Friday, June 27, 2014

Empowering Students: Guest Blogger!!

Hey Friends - I'm turning Friday over to my sweet friend, Kristin. She has some great ideas about empowering children, and I'm so excited she's here! :)

Hi everyone! I'm Kristin from My Carolina Classroom. I just finished my first year of teaching and I'm a brand new blogger. Kelly is kindly allowing me to take over for the day! I want to share something I feel strongly about: empowerment. Empowerment involves providing opportunities for students to make their own decisions as often as possible and letting children know that they have worth. I believe that allowing students to make their own choices leads to a stronger sense of self and belonging, which leads to a stronger sense of responsibility. When students feel valued in the classroom, they are less likely to act out and more likely to take charge of their learning.

 Here are five easy ways to empower students daily:  
1. Equity sticks - Put each student's name on a popsicle stick. Draw a stick instead of asking for volunteers, etc. Students need to know that they are equal in your eyes and have as good a chance as everyone else. This is an easy way to make sure every student participates and gets a turn before you call on a student for a second time.

 2. Parking Lot - Elementary students are so curious! My students last year could ask me questions all day long. I had to stay on schedule, but did not want my students to feel like their thoughts or questions were not valuable. So, I created our class parking lot where students could "park" their questions and comments.
I can't find a picture of my own, so I'm borrowing this one. You get the idea. Click image for source!
3. "Must Do" then "May Do" - I always have instructions projected on my board while students are working independently. I have a MUST DO list and a MAY DO list. When students finish their required work, they can choose which optional activity they will do next.

 4. Tattle Monster - Second graders are tattle tales. Tattling drives me CRAZY especially because it usually happens at inopportune times. Thus, I created the tattle monster. (Thanks Pinterest!) Students write down their tattle and feed it to the monster. I do read them at the end of each day to make sure I'm not missing anything that requires attention.
5. Work Hard, Get Smart - Empowerment often requires encouragement. We created a class chant before fall testing and used it all year long. I would shout, "Work Hard," and the students would respond, "GET SMART woot woot." They LOVED it and our chant always helped them get pumped up before a test.

These are just a few of many possibilities. How do you empower students in your classroom? I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'll leave you with a quote. (Corny, I know!)

“I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside, and give them a sense of pride to make it easier.”
-Whitney Houston

 Thank you for having me, Kelly and Kelly's readers! Come by My Carolina Classroom any time.
My Carolina Classroom

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let's Talk about Books {Linky!} and Go on a Bear Hunt!!

Hi Friends!
Today I'm linking up with Deanna Jump to talk about our favorite books to use in the classroom.

I absolutely LOVE this linky. It makes my heart happy, and I just love children's literature!!

This week, I'm going with an "Oldie, but a Goodie".

I don't know about you, but I have such fond memories of being read to as a child.

       Great books about monsters, moons, tar babies and steam shovels.... rabbits with feelings, bears with missing buttons, and little engines that could.  Those are memories that are absolutely part of my soul... and I can't imagine life without them.  Perhaps they're part of why I became a teacher - to share the love I had for books with other children.  

    One of the greatest books is We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.

Now, this book came out originally in 1989, so I was already 12 years old and babysitting some kids in the neighborhood when I first read this gem. I remember the little girl just laughing along with the book, and begging me to read it again and again. That's when you know it's a good book. Am I right?!
The book is based on an old familiar camp song or sing-along about a father and his children going on a bear hunt.  I'm sure most of you are already singing along in your head right now, as a matter of fact.
The family encounter obstacles along the way, and have to find a way to overcome them.  They go around, above, through, and under things to get to their destination. (Great for that preposition lesson, too!)

There are also sound effects throughout the book so children can read or sing along with the text.

And the best part?? You can act it out!!

Kids absolutely LOVE acting this story out.
They get to run and jump and swim all while standing right in their classroom.
Fun fun fun!! :)

The reason I am recommending this book right now is because it's one of my favorites to do on the first day of school.  We read this book, and then go on our own Bear Hunt (read: School Tour) throughout our school building!
We use these little clues, and find the bears located all around our school. The kids also get a kick out of dressing up like safari rangers to go on this big bear hunt!

If you'd like a copy of these cards, they are in my TpT store and are totally EDITABLE for you to make your own!!  Click {here} to check them out :)

Now, I don't have a picture of my kiddos actually dressed up, but here are the important pieces of our costumes...
The kids absolutely loved doing this.

For the hats, just grab some bowls at your local grocery store or Wal-Mart. Make sure they have that plastic-y coating on them, though because you're going to spray paint them & you want it to work.  Do not get styrofoam. Just hole punch each side, as far away from the edge as you can, and run a piece of elastic cord through the holes so it will fit snugly under the kids' chins.

