Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shhhh! Classroom Management with Sign Language (FREE POSTERS)

How many times are you at the front of the room teaching and ask the students a question and you're looking for an answer.  You call on the first student who raises their hand and he asks to go to the bathroom.  The next student has a comment to add about something that happened to a family member.  Another student gets up to sharper her pencil.  Finally, you pick that student who ALWAYS has the answer just so you can move on.

Problem solved.

I started using this sign language method when I was in my first year teaching.  I soon realized I needed a strategy to identify what students wanted when they raised their hands.  Searching the Internet, I found this idea, which I modified a bit to fit the needs in my classroom.

I created these posters and placed them in the front of my classroom for the students to see.  I probably should have also put them in the back so I could learn them because for the first few days, I found myself referring to them too.  Each hand sign refers to a letter of the alphabet - a for answer, b for bathroom, c for comment, d for drink, q for question, and p for pencil.  This is how it works.

Let's refer back to that scenario I mentioned earlier.  I ask a question and expect an answer.  Students raise their hands.  I can scan through their hands and I can see those who are raising their hand to add a comment, a few students who have the answer, two students with questions, and one that needs to use the bathroom.  I can easily skip some of those students for a minute and focus on the ones with the questions, since I want to make sure they understand what is being asked.  Now, the questions are answered and I look over to the boy with his hand up to use the bathroom.  I can shake my head yes or no (since he knows that I know what he wants) or hold up my finger to let him know he can go in a minute.  No time wasted and I can still move on to students with answers without anyone even saying a word.  I find a student who provides the correct answer.  If I want, I can choose a student or two to add a comment, or I could just let them know that I'll save comments for the end of the lesson.

Easy, right?  This really worked well with me since in my first year I had problems with pacing and lessons taking longer than expected.  During a future observation, my principal commented on how much that strategy really worked for me and she was so impressed by how nicely it was implemented.

Are you interested in trying this in your class?  You're in luck!  I'm offering my Shhh... Classroom Management with Sign Language posters for FREE in my TpT store!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

June 2014 Stitch Fix Review

I'm going on a cruise in a few days and was so hoping for some tops I could bring with me.  Luckily, my Stitch Fix stylist, Michelle had me covered!

I've been blogging about my Stitch Fix boxes for the past four months now, and I am always so excited for it to arrive.  If you haven't read my other posts and don't know what this is, Stitch Fix which is a personal styling service.  They have an online portal where you tell them your style, size, and budget, and one of their stylists puts together a box of 5 items that are specially picked for you!  They charge you a $20 styling fee which is refunded to you in the form of a product discount if you make a purchase.  You can also get a 25% discount if you buy all 5 items.  If you happen to dislike anything, or the fit is wrong, send it back within 3 days in a free prepaid envelope and you will not be charged for it. 

You'll see the box that all my clothes arrived in.  I actually saw FedEx right out from my bedroom window, grabbed my camera, and snapped a picture of it right by the front door.  I couldn't wait!

Opening the box is always so much fun!  I love seeing my style cards with ideas of how to wear the items.  I also enjoy reading the letter from my stylist.

Some of the colors I received in the past were a bit dull.  I requested some fun patterns and colors for this month, and Michelle definitely delivered!


 I love the simplicity of this top, and especially the bright color.  I really like how it is more fitted on the top and is loose fitting throughout my hips.  The scoop neck in the back offers a bit of a surprise.  I was actually thinking the shoulders would slip off, but I think that because this has one of those built in bras, it actually stays in place quite nicely.  I paired it with a longer necklace to jazz it up a bit.


Floral patterns are kind of my thing.  These colors are beautiful and the fit of the top is pretty flattering on me.  This is a definite keeper and going with me on my cruise!


Ok, I'm not going to lie.  I probably spent a good 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get this bad boy on.  The back draping is a bit tricky to get right.  Once I finally got it correct, I loved how unique it was.  From the front it looks like a typical tank, but the back definitely offers a surprise.  I feel like I'll have to wear my hair up to show it off!  I'm also pretty lucky that I had a racerback bra, because it is 100% needed.


