Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More Chevron Decor for Your Classroom

It's crazy to think that kids are going to be arriving in class in just a few weeks!!

I have been puttering around in my classroom all summer, but it's starting to feel a bit more urgent-- the piles on my tables need to start getting organized, not just moved around to a new pile ;)

As you know, I am loving chevron and have been incorporating it quite a bit in my classroom. I have added these items to my TpT Store and hope you can use them, too :)

Clock Numbers & Numbers 1-30:

Do you number your kids? I have and it helps so so so much with organization! I use their names as well, so at the top of their papers they need to write their name and number, but this strategy has saved me so much time! I can easily find who hasn't turned something in, it's easy to alphabetize the kids' work, and when we are on a field trip or fire drill, I have them number off quickly and we know if we are all accounted for.

In the picture, I am using the numbers on the back wall, so when kids take their bins to work around the room, they know where to return them. It's a lot "cleaner" looking than their names all over the place :)

In this packet are numbers 1-30 in each of the chevron backgrounds (red, orange, green, blue, teal, purple, and gray) and a plain background.

Also in the packet are clock numbers in the chevron backgrounds. I hot-glued these numbers to the edge of my classroom clock and love the 3D look of it! My thirdsters still struggle with analog time, so these will be a cute way to help them along :)

Check out this packet in my TpT Store HERE.

Table Numbers, Name Plates & Really Good Stuff Bin Cards:


I am using these bins from Really Good Stuff since I will have tables this year and I love them already! They are plenty big for folders, notebooks, and some books- I can't wait for the kids to use these!

This packet contains three items: Table Numbers (1-8), name plates with lines and the cards for the front of the RGS bins. I also like these cards for smaller labels around the classroom- I am going to use them to label their coat hooks.

These, too, come in all chevron colors: red, orange, green, blue, teal, purple and gray. There is also a plain background to the Table Numbers if you prefer to print them on color paper.

You can find this packet in my TpT Store HERE.

Guided Reading Level Labels for Bins & Books:

I am in love with these! I use GRL texts with my kids during Teacher Time and I will be using magazine boxes from Ikea to hold the books that will be labeled with the cute alphabet stickers for easy reference.
iPhone pic, sorry!

These are available in levels A-Z in alternating blue, red, green and purple colors with matching stickers. The stickers fit on the 30-per-page labels and you can see a preview in the TpT listing.

To pick up this packet, click HERE.

I think I am all chevroned-up! I love love love these accents and hope you can find them useful, too. Remember to pick up some of my free chevron items, too- Daily 5, CAFE, and Whole Brain Teaching Posters. And, there's a Welcome Banner, Cardinal & Ordinal Directions, and Binder Covers in the store, too :)


Friday, July 27, 2012

Whole Brain Teaching-ish Rules :)

As many of you know, I use different rules in my classroom than the standard five from Whole Brain Teaching.

Their rules are:
  1. Follow directions quickly
  2. Raise your hand for permission to speak.
  3. Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.
  4. Make smart choices.
  5. Keep your dear teacher happy.
These rules seem a-ok and I really like how they cover the spectrum of possibilities that students can throw in our direction!

However, I am head-over-heals in love with the class rules Ashley from The Polka Dot Patch created! These decorated my classroom last year and they were perfect! They worked seamlessly with our school's PBIS system and allowed me to incorporate WBT with no "conflicts of interest".

Here's some shots of their various positions throughout the year:

For her cute signs in pink and green, head over to her lovely blog HERE.

Quite a few of you have requested these rules to match my WBT Signs, and I am happy to say that, with Ashley's blessing, you can pick them up HERE on Google Docs for FREE!
I have called these "Whole Brain Teaching-ish Rules" and they coordinate with my other WBT Signs:
Click on the picture to download the poster set for FREE!

I have posted about how my class goes over rules HERE, but here's a quick recap of the gestures that go with the Whole Brain Teaching-ish Rules:

Rule #1: Listen (point to your ears) when your teacher (kids point to me) is talking (move hands together and apart like a mouth).

