I F I N A L L Y uploaded my first paid teacherspayteachers product! View it here!
I'm beyond excited because it's been a long time coming and it's something that I've really wanted to do. Self doubt, comparison, and procrastination slowed me down from my goal, but I finally created my first *real* product- Kindness Month! (check out my two free products also)
I wanted to try this in my classroom first to make sure it was something worthwhile for others (and it was!). I basically didn't have to stop ANY fights the last few months of school. It used to be a big problem for me, but since I was intentional about the kindness read alouds and activities, it was a non-issue. I used it at the end of the year, however, it would be amazing at the beginning, too (which I think I'll do this year), or in the middle, coming back from winter break. Or, honestly, any month where kindness needs to be exemplified.
This resource is designed to be used daily (but of course, modify it in any way to fit the needs of your classroom), where a read aloud is paired with an activity. Each read aloud and activity will spark conversation and discussion with your students where you can emphasize the positive impact of kindness- no matter what age, no matter how small, and no matter to whom- it's all important.
Even though there is a maximum of 20 school days in a month, I've included 25 book recommendations, a synopsis of each book, and 25 ideas for activities and corresponding sheets if needed (for example, a question sheet after watching a video, and a template for a kindness quilt, and more). So, you can choose which ones you'd like to use and which ones you'd rather not use... or do a full 5 weeks instead of 4! Some activities are very simple (if you need a no-prep day, or if you have younger grades), and some activities are more involved.
Another reason I'm so excited about finally uploading my work is that I'm committed to donating 10% of my earnings to Donor's Choose projects. Eventually when I start earning, I will be providing information on how much I've been able to donate and to what projects. As a teacher I feel it's so important to give back to other teachers- especially when teachers are (hopefully!) buying my products. I can't wait to give back!
I would love to hear any feedback you have, questions, or concerns! I'd love to respond and answer.
Since I love making lists and I want to read some PD books this summer, I figured putting this up might be beneficial for some other teachers as well. I would love to read more than 5, but I don't think that's a realistic goal for me (especially since I'll be working this summer), so this is what we have! (Plus, it's probably not "best practice" to read a ton of books but then never implement any strategies)
Never Work Harder Than Your Students - I had this recently handed down to me, and based on the Amazon reviews, it's a well-loved book, so I can't wait to dive into this. I think we all struggle with doing too much as teachers, so setting up a classroom where students are doing most of the work (because that's how they learn!).
59 Kagan Strategies - We've all heard of Kagan strategies, but I've never actually sat down and read about them. I probably do one or two of these in my classroom now, but it would be amazing to have this resource to continuously pull from.
Teach Like a Champion 2.0 - This is one of those books that we've either already read, or someone we know has read and loved it. Since this is supposed to be one of the greats, I think it's time I actually read it!
Total Participation Techniques - This book is supposed to get everyone to be engaged and to actively participate, which will increase their learning. I think this will be a good book to add onto what I've been focusing on this year, which was engagement and rigor.
Making Differentiation a Habit - Admittedly, differentiation is not a strong suit of mine just yet, and it's hard for me to include it into EVERYTHING I do, so I'm hoping this book will help me to make it a habit (eventually) so I don't have to think too hard about it anymore!
Have you read any of these books? Which books are on your reading list this summer?
I know many schools are still in session, and with so many administrative things to for the end of the year, we don't have a lot of time to hunt for resources. Here are 10 activities you may want to try with your class to end the year off on a high note!
Pictures are not mine, but are from the sites with the corresponding ideas. You can click the link of the name of the idea or the picture to take you to their site.
1. Egg Drop - This was one of my FAVORITE memories from elementary school and you know students today will still enjoy this one.
2. Guess Who I Am - Students write down facts about themselves and the class has to guess who it is. I can imagine this would be a ton of fun.
3. Letter to Parents - This is such a touching way to send off students- I would love to receive this if I was a parent!
4. (Free) Class Awards - There are 40 different awards available in black and white or color.
