Super Improvers Wall and Genius Writers with Whole Brain Teaching

I'm so excited to start My Super Improvers tomorrow!  The kids will be in shock when they come in and the clip chart is gone!  They love moving up the chart but I hope that they will love this more.  

Each child have a color coordinated card to the chart.  You can't see the bottom one but it says Beginner (white).  Each time I notice a child improving they earn a star!  This can be in behavior, academics or even handwriting!  When they earn 10 stars they move up to the next level!  The final level is Living Legend!  A teacher I watched on video keeps her Living Legends up from year to year so they can come back and see their names!!  How cool is that!?

I am absolutely loving Whole Brain Teaching for Writing!  My students are writing these fantastic sentences.  We started with the Blah sentence and each day added more to end up with the genius sentence.  They were so proud of their work.

This made me giggle!  Check out his super arms!

We are working on the Triple Whammy Sentence now.  We spent two days doing Oral Writing.  This is where they orally say the sentence to the class using whole brain teaching gestures.  You can watch videos and get print outs from The Whole Brain Teaching website.  Everything is free!!!
They wrote a sentence about winter.  The next step is for us to write a detail to support the sentence.  We will then continue until we are done writing a five paragraph essay!  I'm motivated and so are the students.  I'll keep you posted.

One is a Feast for a Mouse Free Writing Prompt

One is a Feast for a Mouse is an adorable story written by Judy Cox.
It helps us to remember to give thanks for the little things!

Enjoy this little freebie!


Halloween Teacher Costume

Today is over!  Boy am I tired!  
The kids come into school so excited they're hanging from the lights! 

"What time is the party?"
"When can I put on my costume?"
"What time is it?"
"I brought treats for everyone!"
"Is it time?"
"I'm not telling you my costume it's a surprise."
"This is the best day ever!!"

My team decided to go as dominoes.  We hot glued the felt pips to a black shirt!
We all wore our age!  I know I'm the oldest!!

 The kids wanted to tip us over!  So cute!


Little Red Hen vs. The Little Green Witch and a Freebie

One of my favorites and also of my class is the Little Red Hen.  
But have  you heard of the Little Green Witch?  
This story is absolutely adorable and it has a cute surprise ending!

I introduced the book this week during Halloween.  
There are many extensive vocabulary words to discuss before reading the book.  

Vocabulary: cauldron, twisted, hollow, reek, amid, scattered, soot, gruesome, gremlin, damp, potions, grumbled After we discussed the words the students raise their hand when they hear the word while I'm reading.  It keeps them being focused.

Retelling:  Students loved retelling this story.  The funny twisted ending keeps them laughing!

Compare and Contrast:  Of course this book leads to great Text to Text comparison.  Before I read I tell the class that this book reminds me of another book I've read but I don't tell them which one.  It isn't long into the book and someone catches on.  Use a venn diagram to compare the two stories with each other.  

Writing Ideas: 1) Would you help the Little Green Witch?  Why or Why not?  2)Write a recipe book for pumpkin pie. 3) If I could unclean my house this is what I would do.

On youtube this book can be found being read by some fourth graders!  
Great option if your school doesn't have the book.

Another way to compare and contrast texts is to use The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza.

Grammar: I use this book to work on plural nouns.  This mini unit includes a noun sort using words from the book.  Then there are three levels of worksheets for differentiation and also include a writing option.  Click on the cover sheet to pick this up for your class.  Please leave a comment if you download.

Cooking: In the past when reading the Little Red Hen I've made bread with the class but making little pizzas is a lot more fun!  

Making Pizza in Class

electric skillet
jar of pizza sauce
mozzarella cheese
package of pre sliced pepperoni
box of Triscuits

Place the Triscuits on the electric skillet, spoon some sauce on top, add a piece of pepperoni if desired and top with cheese.  Just warm until the cheese melts.  Quick and easy! Yum!

Writing: Cooking is a great way to lead into "How to..." writing.  If this is your first How to... writing write it on chart paper as an example.  Or you can have students write the steps in their own "How to..." booklet.  Stop over at this previous post about How to writing!  You can pick up a How to... booklet for free.  Click Here.

"Would you help me share this post? said the blogger.
"I will!" said the author.
"I will!" said the parent.
"I will!" said the teacher.
And they did!


Fall Writing

Fall is my favorite season!  I love everything about it!  The leaves are all changing now and they are just gorgeous!

Our test scores have show that informational knowledge needs improvement so instead of using a cute Fall book I chose to read a nonfiction book on Fall. 
The kids couldn't contain their excitement in sharing what they've done in the Fall which was the same as in the book.  Then we brainstormed what we love to do int the Fall.

Students then wrote their own favorites things to do on lined leaf paper.
Each could start with In Fall I like ...
We cut it out and glued to Fall colored construction paper.  Then using squared tissue paper glued it around the border.  Such a beautiful project.

