Saturday, August 20, 2016

How to Make the Move to a New Grade and Live to Tell About It

Hi guys!
     Yep, it's me, Hilary and I'm happy to report that I survived my move from 2nd grade to 3rd grade GT! And as much as I hate to admit it, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! Here are a few things I noticed on the first day of school:

  • The kids intuitively know what to do when they come in!
  • They can actually sit down and wait for more than 2 minutes!
  • They don't ask you 40 questions in the first 5 minutes of the day!
  • They don't constantly have a boo-boo that needs a band-aid!
Bottom line . . . they aren't little kids anymore, they are just kids who know what school is about. 
     So, on that first day I decided I didn't want to rattle off a bunch of rules and expectations or do a bunch of 'getting to know you' activities right off the bat. I wanted the kids to 'do school' and have fun. The rules and expectations don't have to be preached and will most definitely be addressed, but not in our first hours together. Here's what we did after everyone arrived:
  • The kids sat in a circle and told me their names. Then, I went around the circle to say their names back to them. I got them all right on the first time around . . . as usual! LOL
  • We stayed in our circle and did a Drama Circle. We had so much fun being dramatic. Drama circles require the kids to actively listen, wait their turn, cooperate with classmates, and follow directions. It is a fun activity that helps them learn to be comfortable in front of their classmates in a non-threatening way. (Read more about Drama Circles by Jen Runde.) It also told me a lot about the different personalities in our class. We did a different drama circle 3 days in a row. They kids are BEGGING to do more! We will, too!
  • After breaking the ice,  the rest of the day went as smooth as silk. We did do a few 'getting to know you' activities, but after our drama, we were all friends.
My advice to you if you are moving grades, just remember why you became a teacher in the first place:
  • You have a heart for kids.
  • You want to make a difference in the lives of kids.
  • You enjoy watching light bulbs go on for kids.
  • You actually like kids.
  • Kids make you smile and even laugh.
  • And the list goes on and on. . . No matter what admin throws at you, just remember, it's just about the kids!
  • Oh, and one more thing . . . you just need to stay one day ahead of the kids! LOL
I know some of you are just gearing up for 
school so it's time to do some shopping! If you'd like to win a Teachers Pay Teachers $10 gift card, just in time for the ONE DAY sale at TpT. Just enter for a chance to win!

You might want to check out drama circles....They ROCK! Stop by my store for a back to school stardust poem freebie as well. 

Have a great year!


Sunday, July 31, 2016

32 Years of Teaching Decor Needed a Makeover!

Last May, near the end of the school year, my principal came to my 2nd grade team and said she would need to cut one of our sections. I, of course, just KNEW it wouldn't be me who got cut. I've been teaching for 32 years...I've taught all the grades from K-3...I'm 2 years from retirement! 
But guess what?! That's right! I'm the 2nd grade teacher who was cut! What?! Now don't worry, they didn't fire me but it sure seemed like that to me! And boy did I pout around for quite a while! I was the one who would be teaching 3rd grade...Gifted and Talented.

Needless to say, I got over my pouting fit and started getting excited about the new challenge I would be facing. I started packing up things to take to my garage sale, things to give away, and things to take to my new classroom. (Yes, I had to move rooms too! I guess that will be good in a couple of years when I retire, right?!)
So now I'm in my new classroom and I realized I needed to buy some stuff to teach another grade! WooHoo! I think I might have a problem when it comes to school supplies. My family may or may not be planning an intervention. They will just have to wait until after school starts for that intervention because I've got too much on my plate right now!

Not only was I going to need school supplies, I was going to need new name tags, signs, labels, etc. for my new room. That's where my sister Sabrina, from A Space to Create, comes into the picture. 
Sabrina lives in Hayden Lake, Idaho and she drives to the mid-west every summer to visit with family. That is a 3-day drive with 2 kids and 2 dogs in tow. Ugh. Sabrina is a high school art teacher in Washington state and was previously an art director in advertising. (She was a true big-wig but really wanted to teach instead.)
On with my story...I went to my mom's in Michigan to hang out with Sabrina and the gang. Sabrina was ready to chill out since she'd just gotten out of school and had driven across country with a car full. I, of course, couldn't get my new classroom assignment off my mind. The first thing I asked Sabrina was: "Will you make me some clip art that I can use on things for my new classroom?" Needless to say, Sabrina was a little perturbed with me. But, after a couple of days she agreed to help me out. 
We decided to start a new line of items on TpT as a collaborative venture. She was the art talent and I was the elementary classroom talent. (Well, I also had a little more art talent from Steve at Pixel Puzzles on TpT. He does special requests and is AWESOME to work with.)

That is how the BLOCKCRAFT Kids and Pets were born. 
So far, I've got book basket labels ready to go.
I've got name tags for my chair pouches, seat sack book bags, and my tables. I've even got inspirational posters to put up in the room.
Check these examples out! 

