Sunday, 26 January 2014

Five for Friday - 24th Jan 2014 Back to School Edition

1. Back to school!!!

This week was a student free week while us teachers went to professional development and set up our classrooms ready for next week! It's hard to believe it's that time of year again.

We had a fantastic PD with Kathleen Kryza from America on differentiation and making sure every student is engaged. I learnt a lot! I thought about how I was going to get all my students thinking and avoid only calling on the students who always put their hand up to answer questions. I found this idea from another blogger, Shanyn, for speaking sticks.

And this is what I came up with:

I found the box at The Reject Shop, and I made the label using clipart from Glitter meets Glue and Hello Fonts. I called mine "name sticks" rather than "sharing sticks" because I intend to use them for more than just discussions on the carpet. I might use them to choose who gets a turn in games, who goes into a group etc. I'll see how I go!

2. Set up classroom - birthdays

I changed my birthday wall and certificate system this year so that it is all matching. You can get the birthday wall here. And the certificates here.

3. Pom Pom Table Groups

This year I thought I would do something a bit different to identify table groups. I found this idea floating all over pinterest. It was surprisingly easy to make!

4. End of day jar

I found this idea on TpT. You can get the pack here.

It is a great way to bring the class together at the end of the day and reflect on things learned/things that happened etc throughout the day.

I found an empty container at home and converted it into my "End of the Day Jar".

5. Long weekend!

We have a long weekend in Australia for Australia Day. Yay! Then I have 25 excited and nervous new preppies starting their first day of school!

To celebrate Australia Day I will be using activities from my pack. You can get it here.

Till next time,

Stay joyful!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Top 10 Tips for New Teachers,+Laughter+and+Learning+in+Prep!%29

I remember when I was a new teacher.

I graduated 2 years ago now, and was thrown into a Kindergarten (3-4yr olds) class in a childcare centre. I was trained for Primary School so let's just say it was a learning curve! Thankfully, I have had a full year teaching in Prep (5yr olds) and am about to start my second year.

I wanted to share my top 10 tips for new teachers as we head towards the beginning of the school year here in Australia.

#1 Top Tip for Setting Up Classroom

This is one I was told when I started and it helped - big time! Before you meet the students for the first time make sure their name is in the classroom. What do I mean by that? Well, students feel like they belong there if they arrive and see their name in the new room.

Ideas include:

*have all student names on an attractive door display.

*put names on designated bag spaces/lockers.

*names on monthly birthday chart.

*names on jobs chart/morning work area.

*names on student desks.

#2 Top Tip for Classroom Organisation

Decide on a "home" for everything and teach your students where these are. For example, have a place where pencils live, glue sticks, puzzles etc. When it is time to pack up, get the students to put the things away in the correct spot. Even as young as Prep they can be expected to put things away neatly! Model the procedure for them and before long you won't have to clean up after them.

For the younger years I suggest labeling the spots with the word and a picture so students can visually see where things belong.

#3 Top Tip for Behaviour Management

Decide on your management system before the kids get there. Ask team teachers what they use/school uses first. On the first day explain the system to the kids (after you have made the rules with the students or told them the class rules). I use a ladder system. Students all start on the green and move up for positive behaviour (good choices) and down for negative behaviour (poor choices). Every day, everyone below the green gets to go back and start afresh. I add extra incentive by giving out a prize once a student reaches the top 3 times so they have to keep working. I have a checklist  and monitor who gets prizes so I can "catch" certain students doing good things if they are staying on green or going down a lot so that by the end of each semester everyone has earned a prize.

This is the only picture I have of it - not a very good one, sorry!

#4 Top Tip for Time Management

Lists, lists, lists! Write down everything you need to do, every little thing. I was shocked at the number of little things that I would forget to do because it wasn't written down for me to see and remember.

Also, just like you need a "home" for everything that your students use, you need a place for all your things too. Make sure you have a well labelled filing system and folders for putting lesson plans, assessment, professional development, blackline masters for photocopying etc. Put your paperwork in its home straight away otherwise you will gain a mountain of paperwork to sort very quickly.

#5 Top Tip for Engaging Students

Plan regular brain breaks for students so they don't get bored quickly or lost during transition times. Another thing I learned was to ALWAYS have a fast finisher activity for EVERY lesson. You might not use it but have it ready. Students start making poor choices when they don't have anything to do. In my first year I was using the book corner and puzzle corner as a fast finisher all the time, and students got sick of those areas very quickly. Change it up a bit with quick colour by number/sight word sheets, spot the difference, or simple revision sheets. Bear in mind it has to be work that they can do independently while you assist those still working on the primary task.

#6 Top Tip for Getting Along with Parents

 Always acknowledge the parent/carer when they drop/pick up children. Too often I would make a big deal of the students (welcoming them, asking how their weekend was etc) and would ignore the parent standing inches away! I know, I know - that's terrible! Give me a break, I was a new teacher whose mind was filled only with the upcoming lesson and making sure little Susie wouldn't cry at separation this morning. Sometimes you will feel like rushing the students in just so you can shut that door and stop all those parental eyes staring at you judging. And trust me, they do judge - so relax, and smile! Give them some attention, let them ask you a question or two before you shut that door. I've learned that just a simple smile in acknowledgement goes a long way in making them feel welcome. Once they feel  comfortable and accepted they are much easier to talk to at interview time!

