MMI: Early Finisher Solution & Wall of Wisdom

I've been getting awfully winded on here so my goal is to keep this short and to the point.
My first Made It was once again inspired by Pinterest.  The first one I found was created by the amazing Mary at: 
(She's also the author of the amazing blog Teaching with a Mountain View)

What is it you ask? Why it is an Early Finisher Task Card Holder of course!

Here's the breakdown:

I got this flip flop rack holder thinger at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I was THRILLED when I found this chevron one on-line because it matches my classroom colors! They are new for the college season so I had to ask my local BBB to go in back and find it, but they did have them in! I also needed some double-sided tape and my little signs.

I simply created the signs, printed, cut (I did "laminate- aka use packing tape" for the little subject tabs just to reinforce them better) and taped them right onto the flip flop rack. I wanted to label each hook to organize the different task cards I'll put out... because I'm an overly organized person like that and I need a label for everything!

I doubt the kids will understand the whole "Early Bird Gets The Worm" theme I was going with for my sign, but hey- it'll be a lesson on idioms right?!
Here it is hanging on the wall. You can do just one set and hole punch it twice on the top to hang it across the holder. I however, wanted as many options displayed as possible so I went with the double up option. I also like my task cards smaller (8 on a page to save paper) so this size worked well. Oh and those task cards are from the amazing Jamie Sears over at Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher. She has a ton of task cards in her store (including a Free Place Value set).

Not much of a 'made it.' More of a 'buy and slap together it.' But I like it. :)

I was browsing on TpT the other day and found these adorable posters by Hardcore Teacher Resources. They are free in her store. I love the quotes she used and the little sketches! If you pick them up, make sure you show some love and give feedback. I picked my 5 favorite, printed them out and went to the Dollar tree to get some cheap frames.

I then decided to make a "Wall of Wisdom" in my room (I have a lot of awkward wall space that needs to be filled up) that will showcase these words of wisdom on different things. I made little labels (surprise!!) that I attached to each frame that match the quote. I came up with the words: Creativity (Steve Jobs), Failure (Thomas Edison- I LOVE this quote), Mistakes (Einstein), Curiosity (Rosa Parks), and Hard Work (Ben Franklin). There are others in the pack as well. I can't wait to discuss what these words and quotes mean and I hope to even record my own students' words of wisdom throughout the year (insightful/reflective comments) to add to the wall and have it be a source of inspiration.

This was pretty good for me! I'll count it as a success. I'm off to be inspired by all of you now! Enjoy your Monday!



Tips to Tame 'Em: Week 1 Modeling Routines

Welcome to the Kick-Off of:
It's a Back to School Series for the next 9 Tuesdays. 

The purpose: to get you thinking and prepared to start the school year off right- tame the crazy (behaviors that is) for a successful and sane school year! This series of posts will cover tips, strategies, and resources to build a positive learning environment so that your students are ready to learn all that good stuff you've got to teach them!

This weeks focus:

The name of the game this week is all about routines. But more importantly, it's MODELING routines to eliminate problem behaviors.

I remember in college when my instructors would always use that word... MODELING. And they would say, to model EVERYTHING the first few weeks, even things like coming to the carpet and lining up. I had to scoff really at it at first, like really, you're telling me this modeling stuff is THAT important? I didn't realize how important it was until I had my own classroom where I was the captain running the ship. And I truly believe the reason our room runs so smoothly is because of how much time we took to model expectations from day 1. Even within modeling though, there are some things I found to be very powerful and helpful to maximize your modeling time.

You'd think kids would know how to come sit quietly on the carpet, or get a piece of paper from the writing center, or my favorite: opening your desk without having everything on top fall to the floor (I don't know what it was this group this past year, but we never quite got the hand of it... I must have not modeled it well enough ;) hehe) However, every year I'm a little stunned. Is some of this micro-managing? Yes. However, if you set clear expectations on how and when to do something when you've got 28 bodies in a sweaty, hot, room, it'll help keep your sanity and maximize your instructional time.

Some of my musts the first week include:
  • Morning Work Routine
  • Coming to the Carpet
  • Lining Up
  • Turning in Homework
  • Getting a Supply They May Need/Using a Tool
  • End of Day Routine
  • Opening Your Desk While You Have Things On Top (this was not a must last year, but man, we've got to get this mastered this year... they haven't quite figured out a way to solve this problem yet...hmmm)
Feel free to use this form to brainstorm and record all your routines that you'll want to model during the first couple weeks. *Hopefully* you can get ideas from others who share or link up on routines that they find really important to model. (Simply print it out and write your ideas or add text boxes to type and print... whateva ya' like!)

