Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Monthly Freebie: Editable September Newsletter

Happy September! Where on Earth did August go, anyway??? I do apologize for the lack of posts lately; I haven't been totally worthless, though... It's time for a monthly newsletter freebie! You can now access a free, editable template for a September newsletter here.

See the template design for my this month's newsletter below...
For my last newsletter, I did not include the quote in the editable template. However, I had quite a few requests for a version with that detail included afterward. So I have left the little motivational snippet on this month's template; feel free to let me know if that works better (or not!) for you and your classroom.

As always, I hope this will be helpful for you in your classroom. Newsletters can be tedious and time-consuming, so maybe this design will shave a few precious minutes off of your planning time. Be sure to check back here each month for the latest template design. At the end of the year, I intend to bundle all of the newsletters into one package on TPT, but this is the time to grab them for free! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Back to School: Management System Follow-up!

I previously described my reevaluation of my clip-chart system for behavior management in my classroom. If you missed it, you can access it here. The concept is simple: each group has their own clip. Positive choices (as a whole) move them up the chart; negative choices move them down. I have color-coded prize buckets that correspond to each level, and on Fridays, students visit the bucket that corresponds to their clip placement.

My problem with this was that the students, to this point, had invested nothing in this management system. It was mine; not theirs. So this year, they are building on it in a way that personalizes it, thereby making it more relevant for them. As a back-to school activity, we discussed each level of the chart, and students shared ideas on post-it notes about what it means to be "Ready to Learn" or "Good" and all the way to "Outstanding." I love this because it has aligned student expectations to our clip chart. Plus it gives me specific behavior standards by which to measure their time spent with me each day throughout the year. Double bonus.

I want to follow up with details about my students' choices, and our completed "thought bubbles" for the different levels of our clip chart. Here are a couple of images of the completed (so far) project. I'm sure we will add to this throughout the year as new ideas or situations arise.
To add to this system, each class chose a special name for their group. They did such a good job working together to make each decision, and the names they chose are really cute. Normally I use numbers to identify each group on the behavior chart. I wrote their group names on labels and added those to the clips to further personalize this management chart for them.
Their group names are also listed on my pocket chart schedule for class times...
... and on the banner of my door sign.
It has been exciting for me to see how well my students responded to this. Several of them wanted to take it even further and create new names for themselves in my class. I think we'll just stick to class names for now... This teacher is not so skilled as to learn two names for each child! ;)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back to School: Behavior Management Ideas for Small Groups

I have previously explained the nature of my classroom: I teach seven reading classes, for a variety of age groups and developmental levels, ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade. My students come from different classrooms within each grade level, and I work with them for a 45-minute class session each day. I love what I do, but it does present a few challenges that aren't necessarily the biggest hurdles in a standard homeroom class.       
                                                                   First and foremost, I really wanted to have an awesome classroom management system that would be a universal method, suitable for all of my classes. Last year was my first year to teach in this area, and I used a modified version of the clipboard method. I wanted to continue to use that this year, with a bit more elaboration that would truly motivate my students to do their very best with every minute they spend with me. Forty-five minutes is not that long... I need them to bring their A-game. ;)                                                                                   After much reflection, I developed an honest statement of my management goal for this year: I want to enable each student to take ownership for our classroom and every minute he/she spends there. I made a note for myself and put it on my desk so I will face this little reminder daily.
From there, I reevaluated my clip-chart system. The concept is simple: each group will have their own clip (to be added later after the groups decide on their own name for their individual class). Positive choices (as a whole) move them up the chart; negative choices move them down. I have color-coded prize buckets that correspond to each level, and on Fridays, students visit the bucket that corresponds to their clip placement.

My problem with this was that the students, to this point, had invested nothing in this management system. It was mine; not theirs. So this year, they are building on it in a way that I think will help us all. As a back-to school activity, we are going to discuss each level of the chart, and students are going to share ideas on post-it notes about what it means to be "Ready to Learn" or "Good" and all the way to "Outstanding." I love this because it aligns student expectations to our clip chart. Plus it gives me specific behavior standards by which to measure their time spent with me each day. Double bonus.