Rule #2: Follow directions quickly. (As we say this, we snap out fingers along with each word and say the rule quickly.)

Rule #3: Respect others (point out), respect yourself (point to yourself), and respect your school (point to the ground).

Rule #4: Raise your hand (raise your right hand) to speak (make moving mouth motion) or stand use index and middle finger to 'walk').

Rule #5: Be safe (hug yourself), be kind (cover your heart with both hands), be honest (place right hand up, like you were about to testify). 

I have the kids practice these each morning before we begin our Morning Meeting. I used to lead it, but I now leave that up to the Morning Meeting Leader and I do it along with them.

I hope this helps you on your WBT journey and thanks to Ashley for your awesome rules!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

WBT & The Super Improver Wall

One of my most favorite parts of the Whole Brain Teaching Conference was learning about the Super Improver Wall.

The idea stems from The Super Improver Story:
Two students have a foot race. The faster student wins and she gets an "A" from the teacher. The slower student loses and gets an "F". Every day, they have the same race. Every day, the result is the same. After a while, the fast student loafs and the slow student quits. Of course! The grading system is unfair and doesn't motivate either kid! The teacher creates a new race. Now, the fast student only gets an "A" when she beats her previous best time. Same with the slow student. Now, each student always runs as hard as possible!
Moral: The only fair race is the one you run against yourself.

What is the Super Improver Wall?

It is a way of motivating students to improve from wherever they are- it's self-differentiating, which is great!!

Watch this wonderful video from Chris Biffle that describes it all:

Here are some examples from the WBT Midwest Conference:
sports theme
animal theme
universe/space theme
I know it looks like there are lots of pieces and parts, but it makes a ton of sense, promise :)

On the left, you will notice the hierarchy that all kids will move up during the year- starting with Rookie and then (maybe) hitting Living Legend by May or June.

Each level is represented by a different color and they get more complex in size and color as you get near the top (Living Legend can be gold, glittery, larger, etc.- it's a really big deal!)

The Student cards on the right are a bulletin board display with each child's name displayed. The students start the year on white (Rookie) and their name color changes as they receive stars.

10 Stars= Go up one level

How does a student receive a star?

Any time they improve on something! This can be an academic focus, a behavior focus, anything that they did better than before.

I really like this focus- in the past, I have rewarded kids based on good behavior- basically, doing what they ought to be doing by following the rules, working quietly during work time, etc. This was easy for my well-behaved kids and hard for my rule-benders and there wasn't the desire to improve like this wall.

With the Super Improver Wall, kids are always striving to do better- yay! This could be improving their score on a spelling test, mastering a multiplication level, remembering to raise their hand twice that day to participate, etc.

When they show improvement, they receive a star on their name card. This can be as simple as a hand-drawn star by the teacher or an actual star sticker- up to you, but keep it simple :)

Because there are 10 levels and 10 stars equal 1 level, that's 100 stars over the course of the year, so a child could receive no more than 2 stars a day. In reality, they shouldn't receive more than one star a day, otherwise they will hit Living Legend in December..... eeek! I think that with the focus on improvement, though, that will be doable.

Worried about your higher kids that always do well on everything? Have them set their goals for improvement- this discussion will be a great way to help them rise to new challenges, which is sometimes a struggle to always think up on your own :)

What does the Bulletin Board look like during the year?

Because kids are in different spots at different times, it will be a hodge-podge of colors and stars. Here are some examples from Chris Rekstad's (WBT guru) classroom:
Early in the year: notice the hierarchy is on the left and the variety of background colors
Later in the year: the kids around the border are "Living Legends" and have their picture taken (ooo!) and get fancy gold paper backgrounds (aaah!). Kids of ALL skill levels are Living Legends (yay!!)

In this example, their stars are located on index cards with their names on their desks to make it easy for the teacher to walk around and draw a star when he sees improvement. That management technique seemed nice to me, since I don't want to be running back over to the board all of the time and probably couldn't reach the top of my board without standing on a chair!

What do you think of the Super Improver Wall?

