Friday, June 27, 2014

Organization of My Literacy Block: Digging Into Next Year Blog Hop

Literacy is such a big and important part of our day in my classroom. We use 2 big chunks of time for literacy. Last summer I read 'The Daily 5: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades' by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.

So I started off the year by establishing the Daily 5 routines which worked really well. The kids loved the stations and I found it was a great way to get any assessments done including my Dibbles progress monitoring. Below I have included the posters that I made for my Daily 5 Stations. Click the posters, or click the above link to download these free posters.

We did our Daily 5 stations from 8:45 to 9:20 each day and I found it was a great way to get the day started. My stations were highly structured, and I always made sure that all of the materials needed at each station were already waiting at the station when the students arrived in the morning. I also do not allow a lot of choice. The students start at the station I put them at (no complaints), and they rotate through each station. This ensures that everyone spends the same amount of time at each station and everyone is accountable for producing the work at each station. I usually only have 3 stations for each day.  I try to vary the activities and skills needed for each centre. Some of the centres I used include: 

For our writing centre:
We wrote stories, made picture books, post cards, letters from one character in a story to another. We wrote alternative endings to stories, we wrote jokes, we wrote recipes, and we also used our spelling words to write stories. One of the favourite writing centres was an activity where students used stickers to replace some of the words in their story. 

You can find more ideas for writing centres and everything you need to run your own writing centres including: a poster for each station, graphic organizers, and writing paper in my Hurray For Writing Centres!
For our word study station we often used sight words play dough placemats, we did dictionary scavenger hunts, put words in alphabetical order, and did variety of activities with our weekly spelling words. 
For our listening station my students used IPads to listen to stories using the Tumble Books App. This is a terrific online library that reads books to students. There are also games, puzzles, quizzes, and videos. This resource does cost money, but it is well worth it! 

Later on in the day, my class had their reading groups. My school purchased a “boxed reading program” called ReadWell during my first year of teaching for the primary classrooms. For my first 2 years I used the books from the program and I did my own discussions and engaging projects and activities. After their reading group, students had the responsibility to go back to their seats and complete their story “activity” that goes with their reading group. Each reading group’s activity was always appropriate for that group’s abilities, and activities were specifically designed to be highly engaging and meet the needs and interests of the students in the group. Activities included: reading response journals, graphic organizers, and projects. These projects included: student made board games when we read 'The Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark', Students completed research projects about endangered animals when we read 'Judy Moody Saves the World', and students made posters advertising businesses students would be interested in running when reading 'Arthur’s Pet Business'. Last year, myself, and the other primary teachers at my school received pressure from my administration to “follow the script” of the ReadWell program, so my last years  students used the activity books from the program for seat work. 

I use colour coded bins to organize my reading groups. I like these coloured bins because everything the reading group needs including: books, decoding books, activity books, and flashcards are all in one place and the group is ready to go. The colour of the bin also becomes the groups name. 

You can check out more blog posts on the topic of 'the organization of literacy block' from other fabulous teacher authors by checkout out the Diggin' Into Next Year Blog Hop! 

Canada Day Blog Hop: Canadian Money Freebie

This week, in celebration of Canada's 147th birthday, I am participating in a Canada Day blog hop, and I am blogging about a Canadian Money freebie that I created in celebration of Canada Day. 

This freebie includes two Canadian money interactive activities to help students practice the important skill of counting money. 

The first activity in this freebie is a 'Flyer Shopping Challenge' where students cut out an advertisement from a local grocery store flyer and they either cut out the paper coins provided in the freebie or use real, plastic, or money stamps to represent the exact amount of money that you would need to purchase that item. This activity is fun and interactive, and more importantly it shows students how math can be used in a real life situation. 

As mentioned above, plastic 'play' coins and Canadian money stamps can be purchased at your local teacher supply store. I got mine from Kool and Child in Nanaimo B.C. As you can see my money stamps are well used. Money stamps are great for math centres and for extra practice. 

The second activity in my freebie is a counting money game. Where students take turns spinning the money wheel three times each and then adding up the money the spinner lands on. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins. 

The money spinner works best if you cut out the circle. Glue the circle onto a paper plate and then use a paper fastener to attach the spinner. You can also purchase better spinners (that really spin) at your local teacher supply store. I hope your classes enjoy this freebie! Happy Canada Day! 

You can find more Canadian money activities, games, and worksheets in my Canadian Money Unit.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Oh Canada Day TPT Sale June 28th-July 1st.

