Science Units & -ing Word Sort

I hope you are enjoying your Memorial Day weekend.  I'm glad so many of you were able to check out my classroom rewards freebie.  I appreciate the feedback I have received by e-mail, comments on this blog, and commments at my TpT store. 

While I continue to add more and more projects to my plate this summer, I am reminded at how frustrated I am with science.  We use the FOSS science kits in my district.  I love the hands-on approach and enjoy the units that I teach.  However, I find that as new science standards are revealed, our curriculum is further and further away from meeting those standards.  I want to continue using the FOSS kits, but I want to supplement with some additional mini-units.  So I ask...what are you using to teach science that teaches systems and/or the scientific process? 

I have recently finished updating one of my word sorts.  It focuses on -ing endings.  It is currently available at my TpT store for free.  I hope that someone can use this in their own classroom.  All I ask is for some feedback in the comments section here, at my TpT store, or even by e-mail.  Click on the picture to grab this free file.

Classroom Rewards & Freebie

For years I have been trying to find ways to curb classroom spending.  One of the areas I targeted was with classroom rewards.  I will be ready to fully implement my new system next year.  I already use raffle tickets during math time to have students practice reading large numbers.  I plan to give away tickets for positive behavior choices and work completion every day.  Every once in awhile I will hold a store day.  This will be a time that kids can trade in tickets for coupons or a trip to my prize box.  Yes, I will still have that, but it usually only has pencils, erasers, stickers, etc. 

So, what will I be giving away that doesn't cost me much at all?  I began brainstorming a list of possible rewards that my students would be motivated to earn as well as rewards I did not feel would be a big distraction or burden.  Here is the list I came up with:
  • skip morning work pass
  • use the teacher's chair for one day
  • eat lunch with the teacher and one friend
  • free homework pass
  • pick your classroom job first
  • pick your own partner pass
  • read a book or poem to the class
  • read a book or poem to the principal
  • move your desk next to a friend for the day
  • write with a pen for the day
  • sit on the floor with a pillow for the day
  • one night homework pass for the entire class
  • board game party for the whole class
  • popcorn & movie for the whole class
  • extra recess for the class
  • wear a hat during class for the day
  • chew gum in class for 30 min.
  • lead a class game or activity
  • teacher cleans & organizes your desk
  • first choice seating on the floor
  • cut the line and have your work checked first today
  • free time for the entire class
Obviously it will take A LOT of tickets to buy a class reward or party.  Also, I may only put in one or two popcorn & movie parties all year long. 

As a thank you to all of my followers, I am sharing my coupons with you.  Stop by my TpT store to pick them up.  All I ask is that you give me a little feedback on what you think.  If you want me to make some extra coupons for you, just leave me a comment here or at my store.

Words Their Way and Spelling Scope & Sequence

What does spelling look like in your classroom?  If you have an adopted spelling curriculum, are you following it? Do you find that the scope and sequence meets the needs of your students?

I've just started looking into Words Their Way:

The prices for all of the books can add up quickly!  I want to make sure the investment is worth it, so here are my questions:
  1. Which books do I need?
  2. How hard is it to implement without training?
  3. Is there a suggested scope and sequence, or do you teach patterns based off of the assessments?
  4. How often do you assess?
  5. Are the groups flexible or do kids stay in the same group all year?
  6. Are there materials included in the books for take-home practice as well as in-class practice?
  7. How family-friendly is the program?
  8. Are you seeing the skills carry over into their writing?

  I appreciate any feedback you can give me about how spelling looks in your classroom.

Classroom Library & TpT Gift Certificate Giveaway

I have classroom libraries on the brain...
What does your classroom library look like? 
How have you organized your books? 
What is the highest level of books you have available for your readers? 