This is my clip chart with thought bubbles.
Here's a closer look at each level of the char, as well as the example I provided to give students a jump-start.




I can't wait to see my students' expectations displayed here! What do you think? Do you have any suggestions for me?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Spelling Words with -ng and -nk: An Original Tale and More!

As previously described, I am gradually developing a variety of phonics-based resources within The Tally Tales TPT store. You are welcome to peruse the product listings within the store. However, I often find it to be helpful to see a bit more detail/description of the products, rather than the snippets provided within the TPT listing. Blog posts about products are always helpful to me. You may not find this post to be helpful, but if you are looking for resources to support this particular skill, then I hope you will gain something from descriptions of my new product here.
This new TPT product has been a baby of mine for a while, and I'm excited to showcase it today. If your phonics instruction is skill-specific, you might benefit from incorporating this product into your classroom.  My favorite part about this one is that it includes an original story that I wrote to help students retain the concept of spelling with -ng and -nk. My students really enjoy lessons in which I incorporate tales that help bring letters to life for them. I usually just make them up as I go along, but I am hoping to include them in TPT products more often in the future. I really had fun with this one! ;) 

Here's a little sneak peak for you...
What do you think? Is it off to a good start? The rest of the tale is in the product, along with quite a few additional resources that might be helpful if you are teaching this skill. I created a general plan for using the materials as well.
Here's a snapshot preview of the whole product, but you can also view the preview file here in the Tally Tales TPT store for a closer look at each component of the resource.
Beyond the details of the product itself, each page contains a Tally Tales copyright statement. Additionally, I included my new Terms of Use and Credits page at the end. Both of these are little tips I learned more about through the TPT Seller Challenge this summer, so I am excited to have applied what I learned.

Oh, one more thing: I have updated my TPT store to feature a clickable banner image that links back to the Tally Tales blog! (Another tip from the TPT Seller Challenge… I am so grateful for the wealth of knowledge shared by so many amazing TPT sellers out there!) Check it out, and let me know what you think! :)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back-to-School Details & a GIVEAWAY!

Our teachers started back to school last Wednesday, so the past few days have been a bit crazy. Kids start back to school this Wednesday, so I feel like I'm in overdrive at the moment. Naturally.

I plan to share a classroom tour, complete with small-group management ideas, in the near future, but I am saving those specifics for a later date... Mainly because everything isn't that ready yet. I have until Wednesday. ;) However, I have managed to capture a few new details to share now.

  • I created a new business card design for this school year. Previously, I designed and printed my own. While I love the originality of making my own, it requires a bit more time that I really had to spare this time around. So I went with good ole' Vistaprint and spent a fraction of the time on these...


  • I have set up a coffee station in one corner. No more"afternoon slumps" without any coffee to grab from the teacher's lounge (or time to get there to grab it). I can have caffeine at a moment's notice. I've always envied those teachers who had coffee ready in their room. It's a sweet little luxury that is going to be a real treat for me (and my neighboring teachers!) this year. :)


  • I've had a little crafting fun over the course of the past couple of weeks. I needed a new sign for my classroom door. This one turned out larger than I originally planned, but I do love it. I may decide to hang it beside the door; I would love to see it survive with all parts in tact at least until Christmas! ;) I am actually going to use the banner on this sign as part of my class management system. I'll explain more about that later...  


  • Also, in case you didn't know already, the TPT Back-to-School Sitewide Sale begins tomorrow. It will run through Tuesday, and all Tally Tales TPT products will be 20% off. It will be a great time to stock up on back-to-school goodies! :)


  • Before you go, make sure you enter to win my Back to School Packet! The giveaway is now open, and I will announce the winner on Wednesday August 5th, in honor of my first "official" day of school. Enter to win below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway