Friday, August 19, 2016

5 Ways To Make It The BEST Year Ever!

Back to school is made easier when we have everything in place, including lesson plans, materials, our behavior management plan in place and so on.
It also makes the rest of the year go more smoothly when we are better prepared from the start.
The concept of being prepared isn't a new one.
We all know we need to be prepared for the year.

That's why we think about it and plan all summer long! 
And go into our classrooms weeks ahead of the students to plan and prepare!


It really depends on the needs of the students who are going to walk through your classroom door.

1. Know Your Students' Needs

Are they already reading? Spend time planning lessons that will challenge.
Are many of them behind? Spend time planning intervention lessons that will move them up.
Is their behavior a problem? Treat that like an academic issue and plan lessons that will teach proper behavior.
Most likely, you will have a little of all of the above.

So your first step is to determine where your students' needs lie and plan accordingly. 
Don't wait until they walk in the door.

Hopefully you will have some data to look at ahead of time.

Imagine Meet the Teacher:
A student walks into your room with her parents. You introduce yourself and once you hear her name, you know something about her because you've already looked at her reading, writing, math and behavior data. You've already had conversations with resource teachers and others in the building who have had your students.
You are able to say, "Wow, Alyssa! I hear you are reading really well already! I can't wait to see how far you will go this year!"
Or, you know that Felicity is strong in math, but a little weaker in reading. 
You are able to say, "Hi Felicity! I'm so glad to meet you! I heard you are a super star in math! You will LOVE our 1st grade math activities this year." No need to comment on the reading, but you could mention to parents that you will be focusing on helping Felicity become a strong reader this year.
When you study your students' needs ahead of time, you can:
* Seat them accordingly
* Group them accordingly
* Greet them accordingly
* Make parents aware and confident and that you already know their child's needs
* Build strong relationships immediately with students and parents
* Plan differentiated lessons that meet their needs
* Start off to a great school year!

2. Work Collaboratively With Your Team

If you are fortunate enough to have a great team, you are well on your way to a great year!
The wisdom and experience of your teammates is one of the best resources you have.
(If you don't have a team, or your team doesn't work well together, find others who are great resources and who are willing to collaborate regularly with you.)

Set specific days and times to meet and have an agenda for each meeting.
Don't spend time reinventing the wheel by yourself.
Work together and the time you spend collaborating may seem like a big sacrifice, but actually will save you tons of time figuring things out on your own.
Trust me. This is HUGE!

But you have to use your time well. 
So plan what you will do and when you will do it.
For example:
Monday Mornings: On your own
Tuesday Mornings: Plan/discuss literacy
Wednesday Mornings: Plan/discuss math
Thursday Mornings: Plan/discuss social studies, science, art
Friday Mornings: Staff meetings (or on your own)

* Set a starting time and ending time.
* Agree as a team to stick to the times.
* A leader is assigned and leads the meetings
* Agree as a team to talk about personal or non-related topics at a different time.
* Agree that this time is sacred and must be focused on what will be most helpful for students.
* Agree to focus on things YOU CAN CHANGE, not waste time discussing things you have no control over.
* Agree to be solution-oriented.
* Prepare a generic outline of what to plan/ discuss each time (next week's skills, standards to cover, best comprehension questions to use that will focus on those standards, small group strategies, etc.)
* Follow the outline and/or change it to better meet your students' needs

I know this sounds like a drill sergeant needs to oversee your meetings, but you will be sooooooo much more productive if you follow guidelines.

Think about how business meetings are led:
Members of the team have agendas.
One person leads in a professional manner.
The team stays focused on the agenda and goals for the meeting.
Members start and end on time.

a business would go under if employees did not collaborate or were not productive during meetings.

Your team will SHINE at your school if you collaborate well!

3. Design A Purposeful Decor

Everything in your room and on your walls should be for the students' benefit. 
In other words,
If it doesn't help your students meet their specific needs and goals, get rid of it. 
Or else it's just a distraction for students.
And we all know they are already easily distracted, so why add to their distraction?
Wall space is at a premium.
Floor space is at a premium.
Use it wisely.
We all love cutesy. But if that's all it is, don't use it.
If you will teach from it, or students will use it as a resource, then post it.
If you believe students will use their individual or partner reading time better from sitting on comfy cushions, pillows, and bean bag chairs, then use them. 
But if they are just a distraction, or students fight over them, then they probably need to go.
Really think about your decor. Is it purposeful and helpful with meeting my students' needs?
If not. Get rid of it. Now.

