Wednesday, August 21, 2013

You're Hired!: Classroom Jobs

Classroom Jobs

I have 27 students (that's a lot of seven year olds!). They each have a role in managing our classroom by holding a job (that's a lot of jobs!). During the first week of school, after I've introduced the jobs, the students complete a job application. This is the application I used last year from Mrs. Kincaid's First Grade.

Click the image to grab this FREEBIE.

Then I assign them their jobs, which they keep for six to eight weeks (or until they get antsy and are ready for a change). This may sound like a long time for them to keep the same job and they don't have an opportunity to hold every job. However this extended time allows them to become experts in their field, especially the jobs that require mostly speaking, like the Calendar Leaders and Lunch Counters, for my ESOL students. The students also truly take ownership for their responsibility. It's also one less thing (the job rotations) for me to manage every week.

Here are all of the jobs that are used in my classroom:
Caboose (1)
Calendar Leaders (2)
Class Assistant (2)
Computer Assistants (1)
DJ (1)
Door Holder (1)
Electrician (1)
Greeters (2)
Librarians (2)
Line Leader (1)
Lunch Counters (2)
Lunch Helpers (2)
Mail Carriers (2)
Messengers (2)
Secretary (1)
Timer (1)
Water Bottle Crew (3)

All of the jobs are important and most are used on an everyday, if not weekly, basis. My three favorite jobs are the Greeters, Librarians, and Secretary. I'll elaborate on them as they may not be as common.

My Three Favorite Jobs
Try them out in your classroom!

1. Greeters
Having Greeters in each classroom is a tradition at my school. I work at a specialty school so we sometimes have visitors/parents who are interested in having their child attend our school. The Greeters welcome guests to our classroom.Two of my students will open the door for the guest(s), introduce themselves, and share what we're doing/learning. I love this job because it involves having the students practice an important social skill, makes our guest(s) feel welcomed, and allows the rest of the class and I to continue with what we're doing.

2. Librarians
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I keep a leveled classroom library. How do I keep the books organized and in the correct bins all year? With Librarians! When my students are ready to return a book to our classroom library, they put their book in the Re-shelve Basket, just like you would at a public library. When my librarians notice there are books in the Re-Shelve Basket, they re-shelve, or re-bin them. Easy peasy!

3. Secretary
Doesn't it just stink when your classroom phone rings and you have to sprint across the classroom and hurdle over kids to reach it? or You just got settled into reading The Duckling Gets a Cookie?! to the class when, BRRRIINNGGG, the phone rings? This is where having a secretary comes in handy! The students die to have this job! When the phone rings, one of my students answers it, and I have a handy-dandy script for them to read too (a great social skill to practice!). Most of the time I continue with what I'm doing with the rest of the class and my secretary will relay the message in my ear. Occasionally the phone call is not for little ears though so I sometimes do have to stop instruction to speak with the caller.

Happy Hiring! Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Teacher Week '13: Taming the Wild, Classroom Management

Four Ways that I Create a Positive Learning Environment
{It's all about building relationships!

 1. Greet the Students

Every morning I stand at the door, which is actually an expectation for all the teachers to do at my school. When each student arrives at my door we exchange "good mornings" and give a hug to each other. My students and I do this at the end of the day when they are leaving too. My students have said this is one of their favorite parts of the day...being greeted with a hug and a smile sets a positive tone for the day. If for some reason I'm not right at the door that morning or moment, the first thing they will do is remind me that they did not get their hug that morning or they will walk to where I'm at in the room to make sure we exchange our morning hug and greeting. You could also exchange high-5s. Students love to be welcomed into the classroom!

2. Porter Patriot of the Week
Each student is scheduled by alphabetical order for a week where they are Porter Patriot of the Week. I send this schedule home at the beginning of the year so the parents can plan accordingly. Each day of the week a special task or activity is planned (see document above). The students LOVE being Porter Patriot of the Week. They take the honor very seriously. I LOVE having a Porter Patriot of the Week because it makes each student feel extra-special.

3. Morning Meeting
Not my class but a perfect picture to illustrate Morning Meeting
After announcements, lunch count, etc. the students and I gather at the carpet around the perimeter of the rug. Each day a different student starts a greeting that the students pass around the class. I heard all sorts of greeting this year from hellos in foreign languages to a southern "Howdy" and classic "Good Morning". Sometimes they even incorporate a hug or handshake. This a great opportunity to practice social skills and build a sense of community. They love the Morning Meeting and are very insistent on making it happen every morning (it takes about ten minutes). This is also where I tell them about what our day has in store for us and then we transition to a mini-lesson for Writers' Workshop. Morning Meeting can be more extensive and The Morning Meeting Book has tons of great ideas!

