Sunday, November 13, 2016

Classroom Procedures for Walking Through School

 
It seems like such a simple expectation...Walking through the halls of a school that is. But the reality is, sometimes there's a bit of a learning curve when it comes to walking around campus for our little learners. So, our school adopted an acronym called WALK... Seemed fitting. ;)
We have WALK posters posted all around school, both inside and outside of our classrooms, as visual reminders to our students that they need to walk respectfully around campus.
We also created this walking stick to help remind our class of our walking expectations for when we head out and about school.
We simply folded the print out, sealed the open side and top with clear packaging tape and stuck it on the end of a paint stick...Which we also wrapped with duct tape to cover the exposed handle because it was cuter than the paint logo easy. 
Our class line leader grabs the walking stick whenever we leave the classroom.

We've even had a few kids place their fingers in the shape of the letter W over their lips as we walk...We did not teach them this, but we've decided to just stroll with it. ;)

Our school WALK program and our class walking sticks have helped tame our class line tremendously! Our school halls are calm, cool, and collected as students walk on by. Using it school wide has helped everyone stay consistent. The hardest part? Teachers have to follow the rules too! 

Want to start your own school WALK program or create a class walking stick?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vocabulary Activities for Little Learners ~ Big Brain Words

A few years ago, we sat in a Professional Development meeting faced with the challenge of bringing robust vocabulary to the forefront of our primary classroom. It seemed such a BIG task for such little brains, but one that we agreed was imperative to teaching today’s learners. We spent over a year planning, creating, testing, editing, and analyzing the implementation of our program, Big Brain Words, with our own students. What we discovered was, not only was implementing a purposeful, kid-friendly approach to vocabulary development imperative in our classroom, the kids were begging for Big Brain Words and consistently using the new vocabulary they were learning all the time! Big Brain Words has quickly become a favorite weekly activity in our classroom all year long. By the end, our students leave with BIG brains filled with robust vocabulary!
Each Monday, we introduce 5 Big Brain Words for the week. What's a Big Brain Word? Mostly, it's a catchphrase to set the stage for our kids to buy into our hair brain teaching strategies. ;) But to them, Big Brain Words are our weekly vocabulary words that take a really BIG BRAIN to learn and know. You think kids are up for showing off their BIG brains? You bet!
We have a bulletin board permanently set up in our classroom where we swap out our weekly vocabulary words and pictures. We use these all week! We read them, define them, cheer them, sentence them. Whatever it takes, we incorporate these words into our classroom all week long. But most of all...We simply use them! When we're talking and a Big Brain Word pops out of our mouths, the kids cheer, "That's a Big Brain Word!" When we're reading a story, we've taught our kids to tap their brains if they hear one of our Big Brain words...And they do! Who says primary kids can't learn big words?
In addition to our Big Brain bulletin board, we provide our students with multiple vocabulary activities during our week. We are firm believers that immersing young children in rich, robust vocabulary consistently allows them to retain and comprehend words and definitions with greater ease while expanding their vocabularies naturally. 

First, we introduce our weekly words by creating fridge kids. They take them home to stick up on their refrigerator for weekly reminders to their family to use our Big Brain words when talking at home! We also include a note in our weekly class newsletter to parents. 
Once we've introduced our weekly vocabulary words, we offer many activities for vocabulary acquisition and immersion during our literacy centers time. Our Big Brain Words activities are differentiated and offer opportunities for all learners to feel successful when learning such big vocabulary words. This is especially important for building confidence in our developing readers!
We also offer some higher level Big Brain words activities, called Brain Boosts for fast finishers which our kids seem to pick time and time again!
This little one came to us one day and asked us to make a Big Brain book so she could read and practice her words whenever she wants. She even created her own as a sample so we knew what to make. 
HA! We loved it and of course we created a Big Brain Booklet too.
Big Brain Words Set 1 Includes:

5 Weeks of Lessons & Resources
*Bulletin Board Elements and Ideas
*Vocabulary Posters with Definitions
*Mini Vocabulary Cards with Definitions
*Vocabulary Kids craft and Definition Flips
*Week at a Glance Planning Guide
*Weekly Assessments and Record Keeping Sheet
*5 Big Brain Hunt Pages (1 for each week)
*5 Big Brain Spin Pages
*5 Big Brain Game Pages
*5 Definition Dice Pages
*5 Big Brain Booklets
*5 Big Brain Fill-In Pages (Level 1)
*5 Big Brain Fill-In Pages (Level 2)
*5 Big Brain Fill-In Pages (Level 3)
*5 Rainbow Royalty Pages
*5 Big Brain Foldables
*5 Big Brain Shape Puzzle and Draw and Write Pages
*5 Big Brain Dice
*Answer Keys

We've also added a Growing Bundle which will include our entire Big Brain Words program by January 2017 ~ 6 Big Brain Words sets that will provide you with a comprehensive classroom vocabulary program for the whole year! Grab it on the ground floor for a huge discount now!
We begin Big Brain Words after our Beginning Sounds Boot Camp, about the third week of school. We continue our Big Brain Words program all school year long. It quickly becomes a favorite weekly activity for our class and their vocabulary flourishes all year and beyond! 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Top 10 Tips For Your Best Year Ever!

