State Testng Encouragement Notes and Treats

Hey Everyone!
I can't believe that the school year is almost to an end and state testing for intermediate students is here. Here in Tennessee our intermediate students have been testing for a week and have 5 days left. As a primary teacher, I thankfully do not have to deal with the true stress of testing days.

This year our school is working hard to boost the morale and show our support for the intermediate grades during the stressful time of testing. In order to encourage our intermediate students and help destress their teachers each primary class has adopted an intermediate class. By adopting an intermediate class/teacher we are responsible for providing them with positive notes of encouragement and treats during testing days. This sounds like it could become costly depending on your adopted class' size or the number of testing days, however, the key is involving your parents. I currently work in a title 1 school and know that parent involvement isn't always there but I have found that parents love sending treats in. In order to get my parents help I sent out a message to all of the parents over ClassDojo. In this message I explained that we have adopted a 4th grade class and providing them treats during the testing days and provided a list of items we needed.

Before I jump into what we did for the students I want to share a picture of my testing survival kit that I created for the teacher. I grabbed this adorable tin bucket in the Target Dollar Spot for $3 and to my surprise when I rang it up it was actually 50% off! Gotta love when that happens. I filled her testing survival kit up with her favorite treats to help get her through the first week of testing. I mean what teacher doesn't need caffine and chocolate during a stressful week like testing.
Here are some cheap/free ideas that we have done for our adopted intermediate class!

Day 1 of Testing
On the first day of testing I decorated our adopted 4th grade class' door. I used the very popular Pinterest saying of "Donut Stress" and covered their door with donut cutouts. My students then each took a donut cut out and wrote an encouraging message on the back. & Of course we couldn't have a DONUT themed day without donuts so a box of munchkins topped the day off!

Day 2 of Testing
On the second day of testing we gave the 4th graders a How to Rock Your Test booklet from Learning in Wonderland. This is a free product in her store that you can grab here. The 4th graders loved reading their "how to" books. Their How to Rock Your Test booklets were also accompanied by pencils with inspiring messages.
This was an idea I found from an awesome teacher I follow on Instagram, SmartCookieClassroomTPT. 

Messages on the pencils included:
You've got this!
You'll rock this test!
Donut Stress!
You can do it!
Believe in your selfie!

Day 3 of Testing

We gave our 4th graders jellybean filled plastic eggs. If you snag these plastic eggs after Easter you can get them for an unbelievably low price. I had actually stocked up on them a year or two ago so I had a surplus laying around which was perfect for this occasion.

Day 4 of Testing
We are giving our 4th graders a glow stick bracelet with a tag that says
"You Will Shine Bright On Your Test!" I snagged these glowstick bracelets from the Target Dollar Spot. They came in a pack of 15 and were only $1.00! You really can't beat that.

Day 5 of Testing 
We will be giving our 4th graders cookies with the message, "We think this class is a bunch of smart cookies!" And their teacher is getting a SMART water. :) 

Last Day of Testing 
For the last day of testing we will be "chillin" out with our 4th grade friends and enjoying some popsicles on the playground. I hope that this will be a fun way for my students and the 4th graders to get to know eachother, have fun, and destress.

Thanks so much for stopping by today and checking out my blog. I hope that you were able to get some ideas for your own class or an adopted class to help them destress and stay motivated during the stressful time of state testing. You can grab all of the tags featured in my blog post for FREE over in my TPT store. Click here to grab them today. Thanks again for stopping by! :) 