Show them what you WANT them to do... not what they SHOULDN'T do. 
This was such a hard habit to break. It was hard to put into words and communicate sometimes what I wanted my students to do because it was so easy to jump right to the "what not to do." I really had to train not only myself, but my students on how to focus on the positive. For example:
  • Teacher: What did you notice when I came to the carpet?
  • Student: I noticed you didn't run.
  • Teacher: So if I didn't run, what DID I do?
  • Student: You walked.
  • Teacher: #Nailed It! (And yes, I did say that sometimes... they eat it up!)

Check yourself next time- I bet you don't even realize how often we focus on the negative in situations like this (at least I know I did at times and there's still times where I catch myself). 
Why does this tip matter? For one reason, it teaches students to focus on positive things and not negatives. This will transfer over to their academics too when it comes to them noticing the positives. Also, we don't want to bring too much attention to the "wrong" way to do something, because it then gives them ideas and of course, they'll want to try it [Teacher: "Don't run up and slide on your knees like you're on a slip n' slide to the carpet... it's not safe"| Can't Be Tamed (Thanks, Miley) Student: Does just that because they wanted to see how far they could slide | Teacher: *Face Palm*. ]
Teacher Model: Notice | Student Model: Notice | Practice

What does this mean? This is the process I go through when modeling a routine. I will do the routine as if I was a student. I will only show them appropriate behavior on how to do it. I'll then ask, "What did you notice?" I usually give students a chance to talk with others around them on what they noticed and then they share out. I then have a student or two come and model for the class. Then, we
again have students notice and discuss (making sure they are working on the positive language). Lastly, I make sure that every student has a chance to practice the routine and reflect.
Does this take time? You bet. But I believe in the whole, 
"Go slow to go fast" philosophy. 
Take the time now so that you don't have to waste time later in the year when content is heavy.

These tips have worked for me, but what's worked for you?! I'd love to hear what you do as I'm always looking to spice things up! You have two options:

1) Respond to the question in the comments section
2) Grab the buttons and link up with a longer post!

This isn't too formal, folks.  Feel free to share any tips, strategies, and/or resources (as long as the resources are tied to the focus for the week). 

Here's this week's question:

And if you're curious, here's the schedule for this lil' series:

And if you'd like to link up, grab the buttons and add your link below! I can't wait to hear from you!



Monday Made It: June 23 Mini Chart Holder

I'm linking up once again with the fabulous Tara for:

I was "pinspired" way back in March thanks to Stephanie at:

It was her mini-chart stand that caught my eye (and it seems like everyone else's too... it is genius!) and I knew I needed one! I planned on making it a summer project and that's just what happened this past weekend! Click the link above for her amazing directions. I could repeat them, but she did a stellar job explaining the pieces and the process so I'll send ya there to learn from the master!

Your supplies needed: (again, go check out her blog for exact sizes and names of these thingers)

I found all the piping at Home Depot. They even had the 1/2 inch pipes pre cut into smaller sections. I did have to ask someone to cut them even smaller, but they agreed kindly and I even ended up with a little extra still (which I turned into something else).
I used this tape from Office Depot. It's call "Expressions." It's like a washi tape- really thin which made it nice to work with and super easy to move around. I loved how bright it turned out.

I did the tape vertically like Stephanie suggested. It took 4 pieces per pipe. Because my tape is translucent, you still can see some of the printing on the tubes, but it doesn't really bother me. 

Then you simply screw and push the other pieces on and... 

Viola! Probably one of the easiest Made It's I've done yet!

I then wanted to make page covers for the different mini charts I've made for my classroom so far (and for future ones). I made one for each major subject I teach and then an "others" one. I printed off some of my Words their Way Sort Mini-Charts to test this bad boy out!

One thing I learned (and I should have looked more carefully at Stephanie's post and pictures): Make sure you get book rings that are larger than an inch. I got the inch thinking it would be fine, but it is a little tight. I have larger rings at school that I'll actually use, but just keep that in mind. :)

 Behind this cover page, I'll house all my "cheater" pages for our word sorts (do you use Word their Way??) I'll be adding tabs to make it easier to flip to, but it'll be so nice to have them all in one place and super accessible!

