Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wise Guys Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Get to Know Your Custodian and Secretary!




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 third installment is all about getting to know your secretary and custodian.
THE SECRETARY
For the first teaching job I ever had I was assigned a mentor. Almost immediately, she told me that I needed to remember that the secretary is one of the most important people in the building. So it was my job to make sure I introduced myself and was friendly to her. I took my mentor's advice, and boy, oh boy, was she right!

First year teachers don't know everything, and I was definitely in that boat! I needed help finding parent contact information, filling out beginning of the year paperwork, locating cum folders, and so much more. The secretary was like an angel sent from above! She always smiled when I asked her questions, and was quick to find the answer for me. I knew I could count on her. When it came time for Winter Break, I always made sure I gave her a little present to show her how much she meant to me.

Throughout the year, I needed her even more. For every sick child that she had to comfort, for every behavior issue she had to deal with as they waited for the principal, and for every time I forgot to do attendance, she was always there. She never batted an eye, and never gave a scowl or mean look toward the students. That, to me, was amazing!

THE CUSTODIAN
Another important person in your school building is the custodian. It is extremely important that you connect with your custodian early. Trust me, you will need there service frequently during the school year!

Before the school year even starts, your classroom will probably need some arranging. You may be missing desks, need file cabinets moved, or even have to add/take away tables and bookshelves. The custodian is the one that will be doing all of this. At the beginning of the school year, your custodian is extremely busy, so you have to be patient and let him/her know that you understand that it is a busy time of year for them too! That will go a long way for you! It might even move you up on his "to do" list!

During the school year, the custodian will be called to your room for: adding rolls of paper towels, delivering packages that are heavy, adding/taking away student desks, and the worst, cleaning up sick children's vomit. Yuck!

Besides all the needs in your classroom, remember the custodian is responsible for the whole building, including the cafeteria and bathrooms. So just imagine what your custodian's day looks like, and give him/her a break. Be patient, understanding, and show them that they are valued. 

We hope that you are able to take away from this blog post that you need to establish good relationships with the secretary and custodian. We would love to hear if you followed our advice!

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


Friday, August 22, 2014

FREE Resource Friday: End of Novel Project Choices

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: end of the novel project choices! These project choices can fit with any novel. They are great for students to work on after a novel unit or guided reading book group!
 Download this FREE resource by clicking here.

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wise Guys Wednesday Words of Wisdom: The Teachers' Lounge!



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.

Our second installment is all about THE TEACHERS' LOUNGE!

Have you ever noticed that when you drop your students off for lunch, that the workers in the lunchroom sometimes have to shut off the lights, clap, blow a whistle, or scare the bejeezus out of the students to get them to quiet down? If you have, then you know being quiet is serious business when it's time for lunch!

By why isn't this the case for the teachers' lounge? The next time you have lunch, stop just right outside of the teacher's lounge and listen. What do you hear? Is it whispering? Is it the noise of people chewing? Nope, it is loud talking and almost obnoxious laughter to the point of shaking the tables. Teachers are the worst at being quiet when they are together.

But isn't this a double standard? We tell our students to be quiet, but when we get a chance to get together outside of the classroom, there are NO rules. It's every teacher for him/herself. You know what, it's not a double standard. Who am I kidding. We deserve to let off some steam. Let's keep those kids quiet in the lunchroom so they can talk more in class! Now there's a great idea!

Also, have you ever noticed how much junk mail you get in your mailbox in the lounge? Sometimes it's three of the same book order catalog. We could probably save 1/2 of the rainforests around the world if the publishing companies would get their acts together!

Another thing about the teacher's lounge is the teacher refrigerator! Every year, on the loudspeaker after the students have left, we get reminders of removing food before winter break, spring break, and at the end of the year. And guess what, people still forget to throw things out. It gets to the point that we almost have to call in a HAZMAT team to rid the fridge of toxic debris! But no worries here, I only pack cardboard TV dinners for my lunch. I barely have time to wait 5 minutes for the microwave to finish cooking my meal before I have to run off and teach.

