Sunday, August 31, 2014

School Has Sprung!

School has definitely begun! We've been going strong for 3 weeks now. Boy, is back to school time busy or what?! I've been having a great time getting to know my new class. It's going to be a challenge, but they are a sweet, little bunch. We are getting in our groove and really getting going now.

I'm pretty much keeping everything the same this year as I did it last year. Our schedule completely changed and that has been a struggle, but we are making it work. I'm usually good with schedule changed, but this one is throwing me for a loop. We changed our Math pacing this year as well, so that's always fun. Not! :) We'll get it. I hope sooner, rather than later. :) I did add Class Dojo this year. I'm loving it and so are the kids. In fact, we love it so much, I haven't really been using our clip chart or other incentive things. They love hearing the little ding that tells them that someone got a Dojo point. Occasionally I do the "oops" sound, too, and that gets them right on track. It is a fun little tool to help with behavior management and positive reinforcement. We have so many positive things they can get points for and only like 5 things that might have them lose points. Hooray for a positive classroom!

I revamped my homework packet this year and made it work for you guys, too! If you use the Wonders Reading series, you should check it out! Let me explain what I do.

I like to send home one packet on Monday and then not see it again until Fridays. :) It's easier for them to keep up with and for me, too! I also like that they can have more freedom within their family on choosing when to get their homework done. I'm a parent, too, and I know that some days are busier than others. It is so hard to do sports, music, school and everything else nowadays. I tell my parent right from the beginning that if they can't do homework on Monday because they have Baseball practice, then do it on another day that works for them. I don't care when they do it as long as it has been done and gets to me on Friday. :) They are still getting the practice in, it just works better for them. I do have suggested days of Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for homework, but again, do what works for your families!

I like them to have practice in everything. I include Reading the weekly story and answering questions related to the story, We do fluency practice with the words and phrases from the reading series/spelling pattern each week. We practice the spelling pattern in various ways. I also made the spelling editable so you can choose your own words if needed. I do Challenge words in my class, for those that already know the spelling pattern. We take a pre-test for the next week's words on Friday. If they don't miss any, they are in my challenge words group and have a more difficult version of the spelling pattern. Those words are included for you, but if you don't use challenge words, then they can be deleted. Finally, we
do math practice. Math builds on itself, so it should flow from one skill to the next. I also didn't label it, so if there is a page that works better for you, then that one can be printed, instead of the one that is with the story for the week. Or it doesn't have to be used at all and it can be a workbook page or whatever works in your classroom. .

I am going to do a packet for each Unit and then I will combine them all into a yearly homework packet later. I also include a fluency passage from Tamra Russell's "Differentiated Fluency for Firsties" Packet after Christmas. This pack is awesome and I recommend it for every 1st grade classroom!!

I have used a homework packet like this for years and it works the best for me. I hope it helps you out too! It's an all in one packet, so you can just print, staple, and home it goes!

Hope your school years are starting off wonderfully!

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Teacher Tip

Hello Again!

A teacher friend of mine asked me a question that I thought everyone already knew, but apparently not. :) So, just in case you didn't know... I'm going to give you a tip on tennis balls today.

What?! Tennis Balls on a teacher blog? No tennis instructors around here, but I do use tennis balls in my classroom! You know those annoying scrapes and marks left by metal kid chairs? Well, hear and see them no more! All you need is tennis balls. Get them donated by a tennis school, a gym coach, a park, or even parents. Cut a little slit in the side, and slide over the bottom legs of the chairs.  Viola! No more noise or yucky marks on freshly waxed floors.

See the chairs? Easy peasy!

But wait! Those things have got to get disgusting sliding back and forth on the floor all day long. Why yes, yes they do. That, my friends, is what the question of the day was. How in the world can you clean tennis balls? Do I have to get new ones every year?!

Nope, it's as easy as your laundry! In fact, a washing machine and dryer are all you need.

First, have the kids take off the tennis balls at the end of the year. They LOVE this gross job. Then make sure they wash their hands. :) Stick them in a garbage bag and bring those babies home with you over the summer.

Then promptly forget about them until the night before school starts. Or not. ;)

Throw them in an old pillowcase.
Then tie them up good and tight. Throw them in the washer like you would your towels with soap. I also use a little downy, so maybe they will repel dirt by being less static-y as long as possible. :) Throw them in the dryer when they are done. You now have super clean balls. They may be a little fuzzy, but they work great. 

By the way, if they accidentally come out of the pillowcase and spill all over your washer, it's ok. Just a little bit louder. Close the laundry room door and you're all set. 

Now you have a bag of clean tennis balls ready to take back to your classroom in the morning. You won't even mind sticking them on the chairs yourself because they are now all nice and clean. 

I'm the mentor teacher to a new teacher coming to first grade this year. We all have cute letter signs for our doors at school. Here's mine. 

Well, my new friend doesn't have a letter, so I made her one! Her classroom is all jungly, so I thought this would fit her. Hope she likes it!

School starts for me in the morning! Then kids on Wednesday. Fun, fun!

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Back in Action!

Whew! Three 14 hour days in a row must mean school is right around the corner. One more day and school is officially back in for me. Meetings start Monday and kids come on Wednesday. I'm excited to meet them, and will be glad to get back in a routine. I'm not excited about the early mornings though! :)

I told you in the last post about being a trainer for my school. We are training on Writing and Math. I am so excited to show my team both subjects! I think they will love it. My partner and I worked SOOOO hard on this and spent ALL summer getting things ready, so they better love it! :) :) :)

Seriously though, yesterday we spent the entire day copying, laminating, cutting,, and putting everything together for the training days. We made each member of our team (there are 8 of us), 12 Math centers to get them started for the year. They hit so many standards and skills and will be able to be used at any time of the year.

There were  of us putting all of these things together.My partner and I, plus my Educational Assistant and her 2 daughters worked from 10:00 to 7:00. It was a ton of work, but I know they will be so happy to have everything handed to them and ready to go.

I put the Math Centers on TpT just for you! They work with 1st grade, 2nd, and even Kindergarten. Here are some pages for you to get an idea of the packet.

Everything you need to get your Math centers up and running for the year. Enjoy!

Be fun and fabulous!

Mrs. Sweeney