I had that extra piece of pvc piping, so I wrapped it and threaded a ribbon through it. Again, I need larger rings, but I plan on hanging all my mini-charts that I'm not using on this rod near my small group table. I bought a large command hook that I'll use to stick it to the wall . (I didn't want to waste the strips now so I'm just using a thumbtack)

**Update** Ask and you shall receive! I've uploaded the cover charts into my TpT store for those of you who may have a use for them. :)

So there's my physical Made It's! I have one more "digital" one that I've been working on!

I was reflecting for next year already and kept coming back to the importance of creating a positive learning environment. And because I believe the importance of a structured and supportive classroom environment where students are learning not only academic skills but also social skills, I thought I about starting a weekly series (and even try to make it into a link-up... if people actually wanted to).

So my last "Made It" (including all the buttons for it) is my new (and first ever) series titled:
Each week on Tuesday, I'll be sharing tips, strategies, and resources that helped me with taming the crazy behaviors and building a strong classroom community.

The first Tuesday is TOMORROW and with a focus of:

I'll be sharing some tips on how modeling has helped tame behaviors in my room as well as a resource or two to help you! Best of all, I'm hoping people will either comment and share their insight or better yet, blog and link up so that we can all gain some great tips before the next school year creeps up on us. If you'd like to join in, I'll be posting a question of the week to help you focus in and prepare to share! This week's question:

Grab my new buttons and link up tomorrow (or any day of the week- it'll be open until the next Tuesday) or simply check it out and reflect on the idea!



Upcoming Events!

I hope you all are enjoying this thing we call summer. You know, that time of the year when you forget what day of the week it is (is it Wednesday or Thursday), have time to make meals, and yet you still find yourself plugging away for next year (at least that's what happens to me). I love summer, not because I don't have to 'work' because let's face it, I'm still working- just not directly with kids and administrators. But I love summer because it gives me a chance to reflect, recharge, and refocus. I thrive off of improving something that didn't work the best and planning for a new and exciting year.

Until Saturday however, I and many of you have been living a lie. It's not summer yet. Yes, school may be out, but technically on the calendar it's still spring. It ACTUALLY becomes summer officially on June 21st. And for that, I wanted to celebrate! So I'm throwing a lil' sale!

Stop by my store on Saturday to enjoy 20% off all my products. Hopefully you'll find a lil' ray of sunshine in my shop that might help you out next year!

On a separate note...

The last couple of resources I've made haven't been academic based, but rather social based. I truly believe the idea that if kids don't feel safe at school, they will not learn. I also am a firm believer in high expectations and giving kids the tools (not the answers) to solving their problems both in and out of the school setting.  That's why I think think the first couple of weeks are so important in cultivating a supportive classroom. As I begin to think of my new group of kiddos next year, I thought, "Hey, why not make this a talking point on the old blog?" I've got a lot of expectations to teach into as well as build a positive learning environment. I've got some tried and true tips, resources, and strategies, but I'm always looking for new ideas too. So I came up with the series...

What does it all entail? 
I've planned out 9 topics for the next 9 Tuesdays that all tie into taming the crazy in our classrooms. Some of them are from my RC background, some are from CLR training this past year (cultural and linguistic responsive teaching), some are from our Olweus and Welcoming Schools work from last year. I'll be sharing what has worked for me in each of these areas (as well as what hasn't), sharing resources and activities for you to test out, and I'm hoping to make it into a link-up so that YOU can share your amazing tips, resources and strategies as well! (Of course the fear that no one will link up looms over me, but hey- it's worth a shot right??)

Here's the schedule:
I'm excited to do this to help myself prepare for the new school year and hopefully get some new ideas from you all. Some will feature posts that I've already shared, with some additional resources added... others are topics I haven't shared yet. A couple of these Tuesdays, I'll be in Italy (Awful, huh?) but I plan on writing them ahead of schedule to keep the rhythm going!

So, next Tuesday will be the kick of to this lil' summa' series and I hope you stop by and link up (I still have to figure out how to do that part... I've got til Tuesday :) hehe).

Last but not least, I'm stoked:

You see waaaaaaaaaay at the bottom... well into September?? I'm getting a new blog design! I'm keeping my colors, but I'll be changing the blog name slightly. Back when I started this blog, I thought it was only going to be for a year, and mainly for myself to document my first year of teaching. I barely had time to blog during that first year, but I loved reading other teaching blogs. I decided to keep it going another year and have really loved the community and the drive it gives me as a teacher. However, due to my poor planning and lack of vision for what this blog could be for me, I wasn't the most creative with my name. I don't want to change it completely and loose everything, but I've got an idea and just hope no one else takes it before my time in September. :)

Ok. That's enough for now. Go and enjoy your "almost" summer. :)



Monday Made It: A little of this, A little of that, (and freebies!)

