Tuesday, May 26, 2015

End of the Year Awards Necklaces

The year is beginning to come to a close and I have truly loved my class this year. We always become so close and yet I know I have to let them go. I love having my students vote and give class awards at the end of the year (like most teachers) but this year I wanted something different. I was tired of the same old certificates that ended up on the fridge for a little while, in a special box, or more than likely in the trash. I wanted something that my students could wear with pride and show off to their family. I wanted them to feel like they earned a real medal. I love to invent new things and I felt like the end of the year award necklaces were the way to go. I made a student voting sheet for the students to decide who gets which award. I also made a Teacher Tally Sheet because it used to be such a pain to figure out who won each category. With this tally sheet, I can just write the initials of the students who they voted for in each category, put tally marks if they were voted for more than once, and then circle the student who had the most tallies. Much easier!

Once I know who won each award, I'm going to print the necklaces out on card stock. After that, I will write their names and then laminate them. I made three options because I love to have different choices. Personally, I like the black and white ones the best. They are easy to print at home and don't use a lot of ink. Plus I can have the student who won the award color it themselves.

Then, all I have to do is laminate it, cut it out, punch holes on the black circles, and tie a piece of string long enough to go around their neck. Voila! Super awesome awards necklaces all ready to be worn and shown off. I am so excited to give these to my students!

There are also awards necklaces in color (so you can just print and go) and a pack of both color and black & white necklaces. However you like your necklaces, I know your students will love wearing them. I can't wait to see their smiles while they wear these! I hope your last few weeks are happy and not too stressful (: 

Check Out My End of the Year Awards Necklaces HERE:


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Classical Learning

I have spent several years working in teacher collaborative grant groups at Salisbury University. We spent many weekends and week-long summer sessions learning about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education.Throughout the past year or two, STEM became STEAM, adding a new element of the Arts into STEM education. Ever since I was a child, I have been deeply involved in the arts. I love to dance, act, and create anything imaginable. I honestly think that my arts education has helped to shape me into the teacher that I am today. I try to weave the arts into my daily lessons so that my students enjoy learning and are engaged in everything we do. I love to create chants and dances to help my students remember new concepts. I also love playing music during class, especially instrumental music. The students hear plenty of lyrics throughout their lives outside of school, but I want them to truly listen to the music behind the words. Recently, I came across a wonderful group on YouTube called The Piano Guys. Most of their work consists of instrumental remakes of popular songs. They cover songs like "What Makes You Beautiful," "Let It Go," "Titanium," "Story Of My Life," and more. All of them are beautiful and my students love listening to them. My absolute favorite one to watch is "What Makes You Beautiful." 

Take a look:

When my students watched this, they were completely engrossed in the video; it is absolutely amazing to watch. Who knew you could play the piano like that? I am truly inspired and in love with this group's work. All of the songs are appropriate for everyone. I can't wait to listen to more of The Piano Guys this week! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

- OneCrazyS

Monday, May 4, 2015

DEAR Time Contest

First grade is a wonderful age where students truly become readers. Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) time started several years ago. I'm not exactly sure when, but I know that we had DEAR time many moons ago when I was a young student. I used to only have DEAR time when I could squeeze it in. Mainly because many of the students would not read the entire time. Their attention would wander and I would see several of them just running their fingers along the words quickly or looking around the room. My inventor mind went to work and I came up with our behavior snack and the DEAR Time Contest. Once DEAR time begins, I pass out a small snack (goldfish, pretzels, or animal crackers) to everyone who has behaved well all day long (their card has not been moved for poor behavior). Then, I take out my book and read with my students. While I am reading, I look up at the end of every page or two to see who is also reading. I begin to keep a short list in my head of 4 to 5 students who are engrossed in their books. As I continue to look up, I narrow my winners to 2 or 3 students who were truly reading the entire time. Once the timer goes off (I set it for ten minutes after I pass out the snack), I have everyone put their books back in their "book bag" (i.e., a gallon zipper bag where they keep all of their books in their desk) and then I have them all come and sit quietly on the carpet. I bring 1 or 2 small prizes and announce my winners. To each winner, I may give out a pencil, a smelly sticker, an eraser, or anything small for their effort.

My students love to be the winners. I also make sure that I tell everyone else who didn't win that it could be them tomorrow.  Now, we make room for DEAR time every day and my students groan when we have to stop. I have noticed that many of them are reading harder books and that they even point out spelling words and phonics lessons that we have learned in the past. The addition of a very simple contest has turned what used to be a chore into a treat. Hopefully this contest can help to keep your students actively reading during your entire DEAR time. 

How have you kept your students engaged during DEAR time? Let me know! I'd love to hear about what you've done (: