Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bat Unit

This week we learned a lot about bats! Here are just a few of the activities we did this week!
I started the unit by having my students graph whether they thought bats were cute or creepy.
We labeled the parts of a bat.
Click HERE to download my Parts of a Bat file from my TpT store!
We learned some new vocabulary words related to bats like: colonies, pups, echolocation, migrate, hibernate, and nocturnal.
Click HERE to download my Bat Vocabulary file from my TpT store!
We listened to the book Stellaluna on Storyline Online.
After listening to the book we used this bat Venn Diagram to compare and contrast BATS and BIRDS.
Click HERE to download my Bats vs Birds file from my TpT store!
To end our unit each student wrote down one fact that they learned about bats during the week on a Post-it Note.  They added their fact to our Bat Fact Mobile!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fun Friday Behavior Management System

Fun Friday is a great (and inexpensive) reward system to use in the classroom!  It can be an incentive for students who have finished all their classwork during the week, for students that displayed good behavior during the week, etc.
I have always used Fun Friday in my classroom.  In the past, I used it as a reward system for students that finished their classwork during the week.  I never had a structured way of doing Fun Friday.  That meant my Fun Friday time during the day would be rather hectic.  I would have too many games out so my classroom would be a huge mess.  I would also have too many students playing at a game which would make the classroom rather loud.
This year I’ve changed how I do Fun Friday!  Through some trial and error I’ve made it a structured and smooth process!  Here’s how my Fun Friday time now works…
Throughout the week my students earn “Golden Sticks” for positive behavior.  They try to collect as many sticks as they can during the week.

Here is a picture of my “Golden Sticks.”  I’ve just painted hundreds and hundreds of popsicle sticks gold.

On Friday, the students arrange their “Golden Sticks” in groups of five.  I also have the students lay out their “Work in Progress” Folder.  I walk around the room and write down how many sticks each student earned during the week.  If a student has an empty “Work in Progress” folder (which means they finished all their classwork during the week) I give them an additional five sticks. 

 Once I write down their total number of sticks they earned that week the students turn their sticks in.  I give them a slip of paper that has their total number of sticks they earned.  They take their slip and they use it to line up in order from the student with the most sticks all the way down to the student with the least number of sticks.  (This has been a great way to practice ordering numbers from greatest to least! Ha!) This line order determines which students get to pick their Fun Friday activity first.

Since this “Golden Stick” behavior system is something that all the first grade teacher’s use – we decided to combine Fun Friday to make it even better for the students!  It allows us to have more game options and also allows the students to be able to play with their friends in other classes.
Here is what our First Grade Fun Friday board looks like!

Each Fun Friday activity is attached to the board using Velcro Dots.  This allows us to switch out Fun Friday activities throughout the year very easily.  We also use color coded clothes pins.  This allows us to easily see if the students went to the right activity or not.
On Friday we roll out our Fun Friday board into the hallway that is attached to a pocket chart stand.  We call the first three students that are in line (the ones that earned the most sticks during the week) out into the hallway to pick their activity first.  The students find the activity they want, take the clothes pin, place it on their shirt, and go to the classroom with that activity in it.  Once those students have chosen their activity, we call the next three students out and so on and so forth.  Once all the clothes pins have been taken from an activity that activity is then closed.  This prevents too many students from being at one center.  It is also a great incentive for the students to want to earn as many sticks as they can during the week.  If they have the most sticks they will be able to choose any activity they want.  However, if they don’t earn many sticks during the week the activity they want might be closed.  Therefore, they will have to pick a different activity to go to.  It also gives those students with the most sticks more playtime than those that have to continue to wait in line to pick their activity.  We usually allow for Fun Friday to be about 45 minutes on Friday.  The students look forward to this every week!
Click HERE to download my EDITABLE Fun Friday Board Setup to make your own board for your classroom or grade level!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Parent-Teacher Conferences

I tried something new this year for parent-teacher conferences.  It ended up working so well that I thought I would share!

In the past I would always have tons of information to show the parents how their child was doing academically at parent-teacher conferences.  BUT it never failed that year after year the parents I needed to meet with to discuss their child’s academics would never set up a parent-teacher conference.  Also, those parents that their child was doing great would always be the ones that filled my designated conference times.

