Friday, July 27, 2012

Camp Invention, TSI and Scentos!

I have been super busy the last couple weeks.  Two weeks ago I served as an instructor for Camp Invention.  It's a summer enrichment program for kids who have completed K-5.  I taught the Inventeureka™ module which is centered around the invention process.  I had such a blast in those four days!  The best way to describe the week is it's like Vacation Bible School on steroids.  It was exciting to see the kids imagination come out in their inventions.  It was also a great opportunity for me to reevaluate the way I teach science.  I definitely took away some great ideas for this upcoming year!  For more information about Camp Invention click the picture below.

I left on Sunday of this week to travel to San Antonio for the Texas TAP Summer Institute (TSI).  TAP stands for Teacher Advancement Program which is a school-reform model centered around recruiting and retaining the highest quality educators through its four elements of success (Multiple Career Paths, Ongoin Applied Professional Growth, Instructionally Focused Accountability and Performance-Based Compensation).  I was very excited when the opportunity to serve as a mentor on my new campus came available and jumped at the chance to attend TSI again this summer.  I absolutely love my TAP Leadership Team (TLT) and I know there are great things in store for our campus and our kids this year.  TSI is a three-day workshop where TLT's from TAP campuses across Texas come together to attend professional development sessions and construct data-driven goals for our campus.  We then select or develop strategies that will be taught in weekly Cluster (professional development) sessions that specifically target our student's highest needs.  It wasn't all work though.  We definitely took advantage of the resort's lazy river and water slides once our work was done!  

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country

My son Parker is moving up to the toddler room at daycare next week so we took a trip to Wal-Mart last night to get his school supplies.  I was gathering up crayons and markers when all of a sudden I spotted these little beauties! 

I have been looking for these for forever!  I saw Kathleen Pedersen post about them on Growing Kinders and loved her idea of using them to check center work.  I went out and started searching that day and haven't been able to find them until now!  And the best part....they were only 88 cents!  I snatched up every flavor they had but I will definitely be going back to grab some more!  Check them out while your out shopping the back-to-school sales!

Well I'm off to lunch with a friend.  I am still working on lots of units for the upcoming year so please check back often to see when they are posted!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Daily Binders

My first year of teaching I used folders with brads as a daily communication tool between home and school.  I even went so far as to purchase better quality folders hoping they would last longer.  Never again.  The next year I scooped up a class set of binders during the Back-to-School sales at Walmart and I've been doing that ever since.  I make sure to get the ones with the clear pocket so I can slide in their binder cover.  I also purchase some sheet protectors for the pages that remain in the binder the entire year.

I have uploaded a free O.C.E.A.N binder cover in my TPT store.  You can grab your copy by clicking on the image.

I am in the process of tweaking my JUNGLE Book cover.  When that is complete it will be available in my TPT store.

I just write the child's name on the cover and slide it in the clear pocket on the front of the binder.  In the binder packets I am creating, there will also be a space for teacher name and room number.  I have found this information to be very useful when binders are left on buses or around the school during arrival/dismissal.  Teachers and other staff can just drop off the lost binder in my box and I make sure it gets back to its owner.

Inside the binder I have a pencil pouch for notes, absence excuses, or money that parents may be sending from home.  Behind the pouch is the child's behavior calendar.  Below is an example of the calendar I have used in the past.

Font and graphics courtesy of DJ Inkers

Click here to grab your copy of these calendars for 2013 (these will be updated each year)

At the end of the day, the children color in their banana whatever color their clip is on.  This page is not in a sheet protector so it's easily accessible to the kids.

For the past three years I have used Rick Morris' New Management system clip chart in my room.  If you have not heard of this system then click here to read about it.  I will post more on the specifics of behavior management next week but this will give you an idea of where I got each color from and what it means.  The next page in each child's binder is a copy of the No Monkey Business Report.  You can see that example below.  This page gives parents a "kid-friendly" explanation of each color on the clip chart.  This page is in a sheet protector and will stay in the child's binder the entire year.

Font and graphics courtesy of DJ Inkers

The next page in the binder is the JUNGLE Book Rules page.  This page lists rules for their book such as not to eat or drink around it, make sure they bring it each day, not to add anything that doesn't belong, etc.  This page is also in a sheet protector and stays in the binder for the entire year.

