Saturday, November 30, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: Activities that will Help Motivate Students to Make it to Winter Break!

What!?! It's December already? I'll be heading back to school on Monday and need a few tricks to keep my second graders motivated to keep learning till Winter Break. 


I'm sure you've seen the posts on Pinterest for the end of the school year where teachers place rolled-up pieces with activities in balloons for students to pop. And, if you're like me, you love those little Advent calendars, but can't use them because you're in a public school {I always miss my private school days during the holidays}. 
During my latest trip to the craft store, I got a 'light bulb' and decided to combine the two ideas to make a countdown to winter break board! 

Read on to see what I made, and to snag a freebie to create a countdown board of your own! 


Materials: 
~ Tag Board $3
~ Scrapbook Numbered Paper $.69
~ Burlap Sac Garland $10
~ Mini Clothespins $2



Here's a peak at the completed board (I seriously need to find my camera... the iPhone just doesn't cut it!). I love the burlap sac garland! My plan is to reuse the burlap garland over and over again. Inside will be the pieces of paper with end-of-the-day activities for students to participate in... if they have a productive day, that is!

Here's how it will work:

In the afternoon, the most challenging part of the day, I will call on a special student to pull out the piece of paper from the garland. They will read the activity to the class, and I will post it on my whiteboard. If the class is successfully able to finish our daily objectives and clean-up the classroom, I will set aside 15 minutes at the E.O.D for my second graders to do a fun holiday themed activity. 

Click on the photos below to get a copy of these fun activities for your classroom! The photos will take you to a Google Doc. I also included some blanks for you to write your own activities if the ones I have don't work for your students. 




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Fun in Second Grade!

I am so lucky to have this entire week off! I truly needed the rest after a busy week learning about pilgrims with my sensational second graders! There are two second grade classrooms in my school (small, I know). My second graders studied the pilgrims and the other second grade classroom studied the Native Americans. I loved sharing a piece of American history with my kids. I'm all for correcting misconceptions and learning the facts about the origins of Thanksgiving.



We read several books about what it was like to live as a pilgrim in the 1620's. I made an anchor chart to document what we learned along the way, and students also recorded their learning on a graphic organizer I made for them. I was amazed at how detailed their notes were... they're so ready for these common core standards, hehe. 


After learning about the daily life of pilgrims, my second graders created a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast themselves to pilgrims. We used the Venn Diagram for a compare and contrast writing project.


And for the grand finale... my class and the other second grade class got together to showcase what we learned and to learn from one another! It was so much fun! 







Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sometimes We Have those Days, Weeks, Months, and Years

I've been gone; vanished from the blogging world for weeks. I knew I would come back to blogging, I just needed a little time to adjust to life in 2nd grade.



At the beginning of the school year I asked my students to graph how they felt about beginning 2nd grade. They had just as much enthusiasm and excitement as I did. I was very much determined to make this year the best year yet after a challenging year last year. This would be my 5th year of teaching, so I had high expectations for myself and for my students.

I was feeling a bit overconfident when God stepped in. On October 2nd I left work in an ambulance. If you read some of my previous posts, you know why. It took almost three weeks before I was back in school. Everything I worked so hard on... the management, the classroom community, student work ethic... It all went down the drain! I had a wonderful amazing substitute, but my kiddos world had changed, and then changed again when I came back, so of course things got crazy.

My excitement changed to overwhelmed, to frustrated, to miserable. I'd come home almost every night feeling like a failure of a teacher and just ball my eyes out. I felt like I had not control over my students anymore. I'd spend hours on lesson plans, and wouldn't even be able to execute the lessons because I'd have to stop and manage my classroom.

The LAST thing I wanted to do was blog. Why would I blog to other teachers about teaching if I felt like I wasn't doing a good job at getting through and engaging my students?

I had some deep conversations with some important people in my life, and my teaching partner. They all knew who I was and could add some piece of inspiration to my life.

My teaching partner was right! I was doing way too much. The perfectionist in me tried to be perfect at everything instead of focus on one thing at a time. I put some of my TPT projects on hold and focused on classroom management.

When I set my mind to something, I work my you-know-what off to meet my goal! I exhausted myself with a positive attitude, pointing out every good example that I could. I busted my rump to keep things entertaining and exciting for my kids so that I could keep the pace of my lessons. I cut transition times in half!

Success Story (Yay!!): Last Thursday I was put to the test with my formal observation (EEEKKK!). I was so nervous I was shaking. I completed my math lesson and watched as my hard work fell into place. The timing was right, the transitions were right, the routines were in place. My review was glowing. I feel like a good teacher again.

Teaching is hard work. I knew that when I started this profession it would be difficult... But, Man! I have so much respect for quality educators it's ridiculous!

I taught in the city and had no idea what I would face at at Title 1 school in a rural town. I had no idea what challenges my students would face in their personal lives. The least I could do is provide a warm caring environment for them and a safe place to grow. I hate that I had to leave them for a few weeks, but am so happy to be back and be able to grow right along with them!

I wanted to leave my blog readers with one of the best inspiration education videos I've seen! Rita Pierson sadly has passed away, but her words can still be shared and can still inspired educators everywhere! Enjoy!