Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Year of Awesome - Week 3

I can't believe that Monday marked only the SECOND Monday of this school year! I feel like I've been back at it for months already! Continuing to focus on the positives, I'm back with another week of A Year of Awesome!
This was a week full of it... from International Dot Day to the annual Terry Fox Walk. Read on to hear about this week's highlights, then link up or share some of your own.
Today was International Dot Day! Inspired by Peter Reynolds' book, "The Dot", today was a day to challenge students around the world to consider the mark they'd make on the world this year. We kicked it off with an assembly during which a group of intermediate students (my former fifth graders!) read the story and presented a call to action to the rest of the student body. Every classroom was responsible for their own special activities. My students did some writing about their plans for the year, and we did some artwork inspired by THIS blog post. Students decorated coffee filters with washable markers, painted them with water (next time we'll spray them!), then we sprinkled each with coarse salt. Once dry, we attached them together and displayed them in the windows of the main school entrance. They look awesome hanging there in welcome! :)

Tuesday was great! I think it had to be our most productive day so far. (It was only Day 11, so that's not bad!) I've begun using Lucy Calkins Units of Study for my writing lessons, and today some of my boys who had barely written two lines up to now FILLED. HIS. PAGE! Such a hush fell over the classroom after my lesson and as they started to write that I was speechless for a moment. There were a few who had trouble getting started, of course, but the majority of my class got right to work. AWESOME!

We also had a great time in math today learning about estimating. We read part of the book Great Estimations by Bruce Goldstone, and then I introduced my newest freebie: Grab & Guess - An Estimating Game.
The students played eight rounds grabbing a handful of manipulatives, estimating the number, and calculating the difference. The player with the lowest total of all eight rounds won the game! They had a ball.

You can grab a copy of this game for use in your own classroom by clicking any of the images above! It is a perfect activity for early finishers! :)

"The book order is here! The book order is here!" I'm still like a kid at Christmas when the book order arrives! There's nothing like a new book. I grabbed a whole pile of new picture books this month, including this cute one that I can't wait to use as a mentor text with my kids during writing! AWESOME!

Now on to the TRUE awesome moment of the day... As I mentioned on Tuesday, we started writing about "memorable moments" - those special little bits of our lives that we remember for whatever reason. One of the boys I had last year, who was a VERY reluctant writer, wrote about four sentences. By hand. Four beautiful, descriptive sentences that I was blown away to read today. I chose his memorable moment to read to the class as an example of using great details, and the effect was incredible. The class clapped for him, unprompted by me, and he was so pleased that those four sentences were extended by an entire page by the end of our writing block. Now THAT is truly AWESOME!!

I MUST go back to our writing block today... Our Day 3 schedule is a little mixed up because of a phys. ed. block. Today my students were working on writing when I called for their attention and asked them to finish up what they were writing and begin to tidy up to go to the gym. As I watched, only THREE students actually began packing up. THREE!! The others (including 10 boys) continued writing, or started to share with the rest of their table group what they had written. One of my boys even ended up on the verge of tears as one of the girls got a little bossy with him to clean up his things when he was frantically trying to continue writing. I was amazed by them. It was an AWESOME moment!!
Friday was a beautiful day! We gathered as a school on the back playground for our annual Terry Fox Walk to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. Last year, our little school of about 350 kids raised $1500! The totals haven't been tallied for this year's walk, but I'm sure it will be impressive, too! My little ones remarkably walked for a full hour without any whining or complaining. So awesome!
To end my week, as my students were leaving the classroom for their last-period French class, one of my girls made a fuss over giving a Heart Garden recognition. When she prefaced reading it with, "This one is a little out of the ordinary..." I knew she was up to something. ;) She presented it to ME for being "such a kind and fun teacher". I wish I'd taken a photo of it before I left for the weekend. How AWESOME!

Do you have an AWESOME story to share from your week in the classroom? Link up or leave a comment below! 

To link your blog: Grab the button below, add it to your blog post, link it back here, and then add your link at the bottom of this post!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Year of Awesome - Week 2

Happy Weekend! Week #2 is now over, and finally things are beginning to settle. Routines have been established, expectations reviewed, and units of learning begun. I'm reflecting on some of the best moments of my week, and hope that you'll link up at the end of this post with some of your own AWESOME moments.

Today was the day our Read to Self time started to feel like it would progress. We had a little dip last week, but I think all my boys (Did I mention I have 15 and only 5 girls?!) were still taking in all of the wonderful things around them and weren't quite ready to get down to work. ;) Today we hit 4 minutes of stamina building, and I'm optimistic that the number will climb quickly. AWESOME!
Today we finally worked our way through the entire calendar math package in my Interactive Calendar Math for the SMART Board package. This is something I used last year as well, and just loved it. With daily practice working with place value, patterning, calendar and representing numbers I saw such growth and mastery in my students. I have two boys in my class this year who were with me last year and even after the summer break they STILL remember the skills!! AWESOME!

