Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Little Craftin' Never Hurt Nobody!

Okay, so Saturday was one of those days where you would look outside one minute and the sun would be shining, and then SURPRISE, the next second, it was raining. Those kind of days call for one thing in teacher world... c-r-a-f-t-i-n-g!

Recently, I was talking to a co-worker about ideas for PBIS [Positive Behavior Interventions and Support] and classroom management for this coming year. She was telling me, and I have heard it before, that she used to do 'warm fuzzies' with her kiddos and they loved it. What is a warm fuzzy you may ask? Allow me to inform you- a warm fuzzy is one of those pom poms that you find at craft stores... yep, that is IT. I know, I'm with you... I asked her, "Those little fuzzy things motivate students?!" *Disclaimer* Prepare to have your world rocked: apparently, yes. Those fuzzy little things motivate students to be kind AND to work together... winner, winner, chicken dinner! Of course, I am on board. Why not give our students one more thing to help boost our classroom community, especially when that 'one more thing' is a fuzzy pom pom that I have millions of stored somewhere in that lovely closet of mine?

So, I went to Michaels and picked up three glass jars, some paint pens [because of course, I left mine at school] and one large container to house all these fuzzy things. And then the crafting began and.... ta-da!
("Earn a warm fuzzy by doing something kind, fill up the jar and a surprise I have in mind!" I stuck with "surprise" instead of something like class party because then I get to decide what the surprise entails.. sometimes promising a class party can work against you! For the jars, I just wrote the label, let it dry for a few minutes and then just picked two colors to make the polka dot background! Last but not least, got some of those magical fuzzies and filled up my jar! Craft was complete in 30 minutes!)

SO simple and hopefully, so effective! So what's the plan for this? Well, since I teach three grade levels, each grade has their own warm fuzzy jar. Simple acts of kindness earn warm fuzzies- which is perfect, because I also use Class Dojo pretty diligently in my classroom, but our dojo is based on our school PBIS of Husky PRIDE [being polite, responsible, in control, doing your best and earning and giving respect.] Last year, I found myself rewarding students who were being kind to friends or teachers with dojo points, but there wasn't a category in my dojo that directly aligned with kindness, so this is perfect! Also, a little different than dojo because they have to work as a class to earn the special surprise! All about that collaboration in A111... and also, a little competition within classes never hurt no one! [HUGE MOTIVATOR!] Stay tuned to see how these fuzzy things make my teacher life just a little bit easier! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Lions, Tigers and APPs OH MY!

Happy Monday, friends! As promised, I have been playing on my iPads and scoping out some apps that I want my kiddos to learn with in August, and I have found some REALLY good ones that I can't wait to share! For those of you that don't know, I work at a school that has an innovative schedule which allows me to specialize in reading and writing. The students at our school move through content band specialists in Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies/Science which means I teach one block of kindergarten, one block of 1st grade and one block of 2nd grade- sounds crazy, but it allows us to better personalize the learning that occurs and meet each child's individual needs as best as we can... kind of cool, huh? Anyways, that being said, my search has been geared towards ELA apps for students ages 5-8. Our school is also Title 1 with a heavy Spanish population - so the more I can expose these particular students to the English language, the better. And that's when I stumbled upon these apps that I love:

SO, these four apps are fabulous for kindergarteners and incoming 1st graders! No, they are not free, however you can purchase all four of them in a bundle for less than $5.00 at the iTunes App Store [22Learn is the program.] Each app has many activities within them including identifying letters, matching sounds, tracing letters, blending sounds, spelling CVC words, letter flashcards, letter puzzles, etc. which I love because students at all levels can feel confident in at least one of the activities these each of these apps have to offer. Check these apps out and let me know your thoughts/favorites! :) 

The Reading Palette

Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer Time and the Planning's Easy!

Hello, everyone! I am so excited to finally have a blog up and running where I can share some ideas that I use in my classroom. First of all, HAPPY SUMMER! We all know that teaching is one of the most rewarding professions, but man is it exhausting! Summer is just the time we need to regroup, relax and prepare for the next year. BUT, if you are anything like me, your teacher brain just will NOT shut off- whether it's pinning, visiting different blogs, creating products for TPT, somehow I am always thinking about what is next...Which brings me into my most recent purchase for my classroom: iPADS... two of them!
Earlier this summer I attended a conference where there were two electives on iPad apps and app smashing [which is the coolest thing ever!] As we all know, iPads/tablets/computers are a huge hit in the classroom. The things the kids can do on these devices are endless, and SO engaging! I couldn't help but leave the conferences wanting more technology in my room for next year. So what did I do.... looked online for some refurbished iPads and purchased two of them- yep, just like that! If this is something you are interested in as well, I purchased mine on Amazon [you'll learn that that's one of my favorite stores] from the "Limitless Product" vendor which I highly recommend (the cases are sold on Amazon as well by "FLYBRID" ... I wanted sturdy cases that would stand up, and these were the winners!) Anyways, the iPads are in FABULOUS shape... as good as new! $219.95/per iPad- not too bad! Especially knowing the impact they will have on my students' success... worth it in my book! Check back later for some of my favorite apps that you should download on your device!