5. Memory Book for Students - This is a free sample, but this is a good, short option for younger students. There are several other paid memory books that are well worth the money if you have extra to spend!
6. Scavenger Hunt - Solve math problems, write friends' names down, and run an obstacle course are a few of the tasks on this hunt- but it's editable so you can make your own, too!
7. Bubble Day - Whether you gift students their own bubbles or you have a bubble study day, they'll treasure it.
8.Teach the Teacher - A wonderful idea to close out the school year- each student can present a topic of their choice.
9. Task Cards Write the Room - A fun, reflective write the room activity for the end of the year.
10. Celebrating You - Spending a day celebrating each student in the class sounds like a PERFECT idea!
Drop a comment below if you've tried any of these ideas yet- or share any ideas you have for great end-of-the-year magic!
This is a wonderful idea for Mother's Day, Father's Day, or any gift to send home- and is meant to be funny! Usually students will skip steps when they describe it to you and it's pretty humorous. Obviously, we did ours for Father's Day, and the kids loved it.
Ask each student in your class for a dish (dessert, breakfast, dinner) that they love to eat that someone at home makes for them. It doesn't matter if it's homemade or mostly store-bought (like cake from a box), but homemade is usually better for this purpose. Then, have them tell you how their guardian makes it at home, step by step. Each student's recipe gets a page of it's own.
Then, print the pages and have each student illustrate their recipe page. Copy the pages and bind them together however you wish- you can laminate it and spiral bind it or simply staple the pages together. Each parent will get a copy of each students' recipe (including their own child) as a class recipe book!
This editable resource comes with a cover page and 20 of the same recipe pages for you to type over. Either copy and paste the whole page to add more if you have more students, or delete extra pages if you have less students.
Download it for FREE here!
If you use it and/or like it, please rate it- it would really help me out as a beginner on TpT!
Let me know how your recipe book turns out, I would love to hear about it. What do you usually do for Father's Day gifts?
I got this idea from this post, and then I put it on my 16 Before 16-17 list, so I'm finally getting around to it as a Mother's Day gift! This cost me about $20, but I think it was worth it for something I wanted to do.
First, I had the kids pose on the playground and took a picture of them. Then I asked them to think about a word that best described them- I got a lot of "Nice," but I got a lot of good ones too- unique, intelligent, generous. Afterwards, I looked up some quotes for them to choose one that they really liked that had to do with their word. Like "Intelligent quotes" if as student said intelligent as their word. If none fit well, I had them choose a second word to do a quote with.
I edited the pictures with an app on my phone, photofy. I paid $1.99 to remove the watermark forever, but it's in the corner so it's not too bad, but you could also use a different photo editor.
I bought the frames from Walmart- they were roughly $1 each- I didn't want to buy them from the dollar store because I had to buy 24 of them and wait for shipping, etc. I chose "pick up in store" for Walmart and I think they were available the next day or two days later. I can't find the frames on Walmart's site right now, but I know Target was also running a deal where the frame was a little more expensive, but right in the $1.30ish range on sale and with the RedCard discount.
The pictures cost about $3.50 at Walgreens, but coupons are easy to find to get that price lower as well.
Overall, I liked the project and I think parents will too. I messed up a bit with the editing- I put some of the quotes and word too close to the edge and it either got cut off by Walgreens or by my picture frames. Some of them I had to place near the edge because it blended with the background too much but honestly, it's the thought that counts. Even if the parents don't like the picture, they can always reuse the frame! I could always go back and re-edit the pictures and re-print them too.
I want to add something handmade with this as well, something like a card made by the students or something cute from TeachersPayTeachers. I can't wait for the students to bring this home next Friday!
Would you try this? Do you have any suggestions on how to make this even better? What're you doing for Mother's Day gifts from the class?
If you haven't heard about the ABC Countdown before, it's a fun way to count down to the end of the school year! The last 26 days of school are themed- one letter-themed day for each of the 26 days. You can make this as elaborate or as simple as you want/need! Also, this does not have to be an all day thing! Some of mine will only be 1 hour or so.
