New England Blogger Meet-Up

Morning friends!

I know! It's been almost an entire week since I went to the amazing Winter Warm-Up, but I just haven't had the time to post anything of substance this week. Between IEP meetings, restraint debriefings, and an issue with a student's family (my New England blogger friends may remember what I'm talking about), I am just now able to sit down and blog about this wonderful experience.

From left to right starting in the back row we have...
Wendy, Susan, Deirdre, Bex, Vera, Sara, Dianne, Katie (blog supporter), Furnell, me, and Sally.

If you recall in my last post, I had a mix of feelings about meeting everyone. I was nervous, excited, anxious, shy, and eager. When I think of Blog Meet-Ups, I think of the Blog Celebrities that have made so many friends via the blogsphere. I was nervous to meet everyone - thinking "Little ol' me doesn't belong in one of these things." But alas, the amazing blogging community once again amazed me. It didn't take long after I arrived to feel right at home - between talking about our blogging experience, to complaining about curriculum mapping, to sharing stories about our supportive spouses, I knew I was surrounded by caring, like-minded friends. At the end of our get-together, pictures were taken and hugs were exchanged. Promises of future meet-ups still ring in my memory.

My view heading home...
I've already exchanged contact info and emails with some of my New England bloggers and blog supporters (that means YOU Katie!). I'm so happy to, once again, be reminded of the amazing community I found just 2 years ago. Here's to a future of making friends in this support environment!

Update February 3:
How did I NOT show the loot I got?! Sheesh...


For the lovely Dianne at Hopelessly Devoted. Who doesn't need a little Bailey's in their life?

Adorable pail, treats, and FLAIR PEN! Thanks Vera from Tutu Teacher :)

More delightful goodies! Loving the gel pens :)

I'm a dunce - if my New England bloggers could ID the generous friend who provided these goodies, please let me know!

A BIG thank you to Deirdre from A Burst of First for organizing this whole thing! Thank you!!!

Cheers,
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Winter Warm Up!

Just dropping in to share my excitement with all of you! Tomorrow morning, I will be heading into Boston to meet some new friends! It's my first ever blogger meet-up right in my very own city!!! I can't wait!! (can you tell by all the exclamation points?)


I'm a little nervous, shy, excited, anxious - a whole mess of feelings! I've never met another blogger before, and I keep my blogging life pretty personal (read: no one, aside from my husband and mom knows I'm a blogger!) So needless to say, this will be an adventure-  an adventure worth exploring!

This wonderful meet-up was organized by Deirdre from A Burst of First! I'm so grateful for the fabulous blogging community and am looking forward to expanding my circle of friends even more! Thanks Deirdre for this wonderful opportunity :)

If you're in the area and want to join in on the fun, email Deirdre (her email is found on her page) ASAP! Should be a blast!

While you are visiting Deirdre's page, make sure to enter her great Whole Lotta Love Giveaway! Lots of terrific bloggers are offering up some goodies for you. I am giving away my First Grade Daily Warm Ups for February. Go check it out!


I will keep you all posted on the fun - hopefully with some pics!

Cheers,
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50% OFF TIL FEBRUARY, Plus New Products!

Morning Y'all!

Happy Long Weekend Monday (hopefully)! Hooray for long weekends!

So, funny story - I messed up. After spending lots and lots of time and energy making sure I finished my January Daily Warm Ups in time for January, I realized I never uploaded the First Grade version! Yipes! So as of the 19th of January, they are finally up... Over half way through the month! Ugh.

Well, that means that YOU luck out! My First Grade Daily Warm Ups for January are available at HALF PRICE for the rest of the month! Normally these buggers are $4.00, but grab them now for $2.00! Woohoo! Click the image below to check out this deal.


In addition to my late product, I uploaded two more Daily Warm Ups - February versions for both Kindergarten and First Grade. Check them out by clicking the images below!



I also uploaded a new Letter-Picture Match Up literacy center. This one is perfect for Valentine's Day, seeing as it is a Valentine's Edition!


Oh AND I Bundled my popular Common Core Checklists for K-2! Check it out by clicking the image below.

Cheers,
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New Resource! A BIG Thank You to Hailey!

Greetings!

So I want to start off this post by giving a shout out to Hailey from Autism Tank! She did a post on a great resource for special educators called TheraSimplicity. I hadn't heard of it before - but now I love it!