My largest project of the summer is to take inventory of and re-organize my classroom library.  After 10 years, it's a project I just can't ignore any longer.  I know what a huge task it is going to be so I actually started a little early.  Here's my task list for this project:
  • take note of each and every book in my classroom library & add to spreadsheet
  • recycle any books damaged beyond repair (some of those paper back picture books just cannot be put back together one more time)
  • donate some books that I have never touched, nor have my students
  • put into storage books that are far beyond the levels I want to have available in a primary classroom (if the students really want those books, they can check them out from our school library)
  • regroup and label the books into their final resting place (I hope)

I have quite a variety of random baskets to hold all of my book sets.  I'm looking into different ideas for decorating next year.  I'm trying to pick a color scheme so everything looks pulled together.  I found these two classrooms via Pinterest.  I think the way they decorated is effective because of the color schemes they chose:
School Girl Style
Dandelions and Dragonflies 

I'm considering donating the mis-matched baskets to another teacher and getting more book tubs like these from Really Good Stuff.  You can order sets by color, so once I pick a color scheme I'm set.  I think these will work for my book sets since I'll be able to squeeze more onto one shelf.   Plus, our PTA usually gives us a small stipend for classroom spending each year.  I'm hoping it will cover a few sets.

For the individual student book tubs, I snagged a bunch of these years ago at a Target when they were on sale. I even had a store clerk round up all of the ones from the back room. Then I went to another Target near our house to get more. I now have a class set - one for each student to have their own book tub.  I'm not sure if Target still sells them or not.  The brand is Sterilite.
As for labeling the different book tubs, I'm going to use these FREE polka dot labels from TpT.  Again, just need to choose a color.  Thank you, Karen Cox for creating these for others to use.

Whew!  No wonder I'm exhausted. 

Take a moment and head on over to Learning is Something to Treasure.  She just reached 50+ followers and is giving away TWO $25 gift certificates to TpT!

Organizing the Teachers Desk

A few years back I invested in this organizer:

The top has 6 sections where I keep:
  • lesson plans
  • grade book & papers to be graded
  • grade level standards 
  • paperwork to copy, to file, take to office, etc.
  • extras - worksheets/activities used as fillers or back-up when lessons don't go as planned
  • spiral notebook & clipboard - I keep a spiral notebook every year to write down notes from staff meetings, grade level meetings, conferences, reminders, etc.  The clipboard is something I carry with me while teaching small groups so I can note behavior and not forget!
The bottom has 2 trays where I keep:
  • family communication log
  • sub folder

I have bookcases by my desk.  That's where I keep my teacher's guides, binders with supplemental materials, drawers with specials items (ie. stickers, awards, homework/behavior notes, etc.) and my weekly files.  I don't have this organizer, but I do something similar:

Each tub holds everything needed for one day during the week.  It works for me because after I make a stack of copies, it's easy to dump everything into the right tub.

How do you keep your teacher's desk organized?

Do You Have a Snack Time During the School Day?

I wanted to find out where people stand on having snack time during the school day.

My opinion?
Pros - it helps if you have an early or late lunch time, morning snack can help those kids who don't get a good breakfast, it can provide a much-needed brain break

Cons - messy, takes time, if you go the group snack route a lot of parents don't send in anything, if you go the individual route some kids never have anything

What are your thoughts?

Second Grade Teachers Club

Is anyone else a member of Second Grade Teacher's Club?  I signed up to be a member over a week ago and still haven't been approved.  Does it usually take this long?  I know I saw someone blogging about it awhile back so I became interested.  I hope the site is worth the wait!

Classroom Management

I've used the same card chart for years to help manage (visually) student behavior in the classroom.  While I think it can be effective, I'm wondering if it's time for a change.  I started noticing the clip chart system popping up everywhere online.  Most of them look something like this:

It made me wonder if I could modify one to meet my needs.  Here is what I was thinking:
Super Citizen (purple)
Role Model (dk. blue)
Making Good Choices (lt. blue)
Ready to Learn (green)
Think About It (yellow)
Make a Change (orange)
Teacher's Choice (red)

I like that the clip chart takes up less room and that students can move up and down throughout the day, as needed.  I really want to focus more on the positive.  So now I'm thinking about how to reward students who climb up the chart during the day.

For anyone who is using the clip chart, what DON'T you like about it?

Here We Go!

I have officially joined the blogging world.  I would like this blog to become a place to record my teaching ideas and share the wonderful ideas I find from my colleagues near and far.  I find the following quote to be quite fitting as I begin this exciting, new journey:

"You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So...get on your way!"
- Dr. Seuss
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