Saturday, September 27, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Pencil Toppers

Happy Saturday Friends! This is the last weekend in September! Can you believe it?
I'm going to share an easy and inexpensive way to bring personalized incentives to your classroom!
Simple and effective ideas are the best, right?
I purchased these straw toppers at Hobby Lobby and used them to customize my pencils!
You can use them for anything! The black ones can also be used with chalk.
You can have several made up ahead of time and pass them out as needed or customize as you go!
As I was typing this post I thought of a topper I need to make...
Teacher Pencil and Reading Group Pencil!!!
My group pencils always seem to wander off-I've gotta add these!
That's it! Told you it was simple! These little toppers will dress up (or as I like to say, "accessorize") any pencil! Students will love using one of these pencils!

I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.


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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Open House

What a busy week! We had Open House this week and it's fun, but exhausting!
I want to share some Open House ideas that get my students, parents, and me excited! :)
If we get everyone excited, you'll have a great turnout! I had 21/21 parents come this year!
Even if you've already had your Open House, maybe you can use it for next year.
 Make your event light and fun! Keep it positive and share a glimpse of the happenings in your classroom and exciting things planned for the year. What are your expectations and goals for your students? How can your parents help? I like to have a whole group presentation to assure one parent doesn't monopolize my time. I have conference sheets available to discuss individual students.
First, I like to make an invitation to invite my parents. I LOVE my invitation this year because it's also a keepsake! I thought of this late at night when my brain wouldn't turn off!
 A few days before Open House, I send home a survey to find out some information and to help me plan my evening better. This survey serves as a reminder, allows me to find out if parents want more information about a specific topic, what they like about our classroom, and whether or not they're attending. You can pick up a copy of here.
I have the desks all set up before the parents arrive. Tickets for the big drawing and goodie bags for students and parents, handbook, water bottle, and scratch off ticket for parents.
Water bottles are found here.
I have a PowerPoint with different bulleted lists to guide my presentation, and in case parents have more questions, my handbook has lots of information about our class they can refer to. It includes information about conferences, expectations about each subject, goals for the year, field trips, a list of websites, samples of rubrics, multiplication timed test.
When I talk about my reading expectations and goals for my students I show them some statistics on independent reading. I think this slide is very eye-opening to the parents.

To encourage my students to read at home, I give them a goodie to take home and hang on their door. I tell parents they're not allowed to make them do chores or go to bed when they see this sign hanging on the doorknob! LOL! (My students love this! It's a great way to get them excited about reading at home!)
I had these printed several years ago from a printing company, so they were kind of pricey, but I have a set here that I use all year long for a variety of occasions!
These mints are just a special treat for the parents to enjoy!
Pick up a copy of these note cards here.

Can't leave the kids out! I picked up Skittles on sale this week and created this cute topper for them! You can pick up a generic one here.
Parents want to help, so I set up a table with wish list items ranging in price starting at $1. Of course, the students are quick to grab one, but I explain during my presentation that it's for parents to decide if they'd like to take a helping hand. (You know I drum up business for that table by saying things like, "I wish I could see my table, but it's covered with hands, " or "Who will be the first to grab a hand to help our class?" This gets parents moving toward the table! :) )
Pick up a copy of the wish list labels here.
Also during my presentation, I want those parents involved and engaged! I make them take a multiplication timed test just like my students do every day! (I tell my students in advance that I'm going to make their parents do the 12s and not to tell them-they love it!)
It helps the parents realize how quickly their child needs to be able to recall their facts to be successful in math in fourth grade. (I don't grade them, it's just for fun!)
I have a whole multiplication incentive program to get everyone excited about multiplication!
I have Scratch to Win tickets for the parents too, except they don't win a trip to the prize box, free book, or use pen all day. Their prizes are rewards from their children: wash the car, vacuum the house, wash the dishes, breakfast in bed! My students aren't super happy about their parents collecting on these prizes, but they're good sports! The happy students belong to the parents who scratch "sorry, try again!".  (We all can't be winners!)
At the end of open house I have a drawing for the parents and students. Both the parent and student won this year, no zonks! (I forgot to get pictures-there was a lot of action in my packed classroom!)

