Classroom Progress: How it looks so far

Hiya peeps
Shuna P here
Are you still with me?
Before I show you a peek into my classroom
I wanted to share a quick pic
Today it rained for 30 mins and my yard looked like this

Across the street
See the road flooded
Friend demonstrating how high the water is!
She is much taller than I am
The water was seriously up to my freakin knees
Moving on
I have been going to my classroom this week to get it ready for the new school year
We have to report back to school August 7th but I have 4 presentations to do on Monday and
Tuesday then I am going out of town only to come back and have to go to a textbook training so
I don’ t have much time to get my room set up
Here is how my class looked when I walked in the door
*Front of the room*

*Back of the room cubby wall and storage*
It was much easier to move things this year b/c the janitors unstacked all the furniture for us
* My fabric for my crate seats*

* Students trash cans and crayon buckets. The black crates will be a bench*

 * Buckets waiting to be filled*

*Calendar Folders*

* Covers for crates*
Thats all for now peeps
I will make sure to show you the finished product
Peace out peeps

Hand Signals Anyone?

Hello, Everybody!

My name is Linda Nelson, and I am honored and thrilled to be here today, sitting in for Shuna!!
Is your classroom noisy? HAH! What a question! If you said “no”, then please let us all in on your secret! In fact, maybe you should write a book and start selling it…
Actually, a quiet classroom is not really what we should be aiming for. Children do some of their best learning when they are moving, and movement makes noise! Great conversation also makes for great learning, but even if kids are whispering, multiple conversations in a full clasroom result in  – noise!

So, the object is not to eliminate noise, but obviously a really noisy room is not the optimal environment for learning, either. So, what to do?

Here are 2 suggestions, both of which also incorporate some additional learning along the way! Both involve the use of ASL fingerspelling for classroom management. Sign language is awesome for our young learners in so many ways, many of which I’m sure you’re already familiar with. It’s kinesthetic, and engages a whole different part of the brain. It also builds empathy for those who learn differently.

Now, I’ve used both of these ideas with great success for a number of years. That being said, I’m not sure exactly where these particular ideas came from! I know that I’ve adapted them and created the posters to support them, but I’m not really sure where the germ of the ideas came from – maybe mine, maybe not… so if you were the originator, please email me and I’d be delighted to credit you… and thank you!!
* Update! Through the information kindly shared by a reader here, I’d like to connect you with a website full of amazing ideas, one of which is using sign language for classroom management. Please visit Rick Morris, author of Tools & Toys: Fifty Fun Ways to Love Your Class , at his website here, , for more information on using sign language with your class. Thank you, Rick!!
The first idea is useful all day and every day. You know when you see that waving hand in response to your question and your excitement that finally little Mikey is joing a discussion? (bet you know where I’m going with this!) So you call on Mikey and he asks to go to the restroom, and now everybody else is thinking , “Hey yeah, me, too!” – could you just cry sometimes when that happens and everybody loses focus? 

Well, teach your little guys the signs for R/ restroom and D/drink, and all you’ll need to do is respond to their signal with eye contact and a little nod that most of the other kids aren’t very likely to even notice.  Here’s a little reminder poster to use in your teaching, and to post afterward to remind kids to use the “silent signals”.  I find that after a while, just pointing to the sign and not responding to the verbal requests brings the desired (silent!) response. Also extremely useful when you are meeting with small groups!
The second use of letter signs will also cut down on distracting comments, this time during read-alouds. Students’ involvement during read-alouds and discussions at the easel seem to mostly fall into four categories:

                        a. Answering questions
                        b. Asking questions
                        c. Making a connection
                        d. Way off-topic stuff, like about the neighbor’s dog that died   
                            (audible teacher SIGH!)

Here’s a way to help your students think before they raise their hands, and maybe even eliminate many of the “d” category comments. Teach them to raise their hands making one of these letters:
It’s amazing how this will actually help each student focus his or her thoughts and help your lesson/discussion/read-aloud stay focused, too! I really love to watch kids as they learn to mentally categorize their questions. I’ve seen little guys who raise their hands forming one letter and when called on narrow their eyes with hard thinking, and say, “I changed my mind – it’s not an A, it’s a C!”. Beautiful!

Does this work every day with every child? Of course not – hey, they’re still little! But does it increase learning while reducing noise and irrelevant interruptions? You bet!