This is why blogging is so great! I may have not stumbled upon this resource if it hadn't been for this community. Hailey frequently posts resources and sites she uses in her classroom. This provides educators with a real-life, unbiased review of a resource. While Hailey's population is a bit different than mine, her post was relevant enough that I was intrigued. I headed over immediately and started searching, creating, printing and laminating!

laminating away!
Here are some of the great things I made using this resource:


I'm Mad Strategy Visual: The TheraBoards section allows you to use pre-made visual boards or create your own using search features for images and typing your own text. For this visual, I created my own to tailor it to our "strategy toolbox" we use in our classroom.

Worksheets: This site provides a lot a bajillion worksheets for all different subject areas and concepts. I  printed two different versions for letter identification: matching letters and matching letters to beginning letters in words.

Sequencing Cards: I LOVED this feature of the site. A few of my students are practicing sequencing skills in literature and these cards are a great supplement for real-life situations. The sequencing sheets I printed are: building a snowman, baking, coloring, raking, and getting dressed.  You can use them in a variety of ways, but I chose to print them 3-4 to a page, laminate them, and cut out each card. This way I can add them to my centers and/or my students individual activity binders. More on that when I get these going in my classroom.


I also made two worksheets for my kiddos who are working on cause and effect and/or making predictions. Using the search feature in the sequencing boards section of TheraBoards, I chose the images I wanted for my worksheets. I then used the images to create a prediction worksheet. (I ended up creating this one in word using the images I downloaded. I wasn't able to format it the way I needed for my kiddos, but I still loved the images!) If you are interested in this freebie, click the image above for 2 prediction worksheets!

If you work with students with special needs and/or those who benefit from classroom visuals and accommodations, this site may be worth checking out. Read Hailey's post on this topic for a more in depth look at the features of this resource and sign up for your 14-Day Free Trial (like me!).

Cheers,
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Small Victories

Morning friends!

Yesterday was a tough day. By 9:00 am I had already heard the sounds of inconsolable tears, head banging, colorful language, and "Mrs. Wallace!" more than enough to make me want to change my name. A student was aggressing toward our para, more tears from another, and we had 2 restraints by the end the day. And, it was a half day. After the phone calls home, restraint paper work, incident reports, and a debriefing meeting, I didn't get home until my usual time on a regular dismissal day, 4:30 pm. That evening, when my husband came home and asked how my day went, I responded with "Great!" Wait...what?

My day was great. Despite the endless tears, assaults, bolts, and work refusal, my day was great fabulous! Why do you ask?

One kiddo who was restrained by 11 am turned the day around, followed directions, and even told me he didn't want to go home! (this is a friend new to our school, thus getting him in the swing of these changes has been challenging) I tried a new approach with another friend who has been struggling emotionally and it was successful! A kiddo who is significantly behind in reading was able to read a passage today that he was not able to read last term! And, my most favorite moment of the day: another new student who I suspect is suffering from depression and who I have not seen smile since arriving in our school, asked a classmate to play tag and smiled the entire time! I think I even heard a chuckle!


So yes, today was great, and you can see why.

So often, the bad experiences overpower the good ones. We rarely stop and think about the successes we've had throughout the day, but God knows as soon as something "bad" happens, that's all we think about. How many times have you had something not-so-great happen to you, then another small not-so-great thing happen, then you do something like, stub your toe, and all of a sudden, it's the worst day! We've all been there, some of us more than others.


I've been struggling this year to find a balance between personal and professional life. I've also struggled to find a balance between my academic demands and behavioral ones in my classroom. But, because of these struggles, and my "not-so-great" days, I've learned that my day depends on my outlook. Earlier this year today may have been a "not-so-great" day in my book - just another one to add to the list. Instead, I chose to look at today as a success. Each small victory I experienced today added up to become a great day! Instead of dwelling on each small "defeat"and adding them together to make a bad day, I choose to change my outlook and only "do the math" on the victories. I challenge you to do the same.

Will your day be "good" or "bad?"

What were your small victories today? How did you make your day GREAT?

Cheers,
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All About Classroom Management! A New Linky


Greetings friends!

I’m excited to start a new Linky for classroom management! I encourage anyone who has any tips that have worked for them, or know of any they would like to try, to link up and join the fun! The below is an introduction to classroom management for the newbie, or for the veteran teacher looking to keep it all together! t I think all teachers can use some reminders and tips about classroom management – I know I can!  I love to read about what works in other classrooms too - so be sure to link up below!


Let's start with a little introduction to classroom management:

How Do You Manage a Classroom?

Classroom management is all things that a teacher does to organize students, space, time, and materials so that instruction and student learning can take place.

