Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Team Homework

We recently found the blog Teaching Maddeness and couldn't be more excited about it! I read her post on homework, which we all know is a HOT topic, and knew I had to change the way I was assigning homework. Some parents want more and some want none. It's impossible to please everybody! ... Until now. We think she's found the answer! Team Homework. 

We tweaked her idea a bit to make it work for us but it's still the same concept. On Mondays we send home the Team Homework sheet. It looks like this...

We run it on green paper so it stands out. 

The goal of Team Homework is to give students ownership over their work. The students are completing tasks to earn points. They understand that the more points they earn the better the chance that our class will earn the "Magic Number." The students understand that they all need to contribute in order to earn the reward at the end of the week. If our classes' total points equals or is greater to the Magic Number they will earn a reward. The rewards are teacher discretion: extra outside recess, gum, Smart Board game- something fun! 

Every week there are "Required Activities." These are the activities that change. They are things every student must do in order to reap the benefits if we meet our Magic Number goal. 

There are also "Extra Activities."  The extra choices provide for differentiation and choice. Giving students choices in their learning is so important! These activities don't change often (if at all). 

Team Homework is due on Fridays. We have the students staple any papers they complete for the activities that week to the back of the Team Homework sheet. They must total up their points at the bottom and have their parents sign it. If this is not done their points do not count for the week. 

So you're probably wondering... "What about those students who don't do it?" Well we went back and forth about that as well! We decided if they don't do the required activities they are not eligible for the reward.  It wouldn't be fair if some kids just skated along never doing their homework. Last week, I had 3 kids not turn it in... I bet it won't happen this week!   

So far we are LOVING this approach and so are our students and parents! We've even had parents rave about it to our principal. [I swear we didn't pay them!] 

How do you handle homework? 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Peek At Our Week

I had every intention of sharing our plans with you on Sunday night... but the baby fell asleep on my chest and she was just so cozy that I didn't want to put her down. So here is a "Peek at Our Week" a few days late...

Yes, I didn't sugarcoat them. We seriously still write out our plans in the the old school plan book. It works for us! Don't judge.

This week we've been working on the difference between complete and incomplete sentences. Yesterday we did a flap book. Today we made incomplete sentences complete! We've been using activities from our Statements, Exclamations, and Questions OH MY! pack.

We've also gotten into our mini lessons for Daily 5. This week we are working on the strategy, Check For Understanding. We need some more work on it, the kiddies want to give predictions instead of telling who and what!

We also introduced Work on Writing. We've been talking about forms of writing, writing ideas, and using our word books.

One thing that we are really excited about is our new spelling program! We found The Teacher's Clubhouse. Saw her spelling pack. And HAD to have it! So far... we are loving it. Spelling lists are so much more meaningful this year. Our lessons in class match the word lists. Everything we need is included in her pack!

We are trucking along in our math series. Not to much to share on that home front. We are just seriously missing all of our cute/fun/interesting activities, games, and lessons that we created 2 years ago before we were forced into using this new series. BUT what's a teacher to do? We are trying to make the most of it! I find myself putting my own spin on the lessons which makes me much happier. Here's a look at the "Work Places" we've been engaged in.

As far as social studies goes... full speed ahead in our communities unit! This week is all about rural, suburban, and urban communities. We are also studying for our Where I Live test... this Friday. It's pretty amazing how many kids don't know their address, phone number, or city. Scary.

Now that the "honeymoon" phase is wearing off Go Noodle is my best friend. That Zumba helps get our wiggles out. Life saver.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Five For Friday---TGIF

Oh boy!  I am so happy it's Friday...I say that every week, but I really feel it today. We're linking up with Doodle Bugs again so hop over to her blog and check out the goodness!

1) I found this little great idea From the Pond

The way it works is you highlight one of your freebies, discounted items or a goodie to share.  

Since everything pumpkin is all the rage these days, I am showing you this super fun freebie!

2)  Also, we have been busy prepping our new Team Homework for next week!  We got this fabulous idea from Teacher's Clubhouse.  We are excited to try this new approach and hope that the students and parents will love it as much as we do.  We'll let you know how it goes next week.

