Monday, October 10, 2016

Classroom Management in the Early Years of School

Kindergarten is truly my passion and I love to help children grow and learn, but recently I was able to tap into my second passion of helping teachers teach their kids using high expectations, urgency, intention and engaging methods.  I went to Rupert Idaho with Jen Jones and Kami Butterfield, and was able to help teachers in the Minidoka School District!  We had a blast, the teachers learned alot and many teachers were begging for more, so now they are following us all on social media and are excited to continue learning.  I shared my management strategies in Rupert, so I figured I would share them here also!

I wanted to share how I manage my classroom with success. I will be the first to tell you, IT ISN'T EASY! and it takes a lot of time, energy and patience, but students in kindergarten CAN complete independent activities, they CAN complete project based learning on the iPads, they CAN reach high expectations and they CAN leave my classroom reaching benchmarks, knowing their success and being proud of their growth! 

I use three different call and response strategies in my classroom.  We practice them starting on the first day of school.  I always start with the Mac and Cheese, Stop and Freeze next I say "where should your eyes be?" and my kids say "on you."  This is my favorite strategy because honestly.... mac and cheese is my favorite food! haha. 

I just started using "zip it, lock it" "put it in your pocket" this year as a strategy to use if the classroom is getting a little noisy in the classroom.  

And this year I also added a magical word.  For some reason this year, I would be in the middle of giving directions and half of my class would be walking off the carpet ready to get started..... on what, I have no idea, because I hadn't finished giving directions! haha. So I created the word SHABAM, and when I say it, the kids can leave the carpet and begin working.  

If you're looking for a video on how this works in my classroom?  I recorded for the iteachtvnetwork, click the link and you can enjoy the video! 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

2 Hands On Earth Day Experiences

This year I really encouraged my students to get excited about Earth Day. We watched so many different videos and did different activities in the short week that we had this week. We came back to school on Wednesday from a three week track out because we are a year-round school and the kids were so excited to come back and have activity-based learning during literacy.


1.  The first thing I want to be able to share with everyone is get yourselves soil, grass seeds, small Pots and small watering cans from your local store maybe target or something!  It cost me only $14 to get all of the supplies I needed! After talking about a plant life cycle and watching different recycling videos the students got to plant their own seeds in recycled pots and are now responsible for making them grow. The best thing about grass seed is that it only takes about seven days to actually start growing so it's a lot faster than many of the flowers that you'll see.  My students had a blast planting the grass seed and are now going to have the responsibility to keep the grass alive so that we can make Mother's Day gifts. We are going to make cute pots with the students picture on it and the grass is going to be their hair! (pictures to come!)



2.  The second activity really taps into having students create and show you proficiency through each student creating a product. After teaching the mini lesson of all the parts of a plant and what to plant needs to grow, the students got to make mini anchor charts themselves. They were given crayons, half of a sheet of paper and labels to cut and glue onto their poster! The product of their learning has lasting effects compared to giving them a worksheet and just labeling it!



Allowing students to really take control of their learning is what it's all about!!! 

What did you do to celebrate Earth Day? 

Monday, April 11, 2016

3 Take Aways from the North Eastern TpT Meet Up

This past weekend I met up with some amazing TPT sellers and phenomenal key speakers and excellent business women in their niche market.  The northeastern TPT meet up had absolutely amazing professional development that was provided along with a great opportunity to network with other TPT sellers was an experience I will never forget.

1. First impressions are crucial and often permanent.  This was explained in one of the professional development sessions where they talked about different images and ways to create covers on products and resources. But it also has to do with when you're first introducing yourself to someone or meeting someone for the first time. First impressions will change how someone sees you and what opportunities are provided to you in the future.  I had the opportunity to speak with Jillian from the TPT New York offices and it was an absolute blast. Jen Jones was the one to introduce me to her and now she is coming down to my kindergarten classroom to visit.  My first impression of her was that she is a down-to-earth girl that just wants to provide an amazing experience for teacher sellers and entrepreneurs.  I can't wait to meet up with her again!

My second take away from this conference is that even being a seller you need to help your customers and colleagues solve a problem.  Working to solve a problem for others, you really need to remember to treat them with kindness and see things from their perspective.   Always listen and begin to understand their point of view.  Repeat customers will come when you are consistently solving a problem for them and making them feel heard.  I'm going to  leave off number two with a quote that my mom told me every day before I left for school "be a good friend, and a good listener".

3. Everyone has an expertise and everyone has their journey. Just because your journey is different from another's does not mean you're not on the right track for you. Do what's best for you and your family, continue your journey and become successful in your own time.  Allow others to help you and teacherpreneurs are the most helpful kind and willing to help people. It's all about your journey; be you, and true to yourself!

The northeastern TPT meet up was an absolutely amazing weekend. I thank all of the organizers and presenters. I learned so much and had a blast meeting new people. I can't wait for next year!!!! 

Maybe I will have to create a meet up in North Carolina for next year... That would be a blast!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Parent Communication Log

Parent Communication is crucial in the success off students in your classroom! When parents and teachers are on the same page it creates an environment for success for the child. 

Teachers should document conversations with parents in order to stay professional, hold themselves accountable, and remind themselves of past conversations.  

This log will help you stay organized.  Print one for each child, and start documenting! 

This Dropbox Link will bring you right to my parent communication log.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Trying to stay sane until the holidays?! *Freebie*

Hey ya'll, I know all of our classrooms get a little wild around this time of year.  We have crafts, projects, lessons to teach, assessments to give etc.  With all of the chaos, and never enough time, the kids behavior gets a little lax.  With this management system, you can keep your kids on track until holiday break! The best part----its FREE!  This freebie can be adapted to any classroom, and any elementary grade, because you choose the goals and rewards!

