Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cutting Down on Bathroom Trips

I'm so excited to be able to link up with my buddy Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for Spark Student Motivation today!  If you haven't gotten to know Joanne, you should!  She has amazing ideas and is one of the sweetest people I've "met" in blog land!  :)
As I am about to embark on a new school year with new students, I am looking for ways to help motivate my students to do their best learning.  However, if the kiddos are making tons of trips to the bathroom, they aren't in our classroom learning. 
We take bathroom breaks throughout the day, usually when we are on our way back from specials, recess or at snack time.  Students have lots of opportunities to "go."  However, there are always a few who decide it's better to go in the middle of an in-depth math lesson or during our read aloud than at a common time.  Do you have any students like that?
So last year, I decided to use a Bathroom Pass system.
All students are given a new pass at the beginning of a new quarter.  They have six opportunities to leave the room to use the restroom simply by giving me their card and I paper punch a number.  (However, the rule remains that you can only leave during a work time, not a teaching time.)

What happens when students run out of punches?  Easy...they have to buy a new Pass using our Collegiate Cash.  Passes cost $10.  Pricey, I know. (Students earn $10 a day for showing up and doing their "job" as a student so it really costs a whole day's pay.)   But it really "motivates" students to use the restroom when given the opportunity and to think about when they are using up their punches or not keeping their cards in a safe place.  (Replacement cost is $10 as well.)

Bathroom Passes also help me keep track of students who are leaving the room, as well as using the restroom excessively.  (This could be an indicator of a health issue as well.)

Now, if I could only invent a Bathroom Pass for myself....

Head on over to Head Over Heels for Teaching to check out other ways to motivate your kiddos!

I hope you will stop back tomorrow to link up your plans for next week with my new "A Peek at My Week" linky party! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Five for Friday {August 30, 2013}

Happy Friday!  I have survived my first week back to school.  (I know...many of you have already been back for weeks.  You will get your revenge in May when you get out of school and I go until the middle of June. :)

I'm looking back at five random things from my week with Doodle Bugs Teaching and Five for Friday.
The hubby and I had a date night last Saturday.  We went up to Devon's in Milwaukee for some fantastic seafood and "just us" time.  It was a great night and too long in the making!

Tuesday meant Back to Work Day!  Of course, like most of you, I have "worked" throughout the summer.  (I think I should say "volunteered".)  I was busy working on lots of things for this school year throughout the summer, but I finally got to see it start to come together this week.
I finished up my room and have a few pictures to share.
Our Reading Rug
Gather for read alouds and class meetings here
Student Mailboxes and Homework Bins (One color for each main subject -- saves time sorting!)
Classroom library book bin
I'm using a Google Form for a check out system this year.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes!
Awesome inspirational posters outside my door!
Compliments of:
Displayed my college degrees and teaching license.
It's important for my students to see me as a lifelong learner!
My teacher binder
Our library area
Books are sorted by AR level so students can pick out a "Just Right" book.
Our AR Racetrack and 40 Book Challenge chart
I believe in making our progress visible!  :)
A Welcome Table
I put this out for Open House on Wednesday night.  In my former life (before I started teaching), I was a very avid quilter.  Now, other hobbies (blogging!) have replaced it, but I still like to display my quilts however I can.

Going along with my classroom d├ęcor, I want to share a picture of the back of my door.  I got this idea from Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B from one of her Monday Made It post.
I got a Cricut this summer and decided to try it out by cutting a bazillion leaves in different colored scrapbook paper then glued them up to the back of my door to make our Tree of Knowledge.
I probably think I'm crazy to spend my time decorating the back of my door.
But here's the deal....
It brightens up my room.
It is a great conversation topic.
And it makes me happy.
I love it!! 
Football season is almost here!  My friend and co-worker Bridget went up to watch one of the Packer's pre-season practices and brought back two of my favorite Packers to keep me company at school. 
Love these guys!!!
It will make my day so much sweeter to look over and see Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson smiling back at me! 
This poster pretty much sums up my week.  I began on Tuesday with a list at least a mile long of things I wanted to do before school starts next Tuesday.  Did everything get done?  NO...but it's good enough for now. 

The kids will be there.  I will be there.  That's all I need.  The rest that wasn't finished will finish in time (or I will decide that I don't need it.)

Whew...that was a long post!  Thank you so much for reading!!

I hope you will stop back on Sunday for my new linky party, A Peek at My Week Link up and share what you have coming up for the next week.  I gathered lots of new ideas (which probably made my To-Do list as long as it was) from everyone who linked up.  I hope to see you Sunday!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tried It Tuesday -- Donors Choose

Today was my first official day back.  We learned about our new math series (Expressions) and had some work time in the afternoon.  For not doing much moving around, I sure am tired!

Tonight, I'm linking up with Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried It Tuesday.  Holly and I were just discussing the other day (online) about how anxiety-inducing it is for to read some blog posts about how school is going for some of you.  You see, we don't start until after Labor Day, and while it is nice to enjoy these last few days of summer, we know our days are numbered.  On the other hand, when those of you who have already been back for four weeks get out in May, we doubt you will feel much of our pain as we go to school well into June.  I guess it's six of one and half a dozen of another, right?

