/> July 2017 - First Grade Findings

Equity Sticks: A Quick and Cutesy How-To

Do you use equity sticks in the classroom? Equity sticks are a classroom management tool used to select a student at random. It provides a sense of fairness as the teacher (or a student) is picking a stick but not selecting by choice. It is random! I use them in variety of ways such as when I need a random student for an activity, a quick helper, or to decide on the next person to share. I often use them when every single kid wants to share and we just don't have time for everyone that day. I don't use them to put kids on the spot to share. This would discourage the community I try to build from the start! How do you use equity sticks?? I would love to hear some new ideas!

Here's a quick guide on how I spruced mine up (instead of simply writing my students' names on a plain stick):

 Step 1. Gather your materials! (I chose green and blue materials because those are my main classroom colors-the possible color combos are endless!)
-Jumbo popsicle sticks (Include a few extra in case you get a new student!)
-paint & paintbrush
-washi tape
-cardboard (I cut off two flaps of a large-ish box)
-permanent marker (to write names) Sidenote-I didn't include a picture with names because I wanted to protect students' privacy!

  Steps 2-4. Spread out sticks and tape where you want the paint to stop. I paint about 1/3 of the stick. Flip the sticks over. Then tape the other side. Make sure the ends of the tape line up.

5. Paint! Try not to get it past the tape. I did get a little bit so that one will be my extra!

6. Twist the sticks in order to make sure to get the paint on the sides and top of the sticks. Let them dry for a few minutes. 

7. Carefully flip the sticks over. Paint the other side. Let the sticks dry for a few minutes. 

8. Hold down sticks with your hand and gently pull the tape off. Don't worry if some paint leaked under the tape. The Washi tape will cover that up. Separate the sticsk to check to see if you missed any spots. Touch up, if needed. 

9. Cut washi tape strips. I did strips about 3 inches long. Wrap washi tape around the stick where the paint ends.

10. Done! Now you have some cutesy equity sticks. Write each child's name on a stick and place in a jar or cup. For an extra touch add a ribbon!

So how would you use equity sticks in your classroom?
Here are a few ideas:

-choosing a helper
-choosing a random student to do an activity
-choosing a student when all students volunteer
-choosing partners when you need it to be random
-choosing a person to pick the Go Noodle
-choosing someone to go first

I know there's a ton more ideas, so let me know in a comment below!

DISCLAIMER: You could easily just write your students name on a popsicle sticks to make equity sticks! This is just a fun way to spruce them up!


5 Focus Points for the 2017-2018 School Year

Recently I read "Focus: Five Things for the 2017-2018 School Year", written by Kristy, a high school English teacher at www.loudenclearblog.com. After reading her post, I was inspired to create a list of things to focus on for 2017-2018! That's one thing I LOVE about the blogging community. Inspiration is everywhere!

The reason why I wanted to post my focus points instead of just writing them in my planner or a random notebook is I want more accountability. So often I don't stick to goals out of sheer laziness. If y'all are keeping me accountable, then I am much more likely to keep a check on my focus points! We might even have some focus points in common and can hold each other accountable! :) Drumroll please.... Here's my list:

1. Organization- I've always wanted to be organized! Parts of my life are organized. I have a planner. I use my phone for to do lists. Overall I am fairly efficient with some things, or at least I like to think so! This summer I am taking time to organize aspects of my classroom to optimize my organization. I am incredibly bad at staying organized! I am also a slight hoarder. In recent years, I have cleaned out when switching grades, moving schools, etc. But I still have so much stuff! I see teachers who are organized, and I want to work hard to be organized to ensure my classroom is as efficient as possible. Plus, I would really love to have more functional space, especially closet space.
A freshly organized drawer of post its might be every teacher's dream ;)

Goal Setting
2. Goal Setting- Since I am setting, and hopefully meeting ;), goals this year, I want to encourage my students to give it a try. I have prepped a freebie from @purely.primary on Instagram which is a template for students to keep track of their goals on sticky notes. One of my IG friends, @sublimeinsecond, had the idea of switching the goals out once they are met. I think that would be optimal versus having a goal per week. Since my school is also starting a Leader in Me initiative, I want to lead by example by modeling my goals and progress with my students. I envision this bringing together and encouraging my class to become a strong community. I am eager to see how it goes! 
My students will each have a card to place their sticky note with their goals. 

