Wednesday, March 21, 2012

So Many Reasons to Smile!

It's an exciting morning here in Sub Hub land! First, I made Education World's list of the Top 25 Blogs for Educators. After just starting my blog in August and seeing how many phenomenal educator blogs there are, I am truly honored to have made this list. I still feel like I am learning how to make Sub Hub better and more useful for my followers every single day. And I cannot even believe how much I love blogging. So, THANK YOU, Education World!

The second thing I am excited about today is that Lorraine at Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies invited me to join up with her linky party of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade blogs. Even though that is not my only grade focus, I do sub for and provide materials for those grade levels. So, THANK YOU, Lorraine! Be sure to go check out the amazing list of upper elementary blogs her linky party has compiled. I know I found a bunch more amazing blogs to follow. Now, if only I could find a way to fit more hours in a day to read them all. I will just have to pace myself, I guess. Ha!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Revving My Engines

Tomorrow I am heading into a second grade class where in just a couple of weeks, I will begin a long-term subbing job for a teacher going on maternity leave. For every long-term job I have had, I always try to schedule an observation day with the classroom teacher while students are there. No, I don't get paid for the day, and that is a bummer. But I still believe it to be a valuable thing and something that has made my jobs go as smoothly as possible. There are quite a few reasons I do it:

1) It helps me. I get to ask the teacher any questions I may have. The teacher can show me where everything is stored. I can see the classroom management systems in place. And learn the students and the routine.

2) It helps the teacher. The teacher feels more comfortable that they could tell and show me everything they needed to. It gives them peace of mind when they are away from their classroom for so long.

3) It helps the students. The students now know who I am and that I know the way their teacher does everything. They tend to try to push boundaries a little less that way. And little kiddos know that I am teacher-approved, which goes a long way with them.

4) It helps the parents. In a similar vein, it gives the parents peace of mind too. They know that I know what I am doing. In several cases, I have even been able to talk to a few parents to ease their worries.

5) It helps the principal. And finally, the principal also is comforted that I know the system. There are less confrontations, challenges, and issues that would arise when I go through this extra "training."

Now, this is not something that I am required to do by any means, but I continue to volunteer my time to be extra prepared. Because in my experience, preparation is everything!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

This Is No April Fool

One year in a first grade class, I told them the day before April Fool's Day that I would let them tell one joke to the class. I left it as optional so the shy kiddos would not stress out and the kiddos who love the spotlight could shine. My favorite was this sweet, quiet little boy who always reminded me of the boy the in Jerry Maguire (you remember, the human-head-weighs-8-pounds kid). I would never even have guessed that he would be brave enough to get in front of the class, but that he did. He stood proudly on the carpet and told his joke. Him: "Knock knock." Class: "Who's there?" Him: "Nobody." Class: "Nobody who?" He just stood quietly in front of the class with a big ole grin. Get it? Nobody was there! Bahahahaha! It just cracked me up!

I also had a packet of activities for the students to do when they finished their reading work. At the time, it was hard to find some things so I had to scramble and piece together a word search, maze, and crossword puzzle. But I thought, there had to be some other things to do. So I created some and put them altogether in a free April Fool's Day Activity Packet.

There are seven different activities including a silly story planning sheet, draw and describe a creature with silly eyes, how did the chicken cross the road, KWL chart with a short history of April Fool's Day reading passage (littler ones will need the passage read to them), and an acrostic poem. And it's all free!

This year, April Fool's Day falls on a Sunday, so maybe not as many teachers will be celebrating. But if I get the chance, I will celebrate on Monday, April 2.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day 12 of the St. Patty's Day Blog Hunt

Foiled again! The pot o' gold is still just out of your grasp. But you are getting closer. First of all, welcome to visitors finding me through Cooperative Learning 365 and Best Practices 4 Teaching! They did not lead you on a wild goose chase because there is another freebie for you grab. This one is a Lucky Day Writing Activity based on the book Lucky Tucker by Leslie McGuirk. It includes a shamrock story organizer and writing paper for the final story.

If you are not familiar with the story, it tells of a bad day for our friend Tucker that turns into a good day after he rolls in some shamrocks. If you need a copy, just click on the book cover to take you to Amazon to order your own.

Tomorrow be sure to look for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow at Teaching in Room 6.

