Sunday, October 25, 2015

Delving Into Kagan - Quiz Quiz Trade

I'm sure many of you have heard of, or even used, Kagan Structures in your classroom.  I like to think I do a lot of cooperative learning in my classroom.

But do I really?  

I'm starting to delve deeper into cooperative learning with Kagan Structures and it is some exciting stuff!

One of a the structures I immediately connected with was Quiz Quiz Trade.  A simple routine in which students pair up, quiz each other, and then switch their cards and quiz another student.  I like that the students really mix it up with one another, and they get a chance to quiz with lots of different questions.

This game can be used with any content.  The sky's the limit!

We are currently working on digraphs in our classroom.  So I made a Quiz Quiz Trade game that focuses on the digraphs we have been practicing.  I can't wait to teach my firsties this game.  I know they will just love it!

You can find this awesome cooperative learning game {HERE} in my TPT Store.

Happy Cooperative Learning!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Photo Booth Fun

Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely LOVE to take pictures!  Over the past few years I have developed a real passion for photography.  I have quite an array of fancy equipment.  But you don't have to be an enthusiast like me in order to take great pictures in your classroom!

All you really need is a little fabric, a cute prop, and get ready to snap away!
The photo above was part of our Mother's Day gift last year.

It is SO SIMPLE these days to take awesome photos to share with your students' families.

I've purchased fabric in several different colors and designs for my photo booths.  I usually buy two yards of fabric... from the sale rack of course!  I like when the fabric is a solid color with a slight texture.  Sometimes designs can be too busy and take the focus away from your subject.

I always set up my photo booth near a window.  Natural light is your friend!  Just be sure to NEVER shoot directly into the light.  Keep natural light behind you or to your side.  You can see how bright the day was in this picture below.  It was so helpful to have the shades to block some of the light.  You never want direct sunlight on your subject's face!

This is an adorable prop I bought on Etsy from Dandelion Designs.  It's a chalkboard frame and it was around $20.  I did find that when my student's wrote on the board, it was difficult to see in the picture.  I solved that problem by digitally adding the text (keep reading to find out how!).

I bought this wooden frame at Michaels super cheap from the clearance section.  Then I put a coat of aqua paint on it, and layered on some polyurethane to make it smooth.  The frame is a 5x7.  I don't like any prop that's too big for my firsties.  Again, it takes the focus away from their adorable faces!  I got the "first day" sign from Aimee at Primarily Speaking.  {Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to find it in her TPT store anymore!}  And be sure to keep the glass part of the picture frame off, because it could cause a glare. 

Here is a pic from our Father's Day photo shoot.  I used Pic Monkey to quickly and easily add the text to the chalkboard.  I edit my photos in Lightroom, but Pic Monkey has some awesome editing features, too!  And, Pic Monkey is FREE!!!

I typically print my pics at my local Walgreens, because it's quick and easy.  I also like to send a digital file to the student's family.  Parents LOVE getting the pics in their email.  That way they can print additional copies, forward the email to other family members, or post the pic to their social media page.

Happy Snapping!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Back to School Generosity

Back to school is often a time when teachers spend A LOT of their own money on supplies for the classroom. 

This year I was so blessed to have some amazing donations to my classroom stash!

First there was a fantastic contest by McGraw-Hill.  They filled a RedCube with tons of goodies that I wanted!

Please note the Amazon gift card in there. I cannot WAIT to attack my wish list - there are a TON of new mentor texts I want to purchase for writer's workshop. 

I can't wait to dive into these books!

My firsties were so excited to see these card games being put in our indoor recess area. 

You can never have enough glue sticks.  Am I right?!  Plus dry erase and Mr. Sketch.  Yes please!!!

I may or may not have opened the Milky Ways immediately.  Just.  Saying. 

I also took part in this years Reddit Teacher Exchange.  What a cool idea this is!  You should definitely check it out next year.  It takes place each year in August.  I got these amazing supplies from an anonymous donor.  What generosity!

Clorox Wipes - because first graders love to share their germs!  I go through Ziploc bags like water, so these will be particularly helpful.  So excited about the thin dry erase and Mr. Sketch markers. Now I don't have to be so stingy when their markers run out, haha.  There are also some Ticonderoga pencils on the way.  Every teacher knows the value of Ticonderoga!

You may not think that page protectors are a hot item in first grade, but I use them a ton!  We are using binders in writing workshop this year.  There are a lot of resources I like my writers to have at their fingertips so they can be independent.  They each need at least 10 page protectors in their binders.  That adds up quickly!

Thank you so much to Tim at McGraw-Hill and my Reddit donor for these generous donations to my classroom!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Almost Time... Back to School Freebie

Just a quick post to check in... it's almost back to school time for me!  I know many of you are already well into your school year, and so many schools around me started this week.

I still have some time to get ready... and I need it!  It seems as though no matter how much I cross off my to-do list, I add twice as much more.  Anyone else ever feel that way?!

Thought I'd share one of the items I recently checked off my to-do list... Picture Directions!  I am really excited about these!  I've already laminated mine and put magnets on the back.  That way after I give my students directions, I can put up the matching cards on the whiteboard.  No more "Do I need to get this checked?" or "Where do I put this when I'm done?"

This is a freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers store so feel free to download and share away!

