Task Cards for the Win!

Happy Friday! It’s been a fun and crazy filled week! This week was Homecoming, so that added an extra crazy twist on the week.

Monday I started a “review” of multidigit subtraction with regrouping. This is something that I taught last year to them when they were in 3rd grade. Of course I assumed that this would be an easy review math lesson and that they would be bored out of their minds because they would remember everything they learned last year. Ha. I’m laughing at my naiveté just thinking about it.

I went through correcting their assignment and wow…..they BOMBED. During my “review” lesson, they acted just how I thought they would. They were looking at me like they could fall asleep any second. I honestly thought they were so bored that they would go home and tell their parents about how math is too easy and they aren’t being challenged. I felt comfortable doing only a few practice problems together before setting them off to work alone.

When I saw how poorly they did, and how overly confident they were acting, I figured I needed to do some major and serious review. Monday after school I bought a set of multidigit subtraction with regrouping task cards on TPT (from Little Achiever‘s account) and had them spend the entire math time Tuesday going through every card.

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There were 24 total cards so, for some of my students, this took them the entire math time. I had the answer key posted (backwards on a magnet) on my board, so students who were finished ahead of time, could check their own work, followed by doing some more challenging problems on IXL (BTW if you don’t know what IXL is GO CHECK IT OUT!!! This is a teacher’s dream for math and language arts review!!)

This worked wonders!!! They thought it was super fun to spend their math time moving around the room doing problems on their mini whiteboards. It was amazing! After this small (but fun) activity, they seemed to have better memories on how to regroup when subtracting.

I was able to see how well this worked today when I had them take an adding and subtracting quiz. All but one student passed!!! That is insane when you think about a class of 25 students. If your students are struggling with anything in math as a class, go and take an extra couple days of review, it WILL pay off!! It’s okay if you fall behind your teammates or your scope and sequence. If your kiddos need more practice, give it to them!

The rest of the week was pretty relaxed, apart from our crazy dress up days. This week we also started some switching for subjects with different teachers. My students have been with me for the past few weeks learning about some basic grammar topics, like nouns, verbs, and types of sentences. Thursday, my students finished their first grammar round with me and got to begin a few weeks of science with another teacher. Because of that, I got a new group of kiddos to teach grammar to for 40 minutes. This new class made me love my own class even more. The class that I’ll be teaching grammar to for the next few weeks, has a lot of energy. 6 of my students from last year are in that class, so I knew that having them for 40 minutes a day would be interesting….I remembered quick how exhausting my year ended up being last year with some of those kiddos. Those 40 minutes yesterday and today were the most exhausting my year has been thus far. Because of that, I realized how AMAZING my students this year are. I seriously love them. They are so sweet and so calm. I am so lucky to have such a great class this year.

One month ago I found out that I’d be moving from 3rd grade to 4th grade (only a week before school started) and I was not thrilled. I was nervous, anxious, angry, and stressed. After this month, I can honestly believe that everything happens for a reason. If I didn’t have this chance to move up a grade level, I would not have had this opportunity to have the most amazing class in the world. A class I may never have the opportunity to have again. I am honestly so blessed and lucky to get the chance to be their 4th grade teacher.

 

For more day to day posts and class activities, go follow my teacher instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!

Second Full Week Complete!

Happy Friday! I think I’m officially labeling Fridays as my posting days. It’s a nice way to rethink about the week while also venting if I need it. It’s also a way for me to relax and decompress.

This week I didn’t go overboard with anything crazy like art projects or special assignments. My main goal for this week was to keep things as consistent and routined as possible. (For myself and the kids.)

Monday started the week strong. My kids came in ready to learn (which still blew my mind) so it was a nice easy way to start the week. The next few days were like that but then Thursday came.

Thursday was the day we had to take our fall reading benchmarks test. The assessment we take is about 40 questions but the poor kids have to read multiple passages (that are not exciting) so it takes up to 2 hours for them to finish. Needless to say, they were not in the learning mood after lunch.

