Saturday, September 20, 2014

Easy Organizing Tips for iPads in the Classroom


We are so excited to be part of the Bright Ideas blog hop! Tons of great ideas from teachers around the world!

This post's goal is to help you become organized with using iPads in your classroom.

Our district just approved the use of iPads for our 5th graders! We were so excited about the news! Top-rate technology in the hands of our students at anytime throughout the school day.

But then we go to thinking, where and how are we going to store a class set of these? Now, it's a good problem to have, but when class sizes are usually 24-30 space is at a premium.

We were able to find storage oraganizers whose slots were big enough to house individual iPads. We poked holes in the back of the boxes so the cords could be plugged in from the back. See picture below.

We then used extended plug ins (16 per strip) to plug in the iPads, so the students can come and take their iPads from the box and the cord stays plugged in to these strips. We put the strips in back of the boxes so they would be out of site.

On our students' supply lists we had them bring in headphones. We recommended going to places like the Dollar Store or even Target's dollar section to find some. We also had some extras on hand for those that couldn't buy/find them. Below is a picture of the iPads and keyboards plugged in and ready for the students to use!

For more bright ideas from more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

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Friday, September 19, 2014

FREE Resource Friday: Create a Football Franchise

Welcome to FREE Resource Friday! Our goal is to share some great resources that you can use in your grades 3-5 classroom.

Today we are featuring our FREE Football Franchise Creative Writing Activity.
This is a 7 page persuasive writing activity. Students have been invited to an upcoming football game. They have to design the ticket stub and write a persuasive letter for approval. Boys especially love this writing activity!

 Download this FREE resource by clicking here.

Make sure to follow us on TPT for more great 3-5 resources!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Top 10 Attention Ideas for your Non-Attentive Classroom!



It's Wednesday, and that means it is "Hump Day!" You are now half-way through your week, and there is light at the end of the tunnel! We are here to brighten your day with Wise Guys Words of Wisdom!

This feature will be appearing on our blog once a week, on Wednesdays from mid August to mid June. The goal is for you to leave with a smile on your face and hopefully a spring in your step to help you finish off the week of school.
The sixth installment is about how to keep your students' attention throughout the school day. We hope our tips below will be useful to keep your students from not paying attention in class.

1. Use Video
We have found that using video to help teach our lessons has helped keep students focused on what we are teaching. We are required to teach our students reading skills through shared reading. The manual is boring to say the least. So what we have done is take the topic of the manual, and found videos on youtube that could help to teach the skill. Then we infuse the video into our lesson. 


2 Use different voices
If you are doing a read aloud from a fiction book, make voices for the characters in the story. Students love it when there is variety and surprise as you read. Expression is huge to keeping students attentive during read alouds!

3 Get them moving
No one likes to sit still for long periods of time. Look at yourself as a teacher. How long do you sit? Now, picture yourself sitting in a desk like your students. The key is to get them up and move. We have a 75 minute math block. If we had our students sit for that period of time, they would lose focus quickly. Just some simple jumping jacks, a quick game of Simon Says, or just jogging in place can help.

4 Think-Pair-Share
To make sure that every student is participating, this is a great strategy to use. The teacher asks a question and the students have some time to think, then they pair with their partner, and share their thoughts. It is easy to walk around the classroom and see and hear the engagement of the students. If you don't use this strategy, you should. If you do use it, use it more!

5 Music
Who doesn't love music? At the beginning of the year, we have students write down their favorite songs/musicians. Then we screen the lyrics at home. If they are appropriate, we include them on a playlist that we use in school. The students love to hear their choices!

6 Class Chants
Instead of just saying "Quiet" or "Time to listen," as a class we develop class chants. For example, if we said "Mine" to our class, they would respond with "Craft." If I did an echo clap, they would repeat it. It is amazing to see how much quicker they are ready to listen when they take ownership in the creation of these chants.

