Schoolroom Swag

Elementary Teacher

Having fun in the classroom and "balancing" life!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A calendar time tip and freebie

Calendar time...argh!! One of the most frustrating parts of my day. I used to spend SO much time keeping kids on task. I created a unit of pages that they could all fill out together while one person did the work on the actual calendar area. That helped. But I still felt like we spent way too much time at the calendar, and kids were too off-task. So I'm changing it up this year. Only one person does calendar with me one-on-one. That way I'll be able to more easily assess who needs help, challenge the people who are ready, and everyone else is at their desk working on their journal. So far we've had 2 days of practice at this. So far, so good.

Right now we're only working on the date, writing the date in numerical form, the days of school, and the h-t-o chart, which is still on tens. I'll use my calendar unit as a guide to add on to that as well. We do add one day to the big calendar at a time, but we also discuss the year as a whole. We have an event calendar, which is a year-long calendar that is posted in order on the wall next to the bigger monthly calendar. Everyone is able to add their events to the event calendar. I keep those pages on the wall in a timeline so kids can see the year as a whole and where the month falls within the year.
Calendar Time's CounterpartI put my calendar unit up as a freebie on TPT if you're interested. It includes date, days of the week, months of the year, time, teeth tallying, etc. It includes a variety of pages so that you can scaffold or differentiate. There are 20 pages all together.

Good luck with your calendar time! It seems always to be a work in progress, doesn't it? But I think it's such an important part of our day!
Thanks for reading!

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Friday, August 15, 2014

Only 3 Rules...or principles?

I think rules should be kept to a minimum. Rules should also be achievable and assessable on our end as the teacher. 

Here are mine:
1.Take care of yourself.
2.Take care of others.
3.Take care of this place.

Of course, first we read this and discuss good behaviors that make our class run smoothly and give us opportunity to have more fun, and bad choices that just might take the fun out of it. Once we have brain-stormed those, we come to a consensus that really, all those examples fall under those 3 rules.  

I refer back to them from time to time when students make bad choices. "Oh, little Thomas, you're not taking care of yourself! Get back to work!" "Oh, little Thomas, pushing is not taking care of others!" "No, little Thomas, kicking that chair is not taking care of this place."
("Little Thomas" comes from here. I love Tim Hawkins. Hilarious.)

I try to phrase them in a positive way as much as possible. Sometimes it's just not possible, or your brain is too tired. We do the best we can. 

And I don't always give them a consequence up front. Sometimes simple redirection is enough. "Little Thomas, you chose to mess around (yes, I use the phrase mess around- we talk about what it means as we are "making the rules" together). Bummer. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do about that, but I'm going to go think about it. Don't worry about it. I'll get back to you. You just keep working on your spelling." In the meantime, sometimes that's enough and little Thomas is corrected. But of course, that doesn't work with everyone.

But so far, so good. And with the Little Thomas' that need more, I'm taking it a day at a time. Trying to build those relationships and build up their self-concept. 

 So do I use rules, or principles? I'm not sure. Does it matter?
  Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Love and Logic discipline: a practical take-away

Have you heard of, or read "Teaching with Love and Logic?

Product Details
We heard one of the team members at a conference last year and we're doing a faculty study on it this year. It is really good. It's really changing my discipline style quite a bit. Not completely, but tweaking it and making life so much less stressful. At least at this point in the honeymoon.

The basic preface is that in order to achieve behaviors that you desire, you need to develop relationships with the students and let them know you like them unconditionally. Seems elementary, I know, but it's given a fresh, new twist. And give them choices. Allow them to fail and show them empathy when they do. They will learn and grow and gain internal self-worth and confidence, which will lead to good behavior.

The book is filled with examples of stories as well as dialogues to help teachers know what to say. That's tough sometimes. I love the ease of use of this book, and the practicality of it. Here's one practical take-away that I"ve really used a lot so far this year:

"You may choose to walk on your tip-toes to the rug, or walk normally." It's turning my runners into model students.

Ok, I've fallen asleep no less than 4 times in the last 2 paragraphs. Time for bed.
Thanks for reading!

. Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Classroom tour...secret agent style

Ahh...the first full day of school. I'll be glad when it's a month from now and routines and principles are set. When I've built a relationship with the kids and it becomes more important for them to learn from and please me than get a laugh from their peers. Will that day ever come?
As Sara would say, I'm a theme girl when it comes to decorating. I like themed d├ęcor. I know some of you don't. I don't know if I always will, but for now, I'm enjoying it. This year I tried to make my theme more student friendly, to make it easier to hang kids work and anchor charts. But I added a lot of detail as well.
Take a look at my secret agent room...
Dollar store hats with pom poms set the tables apart. We have pink, green and black tables.

