Thursday, September 24, 2015

DonorsChoose (YOU can do it!)

Hey There! 

I am so excited I can hardly contain my teacher self!!! 

I posted a project for 4 mini iPads and protective cases on DonorsChoose and it was funded in 5 days! 5 days!!! I cannot believe it. They are on the way to my school site as I type. 

Do you know about DonorsChoose? If you don't, basically it is a nonprofit website that allows public school teachers to request donations for their classroom. Individuals and business owners come to the site looking for projects to help fund. The donations are tax deductible. #WinWinForEveryone

I have never written any sort of grant before and felt like it might be hard or overwhelming but once I got on the website I found it was so easy! If you have a need in your classroom I would encourage you to go there NOW (after you finish reading this post :) and DO IT! 

From what I have heard raising $1736 in 5 days is not typical. I am going to get right down to it and share with you a few things I did that I believe helped fund my project so quickly.

Use Your Voice
Try to make your request as personal as you can without giving out personal information of your school or students. My classroom theme is "Shining Stars" so I made sure to talk about them as that and how iPads would help them Sparkle! I was as specific as possible as to what we could do with iPads that would enhance my students' learning. 

Get the Word Out! 
Send an email to parents of the kids in your class. If you are like me you might feel strange asking them to donate. I wanted them to know my project was out there without asking them directly and putting pressure on them to give money. Here is how I worded it: 

Dear Parents, 
I am so excited that the DonorsChoose grant I submitted has been approved!!! 
Would you help me spread the word to your friends/family/businesses who are looking to make a donation that really will make a big impact with our students? 

I had several extended family members (Those grandparents wrote such sweet words about their grandchildern) donate and I am pretty sure it is because I simply suggested my parents share with their families. 

Get the Match! 
My project happened to be running when DonorsChoose was offering to match each donation up to $100 if donors used a promo code. 
Many of my donors forgot to use the code when checking out...YIKES! 
I decided to email the website and asked if they would please match the donation. They said YES! If I had never sent the email, 7 donations equaling $475 would not have been matched. Sending the email took me less than 5 minutes :) 

Share on Social Media 
I shared a link to tell my Facebook friends and family I had a project running. I asked them to share on their wall if they were comfortable with that too. Several people shared my post :) 

So the CrAzY thing is, I raised more money than I needed. A friend and a few parents saw that my project was fully funded when they got around to making a donation and "donated" a gift card to be used for future projects I post. Now my wheels are spinning on what my next project will be.... :) 

I am overwhelmed by the generosity of others. When I thanked a parent or friend personally, their response warmed my heart. "We are so happy to help, we are impressed that you would take the time and seek donations." People are awesome.

My firsties are going to be so excited upon the arrival of that special box, that is if I let them open it...

Thanks for reading, now go get what YOU need {HERE} :)


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Classroom Management (non verbal)

Hey There!

It's the weekend, time to recharge those batteries and get ready for the next week of craziness in the classroom. 

So today I want to share some ideas to help make the classroom less CrAzY! Non verbal signs and hand you use them? If you don't, you should read on to see why they help make me the queen of classroom management (ok, maybe not QUEEN...but pretty good at it! 

So my kids know have been trained NOT to bother me while I am working with others unless there is an emergency. Tip: if your class is like mine you will need to review WHAT is an emergency? In my class it can be only 3 things: 
1. my pencil is broken
2. I don't know where the word work center is
3. a book is ripped

1. There is a fire in the classroom
2. You are about to throw up
3. Someone is passed out

Simple right? So what do kids do if they cannot bother you? What if they need to use the bathroom right after we just visit the bathroom? Hand signals!!

Many years ago, I got the idea (probably from another teacher) to use the sign language letter R to signal, "I need to visit the restroom." It is awesome because I don't even have to stop talking while teaching whole group or small group because I can just give a quick nod to give permission. 
In addition, there is no ripple effect of kids needing to go to the bathroom since it is silent. #winning

Sorry, about the "wet spot." Seems this sweetie missed her mouth while drinking water ;)

My favorite hand signal is our class quiet sign. At the beginning of the year I use this Finger Eye Puppet to engage my students. {HERE}

We talk about what a good listener looks like: their ears are up and their lips are closed.
So this is our class quiet sign, they love it. IT IS OURS....IT IS SECRET.
Now it's your too!

Use it, you will crack up when they point the quiet sign at their own face to quiet themselves down! HA!

In my classroom I try to make every minute count. I also need to make my kids accountable. No sleeping in my classroom, no letting your friends answer everything while you cruise.  So I use hand signs to do that.

