Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Singing Across the Curriculum

Since my first year teaching all those long (13) years ago, I have always tried to make learning fun. One way I have accomplished this is to integrate singing, rapping, and cheering into all of my classes across the curriculum.

These songs are a staple for my math class. We literally sing at least 4 of them every day. They have become an asset when 
teaching rounding, place value, number forms, problem solving, estimation, subtraction, multiplying by multiples of tens, and much, much more. 

We “Sing Across the Curriculum” not only to make learning fun and engage students in learning, but also so that students can use their songs to help them solve problems. Nothing makes me happier than when students are taking a test and I can hear them quietly singing their songs!

I have just posted my first edition of "Singing Across the Curriculum: Math Songs-Numbers and Operations". It includes my favorite songs that help my students in numbers and operations. Most of them former students had a part in making up! 

Check them out at my TpT store.
Here are some of my kids having fun with them!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pirate Place Value

Place Value is the most important concept students learn in any grade. Without the mastery of place value, students will struggle with every other concept. It is always the first concept I teach each year, and throughout the years I have acquired many strategies, methods, and activities to aid students in learning about place value.
I utilize many strategies from Singapore Math along with methods and techiniques that I have developed myself throughout the year. One of those methods is teaching students a unique song I developed one year, 9 years ago, after being in complete desperation with my students lack of mastery of the concept. So I created this song and taught kids to point at the places in numbers while singing which allowed them to identify the place where digits sat in a number. I still use this method in my classroom today!
In the last few years I created a PowerPoint presentation that took students through place value by focusing first on identifying the places where digits sit in a number and then using that knowledge to help determine the value of a digit because of where it sits in a number. You can check out my Learning Place Value PowerPoint Presentation at my TpT store.

 This year I changed the theme in my room to P.I.R.A.T.E.S. Prepared, Informed, Responsible, and Truly Engaged Students. So how better to begin math than with a Place Value unit with a Pirate theme.
The packet includes a place value chart, activities, student notes, practice sheets, and a matching game. I used it in my classroom this past week and it is an awesome resource. Coupled with my Learning Place Value PowerPoint presentation it ensured the success of all of the 75 students I teach in mastering the concept of place value. Check out Pirate Place Value at my TpT store.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Call Me Maybe-Teachers' Edition

One of our local churches hosted Back to School Blue Jean Sunday and wanted to show that teachers can have fun, too! We had so much fun creating the video and were happy to be apart of something so positive. Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Scrunchy Border

One of the most almost things I found on Pinterest this summer was the "Scrunchy Border"! It is so simple and looks soooooo amazing.

The 3-D affect is so cool. It adds alot of flare and style  to my classroom, and seeing as I am a "little" dramatic that is important!

So here is how you do it:
1. All you need is butcher paper, scissors, and staples
2. Get 6 or more feet of butcher paper
3. Cut it into strips that are about 5-6 inches wide
4. Fold it accordin style (my kids did this part)
5. Scrunch it all up like you are about to throw it away
6. Start in a corner staple and then scrunch
7. Continue stapling and then scrunching all the way around the board

Easy Breezy!

Time for a Change

After shuffling classrooms and grades for the first part of my teaching career (for the first 6 years I was either in a different classroom, different grade, or a different school all but 1 year), I have finally been in the same room and same grade for going on 8 years. This is both good and bad.

Doing the same thing for so long allows you to become an expert at what you are doing. You figure out what works and what doesn't. You perfect your teaching strategies for the concepts you teach. You learn from your students so that you can better teach future students.

But you CAN also become complacent and even lazy. For this reason, many principals like to perform "Topsy Turvy Turnovers" where they mix everything and everyone up.

I would not say I have become complacent or lazy with the way I teach (definitely not), but I think I had with my classroom design and decorations. I used to change themes and decor every year. However, I have had the theme of "Mrs. Hill's All Star T.E.A.M:Together Everyone Achieves More" for the last 5 years. It was a great theme that served every student I taught and lent itself to lessons on teamwork and goal setting. But it was time for a change.

So at the end of the last year, I cleaned out my room, dejunked my cabinets, and began a complete renovation of my classroom. I painted all of the bookcases and storage units black, whereas before they were all differing colors of wood grain. I also hired someone to repaint the walls and trim a cheerful yellow trimmed with a clean, bright white, whereas they were light blue walls with a dark blue trim.
The change in color did amazing things to change the feel and mood of the room. It is so cheerful that it makes you smile when you walk in! The new color coupled with  black, white, and red decor lends itself to so many themes. I love the scrunchy border! Check out how I made it!

My theme this year is P.I.R.A.T.E.S: Prepared Informed Responsible and Truly Engaged Students. I have added all kinds of pirate accessories from Oriental Trading, Hobby Lobby, Target, and Big Lots. It has definitely been a complete overhaul and I thank Pinterest for inspiration!