I've included some ideas for each letter/day, and I bolded the days that I'll be doing, with some resources for my choices. If you like the theme that I picked for a day, feel free to use the same links. If you only like a handful of my days, use what you'd like! Hopefully this helps both teachers and students get through the end of the school year...
These are all FREE resources that I found through TeachersPayTeachers.
A- Art, Awards, Author, American, Addition
B- Beach, Books, Bingo, Buddy reading
C- Cookie, Camping, Crazy hair, Crazy socks, Character
D- Drawing, Donut, Dress-up
E- Earth, Eric Carle, Extra recess, Exercise, Eat lunch in class, Experiment
F- Finger painting, Favorite, Future, Fitness, Flashlight, Fruit
G- Game, Go Noodle
H- How-to, Helper, Hawaii
I- Ice pop, International, I (share about you), Indoor recess
J- Joke, Jersey, Jammie, Journal, Jelly beans
K- Kettle corn, Koo Koo Kangaroo, Kindness
L- Lollipop, Lights out, Letter, Legos, Lunch with teacher
M- Music, Memory, Mismatch, Movie, Minute-to-win-itN- Notes, Name, Number, Neon
O- Outside, Outrageous outfit, Origami
P- Play-doh, Poetry, Picnic, Popcorn, Pajama
Q- Quiz, Quiet read, Question, QR code, Quiver, Quilt
R- Reading, Recess, Rainbow, Running, Rotation
S- Stuffed animal, Story time, STEM/Science, School spirit, Sports
T- Twin, Teacher, Time capsule, Treat, Toy, Tye dye
U- USA, Used book, Under (desk), Uno, University, Unforgettable
V- Video, Vacation, Visitor
W- Water, Walk, Weather, Wacky, Watch a movie, Wild, Wild, West
X- X marks the spot, X & O (tic tac toe), eXtraordinary awards, eXtra fun, eXercise
Y- You (celebrate each kid), Yoga, Yarn, Year end (party)
Z- Zoo, Zero, Zoom out of school
Have you ever done the ABC countdown? What are some of your favorite resources?
[For the most part...] 1. One purely fun activity each week
I'm doing mine on Fridays... and in case admin comes in, I can justify it as a 'fun friday' activity. I asked my students to take a few minutes to jot down suggestions for class dojo prizes when we 'redeem' our points at the end of the week. Some of the suggestions included coloring/drawing time, so I figured a coloring sheet for 30 minutes would be a great way to end our first Friday back while I help students with their dojo point choices. I used this one (pages 2-3, I did a front/back, 1 page copy).
I've also been doing more fun, hands-on projects like shape monsters and incorporating more games, although they aren't purely fun- they've still got an academic purpose with those.
[Not Yet!] 2. Parents write 1 goal they have for their child to accomplish before May
Honestly, I forgot about this one. Can I say I crossed this off since our school participates in APTT? During APTT, parents come up with one reading and one math goal for each child. But now that I'm thinking more about this goal and whether or not I want to do it, I think I want to write something up to send home (something quick for both parties to encourage participation-which I will share with you all!). Having the kids focus on one goal will hopefully push them during these last few months.
[Trying my best!] 3. Give each child a compliment daily
This one is hard to keep track of, but I think I've been trying more to implement this. Whether it's because someone is trying their best, have made improvements, or I really like their shoes, I try make sure these kids feel loved! (I try not to focus on complementing their appearance, but I have to make note when someone gets a new haircut- it's a big deal to them!)
[Yes!] 4. Try at least 5 new motivators for behavior (like reindeer games, etc.)
The first day back, I started using table points (tried and true... not a unique one!). However, it seems to be working fairly well. I reward the table (or tables in case of a tie- I have 5 tables total) at the end of each day with something small- they get to pick a GoNoodle brain break, 7 dojo points, or a small piece of candy, etc. After a few weeks, I stopped using this and strayed from this one. But, I'm about to introduce a new one that I've been thinking about/working on for a while- a month of kindness! Be on the lookout for a post with more details soon!