I'm back in school mode a bit and thanks to Kristen from Creative Clips (among other amazing artists) and her amazing graphics, I've been checking things off my to-do list!

(1) Mini-Signs and Sign Holders

I found these frames at Michael's for $2. I passed by them once already, so when I went back, I had to get them. I picked up 6 because there are a ton of possibilities for them. For now, I made some signs for our Open House night.

They came in two styles (one horizontal and one vertical) I went with the vertical and the white, although they did have some other colors also (I want to say pink and green for sure...)

I then started making some mini 4x6 signs (love powerpoint... takes the guessing out!)
One follower asked how to use PP to make the signs the correct size. All you do is select the rectangle tool. Then, when you start to drag the shape, look for the box that tells you the width and the height. Since I'm working with a 4 x 6 frame, I made my box 4 x 6 by pulling it to those dimensions.

Or... drag a rectangle any given size. Right click it to get the drop down menu and select format shape.

On the left side, choose size. You'll then get this screen where you can manually type in the size you want (I would type in 6 for height and 4 for width.  You'll be set them with signs to fit your frame.

I made mini signs for the supply drop off that goes on during Open House. These were super simple to put together and you can put two different signs in and view from both sides (I've already got ideas for centers, mini-anchor charts for specific students, etc.).

I fooled around with the border a bit that I made. This was the first one. I didn't like how you couldn't see the green/orange side as well, so I did fix it on some of the signs above. My OCD really is kicking in and I'm trying to resist wasting ink and printing again.

Thanks to Creative Clips for the circle graphics, From the Pond for the scribble background, and Hello Fonts by Jen Jones!

If you'd like to grab these borders for your own mini-signs, you can grab the template here
(this is the first time I'm trying to use Drive... bare with me)

 (2) Conflict Resolution Visual

Previous, I blogged about the Peace Rug that I use to help kids solve conflicts they have. This was the first year that I used it, and it helped in many instances. I wanted to have an even more "step-by-step" resource for students to reference while they are at the Peace Rug. We did a lesson from Health Teacher- our health curriculum (that is how I get the upgraded GoNoodle... love it!) on conflict resolution and I actually heard students using these steps. My teammate wanted to know the exact steps too so he can enforce them in his room (since I teach all 3rd graders health). So I made this visual to hang...somewhere... in our room to reference!

There's 4 steps in all.

Each poster has some guiding prompts to help students go through the process. This is all to help lead them towards independence (and doesn't take instructional time away from me) when they are dealing with conflicts with each other.

It'll be a limited time freebie in my store in hopes that it might help your kiddos too! You can pick it up in my store to use with your kiddos!

(3) Assertive Cards

We are a RC school (I've talked about this before) and I truly believe in it... as long as it is done with fidelity. It wasn't always this way until I started to really invest in all aspects that I had been trained on and I found to be able to run a classroom with practically no external motivators (prizes, treats, etc.). It doesn't work for every kid, but I do think it works for the vast majority. Because of that, I am always trying to find ways to be more thorough with it. One aspect is the CARES- cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, self control. Every rule and expectation in our classroom and school can be tied back to one of these aspects. 

The most difficult one for my kiddos to understand is assertion. Then, once again, my teammate Mr. S shared a story that happened with one of his students. The student hadn't turned in her field trip permission slip. When Mr. S. asked her, she said, "We'll my mom didn't sign it." Mr. S. pushed further and asked if she showed her the form. Her response, "No." This was a perfect time to teach her about being assertive for her needs- and Mr. S. did just that. The next day, the student came back so proud that not only was she assertive, but she got her permission slip signed. We started talking and realized our kids didn't know all the chances they have to be assertive, so I made these cards to roll out in our first couple of weeks of school so that they not only see all the ways they can/should be assertive, but it will allow them to practice what it sounds like and feels like. 

There's a few ways to use these cards, and I provided them on this page.

I also explained the 3 different ways you can respond: passive, assertive, and aggressive.

I then included 12 cards (6 examples for home and 6 examples for school) that have different scenarios. 

This is also a freebie in my store for a limited time. You can grab this one in my store also! I hope you can find some use for them!

I'm off to start pinning ideas for my next MMI!!


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