Sunday, August 7, 2016

Celebrating Student Success

One important factor of student success is setting goals. I know many teachers, if not all teachers, set goals with their students. There are many different goals that you can set- individual goals, classroom goals, grade level goals, school-wide goals, etc. As teachers, we know that setting goals is important for student success.

There are many different important steps in the goal setting process:
1. Find the need. Students ask themselves, "What do I want to work on?"
2. Set the goal by defining the time frame and the goal. Students ask themselves, "What is a reasonable time frame to meet my goal?"
3. Determine how to meet the goal. Students ask themselves, "What can I do every day to make sure I meet my goal?"
4. Track the goal. Students ask themselves, "How can I track myself while working towards my goal? What will hold me accountable?"
5. Meet the goal. Students say, "Yay! I met my goal!!"
6. Celebrate the goal. Students shout "Hurray!" because they meet their goals.

Do you ever forget a step? I do. I am embarrassed to admit that I always sometimes forget to celebrate. Forgetting this step is unfortunate because it's probably the most important step in the entire process.  We all know that students need praise. Think about it. Your child finishes all the vegetables on his/her plate, praise. A student gets a 100% on a spelling test, praise.

They are just like us. If I finish my vegetables on my plate, I need praise too. And a cookie. :)

Did you know that a "crucial benefit of celebration is its ability to overcome failure" (source)? So, even when our students are taking longer to meet their goals, acknowledging everything they are doing to get there is just as important as meeting the goal at the finish line. And as teachers, that's part of our job... To encourage and celebrate them along the way. You may have one student who set a goal to jump two reading levels by the end of the quarter. Maybe that student isn't going to jump two, but acknowledging everything he/she has done along the way is important. Maybe they've been reading 30 minutes a night compared to the 10 minutes they were doing before. That's success right there.

How to celebrate then? Well, in comes Celebration Central!

I am really looking forward to introducing my kids to Celebration Central this year. This is how it will work. Every Wednesday, we will have our class meeting. During our class meeting, we will discuss our goals, what we've been doing to meet those goals, etc. If anyone has met a goal, he/she will get to pick from the Celebration Central can. Inside the can are various coupons (such as "sit by a friend", "show and tell", etc.). The student can then turn that coupon in on a Friday.

Another way to celebrate my students' meeting their goals is through brag tags. Now, I don't use brag tags in my classroom. Praise all of you that do because I think it's a wonderful reward system! However, these brag tags are just for meeting goals. Once a student meets a goal, they get the corresponding brag tag and then he/she glues it onto the data binder sheet in their data binder. That way, students can showcase their goal brag tags in their data binder. Parents will be so happy to see these, I think!

Students can also wear "I Met My Goal!" badges. Or, when we set goals and have been working on conversing with others about them, students can wear the "Ask Me About My Goal!" badges!

I am so excited to implement these simple and easy ways to celebrate individual student successes in the classroom. There are a few other things up my sleeve that I will share with you as the year goes on. Click on any of the pictures above to take you to Celebration Central to check it out yourself :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

5 Little Things To Get Ready For Back To School

Hi everyone! I can't believe it's July already. Summer is flyin' by and now I'm starting to think of little things I can do so that I'm not rushing around at back to school time when I have a classroom to get ready, lesson plans to plan, and 20 new first grade faces to meet. Teachers report back August 15th for me, but you know I'll be in before then to get everything ready. Eek!

1. Make some sweet bookmarks for your kids!

You can find these bookmarks free here. These come in grades k-6. I already prepped mine by printing them on bright colored paper and cut them. I am ready to pass them out at the end of the first day of school. I did this last year and the kids went crazy for them. They love bookmarks!

2. Prep your back to school night treats.

Another quick and easy thing you can do is prepare your back to school night gifts. In the past, I've given different things like cookies, goldfish, etc. with a cute little treat tag. This year, I went a more healthy route and created these little pineapple tags and attached them with washi tape to a pineapple cup and a fork! 

