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Obsessed with October: Freebies and More

To say I'm obsessed with October is a bit of an understatement. I love the weather, the pumpkins, the football. It's all so much fun. It also means your students have finally figured how school works and you are getting the groove.  Right? So I love doing all sorts of fun things in October.  Now that I'm teaching multiple grades, I have a plethora of activities. 

Stellaluna is a favorite! This is a unit I created for my third grade intervention group.  I look forward to this every year. 

Two Many Pumpkins is another favorite. It might be my all time fave for October.  My kids love this book too and bringing in pumpkin treats for our pumpkin party makes them love it even more. 
My kindergarten friends are still working on their letters and sounds so we read, There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Bat and then fed the bat, all sorts of letters and sounds. 

 This little math review book I made for my firsties book center a few years ago.  It covers many standards and it's cute at the same time.  
I just made this little 4 in a Row/Bingo for first and second grade groups.  My first graders are reviewing their short vowel sounds and the my second graders just needed a mixed review.  
In addition to these freebies, you can grab my October freebies from last year here
For more activities for October, CLICK HERE.


Guided Reading Go-Tos

As a reading specialist I meet with many small groups throughout the day. At one point in the day I go from teaching letter sounds, to teaching four and five syllable words and inferring meaning of large vocabulary words, in a matter of minutes.  Everyday I teach grades K-4 to read. Therefore, I need tons of different materials to meet the needs of all my sweet people. This also means that I need many tools to make this time meaningful.  So here are some of my Go-to Tools for Guided Reading time.

 1. Resource Walls

If the walls in your classroom are going to be decorated, let them be useful, but not cluttered. In my room, I've created a phonics wall, a word wall, and a wall that reminds them of our reading strategies. Having your word wall directly behind your guided reading table is important.  Many times the same words students see in a book, are words they know in isolation.  Reminding them that word is on your word wall, often helps them to recall the word while reading. 

2.  Games! 

Guided Reading Games to practice sight words, phonics, decoding and fluency are so important.  Before my official guided reading lesson, I always play a sight word game and do some phonics/word work review.  Keeping my readers, who sometimes struggle engaged and excited about reading is so important. Playing these games, not only help them learn and review, but also promote the idea that reading is enjoyable.  
 These are several ZAP games. Student pull a stick and read. If they are correct they keep the stick, if they get a zap, they lose all of their sticks. The student with the most sticks at the end of the time, wins.  You can use this game with any concept. 
 Flip it down is a fun game to review phonics, sight words or fluency.  Students roll two die and add. The number they get is the word they read. If they get it correct, they will flip the flap down, if they don't get it correct it remains uncovered. The student with the most flaps, flipped down wins.  
 Sight Word Stack is so much fun.  Students get to keep the cubes as they read the words correctly.  They stack their blocks.  The student who has the tallest tower that doesn't fall before the game ends wins.  
This is a game I play with my third and fourth graders to help them decode multi-syllable words.  Students decode the word and count the syllables.  They get one tally for every syllable in their word they read correctly.  The student with the most points at the end of the time wins. In addition, as you can see here, I also always have their white boards, markers and erasers in the chair pockets. 

3.  Pointers

My students love finger lights, pointers, eye ball rings and more to point to their reading.  I find the finger lights help many of my students read more fluently because their finger tends to glide across the words, in comparison to them using their finger and  pointing word by word.  

4. Leveled Books 

The majority of our books come from Rigby PM , Kaeden,  Scholastic and Hameray.  Sometimes I make a book to cover a skill we're working on.  My students had a particularly hard time with the words look and what, and we were reviewing the short a sound. Therefore we read this book from my short vowel readers

5.  Highlighting tape

We often use this tape to search for sight words or tricky words I may point out during a predict and locate before reading. 

 6. Skinny Sentence Strips

I really only use this for my kindergarteners and beginning first graders. I often have them write a sentence on the strip, cut it up and have them read and organize the sentence in order.  

And those my friends are my favorite supplies.  Are there more? Of course.  A good teacher has tons of supplies and tricks up their sleeves. I'll be sure to be back with more ideas for your small group reading instruction.  

Pin this post for later.


