Friday, May 4, 2018

How to Survive the End of the Year- A Top 5 List

Is the end of the year a little stressful? The To-Do list just seems to go on forever and it may not seem like it can all get done in time? Well I am here to tell you.....let me know how that works out for you....HAHA! Just kidding! For real, things will get done that are supposed to and maybe some things get put on the next list, but living the last little bit of the school year as a grouchie bug does not help you, the kids, or your coworkers! Here is my top 5 list of things that might take the edge off a little and help to refocus!

Guilty Pleasure:

Whether that is coffee, chocolate, working out, good smelling soap in the adult bathroom(hey it's the little things right?), etc... Find something that puts a smile on your face and gets you going to
"get er done!"

Don't project mood/feelings:

Kids getting a little restless? Coworkers giving you the eye? Are they testing the Jesus in you? 

-take deep breathes

-count to 10 (seriously can help filter)

-prioritize and pick your battles

I really try to live by the "leave it at the door" motto when it comes to going to work. We really are in this together and should support those around us. People deal with their own struggles daily-don't assume the grass is greener. 

 I know we are all human, things can come out accidently, and your tone/delivery can relay certain messages, if that is the case, recognize it and apologize.

We can all offer GRACE at this time of year. 

Truth be told we sometimes need to vent-that is okay...just find someone like a teacher BFF, your dog, or just throw it up to Jesus- but someone "safe" who knows you and understands.

Organize yourself:

-not to miss deadlines
-not to lose things
-quick access to things you might need
-keep focused

Planning with the end in mind has been something I have found to be really helpful. Especially when I was in the classroom it helped to sometimes pre-prepare for the EOY at the BOY. 

Tip: Student permanent record files is always something we have to do at the EOY for each kid. So I put into a place ahead of time a way to filter the paperwork and organize it so when things came rolling in at the EOY I was not scrambling (it also helped a ton in the MOY when I had conferences and meetings on kids). 

Tip: utilize containers and bins 

Tip: set aside a spot in your room for EOY stuff (things you need to turn in, recycle, etc)

Tip: follow and/or make a checklist

Tip: create folders inside email...ummm also CHECK your email

We know there are a ton of EOY emails, some may seem like fluff, but others are crucial. It is your responsibility as a professional to set aside time to read them and decide your priority on them. Try to remember there are always  people on the other side of those emails and sometimes they have a to-do list a mile long too (that is me speaking from both sides of having been in the classroom and now as an Instructional Coach). Creating folders to be able to sort important emails that may be helpful to refer back to is also handy. 

Enjoy time with the kids:

It makes for good memories for both you AND the kids! 
You don't have to throw all your rules out and lower your expectations just because it is "end of the year/full moon/ready for summer" time. You can keep your structure AND still have fun!! 
Here are some examples I have either used or seen teachers use over the years:
-Autograph party
-STEM activities
-Minute to Win It
-Camp Learned A lot
-Memory Book creating
-Jeopardy Review games
-Different theme days (bubbles, board games, favorite book, dance party, etc)
-Celebrate goals met and success from the year. You can read about that HERE with freebie! 

Be strategic packing up your room:

It totally makes unpacking it all for BOY easier. You can find things SO much faster and my favorite....GET RID OF STUFF as you pack it up! 
I am not sure what every schools expectation is leaving for summer, but every school I have worked in we are asked to take things off the walls, furniture goes in the middle of the room, items into cabinets ,etc to help the custodians clean more effectively over the summer. 
One thing that helped me be able to pack up easier was loading my cabinets by content...all math items together, reading items, etc. This made it a ton easier when I had to unpack and set up the next year. It also forced me to see what I had and if I was hoarding and needed an intervention.

Well there you have it! 5 quick tips for helping your end of year shenanigans run a bit smoother!! 

Have a BLESSED weekend!! 

"Fight the good fight of faith." 
1 Timothy 6:12

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sweet and Simple Mother's Day Craft

If you type in Mother's Day crafts on Pinterest you will be flooded with amazing, cute ideas! Well I guess if you don't like this one you can do just that. Hahaha! This is just my little contribution to the world wide web of a little project that developed last minute one year and turned out, well what I thought, pretty cute! Oh and did I mention it was sweet and simple too? 