3. Organize your classroom library.
 I've already talked about how I organize my classroom library here. I seem to organize my library every summer, but that's because I always seem to buy new books throughout the school year (insert hair-flip emoji here). Or, like in the case for this upcoming school year, my school has decided to go a different way with leveling so I need to make my classroom match that. Education is a neverending change, isn't it? ;)

4. Prep your back to school brochures.

I can't wait to use these name contact cards from my friend Katie at Simply Creative Teaching. I plan to leave these on student desks along with a brochure (see below).

One staple in my classroom is these back to school brochures, also from Simply Creative Teaching. Prepping these and the contact cards is such a good summer activity. I will wait until right before back to school night to print the brochures, just in case something changes, but for the most part they will be ready.

5. Print, cut, laminate. Repeat. :)

Now is the time to get all of that printing, cutting, and laminating done. Think about the different things you want to try this school year that maybe you thought about last year, but simply ran out of time because of the back to school craziness. It could be math vocabulary cards (that was me last year). It could be a really cute banner you wanted for your writing bulletin board. Shoot, it even could be Christmas math centers!

I hope you've enjoyed my simple tips. They're small, but they'll help when you're in that back to school crunch!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

End Of Year Activity: Interviews For Kids!

Hi there! Don't hate me, but I have 12 days of school left. Well, 12 days with kids, 13 if you count the last day where the kids are already finished, but I'll be in my room packing my classroom away. I'm excited to blog about my favorite end of year activity. 

A few years ago, I noticed that I had some first graders who were very nervous about leaving first grade and entering second grade. I asked them what I could do to help calm their nerves. Then, all of a sudden, I had a million questions firing at me...

Do we get a bathroom break in 2nd grade? Will we go on a field trip? Will our teacher give us snack time? Will we have recess? What kind of stuff do we learn in math? Is reading hard? 

And then I realized, well... I don't really know the answers to these exactly. I mean, I could guess, but I didn't think it would really mean much from me anyway. So, that's how End Of The Year Interviews were born!

Every year, I sit my kids down and ask what their feelings are about next year. There's always a mixture of excited, nervous, scared, happy, etc. Then, we talk about those feelings and why it's okay to have so many different emotions about it. After all, I'm having the exact same emotions as well. I'm sad to see this class leave after we've spent 9 months together. I'm happy for summer. I'm excited to see what next school year brings. But, I'm nervous of course too. Explaining that I have the same feelings as them really helps too. 

Then, we talk about how we are going to interview the 2nd graders! There's a whole bunch of prep that goes into it though. 

We send the 2nd graders a letter to let them know we would like to interview them, along with a letter explaining how to prepare.

We prepare ourselves with a reader's theater to practice and by creating bubble maps, questions, and  interviewing each other. 

Then, when we feel confident and ready, it's time for us to interview!

I love seeing how grown up they become in these interviews. They take it very seriously, with their strong handshakes and precious smiles. 

Then, we write about our experience and what we've learned!

I have these interviews available for kindergarten, first, second, and third grade! They've all been updated this week too :) You can find them by clicking the picture below!

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Monday, April 11, 2016

My Favorite IG Snapshots {March}

Hi everyone!

Believe it or not, I'm here! March was crazy busy! Paul & I got married, honeymooned in Punta Cana, AND closed on our house (and moved on the 2nd of April). It's been Crazy Town here the past month, but I have never been happier in this mass chaos. It's been nothing but smiles and cheers over this way.

Because I love Instagram so much, I've decided to start blogging about my favorite IG posts from each month. I like to think I would normally post this at the end of the actual month, but as you can see... It's been a tad of Crazy Town here :)

Here's my top 10 of March:

10. Spring finally made it's way to us! Hurrah! Here's a picture of my resource,Tacking Topic Sentences: Spring Edition, in action. I love everything spring!

9. Here's the story behind this picture: I told my class when they hit pink or above on our clip chart ten times, they would get in the Clip Chart Hall of Fame and get a GLITTER CLIP. At the time (in January, when we started up the clip chart), I wasn't thinking of when a student would actually do this... I was just thinking I needed a motivator beyond getting on pink... So, did I have a clip chart hall of fame made?! No of course not. So, when it happened... Did I have glitter clips made?! No, of course not. So, this is what it looks like when you let your student made his own glitter clip.......... #teacherfail

8.We started learning about main idea in March. My kids went CRAZY for my friend Katie's (Simply Creative TeachingMain Idea Mysteries. Here they are digging through their main idea envelopes to discover the main idea. 

