Sunday, November 11, 2012

Classroom Management

If you have never heard of Class Dojo, you should check it out! I recently began using it.  I set all the kids up in the system, giving them each their own unique monster.  I projected Class Dojo on the board throughout the day.  It is similar to a clothespin system where you move pins up or down, but instead they get reds (negatives) or greens (positives).  There are some great features to Class Dojo.  For one, it keeps a daily, weekly, or all time total.  So I cleared it daily so they all had a fresh start.  However I could switch it to "all time" to see each of their running totals, for every 20 greens (positives) they get a prize.  One hundred points is an Icecream party.  The second thing I like is that you can specify the positive or negative behavior and it clocks the time.  These two pieces of information are valuable for parent conferences. You can create the positives or negatives that pertain to your class and write comments if you want to add more detail.  The third thing I like is that you can print reports for parents.  They do need to make them more customizable but it is still a great feature.  Another great feature is their is an iPad app so you can mark behavior on the go.  The best feature is that it is FREE!  I take the computer mouse to my reading table and if I need to give out greens or reds I just click on the student(s) and the behavior.  I don't need to say a word because when they see the monsters come up on the front board, they check their own behavior or noise levels.  Often times if the whole class has phenomenal behavior I do two random picks and let the computer pick who gets the greens. That's another awesome feature.  I use this with a second grade class. I would be curious to hear from others who have used it in other grades.

Getting rid of paper!

While the job market in education is stalled, at least in my area, I have been blessed to have many substituting opportunities.  The most recent was six weeks in second grade!  It was a fabulous experience!  While there were many highlights, I really wanted to share a couple of my faves with you.

First, there are times when Pinterest can be a lifesaver!  This is one of them.  The way our schedule worked was first bell at 7:45, kids come in get unpacked, listen to morning announcements, and kill two or three minutes before we lined up to go to special area.  Since I hate wasting time, I needed to make that few minutes count for the kids. I could have given them a worksheet, but that is no fun and the kids who got there on time might have seen that as punishment because the late students wouldn't have to do the paper.  Plus it was more paper for me.  I'll get to the paper issue in a minute.  One night I was perusing on Pinterest when low and behold there was a pin showing students writing on their desks!  That was the solution!  I started having the kids fill those two minutes by writing multiples on their desks!  They loved it, no paper for me, and they began getting to class on time!  While they were at special area, I walked around with a rag and spray bottle, checked their work and erased.  Let me add, they used DRY ERASE MARKERS.

More about paper.  This time in math.  The typical routine was watch this funky little animation that came with the math series, do guided practice together.  Then have the kids do independent practice by themselves and turn it in.  Ok, that's more paper for me.  Can you tell I am not a big fan of paper? Plus this routine is not very exciting.  Our academic coach is great about sharing resources with us and we happen to be going over some thinking math strategies in our meetings.  She shared the website NCTM Illuminations with us and it is chuck full of interactive math tools!  One in particular was the pan balance used for teaching equality.  The kids were antsy about that math paper taunting them on the corner of their desk.  They kept asking, "Do I need to write this down?"  I would type a problem into one pan and ask them to give me another problem to put in the other pan so it would balance.  Before long they were adding, subtracting, multiplying, and doing multi-step solutions.  It was amazing! They were so engaged and begging me to give them bigger numbers and harder problems.  Had we done the math paper, they would have been limited to the numbers and ideas presented.  Instead they were able to think bigger and at higher levels.  It was a learning moment for me too. I want as many days as possible to be like that day.  I can't explain the joy I felt watching them be so eager to learn!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Assessment in My Reading Workshop |

Reading Workshop!  Beth Newingham has got this down!  She shares in this Scholastic article, almost if not, every detail of how to do Reading Workshop in your classroom.  She even shares her documents with us for FREE and shows us how to organize everything.  Thank you Beth.  You rock! 

