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Monday, September 14, 2015

Parent Night

The first round of conferences the past few years have driven me INSANE! I mean, I absolutely love meeting with my students families and learning more about them. It really is an eye opening experience. The reason it makes me crazy is that I answer the exact same question at conference after conference after conference.. 

after conference..

after conference...

What can I do to help my child at home?

At some point I feel as if I should record myself and just play the prerecorded response to keep my sanity. 

Do the homework, read 20 minutes every day, memorize math facts.. 

Don't get me wrong - I am so happy that parents want to be involved in their child's education and help their child achieve success. The frustrating part is saying the same thing over and over and over and over again. 

Well, I am a problem solver and tried to figure something out. I want the parents to have their questions answered, but I don't want to repeat myself 15 times in one night. I realized, we don't do an open house where I can talk about these kinds of things. Well, why NOT do one? If I have to stay late one night and answer parents questions then it'll hopefully save me from answering the same question over and over and over again in one night.  Soo.. I got one of my team mates on board and out came 2nd Grade Parent Night!

I wish I had time to make a cute cover. It's on the to do list for next year! The pictures in this post are of the handouts we gave the parents. 

We opened the evening up to all of the parents at the grade level and had a great turn out - my room was completely PACKED! We had to grab chairs from other classrooms. It was a GREAT turnout!

P.S. - We had food donated from Macayos. People LOVE free food, and businesses love to donate to education. If you need a good turn out - make sure you offer free food! A big thank you to Macayos for feeding me the parents at Parent Night!

Suggestions for parents to help their child. Click the image if you want to download this freebie from

I still get nervous speaking in front of  group of adults, especially parents. I guess I have a hard time telling them things to do with their child at home and offer parenting tips since I don't have kids of my own. Once I got started talking about the content though I was good to go!

We discussed the reading, math, and field trips for the year. We went over the goals, expectations, common errors students make at this age, and ideas for activities to do at home. It wasn't anything too fancy, but a lot of parents have said that it was a great event. They said they thought all grade levels should have one, and they were disappointed that the grade levels where the siblings were didn't have something like this.

I think this is a great visual to show the importance of reading 20 minutes at home. It is in English and Spanish on the opposite side, and I cannot remember where I got it. If this is yours please please PLEASE let me know so I can add your link!
Dolch Word List

This is a game that comes with my math curriculum. It's really good practice with money, and it can be made more challenging or easier depending on the age and ability level of the child.

Similar to Collect 25 cents, but the subtraction version. 

This sheet included the field trips for the year with the cost per student and chaperone. We did not collect money from anyone at this time, but since I teach at a Title 1 school it is easiest to give the families plenty of advance notice when we are asking for money.

I'd LOVE to hear from other teachers about what you do for your Open House/Curriculum Night/whateveryouwanttocallit. What activities do you do? What do you give the parents? I'd love to hear all of the wonderful ideas out there to add to my list for next year.

P.S. - I had to take pictures of the handouts from home. I completely forgot to take pictures of how we set everything up. I promise I will remember the pictures next year, or even later in the year if I get to host a Reading Night! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Five for Friday

Happy Friday! 

You know that means it's time for...

These past few weeks have been absolutely INSANE! I know you all understand since you're in the same boat. There never are enough hours in the day at the beginning of the school year.. Am I right?! 

Since my days have been mostly about trying to get the gigantic pile of papers off my desk and out of my life - my weeks have not been all that exciting. This Five for Friday is more like a Five for the Past Three Fridays. :)

My godparents came to visit from Florida, and we had a fun little lunch with them at Buca di Beppo. 

I'm in the middle of planning the my first Parent Night for all 2nd grade parents. I hope that this will help answer the questions parents have about how to help their child, things they'll learn in 2nd grade, and all of the field trips we'll go on this year. I'm not used to speaking in front of a large group of adults so I'm a little nervous. #wishmeluck

I'll post about how it goes in a week or so! As soon as I find an extra minute to sit down and write the post.. I know all of you understand how crazy life is right now! #tiredteacher

I have only received a few Stitch Fixes, but I am hooked! 

You know when you get this email that it's going to be a great week! One of these days I will have to write my post about all of the super cute finds I have bought from Stitch Fix. My stylist has been on point each time! Monica, you rock! 

We were able to escape the heat here in Phoenix for a few days in Flagstaff. It sure doesn't feel like Fall here yet - we're all still burning up with temperatures over 100 degrees. 

I FINALLY put up my first Donors Choose Project! 

We read all about Frog and Toad in 2nd grade, so why not learn the nonfiction side about it, too? My goal is to get a frog habitat so we can learn about the life cycle of a frog by watching the frog go through it's life cycle, and reading books about it to make sure we understand. What better way to bring learning to life, then to literally bring something to life? 

My project was funded within a week, and I cannot wait to get started! I hope that this will end up being an engaging and informative learning experience for my students. I mean, it has the engagement, science and literacy integration, and I didn't have to personally pay for it. What more can you want?

Enjoy the weekend! We have definitely earned a break!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bat Cereal Boxes

Oh.. Halloween. Is it too early to start thinking about Halloween? Halloween decorations are out in the grocery stores so you know it's on the kiddos minds. I still think it's a little ways away, but the closer we get to this holiday.. the more difficult the kiddos act in class. I mean.. I know they smell the sugar that they'll be eating way too much of and they're excited but.. Oh. My. Goodness.  They can be difficult to teach at this time! A few years ago I was left wondering.. What can I do to keep them engaged in learning when their minds are on costumes, candy, on anything except what they're supposed to be thinking about and haunted houses? Then I found the answer... A Bat Cereal Box project!