3) On a lighter note, we were laughing all week at this one...as you may know Tina and her new hubby are in the process of building a new house.  Tina is trying to furnish her beautiful new place and decorate in her classy way and this is what her husband bought! He really loves the inflatables for the front yard.  We can't wait for the neighbors to see. ;)

4) We started this week our Communities unit.  I always am IN SHOCK of how many kids don't know their address or phone number by now...come on, people!  Teach your kid their dang address! So, I try and put a little fear in them, (bad teacher moment) and say "What if you got lost?  How would anyone know where to take you home?" 
The kiddos did really love learning all about the Rural, Suburban, and Urban types of communities.  We created these trifolds to illustrate the three types.  This plus tons of other resources can be found in our Communities unit in out Tpt store.  

5) And time for my saddest moment of the week!  My poor baby, got cleated at his brother's football game right to the forehead.  (On a side note, it is NOT a good idea to let your kiddo watch from the sideline, even if their dad is the coach and you think nothing will happen.)  Well, my little guy got taken out by a big ninth grader and it ended with me running across the track like a crazy mom and having to rush him to the ER.  Thank the lord that they were able to stitch him up pretty easily and it should heal fine.  It could have been so much worse...but still, look at this face!  I will spare you of the way grosser pics and any pictures with tears.  AND we will be going to Target tonight because I may have promised him any Lego that he wanted...and ice cream for dinner last night...and probably even more! :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

First Week... Check!

The first week has come and gone. I'm going to be honest... It feels like I never left. Summer vacation? Seems like a distant memory.  Is it just me???

We've been crazy busy, I feel like I'm drowning in all the beginning of the year "stuff." BUT I love my new class and it feels good to actually put on make up and real clothes. Do I miss my baby? YES. Is that even a question?!?! I miss her like crazy. I only had two meltdowns this week about leaving her all day, so I'd say that's a success.

I'm exciting to get back to sharing five things every (well... maybe not EVERY but as often as we can) week. So here we go...

One of our favorite books to read at the beginning of the year is Chrysanthemum. We love it so much we have a mini unit! When Chrysanthemum dreams of her name being Jane, I love to stop and ask, "If you could have picked your name, what would you have chosen?" This year, I got one little boy who said, Spike! LOVE IT. Spike is a far cry from Marko. hehe After the story we do a name graph and then we complete an acrostic poem. Both of these activities (and more!) can be found in our pack

Who doesn't love their birthday? Unless maybe you're approaching your thirties??? Lindsay drew these cute cupcakes (a freebie in our TPT store!) so we could create a class birthday pictograph. As you can see... January is a popular month for my class, it's going up the ceiling! 

The third day of school proved to be quite exciting! I pulled up to school to find 4 fire trucks. The school was evacuated and the fire fighters were geared up. Turns out one of the sensors on the roof went bad and was going off. 

Fortunately, we weren't able to sing... 

The roof was not on fire.

I had my first fail of the year. Although, it seemed like such a great idea. On those adorable little clothespins I wrote every ones class number, 1-29. (Yes, 29! It's my biggest class yet!) In theory, when number 5 is ready to turn in their paper they take their clothespin and clip it to their paper. Then I can quickly see who is still working and who is finished. Now the key there is "in theory." Pinterest steered me wrong. 

What happened in reality was not so wonderful. The clips when flying or broke. 

Clearly, this little girl didn't understand they she needed to complete the whole paper.

The clips lasted all of one day and then after school I took them off and threw them away. It was worth a try, but I don't suggest this form of organization for anyone. 

Now, baby's in bed and I'm enjoying a margarita with this stud. We are excited for a fun filled family weekend!  


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Currently September (WAIT! It's September?!)

It's 12:23...the night before school.  I should be in bed, but I will just be obsessing over everything that I need to do or forgot to do, so I figured that I would sit down and link up with this adorable Currently from Farley's blog!

Listening: currently it's Will Smith in "Independence Day"...it's not HGTV, but I'm not going to complain. :)

Loving: This is probably why I'm really not sleeping...I have a LOVE/HATE with back-to-school each fall.  I am excited for my new class and my boys love school, BUT I just wish time would slow down!  I have a HIGH SCHOOLER (gasp!), 4th grader, and 3rd grader and it is totally freaking me out.

Thinking: I'm sure tomorrow will be an awesome/wild/stressful day...such is LIFE.

Wanting:  Just one more week. :)

Needing: To catch some ZZZZss...I'm heading there soon.

3 Trips: I don't know why I picked Greece and Spain (something about Europe and the Mediterranean just is sounding awesome tonight).  BUT, I do really want to go to San Francisco.  I've only been to Cali once and can't wait to go back and explore some more.

Alright..I'm out!