Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tips to Make Grading a Snap!

I was browsing one of the many teacher Facebook groups I am in and I came across this gem of a post by Beth from Adventures of a School Marm. I LOVED so many of her tips that I asked her if I could share her Facebook post as a guest post on my blog!  And she said yes!  Woo hoo! 
I have edited her post a little so that it makes sense (headings), but for the most part this is all her!  Isn't she awesome!  Make sure to check out her blog!

Stop with Bell Work/ Morning Work!
For starters, I stopped doing "bell work" like Daily Math or Daily Language. Instead, the kids would bring their homework (done or not!) up to the carpet to go over together. I checked there who did it or didn't. If they did it, they earned a Class Dojo point. I also had a HW incentive club each quarter. (If they did "x" amount of assignments in the quarter, they got to each lunch with me in the classroom and get a special treat. They worked hard for this! LOL!)  Then, we would go over all the answers. If they didn't do it, they were expected to do it with us right then. I never collected homework, they got immediate feedback, and they took their paper right back home with them. I made sure parents understood that homework was for practice and would not be included in our grades. Not putting HW in the grade book was actually a school policy. Yes, there were some kids that never did their homework. 

There were some kids that ALWAYS did their homework. But I just chose not to fight that battle. We celebrated the responsibility and hat work of those that did their HW. We grew from our mistakes because the feedback was immediate. The immediate feedback was more important to me than penalizing anyone that chose not to do it. But that's just me and I realize not everyone will agree with that. 

The Overwhelming Pile of Centers!
Next time saver was that most centers work was not graded. I structured my ELA block so that there was 10 min of self-selected silent reading for fun at the end. The kids could read whatever they wanted, never be forced to write any response about it, and could just read because reading is so much fun! I used that time to go around the room and look over their centers work, which they collected on their desks. They got checks, stars, or feedback if there needed to be improvement. I kept anecdotal notes on a clipboard with a roster. Again, most centers work was never collected or graded with the exception of the work collected in their reading binders. 

Assessments? Make it Easy with IMMEDIATE Feedback
My last time saver was that we graded every test together... usually the same day we took it! Kids knew immediately how they did on their tests, which they loved. They came to the carpet with their test, a marker or colored pencil, and grabbed a clipboard. Again, we looked at it as a time to celebrate what we knew and get feedback on areas to improve. Kids would circle the number of it was wrong. 

The biggest issue I had was they wanted to draw all over their test and make lots of smiley faces for right answers, so I just trained them not to do that. I was able to correct common misconceptions right then and there. I did spend time teaching about grading with integrity and not lying. The kids would rat each other out in the rare event that one tried to cheat. That usually happened early on and then the problem would be fixed once they realized that it was better to be honest. I did collect those tests and still double checked them for accuracy. It still saved me a ton of time! I used to spend about 6 hours every grading all the test we were required to give. This cut my time down to about hour to go over all of them, double check, and record.

A Closing Thought 
Again, I realize many of these ways are unconventional. I did see a big improvement in my kids' motivation to do their homework because of the immediate feedback. They liked being celebrated for being responsible. I also saw test anxiety decrease because they knew right away how they did. It made my instructional grouping more effective because I knew their progress so much more quickly. 

Aren't these fantastic tips?  I was blown away at the value of immediate feedback while taking a burden off the teacher! Thank you for sharing, Beth!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas and a $50 TpT Certificate Giveaway!

I am going to keep this post short and sweet.

First, because  I am very, very tired.  This glorious Christmas season is about to start kicking, and all I want is a nap! :)

Merry Christmas, from my family to yours.

I hope your season is blessed.  

We celebrated Christmas at my house last night with my side of the family.  I was so proud of the chalkboard art (I looked at this lovely design on Esty) I drew (my first one) before they arrived.  I thought it summed up the purpose for the season nicely.

Sorry for the terrible lighting.  The walls are greige I, promise.

And last but not least, this is a wonderful time of year to reflect upon what we are thankful for and the blessings in our life.  My life has been so blessed by my blog, Facebook friends, and all the wonderful people at TpT.  It has truly made a huge difference in my life, and has allowed me this amazing opportunity to stay at home with my little girls.  I am so grateful.

To celebrate, I am giving away one $50 gift certificate to TpT. 

There are two ways to enter, follow my blog or my Facebook page, or both I guess! :) . One winner will be chosen on Dec 26th at midnight. 

Good luck and may all your days be Merry and Bright!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Fun and Freebies to Get You Through the End of the Week!

Hey guys!