5 Classroom Hacks

Last year I moved out of my colorful ginormous classroom into my new little reading room.  I wanted my room to be a little more "Fixer Upper" and farmhouse, so I went for burlap and light colors.  In my quest for a whole new look, I spent over a thousand dollars on bins, new chairs, extra Ikea shelves, fabric, etc.  So when it came to curtains, I was about out of funds.  I looked everywhere for burlap curtains and they wanted a small fortune.  Luckily, I purchased the rolls of wide burlap below at Walmart for a board and ended up not liking it on the boards.  I hated to waste the rolls, so instead of packing them away, I starting cutting small slits across the top and feeding it through the tension rods I bought for the windows.  It worked perfectly.  The fabric was easy to cut, it bunches up nicely on the rods and looks just like the expensive curtains I had intended on purchasing.  This took me only 3 rolls to do the whole wall of windows and since there was no sewing required, it was about a 10 minute project. 
 In 2011 when I posted pictures of my room, my guided reading table was being pinned on Pinterest quite a bit. I needed a place to organize the 5,000 supplies. In order to make these tools convenient and save space, I took the wheels off my drawer organizers and slid them under my table.  They fit perfectly.   I also make sure to have a chair pocket on the back of all my guided reading chairs.  I store student's white boards, markers and erasers in the pocket for easy access when they need them during our small group time.  
 Another way I save space and my sanity is through my HELPERS.  These are two sheets packed with information that might be found on a desk nameplate.  Only let's be real, kids don't really use their nameplates, and many times they end of picked at, written on and peeled off.  I also hate wall clutter. So to eliminate all of this my kids have their Helpers, two sheets, laminated back to back, where my students go to find their color words, phonics reminders, number words, 120's chart, mini word wall, math concepts and more.  So how does this helper save my sanity? Well, how many times do your student ask you to spell a word, or to get up and look at the 120's chart, etc.  After teaching students about all things on their helper, they are then reminded to use it, to make them more independent.   In addition, I've also created mini anchor charts to save wall space. I believe in making anchor charts with your students during your teaching, but hanging giant charts all over is unrealistic.  And if you layer them, then students can't see them.  So, I hang these small versions like the "Characters" chart below on a special wall where students can reference them. 
 Use frames y'all! I love my framed 100 chart and birthday chart.  I got really tired of hanging cupcakes and candles every year. Now I just erase the old names and write the new names in each month.  EASY!!! And my 120's chart, is my favorite.  We can circle numbers, count forward, count backward, easily explain adding 10 and then erase the marks for the next lesson.  We also fill in our place value chart, we write our expanded notation, etc. and we can erase it the next day.  
When in doubt, use metal.  You never have to worry about magnets falling down.  They sell metal at Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, Menards, some heating and air businesses, and even Dollar Tree cookie sheets.  My word wall, lunch boards, and this math board, are all metal.  And it's the best investment I've ever made.  
Happy decorating and teaching!


Classroom Management: Call and Response

Well friends, 2 years ago our principal hired this teacher:
Meet Emily Schweppe. Former kindergarten, turned first grade teacher.  In fact, Ms. Schweppe took my job, when I became our Reading Specialist and I couldn't think of anyone better to replace me. I seriously love this girl. She's hilarious, she lets me teach her firsties, so I can get my fix, and she has the cutest darn call and response ideas.  

Last year while modeling morning meeting for her, I might have completely rearranged every bulletin board in her room in a matter of a few minutes and she was totally cool with it.  She's so eager to learn new things, but the best part about hanging with her is that I learn too. I love hearing the ways she gets her kiddos attention and how they respond so eagerly.

Emily and I both believe in introducing calls throughout the year but having a core few in the beginning. We also both recommend practicing, practicing, and practicing some more, when they are first introduced. It's funny because we both practice with our kids in the same way. We encourage kids to pretend like they are talking and working. It's quite comical to see these little first grade actors.  Emily said, "When we do the calls “for real” I always wait until EVERYONE is doing what they’re supposed to be doing. It takes a lot of time in the beginning but it’s worth it. "

So I asked Emily to share a few of her ideas in the post below.
1. Crew!?
I say, “Crew!?” “Aye, Aye Captain”  a couple years ago we extended it. At the beginning of the year I tell the kids to pretend like we’re on a Pirate Ship (I’m going to use a Pirate Hat this year, make it more interesting), and I ask who they think the captain would be? I then tell them sometimes on board a ship, the captain has to call for his crew. I ask the children who they think the crew is? Sometimes, I’m going to need to get the attention of my whole crew, so WHENEVER I need their attention we’re going to do the same that pirates do. Now, if we’re on board a ship and the crew is carrying a big box, is he going to say “Hold on Captain, I’m busy?” No Joe! So that means, whatever you are doing, safely place down your materials and salute the captain with your right hand. You’re going to use “pirate talk” so instead of saying “Yes, Captain” you will say, “Aye, Aye Captain!” 
Let’s practice!
Teacher: “Crew!?”
Students: (Immediately stop what you’re doing and salute the captain): “Aye, Aye Captain!”
(Make sure everyone pauses and is saluting you. My biggest thing is that no matter where they are at in the room, they must stand up and make eye contact with me. If they don’t I tell them we have to try it again…and again, and again :) Once everyone has the salute down I move on to teach them that they CANNOT move until I give the next direction. If they move before I say “At Ease” then we try it again. )
Teacher: “At ease”
Students: “At ease”

