Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tried-It Tuesday: Postcard Exchange

Just popping in to share a fun idea I'm trying this year...
a country-wide Postcard Exchange!
Over the summer I signed up to represent Washington state in a blogger postcard exchange.

I created this fun bulletin board to track the states that we receive postcards from:
I got this awesome map from Wal-mart for $5 in August.

Here is the postcard our class is sending. 
I made them on Vistaprint:
 Here are some of the postcards we've received:
It's been so fun to read the news from classrooms around the country. Plus, we sort the postcards by region, so it serves as a great Geography lesson!

I ordered a ton of extra postcards, so if you'd like me to mail one to your classroom (and you're not part of the exchange), e-mail me your school address at joyinthejourneyteaching@yahoo.com

Looking for more ideas to TRY in your classroom? 
Hop on over to Holly's blog to check out 
Tried-It Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

BIG News!

Hello blogging friends!
Sorry I have been MIA in the blogging world lately, 
but I have a good reason:
Our family will be adding a new little bookworm in May! :)
We couldn't be more thrilled about welcoming this new addition.
I am so thankful that God is blessing us with this sweet little life.

Now that this life-altering news has sunk in a little bit and this little teacher isn't plum-tuckered-out all the time (thank-you first trimester), I'm hoping to get back into the swing of creating and blogging soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Raking In Good Books Bulletin Board Idea

To welcome fall, we created a "Raking In Good Books" bulletin board. 
 I gave each student a leaf cut-out and had them record a favorite book and the reason why. Then, when a student is looking for a recommendation, they can go and check out a leaf from our "leaf pile." It's a great way to get kids talking about the books their read and sharing their opinions about what they liked and didn't like about certain series, authors, genres, etc.
I put up these large sparkly leaves with different quotes about reading:

Hop on over to Sugar and Spice to check out other Wordless ideas!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

An "In-Tents" Reading Party

Happy Saturday, friends!
Sorry I have MIA in the Blogging World lately - this little teacher is trying to juggle everything on her plate with joy :)

Today I want to link up with my bud, Joanne, from 
to share a fun idea that really motivated my students this week!

We have been working hard to earn "Frequent Flyer Miles" (aka Whole Class Compliments) and this week, we put up the 10th airplane, signaling a celebration!

I gave the students three options:
1. Free Recess
2. Movie & Popcorn Party
3. Reading Party

Well, wouldn't you know that 16 out of 18 kiddos chose the READING party?!?! 
I love my class.
To make it a little bit more exciting than just an extended period of silent reading, the students were invited to bring in blankets, pillows, flashlights, and books! The day of the party, we zoomed through our work at lightning speed, so that we could have our party at the end of the day. I gave the students five minutes to build their "tents" - aka blankets on top of their desk. 
 And then they got down to READING! 
{some of my boys don't easily fit under their desks anymore :)}
They read silently and without interruptions for an hour and fifteen minutes! They only stopped because it was time to pack up and go home. They groaned when it was over!
What a memorable way to celebrate our love of reading!

What kind of party/celebration options do you give your students?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Organizing and Planning for Helpers in the Classroom

Hello friends!
Today I want to share an important idea that has really helped me in the classroom. Many of us have parents or volunteers coming into the classroom to help out. They can be a blessing - but also a burden if they generate more work for you. 
So, to eliminate that burden, I have come up with a couple easy tips for you:
Before you solicit volunteers, you need to plan out the areas in the classroom that you will need help in. At Back to School Night, I send home a "Parent Volunteer Form" with all of the areas that I need help in. Parents check off which areas they are willing to help in and send it back into me. It provides guidance for me and direction for the parents, so they know generally what they are signing up for. I make a chart based on their responses and refer to it throughout the year.

