Monday, January 30, 2012

Cutie Mice Lettering set and clip art

I designed a set of manga-style mice. There are boys, girls, ballerinas, scientists, doctors, and many others - 17 different mice in all. Included are build-a-mouse accessories with plain girl and boy mice. To go with the Cutie Mice is their very own lettering set, complete with a 26-letter lowercase alphabet and common punctuation.

Check it out at my TPT site!

Tag, I'm It!

At first I was totally confused about this whole tagging business. A price tag? A category tag? A skin tag? Finally the hamster in my head woke up and starting running on his wheel. Tag, as in "tag, you're it!".

From (Miss Squirrel):

  • Here goes:
  • 1. You must post the rules.
  • 2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
  • 3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
  • 4. Tag 12 people and link them on your post.
  • 5. Let them know you've tagged them! 

 My Fun Facts:
1. I have a love/hate relationship with running.
2. I fish in bass tournaments with my cousin, who is a pro.
3. At one time I had 9 rats. (I only have 1 dog now :)
4. I like snakes, spiders, and just about anything fuzzy or oogy, but I hate maggots.
5. My sister is my best friend.
6. I was a graphic designer before I went back to school at 31 to be a teacher.
7. I have a fire in our fire place nearly every night from October-February.
8. I have been the Dungeon Master in a Dungeons and Dragons game.
9. I play guitar. Badly. 
10. I also play the ukelele (even more badly).
11. I could go on a honeymoon with my Kindle. And my husband, of course!
12. I love to garden.

Squirrel's questions:

1. When was the last time you talked to your high school sweetheart?
     um, that would be the last day of high school. 
2. What is the most important quality in your lovey- dovey?
He makes me laugh!
3. Do you believe in love at first sight? Has it ever happened to you?
No. But I definitely believe in lust at first sight.
4. Where is the most romantic place you have gone for a date?
On a drive
5. Does your sweetie support you in the blogging world? (The Mr thinks it's silly).
Nope. I don't think he's ever even seen it?
6. If you could plan a getaway with your honey, where would you go?
Disney World!!
7. What is one word that best describes you both as a couple?
8. How long have you been with your honey-bunny?
17 years. 
9. What is the best present you have ever received for Valentine's Day?
Knoke's Chocolates. 
10. What is best present you have given to someone for Valentine's Day?
Knoke's Chocolates. (Hey, they are the best)
11. Where was your first date?
First date ever? Making out in the empty gym during summer break. 
12. Why don't you show ME some love and add me to your Blog Roll!?!?!?!? <3 Smooches!! 

My Questions:
1. Milk or dark?

2. Manual or auto?

3. Do you play an instrument?

4. What is your favorite 80's band?

5. What is your favorite song to sing to?

6. What is the grossest thing that has ever happened to you?

7. What is the last book you read?

8. What's the first thing you do after you'd gotten out of bed and walked a few steps?

9. Do you have a movie you watch over and over?

10. Have you ever eaten paste?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sensory Solvers

We had an awesome professional development day last Friday. The best part was that teachers gave seminars on areas where they had a lot to offer, knowledge and idea-wise. I went to one given by two fab teachers about sensory needs and behaviors. It was not only very enlightening, they let us make some of the tools they showed us. One of the ones I liked the best were these squeeze balls made of balloons and playdough.

This is one that I made last night. I was so inspired that I ran out and got the materials pronto so that my girls and I could do a "little project". This is a double-layered balloon filled with a handful of playdough. The rubber stretches and gives so that the playdough can be manipulated by a pair of small hands. I can attest that squeezing them is totally soothing.

Here my 12 yr-old Bailey is squeezing it. Both of my girls asked to have one when we were finished. It doesn't surprise me; I squeezed on the one I got to make during the seminar all the way through my own seminar on technology. I think I have some sensory needs of my own.

Here is what you need to make them:

2 balloons (the heavier-duty the better). I chose black for the outside hoping it wouldn't show first grade grime as quickly.