Puzzle Piece Classroom Management


Sunday, October 18, 2015

The New Age of Professional Development: Social Media Inspired

I work at a title one, year round Elementary School in Knightdale, NC.  It is a place of passionate teachers and students who love to come to school.  We, like many schools are trying to search for the "why".  Why are students not performing on assessments? Why students struggle with concepts that are essential for addition, multiplication, reading comprehension, and writing at a higher level? We are spending time in collaborative planning making lessons each week with our IRT's (Instructional Resource Teachers) that have been written for us by our county, like many other schools across the US.  These lessons are very similar to the lessons that have been provided for years.  Some of them have changed because of the rigor of the common core, but almost all of the math lessons include a worksheet, and all of the comprehension lessons include books that I grew up reading. (Which don't get me wrong, they are great--but there has got to be a more creative way to reach students.)  We spend hours each week trying to provide a fun and engaging learning experience for our students while still using the parameters of these lessons and main topics that MUST be covered.  

We have to make some changes, to make the current curriculum interesting to our kids. 

Like I said, I work at a year round school--meaning I get 2.5 weeks off 4 times a year.  Well...I am just finishing up my fall break and I want to share what I have learned over my "trackout" (vacation).....because you all know that teachers don't actually take breaks! 

I decided with all of my 'spare time' that I would do a little research about how I can reach my students in a new and creative way and help discover the "why".  What I found was an amazing group of creative and collaborative educators on Twitter, Blab, Periscope, You tube, and Ted Talks.  Teachers all over the world provided me with professional development this track out.  It was absolutely amazing, mindset changing and my curiosity was sparked.  

I started my track out watching some of the best teachers I "know" on with their #chalktalkedu.  These three ladies are providing professional development on different topics each month. Jen Jones, Erin Klein and Kayla Delzer provided me with great places to start with who to follow in the social media professional development world.  They gave me ideas like: #edbeat @smgaillard, @sheilajteaching  and it has totally changed how I am looking at professional development and deciphering the "why" in my classroom.

I have now participated in my first #edbeat chat.  #edbeat is an amazing twitter chat all about inspiring others, positive interactions and helping educators reach their students! The first #edbeat that I participated in was with Erin Klein and she talked about non-traditional seating options and learning spaces.  I have always been interested in redesigning my classroom -- so this was the perfect place to start for me.  I learned that students need choice, comfy furntiure, and cozy learning spaces in order to get the most out of what they are learning.  Think about your own choice when you have to get some work done.  Do you choose to sit in a hard chair, at a cold table? Or do you choose a comfortable seat, in a cozy quiet space.  It is the same for our kids.  They NEED choice.  

This #edbeat conversation led me to begin my first grant project with donors choose.  An amazing organization that allows teachers to write grants for much needed materials for their classroom.  After rethinking my kindergarten classroom design, I decided that I must provide the best for my students.  I must provide them a non traditional learning space.  My project for Kindergarten Classroom Redesign will include a bunch of new seating options in my classroom.  As long as I get funded, my new classroom will have wobble seats, bean bags, sofas, comfy chairs, exercise ball chairs, and balance discs. I have until February to get my project fully funded, and I am working hard to make it happen :)  

My students currently have the option to work on the floor or at their tables, they need more choices.  This image will bring you right to my donors choose page--take a look, you will be inspired, i'm sure! 

This track out has been the most beneficial to how I look at my students, to how I will engage them in their learning and how I will think about learning spaces within my classroom and school.  I was always a little nervous to join into a twitter chat--because honestly--I had NO CLUE what I was doing, but "the opportunity outweighs the fear".  Just do it, jump in and start, because I promise, you will not regret it! And if you have already jumped in to this fast paced PD, feel free to add comments of who you follow and your current inspiration :)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Brain Breaks in Kindergarten

Many researchers say that if students are working for an hour they need 15 minutes to take a break in order to get back to work full force.  Brain Breaks are essential in a kindergarten classroom where rigor is a buzz word and five year olds are tested.  In my classroom we use go noodle to give our selves a break and be silly.  After we take a brain break usually 10-15 minutes during our reading block, I see students able to focus, come back to learning and engage in the lessons compared to if I just 'powered through' the lessons.

Now, brain breaks don't come without their fair share on silliness, wiggles and giggles, which does lead to some management techniques that are helpful when bringing students back to the carpet or academic space.

When we are ready to get out some energy we log into go noodle and we choose a channel.  My students really love Moose Tube.  It is a fun, silly channel.  Moose Tube makes the kids laugh, move and be silly.

While the kids are getting out their energy, I am getting the next activity up and running, so I don't waste any transition time.  When we have taken our break for about 10-15 minutes, I give the kids 10 seconds to get themselves in control on the carpet.  And then, I will exit out of our session and the kids can see how many points they need to get to the transformer machine.

Once everyone is quiet, I press quit playing and this screen will come back up showing us that we have 3 more brain breaks before our character transforms. 

Go noodle is really a perfect way to get students energy out and get refocused for learning.  There is also a calming channel, and indoor recess channel.  Those are two more of my favorites.  

1.  Have students an assigned space in the classroom.  It helps from students bumping into one another, or arguing over the front row.  Trust me, it helps :)

2.  Try different channels until you find the one your class really enjoys.  But continue to mix it up!

3.  Do not exit out of your brain break until everyone is quiet and ready to learn.  I tried exiting out before students were quiet--it doesnt work, and it takes longer to get them calm and ready to learn again.  Make brain breaks a routine-and students will know the expectations. :)

Have fun dancing, laughing, giggling, moving and taking a break!