Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Prioritize Your To-Do List

Starting today, I am kicking off a new series on my blog - New Teacher Tip Tuesday! I am really excited about this because helping new teachers is my job this year and I love it!! My county has begun a new Teacher Mentor program to help our beginning teachers navigate their first year and do it successfully. With that in mind, I am getting lots of questions from new teachers and I know there are plenty of you out there who probably have some of those same questions too. So, check back each Tuesday for little pearls of wisdom that might make your journey just a little bit easier. For those of you who have taught a little longer - you too might need a reminder every now and then, so I invite you to join us too!

Tips on how to prioritize your long to do list

One thing I know for sure is that your to-do list is a mile long. Welcome to being a teacher! The thing is that you will always have a to-do list, but the key to managing all these things is to prioritize. So, here's an easy way to do this. If your tasks fall in any of these three categories, they have priority and should be done today or scheduled for the very near future, i.e., this week.

Tasks that will have a direct impact on student learning versus decorative ones that won't.  We all want "cute" classrooms, but they are NOT a priority.

Tasks that must be done today.  For example, returning parent phone calls or emails. These should be done as soon as possible (meaning today). Tasks that are part of what you will be teaching tomorrow.  Don't wait until the morning of the lesson to get things done.

Tasks that must be done by the end of the week.  For example, next week's plans and materials, graded papers to be sent home, and newsletters. Use a planner-  any kind will do, Target has inexpensive ones that work perfectly -  to schedule out a few tasks per day so that they are finished by the end of the week.  If the task repeats each week, schedule it the same day and time every week if possible.

If your task does not fall into one of these categories, it gets moved down the list and you can get to it when you have time.  At the end of the day, re-write your list and place your tasks in order of importance based on these three categories. This will help you focus on what's most important.  

Remember...you are a teacher at the beginning of your journey. You are not expected to have it all mastered, so try not to put too much pressure on yourself to "get it all done".  

If you are a new teacher and have topics you would like to read about, please leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Using a Growth Mindset to Set Goals in the Classroom

Have you ever set goals with your students? In order for our students to grasp the growth mindset of trying, failing, trying, making mistakes, trying, and finally succeeding – we have to guide them through the process.  One of the ways I like to guide my students is by setting goals in reading, math, and writing.

When I first begin to talk about the process with my third graders, they really didn't "get it". It was definitely a process that developed over time - but a very effective one.

First, you want to get your students thinking about what kind of student they want to be. Initial responses are usually words like smart and straight A. But, you need to lead them to deeper, more specific adjectives and phrases. In the picture below, you can see that we used words like: determined, problem solver, and always improving. These are growth mindset words. They open the door to all students to become the student they want to be. 

The next step is to set goals and strategies for how they will reach those goals.

  A goal without a plan is a wish. 

Antoine de Saint-Exupery French writer (1900 - 1944) 

No wishing necessary - just a simple strategy for HOW we will reach our goals. How will you know what goals your students should be setting?  Use whatever beginning of the year assessments and screenings that are available.  You can also wait a few weeks and gather data from classroom work or tests. Once you have this,  you can begin helping students set SMART goals. What are SMART goals? They are simply:

Specific...Measurable ...Attainable ...Realistic ...Time Specific 

To make this even easier for you and your students, I have Reading, Writing, and Math goal worksheets with sentence starters. These are perfect for primary grades and beginning 3rd graders. 

If you have upper elementary or even middle schoolers, this plan sheet works well because they can personalize the wording of their goals and strategies.

Here's a breakdown of what and how your students will fill out the goal worksheets:

Look at each of the goal sheets. See how SPECIFIC the goal is? Make sure the goal is VERY specific. Otherwise it is pie in the sky for kids. They won't know what they are reaching for ...an A...a B? 

Next, goals must be MEASURABLE. How will students know they have reached them unless you collect data and they track it.  So a goal must be numeric in some way - points or percentages work really well.

