Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday 6 January 19

Hi, friends!  Long time no blog!  I had high hopes for this blog during winter break but unfortunately I got some sort of stomach bug and it lasted the whole second week or break.  We have been back in school for 2 weeks now and I feel like it's been a whirl-wind!  The first week back was great, but then by week 2, my energy was depleted because my kids were off the chain!  This was despite my best efforts to reinforce all classroom management procedures and expectations.  I think part of it was the weird weather...I am in Ohio and last week it was between 50-65 degrees every day.  We were outside for recess and the kids were just WILD.  Hoping this coming week will be a bit calmer.  Needless to say, I am looking forward to having the day off tomorrow.  Here's my most recent "Sunday 6" post; it contains random things from the past 3 weeks, both personal and professional.  Enjoy! 
During winter break, I found this adorable little sign for my office.  I got it from Target, in the dollar section.  I think it was $3.00.  Isn't it cute???

 A new quarter means a new opportunity to re-enter the "Homework Club!"  If you aren't familiar, I'll briefly explain how I do this.  I have a cutout (school buses) with magnet squares on the backs of them and student names on the fronts.  I put all buses on the front of my desk at the start of a new quarter.  As long as kids return their homework, on time, with their name on it, they keep their bus up.  If they forget or don't do their homework, I remove their bus.  At the end of the quarter, anyone whose bus is still up gets a certificate (free download HERE) and gets to eat in the classroom with me (and I bring a dessert treat!).  It's a great motivator. 

My teammates and I always arrive to school early around our birthdays to celebrate with coffee and donuts.  This year, we went to a coffee shop instead, which was much nicer than rushing to open a gift and scarf down a donut as the kids are arriving!  My team got me some of my favorite things: carrots and peanut butter (don't knock it until you try it!), a Cyclebar headband and mug, a certificate for them to come to Cyclebar with me, a journal for keeping lists, a gift card to a local gourmet grocery shop, and breakfast bars (not pictured).  I loved it all!  So thoughtful.  

We have been working hard during Literacy Centers!  I align my centers to the Wilson Fundations Phonics program.  I've been using that program in my district for 3 years now.  It's so, so good!  I love having centers that align, because it gives my kids the opportunity to practice what I've taught them.  If you also use Wilson Fundations, be sure to check these centers out!  They are super FUN!!  *PS does that "plank" card drive anyone else's OCD crazy?! 

Mr. Wheeler and I went out to celebrate my birthday (late because I was sick) to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.  Check out that corn.  So. Freaking. Good. 

If you've followed me for any length of time, you know that I LOVE working out!  It seems as though I'm always in gym clothes, sweating, with a messy bun.  I recently discovered Fre Skincare, a skincare company for women who workout.  I have been using them for about a month and I LOVE it!  My skin feels and looks great.  Plus, Fre plants an Aragon tree in Morocco for every kit sold.  I started with a kit that contains face wash, serum, and lotion with SPF.  If you want to check out Fre, click HERE to get a discount!  

Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

January Reset

Hi friends, and Happy New Year!  Cheers to 2020!  Coming back to school after a 2+ week hiatus can be a difficult transition for children.  They just spent lots of time at home doing holiday activities, staying up later than normal, and probably didn't have to follow their typical "at-home rules" due to the chaos!  January is THE TIME to reset.  It's a great time to refocus on classroom management.  I know, I know, it seemed like just before break, we were able to loosen up a bit, because the kids have been with us for several months.   Going back and reviewing may seem like backpedaling but rest assured it is NOT!  Spending a week or so (however much your kids need) reviewing those precious procedures and rules that you implemented in August will set the second semester up for SUCCESS!  Today's post is about a few things that I do to help my kids reset and refocus for the second half of the school year.

One thing that I always begin with is a procedures review.  I get out my handy "Procedures Checklist" and go through just about all areas.  I do this over the course of a week or so.  We discuss what to do for each area.  I model it incorrectly, then I end with kids modeling the correct way.  Click the cover below to grab this for yourself!

Each day, I select a movement word.  I share it with the kids when I greet them in the morning.  When I say this word, it lets the kids know that they can "go" or "move."  It really helps with impulse control!  I try to use it often, and am super- diligent about it in January.  Click the blank poster below to grab the **free** poster. 