Assessment in My Reading Workshop |

Friday, August 17, 2012

Shake a Phrase App

Do your students enjoy grammar?  Do you enjoy teaching grammar?  Both students and teachers would probably say grammar is boring.  You are in luck because I came across this great app that I want to tell you about.  It is called Shake a Phrase!  The name makes it sound exciting!  There are animal, fairytale, monster, and sports themes.  Students "shake" the device (gently of course) and a new silly sentence pops up each time.  Students then click on words to find out the meaning and part of speech.  When they know the parts of speech, they can play the Quiz Me! game.  Teachers, you set the part or parts of speech you want them to identify: nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, or conjunctions.  It would make a great center or "Can Do" activity after finishing their work.  Check out their site to see how one teacher is already using it in her classroom.  If you use it this year, please come back and let us know how it went!  Follow me and/or leave a comment!  I love to hear from you!!!! 

Shake-a-Phrase start screen

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Tamberly over at A Window into Mrs. Wheeler's Class awarded me The Versatile Blogger and One Lovely Blog awards.  Thank you Tamberly.  I wish you a fabulous start to this new school year!  

Guidelines for the combined awards:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you (and follow their blog)
2. Link back to the person who nominated you
3. Include the award image in your post
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 1-5 other blogger(s) for the award
6. When nominating, include a link to their blog
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated
Seven random facts about me:
1. I am the proud mother of two wonderful children, Ashley who is 17 and Jacob who is 10!
2. I am deathly afraid of frogs!  So much so, that I will stop teaching and have one of my brave students get it out the classroom for me!
3. I had the opportunity to go to Spain, France, Switzerland, and England my senior year in high school.  I was so homesick that I didn't enjoy it very much and would love to go back again now that I am older and would appreciate it more.  My entire childhood, I wanted to visit the Eiffel Tower.  Once I got there and saw it up close, I decided it wasn't all that great because I was afraid of heights.  It was really pretty from the ground though!
4.  My favorite refreshing drink is iced coffee! Yummy!!!
5.  I absolutely love teaching!  I didn't know how much until about seven or eight years ago I was given the opportunity to teach in a small private Christian school.  They had to let some teachers go when the economy hit them hard.  When they told me I was one that had to go, I was heartbroken.  That's when I decided I needed my degree so I could have more options.   
6.  I love God who sent his son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my sins so that I could have an eternal hope of heaven.  He did that for everyone! 
7.  I just got a new ice maker installed in my freezer! The ice just dropped so it made me think of this. LOL  We live in central Florida and it is HOT here!
These are the bloggers I am nominating for the Versatile Blogger award and the One Lovely Blog awards.  I wish I had time to award more, but my husband keeps coming out to remind me that we have to be up at 3 a.m. ugh:
A Turn To Learn
Teaching in High Heels

Monday, July 30, 2012

QR Codes

I am going to share some fun ideas for how I have used QR codes in the classroom.  If you haven't heard of them before, please Google for the actual definition.  That's not nearly as much fun as just getting to the good stuff. 

I use QR STUFF to make all my QR codes.
Step 1:  Select PLAIN TEXT 
Step 2:  Type your text in the CONTENT box (this is what will be revealed when you scan the code)
Step 3:  Download the code (under the picture of the QR code)
Step 4:  Copy and paste the code into a Word document for printing
(you may want to write out your questions and answers first because you can't print them from this site)

Good?  It is actually pretty easy.  Okay, next....

I only have ONE iPad for my class.  Yes, it is my personal iPad, but the kids are respectful with it because they know I will not let them use it if they are not.  So this particular game is QR tic-tac-toe.  I use it in my guided reading groups.  Since I only have one iPad, I have to cut the QR codes apart so they can be scanned because once I set this up, I don't allow the students to move it.  If you have an iPod Touch you could leave it all on one paper.  You can also color code these as you differentiate questions for each of your groups.  You will need to download a QR reader app on your device.  Mine is Qrafter.  Did I mention that making QR codes and the readers are free? 