4. Class Meetings

Class Meetings are an expectation my principal has for every classroom in our school. I'm so grateful to have been introduced to the concept of Class Meetings because of this expectation. They have such a positive impact on the classroom community! The students and I hold Class Meetings twice a week and on an as-needed basis. During Class Meetings the students and I solve problems/issues they're having related to anything that may be impacting our classroom environment, such as, using kind words, gossiping, helping others, etc. We also discuss celebrations if they are excited about a problem they solved on the playground, etc.

Throughout the week the students can write a problem/issue or a celebration on an index card and put it in our Celebrations and Concerns Pot. I use the cards in the pot to drive our Class Meetings. Students can also voice their celebration or concern aloud without having put a card in the pot. Sometimes I read the cards aloud and sometimes the student who wrote the concern or celebration reads it aloud. The students do most of the work in our Class Meeting, and I guide them on how to respond to each other. I also make a point to let them know even if they're not involved with the concern being addressed, they can learn from others' experience.

It's amazing to see the students grow and improve with making better choices during our class meetings and outside of our class meetings! Class meetings help make our classroom a happier and more enjoyable place to be. If you'd like to learn more about Class Meetings, [here] is a great article. :)

Extra Management Tips

Teacher Week '13: Now Teach! Organizing for Instruction

Five of My Tried and True Organizing Tips and 
Why They Are Must-Dos in the Classroom 
{freebies included}
1. Calendar Book Ring System

I have a thing for book rings...They make it SO EASY for my Calendar Leaders (one of my classroom jobs) to manage calendar.  No more losing or searching for pieces, just flip the pieces!! You can get this set of calendar pieces for FREE in my TpT store. 

My Calendar Leaders (two students) lead the class in calender takes less than five minutes and is a great way for the students to review specific objectives (that they may have trouble with) everyday. The Calendar Leaders also make calendar interactive by having the rest of the students echo what they say. For instance, the Calendar Leaders will say, "Today is Tuesday comma September 3rd comma 2013 period," and then the other students echo. The echoing is a great way to keep all the students engaged.

2.  Essential Questions Book Ring System

Like I said, I have a thing for book rings...all you have to do is flip! No more writing and erasing the essential questions/objectives on the board! Perhaps you keep your posters in a binder and switch them out with every unit and that's cool too! Not only are the book rings super easy and time efficient but they are great for content integration since you have easy access to all of the essential questions. These pages are for the 2nd grade Standards of Learning (SOL) in Virginia and you can get them for FREE [here], [here], and [here] in my TpT Store.

3. Student Work-in-Progress

I L-O-V-E pocket charts too! This pocket chart was a lifesaver last year when it came to managing students' work-in-progress. Each student is assigned a pocket and they  put any unfinished paper-based task in their pocket. Lost papers are no longer an issue (I have a "no loose papers allowed in desk" policy) and the whole "Whose still working on that?" is an easy problem to solve!

4. Homework Folder Pocket Chart

One can never have too many pocket charts, right?! This pocket chart is near the classroom door so when students enter the classroom in the morning they put their homework folder and/or Porter Pocket (folder that goes home once a week with student work) in the pocket chart. Again, each student is assigned a pocket so it's a great way to check attendance and see who is being responsible with bringing their folders back to school. What I love the most about it though is it makes my job super easy (every minute counts!) to collect anything from their folders AND students are not bombarding me in the morning with notes, forms, etc.

5. Why Have a Leveled Classroom Library?

I REALLY don't like gathering books for Guided Reading...there's not enough books for the group or I can't find books that I feel passionate about the students reading. So I leveled my classroom library. The students are given the levels they may "shop" for and they use those books for our Reading Workshop. Not only does this help me out but it works out better for them too because they're more engaged and have ownership over  what they're reading. The only time I assign a specific book is sometimes for a Book Club or content related study.

6.  Math Manipulatives: Easy Access and ALL-IN-ONE Spot
Needless to say prepping and distributing math manipulatives can be time consuming! I don't know why I didn't do this sooner...put all of the math manipulatives in one spot that is easy for the students to access. Since the manipulatives are easy for the students to access, I can put them in charge of gathering what they need. For instance when it's time for small group math instruction, I can tell my small group to get twenty unifex cubes instead of them waiting for me to pass the unifex cubes to each of them. 

The small things can make a big difference! 

Thanks for visiting! Hop on over to Blog Hoppin' to check out more ideas!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Teacher Week '13: Meet the Teacher

Welcome to Teacher Week '13, Blog Hoppin's annual anticipated linky party! I was enjoying "meeting other teachers" like Sara, Susan, and Stephanie when I thought maybe you'd like to meet me and we could be friends? Whadaya say?! 