3. Writing- When I was in school, writing was never my favorite subject. I was okay at writing, but I did not gain confidence in writing until college. Sadly, I don't have great feelings toward writing so it's not my favorite subject to teach. This year I want to embrace writing and teaching writing to enable my students to love writing. I am teaching writing for an academic summer camp for a few weeks. Honestly, I was not excited when I realized I would be doing writing. This also made me realize how my opinions of writing could negatively effect my students. I don't think I let on to it, but I know my instruction would benefit from me loving writing more. My recent blogging adventure has also ignited a passion for communicating via writing. This also goes well with the next focus point...
Using How to Tell a Story to come up with story ideas was a hit at summer camp! 

4. Blogging- I want to continue growing my blogging portfolio and network during the school year. I see networking as a sort of professional development, because experienced teacher are where teaching gold is found! This is why I want to continue to blog and network on social media even when school responsibilities start to become more prevalent. If I stay organized day to day, that should allow more time for blogging ;) And let's be real, no one wants to see a messy classroom blog. Well some people may, kind of like that hoarders TV show, but I don't want that title!
My latest logo! 

Time Management
5. Time Management- This focus goes along well with the ones mentioned above. If my time is managed wisely, I can only imagine what great things I can accomplish! An ideal of mine is to leave school work at school. I was good about this last year, so I want to continue managing time well while I'm at school to avoid taking work home. Of course blogging and TPT would be accomplished at home. Those two aspects of teaching are like hobbies though! Efficient time management will also ensure I meet personal self care goals like working out, making time for loved ones, and me time. I have recently got back into my groove of working out, so I want to keep that a top priority throughout the year.
My Apple Watch keeps me in check! Click the picture for my blog post about why I love being an #applewatchteacher!

Now take some time to think, what do you want to focus on for the upcoming year? What goals do you want to conquer? I believe in you all! I would love to hear what focus points you have for yourself. Drop a comment below or connect with me on Instagram!


A to Z Back to School Procedures FREEBIE

Back to School is a crazy time for new teachers and veteran teachers alike! Of course, experience helps out a ton, but there's always so much to do! I am about to start my fifth year! WOW, it doesn't feel like it's been that long! I still feel some anxiety when thinking of all there is to do. So if you are feeling a little anxious, take a deep breath and just keep reading!

Inspired by Kelsey Hayes, the teacherpreneur from Kelsey N. Hayes: A Blog for Middle School Teachers, I wanted to make a primary/elementary procedures checklist for things to think about for back to school. If you're a middle school teacher, you must go check out her blog and list for middle school! Click here to head over there. She shares tons of tips on blogging, teaching, and techie tips! Love her and her passion! She also is an amazing resource if you are wanting to start your own teacher blog! :)

While it is not Back to School time yet as I write this, teachers can always get ahead of the game. Whether you decide to begin thinking about procedures and routines in June or the night before you report back in August, here's your handy dandy checklist to help you do so! I tried to think through all the things that happen in my classroom! So here we go....

Organized from A to Z, here are some things to think about when preparing for your future class. Subscribe here for the CHECKLIST FREEBIE! It is too cute and incredibly handy for thinking through all these topics. After subscribing, the link will pop up to take you to the freebie. Super easy! It may seem like a lot at first, but do a little at a time!

A to Z Back to School Procedures Checklist
How will you keep track of students absences and excuses for absences?
Attention Getters
How will you get the students attention when needed? Will you have one chant or a few?

Behavior Plan
What behavior plan will you use? How will you keep track of and communicate behavior with parents? What classroom rules will you have? Will you make them ahead of time or with your class?
Will your students have daily binders? How will you utilize them? Where will you store them daily?
Are you going to celebrate birthdays? If so, how?

Where will students keep their belongings? When will they be able to get things during the day? Where will students store their snacks and lunchboxes?
Will you make a rotation schedule for centers? Will they be located in a specific spot?

