Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stephanie Davis' Class Learning Through Fun, While Striving to be Perfectly Purple

Stephanie Davis' Class Learning Through Fun, While Striving to be Perfectly Purple
 Click on the link above to watch my video segment on the news tonight.  I was awarded the Golden Apple Teacher Award last week, so my classroom was taped last Thursday.  My students are thrilled to be "celebrities"!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Brain Sprinkles

For those time when your brain needs an extra boost!  I have seen this a few places, but I first saw it on Sarah Cooley's blog, HERE.   This is probably one of my favorite things to do with my students.  Sarah is so right...there are those moments when my students just look sleepy---and I say the magic words, "Hmmm....do we need some Brain Sprinkles?"  Their moods completely change...smiles appear....and they are re-energized!  It is some amazing stuff!  I made mine with a rock salt grinder, some left over purple sprinkles from my daughter's birthday cupcakes, and some colored sprinkles we had in our pantry.  The cool thing is that after I have used them this year, the purple sprinkles have turned the salt purple!  I never take the top off, but I just "shake" those sprinkles on top of their heads! Some students request more, and some say they only need a little....lots of times they ask me to use it on the Smart Board or the computer when we have technical difficulties!  Kids are so awesome!  The funny part is that if I have adults in my room- they usually ask for some sprinkles too!  Of course, I always make sure to save a lot for myself!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My New Station Chart

I saw on Pinterest where someone used their SmartBoard for their Station Rotations.  Once again... I was thinking to myself, "Seriously, why did I never think of that?"  I am so glad that teachers share their ideas on-line!  So, I made my own flow chart for my math stations.  I have it arranged with my paired partners, so they can remember to work together.  While I was making my chart, which literally took about 15 minutes, I realized that I wouldn't be able to use my timer anymore.  I use it every day so the students will know when to change stations.  Then, the idea came to me...I can just copy and paste it to my station board!
   We used this today instead of the super cute Stations Chart I spent hours making....and it was GREAT!  The students loved it, and it was easily read and interpreted by all of my students.  My new motto is that it doesn't matter how long I spend making something.  If I find something that works better- then I should just use it! (I am still using my old chart for my Reading Stations.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Angry Bird Math

 I watched this amazing math lesson you can find here. This teacher used angry birds to teach all kinds of math skills.  Now, his towers are much larger and more 3-D.  I might try that next year.  But, I just wanted to implement this easily right now.  So, I used my daughter's colored blocks and three angry birds I bought at Toys R'Us.  I showed my students how to play today during math stations.  The group built the tower, and the students took turns throwing the birds at the towers.  They had so much fun!  I made a recording sheet below for each student.
There is a table that explains how the different colored blocks are worth different points.  Their partner gathered the blocks that they knocked down for each attempt.  Then, they added their points together to get their final score.  The person in the group with the highest score wins... but who am I kidding...throwing angry birds, knocking down blocks, building towers....THEY ALL WON!  They were thrilled with this math lesson.
   Just to let you know...we played this as a family at home first with my 4-year-old daughter.  I really like using the different colored blocks because it made the points system easy.  I also like how easy this is to store.  I will able to use this on multiple occasions for a station.  It is something the students can do without me.  We also were able to review 3-dimensional shapes, and we reviewed measurement when we measured how far away you had to stand before throwing the birds.  This is such a brilliant idea!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Classroom Library Baskets

 I love using these big pictures of the characters on my book basket labels.  These help my students remember what "characters" mean. (I put my labels on my baskets with velcro which is why they look a little crooked.  Apparently, one has fallen off and the kids have put it back on.  But, velcro is so much easier than anything else.  I just didn't realize how crooked it was before I took the picture!)
 I also use these baskets because they hold so many more books.  This Junie B. Jones Label is one of my favorites!
Of course, I also have this Purple Book Man Label for all of the books that have the word "Purple" in the title.

