Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Please Thank Your Partner...


Where are they these days?  Everything is so instant.  And so entitled feeling.  Want a quick way to insert a polite social skill into your day?

It's so easy.

Any time you do work with a partner, when the activity is over you say, "Please thank your partner."  That's it.  They shake hands.  Or say "Thank you."  Or give a hug... we've been doing it all year so, by now, my kiddos are pros and they know that at the end of any partner activity we will always thank our partners!

This public service announcement has been brought to you by... me!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Morning Meeting Activity Ideas

I posted earlier in the week about how Morning Meeting has literally saved my classroom and got some great feedback!  Check out the blog post by clicking the pic below!

Lots of you asked about the kinds of activities we do during that time of the meeting so... ready?

We LOVE this little Chipmunk!  He's from Hallmark.  He asks quirky questions and asks the kids to do silly things.  Sometimes our activity is one of his shenanigans!

I've collected lots of quiz cards and vocabulary games... the Target Dollar Spot has good stuff!  We spend 2-3 minutes doing these sometimes.

I have a set of question dice.  We might roll a dice and a few kids might answer the question.  We also LOVE to do a "20Q".  That's the pink thing in the middle.  Run to the store and invest $10 in one.  It's GREAT for critical thinking!

It's always easy to pull out a card or two from the box...

Or read a few facts from this book.  The kids decide if the statement is a fact or a fib.  We love learning little tidbits!

A FAVORITE is always Mad-Libs.  I love that we're practicing grammar skills and the kids love the stories!

Each of these can be done in less than 5 minutes, keeping our meetings brief but fun!

Hope that gives you a peek into what we're doing for our activities!  Of course, there's free stuff you can do to... we like doing jokes, snapping and clapping patterns, sharing weekend news, "Go Noodle" (especially KOO KOO KANGAROO!!!), and using task cards to play my favorite favorite game "Back to Back", which I've blogged about many times.  You can check that game out by clicking HERE!

Do you have any good, inexpensive ideas for activities?  Add them in the comments below!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Organizing Grammar Games

Am I the only one with a crazy amount of grammar games... that I'm CONSTANTLY adding to?  I LOVE GRAMMAR GAMES.

We play them often...

We do classroom hunts...

We do partner games...

We LOVED this one that had us working on possessive pronouns...

But, my organization for storing them got a little  out of control with so many.  So... here's the new organization!

12 x 12 scrapbooking containers!  Then, inside, most everything is bagged up and ready to go!

Looking for some great low-prep grammar games?

Check out this bundle in my TpT store.  All the random games I've made this year... so fun!

Monday, March 14, 2016

How Morning Meeting Saved My Classroom {freebie too!}

Do you do a class meeting?  Morning meeting?  Afternoon wrap-up?  Whatever you call it... this has saved my classroom this year.

When I taught 1st and 2nd grade, I always had a morning meeting.  Every day.  We loved it!  But, when I moved to 3rd grade 4 years ago, I just couldn't find the time.  I would start doing it but something would come up or students wouldn't be done with their morning work or or or or... there was always something and, eventually, morning meeting would fall by the wayside.

This year I have quite the group.  I love them, like I always do.  But, the first few months were much more exhausting than normal.  To top it off, our class sizes are huge and I have 31 friends in my class.

In November, I was just tired.  My classroom had ceased to be a community.  I was nagging them all day, which isn't me.  My classroom management has always been on point so I couldn't understand what I was doing wrong this year!  I decided to bring back morning meeting and, this time, to stick with it.

Instead of doing morning work (which I realized during this time that I was really having them do so that I could have a few minutes to get lunch count, attendance, etc... done), they get 25ish minutes to go to the library and work on AR.  While they are doing that, I can still get all of my "clerical" stuff done that I need to do for the day... it's great!  And they can be 100% independent with AR and library visits.

After that, it's time... morning meeting!!!

It has made a HUGE difference.  We operate as a community.  We have time to talk about behavior expectations.  We get to work on social skills.  We share ideas.  We learn grammar skills.  Check it out...

We start out here.  Students have assigned spots on the rug and they sit in their spots, facing the chair and easel so we can go over morning meeting expectations.

We go over the "Morning Meeting Rules" on this chart.  I say the words in blue.  Students finish each rule by stating the part in pink.

Then we transition into a large circle.

We do a greeting.  Everyone goes around the circle, shaking the hand of the person next to them and saying, "Good Morning, (student name)."  We've been able to practice an appropriate handshake, eye contact... and you should see the smiles around the circle each morning!

After that, we do a quick activity.

I have lots of "stuff" under my easel...

After the activity, students transition back to their spots and we get the "News of the Day" from the leader.  This is something I did in 1st and 2nd grade and I worried that it would be too juvenile for 3rd graders.  But, they like it so much and the amount of learning that we are able to do is incredible.

Here's how it works...

Students chorally spell while I write.  I write exactly what they spell and punctuate so, if it's incorrect, I write it anyway.  We find and fix errors at the end.

We start with the date.

Then, the leader gets to tell us something.  It can be anything... what he/she did last night or ate for breakfast or about a pet or a parent... I have a set of news idea cards the leader can refer to if he/she can think of nothing to share.  Keep reading to grab that freebie!

After the leader tells us his/her news, they chorally spell while I write.

Check out this news from last week... awwww!

Then we find all sorts of parts of speech.  We find adjectives and common/proper nouns.  We can identify whether we have written a simple, compound, or complex sentence.  We find linking verbs and helping verbs and talk about verb tenses.  Taking the "News of the Day" to this level, has made my students experts at 3rd grade grammar.  Seriously.  They are the ones who come up to the chart and circle/underline and they love having the ownership of this.

After the news is done, the leader comes up to the chart and uses a pointer to guide the class through a choral reading of the news.  We work on inflection and fluency... pacing and intonation.  I love it!

The next item on the agenda is a poem and/or a passage.  Last week, we worked on context clues.  So, we had this poem up and we worked on determining the meanings of the underlined words.  At the end of the week, poems are moved to the partner reading table so pairs can read them during ELA time.

We read the poem together, talk about stanzas, get volunteers to read it to us, etc... This week, our poem focuses on onomatopoeias and strong verbs.  We LOVED reading this one.  So fun!

We also like to read a passage from this book.  I read it on Mondays and then we answer the questions as the week goes on.

After that, we go over our class behavior expectations.  These are five goals that we came up with together during the rough patch of behavior we were experiencing at the beginning of the year.  To be honest, we have met all of these goals by now, but the students like having the daily reminder.  Our goals are...

*We will have quick and quiet transitions.
*We will raise our hands to speak.
*We will worry about ourselves.
*We will not argue with the teacher.
*We will treat everyone with kindness and respect (even if they are not our best best friends).

Last, we say our class motto... this is something I heard a while ago and shared with my students.  They have even made up motions for the motto and everything.

"Good, better, best.  Never let it rest.  Until your good is better and your better is your best!"

That's it.

Would you believe the whole thing only takes about 20 minutes?  And... if we're in a hurry, I can get it done in about 15.

So, there you have it.

Morning meeting saved us.  You should try it!

Looking for the "news idea freebie"?  Here it is!

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