7. Our main idea unit happened to fall over St. Patrick's Day. Therefore, we practiced discovering the main idea with these free St. Patrick's Day Main Idea Passages.

6. I absolutely adore this picture that one of my firsties made to display at our wedding. I had all my kids made pictures for the wedding so that they could be apart of our special day as well. 

5. I discovered some Easter eggs in my tub full of spring stuff. I used washi tape and created some compound words for my first graders to put together with the eggs. I loved using washi tape because I can just peel it off without ruining the egg!
 4. Of course, I have to share some wedding photos! Our coordinator snapped this photo as we were walking back down the aisle. I love Paul's #lowfive here. The photo is a little blurry because I saved it from my phone. (Courtesy of Jillian at Berg Event Space)

 3. Sorry, but here's another one (#sorrynotsorry). Our photographer snapped this one. Can you believe it was 40 degrees outside? Or maybe lower?! I honestly can't remember because I was having so much fun or maybe because my brain had frostbite. Either way, look how happy we are! (Photo courtesy of our AMAZING photographer Erica from Turner Creative)

2. When I returned from our honeymoon, spring break was officially over (womp womp womp). That meant it was time for our leadership role applications! Woohoo!! You can find this free template here.

1. Here's my last IG post of March. My kids absolutely adored this center with the Easter eggs. I grabbed this free template from my sweet friend Kelly at Sweet Sounds of Kindergarten. You can grab this template here.

That's it! Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed all my fun pictures as much as I did :) Stop back by at the end of April to see my faves from April!!

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

We're Going On An Egg Hunt

I can't imagine being more excited for spring! It's the perfect season to try something new and freshen up your resources! Some of my very talented teacher friends are getting together to bring you an EGG-cellent and EGG-citing GIVEAWAY to win a Teachers Pay Teachers $100 gift card!

All you have to do is make like a bunny and HOP through our Egg Hunt! There are just 3 simple steps!

Step 1: HOP on over to my store by clicking  [HERE].  Follow my store and look for the letter in my banner! You can find it on the Easter Egg!

Step 2:  Click on my store banner. It will bring you right to the next stop on this little egg hunt. Follow the next store and collect that letter too. Hop around and collect 8 eggs!

Step 3:   After you have collected all 8 eggs, use them to figure out our secret message!  Enter it into the rafflecopter for extra entry to win the $100 TpT Gift Card!

You can start hopping at my store now! Good luck friends!

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

St. Patrick's Day Main Idea Freebie

I have a quick freebie for you all!

We are so excited to celebrate St. Patrick's Day next week and we have so many fun activities to do. This past week was all about assessing to finalize report card scores and so therefore, my babies (and their teacher) are ready for some fun in the classroom again! 

We have been learning about main idea and supporting details this past week and will continue with some more activities after spring break. So therefore, I wanted to make sure the learning continued and so in enters these simple main idea passages, themed around St. Patrick's Day. 

Click any of the pictures below to grab these three passages for free!

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Rock Your Student Led Conferences Like A BOSS

Hi everyone!

The time is upon us! And as teachers, you know what I'm talking about! Parent/Teacher Conference time is upon us. If you're here reading my little ol' blog, then you must be interested in student led conferences. I blogged about this before at The Primary Pack and if you would like to read that post, you can click the link to take you there. This post will have some old ideas, as well as some new ideas.

I'm sharing two different ways that I've held student led conferences. The first way is in my old school last year and the second way is my new school this year! What's interesting to me is how different both methods are, yet they are both student led conferences!

At my previous school, student led conferences were held just like parent/teacher conferences. You scheduled your parents, sat down with them, but their child led the conference. They mostly led them through their data binder and shared their successes of the school year. Parents really loved it.

First, you'll need to keep a data binder for each student. If you already have a data binder, then boom you're ready! In this binder, you put... Data! Any data you find that your students' parents would like to see. This quarter, the data in our binders included behavior, attendance, reading levels, and sight words. Typically, we would have math as well, but we didn't include any for this quarter.

