Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting Spooky with Brain Breaks!

I've got a fun post over at A Classy Collaboration for you!

I gathered up some of my students' favorite not-so-spooky brain breaks that are perfect for this time of year! If you already use Symbaloo, you can easily add this webmix to your own collection. If you don't use Symbaloo, this is a great time to learn!

http://aclassycollaboration.blogspot.com/2014/10/october-brain-breaks.html

Just click on the picture above to see what I've put together!

If you're interested in more (and mostly free!) spook-tactular resources for the month of October, make sure you're following my October: Classroom Resources board on Pinterest. Click through the picture below to take a peek!

http://www.pinterest.com/abbylee621/october-classroom/

Happy Thursday! :)

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fall Into Proper Nouns {a FREEBIE!}


I have a super quick freebie for you today! 

I teach in a school with a large ESOL population, and one of the skills I always spend time reviewing is recognizing and writing proper nouns correctly. I found several homework pages I made last year and threw them together in a small packet! 

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fall-Into-Proper-Nouns-A-Printable-FREEBIE-Mini-Pack-1270515
Click on the picture above or on the link below to grab it from Teachers Pay Teachers! Don't forget to leave feedback if you like what you see! :) 


Grab the freebie packet from Teachers Pay Teachers!


I also have a bigger packet with 30 pages of common and proper noun goodies if you're looking for something more substantial for your classroom. 

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Getting-Creative-with-Common-Nouns-and-Proper-Nouns-320293

Grab the bigger packet from Teachers Pay Teachers too!


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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Back in the Groove!

Hello!

It's been a minute since I checked in with you! :) In case you missed it on my Facebook page, there is a VERY good (and really cute!) reason I've been "out of the office" for the last few weeks. :)

Meet Harrison!



To say I am in love is an understatement. :) He is such a good baby and I am a lucky mama.

When I think about the fact that we only have 5 weeks left together before I have to go back to work, I want to cry. :( I know other people have done it thousands of times before me, so here is my question for you veteran mamas:

What would have made your transition back to work easier? 

How do you reconnect with your love for teaching when a big part of your heart would rather be at home with your baby? :) 

I'd love to hear from you!




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Monday, August 18, 2014

Wanted: Lots of Classroom Leaders!

I know that most of us have a set of classroom jobs in place, but does every child in your classroom have a job?

It was honestly something I hadn't thought much about until we started our Leader in Me training three years ago. And I wasn't doing a very good job of rotating responsibilities either. Assignments were "hairy scary" and my kids were not invested in their jobs at all.

After our LIM training began, I recognized that every child in my classroom should be a leader and it should be a job they want to have. They should also have the opportunity to try out different leadership roles throughout the year, which meant we would need to change them on a regular basis.

So I started with this:

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Leadership-Jobs-for-Elementary-Classrooms-Gray-Dots-834466
Click to check me out!

My teaching partner and I sat down and planned out some of the nitty-gritty details together: 
  • Every child would fill out a job application. We would MODEL the first one in class to make sure our expectations were clear, and then give them time to complete their first application in class. We made sure they gave us 3 choices so we could try to give them something they wanted to do.
  • If we had to give a child a job that wasn't on their list, we made a note of it. That child would be sure to get a job of their choice the next time. We kept all of our job stuff in a folder and made a running list of kids we needed to keep up with. 
  • The kids would get new jobs once a month. This gave them time to develop new skills and feel confident about their role in our classroom. 
  • After the first month, the kids took the job applications home for homework! It's great persuasive writing practice and they are invested in making sure it's turned in. :) 
  • Our students would also keep a running list of all of the jobs they held throughout the year in their Leadership Notebook. They would refer to this when they were applying for a new job so that they made sure to try new things throughout the school year. It also became a great talking point at parent-teacher conferences.
We kept a display board up in the room that was easy to change around from month to month.

Wall space is precious, so I used the back of a bookcase!
My student teacher hot glued the cards to black ribbon and taped them to the bookcase in rows. We used clothespins to label each card with the leader's name. If I were back in the classroom this year, I would use pictures of the kids' faces instead of clothespins. They didn't always hold up so well. Plus, those little bobbleheads look SO CUTE! :)


http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Leadership-Jobs-for-Elementary-Classrooms-Gray-Dots-834466

I've had lots of great feedback on my leadership jobs packets lately, and I've added several new color schemes to the mix. :) The backgrounds are easy for me to swap out, so if you have a particular color, print, or pattern in mind to match your room, let me know and I can add a listing for you!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Leadership-Jobs-for-Elementary-Classrooms-Gray-Dots-834466
The purple dots packet is brand new today!
I just added the year-long tracking sheets to all of the packets, so if you've already purchased this make sure you go back and get the new goodies! 



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Sunday, August 17, 2014

A *Berry* Cute Back-to-School Freebie!

If you're looking for an easy and inexpensive treat for Meet the Teacher or Open House, this is it!

I know this is the time of year where we spend the most money on our classrooms. I tend to spend the kind of money that makes Mr. Bookworm feel like he is going to have a stroke. ;-) So when we were walking through the grocery store and I got the idea for this treat, he and I were both very excited!