I almost forgot to show you one of my favorite items! The birthday cards! They turned out so cute!

If you would like to check out some BlockCraft Kids and Pets for your own room, just click the pics. All the name tags and cards are even editable and come in lots of colors. We are planning on adding more items, so check back often.
On another note, Everything in my store is 20% off today until Wednesday, August 2. On top of that, Teachers Pay Teachers is having its Back to School sale Monday and Tuesday. Just use the code: BESTYEAR, and you will get an extra 10% off the sale price.

Thanks so much for stopping by. With my new teaching assignment I should have a lot of things to talk about! I will really work hard to share my journey with you along the way.


Friday, April 29, 2016

What Memories Were Made in Your Class This Year?

Can you believe it's almost the end of the school year again? I sure can't! Time flies when you're having fun really is true! I have had a wonderful year with my little cuties and I hope you have had one too. 

At the end of the year, I always like to let the kids reflect on their year in 2nd grade. It helps them remember how much fun we all had together and also answers the question of: What did you do in school today? (this year) 

To help organize these memories, I created these memory books to use with my students. (in color and black and white) I hope it might help you wrap up your year with fond memories as well. 

Have a Wonderful End of the School Year and gear up for SUMMER!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Earth Day Hats by Monica~Link up Your Earth Day Products

Monica is a wonderful friend of mine and always has such awesome ideas. Check out her Earth Day hats!  She makes these super simple hats with recycled materials! If you would like to see how and see a video to boot, just click here!

You can check out more Earth Day fun over on her blog by clicking HERE!


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Give Your Students a Little Swagger!

In the past, I've used behavior beads as an incentive for my kids. Then, I saw brag tags and really wanted to get them. . . but they are a tad expensive. So, what do you think I did? Of course, I made my own Swag Tags. 
I decided to make them dog tag shaped and bought some ball and chain necklaces to hang the tags on. I searched all around and finally found a good deal for them on Amazon. I bought the 100 pack so I will have enough for the next few years. . . That should get me to retirement age!  Here are the ones I bought:

I store my tags in a divider box and use Post-it Flags (680-EG-ALT) to divide them by topic. I also put them in ABC order so they are easy to find. (I put everything in ABC order!)
Before I hang a tag on a child's necklace, I put their name on it with Sharpie Retractable Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers, 3 Colored Markers(1735794)
I also put a bead in between the tags so people can admire the accomplishments of my little rock stars.  

I have a spot where the kids hang their swag tags. That way, they have a place to store them at the end of the day, or when they don't want to wear them. Some kids like to leave them hanging and just stop to look at them once in awhile. Others, wear them for awhile, then take them off for lunch, P.E., etc. It's interesting to watch!

My munchkins are absolutely loving these tags. They earn them for working their way up our 'Super Improver' Chart and for all sorts of other accomplishments as well. 
Just click the pic to check out the freebie if you would like to get started with swag tags in your classroom! I've got more, but I need to get the covers done. . . Never enough time in a day!

Happy Easter!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Whole Brain Teaching Love and Linky

Happy February! I hope you are having a 'love'ly school year! 
I am linking up with fellow bloggers in an 'I Teach 2nd' monthly linkup. We will be sharing timely tips, teaching strategies, resources, and some freebies with you. If you like what you see in this blog post, be sure to follow me (or any of the participating bloggers) and check back at the beginning of each month for a new linkup.
Since it is February, I thought I would share what I LOVE most about teaching. I recently started watching videos and reading up about Whole Brain Teaching. I have to say, it has changed my life for so many reasons. Here are a few:
  1. I am having fun teaching. I mean, I can't wait to teach each day. I've always loved it, but it had become a bit of a chore. Not anymore!
  2. My kids are having fun learning. I like to think I always made it fun, but I can really feel the shift in the energy of our room. Kids are actively engaged and busy helping me 'teach' with their partners. So cool!
  3. The kids are really retaining what they've learned.
  4. And the list goes on and on. You HAVE to go to the Whole Brain Teaching website and watch some of the videos for yourself. 
  5. The bad behaviors have dramatically decreased since I've begun using the Scoreboard and class Rules. There's no time for that monkey business! Watch this little clip to see what my favorite class rule is! 
One of my favorite ways to help my kids comprehend what they are reading is called The Crazy Professor Reading Game and the kids LOVE it! This first video is a little guy reading his journal entry about The Kissing Hand. He asked me if it was okay if he used hand gestures (like he does when playing The Crazy Professor Reading Game). This is precious. Check it out!
Here is my whole class reading a story with exaggerated expression and hand gestures. You should hear them answer questions after reading in this way. AMAZING, FUN, and ENGAGING! See for yourself!

Spread the LOVE and SHARE these posts with your friends! 

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