Saturday, March 21, 2015

Kids NEED Movement

All kids need movement.  There are so many reasons that range from the increase in ADHD to the overuse of technology and everything in between. The parents blame the schools and the schools blame the parents and truth be told we all have a part in this. 
I posted a link on my FACEBOOK page to an article in the Washington Post titled Why So Many Kids Can't Sit Still in School Today.  Angela Hanscom, the author and founder of TimberNook  had many great points. 
I know in my own classroom, I have seen a rise in attention issues over the past 20 years.  There is controversy over whether the number of students with ADHD has really increased or it just appears that way due to media coverage and it is more "acceptable" now. The bottom line is, our kids need help!
This epidemic is near and dear to my heart.  I feel for these kids. It is so HARD for them to sit still and pay attention. I see the turmoil in their parents eyes as they need to make a decision when the diagnosis comes back: Do we medicate our child? 
So what can we, as classroom teachers do? Angela Hanscom suggests "an hour long recess session every day". (Yes, you read that right!!) In addition, she says that children should play outside after school.
Realistically, we know that is not possible. 
So what can be done?
ALTERNATIVE SEATING in the classroom provides the MOVEMENT that each student needs!  Students have the opportunity to sit or lay on the carpet, stand at their desk as well as at the teacher desk turned work station, sit on a stability ball and yes, even a traditional chair!You can read more about our alternative seating HERE.
I am lucky enough to have a class set of STABILITY BALLS.  Stability balls help strengthen our core.  In the Washington post article, the author says "Most of the children in the classroom had poor core strength and balance."
If you want to find out more about my stability balls and Donors Choose,you can read my prior post HERE.
BRAIN BREAKS with Go Noodle or old fashioned cd's are a favorite.  The author of the article notes brain breaks should not replace outdoor play.These are great to compliment recess and PE!

RECESS and PE are truly a MUST.   As teachers, this is often out of our hands.  It varies from state to state, county to county and even from school to school.
We have PE 3 days a week for 50 minutes a day.In years past, we were only allowed to take our students to recess on non-PE days.This year, parents partitioned the school board for MORE recess. The parents were heard and now there in a MINIMUM of one hour of recess a week.
Kids need to roll, run, dance and MOVE each day. This is not only providing exercise for our children, but will help develop their vestibular system (balance). As we work to accommodate our students who need MOVEMENT, we need to enlist parents in this MOVEMENT!
Kids need to PLAY OUTSIDE after school.  SHUT OFF technology!! Let kids go back to being kids.  They need to play with their friends, run and play tag, throw leaves and do somersaults and cartwheels!
Why, you ask?
 We are in this together!
It takes a village to raise a child.
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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Five for Friday {2/27}

 Do you ever feel like you are chasing your  tail? 
This year I can't catch my breathe!
So, I am finally linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching again with Five for Friday. 
I ordered an apple from Tallahassee Sunday on Etsy! 
She has the most adorable door d├ęcor for teachers. 
Thanks Leigh from The Applicious Teacher for the idea! 
One of our rotations during math centers is Math Facts. 
Students practice with Timed Math Sheets in dry erase pockets. 
This week we added math fact sticks.  They LOVED it. 
 Check out this pack from Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits!
We completed our President's Day Projects this week. 
I had a very sweet parent prep and bag all the pieces for each student!
Then I had a sample page ready to go. 
This was the culminating activity or their "research" project.
You can find over at Simply Kinder.
I am trying to make healthier choices!
I am in LOVE with my Garmin Vivo Smart.
It is thin like the Fitbit, but has a display to see my steps!!
I am addicted to it and love when it flashes GOAL when I hit 10,000 steps!
My new favorite breakfast is a fried egg
with avocado on a whole wheat English Muffin.
 Due to county wide testing next week,
we celebrated Read Across America on Friday.
Our first grade team rotated classes and
students were engaged in reading, writing and math activities
from the Cat and the Hat!
This little cutie's mom teachers on my team and snapped this picture!
 Hope you had a fun, productive week too!
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Forgotten Art: Thank You Notes

The forgotten know the one...
the dreaded thank you notes!
So as I opened up Valentine presents and boxes of candy
I was quickly thinking about the thank you notes that needed to be sent!
I have to say at times I write actually old fashioned notes
with envelopes addressed to the child and family
and other times I print a card, write a little message and send it as is.
So why send thank you notes when so many don't?
1. To model proper etiquette for my students
2.  To make connections with students and families.
For something that takes only a minute to write,
it can warm a heart and build relationships.
I also use this little pack a lot...
I love easy!
There are four notes to a page so I preprint them
and have the ready to go!
So if you are in need of Valentine thank you notes
If you would like to see the complete Thank You Notes pack
So do you send thank you notes?
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Teacher Talk Tuesday: Math Centers Part 3 Organization and a Giveaway

Math center organization is the key to my sanity as I journeyed into the wondrous world of math centers! It not only keeps me in line, but it optimizes student learning.