This was a pretty short intro, but what are your thoughts? Rewarding for improvement instead of expected behavior, having kids motivated to do better, easy-peasy rewards for me to manage (colored paper and hand-drawn stars= no problem!), and having kids at ALL skill levels reach the highest "Living Legend" were the pieces that really got me excited :)

Have you ever used the Super Improver Wall? Do you have examples? Leave your experience in a comment below and we can all learn from you! 

I'll be completely honest- I am still loving my Clip Chart, so I am not sure how I will incorporate this idea this year. So many good ideas out there!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Making Mini-Notebooks & Mystery Reader Winners

Quick note: The transition over to www.3rdgradethoughts.com should finally be complete. I had to wait three whole days (torture!), but now it's a lot easier to type in my blog's address :)

Have you seen the idea on Pinterest to go to a home improvement store to cut your composition notebooks in half, thereby making two mini-notebooks?

I love Home Depot and the like,  but I just couldn't imagine those huge saws cutting though my 50 cent composition notebooks and making them look nice.

Then, Monica at The Schroeder Page wrote about her trip to an office supply store and their print department and I knew that was the solution to my problem!
From 15 of these big guys...
To 30 of these little guys!
I am so so so excited!

At my local Office Max, it was around $1 a cut, and they said thy could cut 500 pages in one cut- so it would only be a little over $3.

Then, the lady was kind enough to cut them one by one to make sure they were all even (she knows me too well!).Yaaay!!!

I plan on using these for my Math Message at the beginning of math class, so these will be PERFECT! Plus, it costs around $10 for 30 mini-notebooks!

Hello little lovelies! Math is color-coded yellow- I'll have to tell you all about my color-coding system soon :)
Can you think of any other uses for these? Now that I have one set, I want more! :)


Thank you all so much for your positive response to my Mystery Reader packet, and more importantly, for all of your terrific input about involving parents in your classrooms! I want my little girl to be in your classes- you all do such amazing things!!

Random.org chose Rachel & isewell- Congrats! Check your emails soon :)

If you didn't win, no worries- these are still on sale in my TpT Store for the next few days!

I hope you are all enjoying the last few weeks of summer!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I Heart Mystery Readers

*Quick update: I have updated my blog address to: www.3rdgradethoughts.com. Be sure to update your bookmark and pardon the glitches during this transition time :)

I am always looking to authentically involve parents in my classroom and I am happy to say that this next activity fits the bill!

Mystery Readers!

Have you used Mystery Readers before? The idea is not new, but the best part is that it gets parents into the classroom, involves kids and exposes everyone (even the teacher!) to new and wonderful picture books :)

I have used Mystery Readers for the last three years and can honestly say it is the highlight of our week! Each Friday, I have a parent, grandparent, older sibling, neighbor, anyone (even other teachers and the principal!) come in to share their favorite picture book. They read it aloud to the class and we all get the chance to enjoy a read aloud- don't you just love being read to? Never gets old :)

Best part? Up until the reader walks into the room, it is a total mystery to the students who will be arriving- yay!! The suspense + the big reveal + a read aloud by a guest = happy parents, students & teacher- WIN!

Here's how I set up Mystery Readers in my class:

1.The first week home, I send an intro letter to the parents so they know all about Mystery Readers and what it entails. This describes who can be a reader, what to read, and the importance of keeping the secret :)

2. Then, a few days later during Back to School Night, I pass around a calendar with the times I have set aside for the whole year so parents can sign up. I have this available throughout the year, so parents can add/change their time if they need to. I continue to stress the importance of keeping this a secret- that's the best part!
 3. A week before a reader's scheduled time, I send home a reminder letter (in an envelope or email) of their date and time and I ask them for two things: the name of the picture book they will be reading (for my own knowledge, just so everyone doesn't read The Giving Tree all year!) and five clues about themselves.
4. These clues are very important and will be read before the Mystery Reader is introduced, building suspense and making the big reveal so so so much fun :)

I recommend the parents use clues like:
  • where they were born
  • their favorite sports
  • their favorite book when they were in 3rd grade
  • a fun fact 
  • not who their child is in class :)
These clues are then put into an envelope that is labeled and hung in the front of our class.

