Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to School Tips on Name-tags!

Hello Friends, 
I am making some last minute preparations for the new school year. Here in Connecticut, I start school Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday are teacher meeting days. I will probably stay late Tuesday to have some (child-less) time in my classroom. Whenever I went in to work this year I had my 3 & 5 year old with me. Because of this, I could only get "so much" done.  
This year I will have seventy-five 4th grade students! Ahh! I NEED name tags to keep up with names, but also like the flexibility of moving students. Here is my quick solution to names tags that last and move easily! I bought this roll of 100 tags on Oriental Trading. It fit my camping theme, although it was for Vacation Bible School??? 

I stuck the stickers to card stock! Luckily, they easily peeled off when I didn't align them correctly. Since I have three classes I color coded the paper so I could easily keep track of the names of students in each class. 

Next, I used a Sharpie to write student names on the stickers and threw all the sheets in the laminator. I was able to stick on 8 name-tags per sheet, so I only laminated 9 pages.

I cut out all the tags and used Velcro on the backs. The other side of the Velcro dot will go on the desk! This will make it easy to move any students! 

Sorry for the bad lighting, this took a while and it was getting close to bedtime! Now I have seventy-five tags, nicely laminated, and ready to Velcro to a desk. I made a sheet of blank tags for the students who get added to my classroom or students who use a nickname (they just won't be color coded correctly). I will just use a Sharpie to write OVER the lamination.

Hope this works! Any other tips for organizing three classes, please feel free to share! :) 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Tips EVERY teacher should know on how to deal with a peanut/tree nut free school/classroom & FREEBIE!

Did you know a peanut is a legume (belonging to the same family as soybeans, peas and lentils), not a tree nut? 

These healthy little legumes are deadly to many students, including my daughter, so I take food allergies VERY seriously at home and at school. Because we have lived with this allergy for four years, I have learned a lot. 

Some schools have declared that they are “nut-free,” meaning no nuts AT ALL can be brought in for snack or lunch. No peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch send parents into a panic, but do not worry, there are plenty of other foods to pack that are healthy and harmless to classmates. 

Why is this so important? Peanuts don’t even have to be consumed to cause problems; peanut proteins in the air can affect people who are sensitive. Peanuts are one of the food allergens most commonly associated with anaphylaxis, a sudden and potentially deadly condition that requires immediate attention and treatment. 

Last year, a high school helper gave my five-year-old daughter a regular M&M when she got to the lunch room. My daughter took the candy, but before eating it, she asked if it contained peanuts.  The girl replied that it didn't (it wasn't a peanut M&M, so normal people would answer this way). My daughter ate it and within minutes, entered the nurses office to receive an epi-pen. She had hives on her face, neck, and throat. Luckily, my husband and I work next door, at the intermediate and middle school and were called to ride in the ambulance with her to the emergency room. She was fine after a four hour hospital observation, but the whole experience was around $4,000.00! We sure met our  insurance deductible that day! 

Although that candy didn't contain peanuts, it was produced in a factory that uses peanuts and could have contained peanut powder from the air. This meant the candy was "contaminated" and off limits. Checking labels is SO important for anyone with allergies. If the label states it was produced in a factory that also produces foods with peanuts, it is a no-go for kids with allergies. At first it was so confusing and seemed like such a chore, but when it's a life or death situation for your child, you get the hang of it rather quickly. 

Some companies that we trust as peanut-free get tricky and create new products containing peanut butter. Usually, this leads to me calling the toll-free number on the box and finding out how and where it was manufactured. When Oreo Cookies came out with peanut butter Oreos, I think my daughter saw the advertisement on television and actually cried tears.  (When we called the company, we found out that peanut butter Oreos are produced in a complete different factory, so regular Oreos would still be safe. YES!!) Oreos are the staple "treat" for food allergen kids. Kids allergic to dairy, tree-nuts, peanuts, and other major allergies are okay to have Oreos. Because of this, every Fall, I send in a Tupperware container full of mini packs of Oreos. I tape a note to my daughter's teacher on the outside explaining her allergy and telling her if there is ever a celebration, my daughter can simply have a pack of Oreos. Honestly, she is fine with the allergy and knows sometimes she has to be left out, but as a parent I feel bad. I try to do what I can to make her feel included. She wears a medical bracelet and NOW knows she doesn't eat anything I don't pack her at school...not even one candy. 

If your classroom is peanut and/or tree nut free, check out the free posters on TPT, like the one above. I was going to make one for my classroom this year, but I don't have to now because Perkins Class on TPT created the adorable one above!

Since I am a nut free freak, I created a go to list to help you out. Also if you want to send home a list to parents of safe snacks for their child to bring to school, you can print out a great one here.

I hope this helps you out in understanding how severe peanut and tree nut allergies can be. They really are no joke. My daughter is currently involved with a peanut desensitization program and is doing awesome. Pretty soon she might even be able to eat "peanut contaminated" foods. Eventually she will be eating three peanut M&Ms a night for "medicine" and she couldn't be more thrilled. It is a life changing program and gives me, as a mother, a HUGE sense of relief. :)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Tips on Teaching Cross-Curricular Lessons to Make Every Minute Count!

Cross-curricular projects help students construct knowledge, develop skills, and deepen understanding in a stimulating lesson interconnecting with a wide range of subjects. For example, math students use their writing, science, and technology classes to prepare them for constructing a bridge built out of tooth picks that will hold a bar of soap. As students research bridge designs, write plans for their project, and learn the physics behind bridge building they are becoming deeply involved in their work and learning how to solve real-world problems. Of course, if we are talking Common Core State Standards, these projects cover a wide range of standards and allow students to master some and go above and beyond on others.