For the binoculars, grab two toilet paper rolls or one paper towel roll (per child), and run a piece of masking tape around both of them to tape them together. Then tape the string on either side.  Lastly, using some cute duck tape or washi tape, cover the rolls and run one piece around the whole thing to give it the look of binoculars! And, done :)

I also grabbed some fun stick-on mustaches at Hobby Lobby for the kids to wear if they wanted.

The final product was hilarious - I'm not gonna lie. 
I ended up with two boys that were the spitting image of Mario and Luigi, and it was hysterical. I mean like tears-running-down-my-cheeks funny.

But, the kids loved it, and it really made the first day...and the dreaded school much more fun! 

It's a great book & it's so much fun. Plus, this book really is a classic (or on it's way to becoming one), and I love exposing my class to old AND new texts throughout the school year.  

 Speaking of old texts, what was your favorite or were your favorite books as a kid??? 
I'd love you to share!!

After you comment with those memories, go check out the other folks that linked up this week and don't forget to start stocking up those toilet paper rolls!!! 

As always, thanks for stopping by! 

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Georgia Blog Hop: Mason Jars, Freebies & a Giveaway

It's time to teach the country about yes ma'am and y'all.
Down here in Georgia, we talk with a drawl.
We're bringing you some freebies as sweet as our tea.
Enter our contest, you might get some things free!


Hi Friends!
    This weekend, I am joining my fellow Georgia bloggers to share with you a little about where we're from, who we are, what we love, and, as always, something about teaching.  Naturally, we're also sharing some freebies, because we believe in showing that good ole' southern hospitality! Twenty-five teachers invite you to take a road trip through our southern, sit back & hop through our blogs to grab those freebies.

So, that's me....underneath that peach...where I live and teach right outside of metro Atlanta. I was born and raised in the south, but didn't move to the big ATL until after college and until I needed a J.O.B!  The traffic is atrocious, I won't lie, but the people are super nice, and I love, love, love my job. It all evens out in the wash, as they say, so I can't complain. 

Other than my job, there's a lot about the south that I also love....

For me..
I love Coca-Cola, which is made right here in Atlanta... I honestly drink Diet Coke like someone is about to take it away from me. It's a problem...I admit..and isn't that the first step? Oh, and there ain't nothing like Coke in a glass bottle... nothing.
I LOVE college football...even though I root for the VOLS and not the Dawgs.. I'm already counting down to football season :)

I love cotton fields, the smell of magnolias blooming, front porches, and the ocean...which is just a few hours away.
 And lastly, I love mason jars. Honestly, it's more like an obsession than just mere love. 

My favorites are the really old, antique kind with the metal lids...that are that awesome tinge of blue. I am on the constant search for those.... 
Aren't they gorgeous? Ahh... {swoon}.
 In fact, I just got these in the mail... Mason Jar Measuring Cups!!
 I swear these might be the cutest things I've ever seen.  

  Okay, okay, enough about  me...but speaking of mason jars, have you ever read the book Fireflies by Julie Brinkloe?  
I don't know about you, but I spent most of my summers as a kid running around the yard trying to catch lightning bugs in a jar.  I have such fond memories of this, and that might be why I am drawn to this book.  

It's a beautiful story of a little boy who catches lightning bugs in a jar with his friends, and believes he has "captured the moonlight". The writing and illustrations are absolutely beautiful, and if you close your eyes for just a moment, you can picture these children running and chasing after fireflies. You might even swear you can smell summer. Truly captivating. I love this book.

This text is absolutely PERFECT for a close reading. There is so much vocabulary, opportunities for visualizing, making inferences, and discussing plot, author's purpose, and comprehension strategies.

I always read this when we go back to school as part of our summer reflections. The kids tell about their summer memories, and I have the chance to tell them about some of mine.

We read this story as one of our first close reads, and it allows us to really dive into this book. 
Because it's the beginning of the year, one of the first activities I do with the book is identifying the beginning, middle and end, which is usually a review from kindergarten.
This activity allows me to kind of gauge their ability to sequence and retell, as well as their strengths or weaknesses in writing simple sentences.

We also discuss the moral or lesson of the story, and put the whole thing together into an accordion book. I do the taping, but I've also done it where we just staple it together.

Lastly, the kiddos get to make fireflies on the front of their mason jar. They just dip their little fingers into yellow paint and smoosh them onto the jar. 

When it dries, they draw little wings and faces.{My next door neighbor helped  make these super cute bugs!}

So, that's it.... my kiddos love it, and I hope yours do too. Just click {here} to grab the patterns for FREE! 
There's lots more freebies to be snatched up, so head on over to these other Georgia bloggers and grab 'em!  

