Thursday, April 26, 2012

Memories of First Grade (Rambling)... I had a flashback today...a first grade I like to call them.  Before moving up to 5th grade I taught first grade for 11 years.  I have many fond memories of teaching first grade and today while on recess duty I witnessed a class of first graders lining up.  As they stood there--not so quietly, their teacher began singing a little lining-up diddy.  Flashback trigger...while teaching first grade, I had songs for most everything.

So, for today's post...yes, it really is a rambling...I thought I'd share one of my favorites tunes...and yes, I did make it up all by myself...

This was my lining up song (sung to the tune of "Down By the Station")...

Down at 'Washington'. (insert your school name here)
Lining up to go to 'lunch'. (insert where you are going)
See all the children lined up in a row.
Can't hear their voices,
Arms are hanging at their sides,
Facing the front...
Off we go!

The kids would sing with me through the line "Can't hear their voices,"  I would then sing the rest alone...pausing after each line to make sure all were doing what the song said.

Occasionally, I would have a leader sing the song all the way through instead of me.

Hope you enjoyed my flashback...

For even more classroom tips and ideas swing by The Organized Classroom Blog!  There you will find a wealth of links from other teachers just like you and I!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Classroom Sociogram...

In the upper elementary grades I have found that doing a class sociogram the first week of school provides a great deal of valuable information...yes, I'm already thinking about next school year.  The sociogram gives a teacher insight into the 'inner-workings' or dynamic of the students within a class.

I begin by asking the students to get a sheet of lined paper and put their name on top.  I then ask them to number 1 to 3.  Next I pose a question...such as : "Who are your three best friends in this classroom?" or "Which three classmates would you most like to work on a project with?" or "If you were having a problem, which three classmates would you feel most comfortable talking about it with?"  The question I choose, depends on what dynamic I am trying to learn more about.  My first question above would focus on popularity.  Second would focus on leadership/academic abilities.  Third, compassion and character.  Some years, I have actually asked more than one question because I wanted more information.  Once students have listed their choices, they turn their papers in.  Remember this is done discreetly and not shared.

Once I have everyone's paper, I begin organizing the data.  Using a blank sheet of paper, I draw a circle for each student.  I write their names in the circles (one name per circle).  Then using the data they provided, I draw a line from the student to each of the three classmates they chose.  On the line connecting the two, I put an arrow on the end to indicate who was was chosen.  If students choose each other, I simply put an arrow on both ends of the line to indicate they chose each other.

When all data is recorded, I am able to see very quickly who was chosen most and more alarming who was not chosen often or at all.  I repeat this activity midyear and at the end of the year.  This allows me to see changes in the dynamic.

I use the data throughout the year to aid me in making seating charts, project groupings/pairings, etc.  Most importantly, however, it gives me insight into who is struggling with peer interactions.  This, in turn, allows me to help create opportunities for positive peer interactions.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Several blogging newcomers, like me, asked how to create a 'grab a button' link to their blog.  When I did mine I searched for an online tutorial.  The easiest, one written in a way that I could understand, was on a site called The Pixel Boutique.

It walked me through the process step-by-step.  Yes, it did take me a few tries...but, hey, I'm a newbie...nothing works on the first try :)  In the end, I was successful!

Unfortunately, I haven't quite mastered the follow me on Pinterest button yet.  It's on my 'summer to-do list'.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Common Core Flip Books for Math
Click here to go to Website
Once the webpage loads, scroll down to find a list of flip books!

 Before Common Core Standards, my state, Kansas, created flip books aligned to the state standards.  I used mine quite often and found it to be very helpful.  Now with the new Common Core Standards that old flip book was pretty much useless.

So imagine my delight when the math coach in our district shared a brand new, hot off the presses, link to a Common Core Flip book.  The flip book was created by Melisa Hancock.  It follows the format of our previous Flip Book.  I think it will be a great resource...especially these first few years as we get acquainted with Common Core.