5. I read the clues aloud as our class door is closed with our Mystery Reader waiting outside. The kiddo usually always knows it's their parent by the end and it's so so cute :) I then open the door for the big reveal and have the child introduce their parent (or sibling, grandparent, whomever). If it's the principal or another staff member, I have a volunteer introduce them to the group (it's nice to practice that skill!).

They sit at our Author's Chair and share their book. It's awesome :)

When they are done, we will borrow the book for a week (or I will pull my copy) and we will display it in our class for later reading (during Read with Someone or DEAR time)
6. Later in the day, we write thank you notes to our reader and I send them home with their student. They are short and sweet, but a nice way to thank them for coming in to share with our class.
All of these pieces and parts are available now in my TpT Store at a discounted price for its intro.

I would love to give away a set to two people- in the comments, let me know a way that you incorporate parents in a meaningful way in your classroom. Remember to include your email address and I will chose a winner on Tuesday!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Keeping Kids Accountable During Daily 5

I love using the Daily 5 in my class! If you want to see how I use it, check out my Daily 5 Series HERE.

One thing I struggled with was accountability. I needed kids to know that I wanted to see their work-- not to gather it, collect it, and grade it each and every time causing more work for me-- but that I wanted to check in with them and make sure they were on the right track and not just playing on white boards during Word Work or chatting with their friends during Read to Self.

I tried several approaches last year and finally settled on something that:
  • didn't create tons of extra work for me
  • didn't take away time from the kids to fill out/complete
  • lasted for more than a week (this one lasted three weeks with my schedule last year)
  • kept them accountable
  • worked for kids on all levels
  • gave them choices
Here's my Daily 5 Booklet:

I use the large 11x17" paper with Word Work Bingo on the cover and the Read to Self Menu in the center and it works very well for the three weeks we use it :)

Here's a breakdown of the pages:

Word Work Bingo

This menu gives kids choice and allows me to check their work without lots of additional grading. When kids first receive this packet, they need to decide what Bingo they are going to make. Then, over the course of the next three weeks, they work on the activities and receive my signature in the box after they complete the work.

Each Word Work session equals one square. My sessions are only about 20 minutes, so it's not too long. If they do get done early, they can work on the At-Your-Desk Vocabulary Activities described HERE.

For more about Word Work in my class, click HERE.

To purchase some of the Word Work activities listed on the board, visit my TpT Store HERE.

Read to Self Menu

I love this because it gives kids tons of options and allows me to grade their work on a variety of skills and on any book. Yay!

Remember, my kids had three weeks to complete this, so each week they had 2 Read to Self times. This menu was the result of 6 Read to Self times and I told them I would be grading accordingly-- each section needed their best work shown, or they would need to redo it. These two pages are the only two I could grade from the packet. This menu gave me great insight into the teaching points I needed to work on with a student and some evidence for where they were growing.

Each student was responsible for all three sections of a menu- appetizer, main course, and dessert. At the beginning of the year, I would instruct them to complete the "Appetizer" section on the first week, the "Main Course" section the next, and so on. Those explicit directions stopped as the year continued and kids built more independence. Toward the end of the year, it was not unusual to see some kids working on dessert first, other starting at the main course, and some jumping all around. I was a-ok with any of it, as long as it was their best work and all complete after three weeks.

Have you ever tried a menu before? I LOVE it! It's like Bingo, but so much more fun, especially if you love food as much as I do ;) This menu includes work on connections, summarizing, connections, characters, visualizing, and more!

Would you like a copy of my Daily 5 Packet? I have it on Google Docs HERE.

Disclaimer: The Daily 5 & CAFE resources are unofficial adaptations of the Daily 5 by Gail Boushey & Joan Moser. This freebie is not endorsed by the 2 Sisters. http://www.thedailycafe.com

How do you keep kids accountable during Daily 5? I'd love to hear about your ideas- leave me a comment below :)