Along with the conference sign up sheet, I have a sign up sheet for science experiments. Like I said, parents like to help, so I ask parents to sign up to bring in the supplies for a science experiment. This gives parents a chance to be involved and helps with the teacher's wallet!
Grab that here.

I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Quizlet

Happy Saturday! I think most everyone is back in school now and I hope you're getting settled and enjoying your new class!
I want to share a simple review game this week. Quizlet! Have you heard of it? It's so user friendly, so quick to set up, and easy it's a simple review game for a unit of study.
I use it a lot for a quick vocabulary review. It's the perfect five minute filler!
It creates flashcards too! It has an audio feature so the cards can be read aloud. This is going to beneficial for some of my struggling readers.
There's a test feature too! Students can practice with different types of questions: multiple choice, matching, written, and true/false.

Scatter is a game that requires some keyboarding skills because you have to type the matching word in the space bar before the matching word gets to the other side of the screen. I've played this whole group and just have my students all call out the word together.

Scatter is our favorite whole group game. The words disappear as you match them up. They try to beat the best time...lots of cheering!


I have my students say the words aloud as they match them, allowing for a review for everyone who isn't playing too.
Just a quick way to incorporate some technology, review, and fun all at one time! My students love Quizlet! I use the free version, which offers so much, but there is a paid teacher version I'm considering. You can set up your class and keep track of their progress, and it offers even more features.

I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Pin It!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Made It: Back to School and Updated Product

The first month of school is so crazy busy right? It's a wonder we even have time to sleep! I wanted to link up with my buddy Tara for her fun linky, Monday Made It.
I hope you can use some of these ideas!
This was part of my display for my Welcome Back to School table, I made a pencil cake.
You will need: foam circles, large file rubber bands, pencils, paper confetti or tissue paper, cake plate.
 First get your round foam circles and glue together (I used three and placed on top of each other-Dollar Tree). Then just line up the pencils all the way around, inserting pencils inside the rubber bands. My cake took about 80 pencils. Super easy and cute!

 Glue foam circles together and insert pencils all the way around the cake. I used a piece of paper because I didn't want to see the green foam in between the pencils, but they fit so snug that you won't see the paper anyway.
I think I'll break this out again for Open House, it makes a cute centerpiece and it only takes a few minutes!

I made these cute soaps for my children's teachers for the first day of school that I found on Pinterest.
You could use these for Teacher Appreciation, Just Because, Christmas, etc.
Would you like a copy of these labels? Click here! :)
I also updated one of my popular products for back to school. I added a few quotes and black backgrounds as well. Download again if you've already purchased this product for the updated file. These Inspirational Posters have been created every year in my classroom for the last 17 years! It's one of my favorite activities to make my students feel this is "their" classroom. Plus, it's a great way to save money on premade posters! These are perfect for Open House! Once your students make them for your class, others will put in their requests for posters orders!
Want a chance to win a set? Pin to win! winner will be notified on Wednesday by email. (Please make sure you leave your email in the comments if you're not a blogger).
Pin this image, copy and paste the URL in the comments...that's it! Have a great week!

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Tips for the First Day of School

I started two weeks ago and I know so many start this week, so I thought I'd share a few tips that may help you! :)

Study the Yearbook 

If you don't know all of your students in your new class get your hands on last year's yearbook. What a nice welcome to those who enter your room if you call them by name! They will think you have secret powers or know magic! LOL

Labeled Tubs

When students enter your room they can take out their supplies and place them in labeled bins. I also have two trays for paperwork that was passed out at Meet the Teacher to be returned. This system needs little direction and all of your supplies will already be organized for you!
*If you don't have tubs, use cardboard boxes or label areas on the table.

Have Everything Ready to Go!

Everything has to be at your fingertips that first week, especially that first day of school! (You can't turn your back on them!) On my table I have materials, important paperwork, read alouds, and manipulatives ready to go. When they are finished putting away their school supplies, they can start on their It's All About Me Poster. This poster will be a great getting to know you activity and make for a great hallway display. This will be the "thing" they do if they have any free time for the next couple of days.

Class Procedures

I can't stress the importance of having classroom procedures. This is your chance to set up the routines you want for your classroom. You can grab a copy of my Class Procedures (written in a positive format) in my TPT store for FREE. :)
Things to discuss/think about: signals for bathroom, water, broken pencil. What do students do if they complete an assignment early (early finishers)? What materials are they able to use in your classroom? How many books should they have at their desk? Where do they turn in papers (classwork, homework, tests)?