7 Assign Class Jobs
All students want to feel important. A great way to accomplish this is to have class jobs in your room. Students love to help out, and feel special when it is their week to do a job. Some class jobs we have are: Pledge Leader, Line Leader, Paper Passer, Class Librarian, Pencil Sharpener, and Teacher Helper. They can't wait to have a turn at the class jobs!

8 Throw a Ball
Yes, you heard us right. Thow a ball! No, we are not saying a baseball. Koosh balls, small kickballs, anything soft will do. Watch the surprise of your students when you throw them a ball when their hand is up to answer a question. The next question you answer, we would guarantee that over 2/3 of your class would have their hands up. Students think it is fun to toss a ball in class. They probably have never been able to do this before!

9 Mix up desk arrangements
We hope you are not the teacher that still has your students' desks in rows. This seating arrangement really takes away from the classroom interaction that you want from your students. We switch up our seating arrangements throughout the year. We may have them with: partners, a group of 4,5, or 6, or even in shapes in the classroom. One year I had an exceptional class and we switched our desk arrangement to match with the season. We made a pumpkin shape in October, a heart in February, and a flower in April. Students love change, so make it a part of at least a monthly plan to change desk arrangements.

10 Listen!
If you want the attention of your students, you must listen to them. When a child comes up to talk to you in the morning, after recess, or at the end of the day make sure to give them time. If you show you don't care about them, they won't care about you when you are teaching. Establishing this line of communication is crucial to them respecting you in the classroom.

Make sure to stop by next Wednesday for another installment of Wise Guys Words of Wisdom!




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Brain Breaks in the Elementary Classroom!


Have you ever seen the energy level in your students disappear in a moment's time? Have you ever seen a student lay his/her head on a desk? Have you ever seen a student stare out the window, or up at the ceiling. Well, if you have...

It's time for Brain Breaks in your classroom!

We don't know if it is video games, TV, cell phones, iPads, or what, but today's students just don't seem to have the attention span that they used to. We have noticed that in longer classes such as 75 minutes for math (yes, our district requires that), we will lose the attention of our students if we don't incorporate movement, or brain breaks into our lesson.

Below are our top 6 Ways to take Brain Breaks in the classroom.


#1 Brain Break Activity Cards!
We have created 56 cards that can be laminated, cut out and used on a daily basis in your classroom. These cards each contain a brain break activity for the students to do. Some examples are: walk like a mummy, do a bear crawl, pretend to dribble and shoot, be a milkshake, strut like a chicken and so many more! These are sure to be a hit in your classroom! Get them by clicking here!

#2. YouTube Videos

There are many different short videos that you can find on YouTube that will get your students either moving, laughing or both. These are great brain breaks in the middle of a long class! One of our favorites is: Minions Dancing to the Song "Happy". There are tons more out there too! Just do some searching!

#3. Just Dance
Just Dance encourages children to dance in rhythm to the dancers on the screen. It is set to well-known songs so kids get excited every time it comes on. Just play the videos and watch your students jump out of their seats to do the dances! Here is one of our favorites: I Like to Move it.
#4. Music Playlist
At the beginning of the year, we have the students write down their favorite musician/band and their favorite songs. We then screen the lyrics for age-appropriate subject matter and lyrics. We then make a playlist on our iPods. Throughout the school year, we can use this playlist to pump up the class, or even play during quiet work time to make it more fun for the students.

#5. Quick Game/Activity

Playing a short game is also a great way to take a brain break. It may be as simple as tossing around a beach ball, koosh ball, or another sort of soft object. Or get the students out of their desks and have them do jumping jacks, sit ups, or jog in place. This helps students get some energy out, and wake them up!

#6. Pinterest Boards

Pinterest has become an amazing place to find great brain breaks as well! You will want to follow our Pinterest board titled Brain Breaks for Students to get even more great ideas!

Make sure to stop by next Wednesday for another installment of Wise Guys Words of Wisdom!

Friday, September 12, 2014

FREE Resource Friday: Guided Reading Introduction and Activities

Welcome to FREE Resource Friday! Our goal is to share some great resources that you can use in your grades 3-5 classroom.