[Pretty on top of this one!] 5. Try at least 5 new lesson/review ideas (like plickers, etc.)
I still haven't tried plickers with my kids, but I've been trying to introduce some lower maintenance things (at least to get started), like some strategies from Making Thinking Visible (another blog post coming in the future on some takeaways and strategies I loved). I also want to try a review bingo since my kids are alllll about the bingo!
[I still want to do this] 6. Make a class picture powerpoint
I want to do this, but I'm also thinking about having the students create scrapbooks as a really long, last-month-of-the-school-year project- just dedicating a few minutes each day for the scrapbook. I would have to print a bunch of photos, but I could probably do that for relatively cheap. Maybe create a class powerpoint for the parents (mostly), and have the kids create the scrapbook for themselves (mostly)... especially since they don't have yearbooks.
[Not yet, but definitely happening...] 7. Feature a student photo wall
I forgot about this! But, Mother's day is next month and I'm still keen on having the class do this for a gift. It's powerful and would make any mom/grandma/caregiver so happy! Plus, I know the kids will have fun with this. If I do this in the next few weeks, we can hang them up first before giving them as gifts, which will increase the excitement.
[Didn't happen- but could later?] 8. Host a march madness book tournament
Okay, the last two years, I've wanted to do this and guess what? It's still not happened. I guess I should've done this update sooner to catch this!! March is just a crazy month- spring break, testing, and end of the quarter... So unfortunately, I can't really do this, unless I do a similar book tournament but change the name. We'll see! ;)
[On the to-do list] 9. Make the last week of school the most memorable
I still have a while before school is out, even though we're finally on our last quarter. So, for that reason, I haven't been paying too much attention to the last week of school, but I think I want to do a reading camp similar to this where students read most of the day in a really fun atmosphere.
[Bringin' out the big guns soon!] 10. Emphasizing positive behavior
My idea for kindness month has come just in time! Taking a month to really focus on kindness will definitely check this off, and that will be in addition to my already positively-phrased reminders to make good choices, and really paying attention to the good that everyone does!
[Not so much...] 11. Cultivate a warm atmosphere
I haven't investigated how I can create a warmer atmosphere (I already use a wax warmer, dim the lights, and play some classical music), but it's next on my list! Anything to help combat the end-of-year wiggles!
[Lately, YES!] 12. Focus on the joyful parts of the day
After the last week in March, it should be pretty much smooth sailing. I had a few rough patches with this one, however, I feel like lately I've definitely found my groove and I almost DON'T want this year to end! So instead, I'm going to be intentional about my time with them and make it the best! It helps to incorporate more fun learning activities that both the class and I look forward to.
[Check!] 13. Go all out for the 100th day of school
I definitely had a big celebration that you can read about here. We read a lot of books, completed 100-themed activities like worksheets, and anchor charts, and 5 themed centers- it was a blast! I want to keep doing this every year and incorporate more treats.
[A fail so far, but hope is not lost] 14. Try at least 10 pinterest ideas
Oh man... I was super excited about this one but I still don't think I've really done any Pinterest research. I might've accidentally done one or two things, but not intentionally so I need to keep this in mind when the class and I are really feeling the end of the year blues. I need to keep them on their toes, and I think Pinterest will help!
[I've been getting so much better!] 15. ORGANIZE
It's crazy that I had to make this a point on my list because I love being organized, but it's taken me a while since I'm new to teaching. Along the way though, I've been slowly finding what works for me and I've found a love for subject binders with a tab for each child, and a 'catch-all' binder that has conference papers and important things that were signed. I still need to come up with a better system for MTWRF papers, but at least I've been better with printing papers out and keeping them somewhat organized!
[In due time...] 16. Try PBL (project based learning) once
I am on my way to making this one come true! I should have something at least started this month! I'm not sure what it will be yet but I'm very excited to try this and see how my students respond to it.
