Sunday, June 30, 2013

An Apple a Day Linky: Small Group Instruction

 Happy Sunday! I'm linking up again with Leigh from The Applicious Teacher for her "An Apple a Day" Linky party! This week we're focusing upon Small Group Instruction. Head on over and link up!

As you may know, I have only taught 2nd, 4th and 5th grades. Despite this, my small group time actually looks pretty similar between the little guys and the big guys. Since we have to tear down our entire room every summer and aren't allowed in our buildings over the summer anyway (due to cleaning and such), I will share some pictures of rooms past to show you my small group instruction.
I like to do small groups for both literacy and for math. I especially am becoming an advocate for a guided math format since it really allows me to differentiate and help my students no matter where they come to me mathematically. 

 In 2010-2011, I had 5th graders. This was one of my individual work areas for the kids while I was working in small groups. Just underneath that small easel are whiteboards and supplies for the kids to use as they work in their group. This area was mainly used for math. The blue drawers held manipulatives and other hands-on tools that the kids were allowed to get without asking. I used the blue pocket charts to post tasks and/or essential questions the farther we got into our units. 

 This was my small group reading area that same year with 5th graders. I had the word wall words posted here so the kids could use them as they were working in group with me. The red pocket chart on the right held our conference schedule. This was very useful for both me and the kids because they had the chance to sign up for other conference times if they needed more support. 

 Sill 2010-2011, 5th grade. I moved the small group area up front. The blue pocket charts held our guided math groups. I had 34 kids at that time so my groups were huge! Those colored bins under the easel held clipboards and supplies the kids used while working with me. 

 We hired a teacher in December that year so my small group area changed AGAIN. (I'm infamous for rearranging my entire classroom mid-year if things aren't working for me!) I added two small circle tables to my room, one of which is here. Kids met together here to work on activities related to literacy or math. The crates/tubs under that bulletin board held partner activities the kids worked on when they weren't with me. At that time we were using Literacy Stations so each kiddo had a partner and the partners were assigned a specific station each round for that day. 

 2010-2011, 5th Grade. This is the 2nd round table I added to my room. The materials in those tubs were more station activities that the kiddos did while I was working in groups. By this point because my room had been changed so many times to accommodate a huge 34 kid class that went down to 21 when we hired a teacher, I wasn't meeting with my kids at any particular spot. We either picked an empty table or met somewhere on the floor together. (They were the best class ever because they were soooo flexible!)

 2007-2008, 2nd grade. I had a HUGE room that year but no round circle table to start with so we added this rug and I met with my small groups on the floor! They thought it was cool because they got to share those pillows! Notice how the word wall was right back there also so the kids could refer to them when we were working together.

 2011-2012, 2nd Grade. This is messy because it was the beginning of the year and I was still sorting.

 2011-2012, 2nd Grade. Here's the same space in use. You can see my group materials are all lined up along the counter area. Each group had their own basket and I'd literally just reach behind me and grab that group's bucket for the day. Very easy. Usually the kids had an extension of our work together to do after they finished with me and then worked on literacy stations that went with our Reading Street curriculum.

 2011-2012, 2nd Grade. Those colored cards showed the kiddos their high and low areas in reading. This allowed them to know what to work on if they finished their station work early and needed something to do. Yo can't see the bins here but there were colored bins with activities the kids could do on their own if they finished early. For example if your color was orange, you knew to go to the orange label and select and activity. It worked great and the kids really enjoyed it when they found a partner with the same color and could work together if they were both done at the same time.

 2012-2013 4th/5th Grade. (Yes this is the same room from 2010-2011!) I put my crate seats I made the year before here along our whole group meeting area and inside the crates are materials for the kids to use during independent work time. They held mostly math materials. Above you can see my writing board that the kids used if they got done early and wanted to do some extra writing.