I am going to keep this short and sweet.  My baby girl has the icks.  They were super cute and fun on Sunday and then she had a stomach bug in the middle of the night.  No fun! :(

We took pictures for our Christmas cards yesterday- we are a bit behind!  I learned that getting a 4 year old and 18 month old to smile AND look at the camera at the same time is impossible. We just rolled with it. :)

I thought I would put together a few FREEBIES (new and old) to help you get through the end of the month.

Christmas coupon book for parents.  This is FREE and is a super cheap gift for parents.  If you can make copies and have crayons, glue, and scissors, then you got this.  And it is FREE.  Even better!

This is an oldie, but goodie.

Cute little reindeer card with tracers for students to make.  Easy and cute.  And free- even better!

Another oldie.  This was from last year's Winter e-book.

Have  you ever made the cinnamon and applesauce ornaments before?  So easy and they make your room smell wonderful! This pack has the directions and recipe, as well as a cute way to wrap it using paper plates!! For real!  If you are going to make these, I suggest that your class makes them ASAP. They can sometimes take awhile to dry (if you don't bake them).  It all depends on the humidity level.  Some years it takes longer (several days) than others (overnight). 

I did just post this little January pack.  It has all kinds of fun and novel literacy activities.  They require VERRRY little prep.  Most just need crayons, a paperclip, a magnifying glass, or a die to complete.

There are 17 different activities that cover a ton of different topics including:

•Verb Tenses (Irregular Past Tense is Included)
•Plural and Singular Nouns
•Common and Proper Nouns
•Identifying Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, and Adverbs
•Compound Words
•Asking and Answering Questions (Fiction and Nonfiction)

They would be great for partner activities or even independent centers during guided reading. They are open ended, too so they really require kids to THINK! The pack is super cheap too- only $3!

This is the first pack I have made like this, so I would be curious if this is something you would like to see more of....

And...shhh.. last night I released an exclusive sampler of it to my Facebook flowers.  If you want to check out the freebie, hop on over to my Facebook and check out this post!  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tips for Making Gingerbread Houses in Class

Have you every thought this?

And then this happens?

I have made gingerbread houses with several classes and got it down pat.  For the most part, we all looked like this...

Happy and covered in candy.

Are any of you guys making gingerbread houses this year?  I LOVED doing this with my kids as a celebration.  They LOVED it!  It can be easy and lots of fun.  Here are a few ""tips" I have collected over the years.

1.) Make sure to buy CHINET plates. Yes, they are expensive but they are SO worth it. The weight of the plates holds up well to kiddo use and abuse and icing overload.  I liked the dinner plates without any of the dividers.

2.) Collect milk cartons from the cafeteria several days in advance so you can rinse them out and let them air dry before making them (ewww, stinky sour milk smell!). I always collected them and then let them air dry on the counters in my classroom.   I was VERY lucky to have a sink in my room.

3.) Use a stapler to staple the top of the houses closed. Then, hot glue the milk cartons to the Chinet plates the day before you make them.  This makes it SO much easier for students rather than trying to use icing to cement it to the place...which never works.

4.) Cover the student's work tables.  This sounds obvious.  Like common sense, right?  Yeah, well not my first year!  Whoops! You can use cheap plastic table clothes from the Dollar Store, newspaper, or butcher paper.

4.) I made the building time as low key as possible.  Students shared a tub of icing (no licking!). They went "shopping for decorations." I laid out all the candies and each student was given a Styrofoam bowl.  They told me what they wanted and I filled the bowls.  If they wanted more candy (and there was extra), students raised their hands and I refilled the bowl.  I limited student movement.  I explained to them it would be easy to accidentally knock over someone's else's bowl of candies or houses...and that would be sad. Super sad.  Like Sadsville sad.

5.) My kids were always sad to stop building.  They had more candy they wanted to eat, er add to their house!  To make everyone happy, I gave each child a baggie and they dumped all of the candy from their bowls into the baggies.  The icing went into the trash.

6.) The EASIEST way to send home the houses is to use a plastic grocery bag for each child.  Open the bag, set the plate with the house on the bottom of the bag.  Tie the handles together over the roof of the house.  Then, students can just hold the tied handles and the house doesn't fall over.  I also throw in the student's bags of candy in the sack to discourage "unauthorized snacking." Tee hee.

I hope these tips helped.  If you want to see the (editable) parent letter I send home, check this post for the freebie!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

November Freebies

Hello there!

It has been  awhile.  October has been good to us.  We have been doing...stuff.

Like this.

Halloween 2014- A cat, princess, owl and a cowboy.

and  this

We picked the cutest pumpkin in the patch, didn't we?  Not that I am biased or anything ;).


We went to a birthday party at the stables and Kinley was in love.  She wanted to keep going around and around and around.  

A family get-away to the mountains. Doesn't everyone look thrilled and all "family-like?!?!?"

October was amazing, but let's bring on the November fun! 

 Ummm...turkey!! Yum!

