Sunday, April 30, 2017

What you can do NOW to prepare for the end of the year.....

Hey, everyone! It's Deanna from A Primary Owl, are y'all gearing up for the end of the year? It's closing in on us really fast! Packing up, end of the year checklists, grades....all of this just piles up so quick! Plus I don't know about you but if you have your own children you also have chorus performances, dance recitals, coach's gifts and teacher gifts, etc of your own to get. So I thought I would put together some ideas of things we all could do now at the end of April (almost May) to help get a jump start on things and maybe, just maybe we can get ahead????

So this is a huge clutter area for me, my team sends so many copies and frankly I just don't do all of them. So last week, I organized. I figured out what I still needed to do before the end of the year. I also decided what might be saved for next year and then with all the left overs I asked a parent volunteer to make review packets for my kids to take home for the summer. Not all of them will do it, but I do have parents that appreciate a little work over the summer and I don't feel bad for wasting all that paper.

I collect junk from home around my desk! Like coffee mugs, water tumblers, lunchboxes, sweaters, gifts from parents, you name it! Plus I always leave one winter coat at school just in case I forget my coat, so last week I took home a great big bag of all that stuff.....a more few things that I won't have to drag home the last week of school. What do you have around that you could take home now?

Start your checklist now! Or at least get ready to start it! Designate a basket for special projects that you want to work on over the summer. When you come across something as you are cleaning or organizing, throw it in there. I already got my school's end of the year checklist, so I put it on one of my special clipboards so I don't loose it.
I also keep my own checklist of things I need to get done around my room. I love printing these off and putting them on my clipboard to keep me on track! {click the picture to get your FREEBIE!}
Does your school do a huge inventory? We do, so I've already started finding some bar coded things I know are going to be on the inventory list and put them aside on a shelf. I also started returning items to the media center that I have checked out that I no longer need. I also ask my media specialist for a list of things I have checked out that I need to start looking for. At least then, if I am missing something I can start looking for it now and not later!

This one is huge! I start getting so burned out on grading papers! But if I get too behind then I can't catch up when grades are due. Make the important grades a priority (like I have stack of opinion writing that I keep shoving to the bottom of my pile) and figure out what papers you can just put some stickers on and call it a day!
How do I keep my papers organized? I love my IKEA cart
Are you moving to a new classroom or a new school next year? Start looking for boxes NOW! I am moving a new school next year and I already asked our copy lady and our cafeteria manager to save me some boxes. Organize as much as you can before you start packing and it will make unpacking so much easier!

This is the best time to start thinking of all those gifts you need to get, room moms, volunteers, the teachers on your team....and your own children's teachers! Starting early means hopefully you won't be rushing around at the last minute and forget anyone.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Integrate Science with Reading and Writing {FREE Activities Included!}

Ideas by Jivey shares through video and free activities how to use one book (What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins) to teach science, reading, and writing standards in first and second grades! Using mentor texts can truly cover so many standards!

Hey, teacher friends! It's Jivey from Ideas by Jivey, and if you know me, you know I am PASSIONATE about integrating with mentor texts as much as possible! In this post, I will be sharing how to use a great book for reading and writing while teaching about animal adaptations or attributes:

**The above link is an affiliate link. 
The few pennies I earn on each purchase goes towards future giveaways!**

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page is a fantastic book to use to expose students to animals they most likely have never seen in real life. It's a great book to use across K-5, but the activities I'm going to share with you in this post are perfect for grades 1 and 2. 

As you read the book the first time, allow them to make a guess at the animal that belongs to the features shown on each page. When you turn the page, it shows the whole animal and describes why that feature is important for the animal. This would be a great opportunity to allow them to write down something new they learned about some of those attributes, or animals. 

There are also SEVERAL animals in the book that have some similarities, as well as differences. Use this book to compare animals, not just with the text, but the pictures of the animals, too!

You will find a video below of me walking you through the book and the comparison activity. This was originally posted as a Facebook Live video, so ignore when I talk about links in the description. :) You will find the "links" below this video instead!

As promised, you can pick up free activities for this book for first and second grade below!