Today we are featuring our Free Guided Reading Introduction, Tips, and Resources.
Included in this resource is a 4 page student handout focusing on reading strategies, a daily assessment grid, end of novel choices, and a teacher tips page!


 Download this FREE resource by clicking here.

Make sure to follow us on TPT for more great 3-5 resources!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wise Guys Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Where Do All the Pencils Go?

It's Wednesday, and that means it is "Hump Day!" You are now half-way through your week, and there is light at the end of the tunnel! We are here to brighten your day with Wise Guys Words of Wisdom!

This feature will be appearing on our blog once a week, on Wednesdays from mid August to mid June. The goal is for you to leave with a smile on your face and hopefully a spring in your step to help you finish off the week of school.

The fifth installment is about pencils. We hope our tips below will be useful when it comes to keeping pencils in your class.

It happens every year. We put on our detective hats and try to solve "The Case of the Disappearing Pencils!" For some reason, our pencils disappear like a David Copperfield magic trick or a plane in the Bermuda Triangle. No one knows where the pencils go. 

We have used community supplies for a long time in our classroom. We realize that not every student has the resources to purchase the necessary materials, so we know by sharing those students don't feel bad. So we have shared pencils as well. Little did we know that this would cause a mass exodus of pencils before the school year even ended.

But we have come up with some different ways to help solve the mystery of where the pencils go.

#1 Before the school year begins, mail a letter to all the families with a supply list and a note about the sharing of supplies. Your secretary should have a list of students and their addresses if you ask. Yes, there will be move ins at the beginning of the year, but you can keep an extra supply list and letter on file to share at that time.

#2. Go out and buy a few packs of pencils before the school year starts, and put two sharpened pencils in each students desk.

#2 When students arrive the first day, have them empty their supplies onto the top of their desks. Go around and collect the supplies the students are sharing including the pencils. Explain to the students that there will be a location in the room (ours is buy our electric pencil sharpener) where the pencils will be kept.

#3 By the electric pencil sharpener, we keep two small canisters, one for sharpened pencils and one for un-sharpened ones. The rest of the pencils go in a cupboard that only I have access to.

#4 We establish a class job of "pencil sharpener." This person is in charge of sharpening pencils in the beginning of the day, after recess and again at the end of the day. This works great as well for limiting distractions during instruction. If a student needs a new pencil, s/he simply puts the old one in the canister and takes a new one out.

#5 We also departmentalize, so students do switch rooms. Since we both have the same pencil policy, the students know what to do.

#6 Make sure to have frequent desk cleaning! Even though you have the pencil canisters set up, some students become hoarders of pencils. By emptying out desks, missing pencils resurface and can be put back for all to use.

#7 For holidays or special occasions, give your students special pencils! We give a birthday pencil, a Halloween pencil, a winter theme pencil, and a Valentine's pencil. Those help the supplies run a little farther.

#8 Rely on your families! If there is a shortage at the end of the year, send an email out, or note home, and you will be guaranteed to get more!

#9 Check your school's supply room. Some of these rooms may have a stash of pencils. Sneak in like a fox and grab some!

#10 At last resort, have a pencil check out system. I know this sounds very anal, but if there are a few pencil abusers in your classroom, have them check out pencils directly from you and not the class supply canister.

We hope you can use at least one of these ten tips to help you keep more pencils in your classroom this school year. Good luck!

Stay tuned for next week's installment of Wise Guys Words of Wisdom!


Friday, September 5, 2014

FREE Resource Friday: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Reading Guide

Welcome to FREE Resource Friday! Our goal is to share some great resources that you can use in your grades 3-5 classroom.

Today we are featuring: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Comprehension Guide
This is an extensive 48 page resource that can be used with the book. It contains reading strategy questions, a word study, project choices, and an answer key. We pride ourselves on our guides, and I don't think you will be disappointed with this one!

 Download this FREE resource by clicking here.

Make sure to follow us on TPT for more great 3-5 resources!