ETA Hand2Mind

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Monday, December 28, 2015

New Year's Goals

I am thinking about how I can make 2016 the best year yet.  I have some personal and teaching goals I have been wondering about.  Although, the "more often" goal for personal, I should really have-exercise.  I just feel more attached to the one I wrote.  Just being honest.  :)
Below in my teaching goals I have talk less and listen more.  I teach first grade and you have to guide and model for them a lot.  BUT now that it is mid-year, they know the routines, they know my expectations, they know what to do and now it is time to leave the nest and fly!  I will be expecting the students to teach more.  Yay, here we go!
Want to make some goals for yourself?  I have the slides below that I used above.  Then link up with me so I may check out your goals.  Only a few days left of 2015.  Make them great!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

GingerSTEM Party and Grinch Day

I'm joining Doodle Bugs Teaching in a 5 for Friday...finally/again...and on a Saturday.  It's been a awhile.

My class had their holiday class party on Wednesday.  I created a green screen movie with the kids, so we watched the completed movie together while the kids ate.  The following are the stations we did for the winter STEAM party:

Our first STEAM station was to help the GingerSTEM Man get across a river without getting wet.  They had to engineer a boat using recycled materials, popsicle sticks, straws, tin foil, and coffee filters. 
Our second STEAM station was creating an artistic Gingerbread Man cookies and tree.

Our third STEAM station was engineering a trap to catch the Gingerbread Man using recycled materials.

Our fourth and final STEAM station was measuring ingredients for the gingerbread playdough that they got to keep.  

We had a fun surprise day.....

Since our class party was on Wednesday, I had Friday to have a bit of fun.  I decided to surprise the kids with a Grinch Day.  Here is what they saw when they walked into my room.

We watched a read aloud style video of How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Kidtastic Apps, using the Promethean.  We ate popcorn, had hot apple cider, and Christmas cookies.  

We also discussed (using the Grinch theme) place value, doubles plus 1 and 2, character analysis, text evidence and phonics.

It was a VERY busy day and the kids were super energetic, but on the whole, they did a great job with getting their work done.  

Finally- #6, tehe
I gave the kids their presents from Anna (our elf) and myself.
They were able to pick a holiday or winter pencil, a hackey sack style ball and stationary with a pen (which made them all beg to write....yup 1st graders were begging to write- love it!)
Holiday Pencil AssortmentRed & White Snowflake Spiral Notepad & Pen Sets Kick Ball Assortment
It really was a good week before holiday break.  I am happy to have some time with my daughters but will certainly miss those crazy kiddos for the next 2 weeks.  

Happy break teachers!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Positive Parent Communication

I have been watching the and loving the nuggets of great ideas they have for teachers.  It has been an excellent source of inspiration.  If you are curious about what it is and haven't checked it out, please see the link below.

It got me thinking, I have been teaching for 12 years and have learned so much over those years.  I also started thinking about what my show would be about if I was on the network.  I thought and thought, what is my best teacher skill?  I feel I work super hard at student engagement.  I have more work to do in that area but I really care about whether my students are "with me" or not and whether they are understanding and retaining the information I am delivering.

I work hard at teaching higher level skills that go above and beyond the district expectations.  I want my students leaving me at above skill level in all academic areas.  I want them able to present to others without feeling nervous.  I want them able to hold a positive and thoughtful conversation with others.  I want them to have great teamwork skills.  So, we practice all of that through the year.

The other thing I work hard on is parent communication.  When I first started teaching, I was awful at communicating with families.  I was scared to talk to the parents.  I don't know why, but I was.  I didn't want anyone mad at me if their child was misbehaving or performing poorly in academic areas.  Then I had more experience as an educator, various discussions with parents and the biggie- I had my own children.  That changed everything.  I began to realize that parents want to know everything about their child.  I have worked in schools that had families from all backgrounds from extreme poverty to extreme wealth and they all want to know about their child.  So, my methods have changed a lot over the years and now I feel confident about parent communication.  I want them as knowledgeable about their child's academic, social and emotional states in the classroom.  I do all I can to support each child in their areas of need and I tell the parents what we are doing as a teacher-student team and give ideas on how they may be a part of the support team.  I have areas I need to grow and improve upon of course, but I feel good about my communication skills.