#7 Top Tip for Teacher Fashion

This is another tip I was told by an experienced teacher and I'm very glad I listened. Wear good, comfortable shoes. I wear black covered lace ups (they remind me of the school shoes students wear) nearly every day. Not the best fashion statement but considering I run around after 5yr olds, I don't care anymore! Even in good shoes your feet will hurt somedays just from being on your feet for so long - imagine the pain if you wore flats with no support!

#8 Top Tip for Bargain Hunting

In my first year I went to Edsco (a specialty education store) and spent a fortune, only to learn that I could get all of the things I bought from cheap stores/$2 stores or on Ebay for a fraction of the price.

#9 Top Tip for Eating Well at School

Pack quick, small snacks. You never know when a student will come flying through your door with a problem, or you will be on duty, or someone is caught up and you have to cover for them. And often parents call or you have to call parents during the day so your lunch breaks are rarely breaks. Not to mention the times when you will use your "break" to prepare for the next lesson or clean up after a lesson. I recommend you actually stop and take breaks but in all seriousness - if you have a quick snack and then are called out at least you have food in your belly. If you have a full on meal and are called out chances are you will never be back in time to finish it. Also - eat a very big and very healthy breakfast to get you through!

# 10 Top Tip for Staying Sane

Sleep. Don't be tempted to stay up all night so you can get a week ahead on planning. It's not worth it. Your students deserve the best version of you each day. They won't get it if you are struggling to stay away or making silly mistakes because you didn't get enough sleep.

Do you have any other tips you want to share with new teachers? Comment below or link up with Love, Laughter and Learning in Prep.

Stay joyful!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Five for Friday - Linky Party 3rd Jan 2014

Wow!!! 2014 already? Yay!
I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for my first Five for Friday of the year!

1. Christmas

I know Christmas was more than a week ago, but I haven't done a Christmas post yet. I spent Christmas eating. Yep- eating. Or, so it seemed :) We had lunch at my parents place (and ate way too much), then had dinner at his parents place (and ate way too much)! We were still in a food coma the next day.

Here's what our tiny tree looked like:

I tried something different with wrapping this year - plain old brown paper. Not sure I liked the end result...what are your thoughts? Think I will have to be fancier next year.

2. Gabby got her cone off!

For those of you who don't know, we got a 6 month old puppy about 5 weeks ago. She was desexed last week and finally got her cone collar off. She was sooooooo happy she took her revenge out on the collar by throwing it around, running around madly and pouncing on it and chewing it. She eventually chewed through all the straps - so it can never be used again! I managed to catch it all on video - hilarious! Clever doggy...

3. Birthday Fun!

New Years Day is my mum's birthday so to celebrate I made a line of birthday products for my store on TpT. I made monthly posters where you can display student birthdays, birthday certificates and bookmarks and gift tags. All with the same theme of colour, chalkboards and cute little owls!

I am so using these this year - can't wait to laminate the month posters and add them to my very blank wall at the moment!

P.S The gift tags are FREE!

4. Australia Day Pack

I've been busy these holidays! I'll need an actual holiday soon :)

Australia Day is coming up in a few weeks so I created an early years pack for the occasion. Because the day falls in the first week of school for most schools in Australia, I made the pack with that in mind. So it is filled with fun, easy activities that will help you get to know your students and have fun those first few days, as well as learn about how different families celebrate important events.

5. Relaxation

Ok, I admit...It hasn't been all work and no play these holidays.

We took our Gabby out to a dog off leash beach yesterday and she met her first dog off leash! It was a Maltese Poodle I think; they became the best of friends running around playing all morning. It was great.

I have also been able to catch up on a bit of reading and watch the entire season 4 of the original Charlie's Angels!

Well that's it for me. I know many of my fellow teachers in America are heading off to school next week. So I hope you all had a rested holiday!

Till next time,

Stay joyful!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

January Currently

Wow! 2014 is here already!

Here's what I'm up to:

Listening - This song has been on repeat. I just love it so much.

Loving - Being a school teacher means often being on breaks while my husband goes off to work. It is so nice that we both get to be off at the same time. We have watched a zillion old movies and explored our new neighbourhood a bit more.

Thinking - I thank God so much for the new starts we had in 2013. We both had new jobs, got a new car, moved from a rental to our first home, moved to a new church, started bible school, and started blog/websites. We've been busy!

Wanting - It is really hot and humid here in sunny Queensland. I just finished a pack of Zooper Doopers and now require another - pronto!

Needing - I moved my humble little free wordpress blog over to this self-hosted website a week ago because it was getting to big. My eyes are so sore from looking at the screen as I get the theme just right and transfer all the posts and upload pictures! But I am so excited about this new website, it has been a dream for a while now - a place to come and get creative ideas to make you smile!

Memory/and or Tradition - Ever since my husband and I met we have formed a tradition of praying in the new year. That means we stay up singing praise songs and thanking God for the year that is ending and then pray over the new year ahead. This year we went up a notch - we joined in our church's 'praise and prayer party' which went from 10pm to 2am! I have never stayed up so late! But, so thankful this was how my year started.

Well, that's what I'm up to currently. Link up with Farley to share what you are up to!

Stay joyful!