Now, I have to say I have tried Daily 5 Math, BUILD and just about any other guided math/center framework.  I don't think I ever saw it as a must do.  Needless to say, there was never enough time so it was pushed aside.  I started to follow Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits and learned A LOT about math centers.  Reagan is an inspiration in the land of math centers!  Did I say I actually got to meet her in New York at the TpT meetup?  #rockstar
So now here I am in 2015 bound and determined to make math centers matter.  I learned that simple works.  My flexible groups and centers started off on hand written on index cards.  (Gasp!!) I quickly saw the benefits of small group instruction during math and started on making something more permanent. My students voted and wanted to use animal names for our groups which gave me a starting point.
I write students names in dry erase marker because the groups are fluid and students can move up and down levels, depending on skill assessments.  I tend to move students in math than reading because our units change every two weeks in our county. So the same student might understand fractions, but struggle with addition and subtraction.  That's ok.
I then selected the 5 rotating centers that I would use.  I chose to incorporate Interactive Journals in my Teacher's Group to help my struggling kids.  This class in particular needs a great deal of scaffolding and this gives me the time to do it in math.  I am lucky to have 4 computers and 4 I pads in my classroom. 
Now that my students are grouped and I have the center cards set, I add them to a small pocket chart. (The ones from the Target dollar section are a great size!)  I remove the bottom center card, move each remaining card one down one place and move the bottom card to the top of the rotation. 
The classroom organization is set.  Now is time for planning.  I have added some planning pages to this pack to help me wrap my mind around the skills, activities and prep needed for the week! I will be back next week to share a bit about planning for guided math and centers.
If you would like to WIN a copy of MATH CENTER ORGANIZATION before it is available on TpT, leave a COMMENT BELOW about math centers: what works, what doesn't, what you would like to hear more about...Don't forget to leave your email to win!  Winner will be picked on SATURDAY 2/7:)
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teacher Talk Tueday: Math Centers Part 2 Scheduling

Welcome back to Teacher Talk Tuesday-Math Centers!
I hope you were able to read about my struggle with math centers HERE.
It has been an amazing month and I am beyond thrilled to say
that there is light at the end of the rainbow!
"How do we fit it all in?" you ask.
We worked through a lot of trial and error.
The key has been CONSISTENCY!!
Here is a snapshot of our daily schedule on a perfect day!
Now truth be told,,,
There is no PERFECT day in the primary classroom!!
BUT we remain FLEXIBLE and do our best!
We actually complete 3 math centers, go to specials
and return to complete the final two centers and review.
Today, we had the dentist talk to k/1 classes
so we only made it through 2 rotations.
But that's two more than I did in December on any given day!!
As Pete the Cat says, "Its All Good!"
Next Tuesday I will share how I group my firsties
and then how they rotate through the centers.
Have YOU tried math centers yet?
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Science Exploration

I am linking up with Miss DeCarbo at Sugar and Spice again with Wordless Wednesday!
Its amazing how a bowl of dirt and a magnifying glass bring excitement to our science lesson! There  is so much to cover in so little time, but a student WOW fact sure engages them in science:)
How often do you include exploration and experiments in your science instruction?
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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bright Ideas: Word Wall Activities

I adore a Bright Idea that makes learning and teaching just a little bit better!  This month I am joining in with a group of AMAZING bloggers who have a plethora of BRIGHT IDEAS!
The Bright Idea I have come back to this year is an oldie but goodie!  I have brought the word wall back to my classroom.  Through the years, the popularity of the word wall has come and gone.  The individual word wall replaced the classroom word wall for many as wall space is a hot commodity and differentiation is HUGE!
But I am here to tell you that I have found the word wall learning out weights the wall space saved!  Our word wall is used for group instruction, quick time fillers, word work activities and of course at the writing center.
Rhyming must be practiced over and over for many children as the ear needs to be trained to hear rhyming words.  The word wall is the perfect place to practice this while reinforcing sight words at the same time. 
Children love novelty and by just changing our voice or tone, students are engaged!  What other fun ways can you think of to change your voice?
 The word wall gives my firsties more confidence in their writing as they are able are able to take the words from the word wall and use them in their writing assignments,  interactive notebooks, journals and basically any other time they are writing.  After using the word several times, many of them are able to recall the correct spelling without using the word wall!
My kids LOVE participating in this activity.  They jump up and down LOVE when they are one to give the clues!!  They all pay CLOSE attention because if they solve the riddle, they are the next one to have a chance to give the clues!  Win-Win:)
If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider following me on Facebook for updates and happenings! You can click on the Facebook icon on my sidebar or the top of my blog as well.
For more bright ideas from over 100 bloggers, please browse through the link up below and choose a topic or grade level that interests you.  Thanks for visiting!! :)
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