Some reasons to focus on effectively managing a classroom:

  • Clear student expectations: assignments and tests are based on objectives
  • High level of student involvement with work: students work well in class
  • Work oriented, but relaxed and pleasant climate: teacher invests time in procedures, knows how to gain attention, and how to encourage students.
  • Little wasted time, confusion, or disruption: set behavior plan, prompt, consistent, students know what to expect.
  • Provides security: no surprises, yelling, disruptions. Students know what to expect from teacher and vice versa.
We all have heard about effectively classroom management tips. Some of the ideas we have heard are “buzz” words, or the BIG ideas of classroom management. Other ideas are smaller, and thus less focused on, but still are an important part of classroom management.

Some “BIG” Ideas of Classroom Management:

  • Posting Assignments & Starting Class
  • Classroom Procedures
  • Rules and Expectations
  • Rewards and Consequences

Some “smaller” Ideas of Classroom Management:

  • Teacher Presentation
  • Maintaining the “small” stuff
  • Classroom Setup

BIG Ideas
Posting Assignments & Starting Class
Priority should be made to get the students on task and have the assignments posted daily and in the same place. This holds through for the daily schedule. Posting assignments is crucial for all age groups. When we think of posting assignments, we might think of recording homework in our homework log, or secondary classes in which we have independent work to complete. However, posting assignments can be the agenda for the class period, or expectations for quiet time. For example, I list the tasks, lesson, and assignments etc. for my whole and small group lessons. It usually looks similar to this:
1. Math Mini-Lesson
2. Math Worksheet
3. Math Video

Not usually that clear cut – sometimes I won’t have a name for something, but will give it a name. I might say “pattern practice” if it’s a less concrete math assignment (read: not just a worksheet) or “Race to 100” (a math game used by name). It’s less important that you use language to match precisely, but that you are identifying what the assignments are and how many. This way, especially for students working toward earning breaks or other rewards in many special education classrooms, students know just how many items they need to get through.

For one-to-one work (and/or independent work), I usually provide an activity schedule, or write the agenda on a personal white board. This way, the student can access the list of assignments themselves.

5 more tips for posting assignments and starting class:
1.     Start the Class Yourself – do not rely on the bell. Get the students on task, even if the bell hasn’t rung. This ensures that you have control of their on-task behavior, not the school bell.
2.     Post assignments daily/hourly. Post the agenda/assignments prior to students entering the classroom/transitioning to the next subject. This will eliminate the questions: “What’s next?” and “What do I have to do now?”
3.     Post assignments/schedule/agenda in the same place. The assignments and schedule should always be in the same place, such as always on the front white board for whole group lessons, and/or always on the small bulletin board near the small group area for small group lessons. This will help students become independent with starting and completing their work.
4.     Post previous assignments. This is especially true for older grades, in which make up work is required. If students have been absent the day before, they can still be held responsible for their own assignments and they won’t have to rely on the teacher.
5.     Don’t teach by the book. This one is obvious, and I know we know this! But just some extra motivation: if you rely on the textbook to teach your class without understanding the concepts, tasks, or objectives, you will come across as unknowledgeable and confused, feel unprepared, and your students may have trouble understanding. The text is written for you – not for your kiddos. Make sure you are using the text as a guide for you so that you can better guide your students.

Classroom Procedures
We all know the importance of classroom procedures. We’ve experienced this first hand! Teachers have procedures for everything; from how to sharpen a pencil, to when to blow your nose, to how to ask to use the bathroom, to passing in assignments. The procedures possibilities are endless! Regardless of what your classroom procedures are, there are tried-and-true tips to ensuring your students follow your procedures…

Explain: State, explain, model, and demonstrate the procedure.
Rehearse: Practice the procedure under your supervision.
Reinforce: Reteach, practice, and reinforce procedures until it becomes a habit.

Techniques to Support the Above Tips:
Make a poster: Write out the procedures for the students to see. See an example of one of my posters here.
Make a syllabus/contract: Explain the rules by going over it with the class; have the students sign it (like a contract)
Make it a game: Turn rules into songs and games to help students remember the procedures.

Rules and Expectations
I could write an entire series of posts about classroom rules and expectations. But, I won’t. Not yet at least. In terms of this brief overview of classroom management, we will focus on the best way to introduce these rules and expectations.



Rewards and Consequences
Starting the school year on the right foot includes establishing classroom rules that will last the whole year. Many teachers involve students in establishing these rules (see above). Students want to attend school in a safe environment, and boundaries are crucial to this security. Students want to know these boundaries prior to entering a classroom or school. It’s important to implement these rules and expectations immediately.

Additionally, providing rewards for following rules and behaving in expected ways, as well as providing consequences for maladaptive behavior and rule breaking, are at least as important as the rules themselves. Every teacher must create consequences with when they are comfortable setting (and/or follow a set of school procedures).

