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Friday, December 30, 2016

Five for Friday

Wow, it sure feels good to blog again.  Life has been pretty crazy busy these past few months, so here's a little of what I've been up to lately!

As you all know, teachers wear many hats: teacher, parent, counselor, doctor, detective, etc. Well, these past two months I added another hat: cheer coach. 

It was a lot of fun coaching middle school cheer at my school, but holy buckets that had a steep learning curve! I felt like it was my first year teaching again! I've got a post coming up about my experience as a new cheer coach, so check back again soon!

I have become a National Board Candidate, and this has taken over my life. This has been a goal of mine ever since I found about it a few years ago, and it is almost surreal that I'm going for this certification right now! So if I'm not posting as much on this little blog a whole lot... this is why. 

Coming soon to my TpT store:

A new reading challenge is coming soon! I'm mulling over some new ideas to get your kiddos engaged and reading at home in January. But until then, check out these resources to hold you over:

Oh, and I'm having a sale to start 2017 off right! Today - January 2nd all of my resources will be 20% off. 

We had a door decorating challenge the week before Winter Break and after four hours of assembly and who knows how much more tine in class, we were the winning doors! My team mate next door and I worked together to decorate the Gingerbread house, and we are proud to say that we didn't make any of the decorations on the door  - we just put them up. The kiddos did everything! 

I'm horrible at remembering to take pictures, but this time I did! Well, kind of. Here's a few highlights from Christmas Eve with my mom!

Happy Friday!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cyber Monday Sale

I'm stopping by for a quick post to let you know that my TpT store will be on sale for 28% off tomorrow and Tuesday. Click the image below to check it out!

Now go load up your cart! 

P.S. I'm having a giveaway! Enter to win a TpT giftcard on my Instagram here

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Sale!

November has been a whirlwind month. Between taking my cheerleaders to games 3 times a week, starting the National Board Certification process, planning a field trip, assisting with the 2nd grade Friendship Feast, and just life in general, I'm sitting here thinking where in the world did time go?

It's got me thinking about gratitude, being thankful for the things we have, the moments we spend with friends and family, and the little things in life. Well, the craziness that is life and Thanksgiving of course! 

So to all of my followers: I am thankful for you. Thank you for following me on my crazy teaching journey. I appreciate you, since you make this dream of mine possible!

This sale is in honor of you, so make sure you visit my store and grab some new resources! Click the image to check it out!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How I'd Like to Gamify my Classroom in 2nd Quarter

So these past few weeks I've written about how I added game elements to my class during the First Quarter. This post is all about the things I'm *hoping* to add to my class this quarter.

1. Characters

I outlined these great characters over the summer, and didn't get around to introducing them in the first quarter. I hope to break them out sometime during quarter 2!

2. Introduce New Mini Games

The main games we've played in my class have been Sink or Swim, Mystery Boxes, and Danger Cards. It's time to introduce some new ones, and I think the next one up will be Math Football.

Click the image to view this FREEBIE in my TpT Store!

3. Breakout Kit

I haven't decided if I'm actually going to buy this kit, or come up with a spin on it. I love the idea of using team work to unlock clues, and I'm determined to figure out a way to make it work!

P.S. - If you're reading this thinking it'll be too much work, just know that this is not something we do every day or even every week. I'm all about making learning fun when I can, but I'm also equally for making your life easier as a teacher. With all of things that we have to do, we want our lives to be easier and not take on something that'll be more time and energy than it's worth. I've written about some other ways I gamified my classroom during the first quarter, and I tried to keep them as easy as possible. That being said, it's also not something we do all day or even every day. I don't want it to lose some of its “magic” so it will feel like something special for as long as possible. These are just little baby steps I've taken to add some more fun elements to my class!

If you've added these elements into your classroom, let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear suggestions to make it run smoothly.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How I Gamified my Classroom: Timed 3D Model

This post is all about one of the baby steps I took to add game elements into my classroom, and this one was a timed group activity.

I did this activity the Friday before we went on our week long Fall Break, and that was the perfect time to try an activity like this out! I had several groups of students, and each group had to construct a 3D model of the beginning, middle, and end of one of the stories we read in our reading curriculum. They couldn't tell the other groups which story they had, and then the kiddos had to guess which model went with each story. Oh, and they only had 30 minutes to do it.

I showed them how to make the 3D model, but that was it! I stepped back and let them figure out how to work together and delegate each part. Some groups did a better job than others, but overall they all turned out pretty good! If you're looking to create this with your class, this website has directions and pictures to show you how to make it.

Can you tell this is from Henry and Mudge?

Another side of Henry and Mudge

Since 2nd graders.. or any elementary age student.. aren't good at managing time, I checked in with the class every 10 minutes so they could vote on how they were doing and working together. It works out well to have them reflect on their effort and team work, and it gives me an idea of who might need me to help them sort things out.

I would definitely do this activity again! And probably will right before we go on another break from school, with another spin on it... I should have that all figured out by spring break!

Check back next Wednesday to read about my plans to gamify my class in the 2nd Quarter!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Friendship Feast

The week of Thanksgiving the kiddos are usually pretty antsy and excited. Since it's an odd week anyway, why not do the fun activities we barely have time for? 

A Friendship Feast!

We've done this a few year now, and here's how we run it. 

