4.16.2015

Using Table Leaders to Build Leadership Skills {Tricks & Tips for Teachers Weekly Linky}



{Collaboration and sharing is a great way to learn and grow as a teacher! Tricks and Tips for Teachers is a weekly linky party held every Thursday as a place for you to join in and share a post about a teaching tip or trick on your blog. Just grab the button above and link it back to this post. Then come back to this post and link up your blog post by using the linky tool at the bottom of this post. I can't wait to read your great tricks and tips and learn and grow together!}


Students need to be equipped with skills to succeed and one of the areas that I love helping students grow in is in leadership skills. One of the ways that I build leadership skills in my classroom is by utilizing table leaders. If you haven't used this idea before, I hope that today's post will help! I'm doing a little Thursday Throwback to a post on how to use table leaders to build leadership skills in the classroom!


Managing papers and materials can be a hassle and oh so time consuming. I remember during my first year of teaching feeling like so much of that precious instructional time was wasted in passing out papers and materials, so I thought I'd give four papers to one person at the table to pass out. Brilliant, right? I thought so...until I couldn't keep track of who I gave the papers to the last time and you all know that when that happens-it's just going to go downhill! I don't do whining very well in my classroom, so after hearing "When will I get a turn to pass out the papers? It's not fair that he always gets the papers..." I decided a solution needed to happen and happen quickly!

One of the values at our school is creating leaders, so as I thought about this value and thought about my little big problem of passing out papers and materials. This was my solution:
Here's how it works: Each group of tables has their own "Who's the Leader?" owl. (You could do any animal or sign that works with your classroom theme, just put a magnet on the back of it!)

The owl starts on the first desk and on that day the student gets to be the table leader. The table leader is the one that passes out all of the papers and materials for the day. For example, when I pass out papers, I hand four papers to the table leader and they pass them out to their table. Or if we need math manipulatives, the table leader gets the manipulatives for the whole table, passes them out, and puts them back when they are finished. 
At the end of the day the table leader then "flies" the owl over to the next student's table (we go in a counter clock wise motion):
I have the rule that students can't play with the owl on their desk or fly it until the end of the day. If they do play with it or move it before the end of the day, they lose the owl and don't get to be the table leader the rest of the day. Trust me, you only have to take the owl away once and you don't have any more problems with students playing with it!

Also if a student is absent the person who would be the table leader next, gets to be the table leader for the day!

Here's why I love table leaders:
-the students manage all of the papers and materials
-it maximizes our time as teachers and allows for smoother transitions
-the daily rotations allows for frequent leadership opportunities and rotation is student managed, which means its an easy system to maintain
-kids LOVE being leaders and can't wait to get to be table leader!
-it helps eliminate the whining and "life isn't fair" syndrome when it comes to passing out papers and supplies :)

If you'd like to implement table leaders into your classroom this year I have made you a "Who's the Leader" FREEBIE!! 

All you will need to do is just print these, cut them, add a magnet to the back of them, and WA-LA you're ready to begin implementing table leaders!

How do you build leaders in our classroom? I'd love to hear or have you share any other tips or tricks in this week's linky party!


4.09.2015

Embracing Spring Fever {Tricks & Tips for Teachers Weekly Linky}


{Collaboration and sharing is a great way to learn and grow as a teacher! Tricks and Tips for Teachers is a weekly linky party held every Thursday as a place for you to join in and share a post about a teaching tip or trick on your blog. Just grab the button above and link it back to this post. Then come back to this post and link up your blog post by using the linky tool at the bottom of this post. I can't wait to read your great tricks and tips and learn and grow together!}

It was almost 80 degrees on Monday! 80 degrees felt so heavenly compared to the bitter cold winter we are still recovering from. My hubby and I went to visit family over the Easter weekend and we got inches of snow on Easter! Inches people!!
Yes this would have been wonderful in December, but it's April! Not cool winter! Not cool! Ever feel the need to want to have the whole sharing talk with the seasons: "Now winter. You have had your turn. You need to share and let Spring have a turn now." 

Anyways, so after our much needed four day Easter break (we don't get a Spring break in PA...no need for sympathy--shipments of chocolate and caffeine will do, thanks! ;) it seemed that when we went back to school on Tuesday my kids had a new ailment. And no it wasn't the awful stomach flu that was taking tables out at time in my class over the past month! I seriously considered taking stock in the Lysol company when a fourth of my class was out with it at one time! Yet this ailment was not causing any Lysol cans to make appearances nor causing any absences--all of my students were present and accounted for on Tuesday. Yet they strangely seemed to be experiencing the same symptoms and the diagnosis was pretty clear:
Clipart used in image from KPM Doodles

Now let's all just take a teacher moment and throw our hands up in the air and scream NOOOO!! I know, I feel you! It's too soon, right? We still have so much work to do and we need them focused and engaged! And by this time of the year we are exhausted and ready to jump in with Olaf as we dream about summer! Truth be told teachers get Spring Fever too! Can I get an Amen?

