Saturday, August 12, 2017

Happy Notes for Parent Communication

No matter what method or system your school uses for positive feedback to students and parents, this organizational tool will help you keep track of which students you have given positive feedback to, and which ones you might be forgetting. 

To use this system, you simply write the names of your students down the first column. You can print as many pages as you need depending on how many classes you teach. Then you just put a tally in the box under the month you are in each time you send a positive note home with that child. You can keep track, making sure you are sending home happy notes as equally as possible with all of your students each month. Sometimes the students we forget are the ones who are actually behaving so well everyday! We forget we need to compliment them, since they are so self motivated already!

This item is not editable, so you will have to write your students names in, and will not be able to type them in. However, this is not so hard since it is not a formal document, you can usually just write their first names in each box. 

Below you can see the item cover that you will see on Teachers Pay Teachers. There are 14 different designs in total, 3 of which are black/white (printer-friendly) - those are not pictured in the photos below but you can see them if you follow the link to TPT and check out the item photos there! 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Education by Oriental Trading

For a few years now I have partnered with Oriental Trading to help me decorate and organize my classroom. They have ahhhh-mazing bins for organizing, if you haven't seen them already! However, this year I changed things around a little...instead of getting "pretty" things for a classroom, I focused more on educational tools this time around. I am so excited to share these items with you, because I have to admit...I never would have thought of Oriental Trading when I think about finding educational items. What about you? 

The first item I want to show you is the Nonfiction Close Reading Tabs. They have these for fiction, as well, but in fifth grade we focus more on nonfiction text. 

These tabs are created to target standards that common core and all states use already for teaching with nonfiction text; for example, point of view or author's purpose (etc.). I think if we gave all of these tabs to a student while they were reading a text, it would be overwhelming and too much for them to worry about. They would not really know how to use them. However, if we gave the students one or two tabs and asked them to try to find a good place for them while they were reading a selection, I think it would really help them to look for specific concepts while reading.

I often find that I teach my students a skill like author's purpose, and then we read a selection. I tell the students to read the selection and try to think about the author's purpose of writing while they read. However, when they are done, they usually only know what the story was about and did not actually focus on what I wanted them to focus on. I used to rely on the technique of reading something twice. We would read the selection to start, just for meaning. Then, we would read through it again thinking about the new concept we learned. I feel these tabs will really help during that "second read through" time. They will look for a place to put their tab because they are looking for something in particular. 

I love that these tabs are different colors, because it helps the students associate and organize...kind of like how we color code our notes with our flair pens :) right?! I don't love that they are double sided, but as long as the students know which side you want them to use, it won't get confusing. 

The second item is one that is great for a lot of grades! I would say grade 2 and up could really use these Caption This! Photo Cards. 

As you can see in the photo below, it comes in a cute little camera box. This picture shows how the cards inside of the box will look - a photo on one side, and guiding questions on the back. These guiding questions are better for lower elementary grades, so I will probably create my own. However, the photos are really great and I can use them for so many different skills/concepts!
(Below: A better look at how the cards are stored in the box)

Below I am showing you a few of the many cards that come in this pack. This is what the front looks like. You can use these for captioning when teaching text features; however, my brain is really wanting me to use them for inferencing! What about you? You can also have them at a center because they have given guiding questions on the back, so technically the kids don't need you to question them regarding the photo and they can use the questions given. I would actually like to hear what some of their answers are regarding the pictures, and it may be fun to use this as a partner activity. I really like how many reading standards can be taught using a simple photo! You can even use these for creative writing purposes!

The third item I received from Oriental Trading is this pack of dry erase paddles! I just love the idea of being able to use these for quick checks for understanding within my class. I've thought about some fun ideas for using them while teaching idioms, alliteration, and fact/opinion, too! My only wish is that they were double sided ... they are not! I think it would be great to have "fact" on one side and "opinion" on the other, or "true" on one side and "false" on the other; however, I am just going to get enough so that each kid can have two paddles! That solves that problem! They are inexpensive, so it really isn't a problem! The erase, well, too. I know some of you are probably wondering that! 

This next item will help me a LOTTTT! I love love love nothing more than science experiments; however, we ALL know the struggle of making groups for science experiments. Especially when you have a lot of materials and steps involved. I love these because they are 1) dry erase!!! and 2) large! I can change the groups as much as I want because of them being dry erase. The kids can see them from their seat AND I can fit the child's name and job title inside the box (example: Johnny: recorder). These are definitely going to be used a lot. It comes with enough for 6 groups. 

The last item I want to tell you about in my recent order from Oriental Trading is this board game called Tri-FACTa. 

I have never played this game before, but when I received it in the mail I 'pretend played' it immediately! It was so fun! I can imagine getting really competitive and heated while playing! SO FUN! I will explain a little about the game below...

You receive 6 number cards (triangles) and sit them on your tray, kind of like what you do with your letters in scrabble. Your goal is to make a fact family in the center of the game - the product must be on top, with the factors below it. They cannot be in any other format (as you can see because of the multiplication and division symbols). You use your pieces to exchange pieces from the fact family that is already in the game board. You can trade out one piece, two pieces, or all three, depending on what you have available on your tray. If you don't have something that will work, you will need to pick from the deck. (It is very similar to scrabble in a lot of ways!)

Let me know if you have any further questions about any of the items I have told you about in this post! I absolutely love everything and it is one of the few times I have ordered and know I will definitely USE every single thing with students. I will try to update you all on Instagram (@littlelovelyleaders) with pictures of my students using these products in class! 

Link to shop these items and MORE: click here