Saturday, November 19, 2016

Word Work

So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
Weekly Words
I got this idea from Beth Newingham.  She can probably explain it better than I can, so go check out her Scholastic Blog!  I do a variation on Words Their Way (I lovee this program).  

I have four different spelling groups; Cupcakes, Crayons, Strawberries and Snowmen (and, yes, I let them choose their group names, can you tell?).  All of the groups are practicing the same pattern, but they receive different words based on ability level.  The Cupcake/Crayon groups receive the same words and the Strawberry/Snowmen groups receive the same words.  


I introduce the pattern on Monday and each group gets their 10 words for the week (starred on their word sheet).  
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
Throughout the week, all the students practice the pattern with all 30 words.  On Friday, each group is tested on their words (I give two tests at the same time) and they are all also tested on an extra 10 words that follow the pattern of the week. 
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
For students who really study and practice, it works really well!

Spelling Folders

The folders in are housed in the Word Study area of our classroom, since I have a mix of students from 2 homerooms.  They fit perfectly in these half-size file folder boxes from Wal-Mart.  This area also has our rotation chart and all the word study materials.
Each student has their own spelling folder that corresponds to their group name.  Each folder has a label (with their group icon) in the upper right hand corner.  This makes the folders easier to find.
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
They keep their cut-up words in a labeled envelope in their folder.
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
In their folders, the students have a spelling notebook.  In the notebook, they write down their 5 high frequency words for the week.
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
The students get their high frequency words from the list in their folder.  Once they get a word correct on their test, they highlight it on their chart.  Each week they choose five words to study.  The students test each other on their high frequency words (since every student has different words).
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
On the right side of their folder, students keep their center worksheets for the week.  I check these when the students meet with me to make sure there are no misconceptions.  I send them home at the end of the week so that their folder is empty for the next set of words.  You can grab these sheets here.
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
When the students come into spelling, they check to see which activities are available for their group that day.  I meet with 1-2 groups a day, while the others are at different centers.
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.

Center Activities
The students write their words on the iPads and then "type" them on the keys.  Click here for the free template from Mrs. Gilchrist's Class.
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
The students use magnetic letters to spell out their words on the whiteboard.  The letters and the whiteboard are from the Target Dollar Spot.
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
The students use the chart to sign their words to their partner.  Their partner then needs to guess what word they spelled out.
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
Rainbow words are a lot of fun!  Students write their spelling words in different colored markers or pencils. 
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
I also use these activity sheets in our small groups.  I put them in plastic pouches so that they can be re-used.
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
Students write their words on the iPhone screen and then "type" their words out.  Click here for the free template from Traci Clausen.
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.
Activity Storage
I try to be very neat and organized, especially if I want the students to be completely independent.
The iPads, iPods, Sign Language cards and Roll and Spell cards are kept in a pocket chart.  

The rocks, board games, stencils, and magnetic letters are kept in the small boxes.  Worksheets are in the drawers.  

Each box is labeled for easy student access.
So many ideas for word work in the elementary classroom!  Great activities, centers and organizational tips for spelling.

My students really love these activities and look forward to doing them throughout the week.  I've seen a huge success with them in the classroom as well.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Friday Journals

Creating a connection between home and school has such a huge impact on a student's education.  One way that I go about this is having students share with their families what we are learning in the classroom through a series of hand-written letters.
Friday Journals offer a way for students to share their learning with their families and practice their letter writing at the same time!
On Fridays, during Writer's Workshop, my students write in their Friday Journals.  We start by brainstorming what we learned and any other exciting events that happened in our classroom during that week.

The students then write a letter, detailing a few of the ideas that we brainstormed.  Most students choose to write to a parent, but I allow them to write to an adult (or older sibling) that they will see over the weekend.  In a few cases, I've had students write to a teacher or other staff member, if I know that there might not be a lot of support at home.

The students then bring their notebook home on Friday afternoon and I ask that the parents respond to their child's letter.  It's a great remedy for the question, "what did you do in school today?"  I also love seeing the interaction between the student and the parent.  I make sure to put a note to the parents at the beginning of the notebook so that they know what to expect.
Friday Journals offer a way for students to share their learning with their families and practice their letter writing at the same time!
At the beginning of the year, my second-graders start off writing just 3 sentences and asking a question.
Friday Journals offer a way for students to share their learning with their families and practice their letter writing at the same time!
We eventually move on to writing multiple paragraphs!  It's a wonderful way to see their writing grow and develop.
Friday Journals offer a way for students to share their learning with their families and practice their letter writing at the same time!

If the students bring their journal back on Monday with a parent response (or at least a signature), they receive a sticker for the cover of their journal.  By the end of the year, it has a nice decorative look and the parents have a special keepsake!
Friday Journals offer a way for students to share their learning with their families and practice their letter writing at the same time!
It is great practice writing letters and it is a great review of what we have learned together.  You can grab the letter template for free here.  I shared more info on Friday Journals in my Facebook Live video, which you can watch here.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Printing on Post-It Notes - Who Knew?