Since I had a split last year, I had two small group areas while my student teacher was with us. She often used this back area to work with her group and I worked with  my group in the front. This allowed us both to engage in small group teaching but be far enough apart that we didn't bother each other with our instruction.
The Caffeinated Teacher

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Road Trip Weekend

Happy Saturday morning!! We've been away from home the past few days as we traveled 9 hours by car (with 3 kids!) to see The Oldest's new "home" for the next four years!

Who wouldn't want to live there??? I'm really jealous! Absolutely gorgeous! (The view from behind the chapel is exquisite.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 28, 2013

Online Resources for Teachers

Recently I have had a lot of emails from readers asking me to help promote  some of their products and/or services. Many of these, to be very honest, I politely decline because they really don't fit what I want my blog to be about. I never intended for my blog to become an advertising hotspot (although I have talked with a few companies that I would absolutely endorse their products on my blog because they are either a) products I use and can honestly give a recommendation for or b) they are resources that apply to a wide variety of educators). 

Anywho, recently I was emailed about the Career Toolbox which is an online site for educators who are looking to grow as educators. Normally I would maybe agree to put a link on the blog and people could check it out if they wanted to...but after looking it over myself, I decided it was worth mentioning too. Not because I'm being paid to (I earned nothing putting this on my blog), but because I think the advice and some of the resources are worthwhile for busy teachers who may be able to use some of the resources.

So check it out. I'd love to know if you thought it was helpful.
The Caffeinated Teacher

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Word Nerds Book Study: Chapter 3 {& Freebie!}

 As you read this, I am likely sitting in my car, headed to West Virginia to see The Oldest's college and get her registered for her first day as a college freshman in August! (How in the world did that happen??) So as I wonder, quite frequently I am sure, "Are we there yet?" (because we're DRIVING for 9 hours!), enjoy this post about our summer book study!

Once again I am linking up with Sabra from Teaching with a Touch of Twang for our summer book study of Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary. Don't forget you can preview the entire book online at Stenhouse and there is this handy little study guide you can use as well. 

I will offer some summary and overview of each chapter and put my thoughts and reflections in blue italics so you will know what is coming directly from me. To find all of my posts for the book study, click here.
 Chapter Three: Making Introductions
Chapter two really left me hankering for more information about the vocabulary routine set up by the authors. Almost makes me wish school was back in session so I could get going on this (almost...but not quite).