Playdough. You can use two of the teeniest size, or one of the middle size. I got 3 stress balls out of one big container. I bought the 4 pack for just under $4, so budget-wise it made the most sense. You cannot use homemade playdough, as the salt erodes the rubber of the balloons.

Now you're going to stuff the inner balloon with the playdough. Tear off smallish pieces of playdough and roll them into snakes. You can drop the think snakes right down into the opening in the balloon. If you ever-so-gently squeeze it together in the bottom after you add each piece, it will make it easier to get the playdough all in. DO NOT squeeze the playdough with any force at all; it will cause the balloon to stick to it and you'll never get it unstuck.

Once the balloon has enough playdough in it (you can guess how much to put in by measuring it out in your hand before you begin. You want the amount that would fit nicely into the size of the hand you are making them for. I used about 1/4 cup for mine. If you fill the balloon too full, you will have a lot of trouble getting the outside balloon over the inner one. Also, you don't want the inner balloon to stretch out, because this can cause it to tear during the next part.

I won't lie to you - this is the tricky part. Once the inner balloon is filled, you want to squeeze the excess air out, and then tie a knot at the top. Try to squeeze it into a longish shape, but be gentle.

Now, don't give up on this next part! It seems impossible at first, but you'll get the hand of it. I worked my thumbs into the opening of the outer balloon, and then slipped my pointer fingers under the edge so that I could pull the opening wide. If you   scrunch down the rubber of the opening, you can get the balloon to open up near the fat part.

Holding the outer balloon open with your pointers will free up your thumbs to help stuff the inner balloon in. Once you get it started it goes a little easier. Once the outer balloon is completely over the inner balloon, you can squeeze out the excess air and then tie the top off. I recommend cutting the opening of the balloon off close to the know; this will eliminate any noise-making potential the stress ball will have.

It took me 1 hour to make 10 stress balls. My hands were a little tired by the end, but it was totally worth it. All together the materials costs me $2.50 for the balloons + $4.00 for the playdough. $6.50 for all 10 stress balls. You can't even get those cheapy ones in the dollar aisle for that.

A few tips:
You can break the stress balls open if you use them vigorously. I looked down at the end of my presentation to see my hands covered in playdough; but adult hands are much stronger than kids. I was also really hauling away on that thing in my nervousness about presenting.

Don't use pink balloons. Look at the top photo and use your imagination. The girls and I giggled terribly for about an hour after we had made the black ones. Inappropriate? Immensely. Serious fun? You bet!

Using playdough instead of flour/rice/corn starch will eliminate a big mess if they do eventually break. After a long time, the playdough will dry out and you'll have to make new ones.

Happy squeezing!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Achy Heart

My heart is achy today.

I (hopefully) got things settled with the student I was in conflict with yesterday. I want to support him so badly. I'm sad, because this child deserves so much more than he is getting. People do horrible things to their children.

We are voting on a pay increase Monday, which is actually a pay increase we were granted before we lost our collective bargaining. So it's actually not a new increase at all, but something we had negotiated with the school board nearly two years ago. I also got confirmation that our pay base will fluctuate from year to year as we go without contracts. I was so excited to get an increase because of Master's credits, but I didn't understand that it was temporary. Hello radical conservatives, good-bye stability. I wonder what everyone will say when our pay gets reduced next year to help balance the school district budget.

Please, please be aware of what your Governor, House and Senate are doing. You do not want this. It is a scary, scary place to be in education.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Doing the Right Thing? (aka opening a can of whoop-ass on yourself)

Ooof. It was a tough day. It is the birthday of my good friend and colleague's son, who was delivered stillborn one year ago today. I have been profoundly touched by this sweet baby; I was there when he was born, and it forever changed me. If you have never been touched by the grief that surrounds the death of a child, there is really no way to explain the utter depth of pain and sadness. There just aren't words.

Here's the other sad half of my day:
I confronted a 5th grade student today about an incident on the bus. It involved one of my students, and no one messes with my firsties. What I should have been prepared for was a) complete and total denial b)what to do if the student walked away from me while I was talking and c) the possibility that I would not be the worst thing that had happened to this kid today. This shows you how sheltered I am in the community I teach in. It's so easy to pretend that your kids have problems, when it really all just depends on your lens.

