Monday, January 28, 2013

Continent Table Group Labels

I've been insanely jealous of all the bloggers writing about their productive snow days - we got a nice coating of snow, but had to watch the beautiful flakes fall from inside our classrooms. I had to lower my blinds to stop the incessant yelling of "SNOW!" every few minutes :)

Today began a new marking period - and for the students that means a fresh start! We talked a lot today about setting goals for a new quarter and making an action plan for being the best student and friend that we can be. 

I also changed my seating as the kids were whining and complaining asking for them :) I thought I'd share my group labels for someone to up their system/classroom now or to store away for next fall.

We change desks a lot in my class (about every 3 weeks) for a number of reasons:
1. It allows the students to work with a variety of classmates
2. Table groups can only sit together for so long before conflict arises,
3. I like to mix it up for our Team Challenge Competition.

Team Challenge Competition: Each week the students earn tally points for their "team" (table group) for answering questions correctly, being the first group cleaned up, waiting quietly, etc. Teams can also lose points for calling out, being off-task, arguing, disrespectful behavior, etc. On Friday the team with the most points wins either a prize from the treasure box (trinkets the kids go nuts for), a No Homework coupon, or a Lunch with Mrs. Lawler coupon. 

*I find the Team Challenge Competition is one of the best motivators for quality work and proper behavior - they are motivated by not only the incentive, but also the positive peer pressure from their group.*

I printed out the signs, backed them on construction paper, and laminated them. I then put stuck them on cute little picture frame holders I found in the Target $1 Spot.

You can download the signs for FREE from my TpT store: Continent Table Group Labels

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sad Opposite Night No One!

No, I have not lost my mind. No, a three year old did not type the title. No that is not a top-secret coded language. It's clear and purposeful - and perfectly timed because...Tomorrow (January 25th) is the official Opposite Day! 

So "Sad Opposite Night No One!" really means...

Happy Opposite Day Everyone!

I was so tired of my students teasing one another and then saying, "it's opposite day!" So in October I looked up the official Opposite Day and found out that it is celebrated each year in January. Once I told my kids this, they couldn't wait to celebrate! I've been trying to think how I could make it a fun (and educational) day, and I've decided to focus on Antonyms, or words that mean the opposite.

To celebrate, I've compiled a fun resource packet that I'm going to use and because tomorrow is also my birthday (no, not an opposite joke!) I've decided to make it available for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers :)

Click here to download the 12-page packet: Opposite Day Activities.

Check out some sample pictures:

Note: These resources are not all my original ones - some are from free sites that I've compiled into my packet. 

Here's a fun book about Opposite Day you could read to your kiddos:

Opposite Day

I found this is my research and thought it was cute...and thought-provoking :)

Are you doing anything for Opposite Day tomorrow? If so, please comment on your ideas/activities.
Also, if you download my packet, please rate it and leave a comment!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Successful Parent-Teacher Meetings

When I meet with a parent about a student, I like to have notes of what we discussed - for accountability, documentation, and to jog my memory when my brain feels like it's juggling 709,438 things :)

To help, I've created this quick and easy-to-use handout for taking notes during meetings with parents. It provides space for the date, the student name, recording who called the meeting (the parent or the teacher), the concerns presented, and a plan of action. It also allows the teacher to record the general atmosphere of the meeting and whether or not follow-up is needed.

(Click the picture to download template for FREE)

I have a separate form that I use when holding official parent-teacher conferences. This, on the other hand, is what I use for other meetings throughout the year, whether they be called because of behavior, academics, or another reason.

Here are some of my tips for holding parent meetings:

1. If you are calling the meeting, ask for a convenient time to meet and give them a heads-up about why you'd like to hold the meeting. You don't want them coming in and feeling blind-sided

2. Always start with a positive! Reassure them that you are their partner and want to see their son/daughter excel and achieve. 

I like to follow the OREO rule (which just makes my mouth water to think about!)

3. Show examples! If you are meeting with a student who really struggles in reading, show them a recent miscue analysis, a reading comprehension test, and a sample from their reading binder. If they're failing math, don't just tell them about their child's poor test grades - show them! Parents need to see that you're concerned because this is a pattern.

4. Be an active listener: You want to let the parents voice their concerns without interrupting or feeling defensive. Show the parent that you were listening by repeating back to them their concerns during the meeting and then pause...deep breath....reflect...respond.

Rule of thumb: Respond, Don't React.

5. Make an action plan: you and the parent need to work together to craft some strategies for improvement. We can talk about a problem all day long, but if we don't brainstorm any ideas for fixing the problem, we aren't accomplishing anything.