On Tuesday afternoon (let's just add the after lunch slump to the symptoms, right?) when my kids were showing their Spring Fever symptoms, I was about ready to work on our spelling words for Houghton Mifflin which happen to be plural -s words. Why we jump from vowel team spelling words to plural -s words is always a mystery to me. However, I knew that I was losing my students and needed them ENGAGED! So I looked out the window and decided that it was best to embrace the Spring Fever instead of fighting it!
Clipart used in image from Creative Clips

So what did we do? I grabbed my bin of sidewalk chalk, told them we were doing spelling outside, and gave them the "teacher talk" with strict guidelines on why we were going outside and how to use and not use the chalk with promises to quickly abort the privilege of learning outside if students were not making good choices. I believe in hands-on, fun learning, and I also believe that we need to hold our students to high standards and set realistic expectations because our students are capable of success!
Clipart used in image from Creative Clips

Each student found a spot in a large circle on the playground blacktop. I called out a word and then they had to write the word in chalk and add plural -s to the word. My students were SO engaged and motivated to participate! What could have been a disaster of a lesson inside turned into a great lesson outside! Sidewalk chalk for the win! We will definitely be doing this again!

As I was reflecting on my day and realizing that Spring Fever, as it always does, had hit and hit hard I realized that this is our time to shine!! Teachers are some of the most talented and gifted people I know! Spring Fever is a great opportunity for us to pull out our best and be unconventional! Instead of dreading the energy and excitement of Spring Fever we can capitalize on it and use it for our benefit!!
Clipart used in image from Creative Clips

Here are four tricks & tips for Embracing Spring Fever:
Clipart used in image from Creative Clips

When it's gorgeous out, use it to your advantage! After a long winter in the classroom and countless indoor recesses both you and your students need to get out!! Any time I take my classroom outside my students are on target with our learning! They are focused, engaged, and motivated! Don't do the same thing each time--switch it up! Do sidewalk chalk words one day.
Grab clipboards and have your students classify living and nonliving things outside. 

 Breathe new life into writing by having your next writers workshop outside! Have students make paper airplanes and estimate how far they will travel and then measure their flight path. Truly, the possibilities are endless!

The other day we pushed all of our desks and chairs to the sides of the room, sat in a big circle, and turned out classroom into a human size hundreds chart! The objective: to learn how to use the hundreds chart to add 2 digit numbers! 

This helped bring a challenging concept to life and actively engaged all of my learners! I also made up a little hundreds chart addition hop song that I am hoping to share next week along with more about this classroom size hundreds chart! So stay tuned! :)

Get your students up and moving! Turn worksheets into room hunts! Instead of having my students do 2 digit addition at their desk--I made it into an Easter egg room hunt. I forgot to snap pictures of the recording sheet, but how easy peasy to get them up and moving! They were on task, they were learning, they were having fun! Win, win, win!

Also, if you haven't snagged this song and freebie yet for the Hundreds Chart this is also a great movement activity to teach or review 1 less, 1 more, 10 less, and 10 more!
Students love new things!! Even the same center can get new life by just switching manipulatives or introducing new ones!

Things like utilizing googly eye readers for read to self:
Click HERE or on the picture to get some Googly Eyes for your classroom.

Or send home a new literature bag--a great reading, writing, and listening and speaking activity:

My students LOVE these and this is a perfect time of year to start one! We are just about to start a new bag this week in our classroom! Click HERE or on any of the pictures to check them out!

There are so many ways to embrace Spring Fever! What do you do to keep your students motivated and engaged at this time of year? I'd love to hear any of your tips or tricks! I'm always looking for new ideas!


4.02.2015

Keep Family First & a Date Jar Freebie! {Tricks & Tips for Teachers Weekly Linky}



{Collaboration and sharing is a great way to learn and grow as a teacher! Tricks and Tips for Teachers is a weekly linky party held every Thursday as a place for you to join in and share a post about a teaching tip or trick on your blog. Just grab the button above and link it back to this post. Then come back to this post and link up your blog post by using the linky tool at the bottom of this post. I can't wait to read your great tricks and tips and learn and grow together!}

Today is my last day of school before we have off Friday and Monday for Easter Break! With lots of family time on the horizon this weekend, I figured there was no better time to share a non-teaching tip that is close to my heart. So this week's tip is one that we all know, but that I find is always a good reminder for my heart:
We all know that teaching is not a 9-5 job! If we aren't working at school or on schoolwork at home, we are thinking about it. Our students and their success are always on our hearts. We are always reflecting on how the day's lessons went, finding engaging resources to motivate "Day Dreaming Daisy", thinking about new ways to help "Struggling Sam" understand that difficult math concept, sharpening our skills with professional development, assessing data, creating new centers with our latest dollar store finds...the list could go on and on! Somedays it feels like teaching is a 24/7 occupation. Now don't get me wrong, I love what I do and I feel so blessed to be able to be my students' teacher, but I am more than just a teacher! And finding balance is so important!