Examples of Rewards (Reinforcing Consequences):

  • Stars next to name
  • Notes home
  • Marbles in Marble Jar
  • Extra break-time/recess
Examples of Punishing Consequences:
  •  Minutes lost at recess/choice time
  • Behavior Think Sheet
  • Time out
  •  Overcorrection procedures (practicing the broken rule over and over again)
  •  Calls home
  • Principal referrals

Of course, you may not be comfortable with all of these consequences, both reinforcing and punishing ones. It’s important that you identify what youa re comfortable with, because if you are not comfortable following through with your set of consequence procedures, your classroom management attempts will fail. Simple as that.

I’ll also add that you should be pairing the consequence provided with the rule that was followed or broken. For example, you may say “Wow, nice job raising a quiet hand Gino! I’m going to add a marble to our Marble Jar!” Conversely, you may say “Anthony you need to go take space in the timeout area because you aren’t showing me a calm body.”


small Ideas

Teacher Presentation
How a teacher presents his or herself to the class can be very important, especially in the older grades. Here are some ideas for your “teacher presentation.”

Introducing Yourself- Say your name, room number, period or grade level, and a warm welcome. In younger grades, meet your students at the door and greet them individually with a warm small and handshake (if appropriate).
Before School Starts- Send a letter home to parents and/or students welcoming them to class.
Important First Words – This is an opportunity to show express the importance of you classroom expectations. Discuss these first or within the first part of the morning. Introducing kids to their lockers or cubbies is a good place to start!

Maintaining The “Small” Stuff
By “small” stuff, I mean really big, annoying, time consuming stuff.
·      Grade Books: A grade book or record book must show the results and progress of each student. To keep a good grade book you need 3 or 4 lines after each of the students’ names for attendance, scores, and running totals. Record individual assignments, such as tests, projects, papers, worksheets, and homework. An up-to-date overview of the progress of each student should be available.

·      Attendance: This involves keeping track of who is absent ad who is present in a classroom. If you can help it, don’t take attendance right when class starts. Have folders or something independent for students to complete when they walk into the room. You can refer to a seating chart quietly, without disrupting the group. Another tip is to have clothes pins attached to an object with the students names attached. When the students arrive to class they pin their name to the chart (maybe to their lunch choice if necessary). The names that stay in pace are the students who are absent.

·      Endless paperwork and emails: This is tricky for even the most veteran teachers! You need to find what works for you. I often rely on my To-Do list and place a number next to the most important tasks. I also try to respond to parent emails and any other pressing emails as soon as I receive them. This way, I never fall behind. Easier said than done, right? What I’ve done is set aside time at the end of the day to respond to these emails before I leave. That way, you are responding within a timely fashion, but not while you have other things you need to do during the day. I also have a set day where I plan to stay later (or come in early) if needed for paperwork. Lately, I have been focused on my teacher evaluation and district-required SMART Goals.

Classroom Setup

Assigned seating facilitates roll taking, aids name memorization, and separates potential “problem” students. Arranging your desk in a manner that is appropriate for your spacing and intention of your room makes it easier to see your students, teach your lessons, and have students move around the room.

Think about what “areas” you want in your room. Do you want a listening center? Do you need a “timeout” or “quiet area”? What about a small group area? Many classrooms have different sections of the room, devoted to different subjects – such as science area, a library, and the pocket chart station. Deciding on what you will incorporate into your teaching prior to organizing your classroom will help you uncover the best way to utilize your space.

As mentioned before, this is a brief (despite the lengthy post), overview of the large topic of classroom management; there are BOOKS devoted to this topic! I hope this post is useful to teachers with all different years of experiences, especially those who are new to teaching. I would love to hear your ideas for how you manage your classroom, especially in the first few weeks of school.

Link up below to share your classroom management tips and tricks! Be sure to include the button to your blog post with a link back to this post so other's know where to join!


Cheers,

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Great Product Alert!

Hi All,

A while back, Stephanie from Principal Principles offered me one her Rainbow Guided Comprehension packets. I was so excited to take a look at this great product that I planned on introducing it with my kiddos that week. Well, as we know all too well, life got in the way. With Thanksgiving, December break, and new students, I didn't have a chance to give it my full attention. Well, last week, my opportunity came!


This product is for K-2 students (perfect for me!) who are learning how to find text evidence. Finding evidence in a text is a challenging task, even for older students. I have seen many products with similar content catering to older students, but none this detailed for the Littles.