Let me know if you're trying the 16 before 16-17! It's not too late, especially if you don't get out of school until June! I'd also LOVE to hear any ideas or suggestions you have for any of my categories.
What do you want to incorporate in your classroom before the end of the year?
I would LOVE to see your own 16 before 16-17 lists! If you make one, please share it with me via comment below and/or on instagram @oshirodesigns #16before1617 - it would make my day :)
As summer draws near, we know how the kids can get- restless, lazy, and cranky! To try to combat that a little bit, I've created a one page letter to send home asking parents what they would like to see from their child by the end of the year, in roughly 2 months' time. (Having students focus on only 1 goal) Hopefully this will appease parents by asking what they would like to see improvement in before the long break, and will drive students to accomplish this goal.
Another reason why this is a great time to do it is because most of us just had our parent conferences, so parents are refreshed with what their child is succeeding in and what they need extra practice with.
I'm thinking about hanging these goals up so students can be reminded of them when they're getting a little out of hand. I've never tried this before, but I have high hopes! Have any of you done anything similar? Did you get a good response from parents and children?
This letter is in both English and Spanish, and is a free download at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It's a Word document, so it's easily customizable if you would like to alter some of the goals/verbiage.
I am new at creating products and am hoping to expand my store, so any feedback is very welcome. I'm currently working on a kindness project to put up, so be on the look out!
If you download this letter, let me know what you think! How was your experience?
This year, I decided to do a mid-year parent survey. It's still undecided whether I'll do an end of the year survey, but I'll keep you posted! You can download this survey at the bottom of the post.
I originally got the survey from a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers as a free download. I tweaked it a bit and had it translated into Spanish so I could send it home to all guardians. This is why I'm not uploading it to TPT- it's largely the same with a few questions added/changed and with an added Spanish translation.
Out of the 14 parents I have, I only had 3 return the survey. I included mine in the report card envelope that went home right before winter break. I knew that all the parents would see it, so that would be the best time. However, they also had that whole break to forget about it too. I could've sent another copy home a week into 3rd quarter, but I wasn't too concerned- I figured that if they really wanted to do the survey, they would've.
I didn't have any outrageous or mean answers, though I did roll my eyes at one of results. I knew that by doing this, I would be putting myself out there and opening myself up to negativity. Overall, I think that getting the feedback was helpful. Parents thought homework was fine, they felt that their child's reading skills were growing, the classroom atmosphere was great, and communication was adequate.
Compared to the more typical end of the year survey, I think this is more powerful because if you feel like changes need to be made (big or small), you still have half the year to implement them, and parents feel like you're really taking their thoughts into consideration.
Another perk for doing this is that you can bring this up to your principal at the end of the year as a piece of evidence for communication with parents- that you cared about what they said and potentially implemented necessary changes.
There may be some faults in the preview that are not in the actual document. I hope you enjoy!
Do you feel like doing a survey helps you/your stakeholders? Have you sent one home before?
"ClassDojo connects teachers with students and parents to build amazing classroom communities." -Classdojo.com
You can read more about the basics of what ClassDojo is on their website above. It is free for teachers!
This is my first year using Class Dojo, and I love it. I would've tried to use it last year, but it was such a whirlwind, I wouldn't have fully used it how I would've wanted to... although it might've helped some of my behavior problems.
Some teachers choose to project their dojo standings all day/most of the day- I don't do that. I have two main computers I use in the classroom (just for me), and have dojo up on both of them where I have fairly easy access to award/take away points. You can choose to never take away points and just have kids not earn them instead. You may even choose to not have any "skills" (like participation, being on task, etc) worth points, but have them for you and for parents to keep track of (how often does my student participate- or not participate- or call out, etc.). However, that doesn't really provide an incentive to the students.
I have a board in the classroom where students can pick a Dojo avatar that I printed off of their website and cards with point values in 100 increments, from 100-1000. Once students reach that "next level" their avatar goes under that point value. Each week, on Friday, I quickly calculate how many they earned. I call up each student to tell them how many points they earned and what they would like to "spend" them on- like treasure box, lunch with me, candy, stinky feet (no shoes for a day), helper for the week, etc. It's easy to make all the prizes free for you!
