Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Day of Fall = FREEBIE for you! (Today only!)

HAPPY FIRST DAY OF FALL! Thought I would bring back this oldie but goodie and offer it up for free in celebration for the first day of fall. ENJOY!!

FALL! It's that time of the year! Encourage and stretch your students' writing with these fun and creative writing prompts. Each prompt has its own writing page in portrait and landscape, color and black and white.

Some writing pages offer more or less writing space depending on your student's needs and some pages come with a place for an illustration.

Writing Prompts:
One day I was raking leaves when...
It was so windy outside that...
When I went to the Pumpkin Patch...
My favorite fall day was when...
What do you like to do in the fall?
Once there was a magical pumpkin...

Free for 24 hours so grab it now HERE!  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Flashback to the First Week of School!

This is a FLASHBACK post since I just can't seem to blog about all that we do when we actually do it. So let's go back to the first week of school (only three  FOUR weeks ago!). (started the draft to this post LAST week and just now getting it published!)

I wanted to share a few activities from the first week that went really well.

2nd Grade Expectations Posters

The first is one we did the 2nd Day of school to help collect students thoughts and feelings about 2nd grade. I prepared 6 questions for the kids to answer on separate pieces of chart paper.

1. What do the kids in our class need to do so that everything runs smoothly?
2. What do you hope to learn in 2nd grade?
3. What will YOU need to do to be successful this year?
4.What can Mrs. MeGown do to help you this year?
5. Our classroom should be ___________ everyday.
6. School is important because_________________.

The posters were stationed around the room for the kids to rotate through and answer. I set out post its next to each poster and told the kids to keep their pencil with them. I waited for the kids' attention before we rotated to the next poster on a bell. That seemed to work well for us.

Here is a video showing how my class did!

We put the posters out in the hallway!

These pictures didn't turn out well...I'll chalk that up to poor lighting and um...user error. I was rushing so the pics are a little blurry. :-/

I love what some of the kids say on this one..."teach us", "work", "help us read better".

And this one..."I need to raise my hand." "Work EXTRA hard."

Love this little class already!

Elmer: A Differentiation activity w/ Bandaids!

A former teammate of mine found this on Pinterest a few years ago so I cannot take credit for it!
Everybody loves Elmer. The colorful patchwork elephant who got tired of being different and wanted to be like everyone else. It wasn't until he disguised himself to look just like the other elephants that he realized his friends really missed him and didn't recognize the plain Elmer. It concludes with the idea of it's better to be yourself and be different. Not everyone is the same. 

So after reading, I got out a box of bandaids and told the kids to just THINK about what I was doing. I called each student up to me individually and thought for a moment and stuck a bandaid on them. 

("Hmmm...let me see where you need this....ok, right...here!') 

Some got one on their arms, hands, legs and yes, even face! The kids were a little confused by what I was doing and found it highly entertaining every time I stuck a bandaid on someone. 

When I was all done and everybody had a bandaid I asked the kids if they knew what I was doing. Someone suggested that I would always be there to give them bandaids. Another student shouted that I must really care about them. And another thought I was thinking about how I could help them.

 This book and activity is a GREAT way to address the fairness issue. What's the fairness issue, you ask? Well, as teachers, we know we have kids that require a little more attention than others and may have special services. And we also have kids that can extend their learning even more by providing more choice in their learning etc. This explains about differentiation and how "Fair doesn't mean everybody gets the same thing. Fair is giving everyone exactly what they need." 

I introduced this poster after revealing the purpose of the activity. 

I now have this hanging in my room. 

I explained to the kids that I may spend more time with someone else or give them different tools or options but that is because I am giving them exactly what they need. I have some students who come in for inclusion and receive special services. I also have gifted and talented students who have a "push-in" GT program.  I also have 4 students who go to 3rd grade for advanced math and 1 first grader who comes to me for advanced math. There are also 5 new kids to the school in my class. Lots going on! It seemed really important that I did this lesson with this group of kids.

Here they are sporting their bandaids!

It is one of my favorite first week activities and I plan to continue it each year!

Me Museum Project!

The last thing I wanted to share from our first week was our Me Museum activity! Remember the good ole "Me in a Bag" activity that is so popular the first week. You know, the one where each kid brings in 5 things in a bag to share about themselves. And by the time the 7th kid stands up to talk all about their stuffed animals or rock collection, the class is already fidgeting and squirming around? Yeah, we don't do that anymore. I did it for years but have found that this Me Museum is a great alternative that we will continue to do from now on! The first day of school we sent home this letter , from Doris Young on TpT, to let kids and parents know that they would bring in 3 items to display in their museum (on their desk) that would tell about them. They had the whole week to gather their things and prepare notecards (as signs) to tell about the item. We had our Me Museums due on Friday. I blogged about this last year too but this year, it went so much better!

Here are a few pics and videos!

The kids had to decorate a sign for their Museum too.

We talked about using "museum etiquette" where we only look with our eyes and keep our hands behind our backs. Love how this student is using his museum manners!

I had groups of 4 or 5 rotate around and gave them plenty of time at each table group.