So now I have a problem. I kept my spines straight (so, so hard) and demanded respect. I know you can't demand respect, but what's the alternative when you are talking to an angry, defiant kid who knows how to run? I was as kind but as hard as I could be back. I did the proverbial "escalate tactic" of getting in his face. In the end, I had given him a choice: he could make it right by coming and helping me during one recess, or he could go to the principal. Guess which he chose? The easier one, of course; the one where he knew exactly what to expect and was nothing new. I gave him until the end of the day to decide, even though he told me he had already made up his mind.

Here's the rub: no one else saw what happened on the bus. It is the word of a proven honest and non-exaggerating 7 year old against the word of a proven liar and repeat offending 5th grader. But to be fair, and we must always be fair, I can't punish him for something that I have no proof of. Besides that, I need to him to know that I will not walk away and ignore him for the rest of the school year. That's what everyone else in his life does, I won't be a part of that. What he needs, more than anything I think, is for someone to have his back. What on earth can I say to this kid to let him know he has value, he is important, and he matters? What on earth can I do?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Art of Bribing

If Alfie Kohn was no longer alive, and by happenstance was looking down upon my classroom, he would be rolling over in his grave. That's a lot of if's, and I'm sure he'd have better things to do anyway, like explain to God that maybe tossing Adam and Eve out of Eden was a punishment with little connection to eating forbidden fruit. Maybe, Kohn would reason, he could have worked on giving them an intrinsic reason to stay, praised efforts a little more or something. I don't know, the apple tricked seemed to work out pretty well for the snake.

The point is, rewards do work. A year ago, I would have looked at you crossly if you have said that me. I then would have climbed on my soapbox and exemplified all the reasons that intrinsic motivators for learning are always better than extrinsic. At the beginning of the 2009-10 school year, I announced to my principal that my grad research was on getting kids to read at home without bribing them with free mini-pizzas. Believe it or not, I was actually going to get them to read because I had instilled the desire to read for the sake of betterment. My principal very gently smiled and, in a rather offhand way, said "It sounds like a great plan for your class this year. Although, intrinsic motivation doesn't always work out how you think it will; extrinsic motivation has it's place, too." I was shocked, and chose to ignore that advice. But believe it or not, i accomplished my goal with my first graders. It was hard to instill that inner drive to read at home, but my kids could tell you exactly why they needed to practice reading at home; and at the top of the list was because it was enjoyable.

I started this year with the very same attitude. No, that's not true - I was even more stubborn about intrinsic motivation; after all, I had been reading Kohn et al. for my graduate research all summer long. After the first week of school, I realized that intrinsic wasn't going to cut it this year. Not if I was going to survive. Not if I actually wanted my kids to learn anything.

Now, I'm not saying that this is the right answer. For me, it was the answer that turned my rascally bunch into learners. It got enough of them to stop spinning on the rug and talking over me like I was some chittering squirrel getting in the way of their fun. Are they behaving now because they want to create a respectful learning environment for themselves and their classmates? Not likely. Am I able to squeeze in 3 mini-lessons, 4 guided reading groups, writing with small group instruction and an hour long math block? Yes indeed. Here's what I've learned (for right or wrong, better or worse):

Make it good
You can start small, but if you throw in a really good reward very infrequently you'll always have them wondering when they may get popsicles in the afternoon.

Make it Random
It's all about randomness. Don't let them be able to predict or expect the reward. You have to catch them doing something you want to reinforce, but you can't reward them every time they do it. It works for Victoria Stillwell; it can work for teachers, too.

Switch it up
Never keep the same reward system in place for more than a month. With my class this year, I have to switch it up every 3-4 weeks. Once the novelty wears off, it stops being as effective.

Make expectations clear
I should have put this first. The kids have to know what you are looking for. How can you perform for treats if you don't know what to do?

Don't call your kids "puppies"
They don't think it's funny and they don't like it, no matter how much you are trying to emulate Victoria Stillwell. They will, however, "follow the pack leader" walking down the hall. But I digress.

