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Differentiation in WW – Tip #1 – Writing Pre-Test

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I am so excited to be sharing my first differentiation for Writing Workshop tip with you today.  If you missed my intro to this new blog series click here >>> Introduction.

So before you can actually differentiate for each child in your class, you need to know where they are as a writer.  You need to know their strengths and things that they can work on.  One way to quickly figure this out is by giving them a writing pre-test.

If you use Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study, she has pre-test ideas in the Writing Pathways book.  She calls them On-Demand Performance Assessments.  If you don’t have the Units of Study, you can still have your students complete a writing sample/pre-test.  At the beginning of the year, I have my students write about themselves on the page below.

From this writing sample, I can learn a lot about each student.  For example…

  • Do they use complete sentences?
  • Am I able to read their spelling and inventive spelling?
  • Are they able to stay on topic?
  • Do they use capitals and end marks correctly?
  • How is their handwriting?
  • Do they add details?

Those are just a few questions I can typically answer by looking at this writing piece.  Now – this helps me differentiate for students because from this I am able to make individual goals for each student.  Some students might need to work on adding details to their writing pieces while others might need to focus on conventions. To be able to differentiate it’s important to know where you students are.  It’s also important to have a sample from the beginning of the year so you can see the growth and progress they make by the end of the year.

Stay tuned….on Monday I will be sharing Tip #2.  I will be talking about differentiating with mini-lessons.



BTS TPT Sale Starts TODAY!

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Who is excited??? The big TPT BTS Sale starts TODAY!!!! My entire store – Team J’s Classroom Fun is on sale up to 25% off with the code BTSFRESH.

 

To help you shop….here are some resources you might want to check out based on your grade level…

Kindergarten –

I Have, Who Has – Short Vowel BUNDLE
My students love playing I Have, Who Has and this bundle is a great way for students to practice reading words with short vowels.

First Grade –

Back to School Writing Activities

I love using this resource with first and second grade students.  It is a great way for the class to get to know each other and also gives you a chance to get some initial writing samples. It includes goal setting, student interview, and more.

Second Grade –

Themed Math Word Problems BUNDLE

This BUNDLE includes Themed Math Word Problems for Back to School, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Winter, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Summer.  Geared towards 2nd grade standards.  Word problems are a huge part of math and this resource is great to use in a math station or for independent practice.

Third Grade –

Jake Drake – Book Study – BUNDLE

My students love reading Jake Drake books!  These book studies go along with Andrew Clement’s four Jake Drake books. You can purchase all four book studies in this bundle or buy them separately in my store. I love using book studies during literacy station as a way to extend comprehension skills.

Those are just a few resources I wanted to share. Be sure to check out my store for even more!

Happy shopping!

New Blog Name – Well Sort of New…

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Hi everyone! It has been a summer of change and my blog is no exception. As I have shared, my husband and I recently moved from Las Vegas, NV to Houston, TX.  (And yes there is a difference between a dry heat and humidity).  I am also moving grade levels going from 2nd grade back to 1st grade, which I taught a few years ago.  Since it is a season of change I decided to revamp my blog and blog name a little bit too.

I used to be Team J’s 2nd Grade Fun and will now be Team J’s Classroom Fun.  I will be continuing to share tons of ideas, resources, activities, tips, and more for primary teachers! I’m so excited to be settled and back to blogging and sharing with you all!

A big thank you to Mollie Monroe for the blog and brand face-lift! She did a great job and I highly recommend her for any of your logo needs – you can find her on Instagram….here



July Social Media Theme Schedule

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Happy July!  Summer is flying by and it’s hard to believe it’s already July 1.  I promise I’ll be back with some new blog posts soon.  We are crazy busy this next week with the final stages of the move to Houston, but I will be back with new blog content as soon as I can!

In the meantime, check out my July Schedule for my Social Media Theme Weeks. You can follow along on Instagram and Facebook. I will have photos, videos, Insta Stories, blog posts, articles, and more on the topics!