Materials needed: 
-chalkboard or white board...depending on which "look" you want to achieve
-scrapbook paper/cardstock
-printer with ink 
-App like Pic Collage (optional)
-these FREE printouts from my TPT store (9 different templates)

I think I will let these cuties speak for themselves....pretty self explanatory! 

We also did this one and I created collages out of them to also take home! 

Of course you can get as creative as you'd like with what and how you draw the word mom. It's also important to keep in mind that maybe some kids don't have a "mom" in the sense of a word, but maybe a grandma, aunt, etc that represents a mom to them. So super easy to differentiate to the needs of your classroom! 

Grab them HERE

Have a BLESSED week! 

"Her children rise up and call her blessed." 
Proverbs 31:28

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

All About the Plants

Teaching plants? Whether you are learning the needs, parts, functions, and/or types of plants, here are some fun, quick ideas that can span many grade levels! 

Books are always a great way to introduce plants AND integrate reading! 
Here are some great books to use for read alouds, feature pages, or set out for kids to explore while learning about plants.

I always love teaching in a variety of formats. Some kids learn much better with a video! Here are some that might be helpful to you too! I put them into which grade level I thought they best fit when I watched them, however, you can also determine what is best for your class.  While this is by no means an exhaustive list, maybe it will help you get started! I always recommend watching first and finding a few spots to stop and discuss! Great opportunities for turn and talk, and some Whole Brain Teaching!



Also if you have access to BrainPop Jr. they also have some engaging videos! 

Plant homework/extra activity:
 One of my teamies had this idea she used at her previous school for a little homework activity. The kids found a flower and taped it onto a paper. They labeled the parts we have been learning about and then wrote the function of each part. I think it was great! Such a good hands-on activity.
Click HERE if you'd like a parent letter to send home!

3-D Flower:
We made these during science lab while reviewing the parts of a plant. However, it would be pretty easy to also do within the classroom.

-paper (preferably cardstock or something thicker than regular paper)
-straws that bend
-tissue paper

Walk through the parts and functions of the plant with the kids. As you are, they are putting that piece on and/or labeling it. They could even do this with a partner. Extension: also write the function of that part of the plant with the label. They could also do some content writing and write about the parts of the plant along with their function on a separate sheet of paper and glue to the back or staple to the bottom. So many options depending on your time frame, grade level, and expectations. 

Flip book:
Creating a flip book can be utilized with not only flowers but with any plant of your choosing really. 
-construction paper (large)
-pencils, markers, crayons

The teacher can pre-make the flip book templates first or have the students do it depending on what your frustration threshold is haha. 

Inside each flap is where the picture of that part will go along with the function. 
Outside of the flap will be the label. 

Interactive Word Wall:
If you have never seen or used an interactive word wall then you totally need to check out this webpage! 

Julie Jackson came to our district and did some training to model how interactive word walls can be utilized and created by and with the kids to enhance learning! 

Here is a small example of one for plants. You could expand this is grow this into a larger wall during your unit. Getting the kids involved is key! 

Other Ideas: 
There are so many things you can do while teaching plants! Here are a few more ideas I have used in the past.

-Grow a plant
(each student and/or a class plant)
This provided great opportunity to observe and record observations over time.

-Stem Absorption
Another fun and easy experiment that can be utilized with flowers or celery. It allows the kids a chance to also walk through the scientific process (observing, hypothesis, performing the experiment, recording results, analyzing data, and forming a conclusion). 

-Eating parts of a plant
What a fun and tasty way to understand that we eat plants all the time along with incorporating healthy eating!

I hope a few of these ideas sparked something for you! There are so many wonderful things to learn and teach about plants! Happy planting! 

Have a BLESSED week! 

"And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you."
Romans 8:11

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cheap and Easy Easter DIY

Looking for something to put together for your coworkers for Easter? Read below for some ideas that won't break the bank, and are easy DIY!

1.  EASY PEASY note cards! 
As I am putting together my little Easter goods I came across some paint chip samples I had picked up over the course of a few trips to Home Depot...I mainly grabbed them for color inspiration for the new house when we moved, but man they have come in handy otherwise. 
I decided to cut them in half and use the Easter-y colors I had. So essentially I got two note cards out of one paint sample!!! Oh did I mention the samples are FREE, not that you probably did not already know that....I then put these burlap crosses I got in a package of like 30 at Hobby Lobby on the front. I then wrote some scripture on the front and BAM! I can't wait to find other embellishments to go on the front to make for other occasions as well!