After another dip in our Read to Self stamina yesterday, we hit 5 whole minutes!! Maybe it was the great new posters on the wall that we could refer to... ;)
It was so AWESOME that we did a happy dance. Really, we did! Click the image below to grab a free copy of these posters for your own classroom! AWESOME!

Today I was surprised by a visit from one of last-year's students and her parents at the end of the day. They stopped in to say hello and share some photos from a very special family event from this summer. Knowing that I was still thought of and important to this family really touched me. That's what teaching is about for me. That's AWESOME!

Sometimes it's the little things. The end of our first 5-day week has arrived and I'm still on my feet. We had a fire drill today and my little ones did beautifully! Book orders were due and enough came in to earn me a nice little bunch of Bonus Bucks for some new books for the classroom! AWESOME!

Do you have an AWESOME story to share from your week in the classroom? Grab the button below, add it to your blog post, link it back here, and then add your link below!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Managing Paperwork with iDoceo

You just may change your tune if you own the iDoceo app! :) I spent part of my Saturday marking my students' Words Their Way assessments. In my school we refer to this data fairly frequently throughout the year, so I keep these handy at the front of my filing cabinet. (You may have read my posts about our Words Their Way groupings last year.) As I was finishing them up I had a little revelation... I could use my iDoceo app to save these results in the "Resources" section! I did have to play around with this a little to set it up exactly how I wanted it, so thought I'd share so others can manage it more easily.

In my first attempt I found that all the photos of the marking sheets ended up in my photo stream/camera roll. I was hoping there was a way to have them contained within the app, and after a tiny bit of digging I found the solution:

With this changed, the images no longer appear in my iPad camera roll.

Now for adding the documents. I wanted the feature guides available so I could quickly see where the strengths and needs are for each child.
To add this page to each student's profile I simply had to tap and hold the student's name, then tap "Edit".
The box that opens up will show the files already stored for this student in this subject area. To add a new file, click the paper clip icon in the top-left corner.

Then select "Take picture", aim and shoot!

To view the files for your students, you can visit the "Resources" tab. (This will show you all of the resources you've added to iDoceo - you can filter by students vs. classes by clicking "Students".)
You can also access student files by visiting a particular student's profile:
I'm thrilled to know that I can store images of student work samples in my iDoceo app and no longer have to maintain large paper files throughout the year. This obviously doesn't take the place of portfolios in the classroom, but can make the data more accessible to the teacher, when and where it is needed!

Leave me a comment below if you've found this useful! I'd love to know about any iDoceo tips and tricks you've discovered!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Year of Awesome - Week 1

Wow! Week #1 of the 2014-15 school year is done! It was such a busy week. Busy, but full of awesome moments. I've pledged to pay closer attention to these little diamonds in my day, so this is the first of my weekly Year of Awesome posts.
I hope you see some of your own awesome moments reflected here, and will link up with your own weekly reflections! You'll find more information (and a freebie!) at the end of the post!

Well, come on... Labor Day... Holiday... Day off... AWESOME!

Tuesday was my first day of teaching. It was a super-busy day, but full of great moments. One of these was when I awarded the first Heart Garden recognition for our classroom display. The kids were so pleased and actually clapped for the boy who was recognized for his great listening while I was teaching. AWESOME!

In my class of 20 students I have 5 girls and 15 boys. There are some busy little bodies in there. At the end of each day I have my planning time. Four out of five days my students will be learning French and will be dismissed to the buses by the French teacher. Today at the end of the day, one of my more challenging little personalities returned to my classroom, walked right up to my desk, and said to me, "See you tomorrow, Mrs. Beattie!". This was so unexpected from this particular student. This was AWESOME!
A non-teaching-day-AWESOME event was the arrival of my Brag Tags! You can read more about that HERE.

My students did such an amazing job of taking ownership of the supply baskets on their tables that they earned their first letter in our Tidy Table Challenge!! When the table baskets are tidy and organized at the end of the day, one student chooses a Scrabble tile and matches it to a corresponding letter on our Tidy Table Challenge board.
This idea comes from Mr. Hughes at An Educator's Life. I love it, and the kids are so excited and motivated!! AWESOME!

Today, our Heart Garden truly began to blossom. It was the first day that my students began to recognize the kind things other students had done for them and share their own appreciation. Today, two of my students sought me out to request a heart for our Heart Garden display. They purposely walked away from the art activity they were engaged in to ask me if they could write a note to someone who had done something kind for them. I think I'm going to love the Heart Garden! AWESOME!

At the end of the day today one of my busy little boys came over to give me a hug and say, "See you tomorrow, Mrs. Beattie!". When I told him that I'd see him on Monday the disappointed look on his face showed me just how much he loves being at school. AWESOME!

We finally got our CAFE program kicked off today with the introduction of the Check for Understanding strategy! I made these Check for Understanding check marks for each of my students and laminated them so they'll last the year. If you'd like to grab these for your own classroom, you can download them by clicking the image below. AWESOME! :)

Do you have an AWESOME story to share from your week in the classroom? Grab the button below, add it to your blog post, link it back here, and then add your link below!