This has been an extremely hard lesson for me to learn. It stretched me thinner than silly putty over comics; but now I have snapped back and we are rolling. Do I like it? No. Do I like the results. Yes. Will I do it next year? Probably not, at least not to extent I have this year. But you never know; being flexible in your beliefs is a good thing.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snowy Day

I'm sitting on my sofa, drinking a lovely cup of coffee. It's Monday, and it's 8:30 am. The snow that is coming down is blanketed over a nice sheet of ice.

I'll admit I did a happy dance at 5:45 am when the phone rang announcing a late start. Added bonus, it was completely unexpected; it was like having somebody give you a present "just because".

But now I feel a little sad, a little sick. Have you ever gone face down on a cake or box of chocolates, feelings of pleasure washing over you as you lived in the moment of chocolatey goodness? Then you come to and remorse weighs heavy on your chest.

I feel like that this morning. As I watch the snow fall outside, it's like watching an hour glass. Each flake that falls is one moment less I have with my students. And this year, I can't afford to waste one moment with them.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

iTouch apps for learning

This is going to start out as a very small list. I'm going to simply tell you what I've downloaded and used, and what I think of it.

Free Fall Spelling
Cost: Free today!
This is a free download today, Jan. 27th!!

Free Fall Spelling
Cost: 99 cents
Thoughts?: I had my daughter play it a bit last night. It seems like it's just a app for spelling random words. Not exactly what I was looking for, really. But it's colorful and fun, and each letter and word are spoken so that a learned will at least hear what word they spelled, even if they can't read it. Update: a student told me today "this is really boring!"

Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App!
Cost: um, like $6.00
Thoughts: Overpriced. But who doesn't LOVE Mo Willems? The kids love it, even my 12 year old daughter. I just expected more for what it costs.

It's a Small World
Cost: $3.99
Thoughts: I bought this because we were surprising our two daughters and two nieces with a trip to Disney for Christmas. I brought the iTouches with for them on the plane. I thought it would get them excited for what was coming, but they were a little bored with it. It's just an eye-candied pop-up-easter-egg kind of app. My first graders occasionally play with it, but mostly they say "I don't get it!".

Using the iTouches for learning sight words

I don't know about you, but I have more fun teaching sight words (or high frequency words) than almost anything else. Sounds silly, doesn't it? Teaching something so ordinary and necessary and simple, and having it be crazy cool? Part of the reason is that there are so many opportunities for using technology while teaching those boring high-frequency words; let's face it - we know that tech sells, and we have huge kid buy-in when we bring it out. Why not combine the two and see where it goes?

I started with Powerpoints of the 5 new sight words I introduce every week. Once I created the first one, it was easy to edit and save the next week's words. The best trick I learned was to throw a fun picture in the background. Changing up the characters each week gives the kids a surprise to look forward each Monday. By using animations and transisions, the letters come up one at a time, and we read them as they appear. When the whole word is present we read the word together.

sample sight word powerpoint video
Please do not share this video, the images are copyrighted and are used for my personal use only.

If you'd like a base file to start with, I have a plain one you can download for free here. You can go to "view>slidemaster" and change the font, the font color, and add an image in the background (make sure you sent it to the back so it doesn't cover your words)!

With PowerPoint you can save a slideshow as a video, which means you can load it onto an iTouch. This week my kids will be able to choose from 16 weeks of sight word clips, as well as some other sight word videos (this next part is what really got me excited about using the iTouches this week!) Did you know that you can find zillions of phonics-based songs and skits on YouTube? They come from our favorite shows, such as Between the Lions, but also from artists who are mostly unknown. I searched for videos that are essentially sight word songs, and then I used Keep Vid (a free internet program) to download the videos onto my laptop. By using KeepVid you don't have to have access to the internet to view the videos, and it is especially useful if your firewall protection blocks you from using YouTube at school. One of my favorite things to do is set up a Smartboard document with my learning target first, a short video on whatever we are learning about, and then an engaging activity we can do together. You can just drop those videos you have downloaded using KeepVid into the Smartboard page. Here is a sample video that I will be throwing on the iTouches this week with the PowerPoint sight word videos.