I put the kids on teams of two or three, depending on how many are in my group. Each person on the team will get a chance to pick a QR code, scan it and answer the question.  

If the student is correct, he marks his spot on the game board with a token or marker.  Three in a row/diagonal is the winning team!  The questions I use are based on vocabulary, reading comprehension, strategies, grammar, and spelling patterns for the week.  This can be adapted for any subject.   

Another idea for using the QR code, is making a VCARD.  A VCARD is similar to a contact in your digital phone book.  You can go the QR stuff and select CONTACT DETAILS, fill it in, and copy the code.  Post it in your room for Meet the Teacher or Open House and parents can scan it with their smart phone.  The information will go directly into their contact list without having to type it themselves.  You can also post the same QR code on the bottom of your newsletter or business cards.

Hope you enjoy these ideas.  QR codes are a little time consuming to make, but they are a lot of fun and can be reused from year to year.  Please leave me a comment and follow my blog.  I have to admit I got a little excited today when I hit 10 followers!  Thank you all for your labor of love!  You rock!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TAG! You're It! Writing

I saw a wonderful idea for writing on Pinterest - shared writing journals.  So I bought some journals and put topic covers on them, which I got from some wonderful blog that I can't remember.  The only name attached to the file was Megan.  So if you are Megan, thank you for sharing your journal covers.  They are great!  

Here are the materials I used to make the journals and the holder for them.  That is what the iced coffee box is for.  Once you get to know me, you will quickly see that I love iced coffee! 
While I like the idea, I couldn't figure out how to correct them for the individual student when everyone in the class would be writing in the same journal.  Solution - TAG!  Of course this is another idea I saw on Pinterest.  I retyped it to match my center and created a TAG! sheet to go with the sign.  The gist is that the students will write in the journal during centers, read another student's journal, and fill out a TAG! sheet.  The students will be communicating with each other about their writing.  The students will be reading, writing, comprehending, problem solving, and looking for convention errors.  You can download the TAG! sign and sheet by clicking the picture.  Please leave a comment if you download.  Also, follow my blog and leave your blog address so I can visit.   

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Boys love Legos! At least my son does! When I saw this idea on Pinterest, I was thrilled! You type the weeks words on labels (fit two on an Avery 5160), stick them on real Legos (medium size ones), then let the students at it! They will put the blocks in ABC order and once they have them correct, write them on the recording sheet below! I can't wait to use this as one of my stations.  Click the picture if you want a copy.  Thanks for looking!  Please help a new teacher out by following me so I can learn some great ideas from you.  I would love to read your comments too. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012


After much frustration, which can come with learning something new, I finally have my freebies ready for you. 
This is my first attempt at creating things for my classroom, which is jungle themed. Thanks to many of you, I have learned a lot. Here goes...first one is a sign I am going to use above my agenda cards.

Next are center signs.  Everyone calls centers something different...stations...centers...since I have jungle theme, mine are safaris. 

This one is for anyone who uses the "give me 5" signal to get your classes' attention.  I love this strategy because if you use it consistently the kids will respond.  I use it in a noisy cafeteria when picking up my students.  I just raise my hand and they respond by lining up quietly with their hand raised.  Then when you are in the classroom where it is quieter, you just raise your hand and say "give me 5."  Again, they respond immediately by stopping what they are doing following the five rules and waiting for instructions. 

I don't sell anything I make, but I would love to hear from you if you download any of these.  I am still learning so I know these aren't as fabulous as some of the more experienced creators, but everyone has to start somewhere.  I hope you find them useful.  If you want to "teach" me something about creating pdf's, please leave a comment.  I would love to learn more.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wonderful Tickets!

