Let's Talk About Writing

Sunday, August 24, 2014 1 comment
One of the coolest things I have learned in all of my teacher training has got to be Brainies! At the Whole Brain Teaching Conference this summer Chris Biffle introduced this new strategy to us, and I am IN LOVE!

The idea is to teach your students these Brainies and their corresponding hand gestures a little at a time. Then throughout the year students should use Brainies with their speaking while the rest of the class uses mirrors with them too.

I started off by teaching my students the "capital letter", "period", "and", and "because".
Here are the hand motions for these Brainies.

Once your kiddos get really good at Brainies you can begin to teach more. You will find that Chris Biffle has assigned a point value to each Brainie. Students can then work on earning points by using different Brainies in their paper. 

During my first use of Brainies in the classroom, I simply walked around the room with highlighters and circled anytime I saw a student using a Brainie correctly. I then took the papers home, totaled each paper for number of Brainies. The next day, we reviewed Brainies and each student had to beat their total by at least one more Brainie. The results were outstanding! 

This student used 16 Brainies on her first try. The second day, she was able to use 31 Brainies in one story! Also, please remember this is only the 6th day of school!
Her story reads...

Barretts School

I love Barretts school because of my teachers and my friends. I love eating with my friends and having fun. Ada is my best friend because she is nice and pretty. I have a lot of best friends. Me and my friends would sit next to each other we are friends. I love recess because it is fun and cool. I hope you like my story and my friends. I hope you have great friends too. I hope this book inspires you. My teacher is amazing and cool. 

This next story is fantastic too! On this day the students had about 15 minutes to just write and use Brainies. We did not talk about anything related to writing other than the 4 Brainies I had taught them in our mini-lesson. 

This story reads...

Christmas Tooth

On Christmas Eve I was so surprised that I lost my tooth I almost screamed. Then I washed out my mouth and then went to show everybody. When I was done with dinner I had the cake then after the cake I think I could burst. After that I talked and played some. Then my Mom said to give hugs and kisses. Sadly my Mom drove us home. 

I found that my students responded really well to the immediate feedback as they were writing. As I would circle or highlight their Brainies I found that it encouraged them to use even more. As we progress through the year we will add more Brainies and more rules for Brainies, such as you can't start sentences with certain Brainies or you will only get points for the first time you use a Brainie to encourage students to use a variety of Brainies in their writing.

Here's the complete list of all of the Brainies:

Give Brainies a try in your classroom and let me know how it goes! I'd love to see what your students can write.

I Believe In My "Selfie"

Saturday, August 23, 2014 1 comment
Let me just start off by saying how adorable my 2nd graders are. I was so nervous about making the switch down to second grade, but it has been so fun! There's definitely still a lot of learning to do, but I'm catching on...slowly :)

We just finished our 9th day of school yesterday so we're really starting to get into the swing of things. Last week we did one of the most adorable activities with the kiddos...

"I Believe in My Selfie"

I can't take any credit for this one, a teammate of mine found it and passed it on. But boy, it was great! We talked with the students about what things make us unique and how those unique things give us the power to believe in our self. 

The students wrote a short piece on why they believed in themselves, then it got hilarious...each student used the digital camera to take a "selfie". Watching a 7 year old take a selfie has got to be the funniest thing I have ever seen. Most of them were so worried about how to place their head or stretching out their necks. Most everyone asked for a retake lol

To download this activity for your classroom, click HERE.

Have fun! 

The Big Classroom Reveal

Friday, August 8, 2014 7 comments
Let me start by saying I am going to have the best year...ever! Last night was "Sneak a Peek" or supply drop off as many of you may call it (which is why I was finally able to get pictures of my room, because it's DONE!). Anyway, I was nervous to meet all of my new second graders but I was surprised that the night was going pretty smoothly - parents are great, kids are adorable, everyone was in and out with no problems! And then the funniest moment of my life happened. Truly, the funniest. One of my new students stops right in front of me, looks up and says "hmm...I thought you were going to look different." of course I was curious to know what she was expecting, so I asked. She thinks for a moment and then says, "well I thought you'd be a little prettier....and taller...and kinda skinnier..." and in that moment, I knew that this was going to be an unforgettable year with some of the most hilarious kiddos! 

Alright, enough with my stories. Here's the room! 

Next you'll see my Word Wall. I found these fantastic green chevron plates at Michaels on clearance for 50 cents for a pack of 8! I knew I had to have them, but didn't know how or what I would use them for. Turns out they look great on the Word Wall! 

And here comes the Classroom Library... 

I love my editable library labels! You can find them in Tricia Lyday's Teachers Pay Teachers store HERE.

This 7 Habits tree is my favorite! Luckily for me, my boyfriend did most of the hard work! I have gotten so many compliments from staff and parents. I think it really adds to our reading corner and it's going to be a fabulous reminder for the 7 Habits!

Ugh! Check out that glare! But you get the point! Here's my classroom Leaderboard. Each student will decorate a name card on the first day of school. We will move these name cards through the jobs throughout the year. Want to download this for your classroom? Click HERE.

My math centers have the most fabulous labels thanks to Amy Groesbeck! Grab them in her store HERE.

Our cubbies are finally organized and can I tell you how obsessed I am with all of those cabinets?! I have never been so organized.

At the top you can also see a glimpse of my number line (the darn glare, ugh!!). If you want to see more check out Kinder Craze's Teachers Pay Teacher store. You can download them HERE.

Our learning targets are all hanging on 3M hooks so that can be easily changed for each unit. 

Birthday charts brought to you by The Fabulous Life of an Elementary School Teacher. Stop by her Teacher Pay Teachers store to download these for FREE. 

I'm so excited to use my BLACK dry erase board. This picture definitely does NOT do it justice, but it is pretty sweet! I'm going to use this for my Whole Brain Teaching Scoreboard. 

More Whole Brain Teaching goodies! This will be my first year using Super Improvers in the classroom. I'm anxious to see the results! You can download the Super Improvers labels for free by clicking here

I hope you enjoyed gawking at my classroom as much as I LOVE to look at all of your classrooms! I hope you all have a fantastic school year.

$25 TPT Gift Card Giveaway!

Monday, August 4, 2014 No comments

If you haven't heard, the Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale started today!

Head on over to my page to save 28% on everything you need to get your classroom ready for the 2014-2015 school year.

Once you're done shopping make sure you enter to win this $25 TPT Gift Certificate! 
There's many ways to enter, but you will receive 5 additional entries if you purchase something from my store during the BTS Sale!

Hurry and enter! This giveaway only lasts for two days!

June/July SLANT Box

Friday, August 1, 2014 1 comment
The SLANT Box Exchange

This was my first SLANT box exchange I have participated in and it was so much fun! I love getting things in the mail, especially packages, so this was right up my alley :)

I received my FANTASTIC package from Rachel Edson (check out her blog!) and let me tell you what, she hit the nail on the head with this one. I loved everything she included - definitely a box of sunshine!

Here's what my AMAZING box of sunshine included:
-Homemade (extra large) paperclips that will be perfect for my planbook!
-Polka dot mason jar to match my polka dot classroom theme
-Re-useable ice cubes so my drink is always cold, but of course never watered down
-Drink mixes, these will come in handy next week when workshops start up
-Monogram M notecards
-Magnetic picture frame to show off my favorite summer memory
-Running Magazine because "I swear I'm going to get into running"

I can't wait to participate in the next SLANT box! If you're interested in more information or how to participate, check out Lesson With Coffee's blog!

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