Parent-Teacher Conferences Survival Kit

Maybe it's working mommy guilt.......maybe it's because I can relate to what long days my kids' teachers are going through.....maybe it's because I wanted to get crafty :)  I think it was a little bit of all those things which inspired me to give my kids' teachers a Parent-Teacher Conference Survival Kit.  Conference time is one of the hardest weeks for a teacher.  Long days and lots of talking - dealing with unhappy parents and the happy ones! So I browsed the blogging world and came up with this:

I went and bought some little items that would fit in these tin buckets I had on hand (I am known to pick up random things in the dollar section at Target convinced I will find a use for them.  And see....I did!)  Candy, bandaids, breath mints, and Kleenex.

Then I typed up a little card with some cute reasons for why those things were in there - Bandaids for hurt parents, candy for some quick energy, etc. 

Put it all together with a little cellophane and ribbon and WAAALA!  Your very own Parent-Teacher Conference Survival Kit! 

Yes I am still alive......

Teaching + family activities + raising two kids = no time for blogging.  How do all these other amazing bloggers do it?? What is your secret?? I have dropped the ball big time and hope to pick it back up and get inspired by the holidays!

Fall is one of my favorite times of year to teach! But I am finding now a days it's VERY different from when I was little.  No more costume parades, Halloween is now a bad word, pumpkins are okay, just not with faces.  SOAP BOX MOMENT ALERT!!! I just don't get why this all has gone away in schools?!  It's in the stores, movies, all around the kids.  I'm not saying we devote an entire day to eating sugar and doing nothing.  There are so many fun EDUCATIONAL activites we can do!   What happened to using candy corn for artwork?  Making a jack-o-lantern with recycled materials?  All my wonderful October Idea books will have to continue collecting dust.

Off my soap box.....I must learn to "play in the sandbox nicely" as one of my wonderful teammates reminded me.  Now I am on a mission to find all kinds of fall activities to do that have nothing to do with Halloween.  So I am looking to you my wonderful blogging friends!  Please post your favorite fall activity you do in your class!  To get you started here's some I've found:

AHHHH Progress Report Time!

I can't believe that it's already half way through our first trimester at school!  I must admit that doing progress reports/report cards always makes me stressed out!  Putting the grades in is the easy part.  It's the comments that are the worst part.  Do I sound professional enough but get my point across?  Do I use the word "struggle" or say it is a "challenge"??  Is "behaviorally challenged" okay to use? :)  I think I need a filter......

So I turned to the trusty world of Google and my new found love of teacher blogs.  And guess what??  There are others who share my pain and resources to cure it!  Of course I had to share it with all of you when it's your time to pull your hair out and tackle those report card/progress report comments! :)  If you have a great resource to share, please add it on!

Success with Math Stations!

I am sooo excited to share this.....I tried doing the math station rotation that I mentioned in my previous blog and it was SUCCESSFUL!  The kids LOVED it and so did I!  Over the last week I have taught my kids about 4-5 math games they can play independently (Salute, Math Bingo, One More, etc.).  Today I broke them into their three groups and followed the rotation on the sheet I posted earlier. 
Letting my high kids do Fact Practice first, I decided to use the Challenge Worksheets in our Harcourt program.  They were fully engaged!  In our team planning yesterday (and by the way I am fortunate enough to work with some of the most creative and helpful teachers on the planet!) we were discussing how we can challenge our super math scholars each day by simply using what we have already instead of recreating the wheel :)

Meeting with my lower kids first allowed me to really take the time to teach the lesson in a small group session and use manipulatives.  I had their attention the whole time and when it was their time to do Fact Practice I had them complete the backside of our math workbook page independently.  What a great way for them to get some math confidence :) 

All in all I have to say I am looking forward to using this method each day for math! It has made my spinning like a top days a thing of the past! No more going from kid to kid, long whole group lessons, etc. 

So here's a few resources to add to your math games.  Just click on the image :)

Simple Stolen Math Management Idea!

Before I share I just have to ask if any other teachers out there ever get overwhelmed at the beginning of the year with ALL the great ideas out there and wanting do them all??!!  I tend to have a bit of ADD when it comes to getting my classroom going because I want to do it all and have it all be perfect right away :)  I blame Pinterest and all the wonderful teacher blogs out there!

Having a very varied ability math class this year I am struggling with how to meet the needs of all my kiddos.  You know...... keeping the smarty pants challenged (cuz they finish everything in about 2 seconds) and helping my mathematically challenged (the ones who take forever just to write their number the right way).  I love them all equally!!!  BUT how do stop myself from running all over the classroom once I am done with the whole group instruction?

Enter the fabulous Melissa at F is for First Grade. She is a genius I tell you and wish I could take credit for this simple idea to manage my math block!

Now all I need is a good parent (or friend out there reading this blog :) who will want to set up my math stations!  I have the book and the boxes, just need to get them all together.  For Fact Practice time I will have them use Flashcards and computer websites to practice their facts.  If you have any great math management ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Gifts for the Teacher

So I had to take my teacher hat off and put my mommy hat on this last weekend as my own two kids got ready for their first day of school....which was today!  I am once again so blessed and lucky to have two FANTASTIC teachers teaching my kids!

I always think it's nice to give a little treat to the teachers on the first day. I know first hand how hard they have been working weeks prior to get ready for a new school year! First a disclaimer....when I was lucky to be a stay at home mommy for 4 years I was so much more crafty and on top of things.  Teaching full time and being a mom full time kinda sucks the crafty right out of you sometimes!  But here's a litte something I put together that is simple and thoughtful at the same time.

Found these ADORABLE boxes in the Back to School section at Walmart!  Then I added little goodies that I know all teachers love.....stickers, post its, and most importantly....CHOCOLATE!

More Daily Five Resources!

As I get ready for my first day of school....which is only 4 days away....I am trying to refine my process of launching the Daily Five and really take my time this year building the foundations before I just go for it!  I learned that there is NO RUSH in pulling small groups right away, it takes time to establish good proceedures and routines to make this successful.  And practice, practice, practice  to build stamina :)

My first important job is to make I-Charts for each one of the Daily Five activities.  After rereading the book by The Sisters that is one step I felt I rushed through.  Found  a picture of what one should look like from Mrs. Maiolo's Classroom Website

She also has a GREAT form for tracking the kids daily choices that I downloaded and changed to put my name on!