Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Power of the Sticky Note

It's the little things that make our students happy, isn't it? When I taught in Washington I was sitting in one of those "we're all so happy to be here" meetings and noticed that one teacher had a stack of post-it notes, and was filling out one after the other. Since I was engaged in learning easily distracted, I asked her what on Earth she was doing. She passed the notes my way. She was writing a note to each of her students to acknowledge something positive that they had done that day. She told me that she leaves them on their desks to find in the morning and some of them keep it on their desk day after day. I thought that this was a fantastic idea and began to implement it shortly after. Well, I must say, that it truly did make a difference to my students! It's funny that something so small could have such a positive impression on students, but I speak from experience when I say that it does. Now, I know what you are thinking, "When am I supposed to find the time to fill out sticky notes every day?" I don't do them every day. What I do is keep a pack of stickies on me. If I am walking around the classroom and notice that Johnny is doing a great job at __________, then I write the note as I am walking around the room and keep it with me until the students leave, then leave it on his desk to find the next morning. I don't leave one for every student every day, because I am afraid it wouldn't be as special anymore. I do keep a tally next to each student's name so that I'm sure that they are being equally distributed as well. I have one student who received two sticky notes in the first month and he proudly displays them on his desk. He's not the only one. It's amazing when little things make a big difference, isn't it?



And hey, I think my colleague was on to something. Sit in the back of the room for those meetings that are less than the most fun you've ever had, and multi-task away!

I hope that you aren't all as tired as I am at the end of a very long September. Wowzers! I think I'm really starting to feel my age these days! On that note, it's 11pm and Monday is just around the corner. Time to say goodbye for now, friends! Grab some sticky notes and make a child's day this week! You'll be glad you did!



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dollar Store Idea Increases Students' Interest in Reading at Home

Back in July I had a fabulous Dollar Tree haul. I found these really adorable tote bags. When I saw them, I immediately knew what I would use them for. For nine years, my students have adored my extensive classroom library, which I try hard to keep stocked with books of interest each year. My first year of teaching, I let students take books home without any conditions. No extra sign out, no nothing. Well, let's just say that when I realized that 50 of those books were either missing or damaged beyond further use, I became a lot less liberal about loaning my books out. I changed my policy and told students that they were allowed to take out books from my classroom library but they were no longer allowed to take them home.

Of course, when I told my students who were really interested in the books they were reading that they couldn't take them home, I could barely stand to look at their adorable sad little faces. So...I gave in. Well, I kinda gave in. I decided to create a separate "going home" log where students would sign out books that they were taking home overnight. The catch was that they have to bring the book back to me each morning so that I can be sure that it is being well taken care of. If it wasn't, they would lose their "take a book home" privilege. This worked pretty well last year and I had far less books damaged than ever before. I felt great because students were excited to borrow and read my books and my collection wasn't getting damaged.

So, let's get back to those totes. Here is what they looked like:

They come in packs of 2 for $1.00! There are a variety of colors. I bought these two sets. 

After purchasing them, I brought them to work and took out my favorite puffy paint. I put cute sayings on the bags that I thought would appeal to both my male and female students (not too girly). Then, I decided that the bags needed a buddy to travel with the book and go home with the student. Hi ho, Hi ho, it's back to The Dollar Tree I go! Once there, I find the cutest little stuffed monkeys with velcro on their paws. I scoop up four of them and head back to the classroom. 



On the first day, I'm not sure how students will react to the idea of this little "Book Sleepover Bag". I tell students about it, but I can't tell if they are excited or not. So I open our classroom library and let them begin to take out books to have at their desk. I remind them that if they want to take the book home they will need to sign a separate sign out sheet at my desk. Students start to line up at my desk. Each one asks for a bag. Keep in mind that there are only four bags. All of a sudden, I have a line of 8 students and 4 are really disappointed to not get the bags. I'm making a mental note to get more but I am also doing the Snoopy dance in my head because my little idea is such a huge hit! Woohoo for Dollar Store ideas! 

Needless to say, I did go back and get more and we now have a collection of 10 bags and monkeys that are still in high demand! I've wiped out all of the monkeys from my local Dollar Tree before my secret gets out and other teachers in my school want to try it out too! Because really, how can I not tell them about this little Dollar Tree idea that I had that became such a big hit in my 5th grade classroom?

Who would've thought that these cute little bags would be in such high demand? 


Hope that all of my teacher friends and followers are keeping their heads above water during this very busy first month of school! Don't forget to take time for you now and then to keep at least SOME of your sanity! ;-)





Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September Currently


It's time to link up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the September currently!





The Red Sox game is on! My team is doing outstanding this season and well, I'm pretty happy! My husband who is a Yankees fan...well, he's a little less thrilled about how well the Red Sox are doing this season. But the rivalry marriage keeps it all interesting and I know we've got a rivalry weekend coming up that is sure to be interesting! Go Sox! 

My new group of students are fantastic! They are full of energy, they like to participate, and they are having a great time with our getting to know you activities. I just know that we will have a wonderful year together! 

I'm going interactive on everything this year. I know it's a lot to take on but I think I am ready. I can't find one resource that I love so I am working on creating my own for each subject. Hopefully they will lead to great success in the classroom and perhaps be worthy of a TpT sale when it is complete in June. I'm going to do everything I can to make it a great set. It's always a bit tricky when you are not a common core state, but I know I can make something that will be extremely useful for others!

I am so in love with long skirts lately. They are comfy, they cover my very white legs, and they come in cute designs. I want one for each day of the week so I am on the hunt for some new ones so that I can wear long skirts all the time. I'd also love to find ballet flats that are actually comfortable. No luck with that yet!

We've got company coming out a couple of times in the next year and all we have is a pull out bed. I think it's time that we traded that in for a real bed that our guests can sleep comfortably in. 

I want to learn new recipes, especially something yummy for fall, perhaps with squash or pumpkin, with maybe a little cinnamon involved. I'd love to learn how to bake a perfect pumpkin pie or apple dumplings! Yum!

Waking up at 5am instead of 8am has been shocking to my system. Showing up at the gym has been a challenge but I am promising myself that I will be back on track by next week! 

I've got to stay off of the computer. I can't allow myself to do work ALL NIGHT. Last year, my husband was in Afghanistan so it was easy to do work all the time. This year, I want to enjoy the time that I have with him at home. You never know how long your spouse is home for, and I want to be sure we get lots of quality time together each day because he's the greatest husband in the world...but I might be a tad biased!