I am blessed to be married to my best friend! My hubby is a man of integrity who loves the Lord, is incredibly talented and gifted, works hard to provide for our family, and treats all people with respect. One of the things that my hubby and I do to keep family first and maintain balance in our busy lives is to have a weekly date night. It doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate, but the goal is to focus on each other and spend time together! 

If you need some ideas to get you started one of the things we love to use is a Date Jar! There are many date jar ideas on Pinterest and when I came across a post from Life in the Greenhouse a couple of years ago I decided to make one for him! My hubby sees me being creative and investing in my classroom all the time. As a wife, it is so important to my heart that I put the same energy, time, and creativity into the man I love! What I liked about this jar was that it allows us to pick a color based on our time and budget. The blue sticks are ones that we don't have to leave the house for. The light green sticks are ones that cost a little bit of money and the dark green sticks cost more and will require more planning to do. 
Making a date jar is easy! You'll just need:
-a quart size mason jar
-the larger/thicker popsicle sticks or tongue depressors (I did 30--ten for each color)
-3 paint colors to paint the sticks
-a permanent marker

Just paint the sticks and let them dry and write on your date night ideas. You could do it by yourself and give the jar as a gift OR you could make it a date night activity and do it together. I have put together/compiled a list of ideas to get you started:

You can click HERE or on the picture below to download the list and grab the tag! It has the tag I made and a tag without colors for you to write in your own.

I keep a whole Pinterest board filled with this idea and lots of other ways to keep dating my hubby. If you're interested in some fun and creative ways to love on your hubby, you can follow my Pinterest board: Ideas for the One I Love by clicking HERE!

How do you keep family first? I'd love to hear your tip or any other teaching tip or trick you may have!


3.29.2015

Easter Gift Tag FREEBIE

Happy Sunday! I know that some of you are coming off of or heading into Spring Break, but if you are like me we still have 4 days of school this week before enjoying Easter break! So today I am stopping by to share a little freebie that I made for my students and co-workers for this Easter!
I love giving gifts--it's one of my main love languages! I think it is so important for people to know that we appreciate them and even a small, thoughtful gift can brighten up anyones day! There are lots of great ideas for Easter gifts for students and co-workers out in Pinterest land, but I like to switch things up each Easter for gifts. So I decided to make a generic Easter tag this year that I can use it for any gift I decide to give both now and in the future! 

I LOVE getting good books into my students hands and even though I have done other treats in the past, I figured my precious first graders are going to be given a bounty of sugar this Easter so why not give them a gift whose sweetness will last after it's initial opening! My students adore the Click, Clack, Moo series--seriously who can't resist the charm of Farmer Brown and the antics of his scheming animals?! No teacher or first grader can! Duck is personal favorite! :) If you follow me on Instagram: Foxwell Forest (click HERE or on the picture to follow!) then you saw my Happy Day last week when my Scholastic Book Box arrived:
I was able to get a copy of Click, Clack, Moo for each of my students for $1 from Scholastic Reading Clubs! Plus I had points to use too!! So for me it was a no brainer Easter gift! I am so excited to hand these out to my students on Thursday before our Easter break!

For my co-workers I figured that getting them something to refill their chocolate stash at school is never a bad option, so when I found these Ghirardelli Easter chocolates at my grocery store, I snagged one for each of them! Yum! Now, I'm wishing I had snagged one for me! HA!
If you still need a tag for your students or co-workers Easter gifts or if you want to stash these away for next year you can snag this Freebie by clicking HERE or on the picture below! Consider it my little Easter Gift to you! :)

For those of you on break--enjoy! For those of us still plugging away this week--grab yourself some chocolate and remember that we can do it!! :)

Happy Easter! 

3.25.2015

Hundreds Chart More or Less Song and Freebie {Tricks & Tips for Teachers Weekly Linky}

{Collaboration and sharing is a great way to learn and grow as a teacher! Tricks and Tips for Teachers is a weekly linky party held every Thursday as a place for you to join in and share a post about a teaching tip or trick on your blog. Just grab the button above and link it back to this post. Then come back to this post and link up your blog post by using the linky tool at the bottom of this post. I can't wait to read your great tricks and tips and learn and grow together!}

This week's teaching trick/tip is: 

Music and movement are a powerful tool for our students to remember and understand concepts! I use them all the time in my classroom! So in order to help my students understand how to use the hundreds chart to find numbers that are 1 less, 1 more, 10 less, or 10 more I created the Hundreds Chart More or Less Shuffle song.
If you are a visual person and would like to see the dance moves and song, I recorded it one day while the class and I were singing it.  Please don't judge--I truly have very little dancing skills! Ha!
  