2. I also stuffed some eggs! I created this little printout (the size of a fortune cookie fortune) and stuffed it inside with some candy.

3. For these little buckets I found some Easter cups in a pack of 10 and some cute travel Kleenex and stuffed it with some candy! 
I also found these sweet little notepads that went along with my scripture I used also!

So there you have it! It's as........

Don't forget to grab the Easter cards as well!!
Click here!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Character and Story Mountain Song

Happy 2018 y'all! Wow 2018?! I just can't process that yet. Super fast check in tonight! 
 We are hitting the ground running over in 3rd grade and diving deep into character development, analysis, comparisons, and how our stories are like mountains. If you use Units of Study then this will align for you as well during that unit! 
Even though it was created for third grade, it really could be used in multiple grade levels-even if taught in sections. :)
I also created this anchor chart so they can track these things throughout their read alouds. 
Ms. Jumonville used sticky notes to track. They were reading "Because of Winn Dixie" for this mentor text. 
The song correlates with the poster as well to help reinforce the concepts. 

 At this point I have gotten over the embarrassment of singing-maybe from so many years of first grade or maybe just because I don't care because I am having so much fun creating and sharing. So with that said, feel free to use the download with your kids so you don't have to sing, or use it to model and then sing along! The link below will take you to the audio file and downloadable lyrics as seen here. 

You can also visit FB to listen to the song audio file before downloading below.
 (it was too big to load here)

Click HERE to go to TPT and download your FREE tune and lyrics! (make sure to download "supporting" document if you want the lyrics as a pdf) 

Don't forget to ask those deep questions about characters and challenge the kids to find a character they identify with! 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Goods on Government-teaching levels of government

Another 2nd grade focused post coming at you! However, hopefully other grade levels can take something away from it as well!
TEKS covered: 2.12A, 2.12B, 2.12C, 2.12D, 2.13A, 2.13D

Learning about government can be overwhelming for little ones, hey maybe even for adults too, but it does have importance! How can you make it engaging and bring it down to a level that is easy to grasp?

Well hopefully we did that for our sweet second graders when the teachers taught this unit. We taught this unit over the course of 3 weeks and it did not integrate into reading because we were teaching fairy tales at the time so we had to be strategic with this particular unit and how we used our time for it.

Here is a quick glimpse of how I envisioned we break it down within those few weeks.

So if you read the last post I did about natural hazards/disasters, I said I typically will give my teachers an example/answer key/skeleton of any anchor charts I envision for a unit. This helps me to see if I need to tweak it at all, get feedback, and helps make their life a bit easier.

Right below you will see the smartboard I created that matches the kids brochure they were filling out as they learned about each level of government. That way the teacher had an option to integrate technology as well as make it large for everyone to follow along easier.

Directly above is an example of an anchor chart and answer key I created for the teachers to use as well if they wanted it. It also included some essential questions that align to the TEKS. So basically this chart is built on throughout the unit NOT all in one day!!

Grab the Smartboard download HERE (both versions included)

***The anchor chart above is not setup in the printable resource as a typical 8.5x11 size since it is designed to be printed large. You may want to preview on print screen, test print, or adjust printer settings before you print for youself as an anchor chart.***

We chunked the unit by teaching each level of government and then tying it all together at the end.
This chart is intended to be printed on a plotter aka poster maker. We are very blessed to have one so I was able to print off the skeleton of the chart and the teachers can laminate to use each year still utilizing the "make it with the kids" approach. It just gives them guidance.

So here is what the kids used as their interactive journal for the unit-the brochure!
This was also filled out throughout the unit. Some teachers elected the kids to glue it in their interactive notebooks and pulled it out when they needed it or took it up at the end of each learning time and handed it back out when they were completing the next section. 

You will notice I made them little pictures of each person to glue down, however, after completing it I decided not to include those in the download because well, if you don't live in Texas you won't have the same officials and eventually when the president changes I would have to go back and redo the whole resource. Sorry I just don't have that kind of time haha.
You can easily download pictures of your officials and make them small with multiple to a page.

So in order to make this easy I have included the TEXAS version of all you see AND a generic version (for those not in TX but teach levels of government). So when you download just make sure to pay attention to which pages you are printing :) 

Hopefully this helped you in some way and makes teaching government a tad easier and fun! Please don't hesitate to ask questions-sometimes I leave things out unintentionally because, well, my :)

Head over to take a peek and see if you'd like to add this resource to your teaching files!
Click HERE

IT IS ON SALE for the FIRST 48 HOURS!!! 