Words, by A. J. Jenkins

I can't wait to watch my kids using the iTouches this week. I'm going to do a check with one of my little ones who is struggle with sight words and see if she can read more of them by the end of the week if she used the iTouch each day this week. That would be so totally cool if it helped her learn them quicker.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just a reminder...

As I am getting for grad school this early, cold Saturday morning, I needed a reminder of why I do what I do, and why I do it how I do it. Here it is.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dreaming of a better world and Outlaw Words

For the first time in my teaching history our district gave us MLK day off. At first I was actually a little sad, knowing that my students would be doing anything but remembering Dr. King on their day off. I decided to scrap all my reading lessons and concentrate on Dr. King today. I had found this great project on Pinterest, and couldn't wait to do it with my students. I didn't feel like dragging out the paint today, so we traced our hands on paper and cut them out instead. Here is the original project:

On the inside, we created self portraits out of paper, and wrote our own dream for the world. I was humbled by the thoughtfulness and understanding of equality my students demonstrated.

Quick change to literacy. Here is our "Outlaw Words" easel.

Here is the sign on the upper right side:

In the bucket are paint chips with the outlawed word at the top, and synonyms for that word below it. The kids can pull out the paint chip and find a better word than the Outlawed word they wrote. This group of kids are really into "laws", so tell them something is illegal and they are ALL over it. Funny how they don't view school rules with the same eyes. 

That's all for today! I'm too caught up in Wisconsin politics tonight to have very much focus for anything but. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Clip Art Images

I'm designing a few pieces of clip art for some classroom posters. If you would like a free download of either of these cutie mice, just go here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

So NOW what?

The bulb in my Smartboard projector went out. It will be a week before I can get a replacement. Seriously? A week? The district really pushes technology. Every teacher has a SB. When they installed mine they took away my whiteboards. They didn't even ask, they just took them away. I told a tech guy last Oct that the bulb was growing dim, and he told me they wouldn't replace it until it went out. Fine. Could you have at least ordered the damn bulb? People, you can't push technology and then not make support a priority! I know your busy, but how the hell am I going to teach?

I'm panicking. Almost every single lesson I teach is on the SB. There might be an overhead in the building, so I could utilize that. It is questionable whether the bulb is good in it, though. Otherwise, the only other way I can think of teaching math is on the rug, in a circle, so I can use manipulatives and slates to teach the lessons.

Ok, deep breath. Maybe I'll teach everything with projects. I do have a lot to teach with the snowology unit, we have science and health to make up. Hey, I can teach science all week!

I reorganized my classroom books, and wanted to share. Two years ago, I had scored all these cardboard magazine organizers. I divided all my free-choice books into specific categories, and made cutie labels for the bins.

There are two major problems with this system. 1) not all the books fit into the bins. That means they get crammed in and thus bent and ripped. 2) The kids have to be very savvy about where a particular book goes. Lots of books get put into the wrong bin. 3) oops, thought of a third! You can never have the number of bins you need to organize this way. Even grouping books into larger categories isn't enough. 

Here is the awesome bookcase I scored from an empty classroom.  My leveled library is on top, and the bottom is stuffed with pillows and, embarrassingly, loads of books that do not have a home in my library yet. 

The Solution? Bins from the dollar store. They are a tad flimsy, but I didn't want to invest $$$ if this system wasn't going to be the answer, either. I made larger categories, such as "Princesses, Ponies and Pets"; All the cutie books like My Littlest Petshop and My Little Pony go in here, along with pretty much anything pink. Another category is "Cars, Heroes and Machines"; anything that goes vrooom can go into here. Then there is non-fiction animal, fiction animal (a catchall for nearly any book that is about an animal), and Science. It now looks like this (but not so blurry, sorry for the bad pic!)

Notice the bags of books that still need a home? I obviously still have some work to do. Who got all those books anyway?? (ok, ok. I'll admit it. My name is Heather and I'm a book hoarder.)

Add cutie labels tied on with ribbon. Pretty strikes again! (hint, glue the ribbon bows otherwise the kids with untie them).

