Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Birthday Celebration Solution

I have tried to figure out ways to help my students celebrate their birthdays. Oh, I give out the card and pencil, but I wanted something more. I used to put birthday wrapping paper on their desks until we went to the single 4-person tables. I really liked the chair covers, but they're expensive. Plus sometimes I've had as many as three children with the same birth day.

Ta Da! I found these pennants at the dollar store (but I've seen them at the party shop, too.) They came in both blue and pink, but I figured girls wouldn't mind blue. There are 12 pennants per package. I simply tape one to the back of the student's chair, and it's automatic "specialness"!

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Students Survived the First Day of School, and So Did I!

Today was the first day of school. Instead of teaching Pre-Kindergarten, as I had expected, I was moved back to Kinder. My experiment I mentioned on Friday worked like a dream. I only had one crier, but often throughout the day I would see a student take out their family picture from their table bucket and keep it nearby as they did their desk work. Those pictures became their "emergency hug", and I'm definitely going to do the family portraits again next year!

Friday, August 23, 2013

For the First Day of School - Family Photos!

Monday is The First Day of School, and on that day there will be tears. Oh, yes. There might also be parents wanting to take photos of their child's first day. Not a problem, but it gave me an idea of what I could do that might help alleviate any separation anxiety.

For each child entering my classroom, I'm going to take his/her picture with their parent(s). I'm going to tell the child I will print off the picture and give it to them to keep at their desk, so that any time they wish they could see their family, it'll be right there to remind them of how much they're loved.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blackout Math Game with Dice (Freebie)

Here's a neat little game you can play with one die or two. The jpegs below are full size, but I ran off two to a page. I also put the 2 dice game on the back side of the 1 die game, to give each sheet double duty.

Rules are simple. Each player rolls the die/dice, and covers up the appropriate square with a marker. If the square is already covered, the player loses that turn. First person to cover their card wins!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Homework Folders

This coming school year, I'm implementing a "homework 4 nights a week" policy. It'll be quite simple, and will always reinforce whatever we're working on. Most of the time it'll be a half page of practice writing letter or numbers. Other times it'll can be something like "bring a picture of an object that begins with the letter __", or "draw __ number of pumpkins". 

In the past, I've always stuck the homework sheet in the folder's pocket, because I usually don't have the time to punch holes in the paper and put it in the brads. But, unfortunately, the students usually lost the sheet, or it was damaged. So, this year I'm going to put a little ingenuity to work.

Taking a Ziploc bag (the kind with the zipper, as the "press and seal" versions are difficult for little fingers), the braded folder, and package/duct tape...

I'll first tape the bottom of the bag. Next, I'll punch holes in the tape.

And, voila! I can simply hand the children their homework assignments, and they can put their assignments into the bags themselves. Now I won't have to worry about missed work!

*EDITED TO NOTE: I found the Ziploc bags with the expandable or flat bottoms best fit inside, without too much "hanging outside" the folder.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Summer's Over

Today I go back to school for eight days of In-Service orientation and workshops. Our first day of classes is on the 26th.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Using Pinterest Pictures in the Classroom - Ice Cream Nail Polish

* What does this look like?
* What do you think this is?
* Do you think you can eat it? Why or why not?
* Where do you think you would find something like this?
* Why do you think the people who make this chose to make it look like this?
* Would you use it? Why or why not?
* How much do you think it costs?
* If you could change anything about this, what would it be, and why?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

For Real?

I can't believe such a product is available. But, on second thought...

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Yearly Journal

Five years ago, I started keeping every note, and every little idea and detail in a spiral notebook. That way, whenever I was given something I needed to take care of, I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget about it. I also jotted down memos to myself, dates, To Do lists, discipline problems, teaching ideas, classroom thoughts...just about everything that happened, needed to happen, or was about to happen went into that notebook. Unfortunately, pages in spirals have a tendency to tear, plus they're not that sturdy. So the following year I switched to a composition book.
OMG, what a lifesaver! If ANYTHING comes up, I know I can go to this journal and re-read my notes. It's worth 100x its weight for keeping track of issues I might need for a staff meeting, a parent conference, notes from workshops and professional development meetings, or just to CMA on deadlines.

In the past, I've used a black book, a green one, a blue one, and this year I'm using a purple one. As you can see, I'll be teaching Pre-K next year, but I already know I'll be utilizing a ton of teaching strategies and activities from Kinder.
(Yeah, I love to doodle. :)
I used these neat tabs I found at Office Depot to mark sections. I've already been adding some pictures of ideas I found on Pinterest.

I also have a section for the alphabet. One page per letter.

Finally, I took some snapshots of my classroom to remind me how I set it up. Over the summer the custodial staff will remove everything to wax the floor, but the furniture won't necessarily be returned to the correct location. Plus, I'll be able to quickly spot if something got accidentally transferred to another classroom.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Value of Belonging to a Teacher Organization

In Texas, teachers are not allowed to have unions. However, we do have several organizations we can join.

I've been a member of one such organization for decades, and I'll continue to do so until my retirement. And here's why:

First and foremost, Legal Representation. In the event I need legal counsel with regards to my job, it's offered free of charge 24/7. I know teachers who've faced wrongful termination of their contracts, as well as lawsuits brought about by parents, and this benefit was a lifesaver. If I should ever need a lawyer, and had to pay out-of-pocket, there's no way I could afford one. And although membership to my organization can be a bit steep, it more than pays for itself for the peace of mind it affords.

Secondly, I'm kept abreast via email and US mail of what's happening in the field of education via our state capitol, and Washington. Plus, I know teachers have representation there.

Third, I get some neat discounts to places and for services.

I know several teachers who've noted the cost of yearly dues, but I think of it this way. Divided by 12 months, it runs about $15 a month, or approximately 50 cents a day. Plus, some school districts allow you to have your dues divided into several payments and deducted straight from your paycheck, rather than having to come up with the whole enchilada all at once.

Do you have to join an organization? No. But, when asked if it's worth it, my question to them is, "Why would you want to take the risk not to?"

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Special Days - August

In Service will be starting this month, and so will the new school year. I've found a neat site (see below) which lists something special for each day. I'll be posting a new calendar at the beginning of each month, including the summer. So check back on the 1st to get the latest one!

Enjoy! (Click on the picture for a larger version.)