 I'm not going to lie.  I tried this on with the tie around the waist.  I put it on with the bow in the front and back.  Hated it because it falls on a bad place on my hips.  I was really hoping to like it because the pattern and color is so cute.  My mom actually suggested just taking the belt off and wearing it with leggings and a longer necklace.  I think it made all the difference.  It's so comfortable and something I can just throw on while still looking put together.


I am a bit obsessed with cardigans, so I'm happy to receive one in a color I don't have.  It actually  matches a chevron print blouse I have perfectly, and I don't wear the blouse too often because it's kind of too poofy....that's the best I can describe it.  This cardigan hides the poofiness and makes me like that shirt so much better.

 Overall, again, I decided to keep everything and save the 25%.  I'm a sucker for a good deal!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Surviving the Last Week of School - Free Project from Enchanted Learning

So, last week was my last week of school.  Grades were already entered.  I finished teaching all the required curriculum.  Field Day and a Junior Achievement took up two full mornings, but I still had a lot of time to keep my students occupied, engaged, and under control.

The week before, I sat down and tried to think of a project that would, let's be honest, take up a lot of time.  I wanted it to be something that my kids would be interested in.  They have showed interest in making posters earlier in the year, so I figured this was the route to go.

I decided to take my 25 students and assign each of them two different states to research.  With the help of Enchanted Learning, they needed to read up about their state, create a State Wheel, color a state map and flag, and present all their information on a poster.  All of these can be printed out from Enchanted Learning's website for free!

The students put all their information on to a poster.  I really didn't offer them much guidance on their posters other than the states needed to be written on top, and the required information they printed must be placed on there.  Many students were so excited that they went home and printed out pictures in color to add to their posters and researched additional information about their states.

Here are some of the final posters.  I was actually really impressed on how they turned out, especially since we were in a hot classroom during the last few days of school.  Once all students finished their posters, they practiced presenting it with a partner, and then shared it with the whole class.

What did you do to keep your students learning up until the last day?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How to Reduce Lost Pieces When Cutting

When I first started teaching 6 years ago, and  I did large projects that involves cutting and many small pieces, I always made a mental note to make at least 5 additional sets of copies.  I tried my best to not have my students lose small pieces by having them cut one piece and a time, throw away the scraps, and continue to cut until the whole project was done.  I told students that they had to put their cut pieces on top of their name tag so they did not get mixed in with the scraps of paper they would soon be throwing away.

Little did I know that this method did not help cut down on lost pieces, and actually, probably even made the situation a whole lot worse.  It wasn't until my second year teaching, where my class was definitely a handful.  Many students had behavior issues and getting up to go to the garbages to throw away scraps turned into being more than they could handle.  I was frustrated and told them to just throw their scraps on the floor and we'll clean it up later.

Well...I quickly realized three thing.  1 - behavior issues, talking, and lingering were definitely diminished.  2 - The whole multi-step cutting and assembling process was much faster.  3 - Pieces of papers the kids needed were no longer getting lost.  I didn't need to make many extra copies!

So, this is how it works:

1)  Have the students cut all of their little pieces out.  I still make them place it on top of their desk
over their name tag.  This helps them to be better organized and prevents papers making their way onto other students' desks.

2)  We leave the scraps on the floor and assemble whatever it is we are making.  Today, we made a Last Day of Third Grade flip book and students had to cut out 7 or 8 pieces.  We laid them all out on their desk, I walked around and stapled the flip book, and they glued it to a large sheet of construction paper with a title.  So, of course, you will have students who lose a piece.  What do you do?  Make them search the floor around their desk.  It just HAS to be somewhere.  Now they don't ever have to go digging through the garbage or need to get an extra copy.

3)  Once you are totally complete, THEN the students can throw the scraps away.  For some reason, the students just LOVE to scoot around on the floor and scoop up piles of scraps.  I have one kiddo walk around with the garbage to collect all the scraps on the floor to avoid the dreaded garbage can traffic jam that can occur with everyone going over at the same time.

So there you have it.  :-)  I hope this is something that can work for you, especially with some of the end-of-the-year projects you're probably all doing right now!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fraction Puzzles - Product Swap and Giveaway!

We all know teachers are magic, but it seems that this time of year, our magical powers need a little extra umph and a maybe even an ABRACADABRA to get us to that last day of school!  So, I teamed up with some amazing intermediate bloggers to create some magic of our own!  You may recall that a couple of weeks ago, we joined forces to swap some of our favorite resources, armed with the goal of putting a little extra magic in our lessons and keeping our students engaged during these final weeks of the school year.

