Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spring Activities

Spring Break is upon us as is the end of my professional certification courses. I see the light!  

We've been busy in the classroom this month and having fun with St. Patty's and weather. 

This week a leprechaun came to visit and the kids were SO amped up on catching him. They designed traps with simple materials in mind on Tuesday and we built them on Thursday. They were so engaged and worked so well together for honestly the first time all year. I suppose that is proof of the theory that if you engage even the toughest classes enough you will see results. 

I was really impressed by how their traps came out. The leprechaun left them a treat (green gems, gold coins, and Rolos!) but they were pretty bummed that the little guy hadn't been caught!

We also wrote similes about leprechauns!

Learned about clouds and rainbows...

After a simple experiment where we used a mirror, sunlight, and a cup of water to create a rainbow, we talked a bit about prisms and created a spectroscope. 

I can't wait to continue our weather unit in April. After a fun filled (and exhausting!) week, I sent the kids off with a little treat to start their break. 

I also made a little something for my team mates that I just love!

Grab the editable tags HERE. Please note that the fonts are VERY similar but not exactly as seen here due to licensing. You can check them out in the thumbnail on tpt:)

Have a great break!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Holiday Fuzzies

If you have been reading my blog, you may remember that I have a challenging class this year when it comes to behavior.  I like my class but there may be some days I just want to hide in the janitorial closet after recess. Just saying.

Before my first year of teaching began I searched the massive land of teacher blogs for classroom management ideas. I was basically clueless. My only teaching experience had come from minimal subbing and volunteering. A title 1 charter school took a chance on me and put me into my first classroom of 29 first graders. And they ate me alive. Managing classroom behaviors can be completely overwhelming without the right attitude or tools!

Managing behaviors and consequences has been constant work this school year. What worked three weeks ago with my class is losing its novelty fast. I find myself tweaking my systems as my students, and their behaviors, evolve. 

I use the famous Warm Fuzzies system in my classroom (I believe it was brilliantly invented by Melanie of Seusstastic) and for most kids this system is very successful. However... A few of my kids lose more fuzzies than they gain most days. In an effort to motivate them to earn them I've been trying to get creative this year.

I present. The giant golden (yellow) fuzzy. I award it to the week's Star Student. It's a big hit and the Star keeps it in their fuzzy cup for gloating purposes all week. They also get to choose any two classroom coupons they want! YAS! (The coupons are by Seusstastic as well. She's just amazing!)

"Holiday fuzzies" are another tactic I use. I don't know if I invented this idea but they're a festive spin on the fuzzy system and I announce (very loudly) that they are worth double the points (regular fuzzies are 1 point for a small fuzzy and a big fuzzy is worth 5 points.). Best of all, the Target Dollar Spot usually sells holiday pom poms for every occasion. My kids love to get a "Halloween fuzzy" or a "Christmas fuzzy"! Doesn't hurt if they are glittery either!

I keep a class list in a sheet protector on the board. When my usual suspects are out of fuzzies and they make a unthoughtful choice, they mark a tally next to their name.  Each tally counts towards two minutes of their recess. I HATE (capital H) taking away recess so I really try to make the time short for a minimal offense. While they sit out, I had the idea of having them fill out a reflection log. My hope is that it will give them an opportunity to think about their actions and make their few moments away more useful.
Discipline is hard. And really not much fun! Of course we want to try to manage behaviors with teachable moments as opposed to just punishment. My hope with the behavior reflection log is it gives students an opportunity to look back on their behavior and ahead on positive changes. 

My behavior management is not perfect by a long shot and I find myself frustrated by outlandish behaviors often. The best I can do is remain calm and use smart tactics to diffuse situations.

I hope you got an idea or two from this post! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Opinion Writing with Mo

We wrote our first opinion pieces last week all about Don't Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems. It's no secret that this book is a great opinion mentor author text and the kids always love the animated version of this book. Since we have writing at the end of the day, a video option is perfect for my rambunctious class!

I noticed some of my students weren't sure what an opinion was so we started by creating the first anchor chart and sharing out facts and opinions about the video as a whole group. Then we referred to our Opinion Sentence Starter chart when we were ready to write down our opinions (I copied mine from a chart by Live, Love, Laugh, Learn First Grade). There's nothing fancy about mine but it was effective so who cares!

Earlier in the week, we used the opinion prompts from my Opinion and Persuasive Writing pack to practice using all our different opinion sentence starters verbally. I find my students write better if they say it out loud first before putting pen to paper. I'm sure you do too!

I was really happy with their reasons and examples for why or why not the pigeon should get a shot at driving! For some of my lower students, I had them focus on just giving a reason without elaborating with an example.

We wrote our conclusion sentences last and then finished off the week with a cute pigeon directed drawing. 

Mo Willems is really so, so good! Piggie and Elephant are some of my absolute favorites. My daughter LOVES the books as well. I stumbled across this video one night when she and I were watching P&E read alouds on YouTube (instead of sleeping!). The kid in the video does a great job reading I Really Like Slop. I thought it was a really excellent example of fluent reading for primary students!

This coming week we'll take a break from opinion writing and try our hand at tall tales. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Read Across America: Celebrating Seuss

We celebrated Dr. Seuss with lots of books and activities this year! I'm lucky to have a fun team that works well together and we decided to do rotations through each others classes. Each teacher read a Seuss book and did an activity with each class. The kids had a blast! 

My door! I do love KG Fonts, but I had to improvise for a few missing letters. Silly printers.
We sent letters home that announced March 2nd would be Wacky Wednesday and the kids delivered on their outfits. They had so much fun!  Some of the second grade team also came dressed to the Seuss-y nines! 

I look like Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter but I had fun!
For my book, I chose Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose and was excited when I realized that many students had never heard it before. If you haven't either, it's about a sweet, unsuspecting moose that lets an ungracious group of guests aboard his antlers as permanent residents. Even when his moose friends ditch him to search for food in winter's cold, Thidwick doesn't kick out his unwanted companions. In the end he sheds his antlers and outruns the guests and some overzealous hunters. 

We made Thidwick bags and a simplified version of Moose Munch to fill them with. To make the bags, the kids cut out a printed picture of Thidwick and traced their hands to make antlers.

We added a few friends to the antlers with stickers too!

The munch was a combo of buttery popcorn, mini chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and shredded coconut. It was a big hit! 

The kids also got to make Oobleck, a Horton head piece, a Cat in the Hat mask, Yertle Turtles, and cotton candy Truffla trees during their rotations with my teammates. It was a wonderful Wednesday!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!