Monday, May 4, 2015

What Works for my Mini-Wheats!


I'm so excited to be "linking up" with so many amazing teachers for this WHAT WORKS? Linky and GIVEAWAY!
 Happy Teacher Appreciation week, everyone!
Before I tell you about WHAT WORKS in my room, I just want to take a moment and tell every.single.person. who is reading this blog post that you matter. Presumably, if you're reading this, you are involved in the lives of children. There is no greater charge, in my opinion. Children are sacred, they are our most precious gift, and they are the future. As cheesy as that sounds and as much as you might roll your eyes, it is the truth. And the truth also is that teaching is HARD, and it's thankless (at times), and the things that are out of your control will beat you down IF YOU LET THEM. I always joke that "at the end of the day, it ALL rests on my shoulders. I am the only one who is really "accountable". Although I usually say that in frustration the real story is that I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, that's what teaching is all about- being accountable, doing what's best for kids, no matter what, and working your tail off. So, hats off to all of you. You make this world go round and don't you forget it! If you are important in the life of a child, you are important enough.

As teachers our motto is "beg, steal, and borrow" right? I'm going to share a few things that work for me and my Mini-Wheats, feel free to "steal" and "borrow" and I "beg" YOU to leave feedback with what works for you and your kiddos! I'll be honest, I struggled to come up with things that are "working" because ever since I returned from maternity leave I feel like I have been struggling. *next year will be better, next year will be better* <--- that's my motto! lol


I absolutely LOVE using these write and wipe plastic pockets with my students. I use them for 
EV-ERY-THING!  (Teacher Tip: lots of education companies sell them but I have found them soooo much cheaper on Amazon. They call them "shop ticket holders" but they're the exact same thing!) Last year, I bought a case of them and used them as personal white boards for math. Each kid could sit at the rug, with a template inside, and work alongside me during whole group lessons. I also use them for literacy and math centers. Instead of copying tons of worksheets for my kids to do during centers, I simply slip ONE worksheet inside and use it for the entire week. You can still use worksheets for accountability, just have them turn in the "write-and-wipe" pocket, check, erase, and use again!  

My favorite way to use these Write & Wipe pockets is for small group instruction. So much of our day is broken up into small groups and so many of my kiddos need a visual. It saves so much time and paper when I can just slip the worksheet we're working on into a write and wipe and model the activity.



My next tip comes from one of my most popular freebies. Guided Reading is one of my FAVORITE parts of the day. I absolutely ADORE teaching my Mini-Wheats how to be better readers. However, I DREAD writing plans. I made these planning sheets to make that tedious task a little simpler. (Teacher Tip- If you use the same Guided Reading books over and over again, save the lesson plan cover and then all you need to copy is the student note page.) You can download it by clicking the picture above. Please, pretty please, with sugar on top, leave me feedback if you download. xxxxoooo
My last tip has to do with data, which seems to be ALL the rage these days. Many schools are encouraging or requiring the use of data walls in classrooms. Creating a data wall can be very time consuming and difficult to maintain. While my school does not require their use, we are encouraged to have 'proof' of how we are using data to drive our instruction. Now, if you're like me, you're rolling your eyes and saying, out loud, at the screen, "of course I use data to drive my instruction but all the data is in my head!" It's my firm belief, that as the PROFESSIONAL, as the person who knows your kids better than anyone, you don't need some huge wall of data to be "a good teacher". I created these Data Wall Clip Charts with two of my colleagues. The idea being that a data wall could be simple to read, easy to use, and adaptable to any subject or learning target. We were inspired by research based strategies from Carolyn Chapman and Rita King. You can read more about them in the book Planning and Organizing Standards-Based Differentiated Instruction.
Here's how they work: First print and laminate all the pieces. You can use the editable feature to type your student's names on the name cards or write them in with wipey board marker, once laminated. Use ribbon, paper clips, pipe cleaners, whatever you'd like to attach the pieces together and hang in a prominent place in your classroom. Next, choose your learning target- what are you expecting your students to be able to do. I choose my learning target by looking at the standard(s) I will be teaching that week (I change my learning target every week/2weeks depending upon unit).  I use very simple but specific language that is both kid friendly and measurable: ex. "I can subtract 9 from teen numbers”
Now you are ready to use your Data Wall Clip Chart. (Teacher Tip: Clothes pins work well for classes 18 and under however, if you have a larger class you may choose to use sticky tack or tape to attach your name cards. I use sticky tack and it works great for my large class.)
You may choose to pre-assess your students and then place them on the chart before starting your lessons that will allow your students to "meet their learning target" I use my Data Wall Clip Chart to justify my small groupings in both math and ELA. You may choose to use yours as a visual to motivate students, or as a visual for any visitors you may have- principal, district leaders, support staff- who may want to be able to see  what you are teaching and where your kiddos are at.  I'm hoping to get my colleague to do a Guest Blog on Data Walls and the research behind them because she explains it sooooo much better than I have. Come on, Kel, aka "Data Guru" and the creator of the hashtag #dataisntscary
Please click on either of the pictures above. Be aware, I offer three DIFFERENT Data Wall clip Charts: Space Themed Data Wall Clip Chart, Original Data Wall Clip Chart, and Realistic Photos Data Wall Clip Chart (for intermediate students who may not be motivated by cutesy clip art!)

Thanks so much for stopping by to read WHAT WORKS for my Mini-Wheats! 
Now for the GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!!! GOOD LUCK!!!!!!


Guys... no GUYS! This giveaway is huge! Check it out! Be sure to complete the rafflecopter below!
Just take a look at everything you could win...One lucky reader will win this entire prize package!!!
Prize Bundle #1 Includes
PLUS....$140 Gift Box of Fabulous Teacher Supplies sent to you from Amazon
We aren't finished yet....take a look at everything a second lucky winner will win!!!
Prize Bundle #2 Includes
PLUS....$140 Gift Box of Fabulous Teacher Supplies sent to you from Amazon
Be sure to enter both rafflecopters for a better chance at winning one of these amazing prize bundles!

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #1 Here

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #2 Here

You won't want to miss out on all the other great secrets being shared by successful teachers!  Be sure to check out all the other great posts below.






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