Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Day Our Way - A Schedule Linky!

Have you ever wondered what other teachers' days were like? How they divided up their day in order to maximize the amount of learning for our students? Well, this linky hosted by Amelia from Where the Wild Things Learn will tell you all about that - across a variety of grade levels and in different states!
Where the Wild Things Learn
I'll be honest, at our school… our schedule from day to day is NOT the same. Some days I do some stuff, other days, I don't. It's crazy how it all works itself out in the end, but I chose to show you my Wednesday schedule since it's similar to every other day… just a few differences. 
Every morning, we start with morning assembly. All students gather in the gym starting at 6:30 AM until 7:50 AM when that bell rings. We have morning assembly for about 10 minutes where we go over lunch for the day, announcements that the whole school needs to know about, and a few prayers. We also recite our mission statement as an entire school so that we all know what we represent DAILY at our school.

Morning Work - every morning, I have my kiddos start the day with some sort of morning work. It can be math aligned or ELA aligned… just something to get my kiddos started with the day academically. Some example activities are rhyming activities, multiplication activities, word searches that deal with our science topics, and so on.

Special (Gym) - we have gym every day of the week. The only day that it is not one of the first things in the morning is on Fridays… in which we have it after church around 10:30 AM. This is a nice wake up time because the kids get to run around and play for a half hour before we start our true day.

Mathematics - this is my math block I have set aside every day except for Fridays (it's after lunch on Fridays because of church in the morning). This hour block is great for our introduction of the lesson, the meat of the lesson which is doing, and then a wrap up. It's a great time because it allows students plenty of time to "implement" the lesson with manipulatives, whiteboards, and so forth. On Thursdays and Fridays, we have center time where students complete task cards, Scoot games, SmartBoard games, or games on the iPad. I'm going to also start implementing the computers as a station so that the kiddos can play games on a variety of mathematics websites. Giving this much time towards math allows my students the time to use the tools without being rushed. It also allows me the time to observe students and see who may need the extra help during that time or during the time the next day.

Snack time - we're required to have snack time so my kiddos get 15 minutes to eat a snack and have a quick restroom break.

Religion - since I teach at a Catholic school, I'm also the religion teacher for my kiddos. I spend this time going over our daily lesson and it allows for a review of the previous day if necessary.

Special (Spanish/Art) - my class is split into two groups… one group stays in Spanish for an hour this week and then switches to Art the next week for the full hour. This is also true of the other group who stays in Art for the hour this week and switches to Spanish for the next week for the full hour. It's a great time for students to unwind and it comes as a nice break for my kiddos after having done mathematics.

DEAR Time - I have it scheduled into our daily routine to have at LEAST 15 minutes of DEAR (drop everything and read) time. This is where students read independently - can be a chapter book, picture book, their science or social studies books, etc. As long as they are READING. I find great value in free reading, where students are not required to complete an activity, because it helps students develop interests in different types of books - genres, formats, etc.

Lunch/Recess - Students have 25 minutes to eat lunch by the time we make it through the line and then they have 25 minutes out at recess. The other 10 minutes is transitioning time. We, as teachers, do not have lunch duty so that we can eat our own lunches, but we do have recess duty.

Reading (Centers) - I do reading Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in our classroom as whole group/small groups. On Mondays, we read a basal story and then complete some sort of vocabulary activity. Outside of the reading on Mondays, we also do spelling and grammar, both separately, but make sure that students understand the grammar topic and the spelling pattern for the week. BUT, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we have reading centers. I have it set up to where I have 4 different reading groups based on ability. I meet with 2 groups on Tuesdays and the other 2 on Wednesdays. While I am working with specific groups, my other students are working on spelling activities, grammar activities, and writing activities. This allows us to cover 4 subjects in a small amount of time as well as allow students to work independently on their own work - a great time for myself to assess the learning of students!

Science - I am the Science teacher for both my class (3B) and the other 3rd grade class (3A). I teach Science on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. While it's a relatively short time, we manage to cover quite a bit of material in such a short time. I have grown to LOVE science and I think my students have, too. There are loads of resources out there to make science learning fun!

Pack Up/DEAR Time - At 2:30 every day, we pack up. We've shortened our pack up time from 15 minutes down to 5 minutes. It's great because then we have another DEAR session, but this time, I'm reading to them. We finished the book "Because of Winn Dixie" just after we came back from break and we are now reading "The BFG." OH. MY. GOODNESS. My students are in LOVE with the story. Every page captures their attention and they all have so many different questions that I cannot answer them all AND make sure we get a chapter read each day! Along with having my students independently read during our daily DEAR time, I also think that being read to has benefits, too! It's a great way to increase auditory skills as well as comprehension. Plus, I love being a model of fluency, too - what a great way to teach your kiddos without them realizing they're being taught!

While this is how our Wednesday goes, every day is relatively the same… just in different orders. I also have to figure out my schedule and the best way it works for my kiddos to learn the most that they can with a total of EIGHT specials. Yup, EIGHT.

Our specials are:
Gym (M-F)
Computers (M)
Science Lab (T)
Art (W)
Spanish (W)
Library (H)
Music (H)
Drama (H)

In all, my students see 10 teachers throughout the week - myself, my teaching partner (who teaches my kiddos Social Studies while I am teaching her class Science), and the 8 specials teachers. It's CRAZY that they can remember us all - but somehow, they do!

