Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Student Bag

I just discovered the most brilliant idea from one of my co-workers!  It is so simple, I can't believe I have never thought of it before!  When setting up your classroom at the beginning of the year, create a new student bag.  Every time you make something for your students, create one extra and place it in the new student bag.  This way, when the inevitable happens and you receive a new student, you will be prepared!

My new student bag contains: name plate, locker plate, number for homework hotspot, pencil container (great if your grade level does any switching!), welcome letter, and the KOALA.


Now, many of you are probably wondering: "What is a KOALA?"  It is AMAZING!!  In third grade at my school, we have a 3 ring binder for each of our students that contains their assignment notebook, take home folder, important information for families (daily schedule, school calendar, student birthdays, and explanation of KOALA), unit home links (Everyday Math Curriculum), and a practice cursive packet.  The students take it home every night and it comes back every morning.  It works so smoothly for all students, including students coming from divorced or blended families. Everything the parents/students need to know is inside their binder.

The binder is great for teaching kids organization while holding them accountable for all of their school work.
Kids Organizing and Learning Accountability
Explanation for parents.
Cursive Packet
Take Home Folder

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Establishing Class Rules

A favorite lesson for many teachers: establishing class rules.  This is an exciting turning point in the first week! The students start to understand what their teacher is expecting from them.  They will continue to test; however, now is the time for a teacher to be very consistent with consequences.

To start, I read the book Chrysanthemum.  I print a picture of Chrysanthemum on a piece of card stock paper to use as a symbol.  As I read the book, anytime a character puts Chrysanthemum down, I rip a piece of the picture off.  As a character gives Chrysanthemum a put up, I tape a piece of ripped off paper back onto the main picture.  Here is an example of what Chrysanthemum looks like once the book is over.  :)

After the book is over, we discuss what the pictures represents.  BIG IDEA: Once someones feelings are hurt, you may apologize; however, they will never be the same.  Think before you speak.
In addition, I use the Responsive Classroom philosophy focusing on the social and academic aspects of school.  As a class, we discuss our Hopes & Dreams for the year.  Then each child picks their own Hope & Dream.  For example: to improve in math, make more friends, do more than one pull-up during gym, etc.

To wrap it up, we brainstorm our class rules.  "If we want all of our classmates to achieve their hopes & dreams and feel like the proud Chrysanthemum, what rules do we need to have in our classroom?" After all rules are brainstorms, the next day we cut it down to the five to six most important rules.

Our class rules poster this year!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hot Reads

Wow! 8 days into school and the Hot Reads are snatched off the shelf!  I introduced Hot Reads to my class yesterday and they have been asking me ever since to do the book drawing!

Hot Reads is a section in my classroom library where I display books.  The books I choose to display are:
  • books that I have read
  • many of my previous students have read
  • currently popular
  • a student did a book commercial about a certain book
  • or...they have not been picked to read in a LONG time.
Once I have two books chosen to be displayed, I do a book commercial.  A book commercial takes about 2 minutes, and could easily be done during any free moment because we have a lot of those... :).  I hold up a book and give just enough detail so that the kids want to read it, but not enough to spoil the book.  I always tell the students it is like a movie trailer, just give enough information to make your classmates want to read it!  After the book commercial, students can sign up to "win" the Hot Read.  I have two rules for the book drawing: 1. You must be present to win. 2. You may only have one Hot Read book at a time.

After modeling book commercials, students can start doing book commercials as they finish their books.  This gets kids passing books around the room, which drives conversations about books! Win, Win!

                           Hot Reads Display BEFORE          Hot Reads Display AFTER

FUN STORY: Today, at library check out, after about 5 minutes of my class being in the library, the librarian came up to me and asked, "What is this book The Emerald Atlas?"  I told her that it is a book I did a book commercial for in my classroom yesterday.  Within 5 minutes she had about 6 of my students go up to her and ask if the library had The Emerald Atlas.  Yet again, proving that Hot Reads drive student's desire to read.  I highly suggest you try it in your classroom!

Happy second week of school!