In Chapter Three, we get a real look at how the authors set up, introduce and begin their vocabulary instruction in their classrooms. They offer two different scenarios, for K-3 in the Primary realm and 4-5 in the intermediate (I would argue that 3rd could fall into either category--where I am, it is mostly considered to be intermediate). The routines are very similar, just adapted a bit for the younger students.
Primary Vocabulary
1. Prediction - Students gather together in a common space and engage in a cloze activity put together in a pocket chart. The teacher engages students in a lesson to predict which words fit with the sentences on the chart. The teacher says "My turn (word), your turn_____" and the students fill in the same word. Then they break down the syllables (very important I think, because many kids still don't "get" syllables), before students predict the meaning of the word. You can get as in depth as you like here, even going into the part of speech that the word is before giving a kid-friendly definition for the word.
2. Trying the Words -- Once the students have gone through the prediction activity, they can complete the cloze activity. You can add in total response techniques here as a student makes a guess as to which word belongs in the sentence--students can agree or disagree with a thumbs up or down and sideways if they aren't sure if it is correct. The teacher doesn't simply say "yes you are right" or "not that's not right" but rather asks the students to point out context clues that helped them decide if that word is the right fit. Additionally the teacher teaches the students to try the word out in EACH sentence before making a final decision in order to decide which word is really the best fit for each sentence.  I love that the teacher has them look at all of the possibilities before they make a final determination because so often on tests the kids are given two words that are so close and both could be accurate depending upon the context but only one is really the correct answer. It's important to teach the kids how true this is for vocabulary too. I emphasize this during our weekly reading practice that even if we know answer A fits, we still have to read B-D just to make sure. It makes perfect sense to do that with vocabulary too.
3. Primary Vocabulary Journals -- A two pocket folder with brads that contains a bunch of modified Frayer vocabulary model sheets. This is gone through with the students so that they are putting down the right information for the words. Students are directed to use a "7-Up Sentence" (a sentence with at least 7 words) for each word to ensure they are hitting as many parts of speech as they can to describe the word. At the beginning of the year, the teacher guides everything including the picture but as students gain confidence and skill with the routine, they can create their own graphic. Love the idea of a 7-Up sentence. Many of my ELL kids this past year (4th/5th graders) wanted to give me 2-3 word very basic sentences. I'm going to steal this idea.
Intermediate Vocabulary
1. Sentence Prediction -- This is very similar to the Primary cloze activity except the kids don't see the word cards, instead they use their vocabulary schema to predict the words that might fit in there. LOVE THIS IDEA for big kids! It really makes use of all of the previous vocabulary they have encountered.
2. Word Prediction --  Next you pull out the actual vocabulary word cards and go through a similar process as in the Primary lesson where the students try to decide which word fits in the sentence. The teacher NEVER gives the correct answer during this portion of the lesson but rather allows the children to explore the words by trying out their meanings and how they fit in the context of the sentence. LOVE!
3. Trying Out the Words -- This is the time when the children actively try to figure out which words belongs in each sentence. Using test-taking strategies like Process of Elimination, the students decide where the word fits best. They even turn it into a game by saying "Ding, ding, ding!" if they think the word fits and "waa, waa, waa" if its wrong. What kid wouldn't love playing a game like that??
4. Vocabulary Journals --  Again this is very similar to the primary version although the kids are able to come up with their own sentences if they feel ready. They are also welcome to use the sentence from the cloze activity.  If I was doing this with intermediate kids, I would likely have them use the cloze sentence and try to come up with another sentence on their own, at least at the beginning of the year. This would ensure they had a sentence that was accurate and provide them with some background to help them create the new sentence. Perhaps by mid-year this step wouldn't be needed but I can think of several kiddos in my classes over the past couple of years that would have likely benefited from having both sentences.

Investments in Vocabulary
While the authors are quick to point out that this process is time consuming, they also advocate for its use. So much happens during a word study lesson! The students are studying affixes, parts of speech and making connections between words. That instructional time is really giving you a bang for your buck. Kids get used to the routine really quickly so what might take 30 minutes at the beginning of the year will take only 10-15 as the year progresses as the kids are used to playing with words.    
If I hadn't been sold already (and I was), I definitely would be now as we got a glimpse of how the routine looks in both of these teachers' classrooms. I love the idea of the cloze activity because students generally like them and what's best, the kids are really leading the learning because they are using what they already know about words. The teacher is more or less acting as a "Vanna White" and moving the cards around as kids are making their guesses and predictions. So much of the learning is active as the kids love to guess and adding the game show sound effects is sure to excite even the most reluctant of learners.

Here's a copy of a modified Frayer model for use as your Vocabulary Journal! I added the part of speech to the  definition section and for sentence, I made it a 7-Up sentence!

Stay tuned for my thoughts and reflections on Chapter 4 next week!
The Caffeinated Teacher

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jealousy and Pirate Teaching

Yesterday I spent awhile reading through the Monday Made-It posts over at 4th Grade Frolics. I had to stop after awhile because I was afraid my Hulk-green exterior wasn't going to ever fade if I kept reading. So green with envy. I still do not know where and what I will be teaching this fall. I am not a patient person so this has been really hard. It's all political because I have always had amazing evaluations every year and my data is rock solid (not to mention I am the only National Board candidate in my whole district). I opened my big mouth to the super and apparently what I had to say didn't go over well because all of the sudden I'm in this limbo that I shouldn't be in with my certifications and what I've done for the district.
I'm really jealous of all of the people who already know they will be staying put or have already been told they are making a grade change. I've only taught 2nd, 4th and 5th (and a wee bit of 6th in summer school) but my planning looks WAY different if I have small fry 2nd graders compared to big kid 5th graders. So I don't dare do anything much until I know for sure what grade I will have. I'm paranoid I'll be placed in a 1st grade which I've never had and that planning will be so different than anything I've done before. So I can't really make much until I know where I'm going to land. I am so impatient I finally emailed the HR person and asked when we're supposed to find out. I was displaced on May 3 so I think they've had more than enough time to figure out where they need me. Grrr.

