Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chrysanthemum Activity for the 2nd Day of School

I usually read Kevin Henkes' Chrysanthemum on the second day of school because it's all about a little girl who loves her name, but when she goes to school, she encounters some unkind children who make her feel embarrassed about her name. This is a good book to teach tolerance, good manners, and kindness.  

To help learn and appreciate each other's names we sing the "Chicky Chicky Song". It's a really fun song that is fun to do even later in the year when you need to liven things up.

Another fun activity incorporates patterns. The students write their name continuously on a 10x10 graph and assign a color for each letter. Once the graph is completely filled in, the students will see the different patterns their names make.
Once the grid is completely filled in, the students cut it out and glue it to a colored piece of construction  paper. This is our first hall display for the year!
The example above is a 5-letter name, so the pattern is very easy to see. Students with longer names will have to wrap their names to the next line and it will take a little longer for them to see the pattern.
This 6-letter name has a more complex pattern that may take a little longer to see. Encourage students to keep going. Eventually, you will hear "Cooolllll!"

To download this activity page, please click HERE!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Using Blogging with The Daily 5

Last year, one of my goals was to implement The Daily 5 and The Daily Cafe in my classroom. I was very pleased with the results and how my students responded. I found that by following the routine as recommended in the books really helped my students become independent learners who all worked to the best of their ability.
1 teacher + 18 students with laptops = fun!
Another goal was to implement blogging. I was not sure how this was going to work with 2nd graders, but the second week of school, I checked out the portable laptop station from the library and jumped right in! It was hard for some of the students who had never used a laptop, but some of the others were very helpful in getting everyone where they needed to be. I used Kidblog  because I was able to set up a separate blog for each student. They used their student i.d. as the password, so it was very easy for them to log on.  After a few sessions with the laptops, most of the students were comfortable with how it all worked and were doing short, little posts about themselves.
Anchor charts
When I felt that they were ready to blog on their own, I introduced the "Work on Writing" component of the Daily 5. During work on writing, they write in their notebooks using the writing process: Prewrite, Rough Draft, Revise and Edit, Proofread, and Publish. When they got to the Proofread stage, they made an appointment to meet with me. They read their work and I listened. When finished, I asked them what changes they could make to their story. Most of the time they were able to pick out spelling and grammar errors, but I guided them in making other revisions that were appropriate for their age level and ability. Once all revisions were done and ready to publish, they moved to the computer to type it all in. At first, it took a long time for the students to type their posts, but by the middle of the year, most were very familiar with the keyboard and were able to get their posts done more quickly. Some even figured out how to do fancy, colored fonts.
This handy tool helps keep track of where each student is in the  writing process.
Once we got to the point where the students chose their Daily 5 round, using blogging for "work on writing" worked perfectly. Since we had three desktop computers, I stopped using laptops because the carts took up so much space in my room. Also, since the students were all at different stages of the writing process, three computers worked out fine. Sometimes the students were so in to their writing and blogging that they wanted to choose "work on writing" more than once per day. I did not usually allow this unless they were really close to finishing. 
Students engaged and blogging independently.
When the students finished their posts, they hit the "submit for review" button. I received an email notifying me that a blog post was ready for my review. Generally, I would just look it over and publish it. I am not looking for perfection, I am looking for good, quality work that demonstrates the students' best effort. They are motivated to do their best because they know they have an audience that includes other teachers, administrators, friends, and parents. 
Sample blog post
When I set up our Kidblog last year, I kept it password protected because I wasn't sure how the parents would respond and I wanted to make sure that I was taking all safety precautions.  This year, our blogs will be open so that classrooms around the world can visit and comment. I have it set up so I can moderate all posts and comments. I am looking forward to introducing a new group of 2nd graders to the world of blogging!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Identifying Your Students' Learning Styles

Behavior problems in the classroom often are caused by students who are bored and not engaged. Identifying and understanding your students' learning styles is helpful when planning engaging lessons and activities.  Grouping students with similar learning styles will result in more successful cooperative learning. This is a great infographic for visual learners like me to understand the different learning styles.
What Type of Learner Are You?
Compiled By: OnlineCollege.org

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Infographic: A Teacher's Guide to Social Media

Here's a helpful infographic for teachers wondering how they can use social media in the classroom:
A Teacher’s Guide to Social Media
From: OnlineColleges.net

Books for the First Weeks of School

As the new school year approaches, I am reviewing my plans from previous years and working on ways to improve my lessons. The Daily 5 has completely changed the way I teach and has allowed me more time to read to my students and teach through mini lessons.  Mini lessons are short periods of time where you focus on reading or writing skills and strategies. Mini lessons at the beginning of the year can also cover classroom procedures, rules, and behavior. Here are a few of my favorites for the first few weeks of school:

First Day Jitters 
This is a good book to help break the ice and let the students know that they are not the only ones who get nervous on the first day of school.

I usually read this on the second day and do activities using the students' names.

What if Everybody Did That?
I already used this question a lot in my classroom and was thrilled to see that there was a book with the same title! I like this book because it shows the action and the consequence. It covers some good areas for discussion such as yelling out in class and littering.