Before I go on,
here is an important thing...WAIT TIME. Some of your students will try to be lazy, but once they know that is not acceptable they won't try it anymore. WAIT TIME, give it!

During whole group mini lessons I use think and point.

For example if I ask, "Does the word glass have a short vowel or long vowel sound? Think and point." Students are told to point left/right while keeping their hand under their chin so I can make a quick assessment of who "gets it."

You can also use hand signals under your chin for yes, no answers. I call it thumb/no thumb.

You might say something like, "Did I solve this math equation correctly? Thumb for yes, no thumb for no."

The possibilities are endless...what do I need to do to solve this math problem? Make a plus sign if I should add or a minus sign under your chin if you think I should subtract....

Again, no sleepers, no one skating by. You will be making quick observations of what your kids know or don't know.

I have one last management idea. In first grade, it is a HUGE deal to lose a tooth. 24 kids losing teeth throughout the year equals lots of interruptions to instructional time.

My first graders love to wear badges, it is so powerful! They take it very seriously to be what ever their badge title is. You can read more about these badges: Table Captains Freebie {HERE} Sight Word Detectives Freebie {HERE}

So I knew I had to make a badge to wear when one of my Shining Stars loses a tooth. They wear it proudly! But more importantly they do not have to say A WORD, NOT A SINGLE WORD until I am ready. They just grab a badge from the basket and somehow they are pacified until we are ready to hear all about how they lost that tooth that has been hanging by the root and they have had their hands in their mouth playing with it for days! (BLECK!)

If you or your students are not the badge wearing type, you could do the same with these labels. 
If you are interested in finding out more about these badges, labels and other celebration goodies to protect your instructional time, you can see more {HERE}

Thank you for stopping by and reading! I hope you got some new classroom management ideas :)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Quick Tip!

Hey There!

Tomorrow is FriYay!!! A weekend of luxury awaits us my friends!!!

Today I wanted to share a printing tip that made me so happy when I discovered it about a year ago. :)  If you are like me you wish a part of a digital file could be put in a Shrinky Dink oven to better use the resource.  Well now you can! You can print multiple pages of any document by a click of a few buttons. :)

When I created this file I Lost a Tooth, I originally planned to print a recording sheet for each month to post in our calendar area.
Then I checked my wall space, oopsie...I needed this sheet to be smaller. Rather than rework the whole file I just printed 2 to a sheet!  Here is how I did it:

 First select print, then when the window opens choose the pages you want to print.
Then choose how many pages you want on a page. For this picture I choose 2 pages per page. 

Walla, you have printed multiple pages to a sheet! Here is one more picture showing 6 to a page. 

Sometimes I make anchor charts to teach and later I print them multiple pages to a sheet and make my students reference cards or bookmarks. 

I hope this printing tip has been handy to you, I'd love you to leave a handy tip you have learned in the comments for me!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hidden Sight Words and a Freebie!

Hey There!

How do your kids learn sight words? They are so tricky but so necessary for emergent readers to learn! As teachers we teach reading strategies like: look at the picture, sound it out, skip the tricky word and come back...THEN they encounter the word said...ugh! Next thing you know the reader is frustrated and loses all comprehension of what they just read.

Today I want to share with you one way my emergent readers learn sight words. It has been magical...they are so engaged! My students eyes light up when they see their name next to the Sight Word Word Work center card. They even choose this activity during Social Time and Fun Friday.

At the beginning of the year when I first introduce the center I play up what a detective does.  Detectives inspect all evidence carefully, they use the clues to solve problems. Detectives are hard workers, they use a HAND LENS! There is something magical to a child about holding a hand lens.
This is how I organize them so students have all the supplies they need

First I  model exactly how a Star Student works this center. Then we practice together. I print a black and white copy of the same hidden sight word page so we can talk about the process of our work.
You-whooo where are you? 

This is such a meaningful practice because as my students find the hidden sight words they must inspect the letters carefully to figure out where to write it in the word shape boxes. I have created an opportunity for them to really study the letters to learn the sight word in an engaging way. #winning

After they find and write all the words, they use at least one new sight word in a sentence at the bottom of their paper.

This center never ends because my detectives clean off their practice page and grab a new one. Each set of cards will be in the center for the month so my kids can master reading and spelling 25 new words. By the end of the year my detectives have analyzed and mastered learning 220 sight words!

If you are interested in trying this with your class, you can download a FREE sample and a badge {HERE}
Sight Words Badge Freebie

I have 9 months completed and in my TpT shop. You can grab a month or bundle! Click the picture or {HERE} to see more!

How do you practice sight words in your class? How do you keep them engaged? Do your kids love wearing badges too?

Thanks for stopping by!