In honour of Canada Day, myself and other Canadian TPT sellers are having a blog hop with Canadian curriculum freebies, tips, and ideas. I will be participating, and my entire store will be 20% off. Additionally, I am also working on a blog post about a new freebie as part of the Canada Day blog hop. I would like to invite other Canadian teachers to participate! 

I would like to thank a fellow Canadian blogger and TPT seller, Elyse from Proud To Be Primary, for her use of this fabulous Canada Day banner. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Field Trip Reflections

As the school year is coming to an end my class was lucky enough to get to go on 2 big field trips! I pulled this off this year only because we shared our field trip with the grade 3/4 class next door and they got to attend our field trip. So 2 weeks ago we went on a fabulous trip to the Kwisitis Visitor Centre located in Tofino B.C. The Kwisitis (Which means "the other end of the beach") Visitor Centre has a museum which includes a theatre and exhibits about the local First Nations from the West Coast of Vancouver Island. After exploring the Visitor Centre we then had our lunch on the beach, followed by a nature walk, before the long trip back to the school. 

Last week we went on a trip to the Wild Life Recovery Centre located in Errington B.C. This is the second class I've taken to the Wild Life Recovery Centre and during both visits we had a blast! This year we had 3 terrific guides who gave us a tour of the centre and we also were given a presentation about owls with a live owl. The highlights of the trip were seeing the eagles, the owls, the turtles, and the bears. The Wild Life Recovery Centre is a great place to teach students about the impact that we as humans have on the local wild life around us, as the animals who live at the Wild Life Recovery Centre are victims of car accidents, gun shots, domestication from humans who couldn't handle or no longer wanted their "wild pets".

After a field trip I always have the class create a thank you card for the hosts of our field trip. To make this card I take 2 pieces of construction paper (you might need more if you have a large class). I fold the paper in half and use the long stapler to staple the middle of the card. Next we do a class brain storm about everything we saw while on the field trip and I then have everyone in the class fill out a field trip reflections form. This asks the students: what was your favourite part of the field trip and what was one thing that you learned. I then glue all of the field trip reflection forms to the card and then I cut out small pieces of paper and the have each student draw a small picture of one thing they saw on the trip to decorate the front and back of the card along with a small thank you note.

You can check out this template for the thank you card along with other end of the year activities from my End of the Year Activities Resources Package. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Behavior Management

Creating a safe environment where everyone feels safe, cared for, and respected is key to having a well managed class. I spend all of September and into October establishing routines and creating a friendly working environment with lots of team building activities. I have included a number of team building activities in my ‘Back to School: Twenty Activities for the First Month of School’ package that you can check out these activities include: a people bingo game, class goal posters, interview a classmate, and a getting to know you agree/ disagree game. 

It is also important to have very clear expectations that are established from day one, and consequences that ‘fit the crime’ for students who do not follow the classroom routines. For example students who do not get their work done because they are talking all class might have the consequences of getting their work completed during recess. It is so important that the consequence fits the crime and that the student is aware of the cause and effect of: ‘if I do this’ then ‘the consequence will be…’. I also believe it is so important that you as a teacher never hold grudges against students. It is important to make sure that students understand that even though they have misbehaved you still like them. Make sure to tell students that you do not like their behaviour, but they are not their behaviour, and they can learn and grow from their behaviour and do the right thing next time. 

I have tried many behaviour management  strategies. The ones that seem to work the best for me are the ones that include the student and  everyone involved with the student. This includes the student, teacher, and parent. As soon as I notice that it’s going to be a struggle I plan a meeting with the parent and I make sure the student is involved too, so that they know we are all on the same page. During this meeting we come up with a plan that is going to help the student be successful. This is a also a good time to ask the parent what strategies they use at home in terms of managing behaviours. Whatever the plan may be communication between home and school is now very important. 

One way to reinforce positive behaviour and to foster communication between the home and the school is to use a sticker chart taped to the student’s desk. On the chart have a column for the blocks of the day and a column for stickers. If the student meets expectations they get a sticker for that block of time on their chart. (The expectations whether that is not calling out, staying in their seat, keeping their hands to themselves, or getting their work done on time needs to be established ahead of time). If they do not not meet expectations thats okay, they can still work towards getting the next sticker. These daily sticker charts can then be glued into a communication book that can be brought home for a parent signature and then brought back to school the next day. Parents and teachers can also write notes back and forth in this book. This communication book is a great form of communication between the school and home, and the student feels great when they get their stickers and a congratulations from their parents when they get home after having a great day at school. 

You can find this sticker chart and more tips, strategies, and resources to help with behaviour management in my  'Behaviour Management Resource Package'. 

Check out other great behaviour management blog posts from the fabulous blogger teachers participating in the 'Diggin' Into Next Year Blog Hop'.