Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lapbooks, Behavior, and PIE!

Where has the time gone?!  I feel like I have been hula hooping nonstop for the past three weeks--finally I have time to catch up on my thoughts and reflect on what's been going on these past few weeks...{actually, I just don't want to watch this horrific Zombie movie B is forcing me to watch...dead people walking around screaming...that actually sounds a lot like me on Monday morning trying to find my keys...}

Apples and Lapbooks

We have been just truckin' right along in our little home at the end of the hall.  This week was Johnny Appleseed's birthday and we completed our very first lapbook of the year!  There are a few things you need to know about me...
1. I love school and anything associated with school.  
2. I am obsessed with computers and other forms of technology.  
3. I'm game for anything cute and crafty.

The lapbook combines all of the above! I LOVE THEM!  If you've never done one, don't be scared.  That's the beauty of the lapbook, you can't mess it up!  You can add anything at all in them and it is such a great way for the students to publish all of the learning they've done throughout a unit.  Lapbooks can be as long or as short as you would like!  The hardest part {to me} is finding the file folders to do them.  I was smart this year and ordered some with my back to school money {woot-woot-way to think ahead for a change Mrs. Perchinsky}.

Here is a quick video on how to get started with folding your lapbook.  

Here is a look at some items we put into our first lapbook of the year!  The kids LOVED making them and kept asking when they were going to get to take them home!  Sorry kiddos, I'm keeping these beauties hanging up at school for awhile :)  That's the beauty of my power as a teacher-MUAHAHAH!

The final product :)  Aren't they presh?
Students started off by completing a KWL chart based on Johnny Appleseed.  This was cut out and placed on the inside flap of lapbook.  The square label was placed on the outside of the lapbook on the top corner. 
Gettin' crafty with our tissue paper apple trees {outside cover}
Working hard on their very first Webquest of the new school year

Students complete a Johnny Appleseed Webquest via our classroom webpage.  They answered questions and placed them on the inside {right side} of their lap book.

The students then created  a Wordle after completing their web quest.  They were able to use any of the information in their lapbook to help {this was our culminating activity for the unit}.  This was then placed on the inside center of the lapbook.  They were SO proud of what they were able to create and so was their teacher :)

We also watched a fun video via youtube about our birthday boy and concentrated on character traits we could use to describe Johnny based on his actions.  We had some help from the list of traits found in our Daily 5 folders.  This was then placed on the back of the our books.

Glorious little sight.

We loved learning about Johnny Appleseed? Have you used lapbooks in your classroom? I'd love to hear/ see what your little ones have created!

Behavior Anyone???
By now we've all gotten to know our students pretty well.  We know their strengths, weaknesses, who can and can't work with who, and what they enjoy most about school.  I'm sure you've also been able to figure out who needs a little extra TLC when it comes to classroom behavior {I know we all have a room FULL of perfect little angels, but this is just incase someone else you know needs some assistance in this area ;) }.  Anywho, are you tired of moving clips and reminding the same students over and over and over again about the same things every day?  Sometimes moving clips and pulling cards can only do SO much.  

I've started a Positive Classroom Behavior Punch Card with one of my little ones for about 3 weeks now and it has been working WONDERS for him! I've developed this card to help promote students in a positive way.  Each time he is on task, participates, follows directions, and answers questions during class time, he earns a punch (one punch for each task done well/correctly).  The beauty of this is, it's hardly any extra work for you to keep up with!  My little one keeps it right on his desk every day so it's easy access for me to issue punches to him {interesting how THIS doesn't get lost like homework does...}
When he fills up his card he redeems the reward HE chose.  We then repeat the process again! I keep record of when the punch card was started, when it was completed, goals for the student, and the reward chosen.  This will certainly come in handy for documentation purposes for parent teacher conferences, Student Support Meetings, 504 Plans, etc.  If you feel like this is something you might be interested in starting with some of your little ones, check it out here!  I have also included some helpful teacher documents and a parent letter explaining the purpose of the punch card and how it will help their child stay positive at school each day!  It's amazing how it's sometimes the little things in life that can make the biggest differences!

Get your copy here!

Please Pass the P.I.E.