4. Plan Activities That Meet Students' Needs

Again, we all love cute, but if that's all it is, then don't do it.
Reflect on their needs and goals.
Design your lessons around that.
Like many of you, I do a lot of quick assessments with students one on one the first week of school. I need to have activities that are engaging, but will also tell me more about my students' abilities and needs.
Be choosy about those activities.
Our team likes to put a booklet together that students can work on quietly while we do some quick sight word and number recognition assessments.
My Back To School Math and Literacy Activities are perfect for this.
We select only the activities that our students would benefit from and those that are most engaging. There are more than 50 math and literacy pages to choose from.
Some we do together, and some students do independently.
(You can find my student Privacy Resource Folders HERE.)
The privacy folders give privacy, but are also used as a resource tool for students.

Once you have your reading, math and writing groups created, start planning targeted instruction.
We all need to have fidelity to our core programs, but we can emphasize and focus on what is going to help our students the most.
Use your data from school-wide testing, or test students yourself.
Then create your plans.

I have created Targeted Guided Reading Plans that help me stay focused on what my students need most.
See my blog on using Targeted Guided Reading Plans HERE.

I try to ensure that I use my small group instruction time well. 
I use a Must Do, May Do system for reading centers rather than a rotating centers approach.
We have found that this system works much better and we are able to meet student needs better in small group simply because we have more instruction time!
Read about it HERE.

5. Have a Solid Behavior Plan in Place

If you have a behavior plan in place that works, and one you will be consistent with, 
Your year will be much better! 
Your students will learn much more! 
You won't be pulling your hair out!

Seriously though,
You need a plan.
You need to stick to it and be consistent.
You need to teach, model, practice and praise expected behaviors.

At the beginning of the year, I like to use posters to hold up and teach students expected behaviors in places around the school.
Then I post them and refer to them throughout the year.
Here are a few that I use (eleven posters in all):

The posters come with identical activity sheets for practice and discussion.

I like to use the clip chart for behavior simply because students get it, they can move up for good behavior so it's not just penalizing them, and it's a visual for them.
I also reward students with a Happy Go Home Note when they get to pink!
I print them off on pink paper and made into a glued notepad.
We make tally marks on their wooden clips for every time they reach pink, and when they have 5 tallies, they go to the treasure box!
Get these products below, the posters above, and TONS more behavior management resources HERE.

Teach, model, practice, praise expected behaviors.
Read more in my blog post HERE.

Let me know what your thoughts. I'd love to hear from you!
Thanks for visiting and don't forget to follow my blog or follow me on Bloglovin' (See icon above on the right.) and "SAVE" this post on Bloglovin'!

Check out Great Products for Back to School

Tons to choose from!

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Five for Friday August 13, 2016

 Thank you Doodle Bugs Teaching for once again letting me join in on the fun!
 Ok. I'm a day late.
I believe this might be a thing for me in the next few weeks.
Is anyone else having troubles keeping up with everything?
But I'm excited...
This will be an amazing year, with my incredible team!
 Thankfully I've had some incredible support getting my room ready.
My sister, Judy offered to help me get my room spiffed up and I told her,
Now, that's not all my print. She's actually counting out our summer printing for our team.
Yes, she worked a loooooong time.

Then she helped with the welcome back bulletin board!
It's not quite finished yet.
The plan is to take pictures of the student's and place their heads in the shirts. I will also put arms through the sleeves and students will hold onto their work all year long!
I'll change the border with the seasons and
maybe at Christmas I'll put Santa hats on their heads...
Anyway, I'll show you the board as it progresses.

 ♥ Oh, I love my sister! ♥

I can't wait to attach their heads! It will be too cute!

If you are interested in creating a similar bulletin board, here's what I used:
Hawaiian Shirt Clip Art FREEBIE! Can you believe these cute shirts are free?
They are made by Treasure Coast Strings, a new TpT store, and I'm a new follower!!
If you download, I'm sure the seller would love great feedback!

Do you need the cute Aloha name tags?
I have a FREE editable PowerPoint version for download
Just type in your students' names!
The free labels look like this:

The letters I created using EduClips Build A Bunting Clip Art Bundle

Better yet...
Get a whole set of bunting letters from my store for 50% off for the first 48 hours
(font and colors a little different)
You get:
Red, Yellow, Green, Blue and Black and White as well as
Upper and Lower case letters and
You can make them any size you want in your printer settings.