Have a BLESSED week! 

"You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word."
Psalm 119:114

Friday, December 29, 2017

Discovering Natural Hazards with 2nd grade

This post is geared towards my Texas teachers! However, any teacher might take away some kind of nugget of info you might find useful! 

Here in the Lone Star State, depending on where exactly you are located, you can experience a small array of natural disasters. We don't have them all (thank goodness) but we have seen hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and  small earthquakes (although not as prevalent as some places).
Again, depending on where you are living does somewhat determine which of those you may have experience with. I mean we do take up a huge chunk of land area in the lower USA. 

We are required to teach natural hazards/disasters in second grade so while trying to plan with the 2nd grade team I wanted to steer them in more of an inquiry based learning for this unit. We didn't have just an abundance of time for this unit (imagine that right?) and it also did not integrate with reading nicely (traditional literature was happening at the moment). 

The first step was gathering some resources for the kids to look through, use, read, etc. I made each teacher a tub of books from the literacy library that included, but not limited to, some of these types of titles. 
We also have other resources we can pull from as well other than just books on campus. There are always online resources to scour ahead of time and pull out what is appropriate for your grade level (2nd grade in this case). 
Now these were not the only hazards we learned about. We stuck to the TEKS and out unit plans outlined by the district and that included: tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes, and we also briefly touched on tsunamis. 

Since this was being taught over the course of 3 weeks I created an anchor chart outline they could use and build on as they discussed and learned. I wanted it to include the key essential questions outlined in the TEKS and our unit plans. I am a very visual person myself so when I am brainstorming for the teachers I also like to include an example for them to be able to see what I am envisioning and they can give me feedback as needed too! So this is the outline and example of what  I saw them utilizing with the kids as the main class recording device. 

So here is somewhat of a break down of what I envisioned throughout the unit. 
*Break kids into 5 different groups (one natural disaster per group).

*Facilitate some time for the kids to ask questions among the group about the particular disaster they are assigned.

*Each group can get some books (or use IPADs or other electronic devices with online resources) that pertains to their designated topic and start looking for maybe some of the key questions from the anchor chart or just collaborating with a few new facts from the text or pictures they are discovering. 

Now how you go about getting that information back to the whole group from each small group is up to you. It can be determined by how long you have each day, how long your unit is, preference as the teacher, etc. This is definitely not intended to be done in one day..mainly small chunks of time as you build on  the info. 

Some ideas may be:
-gather whole class back together after pre-determined time allotted to search books, ask questions, look for answers (that may take multiple days of smaller chunks of time)

-have each group provide any info they learned that can answer those questions on the anchor chart and discuss as a whole group

-do one natural hazard a day

-work through one whole column with multiple disasters a day

-small groups make posters to represent the info they did find to answer the anchor chart questions (they may not find it all and that is okay) then do a gallery walk where each group gets to learn about the others, then take it to the large anchor chart another day

-give the kids in the small group the sticky notes to go through and answer the questions from the large anchor chart and they can fill out as much as they learned from their research and then as a class you can go back and fill in the spots they were unsure of or needed guidance

-you can also put up pictures of a locations around the world that experience various hazards to facilitate discussion and questions

-show pictures of places BEFORE a natural disaster occurred and then an AFTER picture to discuss and maybe help lend some answers to the questions on the chart

-content WRITING would fit nicely into this unit as well
EX: Would you live in a location a ____________ can occur frequently? Why or why not?

So you can see there are a ton of ways to be able to facilitate some discovery and learning on this topic and probably a lot more I am not thinking of currently. 

You may also have some time to watch some video clips for the kids to get more of an understanding as needed. If you have access to Discovery Education you can find some videos aligned to the topic and narrow it down by K-2. BrainPop Jr. also has a video on "Fast Land Changes" that might be helpful as well! 

Here are some examples from the teachers anchor charts! You can see some shared the pen and some chose to write what the kids said, both totally okay! 

 Hopefully this little post gave you some new ideas or even maybe just was the tip of the iceberg for you that will help you launch a natural hazard unit in your classroom that spawns many other ideas I didn't even list!

**TEKS Covered: 2.7A, 2.7B, 2.7C

Have a BLESSED week! 
"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God."
Hebrews 4:16