No David!
Another book that shows the action and the consequence. My students and I make anchor charts with the classroom rules. These books helps generate ideas for setting our classroom guidelines.

My Mouth is a Volcano
Another good one to help generate discussion about waiting your turn to speak and being a good listener.

The Recess Queen
A fun book with lots of rhyming and a good message about playground behavior and bullying.

A Bad Case of the Stripes
A great book for getting the students to understand that it is o.k. to be different.

The Brand New Kid
A nice story about a new kid who looks and sounds different from the other students.  

Whoever You Are
I use this book to help introduce our involvement in The Global Classroom Project. Students see that there are kids all over the world just like them!

I hope this gives you some good ideas for the the start of school. What books do you read to your students during the first weeks?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Summer Goals: Update

At the beginning of my summer vacation I set some goals. Now that we are 6 weeks away from the start of school, I thought I would take a look and see how I'm doing:

My Summer of 2012 Goals!
  • Clean the garage:  My sister-in-law just retired after 20 years of teaching and I have inherited a lot of her classroom items - which have been dumped in my garage that was already in disarray. I am very excited to go through and see what goodies she has left me! Unfortunately in Texas, it's difficult to work in the garage when it's 90 degrees at 8:00 in the morning so it may take a while to get through everything.  *UPDATE* The garage is clean! We dragged everything out, swept, sorted, and rearranged. We also had a garage sale and made a few extra dollars!
  • Learn, Learn, Learn! Last summer I discovered a world of educators on Twitter and through blogging. This summer I plan to get some new ideas and learn even more. *UPDATE* Participating in weekly Twitter chats like #2ndchat and #teachchat keeps me conntected with teachers around the world. I also make it a point to visit at least 2 blogs a day. I also visit Pinterest to collect new ideas.
  • Plan for 2012-13: I am already thinking of ways to make what I did last year better: Skyping with a purpose, making the most of student blogging, and fine-tuning the Daily5/Cafe routine are a few things that I will be working on. *UPDATE* My planning is more in my head right now. Now that the beginning of school is getting closer, I will put more thought and effort into it.
  • Relax, be healthy, and have fun! I am also going to limit my time on the computer this summer and make time for healthy and fun activities. It's very easy to get stuck on the couch with the laptop and not realize how much time has passed. *UPDATE* ON the couch with the laptop a little more than I wanted, but still accomplishing a lot around the house and getting lots of relaxing down-time so I will feel recharged when school starts.

Garage: BEFORE
Garage: DURING Garage Sale

Garage: AFTER! 

SO organized!
What were your summer goals?
 Have you accomplished anything? 
Have you taken time to relax and recharge? 

The Original Seat Sack!

When I first set up my classroom a few years ago, I was looking for an inexpensive way for my students to store their whiteboard and markers. I discovered that jumbo stretchy book covers fit nicely on the back of the chairs and the whiteboard slid perfectly into the pocket. This was a great way to keep the whiteboards at their desks without getting chipped and scratched.

However, I soon discovered that this was all the book covers could really hold. If the students added books, workbooks, or folders the book cover would stretch and the pocket would flip over, causing all of the contents to fall on the floor.
Adding books and other items caused the book covers to stretch.  With added items, the book covers drag on the floor and the pockets flip, causing all of the contents to fall out.   

The stretched out pocket would sometimes cause the chair to become top heavy and tip it over. The added stress on the stretchy fabric also caused it to tear.
I decided it was time to look for something sturdier that would hold more items - particularly the books my students read every day for "Read to Self" during The Daily 5. Fortunately, one of my readers contacted me and told me about The Original Seat Sack. These sacks are made of durable denim and have a nice deep pocket that will not stretch, flip, or cause the chair to become too top heavy.
Now my students can store books, workbooks, and folders in the seat  sacks!

The blue denim fabric will match just about any classroom decor

No stretching, dragging, tipping, or tearing!
The Original Seat Sacks are designed and hand made by a 3rd grade teacher who was looking for a storage solution. To learn more about this product please visit The Original Seat Sack Facebook page

A recent blog post over at Pre-K Pages made me realize that the chair in my pictures looks like a full-size student chair, but it is not. It is actually a smaller chair (27" tall) used for 2nd graders. The stretchy book covers and The Original Seat Sack work nicely on any size chair.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study

If you haven't gotten around to reading the Daily 5 or Cafe books by Moser and Boushey, here is a fun way to read and discuss them with teachers from all over! Please join the Daily 5 Book Study at We Read, We Blog, We Teach and learn how to implement one of the best literacy programs ever!
Don't miss a single thing - just follow the book study schedule and you'll be ready to implement greatness by the first day of school! Abby from Third Grade Bookworm has already blogged about Chapter 1
Go check it out!

Huge Giveaway on Kleinspiration!

Erin over at Kleinspiration has some great giveaways going on right now! Go check it out!

There will be 3 winners selected.  The first winner will select the package he or she would like: 

  • autographed book package 
  • software and web membership package 
  • or the TpT item package.  
Then, the second winner will have second choice at his or her choice of package.  Finally, the third lucky winner will receive the remaining package.  You may enter multiple ways through the Rafflecopter widget.