Each new school year brings with it a flood of emotions as teachers. We're excited. We're nervous. We're bummed (Summer, don't ditch us!!). We're exhausted. We're optimistic. Flying into our 15th year teaching first grade together, we've learned a few things about making the best of each new school year. Just like the catchphrases, "Happy Wife, Happy Life." and "If Mama's not Happy, Nobody's Happy." pop into our minds, so does "Keep your Dear Teacher Happy.". But that my friends, will not be found in a textbook or scratched on the school bathroom stalls. That happiness, that mindset starts within yourself...
Here's a few ways to have your best school year ever!
Find the good...Sure there's a lot that can, will and is going wrong sometimes, but look at the bright side. Keep that glass half full...And don't spill it...You're going to want to drink whatever's in it when you get home tonight! Avoid the staff room gossip. If the conversation makes you feel gross, change it...Get up and look busy, excuse yourself, whatever it takes. Keep a smile on your face when you walk around school. Stay upbeat and professional. Say hello to people! Keep yourself positive and those around you just may fall in line!
You hit the school doors running most days. Things can't get done fast enough. You forgo recess, lunch is a half eaten banana leftover from this morning at best and you are running Fred Flintstone style all around school. STOP...Breathe...Take a break. Running yourself into the ground is not worth it. You can run and run, but everything will never get done. Allow yourself to stop and take a break when you need it. Take care of you! 
Getting into a groove each new school year can be a challenge, but once you find it things can fall right into place! Keep yourself organized. Know your organization strengths and weaknesses. Are you a folder holder? Do you work best off of a stack? There's no one right or wrong way to be organized as long as you know where to find things when the bell rings!
This is a tough one. We teachers want to save the world. Yes! We can volunteer to attend math night. Yes! We can make those posters for you in our nonexistent spare time. Yes! We can take on extra bus duty. Yes! Yes! Yes! No problem...But Houston, we may have a problem. Are you taking on too much beyond teaching? Are you forgetting to keep yourself happy? Are you grumbling and complaining and dragging your feet because suddenly your full plate has turned into an overflowing Hometown Buffet platter and you really just want a doll sized tea cup saucer for once in your life already!? Then, it's time to say no. Here are a few options to try: 
No. 
No, thank you. 
I'm so sorry, but I just can't take that on right now. 
Thanks for thinking of me, but I honestly can't.
Try it...It's ok...We promise!
We realize making adorable bulletin boards, wiping counters and rearranging desks suddenly skyrocket to the top of our to do lists, especially during report card season for some odd reason. But, no matter how many bulletin boards we staple, how clean our counters are or how Pinterest worthy our new desk arrangement may be, report cards are not done. And now, we're stressed out! Do the things you don't want to do first. Prioritize your laundry list of to do's and get them done before doing the "fun" stuff!
The school day is over. You've stayed well beyond your work day voluntarily. You have friends, a family, perhaps a pet waiting for you at home. Go there! Be with your people...Leave work at work. It will be there tomorrow.
We try to work at least 2 weeks out at all times. Prep for an entire unit, not just a week or a day. This has freed up a ton of our time. Looking ahead helps us make a plan and stick to it.
Be a positive, professional presence for the families in your class. Make the tough phone calls that could easier be said in an email. Make the connections to the people in your class. Truly get to know their child and work to connect in any way, big or small, with them and their family. Spend time understanding what makes their child tick and stay connected. If there's a problem, speak up. If there's not a problem, still speak up! Families need to feel you care. Stand outside of your classroom. Open your door. Show that you care and want to connect.
Your classroom is your castle! It's your house and you are in charge. Be in charge. Have confidence in who you are as a teacher and how you run your classroom. No matter if this is year 1 or year 101 for you, be the king or queen of your domain!
One day we were chatting with a colleague about the daily struggles we were facing with our class and she simply said, "Lean in." Those two little words sort of took us off guard, but have resonated in us since that day. Teaching can be an extremely isolating profession, but it doesn't have to be. Find like minded people at your school that you can lean on. Whether it be for professional support, a shoulder to cry on, or a fun Friday friend, lean in. Support each other and have the best year ever!
 Are you ready for the BEST year ever? 
We are too, and so is Teachers Pay Teachers! They're celebrating with another huge sitewide sale for Back to School. 

Save up to 28% off our entire shop August 1st and 2nd (That's Monday and Tuesday for those of us who still aren't tracking summer days), when you use Promo Code BestYear at checkout!

Most of our store has gotten a total face lift...New Year, New Gear!

We're kind of giddy about the new look...

   

Sunday, July 24, 2016

2016 Orlando Teacher Meet Up

Our 2016 Teacher Meet Up in Orlando was so much fun. This was our 5th  year hosting and thanks to our very generous event sponsors (Teachers Pay TeachersGoNoodle, and many others) over 700 hundred teachers enjoyed a night filled with hugs, laughter, and of course prizes! This meet up would not have been possible without the support of all our 2016 Teacher Meet Up Sponsors. 

THANK YOU!

Please take a look at all our generous sponsors, see the prizes they donated, and give them some love for supporting teachers!! 

Click any of the images to visit our Orlando Teacher Meet Up sponsor sites. 


          



            

           

            

                 
  

               

              

             

            

          

           

          

             
             


No meet up would be complete without our amazing planning team. These ladies helped with planning, getting sponsors, filling 700 swag bags, and setting up! We couldn't do it without everyone of these amazing ladies!

(Cute custom shirts made by Beautifully Broken Boutique!)

2016 Orlando Teacher Meet-Up Organizers
And of course, Rachelle rocked the microphone as our Meet Up MC and Natalie captured every moment with her phenomenal photography skills (along with Erica from Erica's Ed-Ventures). 

We can't wait until next year!

(You can check out tons of pictures from our 2016 Orlando Teacher Meet Up over on What the Teacher Wants Facebook Page)

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