Something about putting a report on a cereal box just keeps them interested in learning, even on Halloween! My first year doing this project, I looked around on Halloween and saw that all of my students were engaged in their learning and working to the best of their abilities to put the cereal box together. Score!

This is something I usually begin prior to Halloween because it takes a lot of research and there just isn't enough time to complete it in one day. We have a story that is about a bat in our basal reader and we usually start the story the first week in October, and once we begin reading that I introduce the project. At my school we have a subscription to Reading A-Z, so we read a few books about bats from that site to help us research. And of course, you have to include Stellaluna with this project, too!

We begin our unit on bats with our Bat Scientist Research Journal. I really emphasize that real scientists use journals to record the things they learn, and I try to remember to call them bat scientists to keep them engaged in the note taking aspect of the unit.

The students learn a lot of vocabulary, and use a lot of graphic organizers to show what they've learned in this unit. Here's a sneak peek at some things you'll find in the unit:

Last year, I had my students complete two parts (the cover and the game) of this project at home, and it was a huge success. I sent home a parent letter with some game templates so the student can choose whichever game they want to do. (And, if they mess up then they have another game template that they can use!) On the front of the cereal box the students think of a creative name to "sell" their cereal. It needs to be about Bats, of course, but I let them know that they can choose whatever name they want.

Here are some of my favorite covers from this project:

Other names I've seen in the past are Battios or Bat Loops. I love the creative names they come up with!

Here is my favorite example of the games they have created. Another option for the word bank would be to use a clue bank and have them write clues for the given words. You could do this by the number, or leave the numbers off.
Unscramble A Word using bat vocabulary. 
The other sides consist of different writing prompts, which we do in class. On Side 1 the students take on the role of a Zookeeper that takes care of bats, and write an informative paragraph about what they would say if they were giving a presentation about bats. On Side 2, the students write fun facts that we learn about bats. Differentiated pages are included so you can choose how many facts one student should write about things they learned. The minimum is three, but there is a template for 5 facts for your more motivated writers.  On the bottom the students write facts and opinions about bats. There are several templates available so you can choose how many facts and/or opinions you want your students to write about bats.

This project has been one of their favorite activities from the entire year ever since I began this unit. It is on sale in my TpT store for 15% off from now until October 1st, so click the image below to grab it on sale!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ideas For Teaching Number Sense: Guess My Number!

Today I'm linking up with K's Classroom Kreations and Theresa's Teaching Tidbits for Math Tip Monday. This post is all about teaching Number Sense! 

I hope that my students have a decent grasp on number sense by the time I get them in 2nd grade. But, we all know that it isn't always the case. English language learners, new students, learning disabilities.. you never know what obstacles you're going to encounter with each new group of students.

Enter... Guess My Number! This can be done on a number line or hundred chart, but I typically use it on the hundred chart. 

Students will ask questions about the mystery number. The person who chose the mystery number will then answer yes or no. I encourage the students to ask descriptive questions, and they know that they are not allowed to guess a specific number, until many other numbers have been ruled out. Here are some examples of questions that my students have asked last year:

Is the number even or odd?
Is the number greater than ___?
Is the number less than ___?
Is the number between ___ and ____?
Does the number have a ___ in the tens place?
Does the number have a ____ in the ones place? 

It is a fun game to add to calendar time, and it's also easy enough to play on the fly when you find you have an extra 5 or 10 minutes!

Make sure you check out the other ideas for teaching number sense! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Behavior Management

Oh, behavior management. This is one thing that I think I will work on improving for the rest of my career, and I must say that in the past 3 years I have come a LONG way. My management style has changed a lot over the years based on the grade, students in the class, and new things that I have learned. I can attribute it to one thing - it was this AMAZING professional development class I took 2 years ago. It's called...

Love and Logic!

If you haven't heard of Love and Logic before then you are SERIOUSLY missing out! This class has completely changed my teaching for the better, and I am beyond thankful that I took this class early on in my career. I could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.. (you get the idea!) about how much I LOVE Love and Logic, but I'll try to keep it short. 

I used to have clip charts, write names on the board, and try basically every system imaginable, to ultimately have the students drive me absolutely insane and take time away from my teaching. I would go home infuriated at the end of the day because of the bizarre and horrible behavior I had in my class (to this day I am so thankful for the wonderful children I had, too, because they helped me keep my sanity) and ultimately so FRUSTRATED because of the behavior that took away from the lessons. I knew I couldn't go on like this, and when I saw a Love and Logic class come up as professional development I thought - Why not?! 




If you are not using aspects of this system YOU HAVE TO START RIGHT NOW!! 

Love and Logic is a system that is based on establishing positive relationships with students, and setting and enforcing limits to keep control of your classroom. It allows you to teach, keep your sanity, all while maintaining the learning environment. What more can you possibly ask for? 

I got rid of the clip charts. I stopped writing names. I tried my hardest to keep behavior issues private, and the difference in the "health" of my classroom is like night and day. Instead of using a public display to show behavior, I came up with a Habits for Success reflection that my students complete periodically. Last year I did this every week, and then come Novemberish it became once a month. This year I told the parents that a Habits for Success reflection will go home every other week, and I think that is something that I can commit to for the rest of the year.

I have the students rate themselves on how they think they are doing on their Habits for Success, and then I go in and rate them on how I think they are doing. If I disagree, then I will write a comment for why. Sometimes the students think they are doing better than they are, but sometimes they are much harder on themselves than they need to be. It's a really useful and informative tool to keep parents informed about their child's behavior, and to give the students feedback about how they are really doing!

Click the image above to grab this as a FREEBIE in my TpT shop!

What do you do to manage behavior in your classroom?