I don't know why, but one of my favorite skills to teach is Author's Purpose!  I feel like there is so much to do with it and it's really important to help students with comprehension.  I may be a little naive, but I'm pretty sure my rug-rats loved learning about it as much as I loved teaching it!  One little tip I always have up my sleeve are my Detective Case Files.  I don't know why, but if you put the words, "TOP SECRET," on something and tell them it's MYSTERIOUS, they will be TOTALLY engrossed in whatever it is you want them to do!  I LOVE IT-but SHHHHHH-don't tell them I told you my secret.

We completed our first case files of the year and it couldn't have gone any better {not to mention my new assistant principal was observing this lesson and loved every second of it--yes, I'm tooting my own horn for a second....TOOT! Ok, done...}  Here's the lowdown.

1. Read book, "The Secret Knowledge of Grown Up" to students.  This book is FANTASTIC for modeling how an author can start out with one purpose in mind and totally change it to be another!  That's the beauty of writing--you can do whatever you want!!  If you haven't read this book, YOU NEED TO!  It is so much fun and you will use it for SOOOO many different lessons/ skills! I've used it for 6 years in a row and I'm still not tired of it.  It's so fun!  He starts out telling you about different rules grown ups have for kids and WHY they make you follow that rule.  Only then, he transforms the purpose and tells you the REAL reason your parents want you to follow that rule.  

Example: Rule #45-Don't chew your fingernails.  
Grown Up Reason: It looks terrible on your fingers.
Real Reason: If you do, the broken fingernails you leave behind will grow into real fingers!!!!!

Get it here

As soon as you read the "Real Reason," your kiddos will freak out and want to hear more!  What more could you want?!

Anyway, back to business...

2. Assemble case file with leveled Author's Purpose Passages

3. Pair students up by ability level to coincide with leveled passages.

The passages were placed in plastic zip lock bags to act as true "evidence"--snazzy, huh?

4. Give them a magnifying glass and tell them to CRACK THE CODE located in their very own case file.

Student sample:

Aren't they just the cutest little detectives you've ever seen?!

**Note: While I various books & stories to them this week, we charted the author's purpose of each book and the evidence that told us so {ie: Sentences in the book that proved that purpose}.  The students then were asked to do the same thing on their own towards the end of the week with these fabulous case files.  They were already used to the routine so no reteaching or new directions were given.  If only it could be that easy all the time!  After students were finished determining the AP, they completed a special Detective Sheet I placed in their case files just for them.  These were also leveled based on ability level and personal interest.  Of course, I had to slap some Duck Dynasty clip art on several of these. My day wouldn't be complete without at least one Duck Commander reference...

The kids had so much fun and they really were thinking on a higher level.  If you'd like to see what other fabulousness we've done with author's purpose.  Check out my 39 page unit here.  It will certainly keep your littles ones entertained...and informed...with hardly any persuading needed :)

Get yours here!

On a cloud 9 note, my entire class threw a SURPRISE PARTY for little ol' me a few weeks ago.  They were planning it for two weeks and it was just the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me.  It was so much fun and touched my heart in ways they will never understand.  It's days like these that you are so thankful this is what you get to do everyday. It was truly magical and a wonderful reminder of this is what I was meant to do in my life.  I only hope I can return the favor for them, too.

Have a wonderful week everyone!  FALL IS HERE!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Let there be LIGHT!

One of the most stressful, time consuming things we must do as teachers is beginning of the year testing, or as our ACRONYM friends call it, "BOY."  Boy, oh Boy, am I ready to be finished with it!
Actual photograph of me during testing
One component of our BOY testing is the fabulous and ever popular TRC {Text Reading and Comprehension}.  How I do love having a reading level to go off of for my new friends, I would much rather be spending that time teaching and going over routines, procedures, and the overall "this is how we do this," sort of thing.  In the past, we have only been granted about 15 school days to complete this testing.  However, this year we were granted the gift of time--by a day.  #itcouldalwaysbeworse...

