Friday, September 19, 2014

Five Fun Ideas for Open House

Since school has been in session for several weeks now, it is the time of open house. Here are five fun ideas for open house!

1. Why I Love Art has a great idea of doing a grid enlargement of "The Scream" which would make a perfect photo op for any students who come with their parents to open house. This could easily be tied into a math lesson as well by enlarging it with a set ratio. I love this idea!

2. Now I'm sure most of us have seen the images of life size child self portraits at each desk. However, I saw this image and thought that this would be an extra fun twist on that by having each child draw themselves as super heroes! I could see many students getting very excited by this idea. This could easily tie into a writing project as well or even just work on adjectives or onomatopoeia.

3. Get to know the parents of your students better with this parent survey from The Teachers' Cauldron. It's great to keep get all of this information that will be so useful the rest of the year! Scroll down towards the middle of the page and click on the link right above the image to download it.

 4. Have a scavenger hunt! I love this idea of doing an open house scavenger hunt so parents and their children will be able to find everything important in the school and/or classroom. The Cornerstone for Teachers has a great editable scavenger hunt here you can use.

5. Make a classroom brochure. MS Word has an easy brochure template you can use to create something customized for your classroom quickly and easily. Teaching Blog Addict has some tips here as well on how to create your own open house brochure!

If you have a great idea for open house please share it with us below! I would love to hear about it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fun Fall Art Activities for Fast Finishers!

If you have creative fast finishers in your classroom, this Fall Fast Finishers Art Activity pack might fit the bill! The pages in this drawing pack are intended to help your students think creatively and problem solve. There are a variety of pages that draw a variety of artistic skills from your students.

I have used these in my classroom regularly for my fast finishers and they worked well! Check out more reviews of these pages here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: More Great Websites for Teachers to Bookmark

This week I thought I would share some fun and free websites that you can use in class. These are some that are perfect to bookmark or pin!

Wheel of Decide - This is a fun website that has a customizable wheel in which you enter in options and then it spins and randomly selects a choice. This could be a fun way to decide a reward or you could play a game with it and have a math operation for a question that students must use or vocab/spelling words.

Handwriting Worksheets - You can make and print your own handwriting practice sheets from this website which is great since you can customize them to your needs.

Fun Brain - Fun Brain is a fun website for students to use to play educational games. The focus is on math and reading games.

Certificates 4 Teachers - I have used these once in a while to recognize students for their achievements and it makes it easy without having to spend time making something yourself. Just type in the info and your certificate is set!

Artsonia - I have mentioned this website before but feel that it is worth another mention. It is an online gallery where you can post your students' artwork for free. Students' parents can sign up and comment on their child's artwork. Also, students can buy things with their artwork on it and your school will get 15% of the proceeds which is nice as well. I have enjoyed this website very much over the years!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Using Portfolios in the Classroom

One of the most effective tools I use to motivate and focus students is portfolios.  Many of my students have a difficult time staying on track, keeping up with their materials, meeting deadlines, etc.  When I give my students portfolios, it does several things to help them: 1) It puts all of their important due dates and assignments in one place that they find easier to keep up with.  2) It prioritizes assignments and puts them in an official file, communicating the importance of them for the students.  3) It becomes something that students take pride in and and responsibility for.

On the other hand, it is also helpful because it gives me a collection of their work to show parents and administrators how they are progressing.  When someone asks how my students are doing, what they are learning, if they are showing growth, or how I justify my students' grades, I have something solid to show them.

When I set up the portfolios, I do the following....

1) I plan with the end in mind.  I figure out what I want students to be able to do and what standards I want them to demonstrate mastery of.  I design a project that engages the students and incorporates the target skills.  I create a rubric for how I am going to grade their work.  Then I break the portfolio down into a series of assignments that show progression towards a big picture goal.  For example, if they are working on writing a research paper the due dates correspond to steps (research, notes, outline, rough draft and final draft).  If they are working on writing Spanish essays, the assignments get progressively longer and more complex.

2) I create a timeline/assignment sheet that identifies what I want them to do and by when.  I put it in a table format, print it and staple it to the inside cover of a file folder.  The assignment description includes mini checklist rubrics. I also include a space to put their grade and comments.

3) I color code everything.  Their folder is one color, the assignment sheet is another color, and rubrics are a yet another.  It is bright and easy to find and identify.

4) Students use it on a weekly, if not daily basis.  They are expected to keep up with it and organize it.  Student-teacher conferences always include a look at the portfolio.  Grades directly correlate with the portfolio, and because students have a grade sheet in their folder, they always know how they are doing.

Many of you probably already use portfolios of some sort.  If not, give it a try!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Spanish Stations Worth Checking Out

One of the easiest ways to differentiate in the classroom is to use centers/stations.  I use them regularly in my Spanish classes to review the objectives from each unit.  I have students do a self assessment to determine where they are strong and what they need to work on.  Then I introduce anywhere between 8 and 12 stations, making it clear what each station covers.  They can then determine which stations they want to do.  They can move at their own pace, working on the objectives they choose to review.  I help them to pace themselves and circulate to answer questions and provide individual direct instruction where necessary.  Here are some of the stations I have for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers.

#1: Here is a collection of 8 stations covering introductory vocabulary.  At just $2, it is one of my best sellers and best deals!

#2: For just $1.00 you can purchase a set of activities that focuses on the vocabulary for greetings.

#3: Also, for $2.50 you can purchase a set of activities that focuses on just the number vocabulary.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: Fast & Early Finisher Freebies!

With the school year starting up, those fast and early finishers are probably starting to come out of the wood work. I often notice it is the same students who may finish an assignment early. Here are some fun freebies to use for those fast finishers.

  • Reading with Kids has some great elaborate color by number puzzles. They are quite elaborate and some even include optical illusion art. These could be great fun for students!

  • Origami instructions is my favorite website for learning new origami! While it is usually better to have students that have some basic experience in origami do it on their own there are some designs on the site that anyone can make quite easily. Origami is a great way to practice math too!

  • Make Belief Printables has a great selection of finish it pages for students that are clever with drawing or words. These pages use creative thinking skills to finish so they are great for continuing learning.

  • Lucky to Be in First has a great fast finisher sheet with 12 ideas. Although the blog is geared towards 1st grade I think this sheet has great ideas for multiple grade levels. There are a variety of prompts. You could even have students try to get 4 in a  row or make a certain shape as they complete activities.

Have fun getting these freebies for your fast finishers!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: The Back to School Edition

For some of you, school is already back in session.  For the rest of us, it will be shortly.  So, here are a few freebies to check out...

The first one is a packet with useful back to school printables.  It includes gift tags, sign-in sheets for back to school nights, posters, etc.  

The next one is a cool game to teach students the importance of rules and working together.  Students play a game without any rules.  After they do this the class holds a conversation about why rules are useful, why some groups made up their own rules, what problems groups had playing a game without rules, etc.  It encourages critical thinking skills and sounds like a good way to have a bit of fun in the beginning of the year.


Finally, check out this Back to School pinterest board.  It has over 50 pins with activities, decorations, articles, teacher gifts, student gifts, jokes and more that are all back-to-school themed.  Quickly peruse this and you're sure to find something you can use, no matter what age you teach!

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