I'll be back next week with my classroom reveal... but for now, back to the to-do list!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

SitSpots Goodness and a Giveaway

I'm sure you've heard about SitSpots.  If not, you are in luck with today's post (and a giveaway!!).  
These babies are AMAZING!

Anyone's classroom rug ever look like this?
What a great solution to keeping kids in their own personal space.  

BUT... tape on the carpet can be a nightmare.  I know my custodians get very grumpy when they see tape on our carpets.  Not only is it hard to clean on top of, the tape ruins the carpet and leaves marks when you eventually take it off.

But as elementary teachers we know how important it is that everyone have their own space on the carpet.  It completely helps manage your little angels and keep them engaged on the teaching... and not their BFF twirling their hair next to them.  Am I right?!

Then along came...

These are SO much better than tape!  You put them on your carpet... and they STICK.  I mean, really stick.  The custodians can even vacuum over them and they won't come up.  Seriously.  My custodians have tried!  And when you want to take them off at the end of the year, or change them up, you can.  I've even washed mine to keep them fresh for the new school year.

Be sure when putting them on your carpet you have your rolling pin!  It's worth the extra effort to make sure your spots stay put.

There are a TON of colors and shapes you can buy.  Your carpet can match virtually any theme or decor.  I have a set of aqua blue and neon green circles that match my classroom colors.

As soon as I saw the shape SitSpots I imediately thought of Twister.  How fun will this be when we are working on our geometry unit in math?!  Get those kiddos up and moving.  
Right hand rhombus?  Yes, please!!!

(I took these pics in my apartment since it's summer... and I'm not quite ready to go back into my classroom just yet, haha!)

SitSpots offers a free sample if you visit their website so you can check these out for yourself. 

Even better, Joyce, the creator of SitSpots, generously donated a couple gift cards for me to give away!!!  I'm so excited to spread the SitSpot love.  These really are such a lifesaver in the classroom.

The giveaway ends next Sunday so make sure you get your entries in ASAP!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August Currently & a TPT Back to School Sale

August and a major sale!!!

Time to link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for this month's Currently...

Listening - I'm a little behind on my Netflixing, but I'm finishing up Season 3 of Orange is the New Black.  Love those crazy prison girls!

Loving - I know many of you are going back to school this week... but I still have the month off.  I would feel guilty about bragging about this, but y'all were kicking off summer in May, so you've had your fun, haha!

Thinking - I'm heading back to Chicago this week to spend time with my sister's family.  They just moved into a new house so there is much more space for fun, fun, fun!  Can't wait to get my snuggles on with my lil' nephew and my nieces.

Wanting - I want start my new book about Whole Brain Teaching!  I have dabbled in Whole Brain methods, but this year I really want to do it up right.  I can't wait to get started on this book...

Needing - I am in need of a snack and a nap... preferably in that order!

B2S RAK - Who doesn't want a few sweets to kick off the year?!  I know my sugar cravings are high when it's time to go back to school, and so are my colleagues!

What are you Currently up to?!

And in money saving news... Teachers Pay Teachers has done it again... they've gone and thrown a HUGE sale to celebrate Back to School!

Luckily for me, I don't go back until September 8th, so I still have LOTS more summer to enjoy.  But I've still got school on my mind and a very long TPT wish list!

EVERYTHING in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store is on sale.  Be sure to use the code BTS15 at checkout to receive the maximum savings!

Check out a few items you might need for the new school year...

Classroom Labels {Editable}

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Remind" Parents this Year

My absolute favorite fast and easy way to communicate with all my parents is with Remind!  With the new school year coming up, it's the perfect time to check it out...

You might have heard of it.

You might have even downloaded the app to your phone.

But if you aren't USING it, you are truly missing out!

I have been using this consistently for the past two years and it has been SUCH a lifesaver!  It's a quick way to blast out a message or reminder to parents.  

And it's FREE!  Seriously.  FREE.

After you sign up, you can add your class.  I like to date my class with the school year so that I can add my new class each year.  (Obviously this pic is of last year's class name!)  You can also delete old classes if you want.  

Remind will then direct you how to get your parents registered after you've set up your first class.

Below you can see a few of the messages I sent to last year's class.  One of my favorite things about Remind is that you can schedule messages ahead of time.  This is particularly helpful during those busy months (can anyone say September?!  December?!  June?!).

It elicits an immediate response from your parents.  My reminders help me to get things to school on time.  I have seen a dramatic rate of improvement in getting important paperwork returned to school.  And it saves me from making individual phone calls after school to parents!  

I typically send my messages around 7 or 8pm.  That way, if parents need to send something to school, they remember to put it in the book bag right away that evening.

You can use the app or the website to send messages.  You are limited in the number of characters you can use (140 to be exact), but I haven't found that to be a problem yet.

Remind has a form letter/email you can send to parents.  I created my own letter for parents.  I introduce Remind at my Curriculum Night at the beginning of the year.  I even encourage parents to take their phones out right during my presentation and sign up.  Last year I had every parent registered!

This year I'm excited to try the new feature - CHAT!  You can "text" back and forth with parents.  You can also control what hours parents can chat with you.  I set mine for 9am-7pm on weekdays only.  You can also control whether you are the only one that can initiate a text, or if your parents can initiate a text, too.  

I love that I can text with parents without them having my phone number!

Remind is a must have for every classroom.
How do you like to communicate with parents?