I had post-its at each table for the kids to write questions if they had any and leave on that student's desk. This was great, since the kids really wanted to know more about the items and we couldn't shout across the "museum." :) We shared and answered the questions at the end.

And here they are LIVE!

I am super impressed with this group of kids so far. We are off to a great start and I look forward to this year! 

Maybe next week I will be able to flashback into time again because there is still more I'd like to share. 

But it's clearly my bedtime! 

Thanks for stopping by!!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

What Good Writers Do: An Interactive Poster to Create with your Class

I have LOTS to catch up on from the past couple of weeks but thought I would start with my post about writing. Definitely the toughest subject to teach, in my opinion, but it's also one of my favorites!

The first week of school we introduced our Work on Writing station and tied it into our Writers' Workshop model. If you are familiar with the sisters' Daily 5, you are familiar with i-charts. If you are not familiar, here is what I know...when introducing one of the components of Daily 5 you always create an i-chart with the students that highlights their responsibilities during that time. It also shows the kids that the teacher will be also be working...  with students. :)

Here is our class i-chart on what the students and I do during Work on Writing.

The kids just loved the word, STAMINA, especially when we discussed "bathroom stamina". I did have to front load the definition of stamina as most kids were not familiar with it. But by the end of our lesson, they understood that they would "keep on keeping on" with their writing as long as they could. We even did an 9 minute "Build Stamina time" where we all wrote without interruptions for nine.whole.minutes! The best part was when I announced that time was up, I heard more groans than "yays" because they wanted to keep on writing. We congratulated each other and promised to write even longer tomorrow. :)

So, that led us to an impromptu activity the next day on What Good Writers Do. Honestly, it was impromptu because we were supposed to have our library time rescheduled to that morning but 20 minutes before the bell, the librarian let me know that we would keep our scheduled time on Friday (the next day) after all. So, I had to plan something for writing and fast! 

I knew this was a focus of what I wanted to teach today in our mini lesson and it worked out great. I called the kids to the floor and we came up with ideas on what good writers do. We started off with a great discussion on what we have seen in GOOD writing. A lot of kids reflected back to our journal rubric that I had introduced a few days before (yea! they were listening!). After creating a list on the board, I later typed up their ideas. 

Why did I type them? Well... 2 reasons actually!
1) I am not a fan of my handwriting and do not write neatly in front of the class. Seriously, it's bad.
2) I wanted to have them typed so I could cut them out and hand to students later, as a review, and have them make the poster. :)

And that's what we did. I glued on the title and the cute kiddos at the bottom, but the kids did the rest!

You can get the printables for this and create your own with your class too. It's a FREEBIE and it will always be so enjoy! 

Go snag it {HERE}! 
Be sure to rate and give some feedback if you download it!

I will be sharing a few more things from our past couple weeks so bear with me. There has been lots of fun stuff but not a lot of time these days to blog about it. Anyone else feel this way?!?

Until next time!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Congrats to our SOS kids!!

This past week we celebrated some pretty awesome kids! 

These were all of the 2nd graders from last year who completed their Second Grade Study Over Summer Packet
Very proud of them so we celebrated with an after school popsicle party! 

Congrats to these smiling faces!!

On the last day of school, we gave every 2nd grader a study packet including a comprehensive review of 2nd grade skills as well as the must-have essentials for preparing for 3rd grade. 

My fabulous sister actually created most of this packet back when she taught 2nd grade and I added a few activities and tweaked a few things to meet our current curriculum. 
The packet included several activities for language arts, reading, writing, math, science, social studies and so on! There were many options given for the activities that would peek their kids' interest. I also designed for it to be pretty independent from needing mom or dad's help. All the parents had to do was initial the activities along the way. Pretty simple!

Here are a few of the pages included...

Looks like fun, huh?! If you want to grab your copy for later on in the year, you can find it here in my TpT store! There is also a black and white version for easy printing!

Every year that I have been sending this home, I get 2-3 students who complete and return but I hear that MOST of them start on it and get some practice. ;) Better some than none, right? I also think its those awesome parents who stay on them to get it completed too. 

This year, however, I had 5 fabulous kids from my homeroom get it completed and returned! So proud of them!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Parent Handbooks for Curriculum Night were a hit!

Last Thursday, we had our 2nd grade Curriculum Night and passed out these adorable flip books to our parents. We were able to put tons of important 2nd grade info in one convenient place. My team each edited their own to fit their specific classroom too!

A big shout out to Stephanie at Mrs. D's Corner for creating this awesome resource! Our parents loved them!

Of course, the file was editable so we could tailor to our class/grade level needs. We copied on super bright paper, which makes me happy!

We added a magnet to the back, as Mrs. D suggested in her blog post, so the parents could keep it on the fridge instead of sticking in a pile or in a drawer. 

It is FREE in her store now, so I highly suggest you head on over to her TpT store and snag it! You will want it for your orientation night if you haven't had it yet but definitely a great resource for next year!

Thanks, Stephanie!!

More to come this weekend on the latest happenings in Mrs. MeGown's 2nd grade Safari so stay tuned!!