Some of the give to in-the-classroom helpers are:
Grading
Sorting / Collating
Putting together packets
Putting together center games/activities
Working with struggling students
Listening to students read
Cutting our lamination
Labeling/organizing supplies
Helping set-up for parties
Grading, etc. at home

Usually, when a parent or volunteer comes into the classroom to help, I can't stop what I'm doing and give them a lengthy explanation of what I need them to do. 
So, I have tried to stay as organized as possible to maximize the volunteer's time and efforts.
Here is my Teacher Assistant table:
The blue container is actually a cutlery organizer from the Dollar Tree. I bought it to store all of the necessary helper supplies - pens, scissors, glue, staples, sticky notes, etc. I also have a clock so that they know what time it is and they can leave when they need to. This is especially helper for my high school Teaching Assistant who comes in for one class period and then has to leave at a certain time. It is her responsibility to be sure she makes her next class :)

When I know I am going to have a helper come in, I always make sure to have LOTS for them to do. I make sure that every task is clearly labeled with instructions so that they can work efficiently and accurately without waiting for me to answer questions. 

Last year I went through hundreds of Post-it Notes as I wrote daily notes to my helpers. This year, however, I have tried another system that is really seeming to work. I typed up common directions (ones that stay the same week to week or are used for multiple assignments through the week) and printed them on colorful paper. 
 
I laminated the notes so that I could write on them any additional specifics with a dry erase marker.

I also created a couple of blank ones to customize, as needed: 
 
Then, when I need an assignment graded or entered, I simply put the note on top of the pile:
 
 
When I send home my Parent Volunteer form, the parents can select how many days a month they want to volunteer (typically 1, 2, or 4). I then take that information plus what they signed up to do (help in the classroom, volunteer at parties, etc.) and create a Volunteer Calendar for the month. I send it home to all of the parents, so they know when I'm expecting them to come. Nothing's worse that doing all of the prep work for a volunteer and then having them not show up! I tell volunteers that they can certainly change their day (the calendar is not set in stone), but I'd like to know ahead of time.

Other teachers at my school have a more simple system: they post a blank calendar of that month outside their classroom door. When parents drop off their kids in the mornings, they can sign their name in a day (or two!), volunteering to come in and help that day. You can send home e-mail reminders once a week to the parents who signed up to come in. 
Twice a year - Christmas and the end of the year - I like to show appreciation to the parents who help our classroom in some way (by either coming into the classroom or completing jobs at home).
Here are some ideas for you to tuck away for the future:
end of year gift for parentsTokens of Thanks: Caffeine and Parent Gift Tags, free
I have included some parent volunteer thank-you notes (as well as tons of other thank-yous for all occasions!) in this simple, print-and-go packet:
Thank-You Notes from Teachers to Students or Families

I'm linking up with my bud, Joanne, from "Head Over Heels for Teaching," for her Spark Motivation Saturdays - hopefully this will motivate some of you teachers out there to properly use parent volunteers - you deserve the help!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tried It Tuesday: History Passports

Happy Tuesday, friends!
Today I'm linking up with my bud, Holly, 
for her Tried it Tuesday linky:

At the end of each unit in history, we fill in a "Passport Page" 
to record our journeys.
This serves as a review sheet for the upcoming tests and as a record of where we've "traveled to" throughout 5th grade.

Then we compile all of the pages into a "History Passport Book":
Here's our "first stop" - studying transportation in the early 1900s.
I filled in the people, dates, and vocabulary words I wanted them to know and they filled in the answers: 
Then the students design a "stamp" that represents the time period we studied.
When we make our next "visit" (WW1), we'll add another page to our passports. 
Quick, easy, and memorable - a win-win-win! :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

$15 Frenzy - Save Big!


curriculum15_fbcover

$15 Frenzy is BACK at Educents!

From Monday, September 21 - Sunday, September 28, 2014, Educents is bringing back the ever-popular $15 Frenzy! Here's your chance to get 15 different curriculum bundles for $15 each! Some incredibly talented teachers have come together to bring you Science, Reading, Language Arts, Interactive Notebooks, Planners, Math Centers, Social Studies Units, Reading Comprehension Units, Clip-art & more! You're sure to find something during this amazing sale! Here's just a sample of the awesome curriculum and activity packs that are on the site!
 

~Here's my deal!~