Did you know that you can print on post-it notes??  My organized life just got even more organized!  This post has a free template for printing goals and to-do lists.  So helpful!
I sure didn't!  I love, love, love post-it notes.  I mean, the bright colors...the small sizes...it's an organizational dream.  My only issue is that they don't all have lines.  I find it so much easier to write (and read) when there are lines involved.

Then I discovered that you can print on post-it notes. GAME CHANGER.  I am obsessed.  My organized and neat notes are even more so now!

Anddd it's super easy.  You start by printing a blank template.
Did you know that you can print on post-it notes??  My organized life just got even more organized!  This post has a free template for printing goals and to-do lists.  So helpful!
Then you add the post-it notes to the template and pop it back in the printer.  It is super important that you know how paper feeds through your printer.  Each one is different.  Do a few test runs before you put the post-it notes on.
Did you know that you can print on post-it notes??  My organized life just got even more organized!  This post has a free template for printing goals and to-do lists.  So helpful!
Wa-la!  Your post-it notes have been printed on!
Did you know that you can print on post-it notes??  My organized life just got even more organized!  This post has a free template for printing goals and to-do lists.  So helpful!
I like to use them in my weekly planner pages.
Did you know that you can print on post-it notes??  My organized life just got even more organized!  This post has a free template for printing goals and to-do lists.  So helpful!
And I also stick them to the bottom of my computer screen so that I can see them every time I sit down to do work.
Did you know that you can print on post-it notes??  My organized life just got even more organized!  This post has a free template for printing goals and to-do lists.  So helpful!
You can grab the blank template and all the lists shown in this post here for free! 

Looking for more fun ideas for your classroom?

Monday, September 12, 2016

You Have a Student Teacher...Now What?

Are you hosting a student teacher in your classroom this year?  Here are some tips on helping them get the most out of their experience!
You volunteered to have a student teacher in your classroom this year or maybe you were assigned one without warning.  Regardless, having a student teacher is a great responsibility and opportunity to help out a new generation of educators.  Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Space
One of the most exciting things about being a student teacher is that you are so close to finally having your own classroom.  Many future teachers have been dreaming about this since they were in elementary school themselves.  Give her a space to call her own, a "teacher's desk" if you will.  It can be just a small table, but it will make her feel like a real teacher.
Are you hosting a student teacher in your classroom this year?  Here are some tips on helping them get the most out of their experience!
2. Introductions
Introduce her to your team members...the principal...the special education teachers...the secretary...everyone!  This will make her feel more welcome and more apt to interact with these teachers.  If you can, let her observe in a classroom at a different grade level.

3. Planning
Every week, sit down with your student teacher and plan with her.  Start by showing her how you plan.  She's never done this before!  It can be an overwhelming concept.  Share your thoughts out loud as you write in your plan book, so that she knows what your thought process is as you plan.  

Do you have a scope and sequence that you follow?  Do you start with the big picture and break it down from there?  Is there a teacher manual that you follow or are you creating lessons on your own?  Do you go to Teachers pay Teachers for extra materials?  Do you plan with a colleague or a grade-level team?
Are you hosting a student teacher in your classroom this year?  Here are some tips on helping them get the most out of their experience!
4. Meetings
If you can, invite her to the different meetings and professional developments that you attend.  Let her know what she should bring to a conference with a parent and how she should plan for it ahead of time.
Are you hosting a student teacher in your classroom this year?  Here are some tips on helping them get the most out of their experience!
5. Involvement
Let her know about school events - movie night, book fair, staff basketball game.  The more involved that she is, the more she will enjoy her student teaching experience {and become a better teacher}!  Let her know that this is how you get to know your students on a personal level.  That being a teacher is so much more than just what happens in the classroom.

Have you had a student teacher in your classroom before?  What tips would you add to this list?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Save Paper! Save Ink!

Are you going through a lot of ink and paper when printing classroom resources?  Here are 4 quick steps on how to print multiple slides per sheet of paper!

Oftentimes, I have teachers ask me how to print multiple slides of a resource on just one page.  It's easy!  Here are 4 simple steps:

Open the resource you want to print in Adobe.  Click on the print icon (looks like a printer) or choose Print from the File drop-down menu.
Are you going through a lot of ink and paper when printing classroom resources?  Here are 4 quick steps on how to print multiple slides per sheet of paper!
 Then the print box will pop up.  In the middle of this box, there is a button that says "multiple."  Click that one!
Are you going through a lot of ink and paper when printing classroom resources?  Here are 4 quick steps on how to print multiple slides per sheet of paper!
 It will give you the option of how many slides you want per page.  You have the option of 2, 4, 6, 9, or 16 slides per page.  Or you can choose custom.  After you choose, it will show you a preview on the right-hand side of the print box.  This will give you an idea of how large or small your images are.
Are you going through a lot of ink and paper when printing classroom resources?  Here are 4 quick steps on how to print multiple slides per sheet of paper!
 Lastly, choose which pages you want to print.  Oftentimes, you don't need the cover or the teacher directions.  This will help you save even more on ink and paper.
Are you going through a lot of ink and paper when printing classroom resources?  Here are 4 quick steps on how to print multiple slides per sheet of paper!
That's all there is to it!  And since a few people asked, you can grab the Schedule Cards here.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The First Week of School in Grade 2

A full week of back to school lesson plans for free! Includes all links to activities and resources. This made organizing my first week of school so much easier. A great find!
I remember back to my first year of teaching. I had completed my student teaching and had a few years of subbing under my belt. I felt fairly confident about teaching in general. 

