Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All About Me Project

A fun and creative way to build community and learn about each other is this All About Me Project! Students cut a piece of poster board in a shape that represents them {I would make a high heel because I collect and love them!}. Students draw, cut out, use clip art, etc. for items that describe them for five different categories. Students give an oral presentation for their projects and then the projects are displayed. (Great for Open House). Below are some student samples.

Balance Beam & Video Game Controller
They added their own style to their projects and were very proud of their hard work. Even my students who are reluctant to speak in front of their peers, felt comfortable sharing something they know about (themselves). My students learned a lot about each other's families, interests, and favorites. I loved hearing the comments, "I didn't know you liked gymnastics" or "He likes the same books as I do." These projects gave them new perspectives about each other. Click here to go to my TPT store.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Open House Tips & Tricks #2

I apologize it took so long to post this second tips and's been a little very crazy! If you've already had your Open House, save it for next year, if not, hopefully you can use some of these ideas!

Wish List Labels: These are the labels from an (earlier post) that were displayed on a table for parents to select items to donate to our classroom. The prices range from $1-unlimited (gift card) offering every parent an opportunity to feel like they're helping their child's class. The "hands" are displayed when parents walk in and I also put a "plug" in at the end of my presentation. You can use the labels on any cute cutout or die-cut you have available. (These hands are from Dollar Tree).

Goodies For Parents: I wanted to show my appreciation to my parents who attended Open House so I had these treats waiting on their child's desk as a thank you. (Mints are sold in big container from Sam's, bags are from Michael's and I made the tags).
Goodies For Students:  Can't forget the kiddos! I picked up packages of erasers at Office Depot this summer for 5 cents each! I didn't pass them out at the beginning of school thinking... I could use these for something! So, of course, I came up with this little saying literally at the midnight hour before Open House! My students were thrilled to see a gift for them on their desks and they can always use erasers too! Isn't it awesome when you can be a hero for 5 cents??!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Open House Tips & Tricks #1

Invitations: I have my students make invitations to bring home the week before Open House to increase attendance. Possible ideas I've used: student made postcards that I've mailed home, 5x8 student decorated index card with magnets on the back to put on refrigerator, construction paper house, etc. This year I got a deal on some fancy invitations with envelopes that my students put all the important information on to go home (who, what, when, where, why). When students ask their parents to attend an event rather than getting an invite from a school flyer, they're more likely to come.
Survey: Use this Open House Survey to find out about your parents' needs prior to Open House Night. This survey will give you information about any confusion or questions your parents may have about your classroom. This will help you with your presentation and eliminate questions (that several parents may have) that evening. Also, at the bottom of the form is a place to RSVP to the event. This form is a reminder, a survey, and a chance to respond all in one! This is a Word Document so customize it to fit your needs: date, name, special font, etc. Click on the image to download.
Science Experiment Sign Up Sheet: Use this sign up sheet at Open House to have parents help out with the cost of science experiments. Parents are usually willing to help out and this will help alleviate some costs to you! Have sign up sheet available on table when they walk in. Keep this sign up sheet with your plan book and notify parents a week in advance to gather up the materials. Click on the image to download for free. Please follow me and rate the product-it's greatly appreciated!

Hope these ideas help your Open House event! Stay tuned for more tips tomorrow!
Have an idea? Please share.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Parking Lot to Hold Questions

I love using this parking lot to help with my classroom management. I find it the most useful during my guided reading groups. (It seems to be the time that all my students want to talk to me or have a question). I want my guided reading to be focused on only the students at my table, so my other students will write their name on a post-it and "park" it on the parking lot until I can get to them. I try to answer their questions in between groups or when I've given my guided reading group a task to complete. I have also given them procedures of what to do while they "wait" until I can answer them...skip the question they need help with, ask a group member, move on to another assignment. Of course the first day I put the parking lot sign up I have a BUNCH of post-its-they all just want to try it out! Another time I find this tool beneficial is when I'm working one on one with a student. This simple sign just eliminates any interruptions and at a quick glance I can see if anyone needs my assistance. Students can post their names or their questions. I made this poster (11x14) and have the students use the mini post-its. (Sam's Club develops this photo/poster for $2.87). This poster is available at my TPT here.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Independent Reading

Independent reading is so important to my reading program and it's one of my favorite times of the day! I love seeing my students so engrossed in their books, begging me for just five more minutes of reading time. This time builds fluency, vocabulary, background knowledge, and better writers. Although this time is for my students to choose books of their interests and personal choice, I do want them to select good literature that challenges them. I try to steer them in this direction during conferences if I see a repeated pattern of  selecting "easy" or "too hard" of books. They set goals and pace themselves to complete their books with my frequent "check-ins" during the week.  
My students have independent reading for about 20 minutes every day. We have a school wide reading time for 30 minutes on Fridays (I get to read too!) Students need to see their teachers as readers. I take turns sitting in different sections of the room and sitting with different students. I share my thoughts about the books I'm reading and the highlighting I do to professional books. Books should be loved and I want them to see my "thinking" while I read!
Before I begin independent reading in my classroom, I survey my students to see what independent reading  looked like for them in previous years/classrooms. I get a range of responses so we make an anchor chart together of the expectations they have (and what they think I will have) during this time in our classroom. My students were very thoughtful (see below). I feel this reading meeting gave me insight about my students and it gave them ownership of this time. 
Closer view
I share this research (below) at Open House to help the parents understand the importance of reading at home and outside of the reading block.These statistics are eye-opening to parents.
Leave a comment, I'd love to hear about your independent reading!

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