Some other October things we worked on were our fire safety facts.  After reading Miss Mingo and the Fire Drill and going to Fire Safety Day the students wrote facts that they learned about on the belly of their fireman.  We hung them on their lockers.

We started our space unit in October too!  Busy month!  Our new art teacher did these wonderful drawings.  They used craypas on felt and splatter painted white to look like stars.  
They turned out so cute.


Mirrors - Whole Brain Teaching and Daily Math Freebie

Using the technique Mirrors in whole brain teaching has been very helpful.  It gives me a very quick way to see who is focused on me and who isn't.  This has been especially helpful in getting the attention of one of my students who is ESL and ADD. 

Mirrors technique is when you are asking the students to imitate your motions to help them remember what you are teaching about.  It keeps them focused.

One of the mirror actions that I have been doing daily is when we are working on the daily math page.  

This is what I say and (students say)
Mirrors (mirrors) (hold my hands up)
Mirror Check (Mirror Check) (I make a movement and they follow me)
The minute hand is long (The minute hand is long) (Spread arms up and down motioning long)
The hour hand is short (The hour hand is short) (Move top hand down and stop quickly near the other hand showing short).
I do this three times.  When I say long and short I also use my voice to emphasize the word.  I stretch out the word long and snap the word short.  

When I ask a student to tell me how to draw 11 o'clock, they are able to use the words minute and hour vs. long and short!  I'm so proud of them.  

My goal is to use mirrors more often but I feel like this was an easy way to start with this technique.  Please share in the comments how you use mirrors.

I bet you want to use these fantastic math pages in your daily routine!  I'm only happy to oblige! I have two versions.  One for the beginning of the year which only has tens and ones.  The second version has 100s and greater than and less than.  I make these into monthly booklets.  


The Scoreboard - Whole Brain Teaching

I just love my class!  They are the best class!

I have been trying out Whole Brain Teaching for a few years but I haven't done more than the rules.  This year I'm expanding to using more of the system.  It went super well!!  The kids were loving the action and they were very focused. 

This is my Scoreboard.  I used a wipe off board and used Washii Tape.  One section is for the morning and the second section is for the afternoon.  I used sticky velcro to attach the dry erase marker!  This is important for me.  I tend to put things down and can't find them again!!  I love that the board is portable.  This will be especially nice when I'm working with a small group and do not want to keep getting up to emphasize their behavior.

The Scoreboard was a fantastic way to get the children to focus when they started talking with each other.  Visit  There are webcasts and tons of videos.
Every time you catch them following the rules they get a point. (smiley)
When they are breaking the rules you get a point! (sad)
Your job is to keep the points within 3 points of each other to keep the interest!  If they are ahead at the end of the day they win a few minutes to play a class game.  

I hope you try it out - you'll be happy you tried it!

My baby started high school today!!  There were tears shed - mine!!


10 Ideas to Survive Your First Week

We are all excited for school to start - we actually have trouble sleeping the night before just like our students.  I wonder who is more scared of the first day?

So how do we get through this first week?

1.  Reduce your caffeine intake so you can give sleeping a good chance!  I'm a night owl but I know I won't be able to function with all the problems that will hit me during the week and there will be many.  So get to bed at a reasonable time!  If you're like me, my brain has a hard time shutting down.  Keep a notepad by your bed (not your phone, you'll be tempted to Google!)

2.  Pack your lunch with healthy foods and waters.  My new favorites are carbonated flavored waters so I can feel like I'm having a soda!
I love the Pink Grapefruit!  Very refreshing!  I got them at Pick n' Save.

3.  Be Organized!
  • Get your desk the way you want it!
    • Have a place for everything!
  • Make your copies and put them in a daily organization bin.
  • I love when my closet is even organized!!  Love my paper organizers!
4.  Wear comfortable shoes!  You will thank me for this later!  

5.  Don't plan too much to do on the first day!  Everything will take longer than you think!  Start your day off light with with a get to know you activity.
    • Beach Ball Questions:  Write questions on the ball stripes such as What is your favorite color? What did you do this summer?  Tell us about your family.
    • M&M Buddies:   Put a few kids in a group with a card with a question for each color of the M&Ms.  After they answer the question they can eat that M&M.  You can do this with Skittles or Starbursts too.
6.  Bring a snack for the whole class.  Many will forget to bring one and this will help them get through the long day!  

7.  If you're as unfortunate as I am to not have air conditioning, it always seems to get hot when we go back to school!  Let the students have water bottles, get drinks and take extra bathroom breaks - you do not want unwanted accidents. 

8.  Reward them with an extra recess.  They will love it and you can see them in a different environment. Provide some fun outside toys like hula-hoops, Frisbees, sidewalk chalk and bubbles.

9.  Take time to go through the rules.  Keep it short and simple but repeat it throughout the week.
I love this video that a principal did.