The afternoon on Thursday was the first time this year I started to get frustrated. (Now I know what I’m about to share is literally nothing! I know, I’ve had tough classes in the past! But after having such an incredible 2 weeks of no issues, I was shocked that they weren’t listening and being a bit disrespectful.)  They came back from lunch, and usually they know my expectation is to grab a book and read to self right away (they are amazing at this) but they came back and would not stop talking! I tried to get them to settle down but for some reason it wasn’t sinking in.

For my discipline system I have a “strike” board. If their name is on the strike board by Friday,  they owe me 5 minutes (for each time their name is on the board) of their morning Friday free time. I usually only have to give a single warning for them to settle down, but Thursday it took multiple warnings and a few kids who got official “strikes” for them to calm down.

The rest of the afternoon was just like this. They were so chatty. Luckily they are such good kids that saying they had to write their name on the strike board was enough for them to stop whatever it was they were doing.

Today was very similar to yesterday. They were high energy and chatty. We had to stop and have a talk about how they had been doing such a great job the first few weeks and how my expectation of them is to continue that since they are more than capable. (I know, they’re 9, they are going to talk and have high energy but just telling them that I was disappointed in the past few days, was enough to get them to settle down.)

I do love this class. So far, I can tell it’s going to be a much easier year than it has been in the past. But they’re kids and I’m a teacher, there will be days that we both drive each other crazy. The last 2 days, were those days. I do love them with all of my heart and I am excited to go back and see them on Monday!

To make today so much better, however I was eligible for an upgrade on my phone, so last weekend I preordered the new iPhone 11 Pro Max. When I came home from work today, there it was sitting in front of my door waiting for me! (I’m a nerd who LOVES Apple and technology, so new Apple products are my toys that make me as excited as a kid on Christmas morning!) It was the best Friday surprise!

Until next week friends!

For more day to day adventures and pictures, go follow my school instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!

New Classroom, New Grade, New Challenge!

Uff-dah (yes that is the Minnesotan in me but that is how I feel!) It has been one insane week with some BIG changes!!

Last Friday I posted about finally finishing my classroom but then was hit with the bombshell, someone in our grade level would have to move from 3rd to 4th grade. Well fast forward to Monday and that bombshell hit me especially hard. Because I am the rookie on my team, I drew the short stick and was told by our new principal and superintendent that I would have to be the one to move.

This was a lot to take in! They were both super nice about it when they came to talk/comfort me. They told me that they were going to make this change as easy as possible for me. I told them that I had just finishing moving into my new room (in the 3rd grade wing) 3 days prior so they told me I could stay in that room if I wanted to. Honestly, that day was all a haze. I had originally thought I was going to move over to the empty 4th grade classroom but as the day progressed instead of worrying about the new curriculum and my new students, all I could think about was moving into a new room. I realized my priorities were not in the right spot so I shouldn’t move.

I talked to my 4th grade team about that decision and they told me they would have made the same choice and there was no reason for me to add that stress! Of course other staff in the building didn’t agree with that choice so I was bombarded with non stop opinions for 2 days. I kept hearing from other staff members that parents will be upset and students won’t like “sharing bathrooms and locker areas with 3rd graders.” I get that some families might not be thrilled about the location of the classroom but at the end of the day it’s what happens in the classroom that matters the most. Finally, I told another team mate about the constant “advice” I was receiving and she stopped it in its tracks. She literally saved my sanity!

After all of the drama dust subsided I finally got to meet with some of my new teammates and spent many hours replanning my first few weeks of school. I definitely spent more time at school this week than I had planned (especially considering it was workshop week so I knew I would be there everyday anyways) but I left today feeling like I can do this. I taught 4th grade 2 years ago, so I know what to expect. It’s just sad that I don’t get to work with the same awesome people again. I was also excited to know what I was teaching for once but I guess I’m made for the challenge.