So this year instead of preparing all the information and holding onto it for parent-teacher conferences - I decided to send the information home BEFORE conferences.  This allowed all my parents to see beforehand if it was necessary or not to meet during parent-teacher conferences.

This year I had every parent that I wanted/needed to meet with sign up for a conference!  I also had many of those parents that I did not need to meet with decline a conference.  Usually our designated conference times are in 15 minute blocks to be able to fit everyone in.  Since I did not have everyone sign up for a conference this allowed me more time (sometimes up to 30 minutes) to be able to talk with those parents that I really needed to meet with.  By sending out all the information beforehand all my parents felt well informed on how their child was doing in 1st grade – even if they did not set up a conference.

Here is a look into the packet of information that I sent home before conferences. 

This was the cover page in the packet.  This form explains the packet of information that I sent home.  It also has an area where parents can write down their questions or concerns.  This form gets sent back to me before conferences.  This form really helps me make sure I am not caught off guard by any questions the parents might have and make sure I have all the resources available to answer their questions during their conference time.  
Next was the various 1st grade benchmark pages.  The benchmark pages explained to the parents the different tests and data we use to measure how a child is performing academically in 1st grade.  It explained where a first grader should be at this point in the school year.  It also listed how their child is performing compared to those benchmarks. 
Not only did I include academic information on their child.  BUT I also gave an evaluation of how their child’s work habits and behaviors are at school.

Finally, the last page of the packet had the parent-teacher conference request form.
When the parents returned this form requesting a parent/teacher conference I marked them down on my conference schedule.
 I also sent home an appointment notice letting them know the day and time their conference was set for.  

Finally, to prepare for each parent's conference I put together a folder for each child that had all the information, paperwork, etc. that I was going to discuss during conferences with the parents. 

As you can tell each folder has the student's number instead of their name.  This lets me reuse these folders year after year.

During conferences I always like to give the parents handouts, practice pages, ideas, etc. on how they can help their child - especially in those areas that their child is struggling with.  Here are some of the items I pass out.  It includes sight word practice pages, handwriting practice pages, math fact practice, reading fluency pamphlet, writing prompts, non-sense word practice, syllable count practice, etc.
During conferences I also sit this bulletin board outside my classroom door.  This bulletin board has helpful information for parents to read while they are waiting for their conference.  The bulletin board includes handouts and practice pages they can take home to help their child at home.  Many parents want to help their child at home, but just don’t know how.  These handouts and practice pages give the parents easy ways to help at home.

 Click HERE to download my Parent/Teacher conference folder, forms, bulletin board, and practice pages on my TpT store!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Parent/Teacher Conference Folders

So I have been on a mission to turn my large stash of plastic folders into something useful I can use year after year.
I decided it would be nice to have a folder for each student that has all the paperwork, copies, etc. that I plan to go over or handout at my parent/teacher conferences.  I made a folder for each student and put their student number in the upper right hand corner.  This will help me keep each student's paperwork organized together.  I won't be giving the folders to the parents.  It will simply just hold all the paperwork that I need during my conference.  So I will be able to use these folders year after year!
Here is what the inside of the folder looks like.  The right side of the folder will hold all the materials I plan to discuss at the conference.  I always like to give my parents copies of the things I talk about during conferences.  So the left pocket will hold all the copies I will give the parents after their conference. 
Here is how my folders are numbered.
Click HERE to download my Parent/Teacher Conference Folder from my TpT Store!
For more information on the paperwork I have for parent/teacher conferences click HERE to read my blog post!
Here are some additional folders I've come up with and made so far. 
I have an "Absent Folder" for missed work when a student is absent. 
An "Unfinished Work Folder" for students that have multiple pages of unfinished work in their desk.  The folder gets sent home with the student with their unfinished work to complete as homework.
The "Welcome Back to School Folder" is what I put all the forms and handouts in for Open House.  I place this folder on each student's desk during Open House.
Here is a peek inside each folder.
Click HERE to download my Absent Folder!
Click HERE to download my Unfinished Work Folder!
Click HERE to download my Welcome Back to School Folder!
OR click HERE to make your own Take Home Folders!