Anyways...on with the Tried It!
On Sunday, I read a very thoughtful post by Christi at Ms. Fultz's Corner about how powerful it would be if every teacher who connected with her blog or Facebook would donate just $1 to a Donors Choose project.  She projected that could raise as much as $3,000 to support the projects of our fellow teachers.
I thought this was a really great idea!  I have spent a lot of money out of my own pocket to prepare to go back to school, but I figured that I could certainly spare a dollar or two to support a few fellow teachers.
So here are two projects I supported:

Can't you spare a dollar or two to support a fellow teacher?  Visit Donors Choose to see all of the opportunities there are to make a valuable donation.

Thanks to Holly for hosting this linky party!  Head on over to her blog to check out what everyone else has tried.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Making Commenting Easier

Thanks to everyone who linked up yesterday for my new Sunday linky party, A Peek at my Week!  I got some amazing ideas from everyone who shared.  If you missed linking up, you can still do so.  I hope to see you back next Sunday.
Sometimes it takes a little help from our friends to realize when we are making things difficult for those around us.

Take the dreaded "No Reply Blogger" syndrome.  I was one and didn't realize it until someone told me.  (And somehow after awhile, it switched back to being a "no reply blogger" and someone told me again.)

Then there is the dreaded "Prove You're Not a Robot" thing when you leave a comment.  I don't know who thought it was a good idea to make one of those boxes tiny numbers.  I mean, sometimes the pictures are so BAD that it looks like they were taken from around the corner or the letters are all mooshed together.  Even with my glasses and extreme squinting, there is no way I will decipher those hieroglyphics. 
Little did I know, I was inflicting this pain onto my commenters as well until I read a post yesterday by Lauren at The Sweetest Thing that helped me fix this.  So I think that this has gone away now and if it hasn't, could you please let me know?  I encourage everyone to visit Lauren's blog post to learn about doing away with this annoying feature.  (I know I would appreciate it and I'm sure others would too!)

Lauren also gives a link to fixing the "no reply blogger" problem, but there is also a great tutorial on Ideas by Jivey that helped me.

We all love comments and commenting.  Why not make it easier?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Peek at My Week -- A New Linky Party

Linky parties are such a great way to meet and connect with other bloggers.  I have met some wonderful people (yes, you!) and found some awesome blogs by participating in linky parties.  Over the summer, it seemed like I was linking up with at least one (sometimes more!) a day.

I hope you will consider joining my new linky party, A Peek at My Week.

A Peek at My Week is a great way to look forward at your week ahead and share some things you've got planned -- either at school or at your other home (you know...where your clothes live! :-)  This way, if a reader is looking for ideas or is doing the same thing you are, there will be a connection.  And isn't that what blogging is about...connecting?

So here's my button.  A HUGE thank you to Erin at I'm Loving Lit and Krista at Creative Clips for allowing me to use their background and clip art.  The fonts are from Kimberly Geswein Fonts that I purchased licenses to use during the Back to School Sale at TpT.  So fun!!

I hope you will read my post then link up!
So here's a peek at my upcoming week...
I go back to work on Tuesday.  (I know I really can't complain about that because so many of you have been back for WEEKS now!)  This week is professional development, meetings and getting my room ready.  I'm lucky because I've been teaching Jump Start summer school for the past week and a half so my room is mostly set -- which means I will have lots of time for planning.
I'm looking forward to hearing Damen Lopez of Turn Around Schools as our guest speaker on Wednesday. 
Have you heard of his "No Excuses University" program?  It's all about creating a culture of universal achievement by believing that all students should have the opportunity to be educated in a way that prepares them for college.  Classrooms "adopt" classroom colleges, talk about college and develop a belief that all students can achieve.  It's a great program!
Because so many of you are already back, I was hoping you could help me with this one...
I will be planning my first week.  If you are already back, I was hoping you could share the ONE thing that you did that you ABSOLUTELY would do again.  I've got a stash of fun ideas, but I'm always looking for more!  Please leave your suggestions in the comments section so all can enjoy!

 So I hope you will give us a Peek at Your Week and link up below!  Have a great week!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Five For Friday {August 24, 2013}

I hope you had a great week!  I don't know what it's like where you live, but it's easy to see that the days are getting shorter.  Now when I get up in the morning, it is dark.  That's good though because I get to see the sun rise. This morning's was a beauty!

Looking back at my week with Doodlebugs Teaching and Five for Friday.
In honor of our last day of summer school, we all took a field trip to the beach for a morning of swimming fun.  It was a perfect morning...the sun was bright, the breeze was refreshing, and being around the water was so relaxing.

Last weekend was the Kenosha County Fair.  We went on Saturday my husband could eat "Fair Food."  (Just the sound of it sends me running for a piece of fruit, I tell ya!)  Here we are taking a break and people watching...which is SO FUN at the fair!
Visiting the chicken barn is my favorite!  Who knew there were so many different kind of chickens???  I loved them all!  :v)

On Wednesday, my summer school class got to do some cooking with veggies that were grown in the school garden.  We tried some new foods and recipes -- Ratatouille, Spaghetti Squash and Cucumber Salad.  It was all yummy!

I was excited to find some fresh veggies ready to be picked and eaten in my own garden this week!  We enjoyed fresh sweet corn and salsa with our own tomatoes.  Delish!

I don't know if you have any teenage girls living in your house, but my daughter is absolutely IN LOVE, LOVE, LOVE with One Direction.  Last weekend, she found a 1D display at Office Depot and took about 50 photos on my iPhone of herself with the boys.  Then this morning, she flew out of bed to see them on the Today Show. be young again....(It really gets her going when I tell her that I think they all need haircuts.  :v)

I hope you have a wonderfully relaxing weekend!