Monday, July 29, 2013

I don't think I'll ever get to go on vacation!

This summer I have been working away on a few unit to use this year with my class.  Our district has been working on refining our standards based report card and finalized many of our essential learning targets for K-5. Social studies is one curricular area that we, the second grade team,  have been reformatting to reflect the new learning targets. So all summer I have been trying to develop units that will make learning more fun and meaningful for the students.  I almost have my virtual field trip series for the American symbols wrapped up, but I am still writing fluency passages, poems and assessments on my Tall Tales unit.  I also have two science units all scribbled up on paper, and I can wait to try things out and get it all typed up!

                                                                     COMING SOON!

On top of that I decided to go back to decorating with bees, I had Alice in Wonderland on my mind but only for a few days, and decided to go with something I had already used in the past.  So I have been revamping some things, and creating a few new things to go along with it.

On the home front, my husband has just finished drywalling our basement, and I have been priming and painting away-but only when the weather is yucky.  Otherwise, I try to get outside as often as I can.

Well, I off to my classroom to start organizing books, and rearranging the layout.  As soon as it is all decked out in bees, or Alice..., I'll post pictures.  I still need to compile my final list for Target...I hope there are still a few cute things left!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Class Dojo Freebie

Due to the amount of requests I have been receiving, I have made the behavior tracking sheet I use with the Class Dojo available for download.

If you like what you see, then please pin it to Pinterest and leave me a comment.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Classroom Management

I am in love with Class Dojo.  Prior to using the site, I used the colorful class clip chart that many of you have seen around the web. Kids would move clips up and down the chart, and when they reached the top I gave students "space rocks", otherwise known as sticky gems, to attach to their clip.  I would also give them a good news postcard with a personal note on the back and indicated one thing they did well that day.

Here's a picture of the cards I gave out.  The back has a similar pattern and an empty white space to write in.
If you'd like to use these for your class click here for the file.

At the end of the day, I would then have students color in a tree shape on their behavior log.                   To read more about this sheet click here.

                                            You can get a copy of this sheet at my TPT store.

But then......
I found this!

                                                                CLASS DOJO!

I keep this up on my SMARTboard all day, and the company also has an app that lets you track student behavior from your phone, or iPad.  So, if we are out at recess, I can log points.  If I'm in the lunchroom, library, computer lab, it doesn't matter. Class Dojo travels with me.

At the end of the day the students record the number of points they earned. The point totals for the day show up right next to their name.  I have various point totals color coded, so if they earn 5 or more points that day, then they color that day on their behavior log purple. 3-4 points earns a true blue, 1-2 is a light blue, 0 points is green, and negative points have them coloring in yellow, orange and red.  So, it is very much like what I did before, only now the actual behavior recording device is more engaging and easier to manage.

To make it even better, my students can now earn coupons with the points they collect over the course of the week.  On Monday, I set a end of the week total the kids need to hit.  If they earn that many points, then they can choose a coupon.  I use coupons much like those offered on Mel's, Suesstastic Classroom blog.  The kids love them!

Class Dojo also keeps track of all your student behaviors so that you can print out a nice sheet to show parents, and the site will even send a daily behavior report email to parents.

The site has many other fantastic features, and best of all it is FREE!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Okay.... Rotate!

That was the ingenious phrase I would use each day during our math workshop in order to get the kids moving to their next station.  Um, yeah...not the best idea I have ever had.  So, around October of last year I came to conclusion that this was not the best way to signal transitions, so I Googled
Transition and found this wonderful website:

People! It worked like a charm! My kids moved ever so quickly and quietly to the music.  Not only has it saved my voice, but the kids think it is super fun. We use the theme to Mission Impossible and when the last note is playing everyone is sitting doing jazz hands.  Too funny!
Last year I only used the site for a clean up song and math transitions, but I decided I needed to add to it.  I decided to create a SMARTboard transition board and added a few more transition cues.

If you'd like to use the SMART Notebook file I created click here. Enjoy!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Math Workshop

I love teaching math and science!  Over the last few years I have been refining how I teach math in my classroom, and now that I have switched to a math workshop model I will never go back to teaching math the "traditional" way.  So, how do I run my workshop?

I teach to a small group while everyone else is doing all sorts of math activities throughout the classroom. I have 4 distinct stations that the kids travel to each day.
One station is me, the teacher station. 

Then I have an independent work station, which usually involves some kind of paper-pencil work.  

There is a skill/enrichment station.  At this station the kids are assigned to work with a game or activity that will either enhance skill development or push them to think more in-depth about a concept. 

My last station is fact practice. When students are in the fact practice station they are partnered up with another student, and they tutor each other on the facts they are currently assigned.  

We typically spend 15 to 20 minutes at each station and then rotate.  Prior to starting the rotations  I will do a whole group mini-lesson, much like one would in a readers or writers workshop, to introduce a concept, or to reteach something that is giving the whole class trouble.  Then we break out into our groups.  At the end of the workshop, we all come back together and discuss the learning objective for the day and we take our 1 minute fact quiz.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Math Fact Fluency

Last school year, I set a professional goal based on improving my students' abilities to retain facts.  Year after year I have done fact practice in some form or another, but every year I still had kids that just couldn't retain their basic facts.  I knew I needed to find a new strategy.  While attending a math conference on RTI, I heard about peer tutoring and decided to research it some more.  Over the summer I developed a fluency center for the kids to use during math workshop, and I tried it out this past school year.  It really made a difference!  In the past the students never had an accountability piece during the actual fact practice portion of our day, and to be honest I don't think I gave them enough time...  This year I not only gave them more time, but I also had them work in partnerships and tutor each other.  It worked very well, and all of my students mastered their basic addition facts through 20. As a math coach in my district, I decided to put everything I used into a packet for the other teachers in my building to use.  You can find it here if you'd like to try it out.  I currently only have an addition and subtraction resource available, but I am working on the multiplication and division set and should have it up soon.  I have gone through the routines involved in detail, as well as provided facts, quizzes, a homework option and fact practice folder set-ups.  I'll be posting more about my math workshop in the next few days, so stayed tuned.