June Social Media Theme Schedule

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This summer I have decided to do special theme weeks on my social media pages. Each week my social media (Instagram and Facebook) will focus on a different teaching topic! I’m excited to share my June schedule with you below!  Make sure you’re following me on Instagram and Facebook for lots of tips, activities, ideas, pictures, videos, resources, and more!



Big News!

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Big News! The Johnson’s are moving to Houston, Texas this summer. My husband got an amazing new basketball coaching job at a private high school in the Houston area near Katy, Texas. I was also lucky enough to get a job at the same school. And…I get to move back to first grade!

I love second grade and have taught it the last 5 years, but first grade has always had my heart. I’ve been wanting to make the move back for awhile and this opportunity fell into our laps!

So this summer will be quite busy.  We move in about three weeks (which freaks me out as I type this).  I have a school year to finish up, a classroom to pack, a house to sell, and a house to pack. And then we have a long road trip to Houston! I will be blogging from time to time and have some great blog post ideas that will for sure be coming to you in July once we get settled. So…be patient! My June blogging might be very intermittent, but I have some great ideas to share with you in July.

Any other first grade teachers out there?  Any other Houston, Texas teachers?  Let me know! Would love to connect!

 

The Quiet Game

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Now I’m aware this might be a teacher trick you already know…but if you don’t – you’re going to love it! Way back when I was a brand new baby teacher one of my colleagues had her class playing the quiet game while they were waiting in the hall for PE to start. I asked her what this game was about – and it was so easy – it was amazing!

So, I use the quiet game when we are waiting in line typically for a special.  To play the quiet game, the students need to be quiet, facing forward, and have their hands to themselves. I then walk up and down the line and find the student who is being the best example of a student standing in line. I tap them on the shoulder and then they get to pick the next student who is standing perfectly in line.  This continues on and on until the special’s teacher is ready for them.

Now, I know you’re thinking…that’s it?? It is. And they love it! Every group – first, second, and third grade has loved it.  They actually ask me to play it.  I sometimes think to myself they’ll get sick of it because there is really no prize or set winner, but they don’t!

And the best part of all is it helps with transitions to other classes and hallway behavior.

Have you played it before?? Let me know in the comments below!



5 Tips for Standardized Testing

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Oh testing time, oh testing time. What a magical time of year…NOT. Testing time is a stressful time of year for students and teachers alike.  Today I’m sharing 5 tips to help make standardized testing a little easier.

  1. Prepare your room early so the kids have time to adjust – Most of the time we have to cover up anchor charts, move desks so students are far apart, etc.  Do this ahead of time. Any time you make changes in your room, the kids notice and it can cause a commotion. If you do this a few days before testing, they will be used to it by the time testing begins.
  2. Decorate the room with positive messages – Since all of your beautiful anchor charts and posters are covered up, the room can look a little sad.  Put posters up with motivational positive messages.  It’s a way to decorate while also reminding the kids that they can do this!
  3. Make sure the kids have a healthy snack – At past schools, PTA has provided snacks for testing.  I highly recommend asking your PTA if they provide snacks or seeing if your school can do that.  Some kids come to school with no breakfast and no food. Students can’t perform well on a test if they are hungry.  I used to also provide granola bars or fresh fruit as a snack before testing or on testing breaks.
  4. Provide movement opportunities before and after testing – These tests tend to be long and it’s a lot of sitting. Prior to testing, have students do a brain break and get up and moving. They will do better if they are alert.  Use GoNoodle and do a brain break to pump them up. If you are testing after lunch/recess and they are crazy, use GoNoodle yoga or one of the mindfulness brain breaks to help calm them down for resting.
  5. Provide motivational messages on either a special treat or pencils – There are so many ideas out there for little motivational treats for students.  I’ve seen many food treats that are a little gift before or after testing. My personal favorite is the motivational message written on the child’s testing pencil.

If you missed my blog post about test prep review ideas, click here….

Be sure to sign up for my email list below! This Tuesday (April 10) I will be sending out a FREEBIE to all of my email subscribers with some cute testing signs you can use during testing season!