Click on the cover to download your set of posters at google docs, exclusively for you here
*Updated to add*
Hi, Shuna! Remember the note you forwarded to me from the reader who knew the source on the hand signals? Well, i checked out the site, wrote to the author, and got such a gracious reply! Linda… Thanks for the contact and your desire to share credit for the sign language idea. I applaud your refreshingly professional attitude regarding the issue of intellectual property. Granted, there are many teachers out there who have never heard of either of us but use sign language with their students. Nonetheless, I came up with the idea back in the late 80’s as a way to prioritize who I called upon. Signs enabled me to reach out first to the students with questions. Before too long it became one of the five things I would never teach without. In 1995 I wrote a book called Tools & Toys: Fifty Fun Ways to Love Your Class. The use of sign language was included as one of the fifty ideas. It’s also one of the strategies I share during the teacher effectiveness seminars I present around the country. Bottom line: I’m happy that you’re willing to send teachers to my site. At the same time, feel free to keep sharing the idea. After all, it’s not who presents the idea but more that it’s being presented and that teachers are hearing about it. BTW Since you were posting on Pocket Full of Kinders, you should check out the Kcons idea I created for kindergarten classrooms. It was a collaboration with my daughter, an artist in New York. She created 40 kid-friendly easy-to-draw symbols. Each student chooses one and uses it another way to identify himself in the classroom. There’s a free teacher’s guide on my website that explains the whole concept. You’ll also find downloadable artwork to use in the classroom. Here’s the link:
Regards, Rick Rick Morris
Thanks so much for hanging in here with me today on this looong post, and many thanks again to Shuna for inviting me!

I’ve never posted my picture before. Shuna made me do it! 🙂             

A Book in a Bag: Pop Open a Good Book

Hello from PA!  My name is Lauren and I am the author of a relatively new blog~
I am just so happy to be guest blogging for Shuna today and to meet new bloggy friends!

My family at my son’s high school graduation in May

As a reading specialist for preschool to grade 5 at a very small private school, I wear many “hats” (don’t we all?!)  A big part of my job is providing small group reading intervention and remediation for kindergarten, first, and second grades. These are my target grades that I work with everyday.  Depending on the needs of the students, I may work with students twice a day.
When I first started my intervention groups a few years ago, I implemented a “Book In A Bag” program for my little readers.  We all know that research shows that the single best way to improve reading is to read- read to self, listen to reading, lap reading, and read with someone. My “Book In A Bag” program is a very simple one that promotes family literacy, motivates students to read, and offers opportunites for students to practice reading strategies and skills at home.
Graphics by
 Student choice is a huge motivator, especially for my little readers who are struggling and do not have much confidence.  I do not select books for them;  I teach them how to select a “good fit book”.  It may be a leveled reader or a picture book, fiction or nonfiction. The book may be at their independent, instructional, or frustration level.  If the latter, I place a note in the book that a parent needs to read it aloud. My belief is that if they are interested in the book, I should not limit them to only books they can read at an easy level, especially since parent support is very high at my school (I’m blessed, I know!). 
 In addition, I am trying to motivate and instill confidence in these little cuties.  They can still practice most of the strategies we learn and practice in small group; they will apply those strategies with their listening comprehension.
 Often I will send home a consumable book for them to keep.  This may be one that we have read and reread in small group.  I often get these from Reading A- Z or from sites on the internet that offer free printable books such as Hubbard’s Cupboard.  Students are encouraged to keep a “book box” at home where they can keep all their paper books to reread for enjoyment and fluency practice.
 For the upcoming school year, I am revamping my Book-In-A-Bag program.  I am so excited that this year I will be using these book bags!

I ordered these from  Click on the pic above to visit their site! These adorable little bags cost about .46 a piece!  They are plastic, have a cute handle for little hands, and will be perfect for take-home books. So, now I’m totally revising my program with a popcorn theme!  And, I already have the “Movie Night” clip art collection from Scrappin Doodles.
Who wants a FREEBIE?  How about two??  You can grab this reader’s log that I will be using this year and the bookmarks!  Just click on the pics below!
My popcorn Book-In-A-Bag program is a work in progress that I will continue to work on over the summer. I plan to put the reader’s log, bookmarks, a parent letter, reading strategy pamphlet (I still have to revise the latter two) and of course a bag of microwave popcorn in the take-home bags. My brain is POPPING with all kinds of ideas!!!
Thank you so much, Shuna, for the opportunity to be your guest today!  Happy Teaching!!