Enough of that whining! I jumped on the Teach like a Pirate bandwagon really late and I'm not interested in doing another book study this summer since I'm already part of two (one on the blog and one in real life). Alas, I've been reading it and am about 2/3 of the way through. Can I just tell you that I LOVE Dave Burgess?? I mean that honestly!

Even though I don't teach high school and never want to, I am all about being different as a teacher. I'd say it's probably one of the reasons my principal was always stand-offish toward me. I'm unorthodox. I am NOT old-school in the least. I like being odd, being different, and doing things totally OUTSIDE of the normal routine. This can put off some people, especially people who are status quo types. One of the best principals I've ever worked with embraced my desire to be different. That was really great! I could be myself without having to worry about that. Sometimes parents are a bit put off by it at first because they aren't used to that but in my seven years as a teacher, ultimately I've had less than a dozen families, ever, who ended up not really caring for me. This year that was put to the truth at our promotion ceremony when a family I was sure hated my guts thanked me for pushing their son in a way no one else ever had.

Currently I'm in the section of the book where he is talking about all of the various "hooks" you can use. I'm glad to say I have used several before so that's awesome. One of the reasons I decided to read Word Nerds and focus on that book study this summer is because of the kinesthetic movement offered to the kids while they learn the words. One of the reasons I absolutely adore The Walking Classroom is because of the movement while the kiddos are learning (and for that reason if I don't end up with a 4th or 5th grade for the fall, I am going to be soooo sad because I won't get to use TWC!).  

I'm really glad that I've read a few of the book study posts on this book because it really pushed me to go ahead and purchase it and I'm so glad I did. I'm really enjoying it and can't wait to incorporate this mindset into my teaching. I think Dave is so right when he says we stifle our own creativity by making excuses for why we can't do {whatever it is}. And yes I get random brilliant ideas in the shower or while I'm trying to sleep because my mind is zoned out in automaticity because I'm doing something mundane.
Can't wait to finish it and see what else he has in store for me.

The Caffeinated Teacher

Sunday, June 23, 2013

An Apple a Day -- Whole Group Instruction

I'm once again linking up with Leigh from The Applicious Teacher for her An Apple a Day linky party! This week's focus is on whole group instruction. Come take a peek in my classrooms over the years to see how I handle whole group instruction.

 I am a huge advocate for mini-lessons where I deliver a small amount of content to the whole group and then allow my students to go off and work independently while I work with small groups or individual students on the assignment. Of course there are certain things that just work better if they are taught in a whole group format. It is much much easier for me to teach writing when I do a whole-group mini-lesson and then set my kids free to work alone, with me or in a small group. I really believe it comes down to curricular demands and personal preference!

 In 2010-2011 and 2012-2013 this is where the vast majority of my whole group instruction took place. It's a bit hard to see but the black cabinet on the left houses the technology--the Elmo camera, the VCR and DVD player and the sound system. Until this year I rarely wrote on my white board because I used my Elmo (this year that was only different because I had two grades and often it just wasn't feasible to do what we were doing on the Elmo). I push my students desks up as close as possible to the board area so that they aren't miles away from me when I am at the board or the Elmo giving instruction.

 The first time I had this room in 2010-2011 school year, I had 5th graders. I often brought my 34 big 5th grade kids up to the front area to sit on the floor with me for mini-lessons, especially during writing. The kids would bring their notebooks and pencils with them and we'd do the work right there at the carpet together. This helps promote accountability and engagement for the kiddos by providing proximity. People used to scoff when I told them I brought my "big kids" to the carpet with me but the kids loved it and it was just something we did so they never complained. (Truth be told, they often argue over who gets to sit right by me!) I also did this this year with my 4th/5th split but the set up was different and often it was split into my 4th graders and my 5th graders based on the content standard being taught.