Close ups of the Social Studies focus wall- the pennants are based on the theme: Agents of S.C.H.O.O.L
(self-controlled, capable, honest, obedient, observant, leader)
The library:

(My library labels aren't on yet)

Can you see the scanners?

My 14 year old son made the safe. Not the quality I would have chosen, but when your 14 year old helps in your classroom, you use what they make. Or they won't be back.
The front doors (I have 2 identical on each side of one wall)

(dollar store glasses, flashlights, walkie talkies and badges)
Supplies and the birthday board, which still does not have candles in it!

The brief case in the second picture has their morning work in it. So they have to
 open it up and get it out. Very secret agent-like!

Calendar area
The yarn on the front door were lasers the kids had to crawl through on the first day.

The classes are listed on the side for now, and I put them right-side up in order as we go along and learn the schedule.
I guess I don't have any full-on views of my room. I wish I did. I know some people don't like it and might think it's too busy. That it's distracting. But I'm a believer that environment sets a tone. And a plain classroom can be distracting for some people. Even though my colors are bold, they are bright and exciting, and I use mainly lime, hot pink and black, so the look is cohesive. All my backgrounds are black. And they are plastic tablecloth. As are the curtains in the library.
If you need any secret agent classroom supplies, my unit is completely editable.
Thank you so much for taking the tour! I can't wait to see everyone else's room!
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A secret agent library

School starts in 2 days and my room is not done. Is that sad? Or normal? I don't know, and frankly, I'm not even worried about it. It's come SO far in the last week or two. I even had multiple comments from parents at our Open House night about how they couldn't believe it came together. (: Again, sad. But again... not concerned. What gets done, gets done. And the rest? In a month, I won't remember what my additional decoration plans were, and I'll be so in the thick of life that I won't care anymore.

The only pictures I have so far are my library. And yes, they're taken with my phone. Which I'm sure I've mentioned, might as well be a flip phone.

            So...some before pictures. I decided on a secret agent theme this year. And keep in mind, it got worse before it got better.The door is back behind all that mess somewhere.

In the next one, you're looking across the room at the library. It's full of boxes and desks. And stuff.
And after. But only the library in the far corner of the room.

Binoculars, whistles, and watches hanging from the lanterns. I couldn't find black lanterns anywhere!

The hanging helicopter (yikes, what a pain in the arse that was!!!) is from Oriental Trading. so is the skyline scene. It's supposed to look like a window with curtains.

                                                My daughter made this fake computer. (:

She also made these "restricted access" pieces. A hand scanner and calculator for keying in your access code.

And my son made the safe. The writing is not up to par, as far as I'm concerned, but I'm out of time. And when your kids make you something for your room, you use it. Or that will be the end of their help.

Ok, so that's it for now. I'll be back with more in the next few days. Thanks for looking! I can't wait to see everyone else's! Don't you love looking at classrooms?
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What to say at parent orientation...a top 10 list


Do you have a Back to School night or parent orientation?  I do. Sometimes it's tough to get all the information across without losing your audience. After about 10 minutes, they're gone. They're like a bunch of deer caught in the headlights. And I can't blame 'em. I'm a parent. I've spent my time in those headlights.

I have a ppt presentation that I show them. It's filled with all kinds of classroom information. I also save it as a pdf file and post it on our website so it is accessible to them all year. I don't hand it out to the parents, but I give them a blank outline so they can take notes if they want. Here it is. It comes in three different themes. Polka dot, enchanted forest, and secret agent. It's editable so you can change it however you see fit. I love it because it saves me so much time and gives me a guideline. And I can edit what I say based on the glazing I see creeping over the eyes of the parents in my room.
Back to School Night: An Editable Ppt Presentation with a Back to School Night: An Editable PPT for parents

But here are some basics I think are important to let our parents know:
1. I love your child and want to be a memorable part of your family's life.
2. Your child will be given what he or she needs.
3. Your child's growing independence is a GOOD thing. Let them grow.
4. I will listen to you and work with you to help your child. That is why I spend my life doing this.
5. More worksheets does not equal a challenge.
6. All children are gifted. Just in different areas. It's my job to find and nurture that gift.
7. I am knowledgeable and experienced. Let me earn your trust.
8. Your kids will be fine after you drop them off.
9. 95% of the time, kids are better behaved at school. If they are making bad choices at school, I'm pretty sure they're doing it at home.
10. I don't need or want any more mugs.

Obviously, some of these things I can say and some not so much. But I think most of them can and should be said. Actually, I think I may go add some of them to my presentation. My pastors always end the service with a take-away for us. I think I'll do that same thing. These will be my ending take aways, give or take a couple!

Good luck with your parent orientation!
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]