 5 Fun Things About Me
1. I have two companions...LOVE them!

2. Cooking and baking has become one of my new hobbies within the last year. My parents didn't (and still don't) cook much when I was growing up so I didn't have much background knowledge in cooking. After cooking almost every weekend since October and taking two classes (one of which was through Living Social and was AWESOME), I can cook AND people are willing to eat it!

Check out my Pinterest board to see other recipes I've cooked and baked!

3.  I LOVE to be organized and clean. It's therapeutic. How do you like my bathroom? I saw the towel/basket idea on first I was just going to add the basket but then I ended up spending the next hour cleaning and organizing under the sink. Does that happen to you?

4.  In addition to blog-reading, one website I read at least once a week is Tiny Buddha.
Tiny Buddha

Tiny Buddha is a website where numerous people write inspirational posts to help make our lives a little happier. :) I especially like the quotes that begin each post.

5. While I spend a lot of time thinking and doing school-related activities (can you say teacher nerd?!), I do manage to have fun in other ways. I recently went peach picking (and baked a peach pie, yum!), hiking (see the beautiful waterfall below), saw The Mowgli's (you may have heard their hit song San Francisco on the radio) in concert, and have tickets for a NASCAR Racing Experience (SO SCARED) as seen on the Bachelor/Bachelorette.

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia

Thanks for stopping by to meet me! Take a look at the schedule for the rest of Teacher Week hosted by Blog Hoppin'.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Made-It: Reading Workshop Assessment + Lesson Planning Pages

I'm linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for...

Last summer I created a fancy, schmancy system for keeping data for reading and writing based off of the CAFE book. Then the school year started. I love the CAFE book but all the different records became too overwhelming for me. Then I tried a big ole binder with a tab for each student but I couldn't manage that well either. Finally after lots of thinking, talking, and searching I have a new system to try and am hopeful that it's going to be magical! 

Guided Reading/Reading Workshop Assessment

 1. Materials:
1. Reading Resources (FREEBIES in my TpT store HERE and HERE)
2. iPad or computer 
That's all you need...easy peasy! 

2. Assessment:
Oral Reading Fluency       

Reading Comprehension
Oral Reading Fluency: 
1. Use hundreds charts for Running Records.
2. Record student's performance in Google Form (based on DRA2). 

Reading Comprehension:
1. Use Comprehension Questions/Prompts to guide conference with student.
2. Record quality of student's responses in Google Form (based on DRA2)

No more clutter of papers to worry about! 

3. What now?:
Google Sheets automatically orders the data by date/time but you can order the students by number by clicking the student column and ordering from A-Z. This way each student's data will be grouped together and you can more easily see individual progress.

1. Analyze data in Google Spreadsheet and use to guide instruction!

Grouping students by strategy is made easy!

Would you like to try out this system too? Here's where I found inspiration and tutorials:
Stephanie from 3rd Grade Thoughts
Farrah from Think*Share*Teach
Karyn from Doing the Daily 5!

One more thing...Planning Pages!
I LOVE to be organized but I was a mess this past year when it came to keeping legible plans. Perhaps at some point I'll make the move to digital plans but for now, I'll use my new planning pages. Download them (click image) for FREE on TeachersPayTeachers!

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Student and Parent Gifts Throughout the Year

Happy Friday! Need some gift inspiration? Check out these ideas (with FREEBIES) that I found from some fabulous teachers.

1. Meet and Greet 
Sweet Dreams! I found this freebie from Sunny Days in Second Grade. Inside is a super, cute poem with confetti that the students are supposed to sprinkle under the pillow on the eve of the first day of school. 

2. Valentine's Day
A case of the Love Pox! I gave my students the Love Pox (heart stickers on their face and arms) for Valentine's Day. I found this idea from The Teacher Wife. She has the freebies to go with it too! We had so much fun spreading the Love Pox that day! 

3. End of the Year
Have a ball this summer! I can't remember where I saw/heard this idea but it worked out as a great end of the year gift for my students! I ordered the beach balls and a hand air pump from Amazon. The students used Sharpees and rotated to each desk to sign everyone's beach ball. I love this because it's a great way for the students to remember their 2nd grade class and it's fun!

You're OFISHALLY the best! This idea has been swimming around Pinterest from numerous other gift givers. I decided to do this for my classroom parents and found the small baggies and Swedish Fish on Amazon. I created the labels, which you can get for FREE on TeachersPayTeachers (click the image above). 

I'll be back on Monday with Monday Made It! Enjoy the weekend!
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