A final thing about the teacher's lounge is the dreaded sink and dishes. Now, I don't consider myself the neatest man on earth, but I pick up after myself. But it is amazing to see what teachers leave in the sink or next to it: hardened spaghetti that has turned colors, broccoli chunks stuck in the sink grate, coffee stains around the sink, and so much more. So what did our staff do? We got rid of all the cups, plates, and utensils, and adopted the philosophy, "You bring it, you clean it." And if it sits in the sink for a period of time, it will disappear like a child's homework assignment.

We hope that you were able to get some chuckles and a break from the grind of teaching. Make sure to stop by next Wednesday for another installment of Wise Guys Words of Wisdom! We will be discussing Get to Know your Janitor and Secretary.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Easy Organizing Tips for Guided Reading Materials (Grades 3-5)

We are so excited to be part of the Bright Ideas blog hop! No sales pitches, no paid resource promotion, just great ideas from teachers around the world!

This post's goal is to help you become organized with your guided reading groups so you can make the most of your time with your students.

Have you ever been frustrated with trying to keep 3,4, or even 5 guided reading groups' materials separate and orderly? We definitely have, and figured out a great way to stay organized and not avoid loss of instruction time with our students!

Target and The Dollar Store have become our favorite shopping place for school supplies. And they didn't disappoint again! We were able to find 5 colored crates that were sturdy and could hold at least 7 guided reading books. We then wanted a way to keep them organized, and not just sit on the floor by the guided reading table. So, we came up with the idea to fasten them to our chalkboards. 

We bought some wood, and some screws and were off to work. We were able to fasten the boards to the chalkboard by drilling holes through the wood. Then we drilled holes into our crates and fastened them to the boards. 

We ended up having five colored guided reading crates at arm's reach level next to our guided reading tables. Now, when we have reading groups, we can just turn around and find the books and materials for the next guided reading group!
We also attached little red containers on the board so we can store square cards that contain the Daily 5 choices for students each day. 
We also included containers for their guided reading colors for groups. This can all fit on a chalkboard!
Students can then take these cards and put them in a pocket chart next to their names to show their Daily 5 choices each day. It is a wonderful way to see what each student is choosing to do.

If you have enjoyed these bright ideas, please consider following our TPT store, and our pages on Pinterest, and Facebook.

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!

Friday, August 15, 2014

FREE Resource Friday: Multiplication Rap for 6s, 7s, and 8s



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: Multiplication Rap for 6s, 7s, and 8s!
Your students will love to recite these raps that we created for the 6s, 7s, and 8s. It will be a great way for them to practice them in school, and even at home. You could even have your students perform them in groups! Download this FREE resource by clicking here.

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wise Guys Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Top 5 Ways to Conquer the First Day of School Jitters!



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.

Beep, beep, beep. The alarm goes off for the first time in over two months. You think to yourself, "Is this real? Did I actually hear my alarm go off?"

Yup, you stare at the clock and it is about two hours earlier than you were used to getting up during the school year. It's the first day of school!

As you drag your body out of bed, you begin to realize that the first day is probably one of the most important days of the school year. The students are still angels, everyone is smiling, and the energy in the school building is contagious. But your stomach is churning, and your mind is racing because you feel like it is your first day of attending school all over again. Thoughts race through your mind: "What am I going to wear? Will I make it to school on time? Will my students like me? Will I have any troublemakers right off the bat?...

When you finally arrive at school, the magic starts to happen. You go into TEACHER MODE. Yes, that amazing time when you are in your "zone" like Michael Jordan used to get in during basketball games. You can't miss. Your list on your desk is a mile long of things to accomplish that first day, but you fill up that cup (with whatever works for you) gaze through your lesson plans and realize there are only a few key things you need to accomplish today. Below they are listed in no apparent order.