10.  Leave on time to go home to your family, friends or pets!  Give your brain a break!  You deserve it - you have worked very hard!

Have a great week back!
Share your tips for a great week!

Little Priorities Classroom Reveal 2014

This is a view to the corner of my room from the door.  I would love to have the TV taken down but they have no place to store all the unwanted TVs.  The only time it is used is after school by my own children to watch cartoons.  In the corner is going to be my guided reading and math area.  I have all my tubs available with hands-on games and much more.  I'm very excited to have it all together.  I'm not as organized as some of our fellow bloggers but it works for me.
The tall white tubs hold all my math games.  The small basket on the floor is the overflow!  I just bought another one so I can add more!  The pink tubs came from Walmart.  They hold my reading games.  The other three tubs are where I put the weekly math games for students to go to during centers.  I try to differentiate these activities.  The names will be on colored slips once I evaluate the class.
 This is to the right of my table.  I have my guided reading books in bags by level with the teacher guide included.  Then I have all my wonderful Lakeshore games!  I got most of these from a Donor's Choose project last year.
 This is a problem area.  These are my literature books that I teach with.  Last year I put them in bags to keep the same subjects together such as plants or nouns.  Update... I organized my books by months, science, social studies and mentor texts.  I think this will help me be able to find a book quicker!

Here are some of my math manipulatives.  I am in need of new labels!!

On the back of my guided reading cart I added pocket charts with velcro.  I am going to use this area during guided reading to make sentences and store their sight words.  Students will be able to remove the words to take to their desks.

 I love the pink and green together.  It's so cheery!  The baskets above were all from Dollar Tree.  I love that that the paper baskets are large enough for folders.  Currently they are holding everything I need to pass out to them the first week.  On the side are my new group supplies.  I haven't tried this for over 15 years so we'll see how it goes.  I'll keep you updated!

This is the back of my Writing Cart.  I have their sight words on rings.  Students use these to practice their words while playing games that I designed.  These words correlate to the Treasures Reading series.  Our district has also added in words that were not in the series.  All the words are introduced and need to be secure by second grade.  If you would like the set click here!  I will put the current game in the baskets.  They are hanging on peg board clips.  These were from Walmart for $1.  They had a lot of different colors. baskets keep falling off the hook!  I'll need a new and better idea.

These were also from Walmart.  They are holding the math tool kits for each table group.  I may also put their binders in here.

Finish "I'm Done" activities.  I purchased this from Miss Kindergarten Love.  I ran off all the copies in advance and put them in this file box so it's easy for me to change out when needed.  I love the file folder label stickers.  So much easier than those old plastic ones and trying to slide the label in!
Anchor Chart Holder:  This is a curtain rod I got from the Salvation Army for $1.  I used command strip clips.  I put it right on the fabric.  I then added four staples around it so it doesn't pull out.  This will help me have access since I don't have wall space to hang them.  Next to it is a pocket chart for vocabulary words for the week.
 I started using this board last year but I am going to be adding to it and using it from the start. Labels are from Mrs. Rhodes and the original idea and trees are from Dandelions and Dragonflies.  I'll probably need to add more trees but it's a start.
I'm going to be using this book:
Prefixes and Suffixes Resource Book
Click book for link.  It uses word walls and making words.  It's written for grades 3-5+.  However, I do not feel it is inappropriate for my firsties.  

Here's a photo wall of my children.  I need to put updated photos in the frames!  I should probably add my husband too! XXOO

These are my student mailboxes.  I've had them for awhile as you can tell my the remnant of labels.  Now look at it with duck tape over the labels!  Wahoo!  I tried Wasshi Tape first but it was see-through.

My desk
 I covered my icky mouse pad with fabric a year ago and it's holding up great!  I got a new fridge!  I'm so excited to have cold drinks available and a place to store some healthy snacks like cheese etc...
Window behind my desk!   
I love my new valance!!  I bought coordinating fabrics of pink and green.  I used my quilt fabric cutter to cut the fabric into 1.5 inch strips.  I bought curtain rods from GoodWill and my wonderful daughters tied them to the rods.  I used Command Strip Hooks to hang the rods so I can take them with me if I move rooms.    I've gotten a lot of comments from staff!  They look so cute!

View of my classroom from my desk.  My awesome 12 year old daughter helped me put all the name tags on!  She was so helpful.

My reading corner!  I wish all my baskets matched but I guess the books inside them are what's important!  My two daughters took my old beanbags that had rips and put the beans in the flat beanbags!  It was quite a mess - I'm glad I had them do it outside!!

 Word Work!  Love my pocket chart!  It's from Lakeshore!  I love that store!!
 I'm having the parents and students take a tour through the room on Back to School Night!

This bulletin board is outside my classroom.  Each student has their own spot where I have a tack.

We're going to have a WILD Year!!

 I wish you all a fantastic and productive year!

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