If you teach about animals in first or second grade, you might also love this Animals Reading and Writing pack that provides activities similar to the ones I've shared in this post, and you can even integrate grammar with those same fabulous nonfiction mentor texts in the reading and writing pack by using mentor sentences:


Ideas by Jivey shares through video and free activities how to use one book (What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins) to teach science, reading, and writing standards in first and second grades! Using mentor texts can truly cover so many standards!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Books to help you recharge over the Summer

Hello Friends, it's Erin from The Elementary Darling. The countdown is on! I have about four weeks left before the end of the year, and this is the time that I start planning for the summer and organizing for the beginning of the year. I know some of you are thinking, "She is crazy!" and I might be a little bit, BUT the end of the year is the best time to organize and plan.  Last year, I wrote this post about what I do a the end of the year, and Kristin wrote this post, about planning during the end of the year.

But TODAY, I am going to show you my favorite professional development books. Obviously, I would recommend checking out one or two based on your needs, however they are ALL amazing!

For the teacher that needs to RECHARGE

I love anything written by Ron Clark, but Move your Bus is my favorite. I reread it often to remind myself to be a runner! If you don't know, his co-owner of The Ron Clark Academy is Kim Bearden, and her book, Crash Course will remind you why you went into teaching. It is my ultimate favorite! I also recently found the book Conscious Discipline, thanks to my friend, Theresa from True Life I'm a Teacher. This book is all about teacher mindset. I just started it, and I am loving it!

Throughout this post, you’ll find Amazon Affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you, that helps keep my blog running and helps fund giveaways!

For the teacher beginning Reading Groups

These books are good for reading groups, or ideas for your groups. Even if you have been implementing reading groups for several years, I know you will find something useful in them! These two books are my everything when it comes to Guided Reading. Jan Richardson has everything you need, including strategies and printables in this book for every level of guided reading. The Daily Five book is great for anyone who uses a grouping method for reading.  I also LOVE Word Nerds. This book has amazing ideas for vocabulary instruction. While I would recommend it for 2nd grade and above, it could be modified for Kindergarten and 1st grade.

For the teacher looking for Math Group ideas

I LOVE this book! Debbie Diller is an amazing math group guru, and she has fabulous ideas in this book! It is for grades K-2, so if you have a book suggestion for 3-6, I would love to hear it!

For the teacher looking for Differentiation Ideas 

If you are a GenEd teacher and you have a huge range of student abilities in your classroom, these are my top picks! I got my gifted endorsement several years ago and the book, Teaching Gifted Kids in Today's Classroom is my all time favorite. It has so many suggestions to extend the learning of higher level students.  Advancing Differentiation and How to Differentiate Instruction for Mixed Ability Classrooms are both amazing and so helpful when your classroom ranges in ability levels.

For the teacher looking for IDEAS or Strategies

How many times have we all run out of ideas or needed new fresh strategies for teaching a topic?  I recently found these books this year, and I never knew what I was missing. THEY ARE SO GOOD! You can use these books no matter what ELA format you use. It is literally a book full of strategies for every level. They do cost a little more, but honestly, they are worth EVERY penny. You can find the reading one here and the writing one here. These two will be the ones that I will be reading over the summer!

What professional development books will you dive into this summer? Whether you are reading to recharge, learn new strategies, or try a new method, these books will help you achieve your goal! Do you have an awesome book that I didn't show, leave it in the comments below! Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Earth Day for the Last Minute Teacher

Earth Day is just a few days away!  If you have been busy or preoccupied like me the last few weeks, you might have very little time to come up with fun Earth Day activities.  BUT, don't stress, I have activities that are low prep for those last minute teachers like me! - Meghan from Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris

Newspaper Drawings

You more than likely can get your hands on a few newspapers from a closet, front office or that nerdy social studies teacher down the hallway!  Grab those and do a quick lesson on upcycling!  Talk to your students about the amount of paper that we use during a typical school day.  Remind them that even paper can be reused!  Use paints, markers, or crayons to create newspaper drawings.

Read a few books!

Katie from Gift of Curiosity has an awesome list of books to read on Earth Day!  Checkout her post by clicking here!

Plants and Seeds

Earth Day is also a great time to pull in Science standards for plant life cycles.  I have a comprehension pack on seeds and plants that would be great to print and use for your classroom.  Or better yet, you can project the pages on the active board and answer the questions together or on dry erase boards.  Click here to see more about the Plants and Seeds pack.

Dirt and Worms - YUM!

Earth Day in the Classroom - 6 Ways to celebrate Earth Day - You will love #4!
Close out Earth Day with a fun snack!  Mash up oreos and add a gummy worm.  How cute are these???

Don't let Earth Day pass without doing something fun with your students!  Challenge yourself to even try to go paperless for the day!  There are a ton of fun Google activities that you could try!  I have several that you can find by clicking here.  Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Earth Day Everyday!