Even the outside of my room was completely redecorated so that it would draw kids in from the hallway. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Getting to Know You

There are two days until the first day of school. My how the summer has flown by! But I am so ready. Not quite ready for the big reveal of my completely redone, revamped, and refurbished room...maybe tomorrow.

Seeing as I have 2 days, I thought I might need to start planning my first day of school:) I, of course, spend time teaching the rules, going over rituals and routines, and modeling procedures. We act out appropriate and inappropriate behavior. We practice coming in to the classroom correctly and leaving properly. We will even have a mock fire and tornado drill.

All of these things are important. However, I also like to have a little fun and provide some inspiration. Therefore, there are 2 activities that I always do on the first day of school:

1. I play the M&M game.

Each child gets a pack of M&M's. They separate out their favorite color from the bunch. They are allowed to eat the other M&M's but not the ones that are their favorite color. For instance, if they choose blue, they eat everything but the blue ones. Then we go around the room and for each M&M they have that is their favorite color they have to tell that many things about themselves. For example: If they have 4 blue, they tell 4 things. This is a great way to learn some basic information, find out what kinds of things are important to each student, and you will get extra points for letting them eat candy!

2. I always read Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss.

This is the last activity of each of my classes on the first day of school, and it is so inspirational. As I read we talk about the meanings of choices and plans, and how there will be times when things are great and times when they are so low that you feel you will never get up. I still get chills every time I read it. I want my students to leave my room feeling inspired about their new year, and feeling like they can accomplish anything. It is also the last thing we do for the school year. We perform it as a reader's theater at our end of the year program.

What are your first day of school traditions? Have you found any new things on blogs or Pinterest that you plan on adding in this year? Do share!!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

School Supplies

What do you do with all of the school supplies your students bring in at the beginning of the year? On our grade level's school supply list this year, we ask students to bring in:

2 boxes of pencils
2 packs of paper
1 3-ring binder
1 package of dividers
2 packages of Expo markers
Clorox wipes
Germ X

We use to ask for glue, crayons, and scissors, but these are uncertain economic times and we are trying to help parents out. We ordered these with our supplies.

The question is what do you do with all of the supplies kids bring in? I don't know about your classroom, but mine is usually overrun on the first day of school with supplies. I have piles of tissue boxes, paper, pencils, Germ X . . .  and my classroom has little, more like no storage.

I team teach with two other ladies and we all have different ways of dealing with the abundance of supplies:

1. Have the students take everything home, except the hand sanitizer, tissue, and wipes and let them bring in stuff as they need it.
(I tried that before but needless to say the stuff never made it back to school and I ended up supplying things from Christmas to the end of the year).

2. Have supply cubbies for each student and let them keep all of their supplies there to pull out when needed.
(This sounds like a good idea. The problem I have is that I don't have cubbies and what about those kids who never, ever bring in supplies. Do they just not have paper?)

3. This final one is my solution. I take up everything, except for the binders and dividers. I have storage bins where I keep all of the paper, markers, and pencils. Once they bring it in, it now belongs to the class. When someone needs paper, they just go to the bin and get some. We don't have a discussion. I don't get aggravated about them not having supplies, and they don't get embarrassed because their parents never bought them any. They just go get what they need when they need it.

I did this last year and actually have an abundance of supplies left over. I only had to ask students to bring in Expo markers during the year, and that is only because we use them all day long.

So what is your solution? What do you do with all of the supplies?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pirates Ahoy!

Ahoy Mateys! We are diving into the Seven Seas this year. I have worked harder this summer than I ever have including the multitude of summers that I moved classrooms or changed schools. The teachers in my grade level got so creative! The teacher across the hallway for me is doing owls and another is doing a rainbow theme.

A noticeble change was my outside. Before I had a sports theme complete with a football field, soccer net, and goal posts. Now it has transformed into the Seven Seas! 

My theme this year is P.I.R.A.T.E.S. It stands for Prepared, Informed, Responsible, and Truly Engaged Students. The door was turned into a pirate ship with cute little pirate wall stickers, butcher paper, and a lot of hot glue.

The walls on the outside are part of a 100 year old building that have been wallpapered about a bazillion times and convienently act as a cork board. Therefore I was able to staple a phenomenal water bulletin board paper that I found at Hobby Lobby (best store ever) for $8.99 for a 12 foot roll.

I added fishing net that I boaught from Oriental Trading for $12.00 for a whole-heck-of-a-lot of it! The pirate banner was $8.50 for 100 feet!!! I will never use all of it! Then I added foam swords(I found them in the dollar section of Target) that I glued the students' names to.

The finishing touch was this sign that I created using Microsoft Publisher and will soon post as a free product in my TpT store.