All you need is a set of tags to match your grade level or class, and enough fruit snack packs for each student to get one! I managed to put together welcome back gifts for all 40+ students for under $10. Can't beat that!

I've included several different pages to include grades K-6, departmentalized and self-contained classrooms. However, if there's a specific classroom description I'm missing and you'd like to see it added let me know! Shoot me an email: thirdgradebookworm@gmail.com




Click on the picture above to grab your free copy from TpT! Enjoy!









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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Morning Work Alternatives (An August Bright Idea!)

I'm so excited to be back with you and my teacher-blogger peeps for another round of bright ideas!


I've taught for 12 years in the same school, and for 11 of those years I fought the same battle - getting kids to finish their morning work. I tried different books, segmenting one worksheet into smaller chunks, alternating the skills we practiced and reviewed throughout the week, etc.

That's a long time to fight the same battle!! And looking back, I really wish I had given in to my amazingly brilliant teaching partner's thinking earlier. She saw the writing on the wall. She had the bright idea. I fought it... WHY?! :)

When we sat down to talk about it, we had to identify the problem: Kids weren't finishing the daily workpages.

Why? Well, unlike many other schools in our district, most of our kiddos ride the bus to school each day. We have up to 2 runs of 7 buses every morning and afternoon. Some kids arrive at school at 7:15, ready to go and others don't walk in the door until 7:50 just as the bell rings. Very few of my students are car riders or walkers. We always had a chunk of kids who finished their work, and another group that were struggling to make it to breakfast before they came in the room. It wasn't fair to either group.

We knew we wanted the kids to practice and review skills we currently teaching OR had previously taught. We didn't want it to be a chore. We didn't want the kids to hate it. We looked around our rooms and saw lots of games that the kids were playing for a week or two during the year before we put them back for next year's group.

A-ha! Enter the bright idea!


For 2 days a week, the kids played language arts games. On those mornings, I would set out or send down the games I wanted the kids to play. At the beginning of the year, I like to pull out sight word and spelling games. It's an easy way to reinforce skills they've already learned, and to help them begin to build the sense of community and family that is key in our classrooms.


There are also 2 days a week where our kiddos played math games. Most of the time, these were fact fluency games. My brilliant partner had staggered sets of facts, and our kids knew which "set" they needed to pass in order to move to the next level. They often took the initiative to make sure they played these games with friends who were working on the same fact set. :)


We also tried to set aside at least one day each week for something fun and creative. They were particularly fond of this Minion Maker. We all need the chance to chill out and color sometimes, right?


 A few more points I want to leave you with:
  • Our kids were so engaged in the mornings. They loved being able to come in, unpack, and connect with friends. Kids were excited to get to class and they didn't drag their feet coming in from the bus or the cafeteria. Everyone started the day with a smile on their face!
  • They were quiet --- and on task!! I stopped redirecting behavior and got lots of housekeeping stuff done in the mornings. Glory!!
  • M and I alternated Math and ELA days. This kept materials together and we didn't have to make extra sets of games for the other classroom. 
  • As we inched closer to state testing, we were able to set out games that reinforced skills we noticed were weaker in our students. This acted as a "safety net" and preserved LOTS of small group and whole group instructional time. 
I'm not saying paper and pencil morning work needs to go. It just didn't work in my room, and I wish I'd thought about alternatives for it sooner. Hopefully this leaves you with some fun alternatives to think about!

I'd love to connect with you in other places too! You can find me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook as well! 

Make sure you look through the 100+ posts below from some of my most brilliant blogger buds.




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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Using Data Walls {A JULY Bright Idea!}

We're back with more bright ideas! :)

I thought this would be a great tip to share before heading back to school. It's not something you have to start right away, but it would be good to keep in mind as you head into the new year.


We have a bulletin board in our rooms dedicated just for student data. It's up to each teacher to determine how to use it, so for my classes I chose to chart our reading level data as a group. I want to make a couple of "hairy scary" points first:
  • I never, ever put student names on the reading level data wall. I'm afraid it would defeat the purpose of the data wall being a motivational tool. 
  • We have several conversations about how everyone is at a reading level that is just right for THEM.
  • GROWTH is the focus for us as a team, and as individuals. The "goal" for each 9 weeks is just a guideline.
We have a "reading target" for each 9 weeks according to our district, but I try not to focus on that too much, as many of our kids suffer from the "summer slide" or they're already a few reading levels behind.


After each 9 week grading period, I create a chart that shows the students what our "team" of students looks like as a whole. It's also a great tool for my teaching partner and I as we think about reading groups and math groups. We make a couple of "swaps" between homerooms after each 9 weeks to balance out our groups.

As the year progresses, I keep the most recent chart and the previous grading period's chart on the data wall.


We spend at least one Reader's Workshop period looking at the chart, reflecting, and setting individual goals for the next 9 weeks.



The kids have loved seeing how the levels move across the chart, and we celebrate our successes as a team!



At the end of the year, we are amazed at how much growth they've made as individuals and as a team. It's an easy way to get your students connected to the data you look at all the time, and they're a bit more invested in their progress. :)



I hope you enjoyed this bright idea! Make sure you keep up with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest! Don't forget to check out the rest of my Bright Ideas Peeps in the link-up below!



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