Monday, October 27, 2014

Report Card Tips

I just finished 1st quarter report cards and want to share a few tips to help make report cards less stressful for teachers.  While all schools and districts have their own guidelines, I gathered information based on my experience.

Keep in mind that teachers should already have an existing relationship with parents or guardians.  You should be communicating throughout the quarter about successes or challenges you are observing in and out of the classroom.  Report cards should not be the first time a parent is made aware of any concerns.

-Update grade book throughout the quarter.  I use Google Docs and have a tab for each subject.
-When to start completing report cards:
            -Add grades throughout the quarter when a student meets a standard.
            -Start a week before they are due.  I completed 3-5 students a day.  I gathered work samples and folder for each students so I had everything in one place.
-While you have each student's folder, use a post it note or GoogleDoc to write down bullet points of what to include in the personal narrative.

-We all know I like being organized.  Along with this skill, teachers need to have appropriate documentation for each student.  If anyone would question a grade, how would you respond?  Observation is one way to learn about our students, but we need to show administrators or parents documentation to back up our claims.
-One tip I strong recommend is to have a parent communication log for each student.  I typically record phone calls, requested conferences, or special circumstances.

-This is not a place to copy and paste the same comment for every student.
-Comments should be personalized.  Yes, this is time consuming.  Plan accordingly.
-When writing comments, they should be thorough.  Discuss what the child is learning and how the parents can help at home.

Even though I believe in being positive, it is the teacher's responsibility to accurately portray how the student is performing.  With 1st quarter report cards, remind yourself that this is a starting point and students will make progress throughout the year.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Sunday Scoop- October 26

I am linking up with Teaching Trio for their Sunday Scoop linky.

It feels so good to be done with 1st quarter report cards. 
I am going to buy an iPad for personal use.  I can't decide between iPad Air 2 or the regular iPad.  Any suggestions on an iPad or case to buy?
Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What the Teacher Wore Wednesday- October 22

It's Wednesday so I am linking up with Teaching with Crayons and Curls to share some of my favorite outfits from the past few days.
I love this Nike jacket.  It is hard to tell, but it is a vest with a fleece jacket attached.  Definitely a perfect fit for fall.  
I wore this over the weekend when my cousin was in town.  The long sleeve is from H&M.  If you look closely, the sleeves are sheer with polka dots.  
My most recent Jamberry manicure created in our Nail Art Studio.  
To look at our fall/winter catalog, go HERE
Jamberry lasts up to 2 weeks on fingernails.  I am a busy teacher and love not dealing with chipped nails or going to the salon.  
I was happy when I discovered my nails, cardigan, and watch are color coordinated.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Making the Most of Reading Workshop

I hope everyone is having a good week so far.  I am *almost* done with report cards.  
On another note, thank you to the bloggers that nominated me for the Liebster Award.  I am thrilled that other teachers enjoy my blog posts.
Today I want to share tips on how to help build reading stamina and managing your class while working with guided reading groups.
(sorry for the blurry picture)
Purchase HERE
In reading workshop, we have been focusing on our stamina.  Although my class loves to read, I explained that stamina is doing something for a period of time without getting tired or giving up.  Each ice cream scoop represents the number of minutes.  The goal is to get the cherry on top.  My class loves this visual!!
To develop this concept even further, graph the number of minutes each day.  Students love to see the progress they make.  I highly recommend this especially for Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers.  Plus, you can work on comparing numbers so you are also hitting some math standards.
Guided Reading groups are fully implemented in the classroom.  I try not to leave the Guided Reading table, but I struggle with not immediately redirecting students.  
Catherine from The Brown Bag Teacher presented an idea that fits my need perfectly.  I use a plastic sleeve from Lakeshore and a dry erase marker.  Then, I draw a plus and delta sign.  When I first presented this idea to my class, a student asked me why I put a triangle instead of a negative sign.  Although he was making a connection, I explained that my job is not to point out negatives.  Instead, I want to discuss what we can improve on.
As I am working with my Guided Reading groups, I take brief notes on what is happening in the classroom. The last few minutes of reading workshop are devoted to reflecting on how to become better readers.  During this time, we celebrate our success and discuss what to work on next time.  When I first implemented this I acknowledged a reader of the day.  Even though all of my students are fabulous readers, I like to praise students who are going above and beyond.  
One smart tip Catherine mentioned: Since the list is sitting on your teacher table where all students can see, make sure you use student initials.  Sometimes I write things down that can be taken care of by giving the student a verbal reminder, but the class doesn't need to know about it.
Thank you Catherine for the fabulous idea.  This has helped me a ton!!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Liebster Award

Thank you to Stephanie over at A Touch of Class, Abbie from Steppin Up to First Grade and Katie from Living the First Grade Dream for nominating me for this award! The Liebster Award is for bloggers who have less than 200 followers but have great content and potential! 