Friday, January 13, 2012

D5 and guided reading fun

I thought I'd share a couple of ways we practice "Working with Words" in both our Daily 5 routine and during guided reading. I love Scrabble, so naturally I try to fit the tiles into our word work. Here is one of my students making words with them. We were working on the long o sound -oa.

Here is how I store the tiles. This divided container was part of the tool box I use for Guided Reading. I posted about it here.

Wonder how I came by so many tiles? Garage sales, baby.

 This is one of my favorite new ways to work with word families. I went to the hardware store and picked up some paint chips. Watch out, they don't like customers taking a huge stack. I've invested so much in Behr Paint that I don't feel too guilty. I got both the single color cards and the ones with multiple hues and shades of the same color. I punched a nice big round hole on the single color card, and wrote a word family ending on it with Sharpie. Then I added initial and ending sounds to the other card. The firsties slide the card with the punch over the other card, and in doing so, make words. Then they write the word they made in their "Working with Words" notebook. I love these because they are so pretty. Nice reason, huh? Pretty makes everything more fun! The cards are also very sturdy. They last a long time!

This is how I store the paint chips. This large coupon organizer was in the dollar aisle at Target a few years ago.

I'm always looking for new ways to make Working with Words fun and creative! Firstie buy-in is so much greater when it's fun and novel!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

iTouches, lessons learned - sneakies

Things have been going nicely with the iTouches. The kids are savvy enough to problem solve on their own with them, and are excellent instructors to each other. Here is one lesson learned, though:

I occasionally let my daughters use the iTouches, like when we went to Disney (knowing full well I'd have to replace them out-of-pocket if anything happened to them). Because of that, there are some games loaded on them. The games were all tucked into a folder labeled "Do not touch" and placed on the third window. I was really thinking that firsties wouldn't find them, after explaining that they had no business going anywhere on the iTouch but the first screen. Yeah, right. On the first day one of them exclaimed "There are games on these!". Not being smart enough to just remove them, I laid out the law: "if you open any game you will lose your chance at using the iTouches". Big teacher and big talk, little ears that lack self-control. I brought the touches home last night to charge them up, and the first one I opened had Angry Birds open on it. Not only did they open the game, they played it and then neglected to even hide the evidence!

Lesson learned: just remove all the dang games and stuff you don't want the kids to see. Keep the Do Not Touch folder full of boring system stuff.


I love the analogy between the greater/less than symbol and an alligator. I drew this gator so that I could create a poster in my classroom. Feel free to use and share!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Epic Fail, Epic Success

Epic Fail:
Who knew? It wouldn't lay flat and it was impossible to read. Do not attempt this idea.
Reengineered, it now looks like this:
I'm not even going to bother printing it out. It will be shown on the smartboard. God help me if my smartboard fails. I had to manually rotate the activities, and save 24 files. They say from the ashes rises better ideas, so let's see if this one is a winner.

Epic Success:
This Firsties loved it, and after recess there was a line to put in a tattle. By the end of the day there were 16 in the box. 16 tattles that I didn't have to listen to! I did go through them, and there were no major offenses. So far, so good.

"What can I write about" table tennis balls. Several times kids grabbed one when they were working on "free choice writing". Cool!
The "I Spy" glasses from the Dollar Store worked fabulously! Pictured is a student wearing a pair as he edits his writing. Best 5 bucks I've spent in a long time.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tattle Monsters

I saw this on Pinterest yesterday, and thought it was about the cutest idea I had seen in a long time: Tattle Monsters.  Since I have major, major tattling in my classroom this year, I thought it might be a fun way to give the kids an outlet for saying what they need to say and a means of solving it.

Here's what I used to make it:

Glue gun
google eyes
furry material
table tennis balls (dollar store!)
a hinged box (I used two)
a sheet of white craft foam
Craft glue

Warning: furry material is horrible to work with. Our house now looks like the dog got ahold of Elmo and shook the daylights out of him. It was reminiscint of the shaving/wedding cake scene from American Pie. Except the groom was Ronald McDonald.