We'd also like to give you a chance to win a bushel basket full of our products. To enter from my page, you just need to follow my blog through Bloglovin' or Google Friend Connect.  You can enter once from each person's blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Goodness gracious, what are you waiting for sugar?! Time's a wastin'. Go get more free stuff and sign up to win!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Working on It Wednesday {Linky Party}: Craft Binder

Ahhh, summer..... the time you get to just sit back, relax, kick your feet up, and... work??  What?!

   You  mean to tell me that teachers really DON'T take the whole summer off??

   Yeah, I had this conversation with someone the other day.  As if the beginning of the school year, and everything else our jobs entail, just magically happens in those leisurely (ahem!) pre-planning days we get. It's always amazing to me just how little anyone outside of this profession actually knows or understands about it.  

   Nope, most teachers work during the summer. Truth.
Speaking of working, today I'm linking up with Kim and Megan at KinderGals for "Working on It Wednesday"...because, honestly, we're all working on SOMEthing.  Home, school, or even working on that tan, you're doing something :)

Here in the south, we've had some pretty awesome thunderstorms roll through Today was no exception, so I decided to hunker down and cross something off my to-do list.... Craftivity Organization.

Yes, I said it.  Organizing those craftivities.

Throughout the year, I do hundreds of crafts. I think it's so important for my firsties to still practice a lot of cutting, pasting, and following directions.

But, those pieces...those patterns...well, they end up crammed in files and all over the place.

I decided I needed a system.  Enter the Craftivity Binder....
Now, I won't take all the credit for this because I know (think?) I have seen this or something similar somewhere else, and it got pushed to the back of my brain until this summer. But I can't find it anywhere.  Who knows?!  If you know, tell me.

Anyway, I took each of my crafts and made sure I had a model/pattern for it.  I always try to have one for the kids to see...
Then, I put each of the models in a heavyduty sheet protector, with the patterns and pieces behind it in the protector, and labeled it.
Next, I made a label for each craft letting me know how much paper I needed to pull to make each one.
So, when it's time for us to make ships, I know I will need to pull 24 pieces of red, 12 white, 8 blue, 8 black and 5 light blue to run copies.

I run all of my craft copies through our copier onto construction paper, so this will save me time. I can just pop out this ONE sheet protector full of everything I need, read my little label, and grab just the construction paper necessary for the copies.
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, right?! I also think this will be perfect for getting stuff together for parent volunteers and helpers.

Lastly, I put my protectors in ABC order to put in the binder.
So many of my patterns are still at school, so I'm gonna have to sneak up there (we're not allowed in during the summer) and grab the rest of them to fill up the binder.

I know a lot of them are filed away in the depths of my file cabinet, so I'll have to wait 'til school starts, but I really think this organization tool will be a lifesaver after I get it all put together.

Can you tell I get excited about stuff like this?? :)

So, that's what I'M working on - what about YOU? I can't wait to read all about your summer livin..because, truthfully, even if we DO work all summer, it sure is awesome to do it on our own time!

Happy Wednesday, friends! :)


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Let's Talk About Books!! {Linky Party!!}

Hi Friends!
     If you know me, you know that I LOVE books. In all honesty, it's more than love - it's darn near an addiction.  I have no idea how many books I have in my class library, but it's a lot, and it has been suggested that perhaps I have too many. Too many???  Nah, no way!   So, when I saw Deanna's We LOVE Books Linky, I had to link up!
    Every week, Deanna and those who link up are going to share some of their favorite books & how they can be used in the classroom. 

   For me, I've only been out of school for two weeks, and while I keep trying to put any & every thing that involves school out of my head, you know that's not possible. 

  I keep thinking about how I want to set up my room this year....what I will change...what will stay the many kids I will have.... and of course, what I'll do that first week of school!   Because of that, I wanted to share one of my most favorite books for kick-starting the school year.... Armadillo Tattletale.
Y'all, I absolutely love this book, and my kids do too. It is a hit every.single.year.  The book is by Helen Ketteman, and tells the story of the Armadillo...

Apparently, a long time ago, Armadillos had very long ears....and great hearing, too!  So, in this story Armadillo uses those ears for bad and not good. He eavesdrops on conversations and goes about tattling and gossiping to all the animals about what he has heard.
 Every time, he twists words around and tattles or gossips the wrong thing. It causes a lot of trouble for Armadillo and the other animals.

  Eventually, he makes the alligator mad enough that she snips and clips his big long ears all the way down to tee-tiny-itty-bitty ears where he simply can't eavesdrop and tattle anymore.

   And so goes the story of how armadillos ended up with such tiny ears!