To celebrate I sent a note to my TPT store followers!  Are you a follower?  I sure hope so! Inside your note is an EXCLUSIVE 40 PLUS page FREEBIE for my followers! Woo hoo!

So how do you get yours?

Go to your TpT dashboard and click on the "My TpT" drop down box in the top right. Then select "Inbox."

Click on the message from me titled "Happy November!" Make sure to click on the title of the message and not my name or it will take you back to my store!

I did make a mistake and somehow the freebie isn't a live hyper link.  However, if you just cut and paste the link into a new internet window, it pops up just fine!!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Number Sense and RTI

I am so excited to share this next little guy with you.  Apparently, I need to get more excitement in my life, because some of you may be disappointed! LOL!

This next project of mine came about at the request of a former college and friend (Holla atcha’ Angie!).  I think she, like I did (and the rest of nation, in my humble little opinion), was struggling with coming up with simple and effective RTI interventions. Then, she had to create all the probes and figure out a way to track progress.

That last year I taught I had about eleven kids on RTI at one point or another.  It was like WHOA Nelly! Tons of paper work and really was a logistical nightmare.

So, after conferencing with my friend and shuddering at my past memories, I decided to come up with something to make RTI more streamlined. This is the product I *wish* I had when I was in the classroom.

I developed This Number Sense RTI Pack. It contains four skills with a few different interventions for each skill. Each skill has at least two interventions. I focused on these four skills, which I felt would improve number sense and automaticity of basic math facts.
        Ten Frame Addition
        Making Ten
        Making Ten Addition Strategy
        Number Bonds

I also wrote 6 probes for each skill that are set up identically with different problems.  At the end of each section is a data tracking sheet with a graph to show progress (or lack of).

Want a little peek inside?

Here is an example of some of the interventions.

This is a quick shot of 2 of the 6 probes for Ten Frame Addition.

There is a pretty good bit of stuff included (but no answer keys- I figured the concepts were simple enough that it was an unnecessary waste of pages). Here is a glance at the Table of Contents for more details.

After writing the pack, I wanted to make sure it wasn't all “pie-in–the-sky-fluff” that couldn't be implemented unless you had a small team.  I don’t know about you, but the years I didn't co-teach I was allll alone with just little ol’ me in the classroom. And really even when I DID co-teach, as a general rule, RTI fell under my roles and responsibilities (at least with the general education kids). My co-teacher had her hands full with her own towers of paperwork!

So, I decided to put the pack together, exactly how I would use it in the classroom.  Then, I (gulp) made my first video.  It is rough, people. Go in with VERRRRYYYYY low expectations and I might impress you.  Just might.  No promises.

The video is a tour of organize the pack in a binder and then a quick glance at how to use the binder in the classroom. 

So, hopefully, with this pack you can just grab the binder and enjoy your one-on-one time with students since your materials are all ready to go!

If you want to check this pack out, it is available in my store, here.

Want to try to win a pack?  I am giving away a pack at 9 pm tonight!  You can enter here on my Facebook page!

Want to see how I have organized RTI materials in the past?  Check it out  here

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall is in the Air! Apples and Such! {FREEBIES}

We have loved our Fall Break! We spent the first part of the trip here...

My two best friends (over 20 years together! Eek!) took my two girls to the beach.  My husband stayed at home to work.  Boo! We had a blast.  We spent 4 days in Myrtle Beach and LOVED it.

All but this one...she is not a fan of waves, sand, salt and all that stuff!  See the tears?

They are there if you look close!

When I came home the temperatures cooled off enough to put me in the mood to decorate the mantel for Halloween/ Fall. It is busy and a bit over the top, but that is how I roll!

Normally, I solely decorate for fall, but I found the cute "spooky" sign and "Happy Halloween" banner in the dollar section at Target.  Of course, they weren't really a dollar! The little white blocks will be ghosts... I just have to paint on the little faces. I was inspired by this pin on Pinterest from Etsy.

We will be making a trip to the apple orchards in a a few weeks and with Johnny Appleseed's birthday coming up, I thought I would share some of my apple favorites!

I wrote this beginning graphing unit and actually used it in my third grade classroom a few years ago. Now, it would probably work best in second. Students create a glyph and then read the glyph.  Students use the glyph to create a bar graph. We also did an apple taste test and created a pictograph as well.

Please forgive the terrible anchor charts.  This is real life...before blogging!

You can download the lesson and the glyph here for FREE!

I also just finished my Johnny Appleseed Interactive Notebook Activities.  I tried to cover as many standards as possible including reading, writing, science and math! 

I really love how it turned out.  I shared an exclusive freebie for my Facebook Friends.  Hop on over to my Facebook page to get your exclusive freebie!