I decided to make 2 boxes: one to hold the tattles and one to hold the slips. I started in the traditional fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method by laying out the material and cutting it big enough to wrap each side of the box. Then I tried to hot glue the bottom on. Epic fail. Who knew that hot glue wouldn't stick to the shiny underside of the fur I picked out? The tacky glue worked wonders, though. I glued the top and bottom fur on, and then let it set a bit. 

This is the big box, and I highly recommend using a box with a hinged lid. Once I got the top, back and bottom glued on, I trimmed the side materials so that I could just pull it up and glue it on with no folding.

Here is the small box, with the sides glued up. After I took this photo I decided to trim the fur around the mouth so that the box could close easier.

I cut a strip of the white foam, and then trimmed the teeth. I laid a line of glue along the bottom of the teeth, and then pressed them into place. Then all that's left is to let the whole thing dry, glue a google eye onto the table tennis balls, and then glue them onto place on the head. 

To go with the Tattle Monsters, I created this poster (again, credit goes out to Mariah at Giggles Galore): The art is an original by me. 
The slips that the kids will fill out will be kept in the little box. There are 4 up to a page:
Lastly, I wrote down some very simple conflict resolution ideas on table tennis balls, such as "walk away", "count to 10", "take 3 deep breathes", "say I'm sorry", etc. My girls and I drew monster mouths around the words, and then colored in the rest of the ball to look like a monster. I forgot to grab a photo of them while I was at school today. I will try to post one tomorrow. I will keep the balls in a container next to the Tattle Monsters, so that the kids can take a ball and see if that solution will work for them. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Organizing deals!!

Check this out! 
The organizer on the far left goes for $99 on Really Good Stuff. I have one already, but got it from the cheapest source I could find online for $50. I picked up two from Michael's tonight for $29 each. WOOT WOOT!!! 

I also got smelly stickers, which I paid full for at Lakeshore, but smelly stickers are always worth it. And some new border. And glitter stickers. And jelly beans. Now I have no budget left for the week.

I can't wait to post pics from the Snowology unit I have been creating. We've had fun this week learning about winter, snow and making snowmen projects. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Stop! ping interruptions

It took me long enough to take up the advice from my teammate Maren and make a visual for the epic "STOP" I like to do with my hand when I'm teaching guided reading. The interruptions had become such an issue that I was literally putting up my palm every 4 minutes. I did enough modeling, guiding and releasing to teach elephants to not interrupt that valuable small group time...but first graders? Apparently not. Enter The Stop Sign.

Ridiculously simple, but incredibly effective. First graders will obliviously talk to the hand; they just don't seem to get this rude and abrupt social cue. Use the universal stop sign and they will hang their heads and immediately turn back around.

After flashing the Stop, I turn it around and remind the students to Think, and then Solve. Of course, if it is really an emergency (blood, throw up, or bathroom emergency), I will kindly help them out. Anything else needs to wait 10 minutes until I am done. To bolster that confidence that I will help, I always let them approach me with questions or problems between groups.

The tape looks a little tacky on this one, and so does the ruler it's stuck to. But it works wonders.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Starting to freak a little...

I was so gung-ho on my D5 facelift yesterday. Then I had a teaching dream last night (why, oh why, do I have to dream about school all during vacation? Even at Disney when I'm on teaching-prohibition??), and it seriously rattled me. You know how you sometimes can't shake the way a dream makes you feel? Like, you're pissed at your husband all day if you have a dream that he leaves you. I so can't shake the feeling the teaching-dream gave me. In my dream, I had accidentally left my classroom window open over Christmas break, and was trying to explain to my principal how it had happened. Then I told him all about my new D5 idea (I'm random, even in dreams apparently), and he looked right at me and said "Do you really think it's a good idea to introduce something new when things are going ok? I'm really worried about the instruction time you'll lose". So now I'm worried about the loss of instruction time, too! Am I being selfish by wanting to spice things up? Are my kids going to be able to handle the change, even if I take it slow and easy?

Sheesh. I'm panicking. I feel the sudden urge to run to school and work manically until Tuesday morning. I want to cry.