You may have noticed that I use different voices when singing--no I don't have singing schizophrenia! While it may seem a little crazy, trust me--it's intentional! While singing or even talking about the words "less" or "more", I use a high/small voice for “less” and a low/big voice for “more”. This is just another way to help my students remember the difference between more or less. They not only have the motions/movement, song, but also the varying voices to help them remember 1 less, 1 more, 10 less, 10 more. I want to use anything I can to help all my students be successful and I have found all of these techniques to help! But no pressure to use the different voices--the song will still be effective with normal singing too!

After teaching the song and dance/movements, we played the hundreds chart shuffle on our hundreds chart. We sang the song and did the dance/movements with our finger on the hundreds chart after learning the song. I'm all about ease of use and making things reusable! If you don't have a class set of hundreds charts laminated, I highly recommend that you laminate a hundreds chart for each of your students! I have a class set of laminated hundreds charts that I reuse year after year! This not only makes it reusable, but students can also write on them with dry erase markers.
 
I modeled how to use the hundreds chart to find 1 less, 1 more, 10 less, or 10 more. Then we practiced as a whole class with our laminated 100s charts by using the knowledge of our song and dance moves. I would call out a number and students would find and circle the number on the hundreds chart. Then I would say 1 less, or 1 more, or 10 less, or 10 more and they would put a square around the number. We would repeat this for multiple numbers. For independent practice I made up some task cards with a recording sheet. I called it the hundreds chart More or Less Mystery Shuffle. I put a task card on each students desk and students would shuffle or scoot around the room to each desk/mystery card. I really had students doing the shuffle as they went to each desk/mystery card! So much fun! Students would use their hundreds chart and dry erase marker to find the answer and record it on the correct letter of the recording sheet.
  
Teacher reflection--the pictures show my original/first draft with numbers on the cards and recording sheet. It was a little confusing for the students, so I have changed them to letters for you and for my future use--yes I have made this is a FREEBIE for you!!
 
When students finished they came to me and I would check their answers with an answer key sheet. When students solved all of the answers correctly I wrote “Case Solved!” on their sheet.  
This activity was such a fun way to learn and practice 1 less, 1 more, 10 less, and 10 more! Plus it was a great assessment to see which students understood the concept and which students needed more practice and support in small group instruction.The task cards could also be used for small group instruction or centers!I have put the Song Poster, 100 Chart, 120 Chart, Task Cards, Recording Sheet, and Answer Key all in a FREEBIE for you! Just click HERE or on any of the pictures in this post to grab your copy!I hope you'll join in for this week's link up!! I love reading your tips--it is so fun to learn and grow together!


3.19.2015

Tricks & Tips for Teachers: Hanging Student Work with Clothespins {A Weekly Linky}


{Collaboration and sharing is a great way to learn and grow as a teacher! Tricks and Tips for Teachers is a weekly linky party held every Thursday as a place for you to join in and share a post about a teaching tip or trick on your blog. Just grab the button above and link it back to this post. Then come back to this post and link up your blog post by using the linky tool at the bottom of this post. I can't wait to read your great tricks and tips and learn and grow together!}

I LOVE hanging student work! It is so important for our students to feel pride and ownership of their work! My mom used to always hang our work on our refrigerator at home, but since my classroom doesn't have a refrigerator, I had to create my own place to hang "fridge-worthy" work! I don't have much wall space in my current classroom, so I decided to use the middle bulletin boards on my closet doors to create a space to display student work.
I wanted an efficient and easy way to display my students work inside of the classroom. Stapling or making tape donuts is very time consuming--trust me I did it my whole first year!! While there is nothing wrong with staples or tape donuts--I still use them for other things, I knew that if I was going to change out my student work on a regular basis I needed to work smarter and not harder! So I said  goodbye to the staples and tape donuts and HELLO to clothespins! 
Clothespins are inexpensive (you can find a pack at the dollar store), they hang work like a boss, and they are easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy to use to change out student work! Work that used to take me 15-20 minutes to staple or tape donut can now be taken down and put up in 2-3 minutes! That is winning in my book! It also means that I will switch out my student work more often too!

My little trick to using clothespins to hang student work is to hot glue 2 thumbtacks onto the clothespin--1 thumbtack at the top and 1 thumbtack at the bottom. This allows the clothespin to be stuck right into your bulletin board and then all you need to do is open and close the clothespin to hang your students' work! Just to make it look prettier, I designated the hanging spots on the bulletin board by stapling laminated black cardstock paper to the bulletin board and then putting the clothespin with thumbtacks on top of it (see picture above).
What tips or tricks will you share this week? I can't wait to read them!