Anyways… after all of that fun stuff I wanted to share my new classroom that was prepped for 3rd grade but was transformed for 4th grade!

First things first, it might look plain but I love to use tables instead of desks. I HATE clutter. Tables don’t completely solve the problem but nothing gets buried inside. They are also a great way to promote groups and collaboration between students throughout the day. I also added little buckets on each table filled with a mix of markers, crayons, colored pencils, and pens. I found these adorable buckets (confetti themed) at Target for only $1.00 a piece. I have 7 tables so I have 7 buckets, each with a sticker number on them so I can have numbered groups.

The front of my room is not the most exciting but I centered it around our reading curriculum. When I thought I would be teaching 3rd grade, I was only going to be teaching reading. I found many word work, spelling, and writing activities on TPT over the summer to go with the curriculum, so I didn’t want them to go to waste. I LOVE the Teacher Resources confetti theme! I used it last year so I built off of it this year. I found those cute confetti circles with positive affirmations. I am BIG on positive mindset in my classroom so they were perfect!

Next is my new reading corner. I don’t have all of the space I would like for this area but I made the most of it! Our school does AR to encourage reading. The school gives away prizes for students when they earn a certain amount of points but to encourage taking AR tests more and having point goals, I have my own point/incentive program. Last year, AR was new to me so I didn’t have much set up. This year I wanted to have a bright and fun display of the points each student has next to a sign of the incentives for each goal. When a student gets 50 points they will get to take a clothes pin (they are all numbered so students find their class number) and clip it to the sign. As they get more points, they get to keep moving their pin. I found these amazing confetti/neon labels for $3.00 on TPT from Cherry Workshop‘s store. I used the signs in this file for many labels around my room.

I bought these mini confetti labels from amazon for $6.99. They come in a pack of 30 and I love them for my lunch count/attendance taker. I used them last year as well. It’s a quick and easy way for me to see what the lunch count is and if anyone is absent. Last year I struggled with organizing papers for each subject that was handed in throughout the day. This year I decided to buy these drawers from Target for $9.99 each (not the cheapest but worth it) and label them for each subject. This way when my students hand things in, they will already be sorted by subject for me. I also wanted to spruce up my dull walls (I like to put fabric in the background to brighten things up but the walls are so high in this new room that I can’t reach the top) so I put up these 3 positive mindset posters from the teacher store Lakeshore Learning. I love their messages but I also find them super cute!

The back of my room is my favorite. Again, most of these are all from the confetti themed section found at Teacher Resources (also their store on Amazon.) My schedule was made using the neon labels I bought on TPT that also had the signs I used for my AR display. I love the teacher hack of using a push pin wall to display student work in a quick and easy way. I hot glued a push pin to the back of a clothes pin and a number tag to the front of the clothes pin to make the mounts. That is all the work I have to do there. Now as the year goes on when we have a project, I won’t have to waste time stapling or taping up their work because they can easily do it! Growing up with a teacher mom, I would usually be the one to put up and display her students’ work. I hated it and it easily became my biggest pet peeve. So seriously, this is my favorite time saver!

 

Oh man it has definitely been a week and the kids aren’t even here yet. I’m just hoping it’s all is up hill from here. To help take care of with my newly added stress, I got a sweet little surprise today. I have one student this year that I also had in my class last year. Luckily, she was one of my all time favorites! Today I got a sweet little gift and card from her saying she was excited to have me again. It’s those little things that make all the difference! I seriously started to cry when it showed up at school today! Now to enjoy the last official weekend before the year begins.

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The Life Saving Planner

Happy Friday friends! It’s been another great couple of weeks wrapping up summer while also prepping for the year to begin.

One thing I like to do right when I get my official class list is to organize the basics. The main thing I like to take care of right away is to put all of their birthdays in my planner. I like to have them written down ahead of time so I remember in the middle of February that Suzy’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day. As the year goes on I will then transfer those dates as I write my weekly lesson plans. It’s been a great system but because my lesson plans and my planner have been two separate things there were days that I almost missed a couple half birthdays. This year, I found the perfect solution.