   It's such a great book to use for a character study - especially at the beginning of first grade.  I use this to compare Armadillo's attitude and character traits at the beginning of the story to those at the end.  It can also be used to talk about Author's Purpose, cause & effect, and all the narrative elements.

  For me??  At the beginning of the school year, I use it as part of a manner's unit and mostly, to talk about TATTLING!!  Yuk!
  I don't know about you, but tattling is about the biggest thorn in my side. It's like nails on a chalkboard. It makes me want to scream.  Yell.  Bang my  head against the wall.... well, you get the point.

     So, to avoid all that screaming nonsense,  I jump start the school year with a lesson on tattling versus telling...

   I work hard on teaching the kids the difference between telling me something important...and tattling about something they can handle. 

  I also have to work with some parents on this, too.  Sometimes it's hard to explain that we, as teachers, just don't have enough time in the day to listen to every. single. word  that comes out of every.single.kid's mouth. It's just not possible. I would love to. I just can't.

   So, by teaching the difference between tattling and telling, I try to fight that battle from day one... in hopes it will keep down the tattles throughout the year.

   Don't get me wrong - we revist the "Is it a tell or a tattle?" all year long, but I absolutely LOVE this book for the beginning of the year, and it helps to really get the conversation going in the classroom about this topic.

   Oh, and I made up some Telling vs. Tattling Task Cards to use with or without the book when you start back to school.  Just click {here} to grab them for FREE :)

So, there you have it, friends.... I hope you love this book as much as I do!! I'd love to hear how you would use this book in your room, so please feel free to share in the comments. :)

Now, head on over to Deanna's and link up. I am always in the market for great new reads, so share some of you favorites!!! 

Happy Tuesday! :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Currently..... Just Call me Grace!

Happy Summer Friends!!!

    This year has been a long one, and as much I hated to see most of my kiddos leave last week, I have to be honest in saying I was happy to see this year come to a close....  and happy that it's time to link up with Farley for this month's Currently! 

Listening... To the sound of silence.  No radio, no TV, nothing. And it's so nice!

Loving... that school is officially out for summer. Like I said this has been a crazy year. My principal resigned in March...interim principal for the end of the year...and new one coming in August. They are amazing, and I'm so excited to work with them, but that much change coupled with the resignation has made for a crazy year. And I had more students than I've ever taught before..and well... I'm pooped. So yay summer... bring it on! :)

Thinking... about my summer project cleverly titled Summer Cleanout and Declutter.. I have been out of school officially for 4 days, and I have tacked this list head on...
I have cleaned out all the closets....cleaned and organized my bedroom, the kitchen and pantry...and the laundry room.  So far, I have 5 GIANT black trash bags full of clothes and shoes and 7 boxes packed up for a garage sale & Goodwill. 

I have lived in my house for 10 years and it is definitely time to declutter. I mean, who needs 19 can koozies?  5 billions pens and markers?  Enough books to start my own library?  Yeah, it was time.

Which leads  me to....NEEDING... some coordination!
   In all my efforts to clean out my house (with the help of MB and my parents), I have sustained some injuries...

   Here's a little story for you:   I had finished up the living room & decided to spray my favorite Gain scented Febreze air freshener. So, here I go....through the WHOLE house.... spraying..spraying..spraying...
    Just a few minutes later, as I was walking back through the house, I noticed the floor seemed really slippery.  Like CRAZY slippery... Like I-slid-into-the-wall-and-almost-broke-a-toe slippery.

  Then I noticed it.  The can on the table.  

Gain scented DUST AND SHINE!    Yes, friends, I sprayed my entire house with this stuff, which settled on the hardwoods and carpet, creating an ice skating rink.

   I have almost broken a toe, fallen flat on my face (no exaggeration!), and slid across the carpet with such velocity that I took the skin off my right knee. 

   And just for fun... I had already punched myself in the face trying to put a pillow case on a giant pillow. 

   MB says I'm a domestic phenomenon.  Yeah, something like that.

    My nickname is "Grace" or "Gracie".  Now you know why.

Wanting..   a tan. It's time to relax by the pool and get a little sunshine.  Yes, I know it's bad for me.  Yes, I still love it. 

Summer Bucket List...
1) Clean out....and try to do it without making a trip to the emergency room or the morgue.

2) READ! I love to read, and just don't have time during the school year. I've already finished Gone Girl (SO GOOD!) and two others.... now I need a new book to read. Suggestions????

3)  Get back to healthy!  I was doing so well, and then I fell off the wagon. Time to get back to those healthy changes... Of course, if falling was an Olympic sport, I would have a gold medal, but I don't think that counts as being athletic,so I need to find a better way to move and burn some calories. :)

So, that's it for me, friends. Head on over to Farley's and link up. I can't wait to read what is CURRENTLY going on with YOU! :)