The picture above shows my brand new Flip Book.  Directions on how to assemble are on the first page.  She suggests you use card stock, but I just used regular paper.  What I will probably end up doing is printing a second one on cardstock, have it laminated and then bind it across the top.  This will make it durable for the long haul.

If you would like to print a copy of your own, click on my photo.  You will be linked to the site.  You'll need to scroll down the page a bit.  You'll see that she has created Flip Books for grades K-8.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Webquest Website...

I have to admit I haven't used many Web Quests with my students.  Not sure why.  The kids loved doing them and they do learn a lot, without actually realizing they are learning.  Part of the reason I suppose is because finding a good quality Web Quest is not always an easy task.  Yes, I consider myself quite creative.  And, yes, I could make a 'mean' Web Quest if I set my mind to it.  So, what's the problem?  Time...I just don't seem to have the time.

Well, that all changed yesterday.  No, I didn't find a way to manufacture more time...wouldn't that be nice?!?  What I did find is a fantastic site called  An impressive site, I must say.  Literally several thousand Web Quests.  The ones I looked at were of great quality.  You simply register with the site (registration is free) and all the Web Quests are there for your use.  I even noticed a program which allows you to simplify the creation of your own Web Quest.  I haven't tried that component.  Honestly, I didn't see a need.  Everything I could ever want was already created and ready to go.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Parent Communication...

I'm linking up with Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies linky party Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies Linky Party about Parent communication.

One thing I discovered quite early in my teaching career is that parent communication is vital to a successful school year.  I begin each year, as many teachers do, with a 60 minute parent meeting.  During this meeting I explain all my expectations for the school year.

 In addition, I link all the parent information to my Classroom Website.  I use my classroom website to keep parents informed of upcoming events, test dates, homework, etc.  I have found it to be a great communication tool.

Throughout the year, I do have to call parents regarding behavior or academic concerns...just like every teacher.  I have found that parents are much more receptive to hearing about these concerns, if I've first laid the groundwork for good communication.  So, about 10 years ago, I started Project PEAK...PEAK stands for Positive Empowerment for All Kids.  Basically, Project PEAK is a commitment I make to myself to make three positive parent contacts per semester.  It could be a phone call, a note home, an email or just an encounter at a school event.  I document the time, date, method of contact, the comment I made and any response from the parent.

Parents are always very happy to hear something good about their child!  The bonus, however, is for me because when I do have to call regarding something not so positive, I've already fostered a positive relationship with the parent and they are much more willing to hear what I have to say.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rough day here in Kansas...

Severe storms, tornadoes, hail...luckily we've avoided the worst of it...but others have not been so lucky.  Keeping all those affected in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Freebie Friday!

We just finished our unit on Customary Measurements. Before starting Customary Capacity measurements, I made this visual for the kids. It really seemed to help the kids when making capacity conversions. Click the picture to download your very own :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Link Up! 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade Blogs

I joined in with the upper-elementary linky party over at Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies.  Check it out!  Lots of great blogs!

Love to have some followers :)

So I've have my blog for 3 short days...and I realize that there isn't a great deal of stuff here yet...but there will be.  I promise.  So, I would be so very delighted if you followed me...please :)  Just to the right side of this post is a follow's SCREAMING 'click me' :)  I'm excited to see who will be my very first follower...and my second...and my third.  You get the idea :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Metric Measures

With the new Common Core Standards for Math looming.  I have spent this year working the new curriculum into my 5th grade math lessons.  Wow!  What a big difference between my previous curriculum and ccs!  It has been quite challenging!

Just yesterday, I began working with my students on metric measures.  We'd already completed our unit on customary measures.  Most students had mastered the customary capacity, length and weight measurements.

While looking over the first lesson I'd prepared for our unit on the metric system, I realized quickly that my students were likely to be confused and overwhelmed.  Luckily I was able to find a good online resource.  After sharing with my students, I felt it was a great way to introduce them to the metric system.