First off - it's color-coded, which I LOVE! If you know me, you know how often I use highlighters with my students to help them identify important information in poems, math word problems, nonfiction texts, fantasy stories, etc. So of course, I loved this already! Second, I love how straightforward this packet is. A teacher could tailor this easily to fit his or her lessons. Perhaps you have a group of more advanced students who, once instructed on how to complete, could do these tasks independently. You may also have a group that needs a bit more instruction, which you could easily do with this activity. And finally, you may have a group like my classroom, that require a step-by-step approach. This product gives you the tools you need to instruct your students and allow opportunities for practice on these concepts. This product also includes graphic organizers that correlate to the types of passages included in the product - perfect for follow-up lessons, early finishers, or lesson extension! How great is that?

Both color and black-and-white pages are included, however, don't think it's still not color-coded! The "highlighting" is a crucial piece of this product. While it is not explicitly something that is taught (nor something I particularly advise teaching with this age group), this prepares students for more advanced note-taking and finding text evidence as the demands increase in the older grades (think standardized testing and higher-level homework/classwork). Students learning the strategies needed for success in the older grades, at a young age, I can only image, will be better prepared and have a higher success rate in test- and note-taking skills.  Who doesn't love that?

Here are some pictures of my Littles working on the All About Bears prompt:

At first, I projected the text on the screen. This way, I could read it aloud with a visual while my students had their own text in front of them. I could also highlight on the computer as an additional visual for my students after we decide on the evidence that answered each question.

This student is "highlighting" the evidence to the first question about bears.

My Littles required additional time and scaffolding, so we had to wait to do our graphic organizers. And of course, I didn't take any pictures of our follow-up lesson in which we used the included organizers. But rest assured, the next day my kiddos were able to recall lots of facts from the text, especially those that we highlighted as evidence from the day before. I absolutely believe that our close reading of the text helped my Littles retain more information, even onto the next day! Amazing!

I highly recommend this product for all K-2 educators looking to enhance their informational text instruction. The other texts in the product are high-interest and informational, and I can't wait to utilize the rest of this packet throughout this half of the year. Make sure to check out Stephanie's other Rainbow Comprehension products as well!

Enjoy! I know you will :)

Cheers,
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Door Decor!

Greetings friends!

After our fun craft we did on Friday (which I will explain in a bit) I put our completed projects up on our classroom door. I thought I would give you a little info on this part of our classroom, because honestly, it's one of my favorite parts of our room!


The reason I love our door so much is because we use it as a bulletin board for students work. This allows our door display to be changed frequently, while allowing those in the hall to take a peek at our hard work in Room 216! If you notice, I also have my students write their name on a piece of a sentence strip. These serve two purposes. One is to post my students names on the door beneath their masterpieces. The other purpose? A few times a year (at the end each term) I have my students re-write their name on a different sentence strip piece and we replace the old one. BUT - I keep all of the name samples throughout the year, so I can show them their progress in their handwriting. Just a fun, quick progress assessment!

For our other hallway displays, click here.

It's easy for me to use my classroom door as a student work bulletin board, because I only have 7 students. Obviously, this small classroom design idea won't work for everyone, but if you have a small enough classroom, it may be something to try. It's so easy to do! No more board paper. No more borders. No more cut-out letters. All you have to do is hang up your student work, and it looks great! Plus you look like an awesome teacher for the frequent switching of your door display!

If you notice the door picture above, that is my newest product! My students have done this activity for a few years now, but this is the first time I have made a template and made it "product-ready".


My kids love doing this craft, because it's fun and not too complicated for my Littles. Also, I differentiate the writing prompt (which is included in the product) for my kiddos. My students who are working on writing 1-2 words to complete a sentence have one template, while my students who are a bit more advanced and working on writing longer sentences with more details have a different template. Here are some pictures of my Littles working on this activity:




And the final product:

If you would like to check out this product, click here or the product picture above.

Cheers,
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January Currently! Oh Em Gee!

Happy New Year All!

I hope you had a safe and happy New Year! I know I did :)

I feel so proud of myself for linking up my Currently on the FIRST day (instead of my usual 18th). Here's what I got going in my life Currently...


Most are pretty self explanatory, but let me explain this last one...

My memory of this holiday season is hearing my, usually reserved Mother in Law drop an F-Bomb regarding the Christmas turkey. Granted, she had a few glasses of wine in her, and the turkey just wasn't cooking! There's a first time for everything!

Sorry to make this short and sweet, but for real - if I don't go to the gym now, I won't go at all. And with "Winter Storm Hercules" headin' my way - I may not be able to leave my house for a few days!

Cheers!

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