It’s great because the kids love it and as the year goes on, I may forget to say “At ease!” and I will have 5 or 6 awesome direction followers who are still standing in their salute position and say, “Ms. Schweppe you didn’t say At ease!” 

2. All clear! 
Another call and response we do is the All Clear. I explain that I was talking to my uncle last night who is a pilot and he was having a hard time getting his crew to listen to something important. I ask the students, "do you think it’s very important to listen to the pilot when he has something to say?" They respond, "YES!"  So he told me that what pilots do is say, “All clear!” and everyone takes their hands off the steering wheel, the crew places down the drinks or food they’re handing out and they respond with their hands in the air, “All clear!” I will say what I need to say and when I’m finished I say, “back to biz.” They love saying that! 

3. Tootsie Roll, Lollipop!
This is a fun one! I think a lot of people may have heard…but not Schweppe style!
Teacher: "Tootsie Roll, Lollipop"
Students: “We’ve been talking now we stop!” 
Their direction for this call is the same as “All clear!” They must safely place down all of their materials and put their hands in the air. 
Teacher: “Rootsie Toll...”
Students: “Back to the show!"

4. Problem solving
Last year, I think I used “problem solver” or “solve that problem” more times than I can even count. Obviously it’s more fun to sing something so this just popped in my head one day last year. When there’s a problem that I want everyone to see solved, or, even after a problem was solved and I want that student to share I will call this out. It’s a play on Vanilla Ice’s song “Ice, Ice, Baby.”
Teacher: “If there’s a problem…” 
Students: “Yeah, we’ll solve it!” 
Together: “Let’s watch and learn how 1st grade resolves it!” 
***Before I teach this call, we discuss problem solving and what the word “resolve” means #vocabmoment

5. I.Y.A. 
This isn’t a call out, but a song I made up - and I love it. I realized that one day, I really needed to teach students to sneeze or cough into their elbow.
I’ll make a big deal about this using a spray bottle and sneezing and showing them how the germs go everywhere when we don’t cover our mouths!! 
I like acronyms so I first wrote the acronym and taught what that meant: 
“I.Y.A.” - In Your Arm (even though it’s more like in your elbow, but IYA makes more sense :) )
I had everyone practice 3 times, saying I.Y.A. each time they put their face in their inner elbow - first in the right, then in the left, and back to the right. 
Then I taught them the call: 
Teacher: “What ya gonna do when you cough or sneeze?”
Students: “IYA, IYA, IYA, PLEASE!”
Teacher: “Please don’t share those germs with me!” 
Students: “IYA, IYA, IYA PLEASE!”

The best part is after they learn it the acronym turns into a verb: “Ms. Schweppe! Braxton just IYA’d!!” 

I have to say, I hope you all get to teach with a "Schweppe."


My Classroom for 2016-2017

Day 2 of this school year and I'm already exhausted. Tomorrow the kiddos come and that is when the real fun begins. I have to admit, not being a first grade teacher anymore makes setting up a classroom a little less fun. No cute birthday chart, calendar, etc. But I do love my little home away from home, even if it is a tiny intervention room.  
In the morning I share my room with two part time teachers who help with our morning intervention program.  Therefore, I had to fit not one, but three guided reading tables in the room, along with all the other essential items it takes to do reading intervention with grades K-4.
So here it is...My room for 2016-2017

Welcome to my classroom in a sweet little town in Ohio. 
 My "Check it Out" board will be for any student in the school who wants to stop by and borrow a book. I have my best sellers in the buckets below. 
 New charts will go here. 

 My desk.

 Boxes full of intervention games.
 My guided reading table and word wall.

 Books, books and more books.
 Our chairs with erasers, dry erase markers and white boards.
 Our reading strategies.

 Another Word Wall
In addition to finishing my classroom up yesterday before Meet the Teacher, I also quickly set up a photo background for our students.   Totally forgot to do a little chalkboard writing on the black paper, but for last minute, it worked. 
Happy New School Year!

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