Remember...nobody is going to gain if the goal isn’t ATTAINABLE. In this box is where the HOW will be written.  With your help, the student can identify exactly what they are going to work on, decoding, fluency, summarizing text, underlining text evidence. Whatever you determine will help them move along, but keep it short and sweet.  It needs to be something a child can comprehend and act on. Be specific. 

As a bonus, this section works for the student and the teacher. They know what to work on and you know what to plan for small group or RTI. 

Realistic goals are within reach and definitely doable. Why? Because we have a growth mindset! This is where the connection to What Kind of Student Do I Want To Be can come in. I like to have students choose a few of their phrases or adjectives to reinforce this thinking. 

The 4 week graphs work really well for primary grades. It's not too long nor too short. They can see their progress or if there isn't any, you can adjust the practice or the goal.

For upper elementary, the 9 week time frame works well for them. It gives them sufficient time to reach their goals and can be planned to coincide with a grading period.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned how effective goal setting was for my third graders. Well, the proof was in what they would do without my input. I "caught" them getting post-it notes to write their goals on before tests. They would put the post-its on their privacy screens for a visual reminder. Isn't that the best? Just when you think they aren't paying attention! Did their post its strategy work? ABSOLUTELY!!  I couldn't get their tests graded quick enough for them! MAJOR growth mindset happening!!!!

Of course, achieving goals is celebration worthy! So, not only did we make a BIG deal when a student reached their goals - I gave them a certificate to take home and share with family.

If you want to help your students, whether primary or upper elementary learn to set goals and support a growth mindset, you might want to look at my resource Goal Setting for a Growth Mindset on TPT. Included are goals setting worksheets for reading, writing, math, AR Points, and math facts. Check out my preview for more detailed look at all of the resources that are included!

Monday, August 22, 2016

TPT Sale - How to Save Even More!

The Teachers Pay Teachers Best Year Ever sale is today! You can save up to 28% in lots of stores - including mine. But there is a way to save even MORE!

Did you know that you receive TPT credits when you leave feedback on your purchases? It's really easy to do and you can use your credits toward new purchases!

Here's how you do it:

Go to your My Purchases page.

Right below the product description it will say Provide Feedback. Click on that.

On the product page, leave a comment and rate the product using the scales provided.

Thats it! Now you have TPT credits to use toward new purchases!

So get busy leaving feedback, then go back and buy those goodies in your cart! But don't forget to use the code ONEDAY so you can get all the savings possible!


While you are there, POP in to my store and see all the new products available:

AR Chart by 5's - Chalkboard & Polka Dots

4th Grade ELA I Can Posters - Chalkboard & Polka Dots

Clip Chart - Chalkboard & Polka Dots

Friday, August 19, 2016

Five for Friday - August 19th

Happy Friday Everyone! I know those of us who are back in school are so happy to reach this day! These first days are a killer on the feet. Fortunately, I am able to write this post off my feet!  So excited to be joining Doodlebugs Teaching and the other wonderful bloggers this week!

Can we talk about how amazing the Olympics have been this year? I always love to watch, but this year there are so many stories that have made this one really amazing. Michael Phelps - 28 medals; Simone Biles - 4 Gold Medals - a first for the women's gymnastic team; Katie Ledecky - her swim in the 800m - no one even in the screen shot when she won. AMAZING and it's not over yet!

I've had a little FOMO this year since I'm not in the classroom and therefore NOT decorating or getting to enjoy all the new little goodies everyone is showing on their Social Media accounts. A couple of my favorites: Lightboxes, banners with big chunky letters, flexible seating, and an even bigger emphasis on teaching a growth mindset that includes bulletin boards, flip books, and posters.