A Plateful of Ideas

Hiya Peeps

Shuna P here

Guest blogger for today is Scipi

I must say I love the idea that she talks about below

Hi! I am Scipi, (Sci for science which is what my husband teaches and pi for me because I teach math) a guest blogger today for Shuna. I currently teach remedial math on the college level to students I have nicknamed Mathphobics.

My Math Blog
When I taught the primary grades in a Title I school, I often found homework was seldom returned. I knew I had to come up with an idea that would be unique; something the parents would recognize as homework; something the kids would want to complete.  Thus a Plateful of Ideas was created. 

What this entailed was using paper plates on which the assignment was to be completed.  I bought about 300 at the local dollar store.  The children wrote their name on the back of the plate, and I would put the assignment on the front.  (Since I didn’t want to write it 25 times, I would copy it, then glue it to the center of the plate).  Some sample assignments were:
Find pictures of things that are the color blue and paste them on your plate.
Find words that start with the letter “S” and glue them on your plate.
Find things that come in pairs or twos.  Paste the pictures on your plate. You may also draw items that come in twos.
Write as many ways as you can to add and get the answer of ten.
Write at least eight different three digit numbers on your plate.
Find pictures or draw pictures of at least six vegetables.
Around the rim of the paper plate, write the numbers from 1-25.
Around the rim of the paper plate, write all the alphabet letters as capitals.
On the plate, draw your family, including your pets.
The next day, those children who brought their plate back with the assignment completed would receive a small reward for doing so such as a sticker, a small box of raisins, a new eraser, a new pencil, etc. (I love the Oriental Trading Company for this!)  I would place the reward on their plate which, of course, would bring a big smile.  No plate = no reward!  As you can imagine, few plates were left at home, and few assignments were incomplete. I then displayed the plates in the classroom and used them during the day for sharing or reteaching, or just praising a child.  Since the child’s name was on the reverse side, I could hang them up on the hall bulletin board as well.

I did not do this assignment every day, but at least once a week, the children would have a Plateful of Ideas assignment to complete.  Parents liked it because when they saw the paper plate, they knew their child had homework.  Children were encouraged by their parents to complete the assignment; so, besides the physical reward, they were given the much needed parental encouragement to do homework.  I found it to be a win-win situation for everyone.  So if your plate isn’t too full right now, I hope you will give this idea a try. 

I have a FREE Trash to Treasure handout that features clever ideas, fun and engaging mini-lessons in addition to cute and easy to construct crafts made from recycled or common, everyday items.  In this resource, discover how to take old, discarded materials and make them into new, useful, inexpensive products or tools for your classroom. Because these numerous activities vary in difficulty and complexity, they are appropriate for any PreK-3 classroom, and the visual and/or kinesthetic learners will love them.  Just click under the resource cover.
Free Trash to Treasure

Magic Squares

Hey everyone! I am so excited to be guest blogging for you today. I am Heather from HoJo’s Teaching Adventures. HoJo is simply a family nickname that stuck when I was very young.

My goal today is to get you excited about Magic Squares! What are they? Well, basically they are a fun, educational puzzle that will have your students begging for more! These have been used successfully in grades K-6! Your students will LOVE them once they get the hang of them, and you will LOVE that your students are learning through play!

Here’s what a K-2 Magic Square looks like –

Your job is to cut apart the nine squares and give them to the student. The student will then put them into the correct order! Simple!

You can get the above Magic Square and another of +12 by clicking on the picture above or below!

Want to try another one to see what you think? Then click on the picture below!

Now – I know what you’re thinking…. “Sheesh, these are the items she offers for free in her TpT store daily. I could have these anytime!”

You’re right! That’s why I’m offering an exclusive freebie just to the readers of this blog! Click on the picture below to get your limited time Number Dice Magic Square. Your students will match the number words to the amount of dice shown. However, act quickly, because this offer is only good for one week from the date of this post. Then – it’ll be gone! So….GO!

Two more quick things before I let you go!

First, you can find all of my Magic Squares here.

Second, I’d love for you to leave a comment below (or on my blog) on what type of Magic Square you would like me to create next. Whenever someone gives me an idea that I use and leaves me an e-mail address, I send them that file for FREE when I get it done! So get your creative juices flowing and help me out! =)

Thanks for reading!

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