Cross- curricular lessons do not have to be giant projects. They can be as simple as using an article about the water cycle in reading class to focus on note taking, close reading, or even main idea and supporting details. You could focus your guided reading time on nonfiction texts with Science or Social Studies themed books. Start simple and test it out with your class or even a small group.

Collaboration is key. Is your school departmentalized? This year I am teaching Science and Social Studies, but Robyn is teaching Reading and Writing. We plan on checking in with one another on the current unit, skills, and standards we are covering and overlap them as much as possible. In order to get the most out of a lesson, as a teacher, you need to communicate. Talk to your students about what they are learning, talk to your colleagues about what they are teaching (sometimes you will get two different answers... haha), talk to you curriculum instructors or coaches about how they can assist in the process. By talking out ideas, they can develop into amazing lessons and learning experiences.

As you become more confident in your cross-curricular lessons, you will notice, the more planning and thought you put into your lessons, the better they will be. I find it helpful to write down the themes or big ideas that each content class is covering and then think to myself, "How can I combine these?" Sometimes the ideas are so FAR FETCHED, it is impossible to combine, but other times you'd be surprised at how well it flows. However, if content does not match at all, it never hurts to review information or pre-teach content for students to gain important background knowledge, especially on difficult topics!

My husband is a middle school Physical Education teacher and I hear about him incorporating ELA and even Math standards into his lessons all the time. Are you working on visualizing? Have students write descriptive passages and read them to the class. If students are working on water-colors in Art class, they can use them to illustrate the imagery that they picture from the passages. Are you working on teaching angles in Math class? Talk to the PE teacher. I've seen students play freeze tag, but instead of just "freezing" they had to freeze forming the angle the teacher called out. The possibilities are endless!

I am SO excited to have finished this product just in time for back to school. I worked with ELA, Science, and Social Studies content to develop this cross-curricular writing activity that is PERFECT to prep your students for high-stakes testing expectations.

This product is a great way to cover Social Studies, Science, Reading, and Writing all in one. It is the definition of cross-curriculum teaching and will definitely hold your students interest as they read a website, magazine article, and fictional story (all written by me) based on culture, climate, and landmarks in the Northeast Region.
These 21 pages include everything a teacher needs to get his/her students writing. Not comfortable with writing standards? There is a page that can be blown up for an anchor chart or even shrunk for a student notebook. A student check list, a graphic organizer to use as a plan, note pages, writing paper, three multi-page articles, and much more all come together to help you connect the content areas. 

I'm not going to lie, at first, you will probably hear, why am I doing this in here? This is Science, aren't we in Reading class? But when you notice student knowledge being carried over into the content areas, you will feel like a million bucks! :) 

Have you tried Cross-Curricular activities in your classroom? I'd love to hear your success stories!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Light a Fire With a Good Book - and a HUGE Giveaway!

Back to school season is coming up! Some of my southern friends go back rather soon, but
technically I've only been on summer vacation for a week. I taught summer school for the month of July and actually did not mind it one bit. Now it's all about family time, spending time at the lake, parks, and pool hopping. I will say I have already started the back to school nightmares and insomnia has made an appearance. As nervous as I am about only teaching science and social studies, I am getting excited about all the great mentor texts I am going to incorporate into my curriculum.

Several of us bloggers have come together to give you some awesome ideas for Back to School Books! These books can be used to set up your classroom community, begin a good lesson, or just as a fun read-aloud.

The book I'd like to share with you is Each Kindness. Have you heard of this amazing book?

Basically this book starts off when a new student arrives at school mid year, head down, with broken sandals, and she sits right next to Chloe. The teacher introduces the pigtailed new student as Maya, but hardly anyone says hello, nor does Chloe give a welcoming smile.

Talk about a perfect first day of school book!  If you want to show your students the power of friendship this is the book to read.

What I LOVE to do is print out covers of the mentor texts that I read throughout the year on the school colored printer (like the picture above). Then I laminate the page and hang it on the wall. As the year progresses the wall gets FULL of covers of books. While I teach my strategy based mini lessons, the students can easily look up at the wall, look at the book covers and titles, and connect a strategy to a book. This books is AWESOME for inferring skills.

While working on inference skills in my classroom, I LOVE pulling small groups. I can quickly assess their knowledge by using my favorite Inference vs. Fact task cards.

I usually print these on colored paper, laminate, and let kids use an Expo marker to circle their answer.

This is an excellent assessment and even better way to practice inferring and looking back in the text to prove a fact.  If a student struggles, I've even sent a sheet or two home for homework. It works well for parents to see what their child is expected to master in class. Check them out!

And have you heard? Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site-wide Back to School Sale August 3rd and 4th, so you will be able to get [this product] 28% off using the promo code BTS15!

300 × 250

We know what else really "lights a fire" in you, and that is fabulous technology! We are giving away a brand new Kindle Fire HD6 to one lucky winner! 

Enter the rafflecopter below by hopping through each of our blogs and entering the secret word that can be found on the tablet in each of our posts. Also make sure to follow our TPT stores because the winner will be announced through a message in your TPT inbox! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We are also giving away a $25 gift certificate to Creative Teaching Press! My favorite place to get classroom decorations! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out my friend Michele's post for the next secret word by clicking on the image below.
Good luck! We hope you have a successful start to your school year!