 This is my 2nd grade room from 2011-2012. It's just outside of the picture on the right but you can just see the edge of the ELMO cabinet. Notice how close that desk on the left is to the cabinet and the board. (My small group area in this room was on the side.) In this room we did a lot of whole group calendar and phonics work right here. Because I had one grade and we spent so much time on phonics and math concepts with calendar, this setup was perfect for keeping all of the kids engaged and involved in each lesson.

 This space is empty because it was at the start of the school year! In 2012-2013 school year, this is where I helped keep us accountable for our learning. That purple chart held our standards/learning targets for the day and those white charts were designed to hold anchor charts we were currently working on that week. These helped keep me on track so I remembered what each target for the day was (because I can't remember 6-7 targets off the top of my head and neither can they!) and the anchor charts were essential because of my split--that way if I was with my 4th graders, the 5th graders knew where to look if they needed some reinforcement on our targets for that week.

Head on over to The Applicious Teacher and link up! I'd love to see how you handle whole group instruction!

The Caffeinated Teacher

Friday, June 21, 2013

My New Obsession {Part 2}

I have been up north at my cabin since Saturday night and it was wonderful! We now have internet there so I'm not totally closed off from the world yet I get to enjoy nature and the peace and quiet. Bliss!

When I got home yesterday, this was waiting for me!

 Kind of just want to stare at the pretty package :)
 Even the inside is gorgeous!
 Look at all of this goodness!!
 Lots of little coupons for $10 tucked inside and several note stickers with both my first name and my formal name. Super fun!
I got the extra 28 pages of checklists and I'm SO glad I did. I am such a checklist girl! I keep them for everything from seeing who turned in homework and field trip forms to keeping grades. (Mostly because we've used electronic grade books for the last couple of years and I prefer a hard copy for myself as well since it's much easier to use when I'm talking to a parent.) I may have drooled slightly at the sight of allllll of those checklists! :)
Now, I just need to be assigned a freaking classroom! (Nope, still hasn't happened. I'm pretty bitter about it actually but I'm keeping those thoughts mostly off the blog. I have a job, I still just don't know what building or grade I will have.)
The Caffeinated Teacher

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Word Nerds Book Study: Chapter 2 (with a freebie!)

 Once again I am linking up with Sabra from Teaching with a Touch of Twang for our summer book study of Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary. Don't forget you can preview the entire book online at Stenhouse and there is this handy little study guide you can use as well. 

I will offer some summary and overview of each chapter and put my thoughts and reflections in blue italics so you will know what is coming directly from me. To find all of my posts for the book study, click here.

Chapter Two: Classrooms that Foster Word Confidence

This chapter pushes forth with the idea that students should feel confident and comfortable enough in their classrooms to take risks. Additionally, we want to encourage our students to be discoverers and have self-reliance. I'm super glad that I picked this chapter to host because it is a great one! So on we go!

When you teach impoverished children, they often don't have much routine and structure at home. This isn't to say that their parents are loosey-goosey parents, but rather they are often shipping their kids from place to place so they can work multiple jobs to make ends meet. So routines are very, very important at school (really they are for all kids but especially for kiddos who fit in this arena). We all know that students do better in a classroom that has structure, routine and established expectations. It's harder to mess up if you have been taught explicitly and directly what you need to do in every situation. The authors emphasize the need for establishing these routines even though they may take time.

