Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Building a Reading Community

One of the first reading lessons I start with is having my students bring in their favorite book. Each student shares their favorite book with the class and tells why it's their favorite. In this brief time I am able to gather information about my students' interests and level of reading they choose to read. During this meeting on the carpet I was able to introduce the importance of underlining a book title, the use of quotation marks, and identifying genres. After everyone shared, I asked the students what they learned. I thought they would reply...underline the title of a book, use quotation marks when someone is talking, etc. Surprisingly, the students made some deep connections within our class. Their responses showed more depth of knowledge than I anticipated: "No one picked non-fiction as their favorite book," "A lot of kids in our class like series books," and "A lot of students like realistic fiction." Their responses reflected the class as a "whole" and not individual observations. I felt like a proud mama!!! On the second day of school we were already forming our class family and reading community.
This is just a sampling of some of their responses:


Not only did the students learn something new, so did I! This informal "assessment" will drive my future reading plans. Without any "test" I know that my students need more exposure to non-fiction reading material and need to be guided toward more challenging reading choices. Sharing our favorite books with each other exploded into an excellent learning opportunity for everyone. Now my students know a little more about each other and their reading interests, which will help later when forming literature circles and/or reading partners. 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Monday Made It

I'm linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for Made it Monday again! Sorry I'm a little late... my projects have been finished, but haven't had time to post-crazy first week back to school!

READ Letters:
I picked up these wooden letters from Michael's. First, I glued scrapbook paper on the letters using Modge Podge. Then, I cut around the letters with an Exacto knife to trim the paper. Finally, I sealed the letters with a layer of Modge Podge (glossy finish). They will go perfectly with my black & white theme!

Custom Rubber Stamps:
I didn't actually make these rubber stamps, but I did design them! Disclaimer: I really run across the desks, not dance so much, when I have a very exciting teaching moment!!! {I've been doing this since my first year teaching, so I need to keep up the tradition!} I love the heel-it just completes it! I can't wait to use that stamp-I hope somebody does something amazing on the first day of school so I have an excuse to stamp away! :) The second stamp is just something I like to say when I celebrate, so I thought I should stamp papers that should be celebrated too! This is one of my favorite summer purchases at Office Depot!

Student Medals:

These medals will be used as an incentive for students to do their best on a test to earn the privilege of wearing a medal for the day! (I bought 18-I'm hoping for lots of high scores/improvement!) I bought the medals at Target Dollar Spot (2 pack). Actually, that's not true... my fill-in mom, Judy, went hunting all over for me while I was on vacation and found the idea from Lana from 4 the Love of Teaching. (I couldn't convince my family to take an excursion to Target!)

Post a comment...I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fabulous Find Friday

I'm excited to be linking up with Elizabeth at Fun in 4B for her Fabulous Find Friday linky party!


Photo Box Carrying Case:
I found this photo box carrying case at Michael's. It holds 18 individual photo boxes. They are the perfect size (4x6) to hold index cards, flashcards, center game cards, etc. I originally bought just a few of the photo boxes (about $0.80 each with coupon or sale) to hold my index cards, but then this carrying case to house all the little boxes caught my eye! I just love how organized it looks! So...of course I bought it! About $20 with coupon and teacher discount. {It's an organizational investment!}

Individual Photo Boxes:

Here are some examples in use-quick and easy to find the center or activity you're looking for with the clear cases.

I use these cards for a pocket chart center for word work. I have several different cards and alternate them when using this activity. They will be at my fingertips with my new case!

Student Awards:

I picked up these cute little trophies at the Dollar Tree. The reason I liked them is because I could personalize a label for featured students or a specific incentive on the large black base. I used the 30 count labels. (In case you couldn't tell from previous posts, I like to label everything!)

Acrylic Frames:

I found these at the Dollar Tree too! I use these acrylic frames to display directions for a center or to show a student sample. They are 8x10 picture frames, so you can trim your paper or tape it to the front. I  bought them in landscape and portrait style. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Classroom Decor

Want to save money and have your students take ownership of their classroom?
One of my absolute favorite activities at the beginning of the year is for my students to decorate our classroom. They make posters using inspirational quotes to be hung around our "home away from home". I used to buy inspirational posters to hang in my room from teacher stores and catalogs each year and then I thought what a great way to build community and personalize our room with student posters! Each student selects a quote/saying that fits their beliefs/values and illustrates how they interpret the quote/saying. With this activity you get student buy in for the kind of climate you want for your classroom. It sets the tone for the year. These are great to have displayed at Open House! The samples below are from previous students. Each year I hang them all over our class. We get so many compliments and even get requests for posters to be hung around the school! Great self-esteem booster! All illustrations must be outlined with black marker (this really makes them pop!) and no white on the paper unless it's supposed to be white (ex. clouds).


The quotes are about friendship, leadership, team building, and making good choices.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Made it Monday

I'm very excited to be linking up for the first time with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It! Yay! I started blogging last Saturday and left for vacation on Sunday~very tricky! I've been busy with a few projects-take a peek!

Project #1: Customized Binder Clips

I was inspired for this project by a teacher catalog-I knew I could make them for less and I wanted to customize them for my classroom.

I bought the assorted colored binder clips at Office Depot and used clear labels (return address/80 count). I made the first set for my organization soul mate, Amber, but after a couple of hours the clear label was starting to lift. The consistency of the label wouldn't adhere to the metal. Don't worry, I have other labels!

Binder Clips......Take Two:

I used the white return address/80 count labels for these. I also plan to buy some additional clips for subject areas as well. While making these clips, I thought these would be perfect for a substitute! All subjects would be clearly labeled and if you're planning more than a one day absence, the days would be labeled as well. All that organized cuteness for a little over $3!

Project #2: Treat Jar

My plastic treat containers were several years old and no matter how hard I tried to clean them, they just looked dingy. So...I made a trip to Target and found these glass, screw-lid containers. I made a scalloped label for each container-the chocolate one says, "Mrs. Miller's Treats". I don't have a picture of this one because unfortunately it's empty. :( 

Project #3: Happy Teacher Box

This project idea came from Jena Snowden from 1st Grade with Miss Snowden. Here is the finished project to give to my teacher friends. All the goodies were purchased at Target, Office Depot, Dollar Tree, and Walmart. The boxes were purchased at Hobby Lobby. Scroll down to see close up pictures.


Pink theme and blue theme.
Included in kit: timer, book rings, gum, push pins, staples, paper clips, post-its, rubber stamp, binder clips, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and Dove chocolates.

Project #4: Sharp and Dull Pencil Buckets

I posted labels for these buckets on an earlier post, but I just got around to sharpening all those pencils and finishing my own buckets. I also made them for my children's teachers~it makes a nice welcome back to school gift. The polka dots were made with white contact paper and a circle hole punch. I tied ribbon around the handles to finish it off.


Let me know what you think! Leave a post if you have a comment, question, or other use for these projects!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Remind 101-Texting Parents & Students

Remind 101 is a safe way for sending text messages to groups of students and their parents. The service is an opt-in service which means that students and parents have to enter a confirmation code to state that they do want to be contacted by you through the service. The best part is that all numbers are hidden, only names appear. It's a great tool to send reminders or let students and parents know about upcoming events/assignments. Here is a quick video to explain further.

Thanks Melissa for sharing!


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