WBT Scoreboard

 I have been using Whole Brain Teaching in my classroom this year, and I LOVE IT!  I made these cards for the Scoreboard- Smileys/Frownies.  I wear the different level on my lanyard each day.  I carry my Vis-a-Vis Pen with me everywhere I go.  It is truly amazing.  Even if I wasn't doing WBT- I would still use this for a Behavior Plan.  For those of you unfamiliar with this- you should really look it up on http://wholebrainteaching.com/.  It is such an exciting and engaging way to teach.
    To explain more about the cards above, Level 1 is Smileys and Frownies- Level 2 is to focus on one of the rules (for example Rule 2: Raise your hand for permission to speak.  I always say not to be a squawker.) -Level 3 is Girls versus Boys- Level 4 is Doubles Day (which is great for adding doubles all day long)- and Level 5 is Students versus Teacher.  
This is what it looks like for Level 2, then I add tally marks all day when they are earning Smileys or Frownies.  Thank you WBT!  You have made my life so much easier!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Purple Jobs

 Each day, one person at a table gets to have all of the special jobs.  I always have a Line-Up Leader and a Teacher's Pet, too. (Pictured at the bottom.) These special purple jobs allow each table to have a leader. This child is in charge of putting papers in the Purple Box, passing out all of the papers at the end of the day from the Purple Box, making any decisions for the table, speaking for the table, and just general every day things that could occur.  My students never ask to do anything- because they know that the Purple Job is special to one person each day of the week.  They never even argue about what animal they get!  It works great.  Of course, their seat at the table determines their Purple Job.  I don't have any more than 5 people at a table.
I also have a picture in a magnet frame on my board which reminds me of who is in charge, just in case I forget.  I even use these animals for lining up- I will call for all of the Purple Cats first, then Purple Giraffes, etc.  My other jobs are listed below.  I have all boys on one ring, and all girls on the other ring.  I go through the whole ring, and then switch them.  My Line-Up Leader gets to line up first and pick our Line-Up songs in the hallways.  This person also gets to choose how we say Goodbye each day.  My Teacher's Pet job is for running errands, taking the lunch count, passing out soap, and being the door holder.  Only having two main jobs has made my life so much simpler!  With the Purple Jobs and the Helping Paws Jobs, no one is ever left out.  I have made sure that they are consistently helping me and feeling super special about their place in our class!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

One of My Favorite Things...

I decided to buy this Banker's Box to keep my students' work in each day!  How did I ever live without one of these!  It is so great for little First Graders.  I place their Take-Home Folders in each morning after I collect them one table at a time (after I check for Snack money and notes from parents).  Then, throughout the day I have a special student at each table who gathers work for me and places it in their "Purple Table Box".  Work only goes in the box if it is stamped or graded though.  At the end of the day, the Special Purple Person gets to pass out the folders and work to their tablemates.  Best idea ever for getting work out quickly and easily at the end of the day!  I just LOVE the color, the size, and the organization of this box.

(I will show you the Special Purple People Jobs tomorrow.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I found this idea on Pinterest...and my students enjoy using it when they are writing.  So simple, but so effective!  I catch them all of the time walking over to the Question mark and picking a word to begin their question sentences.  Love this idea!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Loving Genre

I don't know if it is the way I say it with my French accent (which I perfected on our trip to Paris a few years ago), or just because it is such a cool word that we use every single day- But I LOVE teaching about Genre!  I made these simple cards for us to use during my small group reading station.  I simply took the cover of every story in our reading books and put them on pretty purple checked scrapbook paper.  I also found these cool Genre posters somewhere on-line.   (Probably Pinterest- I am so sorry I cannot give you credit because I cannot remember!) Of course, they were in all different colors, but I used my cool Word tools and made them completely purple!  Technology is so amazing!  Anyway, we use this all of the time to review the different genres we have learned about this year.  It is also really neat to see how much more we have learned about Realistic Fiction than anything else.  We use it for graphing, remembering, word wall activities- you name it.  Plus, it is totally hands-on and the kids can maneuver it themselves.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pop Rocks Similes