If you would like to start the hunt at the very beginning, Day 1 was in Mrs. Jump's Class. Happy hunting to each and every one of you!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Really Good Stuff's Files-and-All Teacher Caddy Review and Giveaway

For as long as I can remember, there are two things I have always wanted: a veranda and a roll top desk. Just ask my mom. Now, the veranda isn't important to this post, but the roll top desk has a connection, I promise. The reason I wanted a roll top desk is because of all the nifty, cute compartments to organize and store anything and everything.

So, when Really Good Stuff asked if I would like to review the Files-and-All Teacher Caddy, I had visions of roll top desks in my head. The caddy has similar nifty, cute compartments to organize and can carry everything in my sub bag of tricks.

The pockets on the outside are perfect for a water bottle, pens and pencils, sticky notes, and other notes (like the positive behavior notes seen in the photo). And there is even a zippered pocket on one end for other little items. I put in my decorative punches that I use for classroom management, but it would be perfect for any other small items.

The inside of the Files-and-All Teacher Caddy has a wire frame that can be inserted and will hold hanging files. Teachers can use it to tote home the never-ending grading and planning materials. And subs can put lesson plans, forms, extra activities, and even read-aloud books in the files.

The size of the bag is perfect... not too big and not too small. When I loaded it up, it fit everything I needed, and did not weigh too much. The handles are a good length that you carry on your shoulder or in your hand and it won't drag the ground (and I am short).

The metal frame allows the bag to hold its shape and stand up. It attaches with Velcro straps on the inside to keep it from moving around. I will give one word of warning: be sure to center the weight inside the bag, or it will fall over when you set it down. But it even has little black feet, so the bag doesn't just sit on its bottom and get all dirty.

The blue and green color is fun and bright and would work for either a male or a female. However, that is the only color choice. It would be nice it there were a few more choices. The only other downside I can see is that the outside compartments do not have any sort of closure, so things could fall out. However, I tried it out for several days and did not have anything fall out, so I really don't think that is too big of a downside.

The greatest thing is that Really Good Stuff is providing a Files-and-All Teacher Caddy for one lucky Sub Hub reader! All you need to do is follow Really Good Stuff on Facebook (leave them a message that Sub Hub sent you) and on Twitter. And follow Sub Hub blog in one way (you choose). Then fill out the form below and submit.

If you absolutely HAVE to have one now, you can order the Files-and-All Teacher Caddy right here for only $19.99.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Measuring Scavenger Hunt

If you want a fun activity to practice measuring length, then this measuring scavenger hunt is for you. You can also find a short description of the activity (minus the free printable download) in the March 2012 issue of the Really Good Stuff newsletter. I do this activity after covering measuring length, and making sure students know how to use tools with standard and nonstandard units to measure the length of items. To go along with the activity, I created a free printable download in both nonstandard units of craft sticks and standard units of inches and feet. When I have used this activity in the classroom, I had students work in pairs to complete the scavenger hunt. Then we came back together as a class and shared some of their answers. We talk about what they found easy and what was challenging for them (for example, many students will find it difficult to measure something that is longer than their measuring tool). It's fun to see the things students to measure and see their different answers. And the students get plenty of measuring practice.

And if you are looking for more measurement freebies, check out this Measurement Mania Freebie Collection. Just click on each picture to take you to a different blog to collect a whole slew of freebies!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Personal Word Walls

As I was cleaning through a pile of papers this weekend (if you know me, you know how unusual that is... I am highly organized at school, but at home, not so much), and I came across something from back in my grad school days. I had a project for one class where I tutored a little kinder sweetie in reading and writing. And one thing I made for her as a reference was her own personalized word wall... in a file folder.

There is not a lower elementary classroom that I have been in that does not have a word wall. Even a few upper elementary classrooms have them. But this one is perfect for small groups, as a reading reference, as a spelling reminder, or all at once. It could even be used to remember academic vocabulary words.

All I did was take a blank file folder. I just used a plain one because that's what I happened to have around, but you could certainly use fancier ones. I gave the cover its title, and again, I just wrote it simply, but you could go as crazy as you'd like, or even have the students decorate their own covers.

On the inside, I used alphabet letters and gave each letter a section with a capital and a lowercase. As the tutoring continued, I added in some blends since we were working on the th, sh, and ch sounds. Then you just add the words you want. I added the sight words we were working on, the words with the blends, and a few we were using in our shared writing project.

Now each student can have their very own personalized word wall. They can write words you tell them to, or add words of their own that they need extra help remembering. And it's quick, easy, inexpensive, and compact to store. What could be better?
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