So, how do you manage to fit everything in?

Head over to Amelia's blog to link up, too! I'd love to read about your daily schedule and how you make it work for you and your students.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Grasslands, Mountains, Islands, and More!

Science is tough. It's tough to teach, it's tough to get across to my kiddos, BUT it's sooooo much fun! While Science is great, I think Social Studies is in the same boat. It can be a BLAST and can include plenty of hands-on activities just like science.

My favorite thing to teach in the Social Studies curriculum is landforms! In my second grade internship, we spent quite a bit of time teaching landforms and I fell in love. My students were so engaged, excited, and learned quite a bit from the activities we completed.

One of the activities we completed was my absolute FAVORITE activity and I would repeat it every year if possible. My 2nd grade kiddos LOVED making landform projects. The following pictures are examples I've found with their projects linked back to the websites. These are my favorite things to make because the students get so involved in trying to make the projects look perfect and just like real, true landforms.

These landforms allow students to put their knowledge to use - to show what they've learned in the entire unit. This could be a great culminating activity to see what your students have learned. The options are nearly endless - you can have students complete this project as a home project, complete it individually in class, or complete it as a group in class.

I created a pack called "Landform Poster Pack & Activities Unit." In this pack, I've included quite a variety of activities… color posters, black/white posters, matching game, fact or opinion game, flash cards, fill-in-the-blank sheets, matching sheets, I Have, Who Has? game, coloring book, dictionary of landform terms, writing assessments, word searches, graphic organizers, and final written assessments. At the end of the pack, you'll find several pages of resources - books, websites, and videos that all support the landform activities.

That brings me back to the landform unit we completed in my 2nd grade internship - I wish SO bad there had been a writing piece to allow students to reflect on the different landforms themselves. In my pack, I made sure to include a written piece to allow students to work on writing skills AND social studies skills at the same time. Some prompts are serious while others may be serious - but the awesome thing is making the connection between THREE subjects in ONE response - social studies, science, AND language arts!! Check out the example below.
I love the interactiveness that you can gain from this unit, but not only that, there are MANY other topics in Social Studies that can be interactive, fun, and engaging!

As I'm sure you know by my enthusiasm for the landforms unit (in both Social Studies and Science), I truly love teaching US history and geography. SO, I have teamed up with some friends for this amazing bundle with Educents! It has 21 instant downloads with over 1,000 pages of materials for your learners for a variety of Social Studies topics!  
My product included (the "Landform Poster Pack & Activities Unit") will surely be loved by your students! Again, refer to a few paragraphs above about my pack and all that is included - PLENTY of activities to make your landform unit last 20+ days, or roughly a month of school days - how awesome!
For a limited time, this bundle is $30.00 from Educents, which is over 77% off! Where else would you EVER get that big of a discount on the best activities by some great teacher-authors?!

It also includes these other great products below, so there is sure to be things you love! (Currently, Educents even has $10 off for first time customers… so it can be even cheaper if you have never bought anything from Educents!)
Okay, now you've seen the bundle and wonder what ELSE can you do with landforms besides all that's included in the pack offered by myself!? Well, what child does NOT enjoy being read to?? I know my kiddos this year LOVE being read to… they ask for me to read to them every day and we are currently reading The BFG by Roald Dahl.

But, in order to make the landform unit more REAL and to make that real-world connection with your students, pick up the following books:

{Introducing Landforms from Amazon}

What a better way to make TRUE real-world connections than read books about OUR landforms here in our own backyards? Students will enjoy the full color pictures and the true facts that accompany each page. These two books are just a SMALL glimpse into the different resources available out there to accompany your landform unit. But, that's not it - there are TONS of other activities to make your landform unit exceptional so that your students NEVER forget it - my goal is to hope my students don't and I'm positive that those involved in the bundle above… they have the same goal!

Learning & teaching is meant to be fun, inspiring, and engaging! Let's all work together to make sure this happens :)

Have a good day, y'all! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The First Currently of the Year!

Helloooo all & Happy New Year!!

I hope you all had a great New Years Eve & have a GREAT 2014.

It's time for currently! Farley posted her first currently for 2014.
I am LOVING the design by my friend Tanja from Journey of a Substitute Teacher :)

Anyways, here's my currently!
Listening - It's completely SILENT in my house. OH how I love it… so calming.

Loving - Cody gave me a watch for Christmas and I am in LOVE. It's beautiful - a tan color and it's got jewels for the 12, 3, 6, and 9. I LOVE IT!

Thinking - We go back to school TOMORROW. Yup, you read that right - tomorrow!! I have missed my kiddos though so I'm excited.

Wanting - I want to make sure 2014 is a great year. I know it's just a new day in a new numerical year (as I've said to Cody over and over again), but I want to finish off this school year strong and start the next school year off just as strong!

Needing - I need to get to my classroom to get things set up for tomorrow! Yet, I still haven't made it past the couch and it's almost 10:30 AM here… procrastination queen here.

Memory - My memory of Christmas this year was getting to go home. I hadn't been home in over a year, so it was definitely bittersweet! I loved seeing my family and Cody's family, but I was brought back through a bunch of memories of high school when I went home. Again, bittersweet!

So, what are you currently thinking? Loving? Wanting? Link up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade!

Happy New Year!!
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