Monday, February 26, 2018

Million Word Letter

After my Facebook post last week about the importance parents have in recognizing the warning signs that their child is struggling, I had several teachers ask for a copy of the letter I send home for parents to tell me about their child.  You can find the letter on my Teachers Pay Teachers page.  I currently have it posted for free!  You can find the full letter by going HERE

Raising Good Humans & Why Parents Are Important

With all of the talk about guns in schools, why it’s happening, and how to solve the issue let me offer a little different perspective. I’ve been teaching since 2003. This marks my 15th year in the classroom. Everybody always talks about how schools have changed, and it’s true, they have. Yes, there’s the “crazy new math” and “bring your own device” changes. However, there are some other changes that I think the general population is not aware of.
Every year for 15 years I have sent home the same assignment on the first day of school. I send a letter home asking parents to tell me about their child in a million words or less. I go on to explain that I want to learn the child’s hopes, dreams, fears, challenges, etc and jokingly ask parents to limit it to less than a million words since we all know we could talk forever about our children. I go on to say I’m not grading these, not looking at handwriting or grammar and don’t care if they send them back with their child, email them, drop them off at the office, etc. These letters have been so beneficial to me as a teacher and getting to know my students on a personal level. I have learned about eating disorders, seizures, jealousy issues between twins, depression, adoption, abuse...just to name a few things. These letters give me a huge head start on getting to truly know my students. I often pull them out when a child has a sudden change in behavior or issue that comes up. Just this week I had 2 students lose their mother unexpectedly. Brother and sister, I taught one last year and one this year. As I have done before, i immediately went to my folders to pull the letters that mom sent for her children. It’s a beautiful gift that I feel I can give students to get a glimpse into how much a parent loved and adored them. As I was putting the folders back in the file cabinet I noticed something. I know that the percentage of parents that complete this assignment each year has gotten lower and lower, but looking at the size of the folders shocked me. That first year I had 98% of the parents send back some type of letter on their child. This year... 22%. That’s a lot of opportunities lost for me to get to know students. Sadly, more parents have access to an electronic device that makes this task even easier and less time consuming.
On another note, this year’s average for homework turned in is riding at 67%. I’m talking a twice monthly 5 sentence summary of what the student is reading in their own time. I remind students daily, I send text messages through Remind, it’s on my website. The only other thing I could do is do it for them. Parents continue to let their child rack up zero after zero. But then again, that average used to be around 98% as well. It was rare for more than 1-2 students to not have their homework 15 years ago. Now, it’s just frustrating.
With all of our other responsibilities in our profession, how are we supposed to get to know students so that we can identify the ones with the mentality and disposition to become a school shooter if parents are checking out of the academic process? How are we supposed to educate children when their parents don’t require, expect and demand their child complete their homework?
Don’t wait until your child is the school shooter to let us know your child is struggling mentally. Don’t wait until your child is ineligible for sports or the day before report cards to check grades and question the teacher on why your child is failing.
Be a parent. Be involved in your child’s life so that you can help them through the issues with friends, the possible suicidal thoughts, and problems academically. I promise you, if parents spent more time with their children and got involved in their lives, we would see drastic improvements in our schools and our society.
As parents, our job is to grow the most amazing humans possible. Its the most important job in the world. The education and emotional stability a parent provides is priceless.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year New Goals Reflection for Students

Happy New Year!  Can you believe it is already 2017?  I mean, wasn't it just 2007 like yesterday?

Like most teachers, I always go back into the classroom after the New Year with big ideas.  One thing that I started doing early on in my teaching career was to have students reflect on various parts of their learning.  January, the midpoint of the school year, is the PERFECT time to do this!

As students come back to school this week, I will give them this reflection sheet that I put together.  I like it because it is short and sweet and, most importantly, to the point.  It does require a preplanning from the teacher, as you may want to have their grades already filled out on the reflection sheet, but it is also the perfect time to have individual student conferences!  You could easily have your garbed pulled up on your device and fill the grades in as you are conferencing with students.  This also gives you the opportunity to help guide students in writing their goals.

I've uploaded the reflection sheet in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and you can download it for free!

Have a great week as you get back into the swing of things and start recovering from the last couple of weeks of longer than 20 minute lunches and potty breaks whenever you felt the need to go!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Roll 6

Oh my goodness, y'all!  My students had so much fun with this game today.  The best part?  The game was played while reviewing a map of Europe for their test that's tomorrow!

The great thing about Roll 6 is that it is so easily adaptable to any topic that you are covering.  I used it today to review for our map test over Europe tomorrow.  Students will need to be able to locate 10 countries and 10 physical features on a blank map of Europe.  To help them review, I put students into partner groups and gave each group a map and a dice.  Once I told students to begin, they had to begin rolling the dice until they landed on a 6.  They could not label anything on the map until a 6 was rolled.  They could then only label ONE thing.  Then they had to roll a 6 again before they could label the next thing.  So, they had to roll a 6 twenty times in order to label all of the locations on the map.  The first group to label the entire map correctly won Canes Cash (our PBIS reward currency).

Here's the new thing I incorporated today - a 10 second penalty if the dice fell onto the floor.  One of the worst parts of classroom games that use dice is that some kids get really into rolling the dice and they end up on the floor more than on the desk.  This 10 second penalty worked BEAUTIFULLY at curbing their dice rolling enthusiasm!

I must say, this is quickly becoming my favorite games to use in the classroom.  Students really enjoy it, it is very easy to prepare for, and the dice were super cheap!  I got packs of 5 dice for $1 at The Dollar Tree.  I definitely plan to put this game in the lesson plan more often!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Personal Laminator Lovin'!

Admit it...we teachers have a laminating disorder.  Most of us would run our first born through it if we could just to keep them shiny, clean, and protected from the world.

Well let me tell you, if you do not have a personal laminator...YOU NEED ONE!  I'm bought one last year for a craft project that I was working on and it has become my favorite teaching tool!  The big laminator at school is great for bigger projects.  But the quality and sturdiness of the Scotch personal laminator can't be beat.

I'm all the time needing to laminate small items or single pages for classroom use (and usually at the last minute).  Having a laminator and laminating pouches at home has been a life changer.  Just tonight I laminated 35 bingo cards for a review game we will be playing in class tomorrow.  I love that the cards come out much more sturdy than from our regular laminator at school.

It's super easy to use, too.  Simply buy the laminating pouches, place the item you want laminated inside and run it through the laminator.  Easy Peasy!

There are tons of personal size laminators on the market.  I have the Scotch Personal laminator and love it.
Click here to see the specs on the laminator that I have

I promise you, if you don't have a personal laminator, you are definitely missing out!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Camping Themed Classroom Decor

More new products!  This time in a camping/Woodland theme!  

120 charts and a Classroom Rules poster were just added to my TPT store.  More camping themed products to come, so keep a lookout!  Also, let me know if there is something special you're looking for and I will try to make it and upload it to the store!

Thanks for looking!


Panda Themed Classroom Decor

I just love the cute panda in these new products that I've listed!  I have added a Welcome Pennant Banner, a 120 counting chart, and a Classroom Rules poster to my TPT store.  Check them out!

More Panda themed products to come!

Have a something particular you are looking for in this theme?  Let me know and I will try to add it for you!

Thanks for looking!