While browsing some awesome blogs a few days ago, I came upon this amazing activity from Sarah Cooley's Blog called Pop Rockin' Describing Words (originally found here on TPT by another amazing, creative teacher).
   Since I happened to have some of these delightful treats at my house, I decided to just try a much shorter version of the activities with my students.  So, I told them I brought them a special treat and that we were going to predict what we thought it might be.  They guessed it was "purple"- but I have no idea why they would automatically think that!  They guessed it might be some kind of food.  So, I took my special bag, and we headed outside for our messy treat.
    When I pulled out the Grape Pop Rocks- my children went crazy!  I never knew Pop Rocks would be such a treat.  I gave them a quick lesson on Similes, and we decided to brainstorm what it felt like inside our mouths when we ate this special yummy treat.  Amazingly enough, some of the children had never had Real Genuine Pop Rocks before- so they were amazed at how poppy they were.
    Back in the room, we brainstormed in our groups.  They had to finish this sentence, "Pop Rocks explode in my mouth like..."  I got some amazing answers which are pictured below.  Then, I pulled off a big sheet of purple paper and each child drew a picture of themselves eating Pop Rocks while "brainstorming" their thoughts.  I made it a much shorter activity due to time restraints, BUT it was still oodles of fun!  We also discussed the Science part of it outside, and they all quickly figured out the basics behind that terrific treat!  Thanks Abby and Sarah for an awesome idea that my students truly enjoyed!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

AR- Watch Our Points Grow!

 I made this to show how our AR points are growing just like flowers!  
 I love using velcro on many projects, and the velcro allows me to move the flowers up easily and quickly.  The students have a number on their flower which represents their AR goal for the year according to their reading levels.
The 2 point clubs also give my students a visual to help them learn how to count by 2's.  This has really helped them master this skill quickly.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Magnet Mondays

Every Monday, we love doing our word work with magnets!  I try to find ways to use magnets each Monday to learn and review all of our skills.  I have different sheets that I use, and here are a few examples of the Magnet Mondays Recording Sheets that we use during our station time.  (There are a couple of recording sheets I used to go with the Yuck Soup Activity, too!)

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Fun Way to Begin & End Each Day

 Every morning, my students greet me with one of these ways to say "Hello!"  It automatically puts them in a good mood and a huge smile lights up their beautiful faces.  I have this right outside my door.
Then, on the opposite side- we have these fun ways to say Goodbye.  At the end of the day, the Line-Up Leader gets to choose which way we will say good bye to each other.  Once again, my students always leave with a smile on their faces!  (Plus these even rhyme!)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Yuck Soup

This was such a wonderful idea that I borrowed from another blog that I just love... First Grader...At Last. She has the best ideas ever!  So, we used this for a fun activity to think of words with /ck/ in them.  My children had so much fun, and it has stayed up in the room for awhile because they love using it for Write-the-Room activities and just to read it for fun.  It is funny how many times we will be learning something in the room and a word with the /ck/ sound in it will come up in our conversation...the children always glance at the wall to see if we included it in our soup!  It is probably one of my favorite anchor charts!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chalkboards Out...Clean Walls In

 I got permission to remove my old, dusty, nasty chalkboards from my room about a week ago.  So, my husband and I spent about 12 hours remodeling my room.  The above picture shows what my newly painted wall looks like!
 As you can imagine, my room seems so LARGE!  My children were thrilled when they came in, and they commented that everything looked so "Clean!"
 These I Can statements used to be on the old chalkboard.  Now, they stand out with the creamy wall behind them.
 I love my new work station for organizing my students' work throughout the day.  I have a space to lay papers and grade papers.  I didn't have this room when the chalkboards stuck out from the wall with the white showerboards on top.  It looked terrible before!
 This is my new calendar space.  I am thinking of making a homemade calendar for next year, but I do think this one looks clean and happy.  BUT, look below....
 This is what we found behind the chalkboard (which is laying on the ground).  How lovely is this pukey yellow paint!  It was also covered in cobwebs and dust.  Yuck!
 The above picture showed my SmartBoard over the chalkboard which we painted purple with the showerboard over the chalkboard.  It just made everything look disorganized and cluttered.
I don't have any before pictures of the back of the room, but this is how it looks after we took down the chalkboards and put up a nice white board for my Word Wall.
  It also opened up more space for my computer station, too.
NOW, I can finally teach....and it is really hard to leave my classroom.  I just LOVE it!