Saturday, October 22, 2016

Product makeover & a Freebie

Happy Saturday! I don't know about you, but this last week felt like it was at least three! Whew! Full moons are not a joke! I think Monday might have been three days all by itself. ;)

I'm coming to you today with a quick product makeover and a quick freebie!

I do not have the time, nor the inclination to create a billion products on TpT. I am very grateful for teachers who do have the time because about half the things I use in  my classroom on a daily basis I have purchased from TpT! Alas, every once in awhile, I find something that works for me that I'd like to share.

First up is a product makeover. A few years ago, I read Total Participation Techniques. I was instantly sold. I created a printable set of Total Participation Task cards and it is by far my most popular product. I just gave the front a little makeover today.

I totally love this background paper :) Since this is currently my only paid product on TpT, I decided to put it on sale for the weekend. You can save 10% of this product today and tomorrow!

I also added a new freebie skills tracker and accountability sheet.  This is a very simple form (no fancy schmancy design or anything), but very useful for helping students stay accountable to the goals they set and complete. This one is and will always be completely free.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fun in 3rd Grade

I am all about rewarding my students for working so hard all week. Friday is seriously my favorite day aside from the obvious (almost the weekend, wearing jeans at school, etc). For the last five years I have been pretty successful at keeping my Fridays pretty darn epic. This year is no exception. Our Fridays look something like this:

Arrrival tasks (pledge/morning work)
Circle Up Brag Tag celebrations (absolutely the highlight of the week!)
Spelling test
Computer Lab (weekly test)
Literacy (assembling the notebook for the next week and read aloud)
Lunch and Recess
Math (with a visit to the school store mixed in)
Fun Friday

So I teach one thing all day and get to enjoy my kids and celebrate them. It's pretty wicked. These friends are so stinkin hilarious and sweet too. I just love them.

Today I had a student success team meeting in the morning so I was only in my room basically long enough to do the Pledge and take attendance. Some of my kids still forget we cover our heart with our right hand so I always show them by turning every which way to show them no matter what direction I face, it's still the same hand. Today one friend was trying to be helpful and said "yeah it's the one with that tattoo"...and I had to burst her bubble and say that wasn't a good reference point because I have a tattoo on the left side too (it's covered by my watch so they don't notice it much). Maybe you had to be there but it was funny.

This afternoon at recess duty a colleague told me she overheard one of my kids say to a 2nd grader that she would LOVE third grade because she would have the best third grade teacher ever (meaning me). So sweet <3 div="">

And finally for Fun Friday, the friends who earned it got a lesson in the circle of life...we have a gecko I got from a colleague 18 months ago. He lives at school during the year. I had to feed him before the weekend and the kids were fascinated watching him eat his worms. (It IS pretty fascinating.) We also had to "give him a bath" by putting him in a tub with a small amount of water to help him shed. They thought it was the coolest thing in the world. 

I am so, so thankful for this group this year. They are so kind and sweet and I just enjoy going to work to be with them every day. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Literacy Rotations in 3rd Grade

One of my very favorite things about teaching is how vastly different every year and every class is. I can learn and grow alongside my students and experiment with new procedures that work for a specific group of students.

Last year I had a very large class and zero technology in my classroom except my document camera. Literacy stations was a complete and utter nightmare last year because of trying to keep 30 kiddos on task without the support of any technology aside from that document camera and a CD player. 

This year, I have a much smaller class (currently TWELVE less bodies than last year!) and also have three laptops and four tablets! Man oh man what a difference having the technology makes! I am able to have groups and keep the rest of the kiddos on task with other literacy related activities without a huge fuss. Game.Changer.

My student teacher and I tried three groups (with six or seven kiddos each with a total of 20 kids) for a few weeks and finally I decided it was not working. There were too many kids in each station and they were off task and not engaged. That was not going to work for me at all. So last week I sat down and created a rotation chart. It looks like this. 

This is only Monday's. Each day is different so that I can see each group twice per week. This schedule really changed it up for me because I have 5 groups and none of them have more than 4 kiddos. Firstly they fit so much better around my group table but secondly, the amount of kids in each of the other stations has been cut almost in half and thus the kids aren't having to argue over who gets what and when. It's actually QUIET in my room during stations now :)
 Each kiddo has a folder. I labeled them with their group letter A-E so to make it easier to sort them. They keep all of their literacy stations work in the folder along with their checklist.

 This folder is from a student in the higest group. You can see on the left she has her checklist. I circled the stations that the kiddos visit each day based upon their group and then as they complete the groups (before we rotate to the next station) they check it off or cross it out. This helps keep them on track and provides a nice visual. (For the checklists, I just used pencil so I can make changes later, then I photocopied them so I have a master set that I can just copy each week.) The work from any of the stations goes into the pocket on the right. They will be collected daily so that we can cut down on a ton of grading at the end of the week.

This is another student who is in the intensive group. Same concept. They use the same worksheet/assignment to get exposure to the grade level material but I can differentiate with this system by having them only complete half of the problems so that I can see if they are understanding the concept without overwhelming them.

The best news is we now have Google Classroom and I have figured out how to turn these worksheets into Google Docs so next week the kiddos won't have ANY paper/pencil during literacy except the work they do with me in groups and their vocabulary :)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Intentional Educator Planner {Review}

I am so excited to share this review video with you today. A very special teacher that I met on Voxer (seriously if you aren't on Voxer, you are missing out!) designed a teacher planner that is just awesome. She was very kind to send me a copy for free and I decided to do a vlog to showcase it because talking about it just isn't good enough for this product.

Check out the video below!

This planner was designed and created by a high school teacher. This means some of the design features aren't as beneficial for elementary teachers. For example, there are five boxes for plans each day where most elementary teachers would probably need six or seven. I also wish there were checklist pages included because I totally use checklists for EVERYTHING (i.e. I always spend the extra $10 to get the extra checklists in the Erin Condren planner because I end up using all but like 4 pages throughout the year). 

That being said, however, I would still buy this planner. Elementary teachers are creative by nature and I would definitely figure out a way to make this planner work for me despite having a desire for more boxes to plan in. It is less than half of the price I have been spending on my EC planners (even with the discounts) and it definitely lends itself to reflection and cultivating a growth mindset for the TEACHER. 

Check it out and let me know what you think. Be sure to visit Nicolette at to learn more about this great product and order your own copy.