Other pages you might want to include in sheet protectors may be things like your class schedule, lunch menus, etc.  

I label each pocket inside the binder for things that either need to go home and stay home (student work, flyers, etc.) or things that need to be completed/signed and returned to school (permission slips, surveys, homework, etc.)

I am currently in the process of creating binder packets for various themes.  I am editing these pages since they are DJ Inkers fonts and graphics as well as adding new pages, labels, etc.  Once those packets are complete they will be available in my TPT store.  

Hopefully this post gives you an idea of how I handle daily communication in my classroom.  I will inevitably make some changes before school starts so be looking for an updated post (with pictures).

I have added several new packets on TPT.  You can grab these units by clicking on the images.

Binder covers for teacher files
Alphabet Posters in popular chevron pattern

Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.  I have a busy next couple weeks ahead of me.  Lots of teaching, training, and conferences so I apologize if I fall behind on blog posts.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Classroom Rules and a FREEBIE!

A couple of years ago while searching for ways to increase that buzz phrase "active cognitive engagement", I stumbled upon a website called Whole Brain Teaching.  I decided to implement the strategies in my class the next day and from then on I was hooked.  If you have not heard of WBT and you're interested in an effective approach to classroom management, then you should check out their website.  Just click here.  There are also tons of videos on youtube that show teachers implementing these strategies in their classroom.  If you're a visual learner like myself, it definitely helps to see it in action.  Let's just say that WBT has completely transformed the way I manage my class.

If you visit the website you'll see where they list their five classroom rules.  The rules I use differ slightly than the rules on the site.  I have adapted mine to closer match some of the youtube videos.  Check out the video below to see WBT in action!

Last year I used 5 rules, however, I am adding an additional rule this year.  My six class rules are as follows:

Rule #1 - Listen when your teacher is talking.
Rule #2 - Follow directions quickly.
Rule #3 - Raise your hand and wait to be called on.
Rule #4 - Respect others, respect yourself and respect your school.
Rule #5 - Be safe, be honest.
Rule #6 - Keep your teacher happy.

My personal favorite is the last rule.  There is no debate on whether or not that rule was broken because YOU are the only person who decides when YOU are happy!  I have used that rule the last two years and I love it!  

I will post more on other WBT strategies (Teach-Okay, Class-Yes, Class Scoreboard, etc.) in later posts.  If you're wondering what happens when students are not following these rules then check back next week for a post on my behavior management system!  Here's your freebie for tonight.  It's a "Think Sheet" for students to fill out when they need a moment to refocus.  I primarily used this with my first graders but it could be adapted to fit both younger and older grades.  Click the image to grab it! Enjoy! 

Font and graphics are courtesy of DJ Inkers.

I have also posted several new packets in my TPT store.  My new Polka Dot Classroom Pack as well as my Under the Sea: Classroom Rules have both been added.  Check them out!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My New Blog!

Welcome to Keeping Up With the Kindergarteners!  I am so excited about this opportunity to share all the wonderful things going on in our classroom.  I am also looking forward to staying more connected to the blogging world.  There are so many amazing teachers who are willing to share their ideas and expertise and I am so thankful to be a part of that.

I first want to say a big "Thank You" to Alicia at Dreamlike Magic Designs.  She not only designed but installed this adorable blog template for me.  If you haven't seen her work, you should really check it out.  She offers affordable packages and has a very quick turn-around.

As if a new blog wasn't enough for one night, I would also like to announce the opening of my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  I am ecstatic about this opportunity to create, share and collaborate with other teachers.  I'm adding new products daily so please consider following me on TPT for all the latest updates!  My hope is to create products that are "cute" but also meaningful.  If there's something you've been wanting and haven't been able to find then let me know!  You can check out my store by clicking here.

I will be posting pictures of my classroom in a couple of weeks so if you're doing a jungle theme or just looking for general ideas then stop by and check them out!  I also plan to post lots of FREEBIES so you don't want to miss those!

My first freebie is a copy of my jungle-themed Daily 5 posters.  When I moved from first grade to Kinder, I switched from using a pocket chart system to a clip chart system to track each child's Daily 5 choices.  I'm still working out the kinks so be on the lookout for an official post in the future.  You can find these in my TPT store by clicking on the image.