Classroom Management and Self Reliance
The best quote of all in this section is "Students being raised by caregivers who are young, inexperienced or overwhelmed by the stresses of poverty may come to school with underdeveloped emotional responses." (Overturf, Montgomery and Smith, 2013, pg 20). The angels are singing down on me right now!!! This is one hundred percent TRUE. These children are often the "unruly" ones. It isn't because they are bad, it is because they have never been taught any different. The old adage of "monkey see, monkey do" applies vastly for many of these kids. It is why structure is so important if you work with inner city kids or kids who come from high poverty. (And also why, in my opinion, some folks just aren't cut out to work with kids like these.) The authors mention how they actually allow their students to practice getting excited, even going so far as to let them jump around, and then teaching them how to calm down and refocus. The students need to know how to be excited and then come back down from that excitement and get back to work. This is a "you had me at hello" moment for me. YES, YES, YES! This is something I often lament about--I can't let my classes have fun because they can't handle it. They don't know how to come back down. This gives me some hope that this is a skill I can also teach them, let them practice and then when there is something exciting happening, they will know how to handle it appropriately. This section also discusses the importance of making sure your classroom is student-convenient. When kids can only access materials once the teacher gets them out, that sends a certain message. Of course there are some things that you can't keep out all of the time but basic supplies should be accessible for kids to use if we want them to be self-reliant and able to work independently without needing us for everything. 

Literacy Design with Vocabulary Development
Vocabulary is important in all areas of the curriculum, not simply in language arts. There are tons of words in math, science and social studies that we need to use and emphasize as well. By using shared and guided reading, word study, self selected reading, interactive read-alouds, we have a plethora of opportunities to engage students with using new as well as familiar vocabulary.   The authors suggest breaking things up as so (very similar to a Four Blocks/Balanced Literacy model):

  • Whole Group Shared Reading (this should be grade level text and could be used with a basal reader or anthology) - this is when you want to introduce and/or reinforce a specific comprehension skill or strategy. Embed vocabulary instruction here.
  • Small Group Reading (leveled texts on the students' level) -- in addition to reinforcing
  • Writing Workshop
  • Trade Book Reading
I really liked this section because this past year my district began to emphasize using Shared Reading for our whole group instruction as we taught a literacy strategy. I think this is especially important for kids who come to us "language impaired" or lacking in robust vocabulary. They get so much more out of the reading if you do it together as a class. I also really liked how the authors emphasized reinforcing vocabulary instruction during the small groups. I believe this is vital, especially for the kids in our lower groups who often just don't read unless they are with us. By emphasizing vocabulary and reinforcing it in these small groups, the students learn that vocabulary isn't just something we do during "X" time of the day--we can and should use it throughout the day. During writing workshop, I love the emphasis on checking for the use of the learned vocabulary. When I taught 2nd grade, one of our big focus areas was to see if the kids had been using the word wall to spell their high frequency words correctly--if the words are used and are posted somewhere, it makes total sense to keep the kiddos accountable for using the words in their writing. Of course they also emphasize the read aloud with trade literature to ensure that kids are exposed to the amazing vocabulary often found in these sorts of texts.

Academic Discussion
In this section, the authors talk about how they embed the speaking and listening strands of the Common Core into their vocabulary instruction through academic discussion. This begins with instructional conversation (cited from this article by Tharp and Gallimore...worth the read!) which the authors promise to provide more information about in Chapter 3.  They do mention that they provide many opportunities for kids to have academic conversations with each other (for which I am definitely thinking about how I can incorporate my participation techniques!). They emphasize modeling different conversational styles so that students understand how to work together in multiple ways.

Choosing Your Words
They again refer back to Bringing Words to Life to help you determine which words to choose. They have a commercial reading program but have the flexibility to change vocabulary words as needed. (Yay their principal!) Ultimately they choose 6 words to teach over a two week period, a mixture of both Tier Two and Tier Three words. They chose content specific words as well as general words they knew their students may not have heard before.  The authors point out that many students aren't doing well on standardized (or classroom!) assessments because they shut down over the vocabulary. Using domain specific vocabulary is very helpful to boost the kids' achievement because they aren't getting bogged down trying to figure out what the vocabulary means. How do you choose Tier Two words? Three key considerations:
1. Importance and utility -- they appear frequently across multiple domains
2. Instructional potential -- students can use them to apply to multiple situations
3. Conceptual understanding -- these are words that they may have some understanding of but apply specifics to a concept

I think it is vastly important to select words that are going to give you the most bang for your buck. In this day of accountability, you have to maximize every second that you have in your classroom, not wasting a single second of instructional time. By selecting words that fit into the 3 key considerations, you are much more likely to maximize the word building for your kids. I especially like thinking about how well the word can work across the curriculum. We definitely want to build vocabulary that students can use in all aspects of their education.