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging? I started blogging in July.  Over the summer I became involved on Twitter and I felt blogging was the next step for my professional growth.  I strive to be a lifelong learner.  My goal is to share my ideas, experiences, and tips for the primary classroom.  I love to collaborate and meet new teachers.

2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why? Learning.  I constantly read teaching blogs thanks to the BlogLovin' app.  I love having all of the blogs I follow in one place.  There are so many times that I read a blog post and I gain a new idea or lesson for my classroom.   I hope to do the same for teachers.  
     3. Is there something you learned late in your blog journey you wished you knew before? I created a blog planner after a few weeks in this journey.  It is such a time saver for me.  No more post it notes filled with ideas.  With my blog planner I organize my future posts.  This tool also keeps me accountable so I don't drift away from the blogging world.

4. What is your favorite past time other than blogging? I love to travel.  Most of my college friends live in Chicago so I fly out there every few months.  My family travels to Arizona, Florida, and South Carolina every year for vacation.  My mom's side of the family has been going to Hilton Head Island since she was in high school.  

5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog?  My guess would be a few hours.  I try to write 2-3 posts a week.

6. What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most? Holidays.  

7. Where does your blog inspiration come from? I have many sources of inspiration... Twitter, Instagram (teacher accounts), Teaching Blogs, or my own experiences.

8. Which post that you've written are you most proud of? My post about writing in the primary classroom: HERE
9. Is there any post you have been planning to do, but have postponing it for a while now?
Yes!  I have been working on a post about reading workshop.

10. What is your favorite aspect of blogging? As a (beginning) teacher, reflection is an essential component to my growth.  I like having another method for reflecting on my classroom experiences and receiving instant feedback.  I also enjoy connecting with other teachers outside of my geographic area.

11. Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would you be most likely to try yourself? I will join her Teacher Tip Tuesday linky!   

So here are my nominations for the Liebster Award:
1. Abbey from Tremendous First Grade Tales
2. Erin from Super in 2nd
3. Alex from the Kindergarten Connection
4. Rachael from 180 Days to Happy
5. Abbie from Steppin Up to First Grade
6.  Kim from DomiKiddos
7. Lisa from Pawsitively Learning
8. Allyson from Going Strong in 2nd Grade
9. Colleen from Literacy Loving Gals
10. Noelle from Giggles at Greene
11. Dawn from Revenge of the Thirds

To those who have been nominated, here are the "official" rules for accepting:
1. In your post, link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and "shout out."
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you (the ones I answered above).
3. Nominate 11 blogs of your choice that each have less than 200 followers. Provide them with 11 questions to answer or have them answer the questions above.
4. Let your nominees know that they've been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept.
5. Send your nominator a link to your post so that s/he can learn more about you as well! (You can just put your post link in the comments below!)

The Sunday Scoop- October 19

I am linking up with Teaching Trio for their Sunday Scoop linky.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five for Friday- October 17

Hey everyone!  I hope you are enjoying the start of fall weather.  I had the day off from school so I enjoyed the extra time to relax before family visits this weekend.  Today I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky.
Monday was Columbus Day. Here are some activities we did to celebrate:
I read Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus by Peter Sis during reading workshop.  The colorful illustrations and kid friendly text make this book come to life.  I plan on adding this to my own collection.
1) If I Discovered America.  I was amazed at how detailed and creative their responses were. 
2) During our content time, we watched a Brain Pop Jr. video and mapped Christopher Columbus' journey.  Students wrote 4 new facts that they added to their schema. 
3) Our word study unit this week was suffixes.  In addition to reading the poem (yay fluency!), students  highlighted any words that have a suffix.  
Columbus Day came at the perfect time- I integrated the holiday with our geography unit.  We have been focusing on maps.

What did you do to celebrate Columbus Day?
Every Monday students write a Weekend News.  Although it gives me a glimpse into my student's writing skills, my intention is to learn more about my students.  What do they do when they are not in school?  What interests them?  
My students love that this feels like a real newspaper article.  From the headline (left page) to the illustration, caption, and 5 star rating (right page),  this is a hit.  
Sweet Scoot ELA Junior by Ashley Schroeder:  Purchase HERE
Since the 1st quarter ended yesterday, I wanted to review a few concepts this week. One concept was parts of speech and Ashley Schroeder comes to the rescue.  
  SCOOT is where cards are placed around the room.  For this product, each set has 24 cards.  I love SCOOT because the students are moving around the room as well as reviewing a specific skill.  