Hi, friends!  Shannon here from Bryant's Brain Train.  If your April is like mine, there are tons of things going on at school during this busy spring season...state testing, field trips, Easter, field day, spring break, etc.  

April is also the perfect time to sprinkle in a bit of special Science instruction--April 22nd is Earth Day, and April 28th is Arbor Day.  What a great time to teach the 3 R's--REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE!  I thought I would share a few ideas and freebies to try, based upon these upcoming days.
I just love this Earth Day song, full of great ideas for kids to try!  Why not make a chart and brainstorm ideas that your class can put into practice in the weeks ahead?!

    Click HERE to see some of my favorite classroom crafts and ideas on Pinterest.  
Like these adorable cookies...
 Or this milk jug watering can...
Or even this simple bird feeder made from Cheerios and chenille stems.

Lastly, how about a couple of Earth Day FREEBIES?  Just click the images below...
I hope your April is simply awesome!  Happy Spring, and Happy, Hoppy Easter!  

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Organizing Your Weekly Copies- Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Paper, paper, and MORE paper. Paper literally takes over my desk! Piles here, piles there, piles EVERYWHERE! Anybody else been stuck trying to find copies you've made for a lesson under millions of piles!?  To help organize the chaos I've tried different ways to keep my weekly copies organized and easily accessible! I wanted to share some ideas that members of The Primary Peach use to help keep our weekly copies organized!

These are from Kristin at School and the City! She just uses drawer storage and labels them with Monday- Friday and the bottom drawer is for copies for the next week! I LOVE how simple and effective these drawers are to organize all her copies!

How FUN are these buckets from Shannon from Bryant's Brain Train!? She has a bucket for each day of the week and they are perfect to hold all her copies!!

Theresa from True Life I'm a Teacher has these GORGEOUS drawers to organize ALL her papers! She's got a drawer for each day of the week, and even has drawers for what she still needs to copy, laminate, and anything that's extra! I just might be ordering these drawers

I used to organize my copies for each day, but then I realized that I was moving papers from drawer to drawer pretty frequently and it got pretty annoying! So, I started organizing my copies by subject!

How do YOU organize your copies for each week!?

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

5 Quick Ways to Check for Understanding

Hey everyone! It's Deanna here from A Primary Owl! Today, I am talking formative assessments....this has been a huge push in my school this year. We have been focusing on Formative Instructional Practices like posting clear learning targets for students, making sure students know their learning targets and regular formative assessments to drive your instruction.

So, I want to share with you 5 quick ways you can check for understanding during or after your lesson. You probably already use these strategies, but do you view at them as formative assessments??
Exit tickets are an excellent way to check for understanding. But you don't just have to wait until the students are "exiting" can have students write what they remember from the lesson the previous day. During the lesson, stop and have students jot down their ideas. I love using index cards for this! I have tons of them and they are super cheap. It takes just few minutes to pass them out and it is easy for students to write on the lines. 
Exit ticket charts or "What Stuck With You Today?" charts are great for this too. I love using my "Think and Respond" Chart. This is just another easy way to check in with students:
I love white boards. We use them constantly in my room during our lessons. I recently felt like I won the lottery when I was in my local Dollar Tree store....they had these dry erase boards with handles only $1.00 each!!! I literally felt like doing a happy dance right there in the aisle! We have used them tons during math and also when we are reviewing multiple choice items for quizzes. I  have them write their answers on their white boards and show me. I can quickly tell who didn't get the correct answer and who needs to look around for help before answering. I can pull those friends into a small group later for reteaching.
Seems simple but we do a quick check on our fingers all the time. I say, "Give me a thumbs up if you understand, thumbs down if you are still having trouble, thumbs in the middle if you still need more time." Another way I use this is when we watch a BrainPop video, we do the little quizzes together and I have my students show one finger for answer A, two for answer B, etc. Easy and no prep or papers to print!
Another scale that we use besides our fingers is a rating scale. While some students might find it hard to show their fingers because they might embarrassed to admit they don't understand a concept. Using a personal rating scale is less public. I made these, laminated them and my students keep them in their pencil boxes. Students can privately show me how they are doing. You can get your free template by clicking the picture:
Finally, my favorite way to check student's learning is using technology. Here we are playing Quizlet Live, our new favorite obsession! 
These are just a few of my favorite tech tools for keeping students engaged and evaluating their learning during the unit we are working on.
Thank for stopping by today! 
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