These are some of my 'positive' skills: HW completed, accountable talk, teamwork, kind to others, participating, being responsible, on task, following directions. Some of my 'skills that need work': cheating, not trying their best, not using time wisely, not listening attentively, disruption/talking, not working, disrespect, hands on others.
I average giving around 20-35 points per week to students. Some weeks are lower than others if I don't do it as much one day, or higher if I make sure I give a lot of positive reinforcement. The majority of my students will only get a few point deductions for 'skills that need work,' while one or two will get several point deductions.
Many of the points I give are 'whole class,' meaning that if I see the whole class is following directions, it's easier to give them all one point. If I see that half of the class is following directions, I can easily select those on task and give them points while simply not awarding points to the others. I like doing this more often than taking away points, but I do take them away if it's warranted.
You can also give points to groups (or tables), etc. I used it about once or twice, but although it's a great feature for a lot of classrooms, it's not one that I use.
The feedback that I've gotten from the parents is that they love it! Right now I only have 8/14 parents connected, but that's how it's been all year, even after trying a different method to send invites home halfway through the year. I did have one parent join the second time I invited them, and when I got a new student, her mom also joined right away. I'm not sure what the reasoning is behind not accepting (because almost everyone has a smartphone, regardless of circumstance), but I don't want to press it. I could even hype it during conferences, but I choose not to at this time. It may be something I choose to do at the beginning of next year.
In the beginning of the year, I printed out forms that parents could fill their information in and return back to me, for me to manually add them. This form also gave a little information about what ClassDojo was. They had the option of choosing their cell or email to log in through their smartphone or computer- or both. When I sent out invites again last month (for those who had yet to join), I input their cell number/email (whichever I had on file) and they got a virtual invite directly from me (which is probably easiest for everyone involved).
I have a student who has 3 adults who are able to see updates- I think that once one parent is invited, that parent can have their significant other/family member added as well, since I did not invite two of those members. I think this is a great way to keep family members close if they live far away, especially deployed parents, etc.
Increased Communication (via Messages)
This could be good or bad ;) In my case, I haven't had any real issues. Sometimes parents will send a message "late" at night, or will send them during weekends, but depending on the circumstances, you can choose to wait until the next business day to respond. I've done both. Some cases parents will ask questions that take 30 seconds to respond to, which I don't mind answering right away, especially since I don't get messages often. You can also choose to turn off push notifications if you don't want to be notified 24/7- you just have to check the app. (I have my push notifications on and it's good for me)
I like that my number isn't attached to our communications, and that there is a record of them.
These are direct messages sent from one parent to me, or vice versa, and the other parents cannot view them. I also have the option of sending a "group message" to everyone, but that still doesn't include all parents in the same message- it just lets me type the message once and send it to all parents, individually.
Increased Communication (Stories)
I love this feature the most, and I think my parents feel the same way. I aim to post a picture a day to add to our class story (all parents can see). Usually they are examples of learning (like anchor charts or student work without names) with details of what we're learning about, or they're pictures of the students (I usually try not to show their face, even though these are family members of the students) doing work or enjoying a class treat/reward. Sometimes I don't post daily, because I forget to post/forget to take a picture/don't feel like it, and it's completely acceptable. I also don't post until school is let out- I don't want to raise any questions from admin or parents about what I do during the workday.
All parents can even "like" stories and comment on them. I don't get many comments anymore, but I did in the beginning of the year. I don't bother with individual stories. I think it's a great feature (it's basically a story thread where only me and that parent can see what I've posted), but I'd rather put my time into the class story instead of both or just the individual story. It could be great to post pictures of student work that you want parents to see, but want to keep.
ClassDojo also has growth mindset videos and other great tools on their website to check out!
Let me know if you have any questions about anything I've shared- I'd be happy to answer them! Do you use ClassDojo? What are your thoughts?