My class completed the Appetizing Adjectives and Nom, Nom Nouns section.  
No pictures of this, sorry!
Finally wearing my chevron scarf from the September SLANT box.  
Collared Black Top: Tommy Hilfiger
Maroon Leggings: Charlotte Russe
Boots: DSW- Audrey Brooke
Did anyone else hear about this?  FRIENDS is one of my favorite television shows.  I typically watch FRIENDS late at night so I am even more excited that I will be able to watch it at any hour.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What the Teacher Wore Wednesday- October 15

This is my first time linking up with Teaching with Crayons and Curls and I am so excited.  I love fashion and try to post my outfits on Instagram occasionally.
Here is my outfit from today:
Cardigan: Target 
V- Neck: Target
Scarf: Express
Leggings: Macy's
Boots: DSW- Audrey Brooke

Tomorrow is the end of 1st quarter and we have no school Friday.  Can't wait to catch up with some of my college friends!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday- Ralph Tells a Story

I am linking up with Deanna Jump for her Book Talk Tuesday link up.
A team member shared this book with me and it is now one of my favorites for the beginning of the year when implementing writer's workshop; it fits really well with the Lucy Calkin's framework.
^Front cover and summary of the book.
{front cover}
Great intro. to the story... this demonstrates authors always need to put their name on their paper and it is ok to write multiple drafts.
The beginning of the book starts off with Ralph having trouble coming up with a story.  I am sure many K-3 teachers have had a student mention that they don't know what to write about.  Some students need more time to brainstorm or pre-write.  
Because he doesn't know what to write about,  he "went to the water fountain, roamed the hallways, and tried everything."

... I don't want to reveal the rest of the book, but it is evident that the author does a fantastic job illustrating the frustrations a young writer may experience.  I model to students that it is ok to try new things and take risks.
{Back cover}
Books that Ralph has made.  I read each title to my class so they can see that there are so many topics to write about.  

Hope everyone is having a great week.  My week is halfway over since we don't have school Friday.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Connecting Educators

October is Connecting Educators Month.  As many of you know, I started this blog over the summer as well as my Twitter account.  I love that these tools are free and I can access new ideas or professional articles anytime and anywhere.  My goal was to grow professionally and also inspire other educators with my journey, ideas, and resources.  Even though I haven't met some of these educators in person, I know I can count on them for support or feedback.  I am a member of the Compelled Tribe and participate in weekly Twitter chats.  Some chats are with teachers that work in the same geographic area as me.  We may work in different districts or schools, but I love that we can connect with one another to do what is best for kids.  Being connected with the digital world has helped me grow as an educator.

In addition to my Professional Learning Network, I have grown from the relationships with my grade level team.  But what are the advantages to working with a team?
  • Team members support and motivate each another.  
  • Team members bring different levels of experience and ideas.
  • Each team member has a high level of enthusiasm and drive since we are working towards a shared vision.
  • Team members share resources.
  • Team members hold each other accountable.
What does being a connected educator mean to you?
Thank you to everyone that continues to support me and my teaching journey.  I appreciate you!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Five for Friday- October 10

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky.

Has anyone else participated in SLANT box before?  September was my first time and I really enjoyed getting to know other educators.  I mean.. look at the gifts I got.  She nailed it!  This was a positive way to end my Monday for sure.

1- chevron scarf
2- chevron journal
3- chevron notepad
4- magnet teacher quote... just happens to be one of my favorite quotes!
4- Post It tabs
5- Flair Pens
6- Keep Calm and Teach On t-shirt
7- Mini Oreos.. that I already ate.  Oops!

Thanks again, Stephanie!
{sorry for the dirty white board}
We started talking about what a paragraph looks like.  This hamburger visual does a great job of illustrating what a paragraph needs.

 Regrouping is a tough concept for students to master.  This poem is a visual reminder for students as they solve subtraction problems.  I have students keep this in their math folder.

We are working on suffixes for our current word study unit.  With an active class, I try to incorporate around the room activities.  For this activity I placed the cards in random spots around the room.  Based off the card the students find, they have to determine if there is an -s or -es added to the base word.  

I officially have my K-12 reading endorsement!!  I spent last school year taking graduate school courses and I am so happy that I can officially check this off my list!