Now, remember... I teach first grade. This is how it worked for us. I'm going to walk through our data binders with you the same way I did with my kids. When teaching them how to lead the conference, I first modeled with an example binder. The next day, each of them brought their binders to the carpet and I modeled again with an example binder. I would say what I needed to say about a page, then the students would turn to a partner and share their page to their partner. The next day, our fifth grade buddy room came in and practiced with us. All of the practice really helped for the actual conference. I find it mandatory to conduct these mock interviews.

1. Welcome To My Classroom! The student comes into the classroom and show the parents around. The student introduces the teacher. Many of mine said something like, "Mom, Dad... Remember Miss Sanders? Miss Sanders, do you remember Mom and Dad?" (Yes, my firsties really did introduce us and it was adorable.)

2. Data Binder: This is my data binder that I've been using all year to track my data. 

3. Data:

"This is my behavior chart. My goal was to have 8 days on green or above for October. I had 16 so I met my goal."

"This is my attendance. My goal was to be here 23 days and so far I have been here 17 days this month."

 "These are my sight words. I am able to read all of the first list of sight words." There are four lists so the students continued to show all four lists.

"This is my reading level. At the beginning of the school year, I was reading on a level D. Now I'm on a level F. I jumped two levels."

 4. Goals: It's very important for students to make goals, whether you have student led conferences or not. It's also important for students to look back at their goals regularly to determine how they are doing.

"My personal goal is I want to be here everyday. My academic goal is I want to be on a level G by Christmas." The student also may tell the parents how he/she can help the child reach these goals.

5. Celebrations

The student shares some celebrations he/she had from the quarter. Some examples are:

A 100% on a math test
 A 100% on a spelling test
 Certificates for Reflex (this is a computer "game" we have a license for to practice math fluency)

 Other examples include, but are not limited to:
  • Receiving Leader Of The Month (student of the month, character of the month, etc.)
  • Honor Roll
  • Improving reading levels
  • Improving in anything really :)
  • Clipping up on the clip chart
  • Anything worth a celebration!
6. Questions: The student asks his/her parents if there are any questions they would like to ask. I sent home this sheet full of questions ahead of time so parents had an idea of what they should ask:

Click the picture above to download.
Students also share a reflection of what they feel they rock at, what they feel they are okay at, and what they feel they need to improve. I made it in a flipchart form so that the students had more fun filling it out than just color in the smiley face form.

Now, time to talk about how I did SLC's this year. I had a lot of help from one of my teammates on how to run them this year. I am so thankful for #awesometeammates that help me become a better teacher!

Before my firsties left for the day, they left their desk looking super clean and tidy (#RealLife, you know that doesn't happen everyday, just for guests). They left their data binder, self evaluation from Jodi Southard at Fun In First, and the self reflection from flip book from my Student Led Conference Pack.

Students grabbed this lotus chard when they walked in the door.

(Click the picture to download editable FREE forms of this lotus chart)

Students made their way around the lotus chart with their parents. What I love so much about this chart is all the different things they got to show their parents about our day-to-day. Many parents gave such positive feedback about how they loved seeing what their child does every day at school. That was seriously so important to them. We kept the biggest parts of our day on our lotus. Our goals and data comes from many of the things that my firsties shared with their parents.

One part that I particularly liked was when the parents filled out the Plus/Delta to reflect on SLC's and on our first grade year together. Some of my kids filled it out too, which made me smile.

My students loved filling out and sharing these self reflection flip books too. One of the most important parts of getting ready for SLC's is reflection. If a child can't reflect on his/her successes, then he/she will have a difficult time explaining them to someone else.

No matter what you do, practice practice practice! Seriously, we practiced for a very long time. I put my students in partners. One was the parent and the other was the child and then they took turns. They even started at the door, grabbed a lotus, and walked up to me and introduced me to their "parent". Seriously, I highly recommend that. "Miss Sanders, do you remember my mom?" and then they would burst into a fit of giggles. So. Stinkin'. Cute.

And, it always helps to leave a little sweet treat for your parents too :) Click the picture to grab the free sign :)

Thanks for reading!

Grab the lotus forms for FREE in my TPT store by clicking here!

For more ideas on conferences and classroom management, follow my Grin & Manage Your Classroom Pinterest Board!

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