The first of school, though? I was petrified! I had never even witnessed the first day of school from a teacher's point of view.  They didn't know the routines and I barely knew their names!  I was NOT prepared for this at all. What was I supposed to do to get the year started off on the right foot?

Well, first off, I find that having a plan works (imagine that!). And not only having a plan, but having a LOT of extra activities ready to go. You never know how that first week is going to go. 

Here is a schedule of what I do in that first week of second grade. You can download this schedule and every activity is linked so that you can find the exact resource you are looking for. 
A full week of back to school lesson plans for free! Includes all links to activities and resources. This made organizing my first week of school so much easier. A great find!
Morning Routine:
Creating a morning routine has made a huge difference in our entire school day.  It really helps to get the day started off on the right foot!  I start working on our morning routine on Day #1.  We practice it over and over for the first few weeks of school, until it becomes second nature to my students.  You can read more about how I run our morning routine here.
A full week of back to school lesson plans for free! Includes all links to activities and resources. This made organizing my first week of school so much easier. A great find!

Morning Journal:
Part of our morning routine is to write in our morning journals.  To say I love these things, would be an understatement.  It's a great activity for my students to work on while I collect notes, take attendance and do lunch count.  It also allows for my students to have a little extra writing time in their day.
A full week of back to school lesson plans for free! Includes all links to activities and resources. This made organizing my first week of school so much easier. A great find!
Morning Meeting:
This is my favorite part of the day!  I write a morning message to my students each day, previewing what we will be doing and any changes to our normal schedule (assemblies, etc).  We read the message together, do calendar time and exchange a morning greeting.  It's such a positive way to start our day!

Dismissal:
As much as we practice our morning routine, we practice dismissal as well.  We have a system for how we get packed up at the end of the day.  I call students one by one to hand back their take-home folders, they then go to their mailboxes to collect their mail.  They return to their seat to put their mail IN their folders and then go to their cubby for their backpack and jacket.  We use these posters to keep track of how students are going home on a particular day.  Underneath I hang each students' name and they can be moved around easily if someone is going home a different way on a particular day.
A full week of back to school lesson plans for free! Includes all links to activities and resources. This made organizing my first week of school so much easier. A great find!

What are some things you do the first week of school?  I'd love to hear some new ideas!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Morning Routine

Chaotic.  Frenzied.  Loud.  Yep, my mornings used to start out like that too.  As it turns out, that's not a great way to start the day in elementary school classroom!  I was frantically trying to get attendance and lunch count done (please don't call my room again - I'm sorry I forgot to send it!).  Meanwhile, my students are trying to tell me their fish died...they saw a cool bug...their grandmother is picking them up...and everything in between.  It. Was. Not. Working.

We needed routine STAT!
Creating a morning routine for kids in the classroom can make all the difference!  This post shares ways to organize your elementary school classroom to optimize that busy time of the day.
First up, create visuals for the students.  Especially with the younger kids, being able to see a picture to associate with the words goes a long way.  I hang these posters in a prominent place in the classroom where the students can easily see them as they enter each morning.
Creating a morning routine for kids in the classroom can make all the difference!  This post shares ways to organize your elementary school classroom to optimize that busy time of the day.
Next, we needed a system.  A place to turn in notes.  A place to choose their lunch.  A place to put their completed homework.  All labeled and easy to see.  Again, visuals are helpful.  Click here to grab the bin labels for free!
Creating a morning routine for kids in the classroom can make all the difference!  This post shares ways to organize your elementary school classroom to optimize that busy time of the day.
And now, we practice.  And then practice some more.  And then practice even more after that!  I realized the more we went over the routine in September, the smoother the rest of the year went.  We revisit the routine about once a month (especially after vacations) or whenever I start to see my kids fall out of sync.

As you can see in the posters above, I always have something for my students to work on when they get to their seats.  I use morning journals.  I put one together for each student at the beginning of the month and the students keep them in their work folder in their desks.  It simplifies my life, since I don't need to worry about morning work every day.   It's a great way for them to get extra creative writing practice as well.
Creating a morning routine for kids in the classroom can make all the difference!  This post shares ways to organize your elementary school classroom to optimize that busy time of the day.
Once we get our routine down, our mornings run SO much smoother.   It's a wonderful way to ease into the day and get started on the right foot.