How will you document lesson plans, interventions, small groups, or behavior?
What drills do you need to be aware of for your school? Do you have a first aid/emergency kit? Where will you store your keys to quickly lock your door in an emergency?
Will you have a theme or color scheme? If so, what will it be? Is your theme practical? Is it neat?

How will you take the lunch count and send attendance notes each morning?

Flexible Seating
Will you try flexible seating? Will students be given assigned spots? Must they always work in that spot or can they work around the room?

How will you grade and keep up with grades each term? How will you organize graded papers? Will you send them home every week? month? 9 weeks?

Will you assign homework? What will it be and how will you communicate assignments?

How will you utilize ipads? Will you assign students to use each ipad or will it be open to anyone?  Will you provide headphones for ipads/computers? Will students bring them from home?

Will you have classroom jobs? If so, what will they be?

Library Checkout 
Will you make a checkout system for your classroom library? How many books can your students check out at a time? Where will they store their books when they aren't reading them? Is there a check in/check out time?

How will you organize money? What if a students brings you a wad of money? What system will you have to keep it all straight? SO IMPORTANT!
What manners will you expect your students to use? Does your school have hallway rules? How will you teach your students to walk in the hallway? What are your school's lunchroom rules? How will you teach your students how to eat properly in the lunchroom?
Make up Work
If a student misses a day, how will you keep track of their work to be made up? 
Morning Business
What will your students do as they come in and unpack each morning? Will you have morning work/tubs?

What will you send with students to the nurse? Where will you keep notes from the nurse? 

How will you keep your daily papers/materials organized? How will you help students keep their stuff organized? (Folders, notebooks, crayons, scissors?) Where will you store students' book boxes/bags for independent reading? 
Open House/Meet the Teacher
What are you expected to have prepared for Meet the Teacher? Ask a mentor, if you are new!

Where will pencils be stored in your classroom? What will the students do if their pencil breaks? Will you allow them to sharpen throughout the day or will you have a dull/sharp area? 
Parent Communication
How will you communicate with parents? Will you use an app (DOJO or Remind), or keep it old school? 

If students need your help during the day, how can they get your attention? Should they raise their hand or come to you? If a student needs to get up, do they have to ask you?

Will students be able to use the restroom at any time, or will you have certain times during the day? 

Supply Organization
Where will you store supplies? Where will you put the supplies students need access to? Where will you put the supplies that are brought in by students? Don't forget to leave space for the bulky stuff! (Paper towels, copy paper, Kleenex)
Social Media
Will you have a social media page? Do you have permission to post your students pics? Don't post without permission!!
If you have a substitute, how will you relay important info to him/her? Do you have a binder with important info organized? Do you have emergency sub plans? 

How will you keep track of student transportation? 
How will transitions be most effective in your classroom? 

Will you ask parents to volunteer in your classroom? What can they help you do? Will you make a sign up for mystery readers? How will you recruit them? 

Water/Water Bottles
Will you allow water bottles at the student tables? Will you let students go get water during class, if needed?

XYZ is whatever I forgot and you want to add! I could not think of any procedures or routines for these letters! 

While there's a ton more we could talk about, this will give you a good start! As you think through these things, I'm sure more things will come to mind! Start a to do list or notebook to gather your thoughts. You will be amazed at yourself and all you will get done before the year starts. And remember, if something doesn't work, fix it! I am always changing things and making things better in my classroom! Ask your students for what would help them learn the best as well. It is their room, too! 

Subscribe here for the cute, handy printable checklist for you to brainstorm and organize your ideas! It has space to write in notes, and it's just so much cuter than this page! (I'm experimenting with all the cute fonts lately!) I hope this list helps you like it has helped me already think through my school year. Did I miss anything??? Leave a comment below with your thoughts! If you thought this was helpful, share with your teacher friends on IG! <3

P.S. If you are interested in knowing more about how I do Back to School, let me know! I'm thinking about doing a series where I answer these questions with how I do things in my classroom, if there's interest there! Thanks for reading! :)

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