Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ways to conquer the cooped up craziness!!

Anyone else's students a little rambunctious lately?  In Michigan, our kiddos have been cooped up way too long without fresh air and Vitamin D and its causing an unhealthy case of "stir crazy!"

When this starts happening every year, I always start to pull my hair out in frustration, but then I remember that the crazy can be conquered with routine consistency and 'sticking to my guns' per say. Otherwise, I'll end up looking like the meme below.......Ahhhhhhhhhh

Instead of trying to pull out all the bells and whistles or doing a little song and dance to keep em' entertained, I just rely on structure. In our school we use "Give Me 5" as our attention grabber. When I need their attention (after a quick turn and talk to a partner, or voices are just getting a little too loud) I put one hand in the air and say Give me 5, and then I quietly count backward until 1.  I show the counting backward on my fingers and other students join in as well. When I get to 1, any students who are still talking receive a warning. Be strong, if a student earns a warning give it to him/her regardless of how you feel. Students crave fairness and it will only take a time or two before the craziness begins to subside. Click HERE for a FREE editable template (created by my teammate Stephanie Rye of Forever in Fifth Grade) to help you set up a warnings consequence system with your students and to help you keep track of those warnings.

And, here's a cute free Give Me 5 poster I found by Confessions of a Teaching Junkie on TPT.

Unstructured time is also a nightmare during these long winter months when the kids don't get near enough exercise.  So I make sure to plan for every. single. minute. of. the. day! To fight the frenzy, I return to the uber organized and over prepared teacher I was in September!!  Sometimes, at this point in the year, we have all started to slack a bit in our routines and expectations and that can fuel the fire. When I'm well planned, our classroom runs like a well oiled machine (most of the time LOL).

Further, transition times are where all heck begins to break loose when we haven't had recess for a week.  So, I make sure that every transition follows the SAME routine.  Before we make the transition I always say "When I say Go - (and then I give the directions, for example) - quietly bring your reading folder, notebook, pencil and book to your spot on the carpet.  I'll meet you there in 2 minutes. You may GO." Or, "When I say Go, you need to put your math paper inside your math folder and line up for library. You may Go." This way students are listening because they're waiting for me to say GO, they also don't move while I'm giving directions (that drives me insane).

If several students are not transitioning properly, I take time to have some students act out a review of what it SHOULD NOT and SHOULD look like when coming to the carpet, or lining up.  Then, I give out warnings to students who are not following procedures.  I remind myself to 'stick to my guns,' be fair and be consistent and I will conquer the crazy!!!  Good luck and fingers crossed for some warmer temperatures to get these kids outside running around!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fifth Grade Freebies Blog Hop

I'm so glad you're stopping by the Fifth Grade Freebies Blog Hop.  Thanks for joining us.  I hope you pick up some GREAT freebies along the way.  Make sure you follow our blog and facebook page so you'll be notified every time we post an AMAZING freebie!!

I'm sharing with all of you WONDERFUL fifth grade teachers, a set of learning target posters for FREE.

Do you display daily learning targets in your classroom?  I created these posters so I'd have a quick and cute place to write the learning targets for our lessons each day.   In my opinion, posting learning targets is a critical way to keep students accountable and aware of what they are learning.

Just print, laminate and hang! Each day I use a vis a vis marker to write on the posters and I use a wet paper towel to wipe off the learning target at the end of the day (actually it's a student job to clean them off in our classroom).  The learning targets are the first thing we talk about during our morning meeting.  I also bring them up again before each lesson, and tell students how they can accomplish each target. At the end of the lesson we review the learning target one more time with a discussion, journal response or exit slip. We also self assess our mastery of the target before, during and after each lesson.  We use a simple 4, 3, 2, 1 scale to assess our understanding.  


Taking time to explicitly make your daily learning targets known to students is crucial to helping your students become more self aware and accountable for their own learning. Give it a try, if you're not already!!!

Now head on over to see my friend Diane at Fifth in the Middle to snag her AWESOME freebie!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Back from break management tips and book recommendations

House is cleaned, tree is down, grocery shopping is done (almost - just sent hubby with the list), menu is planned, lessons are written, papers are checked, backpacks are packed - we are ready for the first day back from break!  Well at least physically, definitely not mentally. But it feels good to be organized!  Now, its time to make sure my students' first day back from break is just as well managed.  So, here are my top 3 favorite back from break classroom management tips.

The first day back from break is the PERFECT time to review your classroom procedures and expectations. Kids love to act out the wrong and right way to follow the rules.  Choose a few students to model specific procedures (entering the classroom, starting work, getting teacher's attention, handing in work, what to do when you're finished, pencil policy, working with a partner, etc.)  First, have a student or two show the wrong way (kids LOVE this) and then have other students share what they noticed.  Next, have a student or two show the right way and again have other students share what they noticed.  Comment all day when you notice students following procedures correctly.  This exercise will only take 10-15 minutes but it's valuable time that will pay off in the long run.  I promise.