TRC is very time consuming and tedious on the children and the teacher.  It's so important to have every bit of concentration from both parties, so time management is a MUST at this time of year.  We've gone over 5 Daily 5 components out of our 7 total {no, we don't call it Daily 7, although my kids try to convince me we should about once a week}.  So far, I have been very impressed with how well my friends have picked up the routine and how well they are building their stamina during Read to Self, Listen to Reading, Work with Words, using the iPad, and Work with Technology by completing reading activities via our class webpage.  However, they still have questions about certain things every now and then and want to walk up to me and ask me their questions--I don't blame 'em.  Having only 16 days to administer 4 different tests to 22 students, doesn't allow for much "question and answer" time.  Sound problematic? Not for this blondie...

I've always had a lamp at my small group table that I've used during reading and math groups to prevent interruptions.  No matter how much I preached about not interrupting when the lamp light was on, it still happened.  The engineering part of my brain told me there had to be a better way and that I had to "improve" this situation.

Who knew the answer to my prayers would be the the ever popular As Seen on TV Tap Light?!  You can find one of these bad boys pretty much anywhere.  They currently have the large sizes at Lowes for $2.99 (batteries not included). Find yourself some cute alphabet stickers and you are in business.

A fancier option if you'd rather use a picture than words--might be better for kindergarten friends :)

I've been using this little beauty for the past 3 weeks and let me say it is a MIRACLE!  NO INTERRUPTIONS, NO DISTRACTIONS, NOTHING! It. is. AMAZING!!! My kids will start to walk to the table, and once they take about 3 steps and see my little light shining bright, they turn around and get back to business.  I always try to keep a mental note of who came by to make sure they didn't have a question about an assignment.  Seeing that spooky word, "DISTURB" puts some fear in their little minds I think!

So for not much money and hardly any work, you too can have a magnificent focused, quiet, student group that will not be distracted by you having to answer 14 questions in a 20 minute time period.  This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it SHINE! {At least until the batteries run out...}

Monday, September 2, 2013

Can you hear me now?

If you use Daily 5 in your classroom, I'm sure you've loved seeing children successfully complete, "Read to Self."  However, even with everyday practice, students sometimes can't "hear" themselves read.  I've tried tape recording students and have them play it back to listen for fluency and expression, but it still wasn't helping as much as I'd hoped, not to mention how time consuming it was!  I needed to go to plan B...

I've heard of Whisper Phones a few years ago, and had a few on hand for my lower level readers, but I never thought about having a class set of these puppies.  No way these pieces of plastic could help increase a child's fluency!  Boy, was I WRONG!

I was quite shocked at how much three pieces of plastic could help increase a child's reading ability!  Whisper phones are not "new" to the elementary world but perhaps you've never had experience with them or realized how vital they could be to your classroom.  I recently found a set of 6 on EBay for a whopping $24.95.  I don't know about you but I'm pretty sure everyone has more than 6 children in their classroom {if not, I totally envy you}...  

via Ebay set of 6 for $25

I've heard of teachers making these fantastic devices and I knew these could be easily made with a few supplies from Lowes, so off B and I went.  The cost of this project was less than $20 for 25 phones and took less than an hour to make!

10 ft. PVC pipe 1/2"--this was a great size and cheaper than the 3/4"

I also bought 1/2" elbow pieces in a bag of 10 {which would make 5 phones--forgot to snap a photo but they are a little cheaper if you can find them already in the bag}.  Be sure to match the elbow size to the size of your PVC pipe.
Mark PVC pipe 4 3/4" for a total of 25 {and some extra} cylinders
Cut on marked lines using a chop saw--look out for flying plastic pieces!
  **I put safety goggles on following this picture...honest!

Place the cut PVC pieces and elbows in the dishwasher with the heat turned off {I didn't want these little babies to melt} to get rid of all the dust, germs, and dirt from the chop saw

Let Dry :)

Assemble an elbow to each end of the PVC pipe

Grab some cute duck or pattern tape of your choice to add just a little more PIZAZZ to your phones :)

TA-DAAAAAA!!!! B helped me wrap the phones and yes, he tested was quite entertaining.

Each student has one of these babies in their book box ready for Read to Self time!

Of course, any good teacher has extras on hand!

I also allow my kiddos to use these during our weekly reading and math tests.  They are inconspicuous enough that they won't be embarrassed if they need to use it!  What more could you ask for?!

These will make such a difference with the way our little ones read!  I highly suggest incorporating these into your classroom.  Who knew three pieces of plastic could make such a difference?! Not to mention they are super fun to use! :)