Here are some ideas to create positive parent communication:

Dojo is amazing for parent communication.  It allows the parents to see daily/hourly if need be, how their child is doing during the school day.  You can print out percentages of their behavior to show what they are earning positive and negative points for during the school day.  
I use the Messages and Class Story features as well.  Messages helps you text parents without them knowing your personal phone number.  You may do the messages whole class or individual.  Now they have put on a "quiet hours" feature that allows you to set up an automatic message for weekends/holidays/evenings/etc.  Although, I have not set any quiet hours as I only answer when I am available anyway.  Class Story is like a private Dojo version of Facebook.  You are able to post a pic and quick blurb about what is going on and only those who are connected to your personal page may see it.  They may click a "like" button and it tells you when they view it.  I try to post cute pics of what fun lessons we are doing in class. 

2.  I email a LOT.  I email personal or whole group emails about what we are doing, where children are struggling and where they are doing well.  I don't make a lot of phone just is not something I have time to do.  With email and Dojo, it allows me to send a message when I have the time to do it.

3.  I make connections with students and their parents/adults.  I purposefully find something that I have in common with a family and I begin to create a positive friendship with the family through that beginning connection.  Even those hard to connect with families, tend to realize I am there to show love and care to their little one.  They eventually realize, I will go the extra mile for their child and family.

4.  Sincerity is important.  If you are insincere, it will be felt.  I work hard to look for the positive in people and sometimes when people do that, it comes off as insincere.  I really mean the things I say.  Period.

5.  When someone is upset with you, you can not take what they say personally...says the really sensitive teacher.  Ha!  No really, you have to remember that they are angry/upset/yelling/etc. because they are feeling the need to protect their child (because they love their child).  If you react calmly and with reason, 99% of the time the problem can be solved.  Most of those kinds of situations are misunderstandings, from my experience.  Now see #6!!!

6.  If you have an event that happens in class/school that you have any notion may become an issue later, don't wait!  Contact the parent first!  Let me say that again- contact the parent first!  Call/email/text/whatever and let them know the whole story of what went on and how you took care of it.  If you do this consistently with your students, you will be contacted a million times less by angry families.  If they know you are there to keep their child safe and cared for, the families will be upset/angry/misunderstand situations less.  AND if it is a really tough family, give yourself a little backup.  Let your principal know "I had ____ situation with ___ child today and here is how I handled it ___."  You'd be surprised at how happy your principal will be that you are being proactive, as well as keeping him/her informed of your classroom's events.

Well, hopefully these ideas helped someone out there in blog land.  :)
Have a great last week before break!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Dec. Currently

Well, I am late to the party again!  Join can be fashionably late too.  :)
See the link below to join the amazing Farley.

Christmas is my favorite time of year.  It makes me so happy.  I love talking about all the cool holidays around the world with my students too.  This year, we have an Elf on a Shelf visiting and she is going to bring us some books that introduce each of the holidays that we are discussing.  

 Below is the letter the elf brought and the expectations.

 Below is an example of some of the words the elf brought.  This came from a kit -maybe TpT but for the life of me I can't remember who made sorry!!!

Below are a few pics of what my hallway looks like.  The awesome assistants at our school have been decorating up a storm.  
The hallway door leading to the kinder and 1st grade hallway.
 My daughter outside my door.
 My classroom door decoration.
 My kinder neighbor's door.
The snowflakes hanging from our ceiling.  Phew, they were so tangly and tricky to get put up.  The person going up and down the ladder was exhausted by the end of the hall!!!  But when the kids saw it and we heard all their excitement it was worth it.
Below is my 1st grade coworker's door.

The little faces are my students.  Aren't they adorable?  All aboard the Polar Express!!!!

Have a great weekend and enjoy your families.