way but just adding a day or 2 for this station.

I hope this helps some of you who have wanted to try guided math! If you ever have questions, leave them in the comments or email me!  Those of you that do math groups, what advice would you add or what would you do differently?

Friday, September 6, 2013

First week down & Currently!

My class is so stinkin' cute!  I wish I could show you pictures of them but I can't...confidentiality and all that.  I have 7 boys and 3 girls (for my new followers, it's a special ed room with a limit of 12 students).  They are so well behaved which is a HUGE relief because we had some issues on day 1.  I have a student who is coming from a behavior program and he did NOT want to come to school.  I was handed a note before students even got to school saying that our school resource officer (who is a police officer) had to go to the child's house that morning due to behavior.  I just started laughing (if you don't laugh, you'll cry so laugh!)...what a way to start the year!  He had a ROUGH day.  His meltdown lasted for HOURS and the poor psychologists room was DESTROYED (coffee on the floor, marker and glitter glue all over the walls, chairs thrown, spit in her hair).  He calmed down around 1pm and joined us for the rest of the day and did fine!  He's been fine ever since!  We had a lot of play time this week but we also have math stations fully up and running on the 3rd day of school so it's been a good week :)  I'll post about starting math stations by early next week.

And super quick before the Currently portion of the post, did you see my giveaway?  If you haven't go check it out...it ends next Friday!

Okay, now Currently!!  A huge thank you to Farley who does this every.single.month!


A lot of this is self explanatory so I won't elaborate on everything....

Thinking...I have the hardest time setting up literacy centers!  I have no trouble with the math stations.  If you have posted about how you run literacy centers, leave a link to the post in the comments!  I need ideas!

Wanting...laminating pouches.  I ran out half way through laminating visual schedules.  I ordered more from Amazon.  If you have a laminator, don't buy the name brand pouches...the other ones work just as well for about half the price! 

Needing...a break from all this thinking.  I know I'm not alone!  I just can't stop thinking about school!! I'm giving myself a break because it's the first month of school.  I have some amazing ideas that are going to take some work to set up so my goal is to get these things up and running by October.  That's why # 3 of my things for me is getting the room running efficiently.  If I can do it, then the rest of the year should be much easier...that's the plan anyways! 

Have a super relaxing weekend friends!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back to School Bash!

Hi friends!  To celebrate making it through the first week of school the start of an awesome school year, I'm having a giveaway!  There are 3 different prizes you can win!  

First up is a year long subscription to Planbook.com!  I love love love planbook.com.  I've blogged about it a few times.  You can check out my latest post here.  If you are not completely thrilled with your current plan template, check it out!  There is nothing better than being able to click a button and have all your lessons shift over a day when you have a snow day (or just a few plans moved when you have that assembly that you forgot about!)

Prize #2 is a fabulous pencil sharpener in the color of your choice from Classroom Friendly Supplies.  This comes in pink now!!  I am so jealous that whoever wins this can get it in pink (if he/she wants)...I may have to buy a pink one.  I got this sharpener last year and since using it, we gave away all the other sharpeners we had.  A year later it is quiet and still giving my pencils the perfect point!  What more could you ask for?!
This is mine, clipped on a desk

The last prize is a $10 gift card to Teachers Notebook, Teachers Pay Teachers, or Amazon.com.  We all use these sites a lot for our classrooms so who wouldn't want an extra $10 to spend?!

 All 3 winners will also be able to choose any 3 items from my store.  

The giveaway ends Friday, September 13th (Friday the 13th could be a great day for you!)



Sunday, September 1, 2013

How do you plan?

'Paperwork is such a great use of my planning time,' said no teacher ever.

I feel like I never have time to plan.  My planning times (the few I had last year) always seem to be spent dealing with meltdowns (of my students and/or co-workers haha) or some other crazy problem or new form we need to fill out.  By the time I did have time to plan, my brain was done.

This summer, I started doing some long range planning and I was using pinterest a lot...the only problem was my boards have too many pins on them!  So I started organizing the boards...now instead of Math, I have a board for place value, time and money, multiplication and division...you get the point.  Now, when I go to teach fractions, I have a board with nothing but fraction ideas!  I can also see what topics I need more ideas for.

So organized!
Make sure you follow my boards since I've added a bunch!  
Now that I have my ideas organized, I need a place to write them down.  Enter Planbook.com

I absolutely LOVE planbook.com.  It is so easy to use and it cuts my planning time down a lot...sometimes it cuts my planning time in half!! IN HALF friends! 

Let's back up and I'll show you how I set mine up.

Start by adding a new class/subject/group.  You can choose a new color for each subject which I love.  Then you enter the times you teach that subject each day. If it's the same time every day, you can click the "Copy" link that will copy the same times for all days.  

This is an overview of my classes/schedule.  My school runs on a 6 day schedule which is why there are checkmarks under the 1-6.  We have library on day 1 so there is only checkmark there.  Note the small amount of time I have to teach science and social studies to each of my grade levels :( 

Templates are a nice feature...there are things that happen every day that you don't want to retype.  

This is what my weekly view looks like (with no plans written in).  The crazy part about this is, I'm not even done with adding classes...I have no reading groups scheduled in here yet because I haven't grouped the kids.

To write plans, just click on the subject you want and type.  My favorite FAVORITE part of this is those little options at the bottom.  Apply saves the plan.  Bump pushes the plan to the next time I teach that subject (all future plans get bumped a day too).  Bump back will make the plan earlier.  Extend is for reteaching...it will put the same lesson on the next day for you.  ATTACH FILE!! I can plan from home and attach a file and have access to it at school.  No more emailing myself files!!  You can also roll your plans over year to year so you can keep those files attached to the lessons for future years...what a timesaver!
Notice the tabs at the top....

All of the common core and state standards are uploaded into Planbook.com.  When you click the standards button, you can go in and select the standards you are using.  I used this as a resource room teacher and I wanted to be able to create my own (for IEP goals).  I emailed them and they replied immediately saying they would do it.  That feature was available within 2 weeks.  How awesome is that?!

Here is what the plans look like with my 1 plan written in.  You can also view plans by class/subject and day. 

They also have amazing customer service!  A few years ago, I went to print my plans in the 3 seconds I had before my next group of kids and it didn't work so I figured I'd try again after my group.  When I went back to my computer 30 minutes later, I had an email from planbook.com saying that they saw I had a problem printing (I didn't report anything) and they fixed it for me.  I was blown away...nobody has customer service like that!

Confession: I didn't use planbook.com last year because my schedule runs on a 15 minute schedule which is CRAZY and my schedule changes every other day it seems like.  My planning didn't work well...I ended up with 3 different planbooks and templates which is not managable at all.  My planning really suffered!  I'm so happy to be back with planbook.com!  If you have been thinking about doing plans online you should try it!  That first snow day when you can just bump your entire day, you will thank me!!

If you are going back to school Wednesday like me, have a great first week!