In my new position of Full Release Teacher Mentor, I have already had the opportunity to work with a few new teachers as they begin their first school year.  I have to say being new is so hard. I think it's much harder now than when I started and I feel for them.  My daughter is a new teacher this year and I am getting the day by day account of how hard it is, especially for those who have not been trained to be a teacher.  She is a history major teaching middle school and the history part is super easy - it's the craft of teaching that has to be learned. Of course, that is the part that everyone truly has to practice and learn constantly in order to be good at it.  If there is a new teacher at your school - give them a smile or a helping hand - they need it!

How cute is this MacBook Air cover?  I got my first Mac for my new mentor position and I had to buy a cute cover for it, right?  What can I say? It's the little things in life.

I spent the first three days of school this week at my old school helping out....tagging Kindergarteners, directing parents and students to classrooms, setting up a new classroom, helping a new teacher prepare, and wishing I wore comfortable shoes. After a summer of relaxation, this first week always kicks my butt! So thankful today is Friday! Have a great weekend friends!!!

Make sure you check out the other posts at Doodlebugs Teaching!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

$75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card Giveaway!

Need a little help with back to school resources? Would $75 help with that?  A group of teacher bloggers (including me) are giving away 2 $75 TPT gift cards! Just enter the giveaway below! Good Luck!

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: An Apple for the Teacher
Co-hosts: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher),  A Plus Kids,  Teaching SuperkidsPeas in a PodEmbellished EducationLattes and LunchroomsKB3TeachDancing into FirstTeaching Ideas For Those Who Love TeachingThe Chocolate TeacherMs K MathKnowledge MobileMrs. RoltgenElementary Antics,  CrazyCharizmaCarla HoffThird Grade GigglesMickey's PlaceRissa HannekenActivity TailorKamp Kindergarten,  Reading and Writing RedheadPlanet Happy SmilesA View Into My ClassroomMomma With A Teaching MissionSara RuckerThe Literacy GardenPam's PlaceHeart 2 Heart TeachingMrs Humphries ClassSliding Into 1stGrowing Grade by GradeJackie CrewsLife As I Know ItSarah GriffinTeacher Treasure HunterGlistening Gems, and A Classroom for All Seasons.

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Giveaway ends 8/13/16 and is open worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Five for Friday - August 5th

Life sure is crazy and suddenly very busy!  I haven't linked up in a few weeks and there are a million reasons why - none of which are worthy of this space! Anyway....I'm happy to be back this week sharing all the back to school goodies that we are all experiencing in our own little ways.

Super excited to be featured on An Apple for the Teacher blog this week!  My Fluency Pyramid Sentences are featured along with a giveaway of this resource - so head on over and read about it here. You can also enter the giveaway here

An Apple For The Teacher

Just for the record, I have a 22 year old daughter who is a recent grad of Florida State University.  My husband and I have moved her 8 times.  Yes, 8 times. Up to school, back home in summer, back up to school, back home in summer, and so on. This past weekend we moved her into her first "real" apartment.  It took THREE days to get her settled. This is the LAST time I am moving her. She has a new, really cute apartment and I got 13 stitches in my leg from broken glass. The last time - I mean it.

Teachers Pay Teachers had their back to school sale on Monday and Tuesday. Did you get all your BTS goodies? So many great resources! 

I have really enjoyed eating lunch out this summer - ordering what I want, eating slowly, and being around adults. But it's lunchbox time again, so I purchased this beauty while I was in Tallahassee last weekend. I am a HUGE FSU fan, so it works for me.  What type of lunchbox do you like to use?

Finally, I have to say that I am somewhat jealous of all the classroom reveals going on this year because.....this is the first time in 15 years that I am not setting up a classroom. This year I am beginning a new teaching adventure as a Full Release Teacher Mentor in my school district. I am extremely excited about this opportunity.  I will be now involved in 15 classrooms instead of one and I hope this will broaden my view and influence the type of classroom resources I make for teachers! 

For those of you who are returning this week and next - good luck and have some fun! Keep posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook, so I can drool over all of your creativity!  If you aren't following me, here's my links and I would love to follow you too!

Have a great weekend and don't forget to check out all the other amazing blog posts on this linky!