Sunday, September 10, 2017

Digital Math Games

Let's be honest, being a teacher mom is not easy.  Sleep is virtually non existent these days so finding the time to work your side job is a novelty.  I have been sneaking in a few moments here and there to knock out this awesome product. 

 These math games focus on math fact fluency for +1 through +10 facts.  Each game has its own theme and is self-checking.  

These games are not editable so that students can't change them or mess them up for the next person.  You can easily differentiate based on each student's needs by assigning them the facts that they are working on.  

These games use PowerPoint which can be downloaded for free on iPads and other tablets.  

You can scoop up the bundle to save money and get started right away!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

7 Back To School Lunch Tips

Heading back to school is tough, especially when you have to plan ahead for lunch.  Here are a few tips to help you get organized with the back to school lunch routine.

1. Find the school lunch menu.
Some schools send home a lunch menu and others just post their menu online.  Sit down with your child and write the menu items your child enjoys on your home calendar (less papers to keep track of) or circle the days they would like to buy lunch on the printed menu.  This way, you know ahead of time which days you need to pack lunch and which days you don't need to worry about it.  Parents have no idea how little their students eat at school.  Most of their bought lunches get thrown away and approximately half of the milk never even gets opened.  We are unable to return milk at our school once it leaves the cooler.  We throw gallons of milk away everyday that was never even touched.  Please make sure your child is actually going to eat the lunch your are paying for.

2. Put a reminder in your phone.
Set a reminder in your phone to either pack lunch or even to pay the lunch bill.  Some schools send home a note before your child runs out of money.  Our school waits until there is a negative balance before notifying parents.  Often times, parent believe they only need to pay the past due amount and don't consider the fact that their child is going to continue to buy lunch and will need more than the "negative" balance in their account.  If your school is lucky enough to have an online payment method, take advantage of it!  Set it up so that $30 or $40 is paid monthly so that your child never runs out of lunch money.

3. Know the rules.
Talk to your child's teacher about what they are and are not allowed to bring to school.   Some schools have healthy eating initiatives that do not allow soda or sports drinks in the cafeteria.  If our students buy lunch, they can not bring other food into the cafeteria.  It's one or the other, either you pack or your buy, but you can't do both.

4. Know what appliances are available.
Some schools have microwaves for students, but others do not.  Please don't expect your child's teacher to track down a microwave for their soup.  Unless your teacher offers a refrigerator to store your child's lunch, please don't expect them to find a refrigerator to stash a child's lunch in.  Our building has one staff refrigerator for 40 staff members.  It is packed full everyday.

5. Have your child help you pack their lunch.
Setup bins in your fridge and pantry so that they can choose one item from each bin.  Maybe bin 1 has dairy products like yogurt or cheese sticks.  Bin 2 might have fruit and bin 3 might have veggies.  Give them choices so they feel like they are in control.  Make sure they are eating.  We always have one kid every year that we have to call home for because they are throwing away their entire lunch and not eating anything.

6. Make sure they can use/open what you send.
If they can't open a juice box, please don't send one every day.  Those cute little fruit cups, are not so cute when you open them and juice squirts everywhere.  Trust me when I say, it happens every time! There are two teachers per grade level in our cafeteria each day with 60-75 students that we are in charge of.  Imagine if 30 students needed help opening something.  Even if it only takes 30 seconds, that's 15 minutes we have spent opening items while they are sitting there not eating.  They don't realize they can eat the rest of their lunch while they wait for their fruit cocktail to be opened.  The other teacher is normally handling spills, missing spoons, napkins, extra water, etc.

7. Come eat lunch with them.
Check with your school about their lunchtime visitor policy, first.  Then, find a day that you can sneak away from work and have lunch with your kiddo.  I can't tell you how happy it makes them.  Even the other kids get excited when someone has a visitor.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

7 Times Not To Send Your Child To School

Teachers love their students more than parents will ever understand.  We love seeing their bright and cheery smiles every morning.  However, when you put that many people in a small room for each day, you are bound to share germs.  We simply cannot Lysol our rooms enough.  If kids say they are sick, they probably are.  Please believe them.  Please remember that we take all of their germs home to our families as well.  It's very difficult for us to take a sick day because the work doesn't simply sit on our desk waiting for us.  We have to come to school and get plans and materials ready. Each doctor and school has their own guidelines, but here are some basics.

If your child has had a fever within the last 24 hours please let them stay home.  It doesn't matter if you gave them medicine and it brought it down.  Keep in mind, the medicine will wear off by lunchtime and they will be miserable again.

If your child was vomiting or had diarrhea, keep them at home.  They are contagious.  I promise you, we will hear about it as soon as they walk in the door and we will be sending them to the nurse to call home and have you come pick them up.

