Saturday, October 3, 2015

Author's Party

This was a HIT!  It was one of those things where you think "I will definitely be doing this every year for as long as I teach."  Those moments don't happen all that often, so when they do...I figure it is something worth sharing!

My second graders have been working on narrative stories.  We have been working on them for about 3 weeks.  They started with their ideas in a graphic organizer, wrote a first draft, double checked it for capitals, periods, and adjectives, participated in an author's circle (where they read their story to a few classmates who then shared what they liked about their story and their questions or "wishes"), wrote another draft which included the "wishes", and then illustrated it after I had typed it for them. 

They worked really hard and I wanted to do something fun, so I decided to have an "Author's Party"!  At the beginning of the week I told the kids that on Thursday we would be having an author's party for anyone who had finished their stories.  A couple of kids took their stories home on Wednesday nigh to finish illustrating them, and some where finishing at school on Thursday morning.  Every single one of them was done in time for our party though!  Since I had been talking it up all week, I tried to make it really fun and special, after all we were celebrating them!  We were celebrating the fact that they were authors and we were celebrating the fact that they had finished their first story of the year. 

I had streamers in the doorway when they came back in from recess.  I also had party blowers on each of their desks.  And I had 23 balloons (with student names in them) blown up and taped to a door.  There was also a huge party hat (to be worn by the reader), and of course party favors.  All good parties have party favors. 

I had the kids take turns coming up and using a pair of scissors to pop the balloons.  Whosevers name was on the paper that flew out of the balloon was the one who would read their story.  The kids had fun putting on the party hat and then reading their story to the class.  When they were finished everyone was allowed to blow their party blower three times (as opposed to clapping) after which they placed it back on the ground in front of them.  I then called on three people to share things they liked about the story that had been read.  Following that we started the process all over again by popping another balloon.  Each child got to pop a balloon and each child got to read their story. 

Once everyone had read, I passed out the party favors.   Everyone got a brand new, fun pencil, so that they could continue to be authors!  There were some Smarties attached just to make it a little more fun. 

Fun was had by all!  I asked who had had fun at our author's party at the end of the day, and every single hand went up.  I even had a girl write about it in her journal the next day saying how much fun it was. 

I loved the fact that we got to celebrate the kids and their writing.  This one is a keeper!  I hope some of you will try it in your own classes.  Happy writing!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

2nd Grade T-shirts!

In the five years that I have been in second Grade we have done all sorts of different designs for our t-shirts, this is my very favorite, and have done it two it's the winner.  No other design has been done twice.  We write all of the student names, teacher names, field trips, programs etc. on the t-shirt.  Each class gets a different color so they are easy to spot on field trips, and this year the teachers got Hot Pink!  All the kids will be able to find us, that's for sure!  Let me know what you think. 

Camp Compliments

I've seen this before and apologize that I don't know who the original genius behind this was.  I told the kids at the beginning of the year that for each compliment they get (from another teacher or administrator) , we will add a link to our chain.  When the chain hits the ground we will have a class party!  They are doing AWESOME, we're almost there.  I'm not a huge fan of external motivation, I would rather it be intrinsic.  I am a huge fan of positive praise however, and this is a great way to celebrate compliments and positive praise.  It also makes the class have to work together as a team in order to earn compliments, I'm all about that!

Favorite First Week Read Alouds!

First Test of the Year

When I announced on the second day of school that we would be taking our first test of the year, my brand new little second graders were a little less than thrilled. 

When I passed out the test and they realized that it was a test about ME their teacher, their nerves were eased. 

I honestly don't know where I saw this idea, but it is GREAT!  The kids LOVED this and it was a fun way for them to get to know me. 

I read them all the questions and had them circle their answers.  Then we went over it.  I would have them raise their hands to show which answers they thought were right.  I had them get our a crayon and circle the right answers so they could see how many they got right.  I gave a prize to the student with the highest score. 

Side note:  Six weeks after this quiz, I was absent for the day and had the kids guess where I was.  One student guessed that I was at the pet store getting a cat because I had never had a cat, but I did already have a dog and a turtle and a bunny.  If you notice number five on the test that is the only time I gave them that information all year!

My Camp Classroom!

WOW!  It has been WAY too long!  Last year was crazy.  I loved my kids, but together they were a little bit of a rough group.  It's interesting how that can happen some years.  Between the struggles of my class and getting married in the middle of the year...the teaching blog took the back burner.  I have though about things I've wanted to post this year, but haven't yet had the time.  Now is the time!  I may just break one of the cardinal rules of blogging (if those are even a thing) and post multiple times tonight so that I can catch up!

I have had a travel themed classroom for the past four years!  This year I am still in second grade for the fifth year in a row!  I am about the only thing that has stayed the same.  I have had new teams and new interns every year.  I decided that I needed some form of change, so I decided to undertake changing my class theme.  I knew it would be a lot of work, but I needed a fresh start and I figured that would be fun.  With my married name being Graham (like the graham cracker), I thought a camp theme would be fun!

Here are some pics of the classroom. 

I let kids sit in the camp chairs and in the tent for read to self during daily five.  They love it, and I love the bear that I traced onto black cardboard and stuck on the wall!
My camp sign which includes different things we will be learning or doing in second grade.

Decorations and the "bathroom bear", the students have to put him on their desk when they leave for the bathroom.  This way only one student is ever out at a time and I can easily see who is gone.

My owls that are above my cabinets.  Thank you to my co-worker Lindsay for the great idea!
A close up of the tree over the tent.  This was a "must" when designing the new classroom.

My clip chart. 

Carpet, calendar, word wall.  I decided to start with all the words up this year so that the students can use the word wall as a resource throughout the year.  They have been looking at it since the first day to help with spelling. 
I love my "new" classroom this year!  Hopefully these ideas will come in handy for someone else as well!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Gifts for Students

Some teachers do Halloween Gifts for their students and some don't.  We are a gold medal school so we try to avoid candy and unhealthy treats.  That makes Halloween treats a little hard.  My kids needed pencils and erasers so I figured I could get those for them.  I didn't want to get the holiday ones however because they are not great quality and never work or last for long.  I got normal pencils and erasers and "Halloweenified"/"monsterfied" them.   I also threw in a Halloween fruit roll up, a little better than candy.  The kids loved their Halloween treat and maybe now I will hear a few less of the "Teacher, I don't have an eraser" comments.