I got this idea from my son's second grade teacher.  I put my own spin on it from some ideas I saw on Pinterest.  During the week, students may earn Wonderful Tickets for whatever you want to reward them for.  It could be that he gave a wonderful answer, showed kind deeds towards a classmate, did exceptionally well on an assignment, followed get the point.  So at the time you award the ticket, the student will write their name on it and drop it in the barrel.  I use a large clear Cheetos Ball container I got from Sam's Club.  Then anytime throughout the week that you need to encourage good behavior, draw a couple of tickets and allow those students to mark one of the rewards on the back.  You collect and throw it away once the reward has been redeemed.  Click the picture to download the Wonderful Tickets.  I plan to post the mini award posters soon, so check back.  Hope you find this useful.
Click picture to get Wonderful Ticket download.

I can't wait to figure out how to make my own printables!

Yikes, it's almost lunch time!  I am embarrassed to say how long I have been in "blog land" this morning.  However, I am excited about all the things I have been learning.  I have been watching tutorials about how to work with thanks to Angelia over at Extra Special Teaching.  I also found some great font and backgrounds at some sites that were linked to some wonderful blogs, but I can't remember them right now.  There is so much information out there and so many talented people!  Right now I have all these pieces of information in my head that I need to put together so I can start creating some printables.  I have a few things started and as soon as I get them finished, I will post for you.   

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

RockStar Listening Center

I bought a new toy for my classroom!  I enjoy technology, so I bought a Belkin RockStar.  My plan is to use it for the listening center.  You can connect up to five headphones along with an iPod.  It is family tested for right now and worked really well.  I am hoping it will work as well in the classroom.  Lucky for me, I have a teenager so I inherited her "old" iPod when she got a newer one.  


Friday, June 29, 2012

Too Noisy App

I have always liked the stop light that shows the noise level in the room, but they are expensive. Thanks to technology, there is the wonderful Too Noisy App available on iPad 2. It can be projected as well. The .99 cents version keeps track of how many times the noise level gets out of control and triggers a warning sound. It is a pretty neat app. You can adjust the sensitivity based on the activity. I can absolutely envision using this in the classroom during centers. The only downside for me was that there is only one warning sound and it sounds similar to our fire alarm. It's not that huge a deal since the sound is brief and it can be turned off if I decided not to use it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Google Docs

I am oozing with excitement! Ok, that might sound gross, but I can't help it that I get so excited when I learn something new. Many of you may be familiar with this - oh I forgot to tell you what it is. It is Google Docs! I have heard of this, but never knew how to use it in the classroom until Pinterest, which led me to a 4th grade blog, which got me to thinking I needed to learn more so I went to You Tube. That happens to me often start at one place on the net and end up somewhere else, two hours later! Anyway, back to Google Docs in the classroom. I learned from the blog that you can create forms that can be used to do assessments and track data. I will try to find the blog and post it for you. Then on You Tube,I found the how to create forms. This led my brain to thinking of a million other ways they can be used. I can post surveys or homework assignments on my class Edmodo. Students could possibly take a test right on the computer. The possibilities seem endless! Please post how you use Google Docs in your classroom. The You Tube video is posted here in case you want to check it out.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Classroom Management

I had the opportunity to sub last Thursday and Friday in a first grade class!  The students were wonderful!  However, I have a dilemma already.  Every time I think I know what classroom management format I want my FIRST classroom to have in the Fall, I see another FABULOUS idea!  When I was in school I do not recall there being so many different ways to "manage" students.  Now, in every class I have been in so far, there is individual, group/table, and whole class management systems!  It seems so overwhelming!  My question, is all three necessary?  Thank you for your advice. 

Monday, May 21, 2012


I just graduated from college and am ready to have my FIRST job as a teacher!  I am also attempting to start my FIRST blog!  Along with all the other FIRSTS that will happen this year, I expect there will be big gaps in time on this blog, but it will be fun to give it a whirl!  I am inspired by the many other educational blogs in "blog land."  That's what my interning teacher calls blogs.  I hope you will follow me as I grow and learn as a FIRST year teacher.