Credit goes to these talented graphic & font artists: Krista Wallden, KG Fonts & CC Fonts.

As promised, we’re all back today with Part 2 of our blog hop giveaway – the big reveal – viola!

I was very fortunate to be able to use Blair's fraction puzzles with my students.   There are 32 puzzles in this set which make it perfect for using in centers.  I had anticipated having 8 stations in my class with 4 puzzles in each station.  Students would rotate through and complete the 4 puzzles until I announced it was time to switch.  Well, I had planned on doing this the day before our state math test and I had my desk all spread apart from the previous day's reading test.  I found this to be a great time to mix it up a bit.  :)   I had the students move their desks to the sides of the room to leave a big section open in the middle.

I passed around 1-2 of the puzzles per student and had them cut it out.  This was way easier and faster than it would have obviously taken me to do it all.  There are a bunch of little cuts in these!

Here you can see the pieces all cut out.  Notice how there are 4 pieces per puzzle - a fraction, number line, area model, and parts of a set.

Once each student was done, I walked around and collected each puzzle.  Then I walked into the middle of the room and threw it all up in the air. You should have seen their faces!  They immediately guessed that they would have to put all 32 puzzles back together.  Before starting we discussed how the class could work to do this.  One student had the idea to split the cards into groups - fractions in one pile, number lines in another, area models in another, and a pile for the fractions of a set.  Then, another student suggested we lay out all the fraction pieces around the room and then we could match the remaining pieces to them.  Those were great ideas, but I love the next one talking!  One student suggested that they should try to do it without talking because she thought there would be too much noise, fighting, and confusion with multiple students talking at once.  They also wanted me to time them to see how fast it would take.

I had all the students sit in a circle around the mess on the floor. They quickly started sorting the pieces into piles.

The pieces are almost all sorted!

You can see here how they spaced out the fraction number pieces around the room so they can easily be found.

Now, each student went back to the remaining piles and started matching the pieces with the fractions.

They all worked really hard matching them up!

And they're done!  This is just one section of completed puzzles.  There were more on the other side of the classroom as well.  They all worked extremely hard and had a lot of fun doing it.

Best of all, it only took them 15 minutes from start to finish!  They want to do it again to see if they could beat their time, but I told them we'd do it next week.    I'm so happy I tried these puzzles.  I feel like it was just that extra bit of fraction reinforcement before our test, and it was definitely something the kiddos were excited about doing!  You can find them at Blair's TpT store HERE.

Now to our second round of magic giveaway!  We decided to switch things up a bit by having several winners this time around!   In fact, 14 classrooms will receive a little magic for their own classrooms!  Each of the blogs featured below will be giving their prize to a different winner!

So, perhaps you want to know what MY winner will collect!  Whoever is drawn as the winner from my blog will receive $5 towards my TpT store AND this End of the Year Memory Book.

Here’s what you need to do for this giveaway:

Stop by each blog to read about all the magic that has been spread around classrooms near and far!

Enter to win each blogger’s resource using the raffle below.  Each blog is showcasing the same Rafflecopter, so you can just add entries as you go! 

While you are at each blog, if you’re not a blog follower already, sign on to follow!  (You can earn bonus entries for following all blogs once you unlock the additional entries.)

Again, a total of 14 winners will be named!   Each blog will award a winner.  That individual will receive the prize listed at that blog!

Here’s the list of blogs to visit: 
Swap Stop A
Teaching FourthTeaching with Blonde Ambition

Swap Stop B 
Fifth in the Middle

Swap Stop C

Swap Stop D

Swap Stop E

Swap Stop F 
One Lesson at a Time

Swap Stop G 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Well, friends, here’s the blogosphere sending a little magic your way this May! :)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Stitch Fix #3 - May 2014

Can we just say that this has been my favorite Stitch Fix box yet?  As usual, I forced my husband to take pictures of me so I can blog.  Each time I tried on another item of clothing, he heard me gushing not only about the clothes, but about how much I wanted to hug Michelle, my stylist.  He didn't understand why I was so excited, but honestly, who cares?  Let me take you on another journey from unboxing to trying everything on.  