There are over 100 2nd graders at my school, so we need a large outdoor space to hold all of them. We give the volunteers a general idea of how we want things set up, and then they're on their own to get everything going. It looks a little different every year, and here's what it looked like last year:

This was actually a little difficult serving food with this arrangement. In the past we had 2 long rows in the middle and that worked out much easier. 

Cooking was set up in the hallway right inside. 

The start of the snack table, before it was organized. We eventually moved the soup out here before we served it which made it easier if kiddos wanted seconds.

Each place setting started with a juice and apple sauce. 

One the kiddos are sitting down we serve the soup, bread, crackers, and popcorn. We do not do dessert. 

Click the image to grab my Friendship Feast Checklist FREEBIE in my TpT shop.

It's always a fun time, and something the kiddos remember! My old students will pass by in the hallway when we're cooking our food and setting everything up and I always hear them talking about how much fun they had. 

What do you do to celebrate Thanksgiving with your students? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Five for Friday

I'm linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching for another Five for Friday. This five for Friday post is really more of a recap of October… and then some of November, too!

Parent teacher conferences came and went. This was probably my easiest round of conferences ever. Yay, me!

If you haven't had conferences yet,of if you're already thinking ahead to round 2 - check out my Student Led Conferences pack! I do student led conferences in the spring, and it is a great experience for the students and parents. I've always got a lot of positive feedback from it. Check back in the spring to see how I do student led conferences!

Ok, I have a confession to make. I'm REALLY interested to hear your thoughts on this. We had a “mockdown” drill.. and no, I don't mean a lockdown drill.

Apparently, every once in awhile we will have an “intruder” come on to campus to see how the teachers will react. Sometimes they'll hop the fence and run in, run straight past the office, do some elaborate scheme to rappel down from the ceiling, etc. The last one was a joke, but basically someone from the district will act as an intruder on campus and go into teachers rooms to test our security procedures.

P.S. It was on our late day of Parent Teacher Conferences. Pretty much first thing in the morning. Great way to start the day.

Oh, and they came into my classroom. I had to report the intruder, and hope to god that I don't have any crying littles in my room when they call the lockdown a second after I tell him to leave and call the office.

Apparently I got a glowing report. But I was thrown off my game the rest of the day, AND that was the day we had to stay at school until 8 pm for conferences. It made a crazy day even crazier!

So let me know - “Mockdown” Drills: Good Thing or Bad Thing?

I've written before about how I read Explore Like a Pirate this summer. This is such a great book, you guys need to check it out when you have time.

Hahaha, teachers never have time. But seriously, check it out when you can. Go as far as you'd like, or just take one baby step to add these fun elements to your classroom. I wrote about the baby steps I took to gamify my room during the First Quarter, so check out the little baby steps you could try tomorrow!

We carved pumpkins on Sunday to get ready for Halloween. This is seriously my best work, ever. My Jack-o-lantern masterpiece!

I have decided to take the plunge.. National Board Certification here I come! I am now officially a National Board Candidate and I am equally excited and nervous to go through the process. Calling all NBCTs - give me any and all advice you have!

Click the image to go back to the linky! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

How I Gamified my Classroom: Gamified Lesson

As I first started reading Explore Like a Pirate this summer, I was instantly motivated to plan something interesting for my students. I started thinking about units that I could revamp, and with the election coming up this fall I decided to update my unit on American Symbols and government. The only thing is, that I did this early on in the book before it described game mechanics, so it's a little different than the other posts in this mini series. The good news is that it was engaging for the students and something I definitely want to do again!

A few years ago, I learned how to make a paper bag camera where the students could “take pictures” of things and then write about them. I've always loved the idea, but had never been able to figure out how to get it to work effectively in the past. The students would spend most of their time drawing a picture, and then would write one sentence, if that, to describe it. Well, when you're teaching how to write paragraphs that's a problem!

I still loved the idea of using the camera in a lesson, and it was on my mind while I'm trying to figure out how to revamp this unit. I got a little distracted and started looking up things to do on my upcoming vacation in Napa Valley, and then all of a sudden BAM! It hit me!

We would take a tour of national monuments and Washington, D.C. And use the camera to take pictures of the places we visited. While “on the tour” the students would learn from the tour guide, me, about the different monuments. They would take a picture, and when it was developed we would write facts about the monument or other symbol on the other side. The students love love LOVES traveling on planes and taking pictures of the monuments. I was surprised at how much of a hit that was.

Well, it didn't stop there. I wanted to create a sense of adventure to add that game aspect to this lesson and give the students a problem to solve. So one day they received a letter from George Washington saying that he had somehow traveled through time and he needed help from the smartest class around to go back and lead the country. I had this whole great plan where the students would have to find and decipher clues to spell out one of the names of the monuments to find him.

And it was a total flop.

Close up of the letter.

The students were more interested in looking for clues in the sand at recess or it on the field in the grass. They completely missed the clues that I wrote on the white board or taped to desks. Maybe the beginning of 2nd grade was a little too soon to get them to complete extra tasks to earn clues. Or maybe I didn't explain it right. It's something I'll definitely try again next year, or maybe even with another lesson this year. Well just have to see how it goes!

The good news is that even though they did not understand looking for clues in the way I wanted them to, they were super excited about learning the content. Each week when we went to library I had students come up to me and show me books about the government, Presidents, or monuments that they were checking out. They would say things like “Maybe there's a clue in here, Ms. Corrigan!”

Well, there were plenty of clues hidden in books. Only those books were already at their desks!

Make sure you check back next Wednesday, 11/9, to read about the 3D model challenge!