The Vocabulary Routine
 The vocabulary routine is established with the start of a vocabulary cycle. This cycle never ends. The words generated and studied are continually used throughout the year. The words selected for the cycle are emphasized in a specific lesson with a sentence, two synonyms (or examples) and two antonyms (or non-examples) for each word and a picture or visual representation. A reading coach in the authors' district helped them put all of these ideas into a Vocabulary Planner.

I am entirely in LOVE with the Vocabulary Planner featured in the book. So I made one for you to download and use!

The 5-Step Vocabulary Routine
1. Use kid-friendly definitions on sentence strips, a pocket chart and the words on a card for students to predict and try out. Begin using a vocabulary journal.
2. Add synonyms or antonyms. Finish the vocabulary journal
3. Use the words in whole and small group activities. Practice the use of synonyms and antonyms.
4. Engage in whole group activity to celebrate the word learning
5. Assess
I'm digging the idea of using a vocabulary journal with my class and trying to think of what this would look like in my room. I'm super excited for the next chapter!
The Caffeinated Teacher

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Google Reader and Google Friend Connect

I have seen more posts in my feed in the last three days than ever before about switching to Blog Lovin' because Google Reader is going away on July 1st. Well never fear, if you use Google Friend Connect, your life will not end on July 1st. Check out this article for a detailed explanation.

So if you are like me and you read your blogs right from here
 you don't need to do anything or refollow anyone because this is NOT going away.
The Caffeinated Teacher

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Total Participation Task Cards + Freebie

 Happy Tuesday!

I've been plowing right through my reading pile and was so inspired by Total Participation Techniques, I decided to create the files and make them available for you! Check out some of the tasks available with this product!

Students participate in classroom discussion through the use of True/Not True cards. Optionally add in the "True with modifications" or "unable to determine" cards to really push their thinking

Processing Cards -- Cut the outline and fold to make a table tent so you can always see where your kids are in their thinking

Appointment Agenda -- More sophisticated than the old standby of Clock Partners

 I am super excited about this product and will definitely be using it in my classroom this fall. I love that you can simply copy, laminate and stick things in a folder to keep at the students' desks for instant use whenever you want!

You can access this file at Teacher's Pay Teachers or Teacher's Notebook.

On Sunday, I linked up with The Applicious Teacher and forgot to add my freebie file when I first made the post so I'm including it here if you'd like it. One way I manage student papers without names (of which I still get tons of even in the upper grades) is with Speeding Tickets. There isn't really a penalty but my paper helpers LOVE putting these notes on the papers and sticking them in the Speeding Ticket Folder. Personally, I like the little Police Officer! Click here to get this item for free on Teacher's Pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook.


The Caffeinated Teacher

Sunday, June 16, 2013

An Apple A Day {Linky} -- Classroom Management

 I'm once again linking up with The Applicious Teacher for her An Apple a Day linky! This week we're talking all things Classroom Management. I don't know about you but for me, when I entered my student teaching, I thought I was ready for any and all things that would happen in a classroom. Yeah, right! There are so many things you never even think about until you are in front of kids and they ask you about something you never thought to plan.

This is probably my favorite management tool. I saw it somewhere a few summers ago in the craze of the VistaPrint linky parties Once of my biggest pet peeves is when the kids forget to put their names on their papers. It takes a lot of time to track down who it belongs to. So I use this. It sticks to my white board with a folder underneath for the papers. It is priceless! My paper passers love helping with this because they can check off who is missing papers and then let those kids know to check the folder. It's really my favorite thing. Click here to pick up a copy of the speeding tickets for yourself!