In addition, I use my voice level posters/lights constantly.  This is a general practice that I started using in my classroom last year and it has been a GAME-CHANGER to say the least!  Novelty (touch lights) is always fantastic!  My class does a great job of maintaining the voice level expectations.  I always let them know when I am turning on a light, and if someone gets loud, another student will remind them that a certain light is on.  Click the cover to grab a set for your room.  *Note that the photo shown below is my customized set, specific to our PBIS system at my school.  Be sure to check out the preview to see what the posters for sale look like.*

Speaking of novelty, I use sounds in the classroom to help kids transition.  I use a bell for clean-up, a doorbell for line-up, and chimes as a "come to the rug" signal.  The use of sounds eliminates me talking/raising my voice.  The sounds that I have chosen are all soft, which is great for kids who've experienced trauma.  I've included Amazon links to the doorbell and chimes below in case you'd like to pick something up for your classroom.  *affiliate links**

It's important to spend extra time highlighting positive behavior this time of year!  One way that I do this is by keeping my rewards and recognition completely random.  Keeping them random gives kids the element of surprise and encourages them to have good behavior.  Some of my favorite rewards are: clipping up to blue (the highest level on our clip chart) (yes I use a clip chart; my whole building does and it works wonders), a piece of candy from the candy box, Goldfish crackers, earning a letter towards our whole-group classroom reward, eating lunch with me (click the blank poster below to grab the *free* lunch bunch sign), positive note home, phone call home, earning a table tally mark (Super easy...number your tables and write them on the board.  Give out tally marks as tables are quiet/ready to learn, treasure box, going to gym/music/lunch ahead of the class (This one works great when you are trying to quiet your line!  I just say "Oh, Johnny, you are quiet with your hands at your side.  You look ready for ___, so you can go on down ahead of us!"  There are so many other ways to randomly notice positive behavior!  Get creative!!

Click the cover to grab these positive notes home.

Click the cover to grab these Class Rewards.

Finally, during the month of January, it's perfectly acceptable to pull out some of your beginning of the year activities and read-alouds.  A refresher is never a bad idea!  I love re-visiting my back to school printables pack for activities.  You can read all about that pack by clicking HERE.  Below, I've shown you some of my favorite activities to use again in January.

I hope you found this post useful!  Happy New Year! 

Monday, December 30, 2019

Christmas in the Classroom

Hi, friends!  It's hard to believe that Christmas is over!  I am so sad!  I had intentions of posting this a few weeks ago, but man, those 3 weeks in between Thanksgiving and Christmas were INTENSE!  We went to California for Christmas.  Mr. Wheeler's family lives out there and we go there every other year.  On the years when we go, we celebrate with my family the second week of December.  So, all of my family's gifts have to be purchased and ready for that.  It's always a mad dash to get everything ready! 

I had some pictures of Christmas things that we did in class ready (although it wasn't much because we use so many box curriculum's now and have to "keep going"), so I figured I would go ahead and post them now, even though they are totally irrelevant now.  Perhaps you will see something you can pin  on your Pinterest boards for next year!  Hope your Christmas was fabulous! 

We did just two art projects in December.  The first were these elves.  They were a lot of work!  The day we did them, we were SUPER pressed for time.  I shouldn't have tried to do them given the amount of time I had to work with.  They didn't' turn out like they were supposed to...I think they kind of look like pigs.  LOL!  The ears didn't stick to the plates, so if I do it again in future years,  I will use tape for them. 

The other project that we did were these reindeer profile projects.  I love how they turned out and will definitely be adding them into my Christmas craft rotation.  I actually had a sub do them with my kids because I took a personal day one Friday in December.

We played trick word BINGO a few times and used Christmas mini-erasers (always a fun way to incorporate something seasonal!). 

Many of our centers were Christmas-themed.  This one shown below is a *FREEBIE* in my TpT shop.  Click the cover below to download it.

I incorporated some Christmas coloring pages into my Early Finisher Board activities!  If you aren't familiar with the Early Finisher Board, you can check it out by clicking the cover below.

For a parent gift, I had my kids create craft stick Christmas tree ornaments.  In the past, I would have had my kids do these all by hand, but I came across a girl on Instagram (@loftydots) who preps the ornaments so all your kids have to do is paint and decorate.  Brilliant and such a time-saver! 

First, the kids painted their trees green.  Then, they painted on a thin layer of glue.  Last, they added decorations like pom-poms and self-stick gems.  ***Next year, we will add the glitter LAST...having it on first made it really hard for the gems to stick and I ended up having to go back and glue them on at the last minute because they were falling off.  Overall, I think the ornaments turned out super cute!  I hope the parents liked them.

We had a 1/2 day the day before break began, so we didn't have a holiday party.  Instead, we let the kids vote on a movie to watch and split the kids as a grade level.  We also played Christmas BINGO and made a holiday trail mix.  Super easy.  I gave my kids a book (Scholastic $1) and a candy cane and called it a day.  They were happy with it!  No one asked about a party and I didn't mention it!