If your child has lice.  When I was in school, they sent notes home with everyone in the class if someone has lice.  Many schools these days cannot do that because of privacy laws.  If your child has lice they need to be treated by a doctor.  I'm sorry, but I do not recommend homeopathic remedies for this.  I have had several instances where homeopathic remedies were used and the poor kiddos had reoccurring lice all year long.  And when you go see the doctor, they will remind you to treat your entire house and car and pets.  This means every fabric surface including stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, curtains, etc.

If your child has pink eye, please take them to the doctor for medicine and keep them home for a day so that the antibiotic ointment/drops can begin working. The kids are constantly touching their face and pink eye is highly contagious.

If your child has a cough that has been keeping them up at night or making it hard for them to breathe.  They will not be able to keep up with the school work and will be even more exhausted by the time they get home.  The coughing is also very distracting for everyone else in the room.  Please remember that most schools consider cough drops a medication and need to be taken to the nurse's office by a parent.

If your child breaks a bone, please do not send them to school the next day.  They will be in pain, even with pain medicine.  There is nothing worse than a child sent to school in a splint because they can't see the Ortho until later in the week.  It terrifies us to have a child with a broken bone, not in a real cast, because if they trip or fall it could become even worse.  They are often miserable the entire day because of the pain and swelling.

If your child experiences a family emergency or conflict and doesn't get much sleep the night before, please let them stay home.  Even if you just let them sleep in and bring them to school a little late.  No, I do not mean they were up late watching a movie.  I do, however, mean, if Grandma fell and your family spent the night at the ER, let them get a little rest.

Every school has their own policies that you must abide by.  Some districts have started counting down to the minute how many minutes their students miss.  This is not medical advice by any means, and the repeated phrase throughout this post is "talk to your doctor."  I know it's hard to take the day off work when your kiddo is sick, but do everyone a favor and let them rest and get well.  We will be so excited to see their cheerful face the next day!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

5 Steps To Help You Integrate Art Into Your Classroom

Choose A Time
Choose which subject you would like to integrate art into and what day.  In my classroom, this is Math on Friday.  I am not a "crafty" teacher by nature.  My teaching partners are much better at including art projects into their plans.  I decided on Fridays, after our lesson we would do a math related craft instead of meeting with small groups.  Friday is an easy choice for me because it is jeans day, it's relaxed, and we are wore out from a busy week.

Create A Subject Overview
I created an outline of our math that includes the month and the topic for the week.  This way, I knew that I needed a place value craft for October and a shape craft for December.

Pinterest is your best friend!  I saved ideas that I found to a Pinterest board so that I could reference them later when I was ready to create or download if a template was available.  Think of a variety of terms, to search for and sometimes less specific is better.  Halloween Place Value Crafts may not turn up any results, but try Halloween Math Crafts, or just Place Value Crafts.  If you get stuck, search for a different week and come back to it.  It may seem like a daunting task to plan a craft for every week for the entire year, but in all reality that's only 36 crafts for most schools.

Get Organized
I copied and pasted the picture of the craft into a document so that I could see all of the crafts I had selected for the year in one place.  I also saved each craft with the week name such as Week 1 or Week 25 as this is how I organize my files.

Putting It All Together
Some teachers like to make a sample craft before they do it with their students.  If the craft looks complicated, I recommend this.  However, I tend to make the craft right along with my students so that they can see it all come together.  Last year, my students were so slow at cutting!  I started telling them that I got my rectangle cut out in 6 cuts (with big scissors) so they should be able to get theirs cut out in 10 cuts (with little scissors).  It gave them something to aim for.  They knew that taking little baby cuts, wasn't going to work for first grade.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

5 Classroom Supplies To Buy At Sam's Club

So many teachers forget about purchasing classroom supplies at Sam's Club.  We all think about Wal-Mart or Target or even Amazon, but Sam's Club often has an even better price.  Prices will depend on the day and your location, but these are the items that I tend to purchase at Sam's.
BIC Wite-Out EZ Correction Tape - 6 pk.

GP - Image Plus, Card Stock Paper, 110 lb.,  8-1/2” x 11”, 1 Pack - 250 Sheets
Astrobrights Color Paper, 24 lb., 8.5

Elmer's Washable All Purpose School Glue Sticks, Clear, 60ct.

Seville Classics 10 Drawer Cart (Mulitple Colors)

Expo Dry Erase Markers, Assorted Colors, Pack of 18

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

8 Ways to Speed Up Classroom Transitions

Have Materials Ready
Line up all of your lesson materials on an open table for easy access.  We start our math lesson off with a fact fluency song every morning, so I use this time to get materials out.  2-3 minutes is typically all it takes for me to grab the necessary boxes and line them all up.