 My Alphabet Wall Cards are hanging for student reading and writing reference.
If your district uses D'Nealian handwriting, you may like Alphabet Wall Cards {D'Nealian}
And one of my favorite student resources is our Dictionary for 1st Grade!
During reading, they look for and circle their new sight words.
During writing, they look for correct spellings!
This is literally used every day by my students and they love having their own resource tucked away in their chair pockets.
There are other versions as well:
Have a WONDERFUL school year!

Thanks for visiting and don't forget to follow my blog or follow me on Bloglovin' (See icon above on the right.) and "SAVE" this post on Bloglovin'!

Click on Doodle Bugs to see what other great bloggers are up to.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Five for Friday August 5, 2016

 Thanks, Doodle Bugs Teaching for another great Five for Friday!
 I am so lucky to have wonderful sisters!
My sister Jo and I took a wonderful trip to Boston.
She lives in Wisconsin and I'm in Colorado. We don't get to see each other often. So we met in Boston.
We had such a blast!
The history there is unreal (I wish I had paid attention better to my history classes in high school...).
Here I am on the Freedom Walk that led us all around town, where we could stop at historical landmarks.  
Normally, American History isn't that funny, but we managed to giggle for 5 straight days!
Oh my gosh. We laughed so hard when we saw this unexpected photobomber in this picture!
(Jo on the right)

 I have a shiny, new set of 11 Class Rules Posters and Matching Student Activity Sheets that I'm excited about and just blogged about.
Read all about it HERE.

 So my "baby" just turned 21! 
Soon he goes back to the east coast to school and I won't get to see him until Christmas.
Sniff sniff.
Love having my boys home in the summer!
 I LOVE our 1st grade Number of the Day pack that we use throughout the year!
We start with day 1 and go through day 160.
Every 20 days, the skills increase in rigor, based on 1st grade math skills.
We staple them into 20 page packets, and after 20 days, they get a new packet.
2-5 minutes a day is all it takes, and you would not believe
the growth our students make in math with the daily repetition of essential math skills!

So, like you, I'll be in my classroom soon getting it spiffed up for the new year!
I can't wait to hear about your adventures this year and share some of mine.
Have a wonderful weekend, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for visiting and don't forget to follow my blog or follow me on Bloglovin' (See icon above on the right.) and "SAVE" this post on Bloglovin'!

Click on Doodle Bugs to see what other great bloggers are up to.

Explicitly Teach Behaviors and Expectations

So school is right around the corner. 
We are all busy putting up bulletin boards, arranging tables, desks and chairs. 
We are gathering supplies and materials for the new curriculum our district has adopted.
Engaging lesson plans for all subjects are ready to go.
We are ready for those little bodies to walk through the door and start a great year!

But are we really ready?

A school year should never begin without asking this important question:

What are my behavior expectations of students?

If a teacher doesn't have a solid understanding of what kind of behaviors they expect in their classroom, students won't either.

Ask and answer the following questions:

  • What are the restroom procedures? When are students allowed to use the restroom?
  • What are the pencil sharpening procedures?
  • How would you like students to transition to the carpet?
  • What does entering the classroom in the morning look like?
  • Exiting at the end of the day?
  • What does lining up look like?
  • When they leave the room, what should their table/desk look like?
  • When can students talk?
  • How loudly?
  • How should students sit on the carpet?
  • How should they sit at the guided reading table?
  • How should they sit in their seats at their desks/tables?
  • What can/can't they do at recess?
  • How should they walk in the hall?
  • What are the expectations in the cafeteria?
  • What are the procedures for centers?

I think you get the idea.

First, KNOW what you want from your students.

And then TELL them.

We should never assume our students know our expectations.
You need to explain, show, model, and praise the behaviors you expect.
Then repeat.

The posters are used to explicitly teach your expectations for each part of the day.
Then post them in your classroom for reference throughout the year!

Of course, some procedures and expectations may be your very own and not included in these posters.
That's why they are editable! Feel free to change them to suit your class needs.
(Keep in mind that you are limited to whatever fonts your computer has and they may not be the same as the fonts I used.)
Also included are activity sheets (also editable) that match the posters. Reinforce those behaviors you are teaching! 
(Not all 11 activity sheets are pictured here.)
Please let me know if there is a poster you think I should add!
I am always looking for ways to add/improve, so questions and comments are welcome!

Another great product that includes these posters:

Let me know what your thoughts. I'd love to hear from you!
Thanks for visiting and don't forget to follow my blog or follow me on Bloglovin' (See icon above on the right.) and "SAVE" this post on Bloglovin'!

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