6. Follow-up: Send an e-mail or make a phone call a couple days after the meeting to re-cap and/or let them know that you're working on things discussed. If you were going to talk to another teacher about the student's behavior in his class, then send a quick note saying that you've done so.

Here's an example from a meeting I conducted:

I printed it out and put it in Nathalie's file for reference and documentation. This is not the first meeting I've had with her parents and tutor, so I was able to refer back to previous meetings and see what had been discussed and decided then. Next time we meet, I'll be able to reference this one.

Click here to download your FREE copy of the Teacher-Parent Meeting Note sheet.

Any tips you would like to share for hosting a successful parent-teacher meeting?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Students Who Need to "KETCHUP!"

At the beginning of the year, all of most of my students are organized, prepared, diligent, and consistent in turning in their homework. Now, restlessness has set in, crayons have "walked away," homework folders have ripped, and...chaos ensues. My lovely kiddos are really slacking when it comes to homework these days, so I've been brainstorming ways to keep them accountable, let their parents know, and keep track without staying at school til 8pm each night. 

I've come up with two ideas I want to share:

1. "Ketchup" Board 

Put this sign on your whiteboard or on a poster board displayed in a prominent spot in your classroom.  When students don’t turn in their homework, they get put on the Ketchup List, or a list of students who need to catch up (“ketch-up” - get it?!?).
When their work is turned it, they may erase their name.

If, at the end of the week, their name is still on the board, have them fill out the “Uh-Oh” form, which includes space for the student to write the assignments, an action plan for turning in work on time, and a signature line for both the student and parents. 

Click here to visit my TpT store and download this packet for FREE! Ketchup List Homework Management.

2. No Late Homework Party!
Using my "Ketchup" board, I'm going to keep track of the students who NEVER have their name put on there. Then, at the end of the month (or quarter, depending on how you want to do it), we'll have a NO KETCHUP party! I haven't exactly decided what that will look like - good thing I've got a month to plan for it :)

What other strategies do you use for keeping track of homework, holding students accountable for missing work, and/or rewarding students for no late homework? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Author Study and On-Demand Writing Prompt

Hi Friends! Here is an Author Study Tic-Tac-Toe menu I have created for my students!  I created this for students to research different authors and read their books.  I have a special spot in my classroom for a NEW author every month.  My students complete the Author Study Tic-Tac-Toe once a month (so three activities in a month).  

Click HERE to get yours!

Here is my special "Author Study" spot!

On-Demand Writing Prompt {Opinion}

Since on demand writing is HUGE in 5th grade, I have created an on demand stand alone prompt to go along with the Scholastic News article they are reading.  
*Students do not have to read the article to respond to the writing prompt.*  Click on the link below to grab yours for FREE! 

Click HERE to get yours! 

Have a Great Day!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Show Me the Money!

In Social Studies, we've been working on a large Economy unit, focusing on producers and consumers, supply and demand, communism and capitalism, earning and spending, how money is minted, etc. 

It's a big unit and we've been doing lots of fun activities with it. I plan to have a large packet ready for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers by the end of this week. Stay tuned!

After talking a lot about the economy, we discussed the creation and distribution of money.  We watched these two great videos:

1. "The Birth of a Coin"

2. "How It's Made - Coins" 

Here's a FREEBIE to start your anticipation and whet your appetite for the full packet :)

Here are some samples from my classroom:

I'll leave you with a question I ask my students: If you had $1,000 to spend on anything you wanted, how would you spend it?
Leave a comment with your answer :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

What's In a Name?

In my fifth grade class, we've been talking about our names this week and the meanings behind them. The students all wanted to share, so I created this template to use in a research project:

Here's my example - note that my name means "Wealthy" - I told them that that was why I became a teacher- to live up to my name! HAH! :)

Sorry for the glare - it's laminated, which is wonderful for keeping year after year, but not so wonderful for picture-taking.

Some student examples:

The finished product:

Click here to download the activity for FREE: What's In A Name?

You could use this as a take-home project, a center activity (provide Baby Name books), or an internet research activity.


Martin Luther King Jr. ABC Biography

Here is a simple research activity for students. Read about Martin Luther King Jr. and find a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet that is significant to his life. Read more at my Using My Teacher Voice.

Click the image to grab it!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Coloring Pages

OK, this is not one of my freebies, but this blog has the best coloring pages for older kids/adults. Abstract Doodles did a bunch of great winter ones, and now they just put up a set of free Valentine's doodles to color. Go {here} to get them! FYI - the correct download button is the blue one under the image.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practices

 Have you looked at the 8 Mathematical Practices?  I'm getting ready to introduce them in my classroom and made a freebie to share with you.

I blogged about this during a blog hop.  Click here to read more.

I'm linking up with
Freebie Fridays

Surfing to Success