Sunday, June 18, 2017

Seesaw 101: Getting Started

Happy Summer!
I know by now most of you are on summer vacation.  While it's a great time to recharge, it's also a perfect time to evaluate classroom hits and misses from the prior year.
One hit for me this year was utilizing Seesaw with my families.  Read on to learn what  Seesaw is, why you may want to consider using it, ways to use it in your classroom, and how simple it is to get started.

There are many other uses for Seesaw other than the ones I highlighted.  I just wanted to share how I was able to make Seesaw work for me during my first year of using it.  There are features that make it way more interactive for students.  However, if you are trying Seesaw out for the first time, the tips and suggestions above should be helpful.
Btw...I am in no way affiliated with Seesaw.  I just really had a great experience with it during this past school year and wanted to share.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Aloha School, Aloha Summer: Ways to End the Year on a High Note

The last three weeks of family knows, it's go time.  And now that my daughter is older and is involved in extra curriculars, plus nightly homework, we are beyond busy during the last weeks of the year.
Taking care of all the loose ends at the end of school and keeping your students moving forward in their learning, takes some planning in advance.  Otherwise you will find yourself completely spent by the time you say your final goodbyes to all your sweet students.

One way you can help get yourself organized, is by setting up some end of the year totes during the last couple of weeks.

The totes I set up were complete, donate, put away, toss.  In each tote I placed items or notes for myself to deal with as soon as possible.  My goal was to take care of everything in the totes before going home that day (although some items stayed in the totes for a few days).  
But even if the tote wasn't cleaned out before I left for the day, having everything I needed to do together in one spot really helped me stay focused on getting my end of the year tasks complete.
By the way, if there was something in the tote I needed to complete outside of school, like getting gifts for the students, I took a picture with my phone to reference when I was out running errands.

This system really helped me get things accomplished before the last day of school.  And while I was  not able to walk out the door after our end of the year teacher luncheon, I had all my "have to's" finished and had a chance to work on some bigger organization projects.
Click here for a FREE copy of the labels I used on the totes.

If your school is anything like mine, there are a ton of special days and activities during the last weeks of school.  All this fun can make the class time a bit challenging.  
To keep my young learners focused, they worked with end of the year/summer themed literacy and math centers.  These centers served as a great review of many skills we practiced during the year.  I could really see how far my young learners have come.
Pictured below are a couple of the literacy centers students worked with during the final weeks.

 You can click here if you'd like more details.

We also kept busy with the companion set of math centers.  Pictured below are a couple of centers from this packet.

You can click here if you'd like more details.  These end of the year literacy and math centers offered a good deal of flexibility and quality skill practice during the last weeks of school.

In addition to our center work, another end of the year project I love is my Graduation Glyph.  We've made these glyphs for the past few years and they always turn out so cute.
Like with all glyphs, students answer questions to determine details about their project.

We used our glyphs for some data collection to help complete our end of the year memory booklets.  When we finished, students autographed each others' booklets.  (They loved this part.)
If you would like more info about my Graduation Glyph {A Fun End of the Year Craftivity and Memory Booklet}, just click here.

One item, always on my end of the year to do list, is getting students a small gift.  I usually go the book route.  Scholastic Book Clubs is a great resource when you are trying to outfit your entire class with the same book.
 Last year I added a personalized bookmark to each book.  I used the same book mark again this year.  If you would like to use these FREE bookmarks with your students, click on the picture below.

Another end of the year tradition is our class awards.  We used to do our awards is our school auditorium with the entire grade level together.  But, we've changed to a more intimate setting and do them in our classrooms with just our students (and of course their families).  I like this setup better, because I have a chance to speak about each student and give out personalized awards, instead of just grade level completion certificates.

For me, it's very meaningful to recognize each student for their unique abilities and strengths.  Having a class awards day is a perfect way to wrap up our year together.

For more details about the end of the year awards I used with my students, you can click here or on the picture below.

Not seen in our awards day pictures is a cute (last minute) banner I put together for our classroom.  Although I was trying to get everything cleaned up and organized for the summer, I thought we needed a little something to decorate with for the event.
To make this banner, I printed and cut the letters to spell congratulations.  I hole punched the letters and strung them together with yarn.  Then, voila! a banner for awards day. 

If you would like a FREE copy of the pattern to make this CONGRATULATIONS! banner, click here.

Finally, I'd like to share a gift tag I made for the cookies we gave to my daughter's special area teachers before she left for summer break.  After posting a pic on instagram of these gift tags, I've had several requests to share them, you go.
You can use them for a wide variety of sweet treats for friends, coworkers, teachers, and students.  These tags are also editable, so that you can add your own special message at the bottom.
If you would like a FREE copy of my Have a Sweet Summer gift tags, click here.

The end of the year is a time to keep your students plugged in, take care of loads of paper work (insert eye roll), make the people around you feel appreciated, and even schedule in a little fun.  Hopefully some of these ideas and resources will take a some of the work off of your shoulders.  Even if you are feeling overwhelmed with all things end of the year, remember you've almost made it to the summer break finish can do this!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cinco de Mayo in the Primary Classroom (Including Two Free Resources)

Since we're getting close to the beginning of May, I want to share a few ways to incorporate Cinco de Mayo into your classroom.  
Of course one great way to integrate Cinco de Mayo and Mexican culture into your class is through read alouds.  If your students are not familiar with Cinco de Mayo, fun and informative read alouds are a wonderful way to give students background knowledge for this holiday.

Some Cinco de Mayo themed read alouds you may want to check out are:
Marco's Cinco de Mayo by Lisa Bullard
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo by Sandi Hill
Next Stop: Mexico by Ginger McDonnell
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Mexican Hat Dance by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy
Cinco de Mouse-O! by Judy Cox
P is for PiƱata by Tony Johnston
Rookie Read-About Holidays: Cinco de Mayo by Mary Dodson Wade
Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds

After developing some background knowledge, students can complete a writing piece about Cinco de Mayo.  My students have be working hard on topic sentences and supporting details.  By this time of the year, they should be ready to fly with this project.  
Students will be prompted to write information they know about Cinco de Mayo.  When the writing is complete, students will put together their Cinco de Mayo kid peek overs.  
These projects will be a colorful and enlightening display outside of our classroom.
If you would like to make this project with your students, click here for a free copy of the pattern and writing sheet.

In addition to literacy opportunities, Cinco de Mayo can also be incorporated into your math time.  
A few years ago I made this Cinco de Mayo math mini book.  I've used it every year since then to give my young learners extra practice with word problems.
Skills included in this mini book are addition, subtraction, fractions, tally marks, time, nonstandard measurement, calendar, and patterns.
If you would like a free copy of Celebrate Cinco de May: A Math Mini Book, you can click here.

In addition to Cinco de Mayo word problem work, I also incorporated Cinco de Mayo into some of our monthly center work.  
In math centers students will practice Cinco de Mayo themed fractions and coin counting.  In literacy centers, students will work with Cinco de Mayo themed synonyms.  

The math and literacy centers we will be using in May have been newly updated.  If you already own these sets, you will want to download the newest versions.
Flower Power {10 Math Centers for May} includes work with missing minuends, balanced equations, fact families, time to the half hour, place value, mixed addition and subtraction, fractions, and more.  You can click here for more information.

Flower Power {10 Literacy Centers for May} features practice with contractions, synonyms, antonyms, parts of speech, sight words, fact and opinion, vowel teams, compound words, and more.  Click here for more information.

The last weeks of school can be a little much.  Keeping your students engaged and moving forward with their learning will truly benefit them (and help you keep your sanity).  I hope some of these ideas will help you get your May started on the right track.