Establish Rapport
On the first day of school, it is crucial that you develop a strong relationship with your students. There are so many ways to do this. For some of you, it may be to read a book that describes who you are, an art project that helps them learn about you, a list of your favorites, or even a PowerPoint presentation about you. What I have done in the past is create a "Star of the Week" poster. This poster has pictures of myself and my family, places that I have visited, and things I like to do. I also included my 5th grade class photo and report card. The students love trying to find me in the picture and can't wait for me to reveal what grades I got in school. Whatever your method, establish that connection on the first day!

Go Over Procedures
A must on the first day is to establish procedures. Teachers often take this for granted. They often think their students know how to do things from the previous year. Well, I have learned that the hard way. So, make sure to establish procedures at the beginning of the year. Here is a list of many of the ones that I go over on the first day: morning routines, lockers, lining up, hallways, lunchroom, fire/tornado drill, sharpening pencils, independent work, and dismissal. We have created a resource that you can purchase by clicking here that includes a teacher resource page with purpose, teaching ideas, modeling, and role playing that you can do with your class. It also includes a kid friendly poster that you can display in your room. You can find it by clicking here.

Take a Tour
That first day it is also important to show your students where other rooms are in the school. You can get creative with this and create a class scavenger hunt, or take a whole class tour to such places as: the secretary's office, the library, the gym, art and music room, the lunchroom, and any other place that they might visit throughout the school year. This eases a lot of anxiety that students may have.
Build a Classroom Community
Sure you are nervous, but do you remember what it was like to be a student on the first day of school? Think about how a new student to the school feels too! A lot of nervousness can be avoided by doing team-building activities throughout the day. If you are not familiar with Morning Meeting, this may be something you want to research. Morning Meeting provides students a chance to greet each other, learn about what interests they have, play a cooperative activity together and so much more. But there are simple games you can play in the classroom that are fun too such as: 7 Up, Silent Ball (toss a ball around the room with no talking), Beach Ball Toss Up (see how long a group can keep it up in the air) and so many more that you have probably done. You can also do a team building activity like make a puzzle piece for each of your students and then have them put it together to make a puzzle that you can display. The possibilities are endless so make sure to at least do some of them!

Show Them You Care
From the beginning bell to the ending bell, make sure to show your students that you are there for them. You would not believe how important you are in their day.By spending time listening to their stories before attendance, lunch, recess, and other times, you are showing that you care. Do not pass up the time to connect with students as well if they are working quietly on a project. Make each and every day the best for your students.!

By the end of that first day, your jitters have lifted. You are exhausted, but yet you feel like you connected with your class. You are off to a great start!

Make sure to stop by next Wednesday for another installment of Wise Guys Words of Wisdom! We will be discussing the Teacher's Lounge!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

FREE Back to School eBooks for Grades K-12 (2014-2015 school year)

Exciting news! Several hundred teachers across the United States, created 8 Common Core eBooks that you can now download for free! These amazing resources span grades K-12! You will want to share these eBooks with your co-workers and colleagues in your school district!

#1. Math/Science eBook for Grades 3-5
The first eBook that we would like to feature is: Math, Science and More for grades 3-5. This resource contains over 40 FREE activities that you can use in your intermediate math classroom. You can access the book by clicking here.
#2. English Language Arts eBook for Grades 3-5
The second eBook once again is a must have for intermediate grade teachers! There are over 70 FREE resources for reading and writing that you will not want to miss. You can access it by clicking here.
Below are the links to the other eBooks. Just click on the name to access each eBook. Please share this post with your teaching friends!

#3. Back to School eBook for K-2

#4. Back to School eBook for ELA 6-12

#5. Back to School eBook for Math 6-12

#6. Back to School eBook for Social Studies 6-12

#7. Back to School eBook for Science 6-12

Please make sure to leave feedback for these time-saving resources! Also, share with teachers in your district to help them save time.They will thank you for it!!