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!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Marriage, Summer Vacation, and Brand New Kinders!

Holy Cow, the wedding craftiness took alot out of me!  I haven't blogged in 6 months, and I just created my first product in the same amount of time.  Creating Teaching Inspiring is back and ready to get this party going again!  First I want to share a few wedding pictures, and then right back to everything back to school 2015!

 Painting signs the week of the wedding!

It was truly the best day of our lives! An amazing party, fabulous friends and family surrounding us, and total love in the air.  Absolutely magical and everything I could have dreamed of. 

It's Official, I'm a Shaffer! 

Okay, back to school came so fast! I work at a year round school so we really only had 3 weeks off, and during that time, I got married, went on a honeymoon, got a mouse stuck in my AC(poor carmelita--my car.) vacationed with family in the outer banks, went back to NY for a wedding.  So needless to say it was a jam packed month of vacation and the grind hit HARD. 

Back to school this year was a little different because I didn't spend half of my summer in my classroom reorganizing, redecorating, or beautifying my classroom.  So I am working to do all of those things as I go this year.  

My class is great, we are working on expectations, rules and procedures and practicing being quiet during instruction.  Tomorrow starts week 3, so we are really moving quickly.  And..can you guess...I'm already sick! :(   But as teachers do, we power through and make everyday a smile for our littles.  

So my latest product is something that my class really needed to work on after I saw where everyone was during staggered entry. Woah can't believe that was 3 weeks ago already...time is flying.  This product includes handwriting, letter ID, sound ID and beginning sounds.  I love it! I am starting to use it this week during writing for about 7-10 minutes to work on handwriting. We will spend a few minutes with me modeling it, and then they will take ownership and work independently. 

Students will get this page and practice their handwriting of capital and lowercase Aa.  Then they will get out their crayons and only color the pictures that begin with the /a/ sound. I made my pages into a book so that I could double side the pages and it would be all in one place when they are done. Click the link below to check it out :) 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Google Sites--did you know there was such a thing??!

I have just found the most amazing way to mainstream what my kinder littles see when they get on the computers.  The kids usually have about 10+ steps they need to remember before finally getting onto the computer to play academic games like starfall, megamath and big universe.  This is such a process when it comes to a five year old on the computer,

Now I know that there are some people who somehow, I swear it takes some magical power that I don't have, get their kindergarten students to flawlessly get on, logged in and engaged with an activity in a realistic amount of time (less than two minutes)...but let's be real, it is still a learning process to even log on at this point.

Well I have a solution -- GOOGLE SITES -- Google, is blowing my mind when it comes to all of their capabilities.  I am loving Google drive, blogger, maps, you tube, gmail and now sites!  I created my new website in about two hours, which I thought was pretty quick because I created all of the images for each page from the beautiful clip art I already own.

Now, I have a home page that includes one link for students to click and get to the links that we use daily.  This page only includes links that we use for academics.  It is a one stop shop for literacy and math.  My new page also includes our school calendar, information about me, our curriculum benchmarks and a news page, which is helpful for parents too.

I am pumped about this new site!  Check out Google will seriously open your eyes to an easy way to create a website, accessible for kindergarten students.

Check out my page, feel free to use it in your classroom too! 

Click the image to go to my site

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Place Value - those tricky tens and extra ones!

In our Kindergarten class we have been working hard on teen numbers and are at mastery!  We have recently switched over to 2d (flat) and 3d (solid) shapes, but these tricky tens and ones will come back when we get into addition, subtraction and manipulating numbers.  Number sense is key in kindergarten--it is one of the CCSS that is so essential in kindergarten.  Each grade level after Kindergarten builds on a childs number sense.  Now is the perfect time to practice, practice, practice--even if you feel like you have taught number concepts every day and that each activity is pretty much the same!  Keep playing number sense games, teaching mini lessons and running small groups on this topic; this is a skill our littles will need forever!

In order to continue practice number sense, you need to come up with some fun and creative ways to keep practicing it!  This year, we used play dough, a sticky board, snap cubes, ten frames, and white boards.  We also learned a teen number song and created a video on the ipad using imovie! The parents loved to see the fun ways we practiced teen numbers and the kids enjoyed practicing their teen numbers in different ways!

We use a quick ten frame and put the extras underneath!  This keeps their chips organized and is a way for their brain to visualize teen numbers! In this picture you see the number 17.  That is a purple card with the number 10 on it and you cover the 0 with the 7 to make it seventeen.  This representation shows that the ten is still there but you change the ones place to create a different teen number.

Play dough is always a fun way to work in some fine motor skills in kindergarten!  Practicing with play dough and then going to the board and manipulating our snap cubes, and equation is a sure way to encourage number sense.  Being able to represent teen numbers in multiple ways shows real number sense for our little kinders. 

Having the kids manipulate the snap cubes, and equation make this lesson so hands on.  Kids should always have some sort of manipulative in their hands during math in Kindergarten.  This is how they learn, by experiencing and playing purposefully with different manipulatives.  The more the kids have the manipulatives and are talking to each other, the more they are learning and really gaining number sense.  

Here is our teen number video that we created!  You can see my kinders fun personalities and the kids really can recite this song in order to problem solve with numbers in the teens.  I hope your enjoy! :)  

Now that we have finished our teen number unit, I will keep teen numbers in our math stations that spiral with our curriculum.  So now when we are on shapes, the kids will still see teen numbers.  I have the perfect activity set for you to add to your centers! 

Still have your littles working on numbers 1-10? No problem, I have activities for you!  It's a one stop shop at Creating Teaching Inspiring ;)