I also have a stack of large bowls in my room that I can fill up with anything to enable everyone to reach the materials.  If we are using pattern blocks, I can place 6 bowls of blocks out rather than asking everyone to grab 1 red trapezoid, 2 yellow hexagons, etc. 

Split Up Boys & Girls
Have your boys go put their paper in their mailbox, while the girls put their clipboards away.  Then switch.  This automatically cuts traffic in half and speeds the process up.  The same rule applies when working with partners.  Have partner 1 go get dry erase materials for both people, while partner 2 gets the necessary papers & supplies.

Use Music
Websites such as Flocabulary, YouTube, Amazon Music, etc. are the perfect way to get your class up and moving.  I choose a song that is the appropriate length (or start it in the middle) and tell the kiddos they have until the end of the song to be cleaned up and sitting at their seat.  Content based songs are the best because they sing along and don’t even realize they are learning.  So often, I feel like they aren’t hurrying, when in reality it has only been 20 seconds since I gave them a direction.  The songs help me know just how long it has been and show the kiddos a little grace. 

Have Students Turn Work Into A Specific Location
9 times out of 10 students don’t need to place their work directly into your hands.  Have them place work in a designated bin or file so that you have 30 seconds to get ready for the next lesson.

Ok, so they aren’t buying anything, but I have started telling my students to get one paper for themselves and one for a friend.  This enables me to have half as many kids standing in line for a paper and the fast kiddos can help out the slow kiddos without anyone realizing what’s going on.

Keep It Short And Sweet
Stop giving your kiddos so many directions!  Keep it short!  Within the first few days, my kiddos know the phrase “Paper, pencil, clipboard, carpet”  That’s all I have to say for them to get their materials and take a seat on our carpet.  Less talking for you isn’t a bad thing.  Short, one word, directions are easy to remember. 

Repeat After Me
My teammate is the one that got me started with classroom chants.  She has always made her kindergartners and now first graders repeat after her.  She gives a one word direction and they repeat it three times as they are doing it so that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing and they aren’t having a conversation with their friend.  If she says “line up” they say “line up, line up, line up” as they are doing it.  It may seem a little robotic, but those first few weeks are rough and procedures must be understood as quickly as possible to have a productive year. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Public Service Announcement Review

As a teacher viewing these videos, I felt sad for the state of technology integration in some schools.  These videos had clear messages supporting technology and it is a shame that we still need to convince educators to use it in their classrooms.

In reality though, I'm sure viewpoints are similar to those when the first car, t.v., or personal computer were invented.  There were people that embraced it and others that did not.  It took a little convincing before everyone was on board with the new technology.  

My Interpretation
This video had a powerful message.  I believe people thought the young girl was crazy for the ideas presented in her essay.  The students laughed, the teacher took her to the principal who called the parents, they took her to the doctor, and then to the psychologist.  People couldn't even imagine anything like that being true and the girl was quite proud of her ideas.  

Video 2 - Role:  Teacher
As a teacher viewing this video, I thought the message being delivered by the student gave it that much more of an impact.  Our teaching should be student centered.  We should embrace creativity and originality from our students and encourage them to dream.  Sometimes the ideas that seem crazy, are the ones that matter most.  As educators we should not be shaming our students for thinking outside of the box, but rather learning from them.  Our world revolves around creativity and design.  They are the reason each brand exists.  Their products have been designed slightly different and that is why people purchase them.  We are creating innovators, not robots.  Times have changed and our practices in the classroom need to change as well.  The scenery and costumes in the video made the viewers feel as if they had gone back in time.  This helps us remember that we are in the 21st century and the future is now.  

My Interpretation
This video I did not find quite as powerful as The Essay.  I found the music to be very distracting and almost daunting.  The message seemed exciting and the music didn't seem to fit.  While watching this video, I felt as though I was watching a movie with subtitles.  It became tiresome and lost my interest quickly.  This is a shame, because it had a great message that I think people would benefit from.  

Video 3 - Role:  Teacher
As a teacher viewing this video, I thought the message was excellent.  With technology these days, the people have the power.  We have the ability to discuss any topic with people from all over the world.  I believe the graphics used provided perfect symbolism.  For example, the bowl of spaghetti representing the confusion that comes with all of the various components of the internet.  I also loved how they used overlapping boxes, almost like a venn diagram repeatedly throughout the piece.  This represents how we are all connected now and we can use that to our advantage.  Everyone may be talking at the same time on the internet, but that is how ideas become reality.  Talking leads to innovating.  Teachers should be communicating with each other and also giving our students opportunities to communicate with other classes that have similar interests or even with experts in the field.  The illustrations were a wonderful way to express the main points throughout the film, however I believe a stationary infographic would have been an easier to follow representation rather than a moving infographic such as this.