Thursday, August 15, 2013

Taming the Wild

I love today's title for Teacher Week Thursday: Taming the Wild! Such an important part of establishing the beginning of a successful year. During the beginning of the year I do many things to not only learn who my students are, but to give them structure that will allow for social and emotional growth. I always start day number one!


We learn what it means to be a bucket filler! A different staff member will take a day reading to our little ones and discussing what it means to be a bucket filler. When it is more than just yourself reading and discussing, it brings together a greater sense of community and they know other teachers know the first grade expectations!

Our building has a school motto - PRIDE. Each letter stands for something: Perseverance, Respect & Responsibility, Integrity, Decision Making, and Excellence.  We do social stories, skits, and review this but it carries through from K - 5. Our classes buddy with an older class and they do some fun activities here too. It's ahhhhmazing. We even do a little craftivity!  Look these redbirds showing PRIDE!

Students take home PRIDE stickers throughout the year and it's fun to see them track them on their takehome folder!

The biggest thing we do throughout the entire district I teach is to help build inner wealth through the Nurtured Heart Approach. Have you heard of it?  The best. thing.ever! As a teacher, you recognize the good in your students encouraging them to make better decisions and they build up self esteem. I recognize the students for what they're doing right in a situation and they build off of that. For instance, even if a child is refusing to do their work I might say to them "I notice you have your pencil out... that shows me you're ready to begin your work." I don't say "get to work."  It seems corny but it totally works. If students are not doing what they need to, we "reset" just like in a video game. I'll model when I need to reset. Soon students begin noticing postives in each other and we share them as a class.

 It does seem a little corny, but I swear it works! I studied with one of the authors of the Nurtured Heart Approach and the feedback I recieved was amazing. I had a troubled student and it helped make him not only aware of what he was doing but he wanted to change it on his own. He wanted to be noticed more. 

The key thing about this approach is not to be a negative nelly! Focus on what's going right, not wrong!  PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE for what's going great!  It could even be a class or group "notice" or "reset" too.  It's easy to focus on the bad, but when you think about it, so much is going well. I realized I  became a better and more relaxed teacher when I started implementing this.

Have a great night... see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Classroom Organization

Oh wow! Has this been a crazzzy two weeks for me!  I'm excited to finally have the time to blog and link up with Teacher Week at Blog Hoppin'! I've been all about organizing this summer so here I go!

Last year was my first year in first grade and boy, did I learn a thing or two! I was thankful to purchase so many wonderful units off of TpT, and spent so much time and effort printing, cutting, laminating, and cutting some more and putting the pieces in the bags!

Then when I gave them to my kiddos.... oh boy was it a disaster. "No that's my piece" "No mine" Oops, this piece fell out.  Seriously, it was the worst.  Could I get mad at my little ones? No - I was the dummy who learned I needed to label more. 

In order to keep pieces together, I began labeling each set of pieces:

And then put the pieces in a labeled bag. Each bag in a plastic sleeve.

I also put a paper copy of the item in the sleeve as well so I knew what it was later in the year.  This took me an extra 5 minutes, and I know it will be so worth my time. This above unit is Susan Moran's Numbers to 120 set. It's awesome! I even sent some of it home for parents to work with their children on. Love!

For some other of my units I invested in some binders and more plastic sleeves. Why did I print them out? Because too often my computer is projecting and I remember seeing something! It's much quicker for me to get grab my binders (all stashed by my small group table) and ask a kid to run and get something copied. It's just what I found works for me.
(I cannot get the picture to rotate..grr... it's Reagan's I LOVE LITERACY pack!)

 Now this time I have all the pieces that I could use for lessons ready to go in the sleeves:

Now I can just whip them out when I'm ready to teach!   This is the best organization system I've found that works... and hopefully will allow me to keep some of my sanity too this year.

See you back tomorrow for some more Teacher Week '13!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Made It and a Freebie

I can't believe summer is winding down and the push to get everything ready for the classroom is upon us.  We go back in just a few short days and whoa! I'm not exactly readdddy!

But to help me get ready, I'm linking up with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics. If you follow me on Instagram you might know what I'm about to show... but I worked on some giant numbers that go along with my "Wild About Learning" theme. 

These are Amy Lemon's Classroom Number Words! I loved them in the chevron but sad because they didn't match my theme. She included a blackline copy (can I tell you how high I jumped... this 5'2" girl soared to at least 6'!).
 I bought scrapbook paper at Hobby Lobby then copied them. Easy peasy!  I laminated and cut them out.  I wanted the letters to "pop" so I bought black glitter glue and traced the word letter.

I cannot wait to hang them up! I'm in love with them.

I also worked on some animal ten frame posters to match my theme. They're smaller than a 8.5 x 11 paper because I won't have that much space but I think they turned out pretty darn cute.

Aren't those borders cute? They're Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs and they're on sale!  Get your free version of htese animal ten frames here!
Go enjoy the rest of your day, and thank you Tara for hosting again!