3 Ways Teachers Can Find Work-Life Balance – Guest Post

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I’m so excited to have a guest blogger blog for me today! The below post is by Sarah who runs Teach and Be Well, a fitness and wellness blog designed to help busy teachers take better care of themselves. She believes that a healthy lifestyle is essential preventing teacher burn out. You can find more about her, as well as self-care ideas, recipes, and more at www.teachandbewell.com

There are very few jobs that take as much work outside of the “workday” as teaching. We grade, we lesson plan, and heaven help you if you coach an extra-curricular activity. Sometimes it can feel like a struggle to find balance, and then we just shrug and say “that’s why we get breaks”. But the truth of the matter is we can burn ourselves out very quickly this way. We need to be more intentional with balancing our day-to-day lives. Below I’ve outlined 3 tips that will help you as you seek to find that balance in your own life.

  1.  Reverse schedule your time- Working at home is sort of an inevitability for most teachers. If we didn’t, things just wouldn’t get done. But that doesn’t mean that it has to take over your life. Try reverse scheduling your at home “work time”. Start with your set schedule, i.e. what time you usually get home from school, any after school commitments, etc. Then add in things you’d like to make more of a priority in your life, like getting more sleep, having time to workout, etc. Finally, schedule your work into the remaining time. You may need to have some flexibility here. Maybe you really wanted to workout 3 days a week, but you know you’ll get behind on grading, so you only schedule 2 days. Or maybe your ideal bedtime is 9 pm, but that doesn’t give you enough time in the day, so you go with 9:30. The idea is to divide up your time and predetermine how you’re going to spend it so that one thing doesn’t take over (ahem.. grading!)
  2.   Have a regularly scheduled “thing”- Try to schedule in an activity that is consistent week to week. Maybe you join a book club or a crafting class. Or maybe you make every Tuesday night “date night”. Over time it will become a regular part of your schedule and you’ll avoid scheduling other things in that time slot, “Oh, I can’t. Wednesday nights are my salsa dancing nights.” Bonus points if you can schedule 2 nights a week for yourself, one fitness related and one hobby or relationship related.
  3.  Learn to say no- I completely understand why people have a hard time with this one. I often have trouble saying no to things my friends ask me to do, especially if I don’t have a good excuse. We all need to stop this. It’s time to realize that needing a night at home is a perfectly valid excuse. Another mindset change I had to make was recognizing that teaching is an act of service, and that I shouldn’t feel guilty about saying no to extra service projects, mentor-ships, etc. I’ve found that as a teacher I’m pouring into kids all day, and I need activities in my life that fill me back up. I still, of course, do meaningful projects outside of school, I’m just more selective about what they are.

Work-life balance isn’t something that just happens because we want it to. You have to be intentional in creating that space. I’d love to know how you find balance in your life, let me know in the comments!

Teacher Tip – Wireless Doorbell

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The Best Teacher Invention…

I know I’m not the only person to discuss and recommend the wireless doorbell, but this thing is amazing! I highly recommend it – and no this is not an affiliate link nor do I work for Amazon or the doorbell company.

In the past I’ve always used the clapping patterns or 1-2-3 eyes on me as a way to get student’s attention. And, while yes that will work it sometimes has to be repeated many times. This past summer I purchased a wireless doorbell to use in my classroom after seeing some teachers on Instagram recommending it. My doorbell has multiple songs and chimes and I chose a simple chime that sounded like the end of intermission at a play. This thing works like a charm! My students hadn’t seen it before so it was a novelty item at first, but it gets their attention! The nice thing is that I can change the sound or song so that it’s always fresh and always a bit of a novelty. (Our classroom Elf even changed the tune to Jingle Bells during the holiday season.)

I use the doorbell as a way to get them to freeze and give me their attention. I sound the doorbell when they need to rotate during math rotations. I use the doorbell as a sign to clean up. This thing works and it’s saved my voice and frustration level. Now there are times when they are a little crazy and I have to ring it a second time, but I do not have to raise my voice! The doorbell does it for me!

Anyways – random little post today, but I’ve been meaning to share my love for this doorbell with you. If you are interested in the one I purchased it was around $15 and I’ll post the link below. Again I do not have an affiliate link, but I do love this product.

SadoTech Doorbell on Amazon