I am also a big fan of the Clip Chart. Here it is when I taught 2nd grade. My school used a level system but if you were an outstanding citizens you were always just on level 4 (similar to the red/yellow/green cards). You had no way to go UP so what was your incentive to be even better? That's what I love about this chart--even my fabulously amazing students can get recognized for going above and beyond their usual fabulocity! 

 One of my other favorite management strategies in my "I Need" signs. Especially now that I will use using Whole Brain Teaching, these hand signals go right along with their notion of using gestures. My class really got into that connection when we tried out the WBT techniques at the end of this year.

For the upcoming year, I plan to keep using all of these strategies along with the Super Improvers Wall so that every child has an opportunity to push him or herself to do their very best. I'm very interested to see how that will work with some of the challenging kiddos we have where nothing else really seems to work for them.
The Caffeinated Teacher

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My New Obsession (Part 1)

**Already know this is a "Part 1" because once my new Erin Condren planner arrives, I expect to have a second new obsession!**

 I love being organized. There is nothing better. It really bugs me immensely when something prevents me from being as organized as I'd like to be. My classroom closets were such a mess this year and it drove me crazy even though I never had the time to do anything about it. I can't stand clutter either--so I can't use a planner that has a lot of extra space. I L-O-V-E Moleskine notebooks and planners but what I've noticed about them is that many people tend to doodle in them and add tons of artsy stuff. I am not artsy. I am not a doodler. I just like lists.

So when I learned that Moleskine came out with the Turntable format for their new 18 month planners starting in July, I knew I had to check them out. I looked online, previewed them, read some reviews of people who had gotten early copies, etc. I knew I had to get this planner!

 Don't let the color fool you. This planner is a gorgeous purple!

If you're gonna write in a super cool Moleskine, you have to have super cool pens! I had a bunch of these and I think my student teacher accidentally snagged them when she packed up because suddenly they were biggie, I had an excuse to buy more! They are InkJoy by Papermate. LOVE how they write! And the colors!

The planner doesn't begin until July 1st (conveniently on a Monday this year) but I am using the beginning pages for lists and whatnot because I am a list girl! The Oldest just graduated from high school and her Open House is next week. So much to do for it!

What better way to use up all this empty space but to make lots of lists??? I have a Teachery Books list and a Purely for Pleasure list...which is bare right now. I have a couple of books I'm reading for pleasure but since I read so much, there names have escaped me and I have to check my Kindle.

I am in love with this format. You can keep it like this where it is vertical or you can turn it and write horizontally. For me, since I'm not a doodler, I like this because I can write in a list-style format and there isn't wasted space that I won't be able to fill because, once again, not a doodler.  I also like that at the very top there is enough space that I can make a note of something that will last the whole week (it got partly cut off but it says "Cabin Time!"

Here's another example of where I use the top part for something happening the whole week (again, partly cut off--sorry). During the week of August 5th, I will be participating in the same Service Learning workshop I went to in 2011. It's nice to be able to put things up on the top without having to rewrite it each day. Let's ignore the fact that the bottom  space says "Happy 35 to me!" (How am I possibly that old?????)

Love the super fun colors of those pens! I've read a lot of reviews that have complained about the light lines on the side and no lines to write on but I really  like that. I can focus on my notes and to-do lists for the day rather than all of the empty lines I haven't filled. Plus I can write as big or small as I want in each day. So if something special is happening, I can make a bigger (colorful!) note.

I love Moleskine for so many reasons. The paper color, the feel of the paper, the way these fabulous pens slide across the paper. Even though I haven't really started to use the planner because it isn't July, I can't WAIT because this planner format is the best I've run across. Since it's an 18 month planner, I can enjoy it all the way through 2014!

The Caffeinated Teacher