 Give your students time to share their break experiences.  Otherwise you will be fighting these conversations all day long.  Here's how I do it quickly.  Have your students write down 3 words to explain their break (can be gifts they received, places they visited, things they did, etc.).  We call this our 3 word week.  Next, set a timer for 5 minutes.  Have your students walk around and share their 3 words with as many friends as possible.  When the timer goes off, share your own 3 words and then move on to your necessary curriculum.  Again, you will be thankful you allowed this time.  Your students will be ready to learn once they've let everyone know about that Xbox One they received from Santa.  LOL

Talk about all of the great books you read over break.  Before break I start a stack of books from our classroom library that I plan to read.  My students love to see my stack grow and it inspires them to start their own break stacks. When we return, one of the first things we do is talk about the books we read. I also take time to recommend a bunch of new books that I found out about over break.  The nerdy book club blog is a great place to go if you need grade level book recommendations.  Here's the stack I'm sharing with my 5th graders on Monday.  I can't wait to add each of these titles to my 40 book challenge door. (Most are new reads, but the Harry Potter books are rereads to prepare for my visit to Universal Studios later this year).

What are your great back from break management tips?  Or how about books you read over break?  I need to add some new titles now that my break stack is finished.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years giveaway and other ramblings

Happy New Years Eve!  May 2015 bring you your best memories yet teacher friends!!

I'm so excited to ring in the New Year that I want to give away a copy of my New Years Decimal Centers.  I created these last year to use in math the first week back from Christmas Break.  It was so nice to have my math centers ready to go and to not have to spend time over break planning for math. I'd love to give you the same opportunity.  If you're interested, leave a comment below that includes your email address and I'll randomly choose a lucky winner tonight!

These New Years Decimal Centers will keep your Math Workshop running smoothly and provide your students (4th-6th) with activities to reinforce and review your decimal mini-lessons for an entire week.

Centers included are:
Task Cards: Twenty rounding decimals to thousandths task cards with recording sheets and answer keys

Independent Work: Placing decimals to thousandths on number lines with independent practice sheets and answer keys.

Math Game: Least to Greatest - ordering decimals to thousandths with game cards, directions and game board.

Math Game: Bulls Eye - mentally adding decimals through thousandths with game cards, directions, work sheets and recording sheets.

Problem Solving: multiplying decimals with problem solving practice sheets and answer keys.

Utilizing these centers during Math Workshop will allow you to meet with guided math groups for intervention and/or enrichment. These centers can also be used during guided math for students who need additional reteaching of decimal concepts.

In other random news, if you haven't checked out the 5th grade collaborate blog and facebook page that I'm a part of - Fifth Grade Freebies - head there now.  Several amazing 5th grade teachers have teamed up to offer you our best Freebies all perfect for 5th graders!!  We have something special coming up soon - so stay tuned!!

Fifth Grade Freebies

Sunday, December 7, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things blog hop

Happy December everyone!  Can you believe Christmas is almost here!  This is one of my favorite times of the year, so I'm joining up with Laura from Where the Magic Happens for her 'A few of my favorite things' blog hop.

My first favorite thing is my favorite "store" -  Yes, my favorite store is virtual and I don't care.  I can find pretty much everything I need on Amazon - books, household items, toys, instant movie and tv show downloads, you name it.  I have done about 80% of my Christmas shopping on Amazon. If you're a prime member, all shipping is FREE and it's fast.  I always get my items within 2-3 days.  Also, every purchase earns me points that I cash in for FREE books in my classroom.  Love, Love, Love!!!!  In fact, I love Amazon so much that I'm giving away an Amazon gift card to one lucky reader. Merry Christmas!!  Check out all the other great favorite things you can win by entering the blog hop giveaway in the rafflecopter below.

The second favorite thing I'm going to share is one of my favorite beauty products.  I've become a huge fan of Jamberry nail wraps (check out my friend Julie's Jamberry facebook page HERE if you're interested) and I always pair them with Sally Hansen Insta Dry nail polish.  The colors are perfect, the price is right, and the dry time is crazy fast - even my 7 year old daughter can wait patiently for just a few minutes.  If you have little girls, it's the only nail polish to buy!  Or, if you're just as busy as I am and don't have time to sit and watch your nails dry, give it a try!


Sally Hansen Insta-dri Fast Dry Nail Polish - Choose Your Color - Buy3

The last favorite thing that I'm sharing with you my dear friends, is teaching related.  It's my two favorite TPT products - my Common Core Critical Verbs Word Wall Cards and Common Core Critical Verbs Instruction Packet.  I seriously couldn't prepare my students for the 'big test' without these products!!  And this week they are both 50% off just for you!!!

Are your students struggling with understanding the critical verbs of the Common Core?  These verbs are tricky and students cannot perform well on THE TEST if they do not know what the questions are asking them to do!!

You must expose your students to these critical academic vocabulary words. And what better way to do that than to teach each word deliberately and post for students to reference all year long!

Save $5.50 by purchasing them on sale today!!!  I don't know about you, but sales are another one of my favorite things.  And so is winning FREE stuff!!!  So enter the rafflecopter below and take your chances at winning some amazing favorite things from my bloggy friends!!

Because we value our followers and wanted to treat you to our favorite things Oprah style, we have put together the best giveaway of the season! My bloggy friends and I welcome you to the best, biggest, most cheerful event of the season:

7 winners for 7 prize packs!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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