Attention Signal

What are you going to use to get your students' attention? Have a poster/sign or something ready so there's no confusion or forgetting. Some teachers clap and students copy, "give me five", class/class, yes/yes, cute phrases students finish, a bell, chimes...everyone has a favorite, just tell them what it is when you discuss procedures.

Read Alouds


Have those read alouds ready for the first day. I always have a few picture books for lessons and a chapter book in case I have an extra five minutes or need a filler. We can't have any downtime, it must be very structured until we train them! I was so excited to finally compile so many of my reading and writing activities for back to school a few weeks ago. I have used so many of these tried and true activities since my first year teaching! This resource will build community in your classroom starting on day one!! It sparks great discussion and offers wonderful teachable moments. Even if you don't own all of the books for this product, I've included a video link for every book! The meaningful activities are print and go and will make lasting memories! Click here to read more about this pack.

Notice That Great Behavior!


Do you have a reward system in place? Whether it be points, fuzzy poofers, stickers, tickets, marbles, or even a compliment, have something ready to notice ALL THE GREAT things you want to see continued all year with your students. For example, students sharing with each other, complimenting each other, following procedures, participating, waiting their turn, volunteering to help, etc. This is the "honeymoon period" so we need to take advantage of this time so others will copy the behavior you're rewarding.

How Do They Get Home?

Find out IMMEDIATELY how your students get home if you don't already know. If you don't do it right away, you may forget with the craziness of the first day! This will also give you time to call home during your lunch or planning if your students don't know how they are going home. Use your class list to write their mode of transportation next to their name if you don't have a form. The first day of school is when most students end up at the wrong location for after school dismissal.
I hope you can use at least one of these tips, sometimes it's hard to remember everything that first day! Even as teachers we get nervous! Good luck if you haven't started school!
Here's to a GREAT school year!

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Marshmallow Challenge

Happy Three Day Weekend!!!
The Marshmallow Challenge is an exercise to promote collaboration and creativity created by Tom Wujec among business people. 

 (This video is for the facilitator, not the participants.)
Businesses aren't the only people we want to learn team building skills! What a great activity for your classroom to promote creativity, collaboration, and cooperation!
Students have to work as a group to build the tallest free standing tower in 18 minutes. Each group receives 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of masking tape, (they call for a yard of string, but I didn't use it), and one large marshmallow. They can tear the tape and break the spaghetti, but the marshmallow has to be on the top of their structure. More directions here.
Before we started our challenge, we discussed ways to work together in our groups. It's important to pose questions and possible solutions to situations that may occur with your students before they get started.
What if you don't like someone's idea?
What if one of your group members is bossing everyone around?
What do you do when someone isn't participating?
What is the plan if two members of your group aren't getting along?
After discussing positive group talk and actions, groups brainstormed ideas of how to build their tower. I overheard a lot of great plans for their design. 
Of the five groups, three had a free standing tower. They quickly realized how difficult this task was because of the weight of the marshmallow.
I made sure groups knew this was for fun and not for a prize, so they wouldn't be stressed. We've been studying the scientific process, so this activity was perfect for "testing" ideas.
 This group had the tallest tower. I happened to catch a shot of one of their members explaining they should have a triangle as the base. (She was right, it was a great support for the foundation.)
After time was up and students were able to look around at other groups' structures, we came back for a discussion. Just as important to discuss possible problems that could occur, is the importance of what worked or went well with their groups. This spreads ideas and positivity throughout my classroom. Some things that were shared:

Our group wanted to have fun and we weren't upset when our tower fell.
We each helped each other.
We listened to every person's ideas.
Everyone worked together, no one was the "boss".
They reflected on their learning and cooperation skills, this will set the tone for future group work in our classroom. I love when they give credit to each other. "It was ___'s idea to try this."  "____ made us feel better when our tower collapsed."

If you have an extra 25-30 minutes in your week, this is a great activity to motivate your students to collaborate, be creative, and work as a team! So, for a of couple dollars you and your students will learn so much about each other and the importance of working as a team!


I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Pin It!