I was searching different teacher hacks on Pinterest (because, of course) and I found the BEST lesson plan/planner a teacher could ever want. I found the all in one lesson plan planner made by Erin Condren. These planners are EVERYTHING!

I purchased what is called the “Life Planner.” The name says everything.

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The planner has EVERYTHING you need all in one place. Obviously, it’s a regular planner. There is a section on the calendar for each month and then a spot for each day of that month.

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What is special and different about this planner is that it has a whole layout for teachers for your day to day, class to class lesson plans. It also has another whole section for grades and keeping track of special month to month events like birthdays! Perfect for me!

Ok here comes the fun part, you get to personalize your planner with your favorite design and your name with you school!! Come on teachers, who doesn’t love that!? The other fun part is that the Life Planner comes with stickers for every and any special event you can imagine! It’s literally a teacher’s dream!

I LOVE this planner and I am so excited to use it!!!!! It makes me excited for the year to begin! When you click on the link I provided, you’ll get to see the awesome planner choices from Erin. They are a bit spendy but, personally, I think it will be worth every penny!

With class lists there is one more thing I love to do when I get the updated version. I want my kiddos to come into the first day feeling comfortable around me. I want them to feel like they know what is going to happen and that they know who I am. At my old school, the school sent out letters to the students written by their knew teacher as an introduction to who they would have for that upcoming year. At my new school, we have something called “move-up day” where at the end of the school year in May, students get to go to meet their next year’s teacher and spend some time with them. Sadly, I wasn’t there this past year to meet my new students. Because I didn’t get to see them, I decided to send out a letter (like the one my old school would have sent) to my new kiddos to help them know who I am! I am so excited to send them out so they can get to know me!

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Teacher Hack – Pencil Popsicle Sticks

It’s that time of the summer, the school itch is starting to crawl into my mind. I’m starting to look at Pinterest more and more trying to find new tips and hacks for this upcoming school year. I love finding new ways to make class organization easier in the summer. (And anything that is a DIY project is an added bonus!)

This year I’m going to be teaching reading 4 times throughout the day to 4 different leveled groups. I’ll have my own homeroom but for most of the day I’ll be working with 100 different kiddos. I’m used to having one class for the whole day but trying to organize 4 different classes with 25 students in each is going to be tricky.

A fun hack (and project) I found on a Teacher Hacks Facebook page and on Pinterest is a ways to organize popsicle sticks to know who you’ve picked on so far and who you haven’t. I mainly use popsicle sticks to pick partners to read with or to pick players in certain games. I found this awesome hack of turning the popsicle sticks into pencils.

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This was super easy! I painted a pink eraser on one end, yellow in the middle, and then drew the pencil tip with a black sharpie on the other end.

The fun hack is you put the popsicle sticks in  whatever you are picking from (I use the metal baskets found in the party section at Target) eraser side up. When you pick a name you put it back in the basket pencil tip up so you know you’ve already picked that stick. It’s so simple and yet so useful!

To help me organize 100+ different sticks I purchased 4 different white metal buckets from Target. Each of our 4 classes are given a color to identify their group (another organization tip.) This year we will be having a red group, green group, blue group, and a purple group. I bought colored washi tape for each bucket, the colors being the 4 color names of our groups. I taped the top part of each basket with a certain color so I’ll know what bucket holds which classes sticks.

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I’m super excited for this new adventure in teaching but I’m also really nervous. I love reading but I’m not sure how I’ll feel about doing the same lesson 4 times a day. I’m also not sure how I’m going to keep this whole thing organized. For the next month I’m going to be doing a lot of research on how to teach multiple classes. If anyone has any tricks, tips, or hacks that they use let me know! I would love to hear how you manage multiple classes while keeping your sanity and organization!