Center Time

Hey Everyone! 
So we are at that point of the year where both the students and us teachers are itching for Spring Break and the end to be here. It seems as though those routines and procedures that we've spent hours, weeks, days, and months practicing have suddenly been forgotten. Some days are better than others and if you're like me sometimes you feel like you're on Survivor. Just keep on hanging in there, Spring Break is right around the corner, if it's not already here. 
As teachers we have a problem where we have "teacher brain" and we just can't seem to turn it off!  I just happen to be on Spring Break and it's a whopping 30 degrees outside so inevitably my teacher brain has been in full swing. I've been reflecting on the last few weeks prior to break and the first thing that came to mind was... centers being a"a hot mess!". It seemed as though my firsties had suddenly forgotten how to rotate in a timely manner, clean up their work spaces, and everything else. So here I am, coming up with a game plan to solve our center problems and put in effect when we return to school on Monday!
 Even though we have gone over our expectations, practiced them, taught each other them, practiced them some more, modeled them, and practiced them over and over for the first few weeks/months of school, we are at that point of the year where my firsties need a little extra reminding.
When we return from break we will be talking about our expectations for centers as a class. It is crucial for my firsties and my sanity that we revist these expectations again. Taking the time to go over them will ensure that our center time will go smoothly for the remainder of the year. Revisiting our expectations will not stop here. During center time I use a rotation chart I created via PowerPoint. Today, I edited my center rotation chart to include our expectations. I'm hoping that during centers this will serve as a constant reminder for my firsties.
Another issue that I've come across with my firsties is that they are not always on task during their center. Lately, I look up from my guided group and find my firsties snickering and looking completely guilty. So, I of course have to use my "Teacher Look" to get them back on task. 
Last week, I attended a PD session on technology in the classroom. During the PD session the presenter talked about an app called Seesaw. I personally have never used it but as she was describing it it made me think of ClassDojo's student story feature. She spoke about students being able to take a photo or video of their work and share it with their teacher & families. ClassDojo is a FREE app that I use every day to communicate with parents and track strudent behaviors. However, I have not yet introduced my students to the student story feature. I'll be honest, I had every intention of  it introducing them to it at the beginning of the year but then life happened and I never got around to it. #okayteacher But with being on Spring Break I've had time to play around with it and I feel like it is the PERFECT solution to holding my students accountable during their centers. 
Image result for class dojo student story
Here's How It Works: 
1. You have to sign up for a free account, create your class, and add each of your students
2. Click the "student mode" icon at the bottom of the page.
3. Print and display your class code for students to access. 
4. Students will then use a QR code scanning app to scan the QR code and select their name. 
This will allow their photo/video to be uploaded to their student page ONLY! Upon teacher approval!
My plan is to have my students use a class iPad to upload a photo or video of their center work once it is completed. This will allow me to quickly scan their work and know who has been on task and who hasn't. I can then give them immediate feedback as well as award behavior points from my phone or iPad.

My students are going to LOVE this adjustment and so will their families. 
I've admitted to you all before that I am a little type A when it comes to my classroom. When I see pencils laying on the floor, seats not put away properly, and center pieces missing their homes it drives me INSANEEEE! Especially since we've gone over these procedures a million times before. 

 Our pencils even have their very own home, yet they are still found all over our classroom floor. 

I mean come on now! How could they not put their pencil(s) back in the correct spot when it is PERFECTLY labeled!

Well.... the sad reality is, it is very easy for them not to put them back even though that system has been put in place in our classroom!

Insert Crazy Eyed Teacher Emojii here!
My plan to help this "hot mess express" involves two simple fixes/additions to our center time.
#1 Adding a "clean up" slide with a 2 minute timer into my center PowerPoint. 
Adding this clean up slide with a timer will allow my students to have a specific amount of time designated to CLEAN UP their work space. This will keep them from just rushing on to their next center. This idea was sparked by the amazing Teach Create Motivate. In her tpt store she has editable PowerPoint slides with timers as well as a FREEBIE of a 20 minute timer slide!
#2 Create a "Center Inspector" job! 
As teachers we create and have jobs for everything and anything. I don't know why I didn't think of creating a job for center time before. But my center manager will be responsible for checking each center area before students are allowed to rotate! This will allow my students to be held accountable for their workspace while allowing a student to be in charge and take on that responsibiltiy.
I'll soon be creating a cute little tag for my center inspector to wear! I just haven't gotten that far yet! When I do I'll be sure to post it here for you to use if you'd like!

Thanks so much for reading my blog today. I hope that this post helped you to realize that it is okay for your classroom to not be perfect. But at the same time it is never too late to take back control of your classroom and revisit and reteach expectaions and procedures. I'd love to hear from YOU!

Student Data Binders

Hi All,  I can't believe that winter break has come and gone in a blink of the eye. I don't know if you're on the same page as me but I could totally use another week of winter break. I have thoroughly enjoyed laying around in my yoga pants and enjoying family time. Don't tell anyone but this teacher hasn't done a thing school related since break started. It was definitely a nice little break. But now it is time to kick my bottom into gear and get focused on my sweet little firsties once again. 

So here I am blogging today to share with you about how I involve my students in the goal setting process and tracking their progress. I had been looking for an all inclusive student data binder for a while but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. So I knew that I needed to create it for myself. And I must say I am so glad that I took the time to do so. This year my students have loved being involved in setting their goals and tracking their progress.
When I started at the beginning of the year with my first graders I started with the simplest goal setting page. On this page, since it was the beginning of the year with my first graders I scribed their goals for them. This process was a lengthy one and was done in a one on one setting. Here is the page I used at the beginning of the year with my students. 
At this point in the year when we begin school again, I will allow my students to write their own goals. I will guide my students through the process as a class. What I like most about this goal setting page is that the students are able to not only create an academic goal but a behavior and personal goal too. 
You can find a variety of goal planning pages included so you can use what works best for your students. 