If you'd like to see my past, you can view what I wrote about in March and April.  

Here is my box as I received it in the mail.  I love coming home from work to see this waiting for me!
I wanted to get a picture of my note from Michelle.  I'm going on a cruise in July and wanted some items I could wear.  I LOVE how she took my notes into mind when preparing my box!

Here are my styling cards.  I love how they give you two options for how to wear your items.  They include a casual and dressy version to give you ideas of how to pair it with other clothing items and accessories. 

I just love unwrapping the neatly folded clothing.  Honestly, they will never be folded as nicely again.  I can never get it to look as nice!

Ok, so let's take a look at the clothes!

Eight Sixty Kourt Striped Maxi Dress

I just need to start by saying I'm almost 5'10" tall and I have NEVER in my life have been able to find a maxi dress long enough for me.  I asked for one in this fix feeling a little hesitant, but made sure to ask that it has 60" of length from shoulder to floor.  Can you guys please just look at the floor in that picture? This is the first time in my life I will be saying this...but...I need to get this dress hemmed!  This has never happened to me before!  I'm always getting the hemline taken out as much as possible.  This dress is so long and comfortable and I love that it doesn't show too much cleavage because the straps are adjustable.  It also has an elastic band that cinches in at my narrowest part of my torso.  Absolutely love.  If I could, I would wear it every day!

Fate Damsel Crochet Knit Open Cardigan

If you know me, you know I have a bit of an obsession with cardigans.  They are so easy to throw on over a tank top, but again, my height just has to make things difficult.  The sleeves are always too short and I end up cuffing it to about my elbow.  I'm going to direct your eyes to my sleeves.  They are definitely so long and hit me about mid-hand.   Michelle did it again!  Another item that fit perfectly!  I also love the length of this cardigan.  I don't yet own one that is this long.  The crocheted fabric makes it so light, it would definitely be something I could take on my cruise and wear in the evening if I want to walk around the deck at night.    

Papermoon Zoa Tab-Sleeve Embroidered Blouse

Lately I have been really into these loose flowing blouses.  I think they are just so easy to throw on with jeans and feel so effortless.  I'm all about being comfortable and looking put together at the same time.  These sleeves are a bit longer and hit me at an awkward place, so I cuffed them up a bit more than I think there supposed to be and used the tab on the side to hold them up.   The detail around the neckline adds some nice detail to a simple white blouse.  

 Le Sample Kahlo Embroidered Racerback Tank

I just had to post the front and back picture with this review.  Please excuse my black bra...I think it's about time to get one that crosses in the back because I'm definitely keeping this shirt!  When I saw I was getting this item in my box, I immediately recognized the name.  Stitch Fix has sent this shirt out to basically everyone who signs up to this service, but I wasn't really fond of the green embroidery I saw in everyone else's photo.  I looked at the style cards and saw mine was blue. I honestly told my husband that I thought the ink or color was off because it's normally green.  When I unwrapped the clothes I was pleasantly surprised that it was blue!  I like this color SO much better.  I really like the uneven hemline on the bottom.  It makes it look a little more special than a tank I could just grab from Target.  
Take a look at this back!  It's not just a standard racerback, but it has some twisting and gathering in the middle to give it a little extra something special.  This is definitely a unique tank that I will be frequently wearing with some denim shorts or capris in the summer.
Ezra Myrah Swiss Dot & Lace Detail Blouse

All good things must come to an end.   I bought EVERYTHING in my first two fixes and this one looked VERY promising.  Unfortunately, this one just doesn't do it for me.  It looks so pretty in the styling card, but is really just too short and boxy for me.  Perhaps if it came in a bit at the waist and had a few more inches in length, I would have liked it more.  The length of the back is a little longer than the front, which is nice, but I wish it was also that length in the front.  I was going to send this one back.  With Stitch Fix, if you buy all 5 items, you get a 25% discount.  If I were buy this shirt, I'd actually be saving $20 more than I would if I sent it back.  So, I guess I'll be keeping it.  Maybe I can turn it into a cute pillow?  :)   

 If you're interested in looking into it some more, you can visit the Stitch Fix Website Here to get some more information.  Of course, if you have any other questions about this, feel free to ask in the comments!