Once my students have set their goals I will discuss their goals with them during guided reading. This will allow them to know that I am also invested in their goals and we are working together as a team. We can then develop a plan together and begin to start working towards achieving their desired goal. Here are examples of goal planning pages that can be used. 
Once we have come up with a plan for their goal we can begin tracking their goal. I understand not every child will have the same type of goal which is why I have included various tracking pages for their data binder. Some of my studnets are still working on letters and sounds, while others are working on reading fluency. Here are some examples of data tracking pages.

My favorite part of having my students create their own goals and track their progress is watching their excitement as they get close to achieving their goal. I mean that is why we became teachers after all. Those little light bulb moments are the best part of our jobs.

I love celebrating my students and their achievments so I created achievment certificates.
 I also allow my students to hit an "EASY" button from Staples to celebrate meeting their goal(s).

If you are thinking it's the middle of the year and too late to start something like this you are wrong. Right now is the perfect time to jump in especially with the new year. If you are interested in grabbing this all inclusive editable student data binder you can grab it here in my TPT store.

12 Days of Teacher Christmas

Hey everyone! 
Wheww it has been awhile since I've last blogged. As we all know this time of year is crazy for all of us teachers. You're probably in the same boat right now, tired, exhausted, sick, and counting the days until winter break.  I mean really.... 
Thankfully I have only 7.5 days left. Until then I will just keep on telling myself ... I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!
Today I wanted to share with you about the 12 Days of Teacher Christmas that has just begun!! 
A few TPT teachers are hosting/participating in the 12 Days of Teacher Christmas to bring some holiday joy to you. Each day from now until December 24th you will find a different TPT product or deal. You can find these amazing deals by searching the #12daysofteacherchristmas on TPT. 

Today you can find awesome flash freebies! Who doesn't love a flash freebie?? Please remember that flash freebies are when a paid product is made free for a limited time. If you download a flash freebie feedback is always appreciated. Also, please do not mention that the product was "free!"
Be sure to head on over to my TPT store to grab my Mixed R Controlled Vowels pack. This product is the perfect addition to your word work center or skills block. It allows your students to review and practice r-controlled vowels in engaging partner and independent activities. If you download this pack I'd love your feedback! 

Enjoy the awesome deals during the 12 Days of Teacher Christmas and remember Winter Break is right around the corner. YOU CAN DO IT! 

It's Time to Celebrate! The Primary Punchbowl is turning ONE!

Hey y'all! Today's post is special because the Primary Punchbowl Blog is turning ONE! Us Primary Punchbowl girls are teaming together to share with you ways we "CELEBRATE" in our classrooms. Today I wanted to share how we celebrate BIRTHDAYS in my first grade classroom! 

Whenever it's a student's birthday they come into class and receive a birthday certificate and sticker. They also get to choose the GoNoodle brain breaks for the ENTIRE day!!! This is a BIG deal because in our classroom students typically do not get to choose the brain breaks unless they have earned one of our behavior coupons. 

My behavior coupons are in my TPT store and are actually marked down to just $1.00 for Spooky Saturday. Grab them by clicking here.

The first GoNoodle of the day is Koo Koo Kangaroo's Birthday Hooray! It is our non-traditional way of singing happy birthday. Our birthday girl/boy stands in front of the class as we all sing & do the birthday boogie for their birthday! 
During the Birthday Hooray brain break I record a video of it and post it on our Class Dojo's class story. This allows the parents of class to see the video and acknowledge the student's birthday. Both the students and parents love being able to see the video of us celebrating their birthday!  
How do you celebrate student birthdays in your classroom? 
No birthday celebration is complete without PRESENTS! At each one of our blogs in the hop you will receive a freebie and once you make it over to the Primary Punchbowl blog you can enter our giveaway for a $50 TARGET GIFT CARD! Who doesn't LOVEEE Target? I know I do! 

And the icing on the cake... We are also throwing a SALE in our stores. My entire store will be 20% off through Monday! You can search to see what is on sale by using the #letscelebrate in the TPT search bar.  

In honor of our celebration you can also snap my newest All About Pumpkins for HALF OFF!!! This  product is filled with nonfiction information to help your K-3 students learn all about pumpkins.
Don't delay... Grab it today!

And finally as promised here is a present for you, free birthday certificates! 
Grab my birthday certificates by clicking the link: Freebie: Birthday Certificates

Your next stop in our birthday blog hop is over to the Primary Punchbowl blog for a chance to win a $50 Target Gift Card! Be sure to complete the blog hop to grab an awesome freebie at each stop. 
Thanks for helping us over at the Primary Punchbowl celebrate our blog turning ONE!